09/25/2023 Artsakh (International Christian Concern) – As security forces of the self-autonomous region of Artsakh (also called Nagorno-Karabakh) hand over their weapons to Russian peacekeepers, it seems that a decades old conflict over the disputed region is coming to a sudden end.
After a nine-month blockade, Azerbaijan took over the enclave in a lightning offensive last week, resulting in Artsakh’s surrender, and in the words of Azerbaijan’s government, the beginning of “Nagorno-Karabakh’s re-integration into Azerbaijan.”
Most ethnic Armenians do not want to live under Azerbaijan rule due in part to the decades of conflict between Azerbaijan and Turks against Armenians. The Azerbaijani government in Baku has a history of brutal dictatorship over its people, and most Artsakh Armenians resist integration into Azeri society. Recent estimates show that around 90% of Armenians in Artsakh would prefer to relocate to Armenia than stay and live under Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile in Armenia, protests are raging in the capital Yerevan against sitting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, calling for his resignation for not protecting Armenians in Artsakh to stop the invasion of Azerbaijan. The Armenian government has announced that it can accommodate 40,000 Armenians who wish to leave Artsakh. Experts believe there are 120,000 ethnic Armenian Christians in Artsakh.
Thousands of Artsakh Armenians will likely try to move to Armenia in the coming days. They will, however, need security guarantees from Azerbaijan and the international community to ensure safe passage through the Lachin corridor, without any violence or massacres.
To remain in Artsakh, many Armenians fear an ethnic cleansing or complete genocide, hence why many would prefer to face an uncertain future displaced in Armenia than to stay in Artsakh under the new Azerbaijani rule.
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