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Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenian arguments against Azerbaijani

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Abstract

Another popular Armenian argument regarding Nagorno-Karabakh is that this territory was annexed to Azerbaijan by Stalin. Some German publicists cite this argument without any specific research or evidence. In this regard, there is a need for clarification: on July 5, 1921, a meeting of the Caucasian Bureau (Caucasian Bureau) was held. There, it was decided to keep Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan. This was done on the basis of the need for peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the preservation of economic ties between Nagorno-Karabakh and lowland, as well as its ties with Azerbaijan. It was planned to provide Nagorno-Karabakh with wide autonomy with a center in the city of Shusha. [8] So, this was not an arbitrary decision by Stalin. At that meeting, the issue of whether Nagorno-Karabakh should be “transferred” to Azerbaijan was not discussed. Nevertheless, this issue was discussed during the meeting on July 4, 1921, specifically for Armenia.
Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenian arguments
against Azerbaijani
Asif Masimov
10.03.2020
War is always a tragedy. There are no winners in the war. Each side is losing something. As
for the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, there are two
conflicting views on both sides, which should be considered in detail. I regularly follow the
German media and often come up with a biased form of reporting on this subject.
Nagorno-Karabakh region in the context of world order
Let’s start by defining the framework of the existing world order. These are the Westphalian
system (1648), the Versailles system (1815), the Versailles-Washington system (1918), the
system of international relations after Yalta and Potsdam (1945). Sometimes, the time after the
end of the Cold War (1991) is also mentioned. In this context, it should be noted that the
Caucasian republics first gained independence in May 1918 (Georgia on May 26, 1918, and
Armenia and Azerbaijan on May 28, 1918). The annexation by the Red Army of these three
Caucasian republics marked a new chapter in their history. All peoples suddenly became
“brothers,” but the “friendship of peoples” turned out to be functional only until the Armenian
nationalists made claims to Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhichevan back in the 1960s.
If we consider the Nagorno-Karabakh region within the Caucasian national states, then this
subject was part of Azerbaijan after the First and Second World Wars. The attempts of the
Armenian side to justify separatism by all possible means constantly run into the borders of
international norms. According to one of the arguments circulated by the Armenian side, „the
Soviet republics […] gained independence, Nagorno-Karabakh also exercised this right. [1]
The Constitution of the USSR will help us verify the validity of this argument. In 1977, the
latest constitution [2] of the Soviet Union, as amended, was adopted. We are particularly
interested in articles 72 and 86, which could directly concern Nagorno-Karabakh. According
to article 72, the Union republics were allowed to secede from the Soviet Union, but at that
time Nagorno-Karabakh was considered an autonomous region. Article 86 confirmed that the
borders of union republics cannot be changed without the consent of the republics themselves.
[3]
Another frequently used argument of the Armenian side is the following: the Armenians of
Nagorno-Karabakh have the right to self-determination as a people. However, there is no such
people „Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. I perfectly understand the attempts of the
Armenian side to convince us that the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh have a different dialect
or other traditions. But the population of Nagorno-Karabakh was considered the Armenians,
Azerbaijanis and other national minorities. In Armenia, there is a nation that has already
determined itself and has its own state. Do not forget that the right to self-determination is
subject to the principle of territorial integrity of the state. This point was also taken into account
in the Helsinki Final Act. [4] Otherwise, countries in arbitrary form would change borders with
their neighbors, and would expel one part of the population. As members of the United Nations
(UN), both parties must respect international law and structure their foreign policies
accordingly. Otherwise, the UN Security Council would not have adopted four resolutions on
the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which call for the unconditional withdrawal of
Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories and the return of internally displaced
persons to their lands. [5]
Facts and Figures
Many German journalists try to compare the ethnic composition of Nagorno-Karabakh only in
the 20th century. In principle, there is no problem. However, most of the information we
receive boils down to the fact that the Armenian population supposedly always dominated in
Nagorno-Karabakh. When the Russian Empire conquered Transcaucasia, and the
Turkmenchay Treaty was signed in 1828, the number of Armenians increased dramatically.
After the decree of the Russian Tsar Nicholas I, the „Armenian region “was founded on the
site of the Irevan and Nakhichevan khanates. Then the Armenians were resettled from various
regions of the Ottoman and Persian empires in order to Christianize the recently conquered
territories. Before the resettlement of Armenians, the ethnic composition of the former Irevan
Khanate was as follows: about 50,000 Muslims and 20,000 Armenians; 17,000 Muslims and
2,700 Armenians lived in Nakhichevan. [6] Sources indicate that only in 1828-1830, 40,000
Armenians from Persia and about 84,000 from the Ottoman Empire were relocated to the
territory of today’s Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. [7] Tsarist Russia continued the
Armenization of the region in subsequent years. This historical fact cannot be ignored by
professionals who continue to study the Karabakh problem.
Another popular Armenian argument regarding Nagorno-Karabakh is that this territory was
annexed to Azerbaijan by Stalin. Some German publicists cite this argument without any
specific research or evidence. In this regard, there is a need for clarification: on July 5, 1921, a
meeting of the Caucasian Bureau was held. There, it was decided to keep Nagorno-Karabakh
within Azerbaijan. This was done on the basis of the need for peaceful coexistence of Muslims
and Christians in Nagorno-Karabakh, and the preservation of economic ties between Nagorno-
Karabakh and lowland, as well as its ties with Azerbaijan. It was planned to provide Nagorno-
Karabakh with wide autonomy with a center in the city of Shusha. [8] Thus, this was not an
arbitrary decision by Stalin. At that meeting, the issue of whether Nagorno-Karabakh should
be „transferred“ to Azerbaijan was not discussed. Nevertheless, this issue was discussed during
the meeting on July 4, 1921, specifically for Armenia.
Criminals or victims?
The Armenian side accuses the Azerbaijani side of pogroms in Baku and Sumgait. Those
pogroms were studied in detail. It turned out that then many Armenians really died. However,
Azerbaijanis were also killed. So, during the pogrom in Sumgait, 26 Armenians and six
Azerbaijanis were killed. Moreover, among the criminals was an Armenian Eduard Grigoryan,
who directly led the violence against the Armenian residents of Sumgait. Subsequent trials
involving the main accused and affected Armenians took place mainly in Moscow. Almost all
the affected Armenians were able to identify Grigoryan as the main culprit. However, the
Armenian side is trying by all means to hide this fact.
The question arises why it is impossible to compare the pogroms in Sumgait with the tragedy
in Khojaly. Because in relation to some Sumgayit criminals, sentences were passed, including
mortals; there was a lawsuit. In addition, Armenia and Azerbaijan at that time were still part of
the USSR. In the case of Khojaly, we are dealing with criminals who killed hundreds of
civilians, and then held high posts in the independent Republic of Armenia and are still at large.
However, it is impossible not to take into account the fact that the pogroms of Azerbaijanis
also took place on the Armenian side. At one time, the Armenian journalist Mane Papyan
revealed interesting facts, finding out that in the Armenian regions of Kafan and Gugark, where
Azerbaijanis lived compactly, the pogroms were carried out by Armenians. In 1988, seven
Azerbaijanis were killed in the city of Vanadzor (formerly Kirovakan), and Azerbaijani
families were persecuted and exiled. In another Armenian city, Gugark, in November 1988 at
least eleven Azerbaijanis were killed. The number of gangs of Armenian nationalists who
persecuted Azerbaijanis also increased. The article by Manet Papyan can be found here. [9]
When we talk about the pogrom in Sumgait, many forget that before these events, deportation
of Azerbaijanis in 1987 took place. In his book The Black Garden, British researcher Thomas
de Waal writes that in November 1987, two freight cars with Azerbaijanis arrived in Baku and
were expelled from the Armenian city of Kafan. Unfortunately, these tragic events were not
covered by the media in Armenia and throughout the Soviet Union. [10]
The widowed Baku Armenian Sveta Pashayeva recalls those events: “People came and said
that two wagons with naked, undressed children arrived from Kafan and we went there. They
were Azerbaijanis from Kafan. I was at the station, and I saw two freight wagons. The doors
were opened, and two long boards, like handrails, were nailed to the wall so that people would
not fall out of the train on the go. We were asked to help the refugees. Many gathered old
children’s clothes, some things … I saw them myself. [11]
I have already mentioned the expulsion of Azerbaijanis from Armenia, and I would like to
emphasize once again that deportation took place not only in the late 1980s. In 1948-1953, a
program was implemented, as a result of which thousands of Azerbaijanis were forced to leave
Armenia. It was planned to resettle Armenians from abroad in their homes. The Armenians,
who arrived in the Armenian SSR from Syria, Iran and Iraq, moved to the homes of
Azerbaijanis, and the Azerbaijanis themselves were forced to settle in the less favorable
territories of Azerbaijan. In official documents, the program was called „On the resettlement
of collective farmers and other Azerbaijani population from the Armenian SSR to the Kura-
Araksin lowland of the Azerbaijan SSR“ [12], which is not true, since the resettlement was
forced, and the term „deportation“ in this case is more acceptable.
I insist that Armenia must take the first step to achieve peace. As long as the Armenian troops
are on the territory of Azerbaijan, until the internally displaced people can not return home,
while the international community and the media use double standards, there will be no peace
in the region. Both older and younger generations of the two peoples will remain hostile to
each other if the Armenians do not take the first step.
Reference list
[1] Primeminister.am (2019): “We have made a commitment, and therefore, we must make
efforts to achieve real changes in the region” – PM Nikol Pashinyan’s speech at the Paris Peace
Forum, Available at: https://www.primeminister.am/en/press-release/item/2019/11/12/Nikol-
Pashinyan-Speech-Peace-Conference/, (Accessed 6 March2020).
[2] Konstitucija Sojuza Sovetskih Socialisticheskih respublik, 7 oktjabrja 1977 goda.,
Available at: (http://doc.histrf.ru/20/konstitutsiya-sssr-1977-goda/, /, (Accessed 7 March
2020).
[3] See Krüger, Heiko: Der Berg-Karabach-Konflikt, Eine juristische Analyse, Heidelberg,
2009. S. 32.
[4] Konferenz über Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit In Europa Schlussakte, Helsinki 1975.
Available at: https://www.osce.org/de/mc/39503?download=true, (Accessed 3 March 2020).
[5] Resolutionen und Beschlüsse des Sicherheitsrats 1993, Sicherheitsrat, Offizielles Protokoll:
Achtundvierzigstes Jahr, Vereinte Nationen, New York, 1993, S. 87-91.
[6] See Kipke, Rüdiger: Das armenisch-aserbaidschanische Verhältnis und der Konflikt um
Berg-Karabach, 2012, S. 17.
[7] Ebd. S. 20.
[8] Gulieva, D. P.: K istorii obrazovanija Nagorno-Karabahskoj Avtonomnoj Oblasti
Azerbajdzhanskoj SSR 1918-1925, Dokumenty i Materialy, Baku, 1989. С. 59.
[10] Papjan, Mane (29 April 2015): Sobytija v Gugarke. Kak gromili azerbajdzhancev v
Armenii. Available at: https://epress.am/ru/2015/04/29/события-в-гугарке-как-громили-
азербай.html (Accessed 7 March 2020).
[11] De Waal, Thomas: Black Garden, Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War, New
York University Press, New York and London, 2003, p. 18.
[12] Ebd. S. 19.
[13] Sovet Ministrov SSSR, Postanovlenie Nr. 4083, ot 23 dekabrja 1947 g., Moskva, Kreml'.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Book
Black Garden is the definitive study of how Armenia and Azerbaijan, two southern Soviet republics, got sucked into a conflict that helped bring them to independence, bringing to an end the Soviet Union, and plaguing a region of great strategic importance. It cuts between a careful reconstruction of the history of Nagorny Karabakh conflict since 1988 and on-the-spot reporting on its convoluted aftermath. Part contemporary history, part travel book, part political analysis, the book is based on six months traveling through the south Caucasus, more than 120 original interviews in the region, Moscow, and Washington, and unique primary sources, such as Politburo archives. The historical chapters trace how the conflict lay unresolved in the Soviet era; how Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders exacerbated it; how the Politiburo failed to cope with the crisis; how the war began and ended; how the international community failed to sort out the conflict. What emerges is a complex and subtle portrait of a beautiful and fascinating region, blighted by historical prejudice and conflict.
K istorii obrazovanija Nagorno-Karabahskoj Avtonomnoj Oblasti Azerbajdzhanskoj SSR 1918-1925
  • D P Gulieva
Gulieva, D. P.: K istorii obrazovanija Nagorno-Karabahskoj Avtonomnoj Oblasti Azerbajdzhanskoj SSR 1918-1925, Dokumenty i Materialy, Baku, 1989. С. 59.
We have made a commitment, and therefore, we must make efforts to achieve real changes in the region" -PM Nikol Pashinyan's speech at the Paris Peace Forum
  • Primeminister
Primeminister.am (2019): "We have made a commitment, and therefore, we must make efforts to achieve real changes in the region" -PM Nikol Pashinyan's speech at the Paris Peace Forum, Available at: https://www.primeminister.am/en/press-release/item/2019/11/12/Nikol-Pashinyan-Speech-Peace-Conference/, (Accessed 6 March2020).