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Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed region in the South Caucasus. Legally, it is recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but from 1994 to 2020, most of it was militarily controlled by Armenians. Currently, different parts of the region are controlled by both Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Etymology[change | change source]
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.
- Armenian: Լեռնային Ղարաբաղ, transliterated Lernayin Gharabagh
- Azerbaijani: Dağlıq Qarabağ, or Yuxarı Qarabağ (meaning "upper Karabakh" or "mountainous Karabakh")
- Russian: Нагорный Карабах, transliterated Nagornyj Karabakh
History[change | change source]
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.