The de facto authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh are planning to hold a referendum on constitutional amendments regarding the breakaway republic’s name and form of government on February 20 – a move that risks to further deteriorate the already tense relationship between Baku, Stepanakert and Yerevan.
Citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh are being asked to ratify the republic’s new constitution. The current constitution, adopted in 2006, identifies Nagorno-Karabakh as a semi-presidential republic. Among the amendments, the reform provides for the transition to a presidential form of government and for the name of the republic to be officially changed to the Republic of Artsakh.
Authorities in Azerbaijan have stressed that the referendum lacks democratic legitimacy. Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Ali Akhmedov says that Baku will not accept the referendum results.
“If they [Armenians] want to hold a “referendum” to please themselves, then let them hold it. Of course, the government and people of Azerbaijan, international organizations, especially those engaged in the conflict’s settlement, won’t recognize the “referendum” or its results”,
Akhmedov told APA
.Mr. Akhmedov further defined the referendum as another form of provocation by Armenia.
Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as de jure part of Azerbaijan, although the region declared its independence in 1991. Baku has not been able to exercise power on this territory since the end of the military conflict in 1994.
Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France and Richard Hoagland of the United States of America, released a joint statement earlier this week stating that they will not accept the result of the referendum either.
“Although the Co-chairs note that the de-facto Nagorno-Karabakh authorities view the use of such a procedure as an effort to organize the public life of their population, they underscore again that no countries, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent and sovereign state. Accordingly, the Co-chairs do not accept the results of the referendum on February 20 as affecting the legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh”,
the statement reads
According to the
, 280 polling stations and voting centres have been established, of which 279 are on the territory of Nagorno Karabakh and 1 is in Yerevan.