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 approximately 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 the deployment of the military forces of Russia to the region, Azerbaijan was also tried to achieve on the settlement of the international peacekeeping forces in the region under the auspice of CSCE after the cease-fire agreement. However, the CSCE did not have that kind of mechanism to create peacekeeping forces as such.[2]

The only political leverage Azerbaijan gained was a chance to play for time in which to attract international investors and oil companies to exploit the huge hydrocarbon resources off the Caspian Sea coast. Thus, Azerbaijan was able to sign a “Deal of the Century” with western energy consortiums on September 20, 1994,[3] three months after the ceasefire agreement was signed. This brought Azerbaijan huge 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 are under the occupation of Armenia since signing the cease-fire 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 (New York University Press, 2003), p. 254.

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