The Los Angeles City Council earlier this month unanimously approved a measure to rename an intersection in Brentwood where the consulate of Azerbaijan is located.
The intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Granville Avenue was designated “Republic of Artsakh Square,” named after the breakaway region of the dictatorship that has ethnic and historical ties to neighboring Armenia.
In December 2022, Azerbaijan instituted a blockade on the Republic of Artsakh, threatening the lives of thousands of people who call the region home.
The renaming of the intersection is a symbolic gesture from the City Council to protest the blockade and the Azerbaijan government, which city officials say has a “long and sordid history” of war crimes, threats of genocide and violating international law and breaching internationally recognized borders.
The proposal to rename the intersection was drafted by Council President Paul Krekorian, who was the first Armenian American elected to the city council in Los Angeles.
“Azerbaijan’s dictator has explicitly threatened genocide and called for the expulsion of all Armenians from territories he claims, once again threatening the annihilation of the Armenian people in their ancient homeland,” Krekorian said in a news release. “We have taken this action to affirm the solidarity of the people of Los Angeles with the indigenous people of Artsakh who struggle to maintain their tiny democracy in the face of oppression, violence and expansionist threats from Azerbaijan.”
Los Angeles is home to one of the largest populations of ethnic Armenians outside of Armenia, and the Republic of Artsakh is considered to be of extreme importance to the Armenian population located thousands of miles away.
Council member Traci Park co-authored the motion to designate the intersection as Republic of Artsakh Square. The intersection is located within Park’s council district, and she hopes the honor will “stand as a symbol of Artsakh’s self-determination and our unequivocal opposition to the Azerbaijani dictatorship’s unprovoked aggression to erase Armenian history and culture.”
The Republic of Artsakh was formerly known as the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh and declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. However, it’s recognized by the majority of the international community, including the United States, as part of Azerbaijan. California, however, has independently recognized the Republic of Artsakh since 2014.
Its autonomy has been the subject of global conflict for decades, with Artsakh receiving support from Armenia to the west, while its existence is ignored and disputed by Azerbaijan.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the region, which resulted in thousands of deaths. In 2020, Moscow brokered a ceasefire and posted “peacekeepers” along the Lachin corridor.
The conflict has intensified in recent months due to the ongoing blockade. The Lachin corridor is a thin mountainous roadway which is the only artery between Armenia and Artsakh. Azerbaijan has set up checkpoints along the corridor with the backing of Russia.
As part of the dedication, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation was directed to erect permanent signage to identify the intersection as Republic of Artsakh Square.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.