Armenian Separatist Leader Retracts Decree Amidst Azerbaijani Control

Dec 23 2023

By: Momen Zellmi

Amidst an unfolding geopolitical drama, Armenian separatist leader Samvel Shahramanyan has made a striking reversal by retracting his earlier decree that ordered the dissolution of separatist institutions in the contentious Nagorno-Karabakh region. This backpedalling occurs against a backdrop of recent Azerbaijani military advancements and a simmering peace process that might reshape the region’s future. Shahramanyan’s initial decree, issued on September 26, had set the stage for the dismantling of such institutions by January 1, 2024, hinting at the twilight of the self-proclaimed republic.

In a defiant statement from Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, Shahramanyan declared the decree null and void, referring to it as ’empty paper.’ He emphasized that no document had the power to erase the republic born from the people’s determination. This assertion by the separatist leader comes in the wake of Azerbaijani forces taking control of Karabakh on September 19, following a conflict that ended three decades of separatist governance. This hostile takeover resulted in the capitulation of the separatists and their subsequent agreement to reintegration with Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

The ongoing conflict has seen over 100,000 ethnic Armenians uprooted from Karabakh to Armenia, highlighting the human cost of the territorial dispute. This development coincides with a potential peace agreement on the horizon between Armenia and Azerbaijan, centered on the mutual acknowledgment of each other’s territorial boundaries. The peace talks, however, face an impasse, with Azerbaijan withdrawing from scheduled discussions in the United States. This political maneuvering by Shahramanyan could be seen as an attempt to fortify the separatists’ bargaining position or to navigate through a tumultuous period of transition and uncertainty.

As the peace process hangs in the balance, the fate of the Nagorno-Karabakh region remains a contentious issue with immense implications for regional stability. The dissolution of separatist institutions was perceived as a step towards reintegration; however, Shahramanyan’s recent move signals a potential wrench in the works of conflict resolution. With the EU mediation efforts at a stalemate, the international community watches closely as the narrative of Nagorno-Karabakh continues to unfold, fraught with historical grievances and the quest for peace.