After extreme violence throughout Karabakh in the early 1990’s, on 12 May 1994 a cease-fire was brokered in direct talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan and on 27 July 1994 the respective Defence Ministers and the Commander of the Nagorno-Karabakh Army ratified the agreement. However, this left around 20 per cent of Azerbaijan’s territory still under Armenian occupation, with around 1 million Azerbaijanis left homeless or displaced, accounting for one seventh of the entire Azerbaijani population. These displaced people remain refugees, living in temporary accommodation in neighbouring Azerbaijani districts.
The pro-Armenian separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh has taken advantage of the ceasefire by attempting to consolidate an illegal “statehood”. Such measures have included forced repatriation and resettlement, attempts to establish unauthorised “state institutions”, and the opening of representative offices in a number of countries. In March 2001, in defiance of international consensus, people residing in Nagorno-Karabakh were issued with Armenian passports. The occupied lands are guarded by Armenian forces and Armenian conscripts are sent to serve in military bases within Nagorno-Karabakh. This amounts to a deliberate illegal occupation of Azerbaijani territory by the Armenian Government.
The Government of Armenia does not recognize the occupied territories either as a part of Armenia nor as an independent state. Any deviation from their current strategy of assimilation by stealth through resettlement would be likely to result in condemnation by the international community. This strategy has paid dividends, as the international community currently favours the preservation of the status quo rather than a definitive resolution of the conflict: essentially giving a green light to Armenian expansionism.