Over 98% of voters support Nagorno-Karabakh sovereignty
The BBC is reporting that, in a recent election in Nagorno-Karabakh, over 98% of residents supported sovereignty for that nation. For those unfamiliar with the history of the region, Karabakh was placed under the control of Azerbajian after the collapse of the USSR, in spite of being comprised mostly of ethnic Orthodox Christian Armenians, not Muslim Azeris. In 1995, Armenia and Azerbajian fought a bloody war over the territory, with Armenia taking control of the region, a situation that still remains today. While many nations will probably drag their feet in acknowledging Karabakh’s independence, the almost 100% agreement amongst voters there implies that there is little doubt in Karabakh’s populace that the nation should be sovereign, despite repeated Azeri attempts to re-assert control over the region.
Hopefully, the United States will step forward quickly and acknowledge the ability of a people to determine their own sovereignty, in spite of the rich oil reserves the Mr. Bush wishes to suck dry from the neighboring Muslim nations. In spite of its recent failings, the Republican Party has traditionally supported Armenia, and has a chance here to take a stand for democracy over profit in a region where the current administration is being severely criticized for just such short-sighted greed. Whether they will do so or not remains to be seen. The text of the BBC article is quoted below:
A preliminary count showed more than 98% of those voting in the disputed former Soviet territory backed the declaration, officials announced.
The people are mainly ethnic-Armenian and want independence from Azerbaijan.
Ethnic clashes after the collapse of the USSR led to armed conflict in the 1990s which killed up to 30,000 people.
Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh hope the vote will take the small mountainous region a step closer to becoming an independent state, says the BBC’s correspondent in the region, Matthew Collin.
The area, while completely surrounded by the rest of Azerbaijan, has been under ethnic Armenian control since the war.
Armenia is the only country that recognises Nagorno-Karabakh’s government.
The territory’s election commission said turnout was more than 80% – more than enough to make the referendum valid.
“According to preliminary results, the constitution is adopted and 10 December from now can be declared as a Constitution Day,” election commission chief Sergey Nasibyan told Reuters.
The separatist president of Nagorno-Karabakh, Arkady Gukasyan, said this was a historic chance to establish a democratic state.
But he admitted it did not mean the international community would immediately recognise Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence.
The Azeri government insists it must not be allowed to break away.
It said the referendum was illegal, and could damage the peace process.
Azerbaijan has offered Nagorno-Karabakh widespread autonomy as part of a peace deal.
But that has been rejected by the separatist authorities.
The conflicting opinions about the referendum simply demonstrate that even after years of peace talks, a solution to this long-running dispute remains hard to find, our correspondent says.
With many of the one million people displaced by the war still unable to return to their homes, the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh still provokes bitter resentments in the region.