"The word "Garabagh" itself, which is translated from Azerbaijani as the "Black Garden", proves that this land belongs to Azerbaijan historically. Garabagh has a specific place and role in the history of Azerbaijan. This region of our country is one of the most ancient habitations in the world."
The Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan is part of the geographical area called Garabagh (Qarabağ). The name of this part of the country consists of two Azerbaijani words: "qara" (black) and "bağ" (garden). This area covers the lands from the Araz River in the south to the Kur River in the north, and from junction of the Kur and Araz Rivers in the east to the eastern ranges of the Lesser Caucasus in the west.
The present-day stage of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict began at the end of 1987 with the attacks on the Azerbaijanis in Khankandi (during the Soviet period - Stepanakert) and Armenia resulted in a flood of Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons.
On 20 February 1988, the representatives of the Armenian community at the session of the Soviet of People's Deputies of the NKAO adopted a decision to petition to the Supreme Soviets of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR for the transfer of the NKAO from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenian SSR.
On 22 February 1988, near the settlement of Asgaran on the Khankandi-Aghdam highway, the Armenians opened fire on a peaceful demonstration by the Azerbaijanis protesting against the above-mentioned decision of the Soviet of People's Deputies of the NKAO. Two Azerbaijani youths lost their lives in consequence, becoming the first victims of the conflict.
On 26-28 February 1988, twenty-six Armenians and Azerbaijanis were killed as a result of the disturbances in Sumgait. It is notable that one of the leading figures in these events was a certain Edward Grigorian, an Armenian and native of Sumgait, who was directly involved in the killings and violence against the Armenians and the pogroms in the Armenian neighborhoods. By decision of the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court of the Azerbaijan SSR dated 22 December 1989, Grigorian was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. The Court found Grigorian to be one of the organizers of unrest and massacres. Depositions by witnesses and victims show that he had a list of flats inhabited by the Armenians and, together with three other Armenians, called for reprisals against the Armenians, in which he took part personally. His victims (all Armenians) identified Grigorian as one of the organizers and active figures in the violence. In fact, events in Sumgait, being necessary to the Armenian leadership as a mean of launching an extensive anti-Azerbaijani campaign and justifying the ensuing aggressive actions against Azerbaijan, had been planned and prepared in advance.
During 1988-1989 the Azerbaijanis were forced to leave Armenia. In the course of mass deportation, at least 216 Azerbaijanis were killed and 1,154 people were wounded. The refugees from Armenia - eventually numbering approximately 200,000 people - began to arrive in Azerbaijan.
On 20 January 1990, with the approval of the Soviet leadership under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet army units were dispatched to Baku. Their reprisals, which were conducted with uncommon savagery, left hundreds of innocent Azerbaijani citizens dead and wounded.
In 1991, the central law-enforcement agencies of the then USSR apprehended dozens of the Armenian armed groups that operated outside Nagorno-Karabakh. Thus, the Chaykand village of the Khanlar district of Azerbaijan was turned by the Armenian armed groups into a criminal hub from which they bombed and shelled surrounding villages and roads, terrorizing the local Azerbaijani population. From 1989 to 1991, in Chaykand and adjacent areas only 54 people fell victim to the Armenian armed groups. In 1992, Azerbaijan regained its control over the Goranboy district.
At the end of 1991 and the beginning of 1992 the conflict turned into a military phase. Taking advantage of the political instability as a result of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and internal squabbles in Azerbaijan, Armenia initiated with the external military assistance combat operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In February 1992, an unprecedented massacre was committed against the Azerbaijani population in the town of Khojaly. This bloody tragedy, which became known as the Khojaly genocide, involved the extermination or capture of the thousands of Azerbaijanis; the town was razed to the ground. Over the night from 25 to 26 February 1992 the Armenian armed forces with the help of the infantry guards regiment â„- 366 of the former USSR implemented the seizure of Khojaly. The inhabitants of Khojaly remained in the town before the tragic night (about 2,500 people) tried to leave their houses after the beginning of the assault in the hope to find the way to the nearest place populated by the Azerbaijanis. But these plans have failed. Invaders destroyed Khojaly and with particular brutality implemented carnage over its peaceful population.
In 1992-1994, Armenian Armed Forces occupied administrative districts of the Republic of Azerbaijan as follows:
May, 1992 - the Shusha district;
May, 1992 - the Lachyn district ;
April, 1993 - the Kalbajar district;
July, 1993 - the Aghdam district;
August, 1993 - the Fuzuli district;
August, 1993 - the Jabrayil district;
August, 1993 - the Gubadly district;
October, 1993 - the Zangilan district.
On 30 April 1993, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution â„- 822, demanding immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from the Kalbajar and other recently occupied areas of Azerbaijan.
On 29 July 1993, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution â„- 853, which demanded "the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces involved from the district of Aghdam and other recently occupied districts of the Republic of Azerbaijan".
On 14 October 1993, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution â„- 874, which called for "immediate implementation of the reciprocal and urgent steps provided for in the CSCE Minsk Group's Adjusted timetable, including the withdrawal of forces from recently occupied territories".
On 11 November 1993, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution â„- 884, which condemned the occupation of Zangilan district and the Horadiz town, attacks on civilians and bombardments of the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan and demanded the unilateral withdrawal of occupying forces from the Zangilan district and Horadiz, and the withdrawal of occupying forces from other recently occupied areas of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
In sum, the ongoing armed conflict in and around the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan has resulted in the occupation of almost one-fifth of the territory of Azerbaijan and made approximately one out of every eight persons in the country an internally displaced person or refugee, 20,000 people were killed, 50,000 people were wounded or became invalids, about 5,000 citizens of Azerbaijan are still missing.
The aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan has severely damaged the socio-economic sphere of the country. In the occupied territories 871 settlements, including 11 towns, 848 villages, hundreds of hospitals and medical facilities have been burned or otherwise destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of houses and apartments, thousands of social and medical buildings have been destroyed or looted. Hundreds of libraries have been plundered, a great deal of valuable manuscripts have been burned or otherwise destroyed. Several State theatres, hundreds of clubs and dozens of musical schools have been destroyed. Several thousands of manufacturing, agricultural and other kinds of factories and plants have been pillaged. Hundreds kilometers-long irrigation system have been totally destroyed. Flock of several hundreds of thousands of sheep and dozens of thousands of cattle have been driven out of the occupied territories to Armenia. About 70% of summer pastures of Azerbaijan remain in the occupied zone. The regional infrastructure, including hundreds of bridges, hundreds of kilometers of roads and thousands kilometers of water pipelines, thousands kilometers of gas pipelines and dozens of gas distribution stations, have been destroyed.
According to the preliminary data, the overall damage inflicted on the Republic of Azerbaijan as a result of Armenian aggression is estimated to be tens of billions USD.
On 12 May 1994, the ceasefire was established. However, Armenia continues to violate the truce. Since summer of 2003 there has been an acute increase in the Armenian side's violations of the cease-fire. In addition to shelling and killing Azerbaijani soldiers along cease-fire line, Armenians also attack civilians residing in the adjacent territories.