Republic of Artsakh, also referred to as the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, is an independent democratic state, established in 1991 in the process of disintegration of the Soviet Union. The Republic was proclaimed in compliance with then acting legislation and international norms. Sovereignty of the Republic has firm legal, historical and moral grounds.
History of Artsakh as an Armenian principality traces back to the 5th century B.C., when it was the 10th province of the Ancient Kingdom of Armenia. In the following centuries, as part of Armenia, Artsakh fell under the rule of various powers, but always remained Armenian playing an important role in the development of the Armenian statehood, culture and civilization in general.
Artsakh has become subject of international dispute in 1918, when Armenia restored its statehood, but began to face territorial claims by Azerbaijan, which had appeared for the first time on the political map as a country. Yet, the League of Nations – the antecedent of the United Nations – did not recognize Azerbaijani state, and rejected its claims for Artsakh and other Armenian territories. Artsakh has never been a part of independent Azerbaijani state.
In 1918, during the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turkey from 1915 to 1923, Azerbaijan with support of Turkey tried to occupy Artsakh, but met fierce resistance of local Armenians. The dispute was largely shelved in 1920, after the newly-created Soviet Union established control over the South Caucasus. In 1921, Soviet dictator Stalin, conspiring with the Turkish government, illegally and illegitimately placed Artsakh as autonomy within the Azerbaijan Soviet Republic. The boundaries of the autonomy were drawn in a way that a significant part of Artsakh was left outside.
During seven decades of Artsakh’s existence within Soviet Azerbaijan – a part of the Soviet Union – Azerbaijani authorities have regularly violated the rights of local population, hampered the region’s economic development, created unbearable conditions for Armenians with a view to forcing them to leave Artsakh and changing the demographic situation.
Azerbaijan’s discrimination and infringement on the fundamental rights of Armenians, Russians, Jews, Greeks, Kurds and other nations living in Artsakh for centuries became the main cause of the Artsakh liberation movement. In February 1988, the supreme legislative body of Artsakh petitioned to transfer the entity back under Armenian administration. Yet, the peaceful claim was soon responded by a wave of anti-Armenian massacres in largest towns across Azerbaijan, hundreds of kilometers away from Artsakh proper.
In 1991, a referendum held in Artsakh resulted in declaration of state independence. In response to the legal democratic process, Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh. The war lasted from 1991 to 1994, and claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides, and forced close to a million people of their homes. Azerbaijan’s aggression ended with a ceasefire co-signed by Artsakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Since 1992, OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by the United States, Russia and France, spearhead the conflict settlement process. The mediators have since helped develop various sets of proposals, none of which, however, created solid grounds for lasting peace.
Today Artsakh is a presidential democracy with a unicameral legislature. All rounds of presidential, parliamentary and other elections have been assessed by hundreds of international observers from major democracies as free and transparent. The country corresponds to all criteria of a democratic statehood. Artsakh has effective government, developing market economy, a vibrant civil society, and a strong military. Its population is predominantly Christian Armenian. Artsakh is a home to hospitable people, and a place of beautiful nature, ancient monasteries, historical monuments and welcoming infrastructure.
The Republic of Artsakh strives for international recognition of its independent statehood. Artsakh supports regional stability, and continues to cooperate with the international community towards solution of all remaining problems with Azerbaijan. Unfortunately, autocratic Azerbaijan continues to reject the realities on the ground, and threatens to resume large-scale aggression against Artsakh. In April 2016, and in July, 2020, Azerbaijan has launched two unsuccessful attacks against Artsakh and Armenia respectively, which resulted in unnecessary human suffering on both Armenian and Azerbaijani sides, and potentially threatened to spill over the regional boundaries causing dangerous international escalation.
The international recognition of Artsakh will significantly promote stability in the South Caucasus. Recognition of Artsakh’s independence neither violates territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, nor threatens its existence. It will help prevent resumption of Azerbaijan’s large-scale aggression, prevent repetition of Genocide against the Armenian people, save Armenian and Azerbaijani lives.
After 28 years of negotiations with no tangible result, it is time to help the people of the Republic of Artsakh to take their rightful place on the world stage as a recognized sovereign nation.