Azerbaijan: The Presence of War in Everyday Life
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By the time a ceasefire was agreed in 1994 that brought hostilities in Nagorno Karabakh to an end, the war between Armenians and Azerbaijanis had raged for over six years, claiming an estimated 30,000 lives on both sides, leaving hundreds of thousands displaced. The then-President of newly independent Azerbaijan, and the other signatories, knew that the document would have left the region in legal limbo - the ceasefire ostensibly ended the violence but never solved the conflict, which has been violated frequently in the decades since.
Along the line of contact, skirmishes and shootings have been daily stable and war woke up again in April 2016 and left more than 200 dead on both sides in just four days. The hastened agreement brokered by Moscow averted the risk of instability across the South Caucasus, but war clouds are constantly threatening on the horizon.
The unresolved status-quo deeply affects people’s lives on a daily basis - posters of war heroes are plastered on shops’ walls, maps marking the lost territories are in all metro stations, and in schools pupils, commemorate the “homeland of Nagorno Karabakh” with poems and drawings. The no-war, no-peace state nurtures nationalism, and anti-Armenian sentiments run high, from the grocery shops to online chats.