Issue Background

Self-Determination for Nagorno Karabakh

The United States should formally recognize the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabagh, affirming its right to self-determination within secure borders.

Nagorno Karabagh is an integral part of the Armenian homeland that was, in 1921, arbitrarily carved out of Armenia by Joseph Stalin and placed under Azerbaijani administration as part of the Soviet divide-and-conquer strategy in the Caucasus.

During seven decades of Soviet Azerbaijani rule, the Armenian population of Nagorno Karabagh was subjected to discriminatory policies aimed at its removal from its homeland. By 1988 this had taken the form of outright aggression, ethnic cleansing, and blockades. The people of Nagorno Karabagh, realizing that Azerbaijan's policies would result in their destruction, sought to resist these efforts through peaceful means, responding to this oppression with the first pro-democracy movement in the Soviet Union, setting an example, at great human cost, that marked the beginning of the end of the Soviet Empire.

Following organized massacres and direct military aggression by Azerbaijan, the people of Nagorno Karabagh organized a self-defense effort and then moved to secure their borders, eventually succeeding in driving Azerbaijani occupying forces out of their territory. In January of 1992, the democratically elected leaders of Nagorno Karabagh exercised their right to self-determination, in accordance with international law, by declaring the independence of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh.





Since 1992, Nagorno Karabagh has repeatedly sought to engage in direct bilateral negotiations with Azerbaijan to establish a durable cease-fire and negotiate a lasting and equitable peace. Successive Azerbaijani governments have responded with escalating violence, the introduction of foreign mercenaries, and the involvement of the Turkish military in their war against Nagorno Karabagh. The current cease-fire, which has lasted over ten years, is largely the result of the Azerbaijani government's realization that its military forces have been unable to defeat Nagorno Karabagh on the battlefield

Karabakh is a country, not a conflict.

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