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Building and Strengthening Democratic Institutions

Position Paper June 2002


The Nagorno Karabakh Republic was established in 1991 following an internationally monitored free referendum for independence from Azerbaijan and the Soviet Union. The referendum was conducted in accordance with the provisions of the then active Soviet Law on Secession, adopted on April 3, 1990.

Eighteen days after the referendum, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic held its first democratic parliamentary elections. These elections marked the beginning of a difficult and complex process of democratic state building amidst intensifying Azerbaijani military aggression. Since then, three presidential, three parliamentary and two local multiparty elections have been in Nagorno Karabakh, all monitored by international observers. According to NKR legislation, the President is the head of the executive branch of the government. The government, headed by the Prime Minister, consists of eleven Ministries and four State Departments. The Parliament, being the highest legislative and representative body of the Republic, has thirty-three members with six Standing Committees. The latest reform of the judiciary system introduced a two-tiered court system, with the Supreme Court serving as the court of appeals.

The government of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is committed to democratic reform, liberalization of the economy, and protection of human rights. Several newspapers, radio and television stations operate freely in Nagorno Karabakh, some of them backed by opposition parties. With the active encouragement of the government, several international humanitarian organizations and numerous local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) work on the territory of Nagorno Karabakh. NKR authorities significantly liberalized investment legislation in order to attract foreign capital, critical to the restoration of its war-shattered economy.

The NKR government is dedicated to the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. The constructive dialogue with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which began in 1992, continues today through its main negotiating forum for the conflict - the OSCE Minsk Group. As an immediate party to the conflict, Nagorno Karabakh supports the implementation of confidence-building measures with Azerbaijan, which could significantly reduce the level of hostility between these societies and promote a better understanding of each other's interests.


The Nagorno Karabakh Republic is a young nation committed to enhancing democracy, transitioning to market a economy and building a rule-of-law civil society. However, the democratic processes and building of institutions within the republic, underway since its independence from Azerbaijan, must be strengthened and reinforced through democracy-building programs.

We believe that strengthening of democracy throughout the South Caucasus will create a strong basis for long lasting peace and prosperity for the region. Nagorno Karabakh is unjustly excluded from internationally sponsored democracy-building programs. We strongly urge the U.S. Congress to initiate and support inclusion of NKR in all U.S. and multinational civil society programs.

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