The Strategic Yet Isolated Azerbaijani Exclave Of Nakhchivan
Ijaz Ahmad Published September 25, 2023 | 11:04 PM
The autonomous landlocked exclave of Nakhchivan was the scene for a meeting on Monday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev
Paris, (UrduPoint/APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News-Sept 25th, 2023) :The autonomous landlocked exclave of Nakhchivan was the scene for a meeting on Monday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev.
The strategic territory does not share a border with Azerbaijan but has been tied to Baku since the 1920s -- and is located between Armenia, Turkey and Iran.
Following a lightning Azerbaijani offensive which recaptured the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh enclave last week, some experts believe that Aliyev could now seek to launch operations in southern Armenia to create territorial continuity with Nakhchivan.
Allies Turkey and Azerbaijan had said in June they wanted to step up efforts to open a land corridor linking Turkey to Azerbaijan's main territory via Nakhchivan and Armenia, a longstanding and complex project.
Unlike Nagorno-Karabakh, there were almost no Armenians living in Nakhchivan according to a 2009 census, despite once making up around half of the roughly 400,000 population.
The exclave covers 5,500 square kilometres (around 1,200 square miles).
When Eastern Armenia was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1921, the semi-desert and mountainous territory of Nakhchivan became an autonomous region of Azerbaijan, and was later recognised as an autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1924.
During the violence in Nagorno-Karabakh in the late 1980s, the few Armenians in Nakhchivan fled the territory and their presence was systematically wiped out, with churches razed to the ground and tombs destroyed.
Inter-community relations between ethnic Azerbaijani and Armenian populations are made all the more bitter by religious differences, with the majority of Armenians following the Eastern Christian Church and Azerbaijanis mainly adhering to islam.
- Authoritarian regime -
Nakhchivan proclaimed its total independence on January 20, 1990, and asked Soviet troops to leave the region.
In the following years, the territory suffered an economic embargo imposed by Armenia in response to an energy blockade placed on Yerevan by Baku.
Political crises in Azerbaijan following military setbacks in Nagorno-Karabakh brought Heydar Aliyev, the father of current president Ilham Aliyev, to power in Baku in 1993.
The president of Nakhchivan's parliament from 1995 to December 2022, Vasif Talibov, is himself related to the Aliyev family by marriage.
Talibov established an authoritarian regime while in power and was accused of violent crackdowns on the press and opposition, as well as corruption.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in 2021 named him among its list of press freedom "predators" worldwide.