What were the advantages of the ceasefire agreement for Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan was not as lucky as Armenia when the ceasefire agreement of May 12, 1994, came into force. As mentioned before, by the time the ceasefire was signed, Armenia had already occupied approximately 20% of Azerbaijani territory, somehow achieved a complete victory, and created a de facto independent but unrecognized state in Nagorno-Karabakh. It had also displaced about one million Azerbaijanis from their historical places of residence.[1] The agreement, therefore, offered Azerbaijan an opportunity to stop further military and territorial losses, avoid seeing its population forced from their homes, and bring to an end the massacre of civilian Azerbaijanis by Armenian forces.

By signing the Russian-brokered ceasefire, Azerbaijan also consolidated relations with the Russian Federation since the Azerbaijan leadership was well aware that opposing the Russian proposal in the region could lead to political turmoil similar to what happened in the summer of 1993, which resulted in the toppling of the Azerbaijani government and the loss of historical Azerbaijani territories in southeast Nagorno-Karabakh. While opposing Russia’s military forces’ deployment to the region, Azerbaijan also tried to achieve the settlement of the international peacekeeping forces in the region under the auspice of CSCE after the ceasefire agreement. However, the CSCE did not have that kind of mechanism to create peacekeeping forces.[2]

Azerbaijan’s only political leverage was a chance to play for time to attract international investors and oil companies to exploit the vast hydrocarbon resources off the Caspian Sea coast. Thus, Azerbaijan signed a “Deal of the Century” with western energy consortiums on September 20, 1994,[3] three months after the ceasefire agreement was signed, which brought Azerbaijan substantial economic benefits and political advantages. It thus hoped to isolate Armenia economically, get international support for preserving its territorial integrity, and liberate its historical territories that have been under the occupation of Armenia since the signing of the ceasefire agreement in May 1994.

[1] MacFarlane, S. Neil, and Minear, Larry, Humanitarian Action and Politics: The Case of Nagorno-Karabakh (The Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies, 1997), p. 19.

[2] De Waal, Thomas, Black Garden: Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War (New York University Press, 2003), p. 254.

[3] Karagiannis, Emmanuel, Energy and Security in the Caucasus (RoutledgeCurzon, 2002), p. 19.