Ethnic Cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh | Radboud Current Affairs Podcast with Armenia specialist Christopher Sheklian

“The region is often called Nagorno-Karabakh, which means something like black mountainous garden. It’s a linguistic mishmash. The Armenian name Artsakh goes back until the first century B.C., when it was a region of an Armenian kingdom. So there is a long Armenian presence in this area.”

What is happening in Nagorno-Karabach? Two weeks ago, the control over this Azerbaijani enclave, populated by ethnic Armenians, has been taken over by the government of Azerbaijan after a 24 hrs war. Since then, there has been an exodus of ethnic Armenians fleeing the area. It has even been described as ethnic cleansing. Why is the conflict flaring up again now? Listen to Armenia specialist Christopher Sheklian who sheds light on the situation in the enclave.

Radboud Reflects and Radboud University

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Photo by Sarah Danz

Ghost town

About 55.000 ethnic Armenians used to live in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is a ghost town now: hospitals are no longer in use and the medical staff has left. The Red Cross speaks of a ‘surreal situation’. The only people still present in the enclave are those who couldn’t make it out. Azerbaijani officials say there is no need for people to be afraid, but those promises are considered empty. Justly so, says Christopher Sheklian, because practice has shown otherwise. The blockade of the corridor, leading to a shortage of food and medical supplies, is just a recent example.

Christopher Sheklian and Liesbeth Jansen - RAP - Photo Sarah Danz
Christopher Sheklian and Liesbeth Jansen - RAP - Photo Sarah Danz


For centuries, Nagorno Karabakh has been the scene of conflict and violence. The fact that both Azerbaijan and Armenia have powerful allies makes the situation even more complex. Azerbaijan is supported by Turkey, while Russia is on Armenia’s side. But the war in Ukraine has made Russia’s attention for Armenia decline, leading to the end of a fragile truce. What does this mean for the tens of thousands of refugees that enter Armenia? What will the consequences of this conflict be for geopolitical relationships? And how could it get so out of hand?

Program manager Liesbeth Jansen spoke to Armenia specialist Christopher Sheklian.

About the speaker 

Christopher Sheklian is a scholar of religion at Radboud University. As a post-doc researcher he studies Armenian Christianity, Armenians in Turkey and religious minority rights

Radboud Actualiteiten Podcast 

The Radboud Actualiteiten Podcast offers scholarly interpretation on pressing political `questions. Each episode we speak with a Radboud scientist about a current social issue. One speaker, one subject. Deepening and interpretation in a short interview.

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