The announcement came after Azerbaijan completed a military operation in the breakaway region
The authorities of Azerbaijan's breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh have announced the dissolution of the self-proclaimed republic after a Russian-mediated truce ended a flare-up of hostilities between Stepanakert and Baku.
Samvel Shahramanyan, the president of the unrecognized republic, issued a decree on Thursday ordering the "dissolution of all state institutions and their branches by January 1, 2024."
"The Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) ceases to exist," the announcement declared, as quoted by the NKR InfoCenter.
The document also says that the region's inhabitants, including those who have fled, should "familiarize themselves with the conditions of reintegration offered by the Republic of Azerbaijan," and make an independent decision about whether to return to Nagorno-Karabakh.
According to the decree, the dissolution is "in connection with the current difficult military-political situation" and is aimed at ensuring the safety of Nagorno-Karabakh residents, while taking into account the Russian-brokered agreement with Baku. The latter allows residents of the breakaway region, including military personnel who lay down their arms, to travel freely, the statement said.
The landmark presidential decree puts an end to the history of the unrecognized republic, which seceded from Azerbaijan in the waning days of the Soviet Union. The security situation in the predominantly ethnic Armenian region has been marked by sporadic fighting for decades. The region experienced a major war in the early 1990s that claimed thousands of lives and ended with a ceasefire in 1994.
Another major conflict took place in 2020 when Baku took control of much of the region, with hostilities ending in a Russian-brokered ceasefire.
The current declaration comes after Azerbaijan launched "counter-terrorism measures of a local nature" in the region, while accusing Armenia of massing troops there, which Yerevan denies. After a day of fighting, Nagorno-Karabakh and Baku announced a ceasefire. Under the terms of the agreement, all forces fighting against Azerbaijan in the region must leave their combat positions and hand over all weapons to Baku. The agreement also provides for dialogue on a wide range of issues between representatives of the Nagorno-Karabakh community and Azerbaijan.
The ceasefire has triggered a massive exodus of Nagorno-Karabakh residents from the region, with the Armenian authorities claiming that more than 65,000 people have arrived in the country. Earlier this week, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev expressed his belief that the reintegration of Nagorno-Karabakh would be successful, vowing to respects the rights of local residents.