Efforts to Resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis, 1993
By the end of 1993, the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh had caused thousands of casualties and created hundreds of thousands of refugees on both sides. In a national address in November 1993, Aliyev stated that 16,000 Azerbaijani troops had died and 22,000 had been injured in nearly six years of fighting. The UN estimated that nearly 1 million refugees and displaced persons were in Azerbaijan at the end of 1993. Mediation was attempted by officials from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Iran, among other countries, as well as by organizations including the UN and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which began sponsoring peace talks in mid-1992. All negotiations met with little success, and several cease-fires broke down. In mid-1993 Aliyev launched efforts to negotiate a solution directly with the Karabakh Armenians, a step Elchibey had refused to take. Aliyev's efforts achieved several relatively long cease-fires within Nagorno-Karabakh, but outside the region Armenians occupied large sections of southwestern Azerbaijan near the Iranian border during offensives in August and October 1993. Iran and Turkey warned the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to cease the offensive operations that threatened to spill over into foreign territory. The Armenians responded by claiming that they were driving back Azerbaijani forces to protect Nagorno-Karabakh from shelling.
In 1993 the UN Security Council called for Armenian forces to cease their attacks on and occupation of a number of Azerbaijani regions. In September 1993, Turkey strengthened its forces along its border with Armenia and issued a warning to Armenia to withdraw its troops from Azerbaijan immediately and unconditionally. At the same time, Iran was conducting military maneuvers near the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic in a move widely regarded as a warning to Armenia. Iran proposed creation of a twenty-kilometer security zone along the Iranian-Azerbaijani border, where Azerbaijanis would be protected by Iranian firepower. Iran also contributed to the upkeep of camps in southwestern Azerbaijan to house and feed up to 200,000 Azerbaijanis fleeing the fighting.
Fighting continued into early 1994, with Azerbaijani forces reportedly winning some engagements and regaining some territory lost in previous months. In January 1994, Aliyev pledged that in the coming year occupied territory would be liberated and Azerbaijani refugees would return to their homes. At that point, Armenian forces held an estimated 20 percent of Azerbaijan outside Nagorno-Karabakh, including 160 kilometers along the Iranian border.
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