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Location of Karvachar in the South Caucasus.

Karvachar (also known as Karvajar or Karvatjar; known as Kalbajar by the Kurds and as Kelbajar by the Azeris) is the northern part of the strip of land which seperated Karabakh from Armenia proper in Soviet times.

A mountainous area, with forests, rivers, hotsprings and ancient ruins, Karvachar is situated on the territory of the historic Vaykunik district of Artsakh in the Kingdom of Armenia. The district was known as Upper Khachen during the medieval period and later known as Tsar. It was part of the Khaghbakid branch of the Siunid princes of Khachen who were descendants of the Tsar meliks who held the region until it came under Russian rule.

Due to deportations by Shah Abbas of Safavid Persia, the area was almost entirely denuded of its Armenian population. Eventually, it was settled by Kurds and during the Soviet period became part of the short-lived Kurdistan Uyezd (or "Red Kurdistan") which lasted from 1923 to 1929. It was taken over by Armenian forces during the Karabakh War and has remained under Armenian control since. Most Kurdish and Azerbaijani residents fled the area after its capture and it was subsequently repopulated by Armenian refugees from the Azeri-controlled Shahumian region.

Remote Karvachar still has no petrol for sale, has not seen road work in decades, and has no overnight accomodations. It can be broken roughly into three main river canyons.

Levonaget-Trtu River Canyon

This canyon, which serves as the primary road connecting northern Karabakh to Armenia is not usually visited, except perhaps for a quick visit to Dadivank.

Trtu River Canyon

The branch of the Trtu that leads up to Karvachar town, and from there up to Tsar and beyond.

Tutkhun River Canyon

Driving through a tunnel rough-cut right through stone, this rarely visited canyon has a great hotspring and beautiful scenery.




3 July 2006

People in Karabakh have a very negative attitude towards proposals involving return of territories. They were deeply shocked to hear the foreign minister of Armenia Vardan Oskanyan say that “we will give” Karvachar after the referendum.

The reporter of the Lragir.am asked the opinion of citizens on this announcement in Stepanakert.

G. Sahakyan, 73: “Apparently, the minister did not study the map properly. How does he imagine life in Karabakh without Karvachar? Would he live in Karabakh without Karvachar?”

Svetlana, 43: “Perhaps they are hopeful that Baku will reject the idea of referendum and Karvachar will remain ours. But what if they agree?”

Andrey Ghulyan, pensioner: “Most inhabitants of Shahumyan, who remained in Karabakh, live in Karvachar. What will their fate be?”

“Frankly speaking, I am surprised at Oskanyan. Who gave him the right to speak on our behalf? He has never lived and will never live in Karabakh, will he?”


The Associated Press

1 June 2007

Bryza would not identify the unresolved issues, but he outlined some of the basic principles already reached for a potential resolution. The two sides have agreed on the return of districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh that are also under ethnic Armenian control.


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