‘Special’ Rule Imposed on Armenia Enclave
The Soviet central government announced Thursday that it is temporarily imposing “a special form of administration” on the predominantly Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in an effort to end months of ethnic tension between Armenians and Azerbaijanis.
The announcement by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, the top governmental body, gave no details about the new administration but affirmed that Nagorno-Karabakh will remain part of the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. The Armenian population of the enclave has been agitating for a year to unite the area with the Armenian republic, which is mainly Christian, instead of staying under the control of Azerbaijan, which is predominantly Muslim.
In an effort to end some of the ethnic tension in the region, the Presidium went into session Thursday to discuss what a government statement called “urgent” questions.
A statement issued after the meeting said the leadership “found it expedient to temporarily introduce in the Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous region a special form of administration, with Nagorno-Karabakh retaining its status as an autonomous region incorporated in Azerbaijan.”
The wording of the announcement appeared to indicate that the authorities had decided once again to reject the Armenians’ demands that the enclave be administratively united with Armenia. It did not say how long the temporary measures would last.
The statement said the move has the “aim of preventing a continued aggravation of inter-ethnic relations and stabilizing the situation in the region.”
The leaders of the two republics met in Moscow on Wednesday and said in a joint statement that urgent measures should be taken to calm the situation in the region, where an estimated 78 people have been killed in the ethnic violence since last February.
The violence has left about 43 people dead since last November alone, according to the Communist Party newspaper Pravda.
An estimated 160,000 ethnic Azerbaijanis fled Armenia during the unrest.