Here in the Independent People’s Republic of Liverpudlia we often wonder why other sister/brother independent republics don’t get along. Obviously we are surrounded by land and sea with places that aren’t republics (could, woulda, shoulda between 30th January 1649 and 29th May 1660 but…whatever) and the nations that do surround us seem to dislike one another with a smouldering intensity. We don’t get that either but hey-ho. We have been intrigued these past few weeks with talk of a ‘war’ between a couple of places that we were hard pressed to pinpoint on the map. Turns out the South Caucuses was the place and that Armenia and Azerbaijan were the places that had beef with one another. So we got that in a geographical sense but beyond that…? No – clueless. Naturally, our interest piqued, we dug a little further. We sort of wish we hadn’t because it’s complicated to the point that even falling down a rabbit hole would have been preferable.
So these places are ancient – there has been human activity here for millennia. Like most places. But these countries are near neighbours. They were part of the Russian Empire and when that collapsed a Transcaucasian Federative Republic was formed (including Georgia and part of Turkey). After that they became constituent parts of The Soviet Union and when that failed they became independent states/republics. There was a particular problem with a certain region known as Nargano-Karabakh – a portion of land within Azerbaijan but populated by ethnic Armenians. It was nominally an ‘autonomous region’ set up by the Soviets in a sop to Turkey in 1923. Since then there have been a number of conflicts in the region – 1948, 1964, 1988 and 1991. There have been attempts at ceasefire and mediation but these broke down in 2016. And now, 2020, they are at it again. These sorts of conflict sound all too familiar. Oh and we should also mention that one side is nominally Christian and one side nominally Muslim. Sound familiar…?