Nagorno Karabakh: A Complicated Past
You know the story of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic will be complicated when you consider its name: Nagorno means ‘mountainous’ in Russian, Kara means ‘black’ in Turkish and Bakh means ‘garden’ in Persian.
Another clue to its difficult past is the fact that it often doesn’t appear on maps. The landlocked region – known by its inhabitants as Artsakh – is the subject of an unresolved dispute between Azerbaijan, within which the republic officially lies, and its ethnic Armenian majority, who are backed by neighbouring Armenia.
The three countries found in south Caucasus – the third being Georgia – have always had complex relationships. After the fall of USSR, relations between the three became even more difficult. Nagorno-Karabakh – which has access to Armenia only via a road corridor – has a similar status to other self-declared republics such as Abkhazia, Transnistria and South Ossetia. They are not recognized by the international community and, with no official borders, skirmishes still occur.
With the trauma of a bloody war still fresh in their memories, the Artsakh people are rebuilding their country little by little. With its head in the West and its heart in the East, the region’s future remains a mystery. But – who knows? – one day you may even be able to find it on a map.
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