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Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed region in the South Caucasus. Legally, it is recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but from 1994 until the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, most of it was militarily controlled by Armenians as the Republic of Artsakh, which is not officially recognized by any other country, including Armenia which supports it. The political status of the region remains unresolved.
The names for the region in the different local languages all translate to "mountainous Karabakh", or "mountainous black garden". The word "nagorno" is Russian for "mountainous/on the mountain", "kara" is Turkish for "black", and "bakh" means "garden" in Azerbaijani.
The region became a subject of dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1918 when both states gained brief independence. Two years later, Soviet Union conquered both of the new states and created the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast within Azerbaijan.
When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in Moscow and started campaigns of publicity and democratic reforms at the end of the 20th century, Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh sent letters to Gorbachev demanding him to move the autonomous oblast to the control of Armenia. When it was declined, the Armenians started an independence movement.
In November 1991, seeking to stop this movement, the Parliament of Azerbaijan abolished the autonomous status of the region. In response, the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians held a referendum on December 10, 1991, which was boycotted by Azerbaijanis living in Nagorno-Karabakh and none of them participated in it, therefore the overwhelming majority of the population voted for independence.
The Gandzasar monastery, built in the 1200s
- "Post-war Prospects for Nagorno-Karabakh". International Crisis Group. 9 June 2021. Retrieved 28 January 2023.