Armenian Enclave Declares Itself a Republic in a Bid for Separation
Armenians in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh declared themselves a Soviet republic on Monday in a bid for separation from Azerbaijan--and possibly for complete independence.
The disputed area is populated mostly by ethnic Armenians, but it is located within Azerbaijan. Centuries-old tensions between mostly Christian Armenia and Muslim Azerbaijan broke into violence over control of Nagorno-Karabakh three years ago, and hundreds have died in sporadic fighting.
The governing councils of Nagorno-Karabakh and of Shaumyan, a neighboring district of Azerbaijan, met Monday and declared the creation of the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,” according to the Soviet news agencies Tass and Interfax.
Azerbaijan and Armenia both have indicated their intention to declare independence from the Soviet Union. Nine other republics have made similar proclamations.
“The emergence of new conditions--the declaration of independence by Azerbaijan, which we welcome--generated concern within the (Nagorno-Karabakh) autonomous region and the Shaumyan district about their destiny. Therefore, we proclaimed the republic,” said the head of the Nagorno-Karabakh regional council, Leonard Petrosian.
He told Tass that the self-proclaimed republic is ready to use the Soviet constitution’s procedures for “secession from the U.S.S.R.”