Karabakh dissolution not valid, says separatist leader

The leader of Armenian separatists, who were ousted from the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan this year, on Friday said his previous decree ordering the dissolution of separatist institutions was not valid.

The statement appeared to undo a historic move by the separatists to dissolve the disputed territory that was at the centre of two costly wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan — in 2020 and in the 1990s.

Azerbaijan sent troops to Karabakh on September 19 and after just one day of fighting the Armenian separatist forces that had controlled the disputed region for three decades surrendered and agreed to reintegrate with Baku.

On September 26, separatist president Samvel Shahramanyan issued a decree ordering the dissolution of the separatist institutions by January 1, 2024.

The breakaway republic “will cease to exist,” by the year’s end, the decree said.

But in a surprise move on Friday, Shahramanyan rolled back on the announcement in comments given in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

“There is no document… of the Republic of Artsakh (Karabakh) stipulating the dissolution of government institutions.”

His office told AFP separately that the September 26 decree was “empty paper,” adding: “No document can lead to the dissolution of the republic, which was established by people’s will.”

Both Yerevan and Baku are unlikely to support the continued functioning of separatist institutions as they are close to signing a peace agreement based on mutual recognition of territorial integrity.

Almost the entire ethnic-Armenian population — more than 100,00 people — fled Karabakh for Armenia, following Baku’s takeover.

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