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Timeline: Azerbaijan

A chronology of key events:

1828 - Turkmanchay treaty between Russia, Persia divides Azerbaijan. Territory of present-day Azerbaijan becomes part of Russian empire while southern Azerbaijan is part of Persia.

BAKU
Mosque minaret against backdrop of oil towers, Baku
Minaret looks out over oil derricks in Azerbaijan's capital
Population: 1.7 million

1848-49 - World's first oil well is drilled south of Baku.

1879 - Nobel brothers set up oil-production company.

1918 - Independent Azerbaijani Republic declared.

1920 - Red Army invades; Azerbaijan is declared a Soviet Socialist Republic.

Soviet rule

1922 - Azerbaijan, part of Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Republic, becomes founder member of Soviet Union.

1936 - Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Republic dissolved ; Azerbaijan becomes full republic of Soviet Union.

1967 - Heydar Aliyev becomes head of Azerbaijani KGB; becomes head of Azerbaijani Communist Party in 1969.

1982 - Heydar Aliyev becomes full member of Soviet Politburo and first deputy chairman of USSR Council of Ministers.

1987 - Heydar Aliyev leaves Politburo and Council of Ministers.

Soviet era ends in violence

1988 - Nagorno-Karabakh region seeks to become part of Armenia. Ethnic Azeris begin to leave Karabakh and Armenia and ethnic Armenians leave Azerbaijan. At least 26 ethnic Armenians and six Azeris are killed in violence in Azerbaijani town of Sumqayit.

Azerbaijan soldiers in Nagorno-Karabakh
Full-scale war in Nagorno-Karabakh claimed 30,000 lives

1990 - Ethnic strife between Armenians and Azeris escalates. Azeri nationalist Popular Front rallies support amid growing disorder.

Trouble flares along border between Nakhichevan exclave and Iran as rioters destroy border installations. Tension eases after Soviet and Iranian authorities agree to ease restrictions on crossing between the two countries.

Dozens die in interethnic violence in Baku. Popular Front demonstrators demand resignation of communist authorities. Soviet troops use force to end unrest, killing at least 100 people. Azeri nationalists put death toll at several hundred.

Ayaz Mutallibov becomes Azeri Communist Party leader.

Communist Party later retains power in multiparty elections but parliament has an opposition for the first time.

1991 - After failed coup attempt in Moscow, Azerbaijani parliament votes to restore independence. In elections boycotted by opposition, Mr Mutallibov becomes president.

Heydar Aliyev becomes leader of the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan.

Leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh declares the region an independent republic. Inter-ethnic hostilities escalate.

War over Karabakh, political unrest

1992 - Hostilities develop into full-scale war over Karabakh. More than 600 Azeris are killed as they flee an Armenian attack on Karabakh town of Khodzhaly. Ethnic Armenian forces break through Azerbaijani territory to create a corridor linking Armenia to Karabakh,

Oil rigs are built outside Baku, Azerbaijan
World's first oil well was drilled in Azerbaijan

President Ayaz Mutallibov resigns. Abulfaz Elchibey, leader of nationalist People's Front, becomes president in Azerbaijan's first contested elections.

1993 - Armenia launches offensive into Azerbaijani territory around Karabakh.

Rebel army commander Col Surat Huseynov takes control of Azerbaijan's second city, Gyandzha, and marches on Baku. President Elchibey invites Aliyev to return to the capital and subsequently flees.

Mr Aliyev assumes leadership. Mr Huseynov becomes prime minister and is placed in charge of defence and security forces. Referendum indicates massive loss of public confidence in Elchibey. Aliyev wins presidential elections boycotted by Elchibey's People's Front.

1994 - Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh sign a ceasefire accord. Ethnic Armenians remain in control of Karabakh and a swathe of Azerbaijani territory around it.

Mr Aliyev cracks down hard on People's Front. Azerbaijani forces mount Karabakh counteroffensive.

Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh sign a ceasefire. Ethnic Armenians remain in control of Karabakh and a swathe of Azerbaijani territory around it.

Three members of the special police force are arrested after the assassinations of the deputy head of parliament and Mr Aliyev's security chief. Special police units led by Rovshan Javadov storm the Prosecutor's Office and their colleagues are released.

Government house in Baku
Government House in Baku, built in the Soviet era

President Aliyev describes the incident as a coup attempt and declares a state of emergency. In a separate incident, rebel forces capture key buildings in second city Gyandzha but are driven out by Aliyev's forces.

Despite his denial of involvement in rebel activity, PM Huseynov is dismissed and flees to Russia.

"Contract of the century"

1994 - Azerbaijan signs what it calls the "contract of the century" with a consortium of international oil companies for the exploration and exploitation of three offshore oil fields.

1995 - Government troops crush rebellion by Rovshan Jovadov's special police. He and dozens of other rebels are killed.

Nagorno-Karabakh, now acting as an independent republic, holds legislative elections. Robert Kocharian, formerly head of Karabakh's State Defence Committee, becomes executive president.

The New Azerbaijan Party, led by President Aliyev, wins the majority of seats in independent Azerbaijan's first multi-party elections, which, observers say, fail to meet international standards. Azerbaijan's new constitution is approved in a referendum.

QABALA RADAR STATION
Qabala radar station
The huge station warns Russia of missile launches

1996 - Incumbent President Robert Kocharian retains his post in direct presidential elections in Karabakh.

1997 - Robert Kocharian leaves Karabakh to become prime minister in Armenia. Foreign Minister Arkadiy Gukasian is elected Karabakh president.

Former PM Surat Huseynov is extradited from Russia. Following a lengthy trial for high treason he is eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.

Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Levon Ter-Petrosian agree to OSCE proposal for staged Karabakh solution. The Armenian leader is criticized at home for making too many concessions and subsequently resigns.

The first oil is produced by the Azerbaijani International Operating Company under the "contract of the century".

1998 - Opposition activists arrested at protests against what they say are unfair elections in which Heydar Aliyev is returned as president. International observers report irregularities.

Death penalty abolished.

Into the new millennium

2000 - Assassination attempt on Karabakh President Arkadiy Gukasian fails. Samvel Babayan, Karabakh's former defence minister, is jailed for 14 years for masterminding attack.

2001 - Azerbaijan becomes full member of Council of Europe, though council officials criticise it over human rights record.

US-brokered talks on Nagorno-Karabakh, held between Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents, end without result.

HEYDAR ALIYEV
Late president, Heydar Aliyev
Veteran leader who embraced the market economy

US lifts aid ban, imposed during Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, after Azerbaijan provides airspace and intelligence after 11 September attacks.

Talks between five Caspian countries on ownership of the sea continue all year but are inconclusive. Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey reach agreement on oil and gas pipelines linking Caspian fields with Turkey.

Azerbaijan officially shifts to the Latin alphabet for the Azeri language, in the fourth alphabet change in a century.

2002 May - Pope John Paul II makes his first visit to Azerbaijan and appeals for an end to religious wars.

2002 August - Referendum on amendments to constitution said to get strong support from voters. Critics allege irregularities, say poll is ruse to allow president to hand over power to his son.

2002 September - Construction work starts on multi-billion-dollar pipeline to carry Caspian oil from Azerbaijan to Turkey via Georgia.

Political succession

2003 August - Aliyev appoints his son, Ilham, as prime minister.

2003 October - Ilham Aliyev wins landslide victory in presidential poll said by observers not to reach international standards. Opposition protests met with police violence; hundreds arrested.

2003 December - Heydar Aliyev dies in a US hospital, aged 80. He was being treated for heart and kidney problems.

2005 ELECTION PROTESTS
Many reported injured as police use force to break up protest
Police use force to break up opposition demonstration

2005 March - Thousands mourn after journalist Elmar Huseynov, an outspoken critic of the authorities, shot dead in Baku.

2005 September-October - Police use force to break up opposition demonstrations in Baku as parliamentary elections approach.

2005 November - Ruling New Azerbaijan Party wins parliamentary elections by large margin. International observers say vote failed to meet democratic standards. Police use violence to disperse opposition protesters demanding a rerun.

2006 July - Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline formally opened at ceremony in Turkey after Caspian oil starts flowing along it.

2007 January - Azerbaijani state oil company stops pumping oil to Russia in dispute over energy prices.

2007 June - Russian President Vladimir Putin offers United States use of Russian-leased Qabala radar station in Azerbaijan as alternative to US plans to build missile defence system in Europe.

2007 July - Nagorno-Karabakh elects former head of security service Bako Sahakian to replace Arkadiy Gukasian as president.

2008 March - The worst fighting in recent years breaks out in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia accuse each other of starting the clashes, which leave several dead on each side.

2008 April - Azerbaijan allows Russian cargo of nuclear heat-isolating equipment to cross into Iran after holding it up for a month. The equipment was intended for the Bushehr nuclear plant.

Ilham Aliyev re-elected

2008 October - Ilham Aliyev wins a second term as president. Western observers say conduct of the election, boycotted by the main opposition parties, was an improvement on previous votes but still fell short of democratic standards.

2008 November - Armenia and Azerbaijan sign a joint agreement aimed at intensifying efforts to resolve their dispute over territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

2009 March - Referendum initiative to abolish a law limiting the president to two terms is passed with nearly 92% of the vote; the move means President Ilham Aliyev would be able to stand for a third term.

2009 November - Azerbaijani-Armenian talks on Nagorno-Karabakh end without achieving major breakthrough.

2010 April - Head of the Armenian church, Garegin II, makes first visit by senior Armenian cleric since the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the 1990s.

2010 November - President Aliyev's New Azerbaijan Party (NAP) wins increased majority in parliamentary elections; European monitors said the vote was flawed.

2010 September - BP announces plans for gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Europe, by-passing Russia.



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