|Country||Armenia (Occupied by Azerbaijan)|
Artsvashen (Armenian: Արծվաշեն), also Romanized as Artzvashen ("Eagle City" in Armenian), is an exclave of Armenia's Gegharkunik province which has been occupied by the Azerbaijani army since 1992. The official Azerbaijani name for the village is Başkənd (Azerbaijani: Başkənd). Its size is about 40 square kilometers, and it is completely surrounded by the territory of Azerbaijan and has been controlled by it since the Nagorno-Karabakh War. Today, the village is mostly inhabited by Azeris as the Azerbaijani army expelled its Armenian population after it seized the territory and is now administered by Azerbaijan as part of Gadabay Rayon.
The present village was founded in 1854 as Bashkend (Armenian: Բաշքենդ) by Armenians from Choratan in Shamshadin, although an earlier Armenian presence on the site is attested by an inscription dated to 1607 on the Surb Hovhannes church in the town. It was later changed to Hin Bashkend (Armenian: Հին Բաշքենդ), meaning Old Bashkend to differentiate it from New or Nor Bashkend, founded by migrants from the original settlement.
In May 1991, the Armenian Interior Ministry reported that residents of Artsvashen averted an army occupation by surrendering their arms. According to New York Times, in 1992 Azerbaijani side announced that armed forces had "liberated" the town, destroying enemy tanks and weaponry and killing 300 Armenian "brigands", while Armenian reports mentioned no dead but said 29 people were "missing without trace."
Accusing Azerbaijan of mounting an "undeclared war," Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan sent a telegram to leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States saying that "aggression has been committed against a state that is a member of the C.I.S. and the system of collective security".
In the Soviet times there was a branch of Haygorg ("Armenian carpet" state company) in Artsvashen. After the invasion of the Azeri forces, the residents of Artsvashen migrated to Shorzha, Vardenis, Abovyan and Chambarak, where they continued traditions of this art:
"The women of Artsvashen learned carpet weaving from their mothers and grandmothers. Many of them had worked for Haygorg for decades. “It was shameful for a girl or woman in Artsvashen not to be able to weave carpets. Even if they didn’t work for Haygorg, they would have a weaving stand at home and make carpets,”
said Irina Ghalechyan, a former resident of Artsvashen and carpet weaver."
- Azerbaijan, by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki Org., 1994
- [dubious ]
- Azerbaijan Seven Years of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, Christopher Panico, Human Rights Watch, Jemera Rone (1994), p.92
- Soviet Army Is Reported to Attack And Occupy 2 Armenian Villages, New York Times, May 10, 1991
- Armenia Seeks Help in Fighting Azerbaijan, New York Times, August 10, 1992
- Carpet Weaving in Armenia, Lena Nazaryan, Hetq Online, 17/9/2007
- Artsvashen at GEOnet Names Server
- Report of the results of the 2001 Armenian Census, National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia
- Kiesling, Brady (2005), Rediscovering Armenia: Guide, Yerevan, Armenia: Matit Graphic Design Studio
- Brady Kiesling, Rediscovering Armenia, p. 49; original archived at Archive.org, and current version online on Armeniapedia.org.