Karbakh: New Boundaries, New Realities

Many villages have become border settlements, with no buffer zone.
ByVaghinak Ghazaryan

Following the most recent Karabakh war, Armenia returned seven regions occupied during the conflict of the 1990s to Azerbaijani control.

The entire Hadrut area and several villages from the Shushi, Martuni and Martakert regions were also transferred to Azerbaijan.

This meant that many Armenian villages in Karabakh, as well as in Armenia itself, immediately became border settlements with no buffer zone.

One such location, Sarushen - which means mountain village in Armenian - is only accessible via a road with two checkpoints staffed by Russian peacekeepers. Their presence is part of the ceasefire deal agreed on November 10. The new border is only 200 metres away.

Elsewhere, in the village of Khramort in the Askeran region, about 40 per cent of its orchards and arable lands were transferred to Azerbaijan. This has deprived locals of a significant portion of their livelihoods.

With the border now so close, some villagers have accidentally strayed into Azerbiajani territory and been taken captive, their release only secured with the help of the Red Cross. There have been reports of abuses in detention so bad that returnees have been hospitalised in Yerevan.

Yet despite the uncertainty, and the distrust many feel towards their neighbours in Azerbiajan, most locals have no interest in leaving their birthplace.