By Paul Goble
Yerevan has announced that more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians have now left the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and both Armenian and Russian commentators say that almost all of the fewer than 20,000 remaining will leave soon, with few of them ever returning despite Baku’s pledges to treat them equally.
According to Russian commentators, the depth of hatred between Armenians and Azerbaijanis is so deep and the fears of Armenians that Azerbaijanis will mistreat them so widespread that there is no other likely outcome, even though Baku might like to have a few Armenians there to bolster its case that it supports everyone’s rights.
But in fact, several of them observe, just as a Russian general once said that Russia needs Armenia but doesn’t need Armenians, so now Azerbaijan needs Karabakh but doesn’t need Karabakh Armenians. It will be happier if the population there becomes almost exclusively ethnic Azerbaijani.
Armenian flight is likely to accelerate as Baku moves ethnic Azerbaijanis into the region. Initially, most of these will be people who left in the early 1990s; but others will come as well – and as they do, Qarabagh will become an Azerbaijani majority region and Armenians will have even more reason to think they should leave (svpressa.ru/society/article/390116/).
A miniscule number of ethnic Armenians may return this winter if they are unable to find housing or jobs in Armenia. Yerevan is currently providing more than 50,000 of them with temporary housing; but that falls far short of the number who need it, even far short of the more than 80,000 Karabakh refugees who have already registered with the Armenian government.