Has Azerbaijan any legal basis in claiming the territories of Nagorno Karabakh?
Such basis did never exist as after the collapse of Soviet Union, Azerbaijan proclaimed itself the legal successor of Democratic Republic
of 1918, the territories of which were never documented by the League of Nations given its territorial disputes with the neighbours, i.e. Georgia and Armenia. Accordingly, the state of Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan never existed legitimately. (See League of Nations, FirstAssembly Report N17,1920, Geneva, p. 139). Hence, how could Karabakh be part of an unrecognized state?
Moreover, when Azerbaijan was seceding from the USSR, according to the 3rd of April 1990 Law on the Secession of a Union Republic from the USSR, two self-governing territorial units: Republic of Azerbaijan and Republic of Nagorno Karabakh were formed as a result. A propos, Azerbaijan Republic simply cannot have any basis to claim the territory of another self-governing state.
The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh is a self-governing democratic state. Which are the bases for its independence?
The people of NKR gained their self-determination based on the following provisions of International law.
The right of Nations to self-determination" - one of the core principles of International Law entrenched in the Charter of the United Nations.
Afree, democratic and transparent referendum was conducted based on the 3rd of April 1990 Law on the Secession of a Union Republic from the USSR.
The people of Nagorno Karabakh gained self-determination on the territory which had never been under the authority of non Soviet-Azerbaijan.
NKR has all the necessary qualifications to be an independent territorial and political entity: a defined territory, permanent population, constitution, flag, anthem, coats of arms, legislative, executive and judicial bodies and army. NKR is a presidential republic. According to the NKR legislation the National Assembly is the highest state legislative body with 6 standing committees.
The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh is a 17-year independent and self-governed state now and has the right and ability to conduct free and fair elections according to democratic principles of elections. On 19 July 2007 second presidential elections were held in NKR. Mr. Bako Sahakyan was elected the president of the self-governing state. All International observers positively assessed the presidential elections of Nagorno Karabakh. (See: International observers: "The elections in Nagorno Karabakh Republic are held according to democratic norms and principles". (Russian) Международные наблюдатели: Выборы в Нагорном Карабахе соответствовали принципам и нормам демократии, http://regnum.nj/news/859216.html
Armenian territories of Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhijevan were forcibly annexed to Azerbaijan. When and under what conditions did this happen?
The Musavat government of Azerbaijan, taking advantage of instable situation in the region as a result of the collapse of the tsarist Russia, tried to occupy Armenian territories - Nagorno Karabakh, Zangezur, and Nakhijevan. The main goal was to secure a direct border with Turkey, at the cost of Armenian territories. In 1918-1920, prior to the establishment of the Soviet power in Azerbaijan, Turkey provided significant support to the Musavats for that cause: with the help of Turkey, in 1920, in Shushi, Azerbaijani troops massacred and displaced 20,000 Armenians. In the spring of 1920, the Red Army of the Soviet Russia marched into Azerbaijan, and then occupied the territory of Karabakh, which was forcibly annexed to Azerbaijan that had proclaimed Soviet power earlier.
After the establishment of the Soviet power in Armenia, the Azerbaijani authorities recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as an indivisible part of Armenia. How Karabakh was re-annexed to Azerbaijan by force?
After the establishment of the soviet power in Armenia (November 29, 1920), the Chairman of the revolutionary committee of Azerbaijan N. Narimanov made a special announcement: "From today, the previous borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan are declared void. Nagorno-Karabakh, Zangezur and Nakhijevan are recognized as indivisible parts of the Socialist Republic of Armenia." This fact was documented by Stalin, people's commissar of the nations' affairs of the Soviet government. The Act was recorded also by the League of Nations in the document adopted on December 18,1920. On July 4,1921, the Central Party session of the Caucasus Bureau, with the participation of Stalin, issued a decision to include Nagorno-Karabakh in the composition of the Soviet Armenia by majority vote. However, on the next day, "brotherly" Azerbaijan reviewed its decision as to Karabakh and required to call a new session of the Caucasian Bureau, where Karabakh was illegally surrendered to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan, without any discussion or voting.
It is known that the Armenian people had appealed against the unfair decisions of the Soviet authorities pertaining to the Armenian territories. How was that appeal expressed?
After the forced annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan, the population of the region, as well as the population of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia (ASSR), addressed multiple appeals to the central authorities of the USSR, requesting to review the decision of July 5,1921. This is evidenced by appeals to the leaders of the USSR in 1945, 1953, 1963,1968, and 1977, and rallies of many thousands, which alas had no effect. The wave of protests culminated in 1988.
Azerbaijan violated rights of Armenians of Karabakh, at state level. In what ways did the government of Azerbaijan implement the policy of persecution of Armenians during the Karabakh movement?
After the first peaceful demonstrations held in Stepanakert on February 14, 1988, the head of Central Committee Department of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan SSR Assadov declared, "... hundred thousands Azerbaijanis are ready to invade Karabakh at any time and initiate carnage." In February 1988, anti-Armenian policy wave disseminated throughout Azerbaijan. In February 26-28, anti-Armenian demonstrations amounting thousands of people took place in the central square of Sumgait with the main slogan of "death to Armenians." To muster up boldness of slaughterers, they were provided with large quantity of alcohol and drugs.
According to official data, from 30 to 50 Armenians were killed in Sumgait only, and the entire property of 25,000 Armenians was confiscated: details thereof may be found in "European Parliament, Official Journal of the European Communities, NC 235/106, 7, July 1988". On January 13, 1990, using the same scenario, 150 Armenians were massacred in Baku, and 33 died on their way to migration. As per data provided by "Human Right Advocates", on April 10,1992, in Maragha, 50 Armenians, of which 25 women, were tortured to death; 100 Armenians were taken prisoners, of which 9 children and 18 women. See details of Maragha carnage in the publication of Baroness Caroline Cox, "Ethnic Cleansings in Progress: war in Nagorno Karabagh (1993)."
At present, Azerbaijan continues to pursue anti-Armenian policy. What aim does Azerbaijan pursue in presenting Armenia to international community as an aggressor?
Azerbaijan introduces the problem as a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and Armenia as an aggressor state, to distract attention of international community from the pivotal problem of the conflict, i.e. the inalienable right of people of NK to self-determination. There is no international document attesting the participation of armed forces of Armenia in military actions around Karabakh. Armenia is just one of the three parties of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and a party engaged in negotiation process over the settlement of the problem. Armenia has been involved in the process since Azerbaijan had refused to negotiate with NKR, and Armenia represents interests of the independent republic within the framework of OSCE Minsk Group. The Republic of Armenia for many times has articulated its readiness to withdraw from negotiations, if Azerbaijan sits to negotiate directly with the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Khojalu events are often misrepresented by Azerbaijan. What had happened in reality?
In 1992, Armenian forces, prior to liberating Khojalu, had informed the Azerbaijani side about it, and at the same time, they left a humanitarian corridor. Even the mayor of Khojalu E. Mamedov spoke about that, "We knew that Armenians have left that path for the evacuation of civilians" (Source: "Ruskaya Misl", 3.03.1992, cit. "Bakinski Rabochi"). Thereafter, the mayor added, "As soon as I heard the news about the attack of the town, I appealed to authorities of Aghdam to send helicopters for the evacuation of women, children and elders. But, no help was provided." (Source: Megapolis-Express, N 17, 1992. Khojalu, Chronicle of Genocide. Elmira Akhundova, Azerbaijan State Publishing House", Baku, 1993, p. 16/).
In reality, the residents of Khojalu perished in the vicinity of Aghdam, which was under the control of the Azerbaijani forces. "I failed to film corpses of Azerbaijanis, since there were no dead bodies at all," said Azeri TV reporter Chingese Mustafaev (Source: A. Zverev, Ethnic Conflicts in the Caucasus," 1988-1994, "Disputable Boarders in the Caucasus", M. 1996). Coincidentally or not, after that statement, Mustafaev was assassinated under unknown circumstances. The announcements of the President of Azerbaijan A. Mutalibov about those events are of great interest. "The Khojalu events were organized to create a cause for my resignation" (Source: "Nezavisimaya Gazeta," 02.04.1992). On another occasion, Mutalibov mentioned, "It is possible that some Azerbaijanis were killed just by Azerbaijani army..." (Source: A. Zverev, "Ethnic Conflicts in the Caucasus," 1988-1994).
According to the UN Report 2005, the number of refugees in Azerbaijan is 571,272. What purpose does Azerbaijan pursue by twice exaggerating the number?
The number of refugees (one million) presented by Azerbaijan is exaggerated, and does not correspond to reality. According to the UN Report 2005, the number of refugees in Azerbaijan amounts to 571,272. However, for political considerations, and to prevent any decrease of international aid amounting millions of dollars, Azerbaijan distorts the actual figures. Despite of billons of dollars revenues generated from oil, Azerbaijan continues to hold hostage a part of its population.
Azerbaijan, following its notorious policy of falsification attempts to convince everyone, including self-nation, that Armenia has "violated" its territorial unity and "occupied" 20% of Azerbaijani territory. What's the truth behind the story?
After the collapse of the USSR, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan proclaimed itself the legal successor of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan that existed within 1918-1920, which Nagorno Karabakh had never been part of.
During the 1991-1994 armed conflict triggered by Azerbaijan, the territories surrounding the Republic of Nagomo Karabakh passed under the control of Armenian self-defense forces. To ensure self existence the people of NKR prevented the enemy's agression by establishing a security belt around its territories, meanwhile losing some northern and eastern territories of Karabakh (today 15% of NKR territory is under Azerbaijan control). While Azerbaijan is exaggerating the real number of refugees, it is as well gambling the 20% territorial issue. As stated in the UN official documents the total territory of Azerbaijan is about 86,600 km2: even if admitting that the military of NKR exercise control over territory of 8,780 km2, as shown on the map produced by Azerbaijani authorities, then it clearly identifies that NKR military control only 10% of the territory. As a matter of fact the Armenian military control Lachin (1835km2), Kelbajar (1936 km2), Kubatlu (835 km2), Jebrail (1050 km2), Zangelan (707 km2), Aghdam (1094 km2), Fizuli (1386 km2) (only 30% of the two latter ones), which only make 7,059 km2, 8% of Azerbaijan. So where Azerbaijan has invented the figure of 20% is a big question, as there are no facts proving theirstatement.
But all of us should bear in mind that the issue is not yet resolved, and, under the anti-Armenian hardpolicy of Azerbaijan, the security line is the only guarantee to the physical existence of the population.
Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) has been inhabited by Armenians since earliest times, the graphic evidence of which are cultural relics built by Armenians through centuries: such as, on the initiative of the Armenian King Tigran the Great (95-56 B.C.) the city of Tigranakert was founded, the traces of which have recently been discovered in Karabakh with the help of foreign archeologists. In 301 A.D., after the adoption of Christianity, Armenians builtAmaras monastery (4th century), the Tsitsernavank (5-7th centuries), the Gandzasar monastery complex (9th century) and many other monasteries and churches.
Since the settlement of Turkic tribes in the region around 14th century, they have been seeking to attribute the ownership of Armenian historical values to their tribes. After the collapse of the tsarist Russia in 1918, the Turkic tribes, with the help of the Ottoman Turkey founded a state named Azerbaijan in the southeastern region of the Caucasus. They borrowed the name of the northern region of Iran "Azerbaijan" as adobe by pan-Turkic ideas planned to forcibly annex the Iranian Azerbaijan in future as well. However, Azerbaijan was not recognized by the League of Nations, given its territorial disputes with neighbors Armenia and Georgia.
School for Young Leaders "sahmanagits" team
Photos by M. Shahbazyan, S. Shahverdyan, R. Mangasaryan.