Jan Koehler
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Christoph Zürcher
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The art of losing the state
Weak empire to weak nation-state around Nagorno-Karabakh

The conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh offers an insight into the rules and processes that governed the transformation of a weak empire into even weaker nation-states. More than other conflicts escalating into collective violence during the demise of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Nagorno-Karabakh had connotations of civil and interstate war, heavily involved official central and local Soviet institutions and led to the creation of new local institutions. This chapter deals with the interdependence of institutional weakness of states and the organisation of conflict. Institutional weakness of statehood is at the same time both cause and consequence of violent conflict. On the one hand, the escalation of conflict into violence is connected with the local exploitation of organisational voids in the official Soviet institutions. On the other hand, re-institutionalising non-violent conflict after war and forced exchange of population has proven to be a formidable challenge to weak post-Soviet statehood.

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