STEPANAKERT, Azerbaijan - Agence France-Presse
The self-declared state of Nagorno-Karabakh voted in leadership elections yesterday, as fears grow of a new conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan
over its status.
“All polling stations are open, elections are under way,” the secretary of Karabakh’s Central Elections Commission, Raia Nazarian, told Agence France-Presse.
Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, rejected the elections in Nagorno-Karabakh in a statement released yesterday, refuted the election while the area is occupied. EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton warned in a statement that the EU would not recognize the elections as legitimate. She called on the parties “to step up their efforts to find a negotiated solution to the conflict.” Turkey has also declared that it will not recognize the results of the elections. Azerbaijanis were estimated to account for around one quarter of Karabakh’s population when it was part of the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, but in the wake of the war they all fled.
Nagorno-Karabakh, which is not recognized by any country in the world, was claimed after the collapse of the Soviet Union by Armenians backed by Yerevan in a war that claimed some 30,000 lives.
The international community still considers it to be part of Azerbaijan. Now almost exclusively populated by Armenians, the region calls itself the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, but its independence is not even recognized by Armenia. According to the Karabakh authorities, the population has now recovered to 145,000, with 99,000 registered voters.