Shifts in Territorial Discourse over Southern Armenia

Shifts in Territorial Discourse over Southern Armenia

On November 16, 2021, clashes erupted between Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces near the town of Sisian in southern Armenia, in the province of Siunik. This episode of fighting was notable as the worst altercation since the end of the Second Karabakh War of 2020. The Armenian side reported six soldiers killed and 13 taken captive, with 24 missing, while seven killed and ten wounded was the official count from Azerbaijan. Russian mediation resulted in a halt to the hostilities.

What happened in Siunik – indeed, what has been happening across that border region since May, 2021 – is directly related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh has numerous complexities. One is the inter-play between claimed borders and effective control. The unrecognised authorities in Stepanakert claimed the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) of Soviet Azerbaijan, plus the Shahoumyan region to the north. Following the cease-fire in 1994, though deprived of some slivers of NKAO territory in the east and north-east, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic or Artsakh had at the same time effective control, in whole or in part, over seven additional districts of what used to be Soviet Azerbaijan proper – the areas marked in light beige on the map below outside the lines of the former NKAO.

read the rest

Scenarios of Power in De Facto States: Karabakh’s 2020 Presidential Inauguration

Scenarios of Power in De Facto States: Karabakh’s 2020 Presidential Inauguration

Gerard Toal & Nareg Seferian

All states have their iconographies and rituals designed to project their legitimacy and power. They organize space as sacred patrimony and time as memory, anniversary and the eternal. Presidential inaugurations are occasions where we see this process in scenarios and ceremonies of power. The United States has an oath-taking in front of dignitaries and a majestic Capitol building. France and Russia have public ceremonies featuring the journey of the elected leader to regal buildings of power, these very setting and their elaborate interior décor signifying a treasured and transcendent patrimony of the nation and state.

It is hardly a surprise that de facto states – states that have established territorial control and internal legitimacy in a contested region, but lack recognition in external legitimacy as states among other states in the international community – look to the ceremonies of established states when inventing their own ceremonies of power. How they do so is an interesting window into their prevailing constructions of the time-space of their visions of their territorial nation-stateness.

read the rest