30th Anniversary of Artsakh’s Independence





Dear Members of the Armenian community in the UK,
Today marks the 30th Anniversary of Artsakh’s Independence. Despite surviving countless invasions by Azerbaijan and Turkey, Artsakh stands as a haven of democracy and freedom, surrounded by dictatorships that wish to destroy it.

Today, more than ever, Artsakh needs the support of the Armenian diaspora to help guarantee its survival in the face of Azerbaijan and Turkey’s aggression. Therefore, this special newsletter from ANC UK will update you on everything that we have been doing in Parliament to help guarantee a stable future for Artsakh, the country’s history and a legal reason for why Artsakh’s independence matters.






What we have been working for in Parliament

  1. The formal recognition of the Republic of Artsakh
  2. Respect for the people’s fundamental right to self-determination
  3. A condemnation of Azerbaijan and Turkey for waging war against Artsakh and committing war crimes, using mercenaries, treating POWs inhumanely and cultural genocide i.e. the destruction of cultural and historic sites
  4. Pushing for the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to re-engage in settling the conflict and settle the status of Artsakh based on the right to self-determination




What ANC UK has been doing to help Artsakh

  1. ANC UK has been working very closely with the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Armenia, keeping MPs updated about Azerbaijan’s incursions onto Armenia’s territory
  2. Tim Loughton MP, Baroness Cox and other Members of Parliament, have been challenging the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) on their stance on Azerbaijan’s attacks on Armenia in Parliament
  3. Armenian National Committee (ANC) international has organized an event in Stepanakert to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Artsakh Republic’s Independence
  4. By the request of ANC UK, Baroness Cox, a cross-bench member of the British House of Lords and a long-time supporter of the recognition of Artsakh’s independence, has given a special congratulatory message for Artsakh’s 30th Anniversary of Independence




The History of Artsakh


Artsakh, being a land that has contained an Armenian indigenous population for over 2000 years, has a rich history of being the epicentre of Armenia’s battle for independence and self-determination.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the idea of rebuilding an independent Armenian state was centred around the Five Melikdoms of Artsakh, Armenian feudal entities that were semi- or fully independent and ruled over by Armenian Meliks. Prominent figures who worked on this were the Armenian Melik Israel Ori and an Armenian from Artsakh named Movses Baghramyan. Baghramyan would go on to accompany Joseph Emin, an Armenian independence activist, to convince the Meliks to join them in building an independent Armenia.

The integration of Artsakh into Azerbaijan was a decision made by Joseph Stalin. On July 4th, 1921, the Plenum of the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party decided that Artsakh was to become part of Armenia, however, the next day, Stalin reversed the decision, and so Artsakh was to be integrated into Soviet Azerbaijan. Even though over 90% of Artsakh’s population was ethnically Armenian in 1923, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) was established within the Azerbaijan SSR on July 7th of that year.

The Armenians of Artsakh never accepted this decision made by Stalin, who represented neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan.

The population of Artsakh took every opportunity they could to try to separate from Azerbaijan. This led to the 1991 referendum, where the population of Artsakh voted democratically to not become part of the newly formed Republic of Azerbaijan.

Artsakh declared independence on September 2nd, 1991, a move met by violence and ethnic cleansing from Azerbaijan, which led to a war, ending with the ceasefire of 1994.

Azerbaijan continued to breach the ceasefire though, for example initiating a 4-day war in April of 2016.

On September 27th, 2020, war was initiated once again by Azerbaijan, receiving help from Turkey in the form of military equipment, soldiers, Syrian and Libyan jihadist mercenaries and joint military exercises back in August of the same year in preparation for this war.




Legal Status: Why Artsakh’s Independence Matters


Artsakh was an autonomous state until the 2020 conflict, when Azerbaijan violently invaded, despite a predominantly Armenian inhabitation since the 5th century BC and repeated assertions of Artsakh’s Armenians of their legal right to self-determination for over 30 years, including on 2 September 1991 when Artsakh declared its independence from the USSR, in the same fashion as other Soviet States. Under the 9 November 2020 Ceasefire Agreement, the validity of which is in question given the conditions under which Armenia had to sign it, between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia, Azerbaijan would hold onto the areas that it had succeeded in occupying during the conflict, including the historically and strategically important city of Shushi and region of Hadrut, as well as Berdzor, Akna and Karvachar, among others. The status of the remaining areas remains unclear today, which is of massive concern for the Armenian population of the region and calls for immediate legal remedial solutions, including the recognition of Artsakh’s right to self-determination.

The recognition of the independence of the Republic of Artsakh is the way to save the Armenians of Artsakh from extermination, according to the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Indeed, the elimination of all Artsakh Armenians is an imminent risk if the status of Artsakh is not resolved in the immediate future. This is even more pressing given Azerbaijan’s recent deliberate illegal and unprovoked attacks on the civilians of Artsakh, 95% of whom are ethnic Armenians, with the intent of ethnic cleansing and continued exposure to crimes against humanity. The legal way forward is the remedial recognition of Artsakh’s independence under international law, which the international community can use as an effective diplomatic method to:

  1. Protect the civilian population of Artsakh from further atrocities and ethnic cleansing
  2. Preserve Artsakh’s right to self-determination
  3. Exert pressure and ensure accountability for Azerbaijan and Turkey’s gross crimes under international law.


Why, then, should remedial recognition of Artsakh’s independence be supported? Firstly, Artsakh has always been independent of Azerbaijan, with the League of Nations refusing to recognise Azerbaijan’s statehood at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1991, Artsakh legally seceded from the USSR and has, since then, been fulfilling all of the conditions which a state needs under the Montevideo Convention: it has a permanent population, its own government, a defined territory and a capacity to enter into relationships with other states. Moreover, Artsakh functions as an autonomous democratic state and has a viable economy. Secondly, recognition of Artsakh’s independence is also warranted through the international law principle of remedial secession, under which a country’s right to territorial integrity is not absolute. There is recourse to secession from a State where a people’s right to self-determination or freedom is violated. This applies to Artsakh Armenians, who have suffered years of systematic persecution, discrimination, ethnic cleansing and other human rights violations from Azerbaijan, including violations of their Article 2 right to life. The war crimes committed by Azerbaijan upon the civilians of Artsakh during the 2020 conflict and today only add further justification to the recognition of Artsakh’s independence via the principle of remedial secession. Given that the principle of peaceful coexistence is impossible for Artsakh Armenians under Azerbaijan’s rule, it is imperative that remedial secession and the sovereignty of the Republic of Artsakh from Azerbaijan be recognised today. Only this route will guarantee the security and integrity of the Republic of Artsakh and preserve the safety of Artsakh’s Armenian population.




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