Many international organizations and institutions emphasize two issues when speaking of and reporting on Nagorno-Karabakh and its future:
- Future status of Nagorno-Karabakh
- Return of the population displaced as a result of the war to the region and guarantees of their safety.
Interestingly enough, by the future status of the region, many of these organizations that express their “concerns” about these issues mean deciding whether the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” will gain independence and whether the Armenian people in the region will be guaranteed safety. These organizations are not “concerned” by the fact that Nagorno-Karabakh has historically been part of Azerbaijan and was torn from Azerbaijan as a result of chauvinistic aspirations of its Armenian population to unite with Armenia, that about a million Azerbaijanis from Armenia (250,000 people), Nagorno-Karabakh itself and 7 Armenian-occupied districts around Nagorno-Karabakh (600,000 people) became refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War. For example, the key points of the report of June 9, 2021, prepared by the International Crisis Group, are the return of the local Armenian population living in Nagorno-Karabakh that became refugees as a result of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, Russian peacekeepers ensuring their security, financial assistance for them from international organizations, and the importance in this context of determining the status of the region. They are even “worried” about the problem of the Armenians who moved to Fuzuli, one of the seven occupied (until 2020) districts of Azerbaijan that is not part of Nagorno-Karabakh (but is shown within the borders of the “NKR” after the occupation), after the 1990s, became refugees as a result of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and cannot return “to their homes”. They cite the examples of the Moldovan government negotiating with the de facto Transnistrian representatives since the 1990s, and Georgian officials meeting with the de facto Abkhaz and South Ossetian authorities since the 2008 Georgia-Russia war. Azerbaijan will never accept this format.
It is no coincidence that the Azerbaijani government has repeatedly stated that it does not recognize the “NKR” as a party to the conflict, stressing that Nagorno-Karabakh has historically been and will be part of Azerbaijan. The division of the country into 14 economic regions, including the Karabakh and East Zangezur economic regions, by the decree signed by the President on July 7, 2021 is particularly significant in this regard.
Karabakh economic region includes the city of Khankendi (called Stepanakert by Armenians), Khojaly, Khojavend (called Martuni by Armenians), Shusha, Tartar, Aghjabadi, Agdam, Barda and Fuzuli Districts.
East Zangezur economic region includes Kalbajar, Lachin, Zangilan, Qubadli and Jabrayil Districts.
With this, Azerbaijan in fact refers its historical past. The lands of Zangezur ruled by Turkic dynasties in different periods of history (Seljuks, Aghgoyunlus, Garagoyunlus, Safavids and finally during the Karabakh Khanate) were annexed to Tsarist Russia in 1813, and a Zangezur Uyezd was established by Tsarist Russia as part of Yelizavetpol (Ganja) Governorate in 1861. According to the 1897 census, a total of 137,871 people—63,622 Armenians and 71,206 Azerbaijanis—lived on the 6,829.7 m2 of Zangezur Uyezd. Read more about the events in the region after the collapse of Tsarist Russia in these articles, but to cut a long story short, the Karabakh Governorate General was established as part of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (1918-1920) on January 15, 1919, and Zangezur became part of it. Armenian historian Melik Shakhnazarov (2009) also notes that Zangezur was ruled by Soviet Azerbaijan until 1921. Later, the lands of Zangezur were divided between Soviet Azerbaijan and Soviet Armenia. The districts included in the newly established East Zangezur economic region were also part of the old Zangezur Uyezd.
Now let us take a quick look at the history of Nagorno-Karabakh: the Karabakh Khanate, which became a vassal of Tsarist Russia by the Treaty of Kurakchay in 1805, was abolished in 1822, and a uyezd of the same name was established in its place. In 1840, Karabakh Uyezd was included in Caspian Province, renamed Shusha Uyezd and added to Yelizavetpol (Ganja) Governorate established in 1868. Zangezur Uyezd was also part of Shusha Uyezd until 1867. In 1883, Javanshir and Jabrayil Uyezds were separated from Shusha Uyezd. Thus, the disintegration of Karabakh continued until the fall of Tsarist Russia. The uyezds established in its territory during this period were: Shusha, Zangezur, Javanshir, Jabrayil. According to the 1897 census, the ethnic composition of the population in these uyezds was as follows:
As the 1897 census shows, Azerbaijanis were in the majority in Karabakh in general. These lands were ruled by Turkic dynasties for many centuries, and they were under Azerbaijani authority in time of the ADR, which refers to modern international law. The term Nagorno-Karabakh originated as a result of the autonomy granted to the mountainous part of Karabakh in 1923 by the decision of the Soviet leadership. The state that Armenians claim to have established in the region in ancient history (before the common era) and that ruled the Karabakh lands for a short period of time does not create any legal basis for the modern period. Moreover, the first nation-state that Armenians could refer to under modern international law is the First Republic of Armenia (1918-1921), which never had authority over Karabakh or Zangezur. Therefore, Armenia cannot have any claim to Nagorno-Karabakh either historically or legally. For this exact reason Armenia is seriously trying to achieve the recognition of “independence” of the “NKR”—not without certain “success”. As one of their latest (June 30, 2021) achievements, the New Jersey State Senate passed a resolution recognizing the independence of the “NKR”. Thus, it is now recognized by a number of cities and provinces in Canada, Australia, France, the Czech Republic, Guatemala, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and Uruguay, and 10 US states, as well as de facto “states” such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria. However, no state has officially recognized or will ever recognize the “NKR”. Because this “state” was in fact nothing more than an illegal organization formed as a result of the blatant violation of the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan and occupation with the help of another state. Moreover, as a result of the occupation of Azerbaijani lands, the borders that once existed no longer exist. Azerbaijani sovereignty will sooner or later be restored in the de facto Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani lands currently under the supervision of Russian peacekeepers.
There are four main attributes that prove the statehood of any state: sovereignty, land, population and government. The “NKR” has no sovereignty, as it cannot establish official diplomatic relations with any world state. The “NKR” has no land, as it was established as a result of the occupation of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the surrounding 7 districts, the occupation that ended in 2020. The “NKR” has a population, but this alone is not enough for statehood. The “NKR” has a government, but it has no legitimacy in the international arena. Even the latest trilateral statement of November 9, 2020 was not signed by representatives of this government, because the “NKR” is not recognized as a party to the conflict. Two economic regions have been officially established in the territory of the former “NKR”, where Armenians currently live. Instead of trying to achieve the recognition of a non-existent “state”, the Armenians would benefit more from trying to reconcile with Azerbaijan and to get as many rights as possible for their status within Azerbaijan. The “NKR” does not and will not exist. Armenians who will live or want to live in Azerbaijan may have certain autonomy, cultural or otherwise.
 Troynitskiy, N.A. (1904). Pervaya Vseobshaya Perepis Naseleniya Rossiyskoy Imperii, 1897 g.: LXIII. Yelizavetpolskaya Guberniya (First General Population Census of the Russian Empire, 1897: LXIII. Yelizavetpol Governorate), p. 3
 Mamedzade, N. (2017). “Na puti k velikoy missii” (“Towards a great mission”), Region Plus: ADR-99, p. 7
 Shakhnazarov, M.A. (2009). Nagorniy Karabakh: fakty protiv lzhi (Nagorno-Karabakh: facts against lies), p. 4