Presidential elections started on Thursday in the unrecognized republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, the fifth since the republic broke away from Azerbaijan in the late 1980s.
Polling stations opened at 8 a.m. local time and will close at 8 p.m., after which the ballot count will begin.
There are three candidates in the running, including incumbent President Bako Saakyan, National Council Deputy Vitaly Balasanyan and Arkady Sogomonyan, professor at the Armenian Agricultural University.
The EU has reiterated it does not recognize the legality of the elections.
Catherine Ashton, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said the European Union “does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework in which they will be held.”
“These 'elections' should not prejudice the determination of the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh in the negotiated general framework of the peaceful settlement of the conflict.”
Ashton recalled the EU's firm support to the OSCE Minsk Group, and in particular to the sustained efforts of its co-chairs, aimed at a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
“I call on the parties to step up their efforts to find a negotiated solution to the conflict on the basis of the Madrid principles, which would allow progress beyond the status quo. I reiterate the EU's readiness to provide further support to efforts in this direction", she said.
The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted in the late 1980s, when the predominantly Armenian-populated region of Nagorno-Karabakh claimed independence from Azerbaijan. It is estimated to have left more than 30,000 people dead on both sides between 1988 and 1994. The region has since remained under Armenian control.
There has been an increasing number of shootouts along the line of contact between the Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, as well as at the border between the two states.