This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Republic of Artsakh


Last modified: 2023-10-14 by ian macdonald
Keywords: artsakh | nagorno-karabakh | lachin |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

[Flag] image by Ivan Sache, 8 September 2005

See also:

Status of Artsakh

Artsakh, better known internationally as Nagorno-Karabakh, is a former Azerbaijan enclave in Armenia. Still de jure part of Azerbaijan, the territory is de facto under Armenian control.

The Artsakh Republic is no longer an enclave; in 1996-1994 the Armenian troops occupied the territory located between the former Autonomous Region and the former Armenian SSR, known as the Latchin Corridor of Latchin, and a lot of other adjoining Azerbaijan territory. A ceasefire was obtained on 12 May 1994 through Russian negotiation.
Armenia does not officially recognize Artsakh, though it recognizes its self-determination right and its Army occupies it, as well as a good part of what is generally considered Azeri territory.
According to the Constitution (text, Armenian; text, English) adopted by referendum on 20 February 2017, the official name of the territory is Republic of Artsakh.

Mikhail Revnivtsev, Luc Baronian, Zach Harden & Jos Poels, 22 March 2017

History of Artsakh

The Armenian claim to Karabakh dates back to the 19th century. Armenians who fled Turkey were settled in Karabakh, apparently unnoticed by the Armenians in the environment of Yerevan. Armenia for them was Eastern Turkey, dominated by the mighty Süphan Dagh volcano, which you see everywhere in Eastern Turkey around Lake Van. After the genocide of 1915 there was not anymore a Turkish Armenia. Only then Armenia sought a Greater Armenia within Russia. It had a war with Georgia about "Georgian Armenia", which was not successful. Before attention was directed towards Karabakh, the area was incorporated into Azerbaijan. According to The Karabakh File by the Zoryan Institute, the English together with the Azeris repulsed Armenian attacks.

On 20 February 1988 the Council of People's Deputies of the Autonomous Region of Nagorno-Karabakh of Azerbaijan SSR addressed to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, to the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan SSR, and to the Supreme Soviet of the Armenian SSR a request for the transfer of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenian SSR.
On 12 January 1989 the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted the Decree "About introduction of special forms of management in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of Azerbaijan SSR", with effect on 20 January 1989. The Council of People's Deputies of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region and its Executive Committee were suspended, while their powers were transferred to the newly created Committee of Special Management of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, directly subordinated to the supreme bodies of the Government of USSR. The Decree, for the first time in the history of the USSR, established a direct control on the territory from Moscow.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was self-proclaimed, within the structure of the USSR, on 2 September 1991. This was confirmed by a referendum held on 10 December 1991, After the collapse of the USSR, full independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was proclaimed on 6 January 1992.

Jarig Bakker, Mikhail Revnivtsev & Luc Baronian, 13 April 2005

Flag of Artsakh

The flag and arms of Artsakh were first prescribed in Article 16 of the Constitution (text) adopted in the 10 December 2006 referencum, as follows:

1. The national flag of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is a tricolor with equal upper-red, the middle-blue, and the lower-orange horizontal stripes with a white five-toothed stepped pattern on the flag which begins from the two verges of the cloth’s right side and is connected on one-third of the flag. Law stipulates the detailed description of the flag.
2. Law defines the coat of arms and national anthem of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

The very same symbols are prescribed in a slightly different wording in the 2017 Constitution (text)

1. The flag of the Republic of Artsakh shall be tricolor - with equal horizontal stripes of red, blue, and orange and a white five-toothed stepped pattern on the flag which begins from the two verges of the cloth‘s right side and is connected on the one-third of the flag. The detailed description of the flag shall be defined by law.
2. The coat of arms and national anthem of the Republic of Artsakh shall be defined by law.

The flag is derived from that of Armenia, which is a red-blue-orange horizontal tricolour. The westwards pointing arrow signifies very graphically Artsakh's current separation from Armenia proper, and its hopes for union with the motherland. The design also recalls that of the world famous (and very expensive) Armenia rugs.

Jos Poels, Zach Harden & Stuart Notholt, 25 March 2017

This flag appears in the Flags of Aspirant Peoples chart [eba94], #113, with the following caption:

West Azerbaijan

Ivan Sache, 15 September 1999

Erroneous representation of the flag


Erroneous representation of the flag of Artsakh / Nagorno-Karabagh - Image by Ivan Sache, 8 September 2003

On an administrative map of Armenia published in 2003 in Armenia, and shown by the French magazine Geo (August 2003), Artsakh is called "Republic of Mountainous Karabagh". The flag shown on top of the map is, erroneously, mirrored vertically.

Ivan Sache, 8 September 2003

Coat of arms of Artsakh

[Coat of arms] image by Gevork Nazaryan, 8 September 2005

The coat of arms of Artsakh consists of an eagle displayed, crowned with an ornamented crown and bearing a shield on the chest.
In the chief of the shield is depicted a mountain range and under it, vertically set, the flag of Artsakh, over all there are two stone heads. The eagle stands on a bunch of different agricultural products (among which corn and grape). All is surrounded with a golden circular ribbon bearing inscription in Armenian script. From around the crown and eagle's head towards the ribbon there are sun rays emerging.

Željko Heimer, 24 May 1998

The eagle is an old Armenian symbol, present on the 1918 and 1991 coats of arms of Armenia. The crown might by an allusion to the six autonomous principalities that existed there during Iranian ruling. The stone monument is a male head and female head and represents the women and men of Artsakh. Its name is "We are our mountains" (another source I have says "We and our mountains") and it is located in Stepanakert, the capital. The grapevines I believe represent the many vines of the plateau, something illustrated by the Azeri name Gharabagh, which means "Black Vineyard" or close to "Black Garden" in Turkish Karabakh. (Nagorno or Nagorny is of Russian origin and Artsakh is Armenian (the oldest attested), but I don't know their etymology).The inscription in Eastern Armenian reads Lernayin Gharabaghi Artsakh Hanrapetoutioun, which means "Artsakh Republic of Mountainous Karabakh".

Luc Baronian, 25 May 1998

Nagorny (I believe this is masculine form, Nagorno would be neuter, depending how Russian speaker interprets the grammatical gender of Karabakh) means upper, or mountainous. The same Slavic root appears in the name Crna Gora for Montenegro - Black Mountain.

Željko Heimer, 25 May 1998

Nagorno-Karabakh Army

[Flag]   [Nagorno-Karabakh Army]

Regimental colour of the Nagorno-Karabakh Army, reverse and obverse - Images by Jens Pattke, 17 June 2012

The regimental standard of the Nagorno-Karabakh Army (photo, reverse; photo, obverse) is Burgundy red, in size 1150 x 1450 mm, with a golden fringe.
On the obverse, the emblem of the Nagorno-Karabakh Army is placed in canton. In the center of the flag is the following writing:
ՄԱՐՇԱԼ ՀԱՄԱԶԱՍՊ ԲԱԲԱՋԱՆՅԱՆ ԱՆՎԱՆ (named for Marshal Hamazasp Babajanyan)
ՊԲ49–ՐԴ ԱՌԱՆՁԻՆ (Defence Forces; 49th unit)
ՏԱՆԿԱՅԻՆ ԳՈՒՆԴ (Tank Regiment).
On the reverse is placed the golden state emblem of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Above the emblem, in an arched patters, the golden writing ՀԱՆՈՒՆ ՀԱՅՐԵՆԻՔԻ (For the Fatherland!).

Jens Pattke, 10 March 2013

Lachin District


Flag used in Lachin in December 2020 - Image by Jean-Marc Merklin, 3 December 2020

Lachin District was controlled by the Republic of Artsakh from 1992 until its reconquest by the Azerbaijani forces in December 2020. On 1 December 2020, Azereabijani soliders celebrated their victory with a flag of Azerabijan inscribed "LAÇIN" in white in the upper stripe (video, Euronews, 1 December 2020).

Jean-Marc Merklin & Ivan Sache, 24 April 2021

Council of People's Deputies of the Autonomous Region of Nagorno-Karabakh (1988-1989)

[Soviet of Nagorno-Karabakh)]

Flag of the Council of People's Deputies of the Autonomous Region of Nagorno-Karabakh - Image by Jaume Ollé, 8 September 2005

This flag could have existed, informally, until 1989 only and, probably, since February 1988. During the existence of the Committee of Special Management of Nagorny Karabakh (1989-1991), only the national coat of arms and flag of USSR were used in Nagorny Karabakh.

Mikhail Revnivtsev, 13 April 2005