April 16, 2024

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Nagorno-Karabakh Dissolves as Azerbaijan Seizes Control After Decades of Conflict

The self-declared republic of Nagorno-Karabakh is set to cease its existence starting next year. Following its defeat to Azerbaijan, the region’s president, Samvel Shahramanyan, signed a decree dissolving state institutions, as reported by CNN. This marks the culmination of a long-standing conflict and potentially the end of centuries of Armenian presence in the area.

Azerbaijan’s decisive victory led to a significant exodus of ethnic Armenians residing in Nagorno-Karabakh. Lasting just 24 hours, the Azerbaijani victory brought an end to decades of conflict and resulted in the reclamation of the breakaway region by Azerbaijan.

President Shahramanyan’s decree, effective January 1, 2024, calls for the dissolution of all institutions and organisations associated with the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), which lacks international recognition. The decree states, “The Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) ceases its existence.”

Nagorno-Karabakh, situated within Azerbaijan’s borders, has functioned autonomously with its de facto government for decades. Azerbaijan presented the Karabakh Armenians with a choice: accept Azerbaijani citizenship or leave. In response, a substantial portion of the population opted to leave their ancestral homes rather than submit to the rule of Baku.

The conflict began in September 2020 when Azerbaijan initiated an offensive, including missile strikes and the use of drones, targeting the regional capital of Stepanakert. This marked the third war over control of the region in recent decades.

During the Soviet Union era, both Armenia and Azerbaijan were member states, and Nagorno-Karabakh was designated as an autonomous region within the Republic of Azerbaijan. Tensions escalated in 1988 when Karabakh officials passed a resolution expressing their intention to join the Republic of Armenia. This led to violence and the outbreak of the First Karabakh War, resulting in around 30,000 casualties. The conflict finally concluded in 1994, with the Armenian side gaining control of the region.

The Second Karabakh War ignited in 2020 after years of sporadic clashes. With the support of Turkey, Azerbaijan swiftly reclaimed a significant portion of Karabakh’s territory in just 44 days. A Russian-brokered ceasefire ended hostilities, bringing a tenuous pause to the long-standing conflict.