Armenians change Azerbaijani town's name

Tue 02 Nov 2010 03:30 GMT | 07:30 Local Time

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The government of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh republic has given the name "Akna" to the occupied Azerbaijani town of Agdam.

"Akna" has also been made a suburb of the town of Askeran, which lies within the boundaries of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The near-deserted town of Agdam lies outside Karabakh's boundaries and is the capital of Azerbaijan's Agdam District.

When the Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region declared that they were breaking away from Azerbaijan, the borders of their new "republic" did not include the town or district of Agdam.

Agdam was occupied by Armenian forces during the war over secession from Azerbaijan and its population fled. After the cease-fire was declared in 1994, the town of Agdam and part of the district remained occupied by Armenian forces, ostensibly as a buffer zone.

With the change to Agdam's name, the Karabakh Armenians appear to be laying claim to the Azerbaijani town and district.

The head of Karabakh's department for territorial and local government, Sergey Nasibyan, said the name change was designed "to settle the process of providing land to residents of Agdam, as well as to resolve other housing issues", Radio Liberty's Armenian Service (Radio Azatutyun) reported, according to ARMENIA Today.

"Since Agdam has not been granted status yet, it has been included in the town community of Askeran as Akna suburb," Nasibyan said.

According to the Karabakh separatist government, Agdam has over 360 permanent residents who are mainly farmers.

Agdam has not yet been included in Karabakh's settlement programs so the town has problems with water and electricity supplies.

Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman Elkhan Polukhov was dismissive of the name change.

"This can only be described as a waste of paper, as this waste of ink and effort by some incomprehensible people has no other significance," Polukhov told "The appearance of news of this kind in the Armenian media is comic and prompts a sarcastic response."

The OSCE's Minsk Group, mediating a solution to the conflict, completed a field assessment mission to the occupied areas around Karabakh on 13 October. They are at present preparing a report on the mission's findings.




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