Nagorno-Karabakh – The historical background

Karabakh (Armenian Artsakh), which had been populated by a majority of Armenians since the Christianisation of the region almost 1700 years ago, was divided up when it was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1921. The core part became the “Autonomous Oblast of Nagorno-Karabakh” (as a Christian-autonomous enclave), the rest was incorporated into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan. 

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Karabakh Armenians were able to win their independence in a long war.
The conflict broke out again in autumn 2020 with an attack by Azerbaijan and led to devastating losses of people and territory for Nagorno-Karabakh.
The ceasefire concluded in November 2020 never held. From December 2022 to September 2023, Azerbaijan blocked the Lachin Corridor and thus the only connection to Armenia, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe and famine. On 19 September, Azerbaijan attacked Nagorno-Karabakh with massive military support from Turkey.
Within a day, the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh came under Azerbaijani control.
The entire Armenian population, around 110,000 people, fled to Armenia. Since then, Nagorno-Karabakh has been deserted. 

Armenian Bishop Tiran Petrosyan paints a bleak picture: “It is to be feared that Azerbaijan will destroy the churches, monasteries and cemeteries.” 

Petrosyan points to the example of Nakhichevan: between 1997 and 2011, Azerbaijan systematically destroyed 108 Armenian churches, monasteries and cemeteries on the territory of Nakhichevan – 98 per cent of the Armenian cultural heritage in the region.

For the first time in 1700 years, Christian services are no longer held in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

To this day, Azerbaijan is holding dozens of Armenian Christians hostage.