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Nagorno-Karabakh: basis and reality of Soviet-era legal and economic claims used to justify the Armenia-Azerbaijan war

Keywords: Azerbaijan , Armenia , Soviet Union , USSR , Nagorno-Karabakh , conflict , separatism

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Abstract:

The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) region of Azerbaijan, which in its modern form has continued for 20 years, is a complicated case study of multi-vector and multi-layered claims, mostly from the Soviet times, ranging from history, economy, and legal status, used to justify the military occupation (along with seven adjacent regions). The article illustrates that some of the weaker claims were dropped altogether, whilst others were continually mixed with additional charges to make them “stick”. Despite solid legal, historic and moral grounds, Azerbaijan has been lagging in clarifying and explaining the fictitious charges of NK’s supposed transfer to Azerbaijan’s suzerainty in 1920s, the legal status of NK itself, its economic and financial well-being, and the impossibility to apply the 3 April 1990 Soviet Law on Succession to the NK case whether for the purposes of justifying its independence or attachment to Armenia. Despite all the challenges and blame shared by all sides, NK and adjacent currently occupied territories are recognized as part of Azerbaijan, with the latter retaining all rights, including military, to return it under its full sovereignty.

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