Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Nagorno-Karabakh’s political rights rating declined from 5 to 6 and its status from Partly Free to Not Free due to the complete absence of opposition candidates in the May 2010 parliamentary elections.
In April 2010, Armenia suspended the ratification of a historic agreement signed with Turkey in October 2009 that would have established diplomatic relations between the two countries and reopened their mutual border. Armenia cited Turkey’s decision to link the agreement to a resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh’s status, which Yerevan claimed was not part of the initial deal. In May, the territory held parliamentary elections, in which there were no opposition candidates. By October, negotiations between Yerevan and Baku over a resolution to the Karabakh dispute were effectively deadlocked.
Nagorno-Karabakh, populated largely by ethnic Armenians, was established as an autonomous region inside Soviet Azerbaijan in 1923. In February 1988, the regional legislature adopted a resolution calling for union with Armenia. The announcement led to warfare over the next several years between Armenian, Azerbaijani, and local Nagorno-Karabakh forces.
Nagorno-Karabakh has enjoyed de facto independence from Azerbaijan since 1994 and retains close political, economic, and military ties with Armenia. Though earlier elections were regarded as relatively free and fair, parliamentary and presidential votes held in 2005 and 2007 were criticized by the opposition for alleged fraud and other irregularities. In the 2010 parliamentary elections, there were no opposition candidates, administrative resources were used to support progovernment candidates, and the election commission was entirely composed of progovernment officials. All Karabakh elections are considered invalid by the international community, whichdoes not recognize the territory’s independence.