January 1990 marked the beginning of the most dramatic events of the NagornoKarabakh Conflict as the Presidium of the USSR's Supreme Soviet ruled the unification of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia to be illegal and as the Soviet leadership declared a state of emergency in the NKAO
and along the Azerbaijan/Armenia border.
Since then, what in pure legal terms could be regarded as an internal conflict between Union Republics (when the two Republics were formally an integral part of the Soviet Union) turned into an armed conflict between the two sovereign neighboring states.18 By the end of 1991 tensions spiraled gradually into the military phase, when isolated armed attacks by the Armenian informal paramilitary groups (19) across the border into Azerbaijan and in the former NKAO took the form of planned combat operations.
(34) However, after the armed attack and subsequent invasion on April 2, 1993, of the Kelbadjar district, which is located outside of the administrative line of former NKAO, the international community began expressing serious doubts about Armenia's claims of noninvolvement.
(36) The evidence made available to the Security Council by Azerbaijan confirmed that Kelbadjar district was invaded from at least two directions: from the territory of Vardenis district of Armenia bordering Azerbaijan, and from within the former NKAO. (37)
(122) In this report, which was drafted in the aftermath of the armed attack and seizure of the city of Agdam located beyond the administrative line of the former NKAO, the Chairman of the Minsk Conference, Mr.
(16) On February 20, 1988, the representatives of the Armenian community at the session of the Soviet of People's Deputies of the NKAO adopted a decision to petition to the Supreme Soviets of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR for the transfer of the NKAO from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenia SSR.
The Soviet census of 1989, however, showed the reduction of Armenians in the NKAO, which had in 1989 a population of 200,000 people, of which 75 per cent were Armenians and 23 per cent Azeris.
The essence of Armenian discontent was that the Azeri authorities deliberately severed their ties with Armenia and pursued a policy of de-Armenization by a planned Azeri settlement, by squeezing the Armenian population out of the NKAO and neglecting its economic needs.
On 20 February 1988 the regional Soviet (local parliament) of Nagorno-Karabakh, proceeding from the right of nations to self-determination, appealed to the Supreme Soviets of the USSR, Azerbaijan SSR and Armenian SSR, asking them to authorize secession of the NKAO from Azerbaijan and its unification with Armenia.
Meanwhile, the NKAO regional Soviet was reformed into the Karabakh National Council, which held a joint session with the Armenian Supreme Soviet on 29 November 1989 and proclaimed the reunification of Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.
On 21 November 1991 the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan repealed NKAO's autonomous status.
"In 1988, before becoming the activist of the separatist movement of Nagorno-Karabakh, Bako Sahakyan held different positions in NKAO
. In 1990, he joined Nagorno-Karabakh separatist military movement against Azerbaijan.