On September 28, 2023, a separatist leader from Nagorno-Karabakh said that the breakaway region will cease to exist from January 1, 2024, as Azeri authorities plan to annex the region, as Azerbaijani authorities plan to annex the region in its entirety.
“Dissolve all state institutions and organisations under the departmental subordinate by January 1, 2024, and the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) will cease to exist,” said the decree, which was issued as tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians fled in the wake of Azerbaijan’s assault last week.
On September 20, 2023, a twenty-hour ceasefire halted the ongoing hostilities. Subsequently, Azerbaijan and Karabakh authorities initiated discussions about the enclave’s integration into Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan arrests top Karabakh Leader
An Armenian leader has been apprehended by Azerbaijan from the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. His name is Ruben Varadanyan. He was arrested as he tried to leave the region for Armenia, just like thousands of other ethnic Armenians who fear that they will be persecuted by the Azeri authorities.
Varadanyan is actually an Armenian businessman who led the regional movement from November 2022 to February 2023. His wife has now appealed for support to ensure the safe release of separatist leaders. “Ruben has stood with the Artsakh People during the ten-month blockade and has suffered with them in their struggle for survival said Veronika Zonabend.
Azerbaijan Cracking Down (War Crime Suspects)
In a statement, Azerbaijan’s statement said they were willing to offer amnesty to Armenian fighters who laid down their arms in Karabakh,” However, they made clear that those who committed war crimes during the Karabakh wars must be handed over to war crimes suspects.
However, many of the 120,000 ethnic Armenians living in the region express concerns about their future, with the Armenian Priem Minister alleging the onset of ethnic cleansing. In the recent weeks of fighting, Karabakh authorities reported a toll of at least 200 casualties, while Azerbaijan stated that 192 soldiers of its soldiers had lost their lives.
The Western Governments have been urging Azerbaijan to permit international observers to monitor their situation in Karabakh and the treatment of the local population. On September 26, 2023, Germany joined this chorus with the Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock advocating for transparency.
Nagorno-Karabakh, a region long controlled by ethnic Armenians, is officially recognised as a part of Azerbaijan. In December 2022, concerns of renewed conflicts arose when Azerbaijan effectively blocked a crucial access route to the enclave known as the Lachin Corridor.
It is a mountainous and heavily forested region which, under international law, is officially recognised as part of Azerbaijan. This region has many oil and gas pipelines that are close to the conflict zone. That pipelines in an open war would drastically affect energy supplies and raise oil prices.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan became Soviet Republics in 1921. The USSR granted Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan but also offered autonomy to the contested region. As Soviet power began to recede in the 1980, separatist currents emerged in the region. In 1988, the national assembly voted to dissolve the regions autonomous status and join Armenia
The self-declaration of independence by Nagorno-Karabakh after the USSR collapsed resulted in a war between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. The disputed region was supported by Armenia.