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Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)

Last modified: 2002-09-07 by ivan sache
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[Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)]

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Geography and history

Artsakh is better known internationally as Nagorno-Karabakh. This is the largely Armenian region to the east of the Republic of Armenia. Since 1991, Artsakh has been at war with Azerbaijan, of which it was formerly legally part. In the past 2 years, with tacit support from Armenia and Russia, Artsakh has completely liberated its own territory and occupied large areas of Azerbaijan.

Stuart Notholt

I heard Armenia did not officially recognize Artsakh, though it recognized its self-determination right and its Army occupies it, as well as a good part of what is generally considered Azeri territory.

Luc Baronian, 25 May 1998

Since time immemorial the Artsakh (a part of which is the now day Republic of Mountainous Artsakh or Nagorno-Karabakh) province of Greater Armenia (Latin Armenia Magna) has been one of the most important cultural, spiritual, political and as well as economic centers of Armenia. Artsakh from the times of the Armenian kingdom of Ararat (Urartu) has made a significant contribution to the impetus and advancement of Armenia in all aspects of its scope. Artsakh, the eagle nest of Armenian freedom and sovereignty has always kept (at distinct times to a different degree and level) its independence and freedom from the oppression of foreign invaders. The Armenians of Artsakh are famed for their Caucasian mountainous assertion of tough and rugged nature, characteristic to the highlanders of Armenia.

Gevork Nazaryan, 10 July 1999

The Armenian claim to Karabagh dates from the 19th century. Armenians who fled Turkey were settled in Karabagh, apparently unnoticed by the Armenians in the environment of Yerevan. Armenia for them was Eastern Turkey, dominated by the mighty Süphan Dagh, which you see everywhere in Eastern Turkey around Lake Van. After the genocide of 1915 there wasn't anymore a Turkish Armenia. Only then Armenia sought a Greater Armenia within Russia. It had a war with Georgia about 'Georgian Armenia', which wasn't successful. Before attention was directed towards Karabagh it was incorporated into Azerbeidzjan. According to The Karabakh File of the Zoryan Institute, the English together with the Azeris repulsed Armenian attacks. There is something very strange: Karabagh never was part of the Armenian heartland. The Ararat was. Near the Ararat is the enclave of Nakhichevan (the land where Noe's Ark landed.) It would appear to me that it would be far more important to Armenia than Karabagh.

Jarig Bakker, 17 July 1999

Description of the flag

Artsakh's flag is derived from that of Armenia, which is a red-blue-orange horizontal tricolour. The westwards pointing arrow signifies very graphicallyArtsakh's current separation from Armenia proper, and its hopes for union with the motherland. The design also recalls that of the world famous (and very expensive) Armenia rugs.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Artsakh flag is surely a good example of what a national flag should be - it is highly distinctive and individual and encapsulates its nation's history, culture and aspirations.

Stuart Notholt

This flag appears in the Flags of Aspirant Peoples chart [eba94], #113, with the following caption:

West Azebaijan

Ivan Sache, 15 September 1999

Coat of arms

Coat of armmsby Gevork Nazaryan

In the political magazine Globus, there is an image of the Republic's coat of arms. The arms consist of an eagle displayed, crowned with ornamented crown bearing shield. In the chief of the shield is panorama of a mountain range and under it vertically set the flag of Artsakh, over all there are two stone heads. The eagle stands on a bunch of different agricultural products (among which I believe I recognize corn and grape). All is surrounded with a golden circular ribbon bearing inscription in Armenian script. From around the crown and eagle's head towards the ribbon there are sun rays emerging.

Zeljko Heimer, 24 May 1998

The eagle is an old Armenian symbol, present on the 1918 and 1991 coats of arms of Armenia. The crown might by an allusion to the six autonomous principalities that existed there during Iranian ruling.The stone monument is a male head and female head and represents the women and men of Artsakh. Its name is "We are our mountains" (another source I have says "We and our mountains") and it is located in Stepanakert, the capital. The grapevines I believe represent the many vines of the plateau, something illustrated by the Azeri name Gharabagh, which means "Black Vineyard" or close to "blackgarden" in Turkish Karabakh. (Nagorno orNagorny is of Russian origin and Artsakh is Armenian (the oldest attested), but I don't know their etymology).The inscription in Eastern Armenian reads Lernayin Gharabaghi Artsakh Hanrapetoutioun, which means "Artsakh Republic of Mountainous Karabakh".

Luc Baronian, 25 May 1998

Nagorny (I believe this is masculine form, Nagorno would be neuter, depending how Russian speaker interprets the grammatical gender of Karabakh) means upper, or mountainous. [the same Slavic root appears in the name Crna Gora for Montenegro - Black Mountain.]

Zeljko Heimer, 25 May 1998

The Soviet of Nagorno-Karabakh

[Soviet of Nagorno-Karabakh)]by Jaume Ollé

The Soviet of Nagorno-Karabakh adopted a flag in 1989 for official use until ca. 1992. However, the Armenian flag was mostly used.

Jaume Ollé, 20 January 1997

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