Last modified on 17 November 2014, at 19:42

Nagorno-Karabakh Republic

"NKR" redirects here. For other uses, see NKR (disambiguation).
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի Հանրապետություն
Lernayin Gharabaghi Hanrapetut'yun
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Ազատ ու Անկախ Արցախ (Armenian)
Azat u Ankakh Artsakh  (transliteration)
Free and Independent Artsakh

Capital
and largest city
Stepanakert
39°52′N 46°43′E / 39.867°N 46.717°E / 39.867; 46.717
Official languages Armeniana
Government Unrecognised
presidential republic
 -  President Bako Sahakyan
 -  Prime Minister Arayik Harutyunyan
 -  Chairman of Parliament Ashot Ghulian
Legislature National Assembly
Independence from Soviet Union
 -  Declaration 2 September 1991[1] 
 -  Recognition 3 non-UN members 
Area
 -  Total 11,458.38 km2
4,424.10 sq mi
Population
 -  2013 estimate 146,573[2]
 -  2010 census 141,400[3]
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $1.6 billion (n/a)
 -  Per capita $2,581 (2011 est.) (n/a)
Currency Armenian dram (de factob (AMD)
Time zone (UTC+4[4])
Calling code +374 47c
Internet TLD noned
a. The constitution guarantees "the free use of other languages spread among the population".
b. Nagorno-Karabakh dram sold as souvenirs.[5]
c. +374 97 for mobile phones.
d. .am

Nagorno-Karabakh, officially the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR; Armenian: Լեռնային Ղարաբաղի Հանրապետություն Lernayin Gharabaghi Hanrapetut'yun), Artsakh Republic or Republic of Artsakh (Armenian: Արցախի Հանրապետություն Arts'akhi Hanrapetut'yun),[6] is a republic in the South Caucasus recognised only by three other non-UN states.[7] Recognised by the United Nations as part of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh controls most of the territory of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast and some of the surrounding area, giving it a border with Armenia to the west and Iran to the south.[8]

The predominantly Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh was claimed by both the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic and the First Republic of Armenia when both countries became independent in 1918. After the Soviet Union established control over the area, it created the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) within the Azerbaijan SSR in 1923. In the final years of the Soviet Union, the region re-emerged as a source of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In 1991, a referendum held in the NKAO and the neighbouring Shahumian region resulted in a declaration of independence. Large-scale ethnic conflict led to the 1991–1994 Nagorno-Karabakh War, which ended with a ceasefire that left the current borders.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is a presidential democracy with a unicameral parliament. The de facto country is very mountainous, averaging 1,097 metres (3,599 ft) above sea level. The population is predominantly Christian, with most Christians being affiliated with the Armenian Apostolic Church. Several historical monasteries are popular with tourists, mostly from the Armenian diaspora, as most travel can take place only between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

HistoryEdit

See also: Artsakh

Government and politicsEdit

Nagorno-Karabakh is a presidential democracy. The executive power primarily belongs to the president. According to the NKR Constitution the president appoints and dismisses the prime minister.[9] The National Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh is the parliament, forming a unicameral legislature. It has 33 members who are elected for 5-year terms.[10] The current President is Bako Sahakyan.[11] In the recent presidential elections held on 19 July 2012 the incumbent president Sahakyan has been reelected for the second term.[12]

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has a multi-party system; as of 2009, the American NGO Freedom House ranks the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic above the republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan with respect to civil and political rights.[13][14][15] Three organisations have members in the parliament: Democratic Party of Artsakh has 18 members, Free Motherland has 8 members, and the Movement 88 alliance has 3 members.[10] A number of non-partisan candidates also take part in elections, and with some success; in 2005, eight of the 33 members to the National Assembly took their seat without running under the banner of established political parties in the republic.

ConstitutionEdit

On 3 November 2006, the then President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Arkadi Ghukasyan signed a decree to carry out a referendum on a draft Nagorno-Karabakh constitution.[16] This was held on 10 December of the same year[17] among the citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh, which voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new constitution.[18] According to official preliminary results, with a turnout of 87.2%,[citation needed] as many as 98.6 percent of voters approved the constitution.[17] The 1st article of the document describes the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as "a sovereign, democratic legal and social state". More than 100 non-governmental international observers and journalists who monitored the poll evaluated it positively, stating that it was held to a high international standard.[19]

However, the poll was criticised sharply by inter-governmental organisations such as the European Union, OSCE and GUAM, which have all rejected the referendum, deeming it illegitimate[19][20] The EU announced it was "aware that a 'constitutional referendum' has taken place," but emphasised its stance that only a negotiated settlement between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians can bring a lasting solution.[21] Secretary General of the Council of Europe Terry Davis asserted that the poll "will not be recognised ... and is therefore of no consequence".[19] In a statement, the OSCE chairman in office Karel De Gucht voiced his concern that the vote may prove potentially harmful to the ongoing conflict settlement process, which, he said, has shown "visible progress" and is at a "promising juncture".[17]

The outcome was also criticised by Turkey, which traditionally supports Azerbaijan because of common ethnic Turkic roots, and has historically had severe tensions with Armenia.[22][23]

Foreign relationsEdit

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is based in Stepanakert. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic operates five permanent Missions and one Bureau of Social-Politic Information in France. The NKR Permanent Missions exist in Armenia, Australia, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, and one for Middle East countries based in Beirut.[24] The goals of the offices are to present the Republic's positions on various issues, to provide information and to facilitate the peace process.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is a member of the Community for Democracy and Rights of Nations, commonly known as the "Commonwealth of Unrecognized States".

MilitaryEdit

A T-72 tank standing as a memorial commemorating the Capture of Shusha.

According to the NKR Constitution the army is under the civilian command of the government.[25] The Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army was officially established on 9 May 1992 as a defense against Azerbaijan. It succeeded in fighting the Azerbaijani army to a ceasefire on 12 May 1994.[26] Currently the Nagorno-Karabakh Defence Army consists of around 18,000–20,000 officers and soldiers. However, only 8,500 citizens from Nagorno-Karabakh serve in the NK army; some 10,000 come from Armenia.. There are also 177–316 tanks, 256–324 additional fighting vehicles, and 291–322 guns and mortars. Armenia supplies arms and other military necessities to Karabakh. Several battalions of Armenia's army are deployed directly in the Karabakh zone on occupied Azerbaijani territory.[27]

The Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army fought the Battle of Shusha in 1992, involving the opening of the Lachin corridor between The Republic of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh (1992), and the defense of the Martakert front from 1992–1994.

Land minesEdit

The region of Nagorno-Karabakh is considered to be one of the most heavily mined regions of the former Soviet Union. Mines were laid from 1991 to 1994 by both conflicting parties in the Nagorno-Karabakh War. The United Nations and the U.S. have estimated the number of mines in Nagorno-Karabakh at 100,000. There have been many civilian casualties resulting from the land mines. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) claims that 123 people have been killed and over 300 injured by landmines near the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh since a 1994 truce ended a six-year conflict between ethnic Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.[28] The HALO Trust – UK based demining NGO, is the only other organisation conducting demining in Nagorno Karabakh.[29]

Current situationEdit

Nagorno-Karabakh status processEdit

  Territory controlled by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
  Claimed by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic but controlled by Azerbaijan.
General view of the capital Stepanakert

Today, Nagorno-Karabakh is a de facto independent state, calling itself the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It has close relations with the Republic of Armenia and uses the same currency, the dram. According to Human Rights Watch, "from the beginning of the Karabakh conflict, Armenia provided aid, weapons, and volunteers. Armenian involvement in Karabakh escalated after a December 1993 Azerbaijani offensive. The Republic of Armenia began sending conscripts and regular Army and Interior Ministry troops to fight in Karabakh."[30] The politics of Armenia and the de facto NKR are so intertwined that a former president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Robert Kocharyan, became first the prime minister (1997) and then the president of Armenia (1998 to 2008).

However, Armenian governments have repeatedly resisted internal pressure to unite the two, due to ongoing negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group. In his case study of Eurasia, Dov Lynch of the Institute for Security Studies of WEU believes that "Karabakh's independence allows the new Armenian state to avoid the international stigma of aggression, despite the fact that Armenian troops fought in the war between 1991–94 and continue to man the Line of Contact between Karabakh and Azerbaijan." Lynch also cites that the "strength of the Armenian armed forces, and Armenia's strategic alliance with Russia, are seen as key shields protecting the Karabakh state by the authorities in Stepanakert."[31] Some sources consider Nagorno-Karabakh as functioning de facto as part of Armenia.[32][33][34][35][36]

At present, the mediation process is at a standstill, with the most recent discussions in Rambouillet, France, yielding no agreement. Azerbaijan has officially requested Armenian troops to withdraw from all disputed areas of Azerbaijan outside Nagorno-Karabakh, and that all displaced persons be allowed to return to their homes before the status of Karabakh can be discussed.[citation needed] Armenia does not recognise Azerbaijani claims to Nagorno-Karabakh, and believes the territory should have self-determination.[37] Both the Armenian and Karabakh governments note that the independence of the NKR was declared around the time the Soviet Union dissolved and its members became independent.[38][39] The Armenian government insists that the government of Nagorno-Karabakh be part of any discussions on the region's future, and rejects ceding occupied territory or allowing refugees to return before talks on the region's status.[40]

Representatives of Armenia, Azerbaijan, France, Russia and the United States met in Paris and in Key West, Florida, in early 2001.[41] Despite rumours that the parties were close to a solution, the Azerbaijani authorities – both during Heydar Aliyev's period of office, and after the accession of his son Ilham Aliyev in the October 2003 elections – have firmly denied that any agreement was reached in Paris or Key West.

Shushi

Further talks between the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents, Ilham Aliyev and Robert Kocharyan, were held in September 2004 in Astana, Kazakhstan, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit. Reportedly, one of the suggestions put forward was the withdrawal of the occupying forces from the Azeri territories adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh and then holding referendums (plebiscites) in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan proper regarding the future status of the region. On 10 and 11 February 2006, Kocharyan and Aliyev met in Rambouillet, France, to discuss the fundamental principles of a settlement to the conflict. Contrary to the initial optimism, the Rambouillet talks did not produce any agreement, with key issues such as the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and whether Armenian troops would withdraw from Kalbajar still being contentious.[42]

Talks were held at the Polish embassy in Bucharest in June 2006.[43] Again, American, Russian, and French diplomats attended the talks that lasted over 40 minutes.[44] Earlier, Armenian President Kocharyan announced that he was ready to "continue dialogue with Azerbaijan for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and with Turkey on establishing relations without any preconditions."[45]

According to Armenian foreign minister, Vardan Oskanyan, no progress was made at this latest meeting. Both presidents failed to reach a consensus on the issues from the earlier Rambouillet conference. He noted that the Kocharyan-Aliyev meeting was held in a normal atmosphere. "Nevertheless," he added, "the foreign ministers of the two countries are commissioned to continue talks over settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and try to find common points before the next meeting of the presidents."[46]

The major disagreement between both sides at the Bucharest conference was the status of Karabakh. Azerbaijan's preferred solution would be to give Karabakh the "highest status of autonomy adopted in the world."[47] Armenia, on the other hand, endorsed a popular vote by the inhabitants of Karabakh to decide their future, a position that was also taken by the[which?] international mediators.[48] On 27 June, the Armenian foreign minister said both parties agreed to allow the residents of Karabakh to vote regarding the future status of the region.[49] The Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially refuted that statement.[50] According to Azeri opposition leader Isa Gambar, however, Azerbaijan did indeed agree to the referendum. Still, nothing official has confirmed this yet.[51]

The ongoing "Prague Process" overseen by the OSCE Minsk Group was brought into sharp relief in the summer of 2006 with a series of rare public revelations seemingly designed to jump-start the stalled negotiations. After the release in June of a paper outlining its position, which had until then been carefully guarded, U.S. State Department official Matthew Bryza told Radio Free Europe that the Minsk Group favored a referendum in Karabakh that would determine its final status. The referendum, in the view of the OSCE, should take place not in Azerbaijan as a whole, but in Nagorno-Karabakh only. This was a blow to Azerbaijan, and despite talk that their government might eventually seek a more sympathetic forum for future negotiations, this has not yet happened.[52]

On 10 December 2007 Azerbaijan's deputy foreign minister said Azerbaijan would be prepared to conduct anti-terrorist operations in Nagorno-Karabakh against alleged bases of the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK).[53] Armenian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Vladimir Karapetian previously rejected the allegations as "fabricated" and suggested the accusations of the PKK presence were a form of provocation.[54]

In 2008, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev stated that "Nagorno Karabakh will never be independent; the position is backed by international mediators as well; Armenia has to accept the reality" and that "in 1918, Yerevan was granted to the Armenians. It was a great mistake. The khanate of Iravan was the Azeri territory, the Armenians were guests here".[55] On the other hand, in 2009 president of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan declared that "Artsakh will never be a part of Azerbaijan. NKR security should never be an article of commerce either. As to other issues, we are ready to discuss them with Azerbaijan.".[56] In 2010 president of Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan in his speech in the Chatham House of the British Royal Institute of International Affairs declared that "Karabakh was never a part of independent Azerbaijan: it was annexed to Azerbaijan by a decision of the Soviet Union party body. The people of Karabakh never put up with this decision, and upon the first opportunity, seceded from the Soviet Union fully in line with the laws of the Soviet Union and the applicable international law".[57]

Artsakh Street in Watertown, Massachusetts.

On 14 March 2008, the United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution by a vote of 39 to 7, with 100 abstentions, reaffirming Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, expressing support for that country's internationally recognized borders and demanding the immediate withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all occupied territories there. The resolution was supported mainly by members of the OIC and GUAM, both of which Azerbaijan is a member, as well as other nations facing breakaway regions. The resolution was opposed by all three members of the OSCE Minsk Group.[58]

On 20 May 2010, the European Parliament adopted a resolution "on the need for an EU strategy for the South Caucasus", which states that EU must pursue a strategy to promote stability, prosperity and conflict resolution in the South Caucasus.[59] The resolution "calls on the parties to intensify their peace talk efforts for the purpose of a settlement in the coming months, to show a more constructive attitude and to abandon preferences to perpetuate the status quo created by force and with no international legitimacy, creating in this way instability and prolonging the suffering of the war-affected populations; condemns the idea of a military solution and the heavy consequences of military force already used, and calls on both parties to avoid any further breaches of the 1994 ceasefire". The resolution also calls for withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan, accompanied by deployment of international forces to be organised with respect of the UN Charter in order to provide the necessary security guarantees in a period of transition, which will ensure the security of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh and allow the displaced persons to return to their homes and further conflicts caused by homelessness to be prevented; and states that the EU believes that the position according to which Nagorno-Karabakh includes all occupied Azerbaijani lands surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh should rapidly be abandoned. It also notes "that an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh could offer a solution until the final status is determined and that it could create a transitional framework for peaceful coexistence and cooperation of Armenian and Azerbaijani populations in the region."[60]

On 26 June 2010, the presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group's Co-Chair countries, France, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America made a joint statement, reaffirming their "commitment to support the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as they finalize the Basic Principles for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict".[61]

After Armenia established diplomatic relations with Tuvalu in March 2012, it was speculated in the press that Armenia was attempting to persuade the small island nation to be the first state to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh's independence.[62] Tuvalu recognized two other disputed states in the Caucasus, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the previous year.

Recognition processEdit

  • In May 2012, the Rhode Island House of Representatives in the United States passed a resolution calling on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The resolution, adopted by the state's House of Representatives, encourages Nagorno-Karabakh's "efforts to develop as a free and independent nation."[63]
  • In August 2012, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.[64]
  • In October 2012, New South Wales, Australia, recognized Nagorno-Karabakh.[65]
  • In April 2013, the Maine House of Representatives and Senate in the United States passed a resolution accepting Nagorno Karabakh's independence and urging President Barack Obama to also accept Nagorno Karabakh's independence.[66]
  • In April 2013, Fresno County in California recognized Nagorno-Karabakh.[67][68]
  • In May 2013, the Louisiana State Senate in the United States passed a resolution accepting Nagorno Karabakh's independence and expressed support for the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's efforts to develop as a free and independent nation.[69]
  • In November 2013, Highland, California, recognized Nagorno-Karabakh and was twinned with Berdzor.[67][70]
  • In January 2014, Los Angeles recognized Nagorno-Karabakh.[71]
  • In May 2014, the California State Assembly passed a measure recognizing Nagorno-Karabakh's independence with a 70–1 vote.[72] The measure also calls for President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.[73]
  • In May 2014 the Louisiana State Senate adopted a resolution saluting the Nagorno Karabakh Republic’s independence and urging the U.S. President and Congress to "Support Self-Determination and Democratic Independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic".[74]
  • On 27 August 2014 the California State Senate voted unanimously (23-0) to pass Assembly Joint Resolution 32, recognizing the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh as a sovereign state. The resolution encourages Artsakh’s efforts to develop as a free and independent nation and formally calls upon the upon the President and Congress of the United States to support the self-determination and democratic independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.[75][76]

Human rightsEdit

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has resulted in the displacement of 528,000 Azerbaijanis from Armenian territories (this figure does not include new born children of these IDPs) including Nagorno Karabakh, and 220,000 Azeris, 18,000 Kurds and 3,500 Russians fled from Armenia to Azerbaijan from 1988 to 1989. The Azerbaijani government has estimated that 63 percent of internally displaced persons (IDPs) lived below the poverty line as compared to 49% of the total population. About 154,000 lived in the capital, Baku. According to the International Organization for Migration, 40,000 IDPs lived in camps, 60,000 in underground dugout shelters, and 20,000 in railway cars. Forty-thousand IDPs lived in EU-funded settlements and UNHCR provided housing for another 40,000. Another 5,000 IDPs lived in abandoned or rapidly deteriorating schools. Others lived in trains, on roadsides in half-constructed buildings, or in public buildings such as tourist and health facilities. Tens of thousands lived in seven tent camps where poor water supply and sanitation caused gastro-intestinal infections, tuberculosis, and malaria.[77]

The Azerbaijani government has been unwilling to integrate the IDPs into the rest of the population as this could be interpreted as acceptance of the permanent loss of Nagorno-Karabakh.[citation needed] The government required IDPs to register their place of residence in an attempt to better target the limited and largely inadequate national and international assistance due to the Armenian advocated and US imposed restrictions on humanitarian aid to Azerbaijan. Many IDPs were from rural areas and found it difficult to integrate into the urban labor market. Many international humanitarian agencies reduced or ceased assistance for IDPs citing increasing oil revenues of the country.[78] The infant mortality among displaced Azerbaijani children is 3–4 times higher than in the rest of the population. The rate of stillbirth was 88.2 per 1,000 births among the internally displaced people. The majority of the displaced have lived in difficult conditions for more than 13 years.[79]

280,000 persons—virtually all ethnic Armenians who fled Azerbaijan during the 1988–1993 war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh—were living in refugee-like circumstances in Armenia.[80] Some left the country, principally to Russia. Their children born in Armenia acquire citizenship automatically. Their numbers are thus subject to constant decline due to departure, and de-registration required for naturalization. Of these, about 250,000 fled Azerbaijan-proper (areas outside Nagorno-Karabakh); approximately 30,000 came from Nagorno-Karabakh. All were registered with the government as refugees at year's end.[80]

GeographyEdit

Mount Mrav, the highest peak in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is mountainous, a feature which has given it its name (from the Russian for "Mountainous/Highland Karabakh"). It is 11,500 km2 (4,440 sq mi) in area, bordering Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran. The highest peaks in the country are Mount Mrav, 3,340 metres (10,958 ft), and Mount Kirs 2,725 metres (8,940 ft). The largest water body is the Sarsang reservoir, and the major rivers are the Terter and Khachen rivers.[81] The country is on a plateau which slopes downwards towards the east and southeast, with the average altitude being 3,600 ft (1,097 m) above sea level. Most rivers in the country flow towards the Artsakh valley.[82]

The climate is mild and temperate. The average temperature is 11 °C (52 °F), which fluctuates annually between 22 °C (72 °F) in July and −1 °C (30 °F) in January. The average precipitation can reach 71 cm (28 in) in some regions, and it is foggy for over 100 days a year.[82]

Over 2,000 kinds of plants exist in Nagorno-Karabakh, and more than 36% of the country is forested. The plant life on the steppes is mostly semi-desert vegetation, and alpine and tundra environments[clarification needed] can be found above the forest in the highlands and mountains.[82]

Administrative divisionsEdit

Map of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic indicating its provinces.
1: Shahumyan; 2: Mardakert;
3: Askeran; 4: Martuni; 5: Hadrut;
6: Shushi; 7: Kashatagh.
(Stepanakert not shown.)
Main cities and towns in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has eight administrative divisions. Their territories include the five districts of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO), the Shahumyan District in the Azerbaijan SSR which is currently under Azerbaijani control, and the seven district around the former NKAO that are under the control of the NKR forces.

Following the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's declaration of independence, the Azerbaijani government abolished the NKAO and created Azerbaijani districts in its place. As a result, some of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's divisions correspond with the Azerbaijani districts, while others have different borders. A comparative table of the current divisions of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and the corresponding districts of Azerbaijan follows:[83]

# Division Population (2005) Rayon(s) Sahar (city) Former NKAO?
1 Shahumian 2,560 Southern Goranboy, Western Kalbajar Kalbajar (formerly Shahumian) No
2 Martakert 18,963 Eastern Kalbajar, Western Tartar, portion of Agdam Martakert Partially
3 Askeran 16,979 Khojali, portion of Agdam Askeran Yes
4 Martuni 23,157 Northern Khojavend, portion of Agdam Martuni Partially
5 Hadrut 12,005 Southern Khojavend, Jabrayil, portion of Fizuli Hadrut Partially
6 Shushi 4,324 Shusha Shushi Yes
7 Kashatagh 9,763 Lachin, Qubadli, Zangilan Berdzor No
8 Stepanakert (capital) 49,986 Khojali Stepanakert Yes
Nagorno-Karabakh[84] Azerbaijan

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic claims Shahumian, which was not part of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast. Representatives from Shahumian declared independence along with Nagorno-Karabakh, and the proclamation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic includes the Shahumian region within its borders.[85] Unlike the rest of Nagorno-Karabakh, Shahumian remains under Azerbaijani control.

DemographicsEdit

Stepanakert's main boulevard.
Azokh village.

In 2002, the country's population was 145,000, made up of 95% Armenians and 5% others.[81] In March 2007, the local government announced that its population had grown to 138,000. The annual birth rate was recorded at 2,200–2,300 per year, an increase from nearly 1,500 in 1999.

OSCE report, released in March 2011, estimates the population of the "seven occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh" to be 14,000, and states "there has been no significant growth in the population since 2005."[86][87]

Until 2000, the country's net migration was at a negative.[88] For the first half of 2007, 1,010 births and 659 deaths were reported, with a net emigration of 27.[89]

According to age group: 15,700 (0–6), 25,200 (7–17) 75,800 (18–59) and 21,000 (60+)

Population by province (2006):

Population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (2000–2008)[90][91]

Year Population (000s) Urban Rural Birth rate Death rate NGR Net Immigration
2000 134.4 68.4 66.0 16.6 8.8 7.7 16.1
2001 135.7 68.7 67.0 17.0 7.9 9.1 11.5
2002 136.6 69.3 67.3 16.0 9.1 6.9 4.9
2003 137.0 69.1 67.9 15.0 9.0 6.0 1.3
2004 137.2 69.8 67.4 15.3 9.5 5.8 −2.6
2005 137.7 70.5 67.2 14.6 9.2 5.4 1.7
2006 137.7 70.8 66.9 15.3 9.0 6.3 −3.2
2007 138.8 71.6 67.2 15.4 8.8 6.6 −1.4
2008 139.9 72.7 67.2 17.3 9.4 7.9 2.6

Ethnic compositionEdit

According to the 2005 NKR Census, the country's ethnic composition is:[92]

ReligionEdit

Most of the Armenian population in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is Christian and belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church which is an Oriental Orthodox Church.

Certain Eastern Orthodox and Evangelical denominations also exist; other religions include Judaism.[81] However, military authorities prohibited any Christian sect activity in Nagorno-Karabakh, for the reason that they would preach pacifism among population.[93]

The Gandzasar monastery ("Գանձասար" in Armenian) is a historical monastery in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic). Another is Dadivank Monastery (Armenian: Դադիվանք) also Khutavank (Armenian: Խութավանք – Monastery on the Hill) that was built between the 9th and 13th century. The Nagorno Karabakh government's aim is to include the Gandzasar Monastery into the directory of the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Ghazanchetsots Cathedral (built 1868–1888) (Սուրբ Ամենափրկիչ Ղազանչեցոց Եկեղեցի in Armenian), also known as the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Shushi Cathedral, is an Armenian church located in Shushi, Nagorno-Karabakh. It is the main cathedral and headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church's "Diocese of Artsakh".

Just uphill from the cathedral in Shushi is the Kanach Zham (Green Church in Armenian) built in 1847.

Amaras Monastery (4th century) was a monastery was established by the foremost Armenian saint, St. Gregory the Enlightener, who baptized Armenia into the world's first Christian state in 301 AD. Amaras also hosted the first school where St. Mesrop Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet, taught the new script to pupils, in the 5th century. The Amaras Monastery's location is in the Martuni District.

Tzitzernavank Monastery (4th century) is the best preserved example of an Armenian basilica with three naves. The monastery is in the Qashatagh District.

Saint Yeghishe Arakyal Monastery (5th–13th centuries) commemorating St. Yeghishe, the famous evangelizer of Armenia's eastern lands. The church serves as a burial ground for the 5th century's King Vachagan II the Pious, the most well-known representative of the Arranshahik line of east Armenian monarchs. The monastery is located in the Martakert District.

Dadivank Monastery (13th century) is reportedly the largest Armenian monastery in the Caucasus. The western façade of Dadivank's Memorial Cathedral bears one of the most extensive Armenian lapidary (inscribed-in-stone) texts. Dadivank is named after St. Dadi, a disciple of Apostle Thaddeus who preached Holy Gospel in Artsakh in the 1st century. St. Dadi's tomb was discovered by archeologists in 2007. The monastery is in the Shahumian District.

Gtichavank Monastery (13th century) has design features shared with the architectural style of medieval Armenia's capital city of Ani. The monastery is located in the Hadrut District.

Bri Yeghtze Monastery (13th century) that centers on embedded khachkars, unique-to-Armenia stone memorials with engraved crosses. The monastery is located in the Martuni District.

Yerits Mankants Monastery (17th century) (meaning "three infants" in Armenian) is known for hosting the seat of Artsakh's rival clergy to that of the Holy See of Gandzasar. The monastery is located in the Martakert District.

Church of St. Nerses the Great, is located in the city of Martuni, Karabakh. It is dedicated to the famous Armenian Catholicos, St. Nerses the Great.

EconomyEdit

The socio-economic situation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was greatly affected by the conflict. Yet, foreign investments are beginning to come. The origin of most venture capital comes from Armenians in Armenia, Russia, United States, France, Australia, Iran, and the Middle East.

Notably the telecommunications sector was developed with Karabakh Telecom[94] investing millions of dollars in mobile telephony, spearheaded by a Lebanese company.

Copper and gold mining has been advancing since 2002 with development and launch of operations at Drmbon deposit.[95] Approximately 27–28 thousand tons (wet weight) of concentrates are produced[96] with average copper content of 19–21% and gold content of 32–34 g/t.[97]

The banking system is also flourishing with Artsakhbank (the state bank) and a number of Armenian banks. The republic presently uses the Armenian dram.

Wine growing and processing of agricultural products, particularly wine (i.e. storage of wine, wine stuff, cognac alcohol) is one of the prioritized directions of the economic development.[98]

TourismEdit

The ruins of Tigranakert.
Section of Janapar trail.

The Republic is developing a tourist industry geared to Armenia and the Armenian diaspora. The Republic has been showing a major increase in tourists over the last several years, which keeps growing because of Karabakh's many cultural sights. There are eight hotels in Stepanakert. The Artsakh development agency says 4,000 tourists visited Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in 2005. The figures rose to 8,000 in 2010 (excluding visitors from Armenia).[99] The agency cooperates with the Armenia Tourism Development Agency (ATDA) as Armenia is the only way tourists (mainly Armenians) can access Karabakh. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Karabakh informs of continuous expansion NKR visitors' geography.[100]

The "Tourism Development Agency of Nagorno-Karabakh" was established in Yerevan as a Non-Governmental Organization in Republic of Armenia to promote tourism further in Nagorno-Karabakh. It makes preparations for tour operators, travel agencies and journalists covering the region, and arranges for hotel services, shopping, catering, recreation centers.

Tourist attractions include:

Other tourist attractions include:

  • The ancient city of Tigranakert, one of four cities that were founded in the 1st century BC in opposite corners of Armenia and named after King Tigran II the Great, ruler of the short-lived Armenian Empire. Tigranakert, which has been undergoing archaeological excavations since 2005, is located in Mardakert District.
  • Fort Mayraberd (10th–18th centuries) served as the primary bulwark against Turko-nomadic incursions from the eastern steppe. The fort is found to the east of the region's capital city of Stepanakert.
  • Govharagha Mosque (18th century), a mosque located in the city of Shusha.

Janapar is a marked trail through mountains, valleys and villages of Nagorno-Karabakh, with monasteries and fortresses along the way. The trail is broken into day hikes, which will bring tourists to a different village each night.[101] The paths have existed for centuries, but now are marked specifically for hikers. The Himnakan Janapar (backbone trail), marked in 2007, leads from the northwest region of Shahumian to the southern town of Hadrut. Side trails and mini trails take one to additional parts of Karabakh. The important sites passed along this hike include Dadivank Monastery, Gandzasar monastery, Shushi, the Karkar Canyon with its high cliffs, Zontik Waterfall and the ruins of Hunot and Gtichavank monastery.

TransportationEdit

The Liberators' boulevard, Stepanakert.

The transportation system damaged by the conflict has been noticeably improved during the last several years: the North-South Karabakh motorway alone has largely facilitated in the development of the transportation system.[102]

The 169-kilometer Hadrut-Stepanakert-Askeran-Martakert motorway, the locals say is the lifeline of Karabakh. $25 million donated during the Hayastan All-Armenian Foundation telethons have been allotted for the construction of the road.[103][104]

The route from the Armenian capital Yerevan to the Nagorno-Karabakh capital Stepanakert now takes around 3 hours instead of the former 8–9 hours.[105]

The sole civilian airport of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, located about 8 kilometres (5 miles) east of the capital, has been closed since the onset of the war more than 20 years ago. However, the government is pressing ahead with plans to reopen the airport by early 2011, and raised about 1 billion drams ($2.8 million) for its reconstruction from unspecified "charitable sources." It began building a new airport terminal and repairing the runway in late 2009. It is expected that Karabakh will have a regular flight service only with Armenia, at least in the near future. Its unresolved status makes direct air communication with other countries all but impossible.[106] The Stepanakert-Yerevan flights will be carried out from the newly renovated Stepanakert Airport by a state-run airline, Artsakh Air, beginning in 2012. Artsakh Air's fleet of aircraft will consist of three Canadian-made CRJ200 passenger jets.[107]

EducationEdit

Education in Nagorno-Karabakh is compulsory, and is free up to the age of 18. The education system is inherited from the old system of the Soviet Union.[108]

Nagorno-Karabakh's school system was severely damaged because of the conflict. But the government of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with considerable aid from the Republic of Armenia and donations from the Armenian diaspora has rebuilt many of the schools. The republic has around 250 schools of various sizes, with more than 200 lying in the regions. The student population estimated at more than 20,000 study, with almost half in the capital city of Stepanakert.

Artsakh State University was founded by Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian governments' joint efforts, with main campus in Stepanakert. The university opening ceremony took place on 10 May 1992.

Yerevan University of Management also opened a branch in Stepanakert.

CultureEdit

The centre of Stepanakert

"We Are Our Mountains" (Armenian: Մենք ենք մեր սարերը) by Sargis Baghdasaryan is a monument located in Stepanakert.[109] The sculpture is widely regarded as a symbol of the de facto independent Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is a large monument from tuff of an old Armenian man and woman hewn from rock, representing the mountain people of Karabagh. It is also known as "Tatik yev Papik" (Տատիկ և Պապիկ) in Eastern Armenian. The sculpture is featured prominently on Nagorno-Karabakh's coat of arms.

Artsakh State Museum is the historical museum of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Located at 4 Sasunstsi David Street, in Stepanakert, the museum offers an assortment of ancient artifacts and Christian manuscripts. There's also more modern items, from the 19th century to World War II and from events of the Karabakh Independence War.

Karabakh has its own brand of popular music. As Karabakh question became a pan-Armenian question, Karabakh music was further promoted worldwide.

Also as a result of the Karabakh conflict, there has also been a series of nationalistic songs done by Karabakh artists as well as artists from Republic of Armenia and the Armenian diaspora to rally support for Karabakh independence movement accompanied by footage of Karabakh military campaigns. These can be found abundantly in popular online sites such as YouTube etc., with some lively pro and anti-Karabakh discussions that these videos almost always generate.

PublicationsEdit

Azat Artsakh is the official newspaper of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

SportsEdit

Sports in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is organized by the Artsakh Ministry of Culture and Youth. Due to the non-recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh, sports teams from the country cannot compete in most international tournaments.

Football is the most popular sport in Nagorno-Karabakh. Stepanakert has a well-built football stadium. Since the mid-1990s, football teams from Karabakh started taking part in some domestic competitions in the Republic of Armenia. Lernayin Artsakh is the football club that represents the city of Stepanakert. The Artsakh football league was launched in 2009. The Artsakh national football team was formed in 2012 and played their first competitive match against the Abkhazia national football team in Sokhumi, a match that ended with a result of 1–1 draw.[110][111] The return match between the unrecognized teams took place at the Stepanakert Stadium, on 21 October 2012, when the team of Nagorno-Karabakh defeated the Abkhazian team with a result of 3–0.

There is also interest in other sports, including basketball and volleyball. Sailing is practiced in the town of Martakert.

Karabakh sportsmen also take part with the representing teams and athletes in the Pan-Armenian Games organized in the Republic of Armenia.

HolidaysEdit

Date[81] English name Local name Remarks
31 Dec – 1 Jan New Year's Day
6 Jan Christmas
20 Feb Artsakh Revival Day
8 March Women's Day
7 April Motherhood and Beauty Day
24 April Genocide Remembrance Day
1 May Worker's Solidarity Day
9 May Victory, Armed Forces & Shushi Liberation Day
28 May First Armenian Republic Day
1 June Children's Day
29 June Fallen Soldiers' and Missing in Action Memorial Day
2 September Independence Day
7 December Armenian Earthquake Memorial Day
10 December Independence Referendum Day
Constitution Day

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

Official websites
Media
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