On Thursday, a separatist leader from Nagorno-Karabakh announced that the breakaway region will cease to exist starting from January 1. This announcement comes as Azerbaijani authorities intend to fully annex the region.
“Dissolve all state institutions and organisations under their departmental subordination by January 1, 2024, and the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) ceases 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
Nagorno-Karabakh, a region long controlled by ethnic Armenians, is officially recognized as part of Azerbaijan. In December 2022, concerns of renewed conflict arose when Azerbaijan effectively blocked a crucial access route to the enclave, known as the Lachin corridor.
On September 20, a 24-hour ceasefire halted 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.
Ruben Vardanyan was arrested as he tried to leave the region for Armenia just like thousands of other ethnic Armenians, who fear they will be persecuted by the Azeri authorities.
Vardanyan’s wife has now appealed for support to ensure the safe release of the separatist leader.
“Ruben has stood with the Arsakh people during the 10-month blockade and has suffered with them in their struggle for survival,” said Veronika Zonabend.
Azerbaijan cracking down on “war crime suspects”
Azerbaijan in a statement to AFP 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 us.”
Baku earlier said they were actively looking for “war crimes” suspects.
However, many of the 120,000 ethnic Armenians living in the region express concerns about their future, with Armenia’s prime minister alleging the onset of “ethnic cleansing.”
In the recent week’s fighting, Karabakh authorities reported a toll of at least 200 casualties, while Azerbaijan stated that 192 of its soldiers had lost their lives.
Western governments have been urging Azerbaijan to permit international observers to monitor the situation in Karabakh and the treatment of the local population. On Tuesday, Germany joined this chorus, with Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock advocating for “transparency.”