What did the Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh mean?

As an institution, the Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh (ACNK) was officially recognized by Article 9 in the document, which was adopted during the Helsinki Additional Meeting of the CSCE Council on March 24, 1992. The document states that ACNK was recognized as one of the “interested” parties in the conflict as the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians.[1]

Hence, from 1992 onwards, the Community took part in several meetings sponsored by the OSCE for regulating the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and represented the interest of the Azerbaijani Community in Nagorno-Karabakh in the negotiation process, together with the Republic of Azerbaijan.[2]

In 2006, the Community was registered as a public union by the Ministry of Justice of the Azerbaijan Republic and became known as “The Public Union of the Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno Karabakh.” As a result of the restructuring of the public union that was decided on at the I Congress of the Community, held in 2009, the organization’s name was changed to the Azerbaijani Community of the Nagorno-Karabakh Region of the Azerbaijan Republic.

The public union was a non-profit organization based on voluntary membership. The Community, with its 65,000 members, represented not only the Azerbaijani Community of the former NKAO but also all IDPs from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Its activity covered the country’s whole territory. The union structure’s main organizational and administrative bodies are the Congress of the Community, the Administrative Board, and the Coordinating Council. The Community’s main aims were to restore Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, return internally displaced people to their lands, and protect the cultural heritage and rights of IDPs. Additionally, the responsibilities of the Community include organizing various events, meetings, and other activities relating to the Nagorno-Karabakh issues to encourage members of the Community to be active.[3]

While reinforcing the activity of ACNK, the government of Azerbaijan did not support the participation of the Community in the negotiation process due to its position in the resolution of the conflict. Azerbaijan believed that the involvement of the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities in the talks at this stage would disrupt the format of the settlement process. However, Azerbaijan did not rule out the possibility of both communities of Nagorno-Karabakh participating in the later stages of the peace-building process when an agreement based on the “Basic Principles” would be reached.[4]

As a result of the Second Karabakh War, Nagorno-Karabakh as a separate administrative-territorial unit and Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of the region have lost their relevance, and the activities of the Azerbaijani Community of Nagorno-Karabakh ended. On April 30, 2021, the members of the Azerbaijani Community of the Nagorno-Karabakh Region of Azerbaijan Public Association held a meeting at which a decision was made to liquidate the organization and create the ‘Return to Karabakh’ Public Association, which aimed at creative work in the Karabakh region, providing support for the return of citizens to their native lands.[5]

[1] “Final Document of the Additional Meeting of the CSCE Council,” Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, March 24, 1992, Article 9; https://www.osce.org/mc/29121. Accessed on December 4, 2022.

[2] Huseynbala, A., “Leadership of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Azerbaijani community meets with OSCE chairman,” Trend, July 2, 2009, https://en.trend.az/azerbaijan/karabakh/1497604.html. Accessed on December 4, 2022.

[3] “Article 2, 6,” The Charter of Public Union of the Azerbaijani Community of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of the Azerbaijan Republic.

[4] Pashayeva, Gulshan and Göksel, Nigar, “The Interplay of the approaches of Turkey, Russia and the United States to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh,” SAM review, 2011, p. 23.

[5] Mehman, Asif, “Nagorno-Karabakh” separate administrative-territorial unit no longer exists – Azerbaijani MP, Trend News Agency, April 30, 2021; https://en.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/3417497.html. Accessed on December 4, 2022.