“Karabakh Always Armenian,” Says Historian at AGBU Lecture

AGBU Press Office
55 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022-1112
Phone 212.319.6383 x.118
Fax 212.319.6507
Email [email protected]

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Bournoutian Talk Provides Hard Data, Facts

By J. K. Hovhannes

New York, NY – One crucial component in consolidating the Armenian
position in the Karabakh conflict between Armenians and Azeris is
providing evidence of the continuous and overwhelming majority
Armenian presence in Karabakh since ancient times. And this, the
historian and author George Bournoutian presented in a lively and
convincing lecture on February 3, 2005 at the AGBU Central Office in

Bournoutian set himself two difficult criteria during his hour-long
lecture. On the one hand, he limited his sources, both primary and
otherwise, to non-Armenian authors to assure impartiality and to
debunk Azeri claims of partisanship. On the other hand, he steered
clear of the present day politics of the region and the various plans
and road maps put forward to solve the crisis.

“I will leave that to the political scientists, rather I’ll present
the historical data and let you judge for yourself the legitimacy of
Armenian and Azeri claims to Nagorno Karabakh,” Bournoutian said at
the start of his talk.

Dr. George Bournoutian, who was introduced by Betty Cherkezian of the
AGBU New York Special Events Committee (NYSEC), is currently professor
of East European and Middle Eastern History at Iona College and has
taught Armenian and Iranian history at several major universities
across the country. He is the author of fourteen books, including the
best-seller “A Concise History of the Armenian People”, and the recent
scholarly but readable “Two Chronicles of Karabakh.” Professor
Bournoutian is also a member of the New Jersey Commission on

Bournoutian was invited to deliver his lecture by AGBU NYSEC. The
group, a ten-member team, plans at least five events during the year
that deal with cultural, historical, artistic and educational
activities. Past events have included a private tour of the treasures
of Alexander the Great at the Onassis Foundation; guided tours of
Central Park and Caramoor; a tour of the Kips Bay Decorators
Showhouse; and a previous lecture by Professor Bournoutian, entitled
Armenian History 101.

To a rapt standing-room-only audience at a specially set up conference
room at the AGBU Central Office, Professor Bournoutian presented
historical and chronological data from a variety of non-Armenian
credible sources, all corroborated by quotations from his meticulous
research, validating the legitimacy of the Armenian presence in
Karabakh. Copies of two detailed maps of the South Caucasus region
were given to the attendees to follow up the intricate and sometimes
complicated flux of history that spanned many ages and involved a
dozen or so major ethnic and religious groups.

During the talk, which he peppered with anecdotes and livened up with
humor, Bournoutian highlighted five main eras covering the history of
the region: The classical Greek-Roman-Persian period until the 6th
century; the Arab-Moslem era extending between the 7th and 11th
centuries; the Mongol-Seljuk-Turkic period; the
Iranian-Russian-Ottoman period until the end of the 19th century; and
the Soviet era until the break-up in 1990 of the USSR and the
subsequent declaration of Karabakh of its independence.

Dr. Bournoutian stated emphatically that, based on the historical
record gleaned from official archives, linguistic studies, chronicles
and documents, all non-Armenian, at no time in the past fifteen
centuries have Nagorno Karabakh and Zangezur lost their Armenian
character and majority population, even though some regions of
Karabakh east of the river Kur and the riparian lowlands surrounding
it experienced population shifts.

The lecture was followed by a buffet-style Armenian luncheon with wine
and dessert. The hall was decorated tastefully by intricate
one-of-a-kind handcrafted articles, all of them on sale and created by
students from the three AGBU-sponsored Children Centers in Armenia. A
brief video projection during lunch illustrated upbeat scenes from the
three Centers in Arapkir, Nork and Malatya, which provide after school
instruction in the arts, culture, religion, literature and athletics
to over 3,500 youngsters.

The next event for AGBU NYSEC is a tour of the recently redesigned
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on Thursday, April 7, 2005. For more
information, please call, 212.319.6383, or email, [email protected].