Over 65,000 Flee as Nagorno-Karabakh Teeters on Dissolution Amid Azerbaijani Takeover

Yerevan, Armenia – In the wake of a rapid military campaign by Azerbaijani forces that resulted in the takeover of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, over 65,000 individuals have sought refuge in Armenia, marking a staggering exodus that comprises more than half of the estimated population of the separatist enclave. This dire situation, as reported by Reuters on Thursday, citing a spokesperson for the Armenian Prime Minister, underscores the perilous state of the internationally unrecognized Karabakh republic, which now faces dissolution.

President Samvel Shahramanyan of the Republic of Karabakh, also known as the Artsakh Republic, has issued a decree mandating the dissolution of all state institutions, set to take effect from January 1, 2024. This drastic measure, reported by local authorities and corroborated by foreign news agencies, effectively signals the impending cessation of the internationally unrecognized state entity. Nagorno-Karabakh has been under the control of ethnic Armenians for the past three decades, but in a swift military offensive last week, Azerbaijan assumed dominion over the region.

While Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, it is primarily inhabited by ethnic Armenians. A violent conflict in 1994 saw Armenian separatists, backed by Yerevan, gain control of the enclave and its surrounding territories. In a six-week confrontation with Armenia in 2020, Azerbaijan recaptured bordering districts and a portion of Karabakh, leading to a ceasefire brokered by Russia, which has since maintained around 2,000 troops in the area as peacekeepers.

Last Tuesday, Baku launched a military operation in Nagorno-Karabakh to assert its authority over the region. In quick succession, Azerbaijani forces breached the defensive lines held by Armenian separatists, resulting in the capitulation of the Karabakh authorities. Baku demanded that Karabakh soldiers disarm and the separatist government cease its activities.

The President of the Karabakh republic has now signed a corresponding decree, invoking the ceasefire agreement from the previous week, as reported by AP. Under the terms of this agreement, Baku is obligated to facilitate “free, voluntary, and unobstructed movement” for Nagorno-Karabakh residents.

In recent days, tens of thousands of individuals have fled the region, fearing persecution and the specter of ethnic cleansing. According to Yerevan’s accounts, more than 65,000 people have relocated from the separatist region to Armenia, representing over half of its estimated population. This unprecedented displacement further compounds the humanitarian crisis in an already volatile region.

Article by Prague Forum

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