The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) is an integral part of Armenia.
Artsakh was arbitrarily carved out of Armenia in 1921 by Joseph Stalin and placed under Soviet Azerbaijani administration, but with autonomous status, as part of the Soviet divide-and-conquer strategy in the Caucasus. Nagorno Karabakh, to this day, has never been part of an independent Azerbaijani state. In fact, declassified Central Intelligence Agency reports confirm that Nagorno Karabakh is historically Armenian and maintained even more autonomy than the rest of Armenia through the centuries.
During seven decades of Soviet Azerbaijani rule, the Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh was subjected to discriminatory policies aimed at its destruction. Even in the wake of years of effort to force Armenians from their lands, Nagorno Karabakh’s pre-war population in 1988 was over 80% Armenian.
In the late 1980’s, the United States welcomed Nagorno Karabakh’s historic challenge to the Soviet system and its leadership in sparking democratic movements in the Baltics and throughout the Soviet empire. Following a peaceful demand by Karabakh’s legislative body to reunite the region with Armenia in 1988, Azerbaijan launched an ethnic cleansing campaign against individuals of Armenian descent with pogroms against civilians in several towns, including Sumgait and Baku.
On September 2, 1991, the people of Nagorno Karabakh declared independence from the Soviet Union and became the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. On December 10, 1991, Nagorno Karabakh held an independence referendum in which 82% of all voters participated and 99% voted for independence. In response, Azerbaijan launched an all-out war against the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, targeting civilians and recruiting Islamic extremist mujahideen from Afghanistan and Chechnya to join the Azerbaijani army.
Nagorno Karabakh’s pivotal role in ending the Soviet threat to America
The people of Nagorno Karabakh, in 1988, despite great risks, were the first to rise up against the Soviet Union, to right the wrongs imposed by Josef Stalin. Nagorno Karabakh played a vital role in sparking the democracy movement, bringing about an end to the Soviet threat to America.
Nagorno Karabakh’s commitment to peace
Nagorno Karabakh has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to a peaceful, compromise resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. It was one of the three parties to sign the cease fire agreement in 1994 and unlike Azerbaijan, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, along with Armenia, supports calls to pull back snipers, to add monitors, and to deploy internationally-mandated monitoring equipment along the line of contact.
Nagorno Karabakh’s commitment to democracy
Since declaring independence in 1991, Nagorno Karabakh has successfully conducted more than ten parliamentary and presidential elections – that have been praised by international observers as free, fair and transparent. The presidential elections in July of 2012 were favorably received by more than 80 international observers from two dozen countries, including the United States. Election observers included the former Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch and Canadian Parliamentarian Jim Karygianni, who declared, “It was a picture perfect election from start to finish.” Freedom House upgraded Karabakh’s democracy status as a result in 2012.
Azerbaijan’s threat to regional stability
Azerbaijan’s position – unchanged for more than 20 years – is to force Nagorno Karabakh under Stalin’s sanctioned Soviet Azerbaijani rule, despite Baku’s record of undemocratic rule and the fact that Nagorno Karabakh has never been part of an independent Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani government seeks to pressure the U.S. and the international community to ratify Joseph Stalin’s divide-and-conquer gerrymandering by returning to a failed system of foreign rule over free peoples.
In pursuit of this policy, Azerbaijan has taken reckless steps that have contributed to instability in a region of strategic and economic importance to the United States – including:
Nagorno Karabakh’s right to self-determination
The U.S. government has consistently taken steps in support of Nagorno Karabakh
Any attempt to force Christian Armenians under foreign rule by Muslim Azerbaijan would be to sanction Joseph Stalin’s cynical Soviet manipulations, undermining the right to liberty of a free people, and ensuring continued instability in the region.