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Armenia/Azerbaijan Conflict and the historical Background and the Current status of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)

Karte des Kaukasischen Isthmus - Entworfen und gezeichnet von J-Grassl - 1856.jpgArmenia/Azerbaijan Conflict and the historical Background and the Current status of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)

This is the second in a series of three posts By Dr Andrew Ashdown, Manager of Good Governance and Advocacy Development at HART.

Artsakh pictured here by Author: Meyer, Joseph, 1796-1856 Public Domain, Link was one of the three ancient provinces of Armenia, established 189 BC and located in the eastern end of the Armenian Plateau. The Historical roots of Artsakh trace back to the 5th century BC.

In 1724, Ottoman troops invaded the Armenian land and attacked the Artsakh Armenian population, who yet again rose to struggle for their independence.

In 1923, the area now known as Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) was annexed by Stalin to the New Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan even though the majority of Nagorno Karabakh’s (Artsakh) population (94%) were Armenians who voted to reunite with Armenia and even protested against Stalin’s decision.[1]

After the fall of USSR, Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) fought for their right to reunite with their motherland. During the perestroika reforms that eventually led to the Soviet collapse, Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) held a referendum, voting to secede from Azerbaijan and become part of Armenia.

Azerbaijan fought against their freedom and turned this conflict into an ethnic cleansing war that ended in 1994.

The Current status of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh)

Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) is an autonomous State, covering most of the territory of the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, but internationally is recognised as part of Azerbaijan.

Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) declared independence in 1992.

The current status of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) is in part due to compromises accepted by Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) itself:

• It has remained independent and separate from Armenia, rather than included in Armenia, partly so as not to further inflame Azeri sentiment.

• Armenia has not formally recognised its sovereign status – in deference to international sensitivity.

• Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) has not pressed internationally the point of recognition by other countries.

• Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) has accepted a status of ‘frozen conflict’ on the basis that this is better than outright war. Yet, leaving the status of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) as a ‘frozen conflict’ is NOT advantageous for Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh), or Armenia, economically, politically or diplomatically. It is a compromise offered to Azerbaijan.

Thus, any media or political claim that Armenia are ‘occupiers’ is untrue and a misrepresentation of the facts.

According to legal experts, such as Geoffrey Robertson QC, Azerbaijan’s repeated claims to sovereignty over Karabakh can be refuted. It has always been predominantly occupied by ethnic Armenians. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1988, and despite Azeri transmigration to it encouraged by Baku, the population was still 75% Armenian.

After the Sumgait massacres of Armenians by Azerbaijanis in Azerbaijan, they at first voted for unification with Armenia. But after the Karabakh army overcame the Azeri invasion, they decided by overwhelming vote in 1992 to become an independent republic.

Under International law, this referendum was legal.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan’s previous attempt at ethnic cleansing, and Azerbaijan’s continuing attempt now at ethnic cleansing which includes targeting civilians with tanks, helicopters, heavy artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, including Smerch, and cluster bombs, contrary to international law, justify Nagorno-Karabakh’s (Artsakh) claim for self-determination under the UN charter.

Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) is a Presidential democracy with a ‘unicameral’ (single legislative) parliamentary chamber. The population is mostly ethnic Armenian and the main language spoken is Armenian. Some say that the country’s dependence on Armenia mean that it is de facto a part of Armenia. Armenia remains reluctant at present to recognise Nagorno Karabakh’s (Artsakh) independence, but supports its autonomous status. The population is overwhelmingly Christian. Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) has its own defence army and instruments of State.


[1] De Waal, Thomas (2019) The Caucasus. An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2nd Edn. P. 105

You can read the first post here
Original Source here

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