Nagorno-Karabakh’s 150,000 people don’t hold Azerbaijan passports and can travel only to Armenia, unless they apply for Armenian passports. The mountainous region’s self-declared sovereignty isn’t recognized by any country. With trade, travel and educational opportunities limited, the region’s youth are in danger of falling behind.
The privately funded TUMO Center for Creative Technologies, which teaches subjects such as robotics and 3-D modeling, epitomizes the aspirations in the region to emerge from the isolation that has cloaked it for more than two decades. Nagorno-Karabakh has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since the end of a 1994 war.
Nagorno-Karabakh has reported solid gross domestic product growth over the past decade. Once heavily reliant on imported electricity, Nagorno-Karabakh now has a self-sufficient grid.
It also has an international airport, built in 2011, but the one thing missing are the planes. Azerbaijan has warned it can’t guarantee the safety of flights to Nagorno-Karabakh. So, neatly stacked luggage trolleys, check-in desks and an air traffic control tower remain unused.