Inside Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Photography: Antoine Agoudjian

On September 27, 2020, clashes erupted between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region in the South Caucasus. It is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan but inhabited mostly by ethnic Armenians. The ceasefire agreement was signed on November 10, 2020, by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia. Under the agreement, Armenia should hand over the Kelbajar region to Azerbaijan.

French photographer Antoine Agoudjian has captured the moment in which some ethnic Armenian citizens in Nagorno-Karabakh set their houses on fire before fleeing to Armenia following the ceasefire agreement that handed over parts of the territory to Azerbaijan. Disputes over control of that territory between Asia and Europe have occurred for centuries. Karabakh became part of the Russian empire in the 19th century. In the 1920s, as Armenia and Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijani authorities received control over Karabakh.

Tensions between Christian Armenians and mostly Muslim Azeris began again since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Humanitarian organizations have condemned that both Azerbaijani and Armenian forces committed war crimes during recent clashes, including the decapitation of captives and the desecration of the corpses of opposing forces, according to Amnesty International. Over 5,000 people died, and thousands were displaced.

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The European Union, associated with the policy of open borders, is currently surrounded by over 2,000 kilometers of border fences.