The self-proclaimed separatist republic of Nagorno-Karabakh spectacularly announced its dissolution on Thursday.er January 2024, more than 30 years after its creation and a week after a victorious offensive by Azerbaijan which pushed more than half of the population to flee.
The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinian, accused Azerbaijan of “ethnic cleansing” in this territory.
The leader of the enclave Samvel Chakhramanian announced by decree the dissolution of “all government institutions […] at 1er January 2024” and that consequently “the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) ceases its existence”.
This Armenian-majority region, which seceded from Azerbaijan upon the disintegration of the USSR, opposed Baku for more than three decades, notably during two wars between 1988 and 1994 and in the fall of 2020.
But last week, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive to retake it and pushed the separatists to capitulate within 24 hours, without the intervention of Russian peacekeepers deployed there since the end of 2020.
Yerevan felt let down by its Russian ally and, in reaction, the Armenian Parliament on Thursday put the vote to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on the agenda for its next plenary session next Tuesday. .
Armenia’s decision to join the ICC, which was previously announced, was deemed “unfriendly” by Moscow, while Russian President Vladimir Putin is the subject of an arrest warrant for war crimes.
Armenia has supported Nagorno-Karabakh throughout this conflict, but it did not intervene militarily during Baku’s blitzkrieg military operation, paving the way for a return of Azerbaijan’s full sovereignty.
Since then, tens of thousands of Armenians have fled the arrival of Azerbaijani troops, for fear of reprisals, via the Lachin corridor, the only road linking Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, reopened on Sunday by Baku after months of blockade.
On Thursday, Nikol Pashinian accused Azerbaijan of carrying out “ethnic cleansing” in Nagorno-Karabakh, estimating that there would be more Armenians in the region “in the coming days”.
Armenian authorities reported the arrival of more than 68,000 displaced people Thursday from the enclave, more than half of its official population of around 120,000 inhabitants.
But the Armenian government has so far only been able to accommodate 2,850 people, which suggests a humanitarian crisis.
“Armenia lacks resources and will not be able to get there without help from abroad,” said political analyst Boris Navasardyan, interviewed by AFP. According to him, this situation “will have serious repercussions on the political scene”.
The capital Yerevan has been shaken in recent days by a series of demonstrations against the prime minister, accused of passivity towards Azerbaijan.
More than 100 missing
Azerbaijani authorities have pledged to allow rebels who surrender their weapons to leave.
However, they arrested billionaire Rouben Vardanian — who led the separatist government of the enclave from November 2022 to February 2023 — on Wednesday as he tried to reach Armenia.
He was charged with financing terrorism and creating an illegal armed organization, according to the Azerbaijani state security service, and placed in pre-trial detention for four months, causing concern in Yerevan.
The region’s former foreign affairs official, David Babahian, said he had also been added to Baku’s “blacklist” and agreed to surrender.
To those who decided to stay there, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev promised that the rights of Armenians in the enclave, annexed to Azerbaijan in 1921, would be “guaranteed”.
In his decree dissolving the self-proclaimed republic, the separatist leader stressed Thursday that once the conditions for the region’s return to Azerbaijan’s control are known, residents and refugees will be able to “individually make the decision to stay (in Karabakh) or to return there.”
But a group of refugees discussing the latest news from the Armenian side of the border identified the main problem facing people who agree to live under Azerbaijan’s control.
“If you have a son, he will have to serve in the Azerbaijani army, against Armenia,” a man who requested anonymity for security reasons told his friends. “Only a fool would want that!” »