Azg Armenian Daily
March 25 2005
PEACE TO KARABAKH
(to the structure of settlement)
By Vladimir Kazimirov,
Instead of introduction
Dear visitor of this site,
Under this heading I placed my memoirs basically on the period when
I was obliged to head Russia’s intermediary mission on Karabakh
settlement, be representative of the President of Russian Federation
on Nagorno Karabakh issue and also participant and co-chairman of
the OSCE Minsk group from Russia (1992-96).
I would like to spur a serious study of history of peaceful and
political settlement of Karabakh conflict. I shall be glad for
critical remarks, corrections, even for refutations on separate
episodes. I am ready to survey them, first of all, not from positions
of author’s insulted vanity but from natural desire to attach more
reliability to the description of events of recent past, which,
unfortunately, already suffers both involuntary confusion and
deliberate distortions. Moreover, I am ready to make corrections to
my text or include alternative versions in view of remarks. I have
turned to Azerbaijani and Armenian colleagues either involved in this
process or closely watching it with an offer to draw the objective
picture of Karabakh settlement history in this site.
I’ll post the sketches in the site bit by bit as they are ready. I
shall begin with a number of important, at least as I see them,
though inconsequent episodes: my appointment to “fire brigade” on
Karabakh, first restrictions of military actions, Bishkek, ceasefire
since May 12, 1994. I shall try to gradually fill in the gaps that
divide them. In view of some disputes on separate events or episodes,
I will probably have to attach documents of this process as appendices
to these memoirs.
And now let me start looking forward to your arguments or criticism.
Alexander Tvardovsky put it right indicating the truth: “Let it be
thicker no matter how bitter it is”.
Many of my colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ventured,
especially after retiring from active work, to take up writing
their memoirs and thoughts on their service. Some of them hid it
behind book covers, others in their desks. They urged me to write
many times. Friends often reproached me telling that not everybody
bechanced to witness so many diverse and important events during
diplomatic service. But I obviously lacked courage or serious
motivation to venture that.
Besides, I was not sure whether the others would be interested in it.
Meanwhile, things began slipping my memory, breaking whole periods
into separate episodes. So, Budapest events of October of 1956 were
far behind, Brazil with the military coup in 1964 was drifting away,
the war in Angola with first attempts for peace in the end of 80s
was also gradually slipping out.
I also was embarrassed that authors of memoirs often puff up trying to
play up their personality amidst events… Nobody, certainly, can avoid
subjectivity if he tells about events that involved not necessarily
his personality but that he witnessed. I was afraid to give way to
such sins or, even worse than that, I feared of filling up the gaps
in my memory with fantasy or adjust the narrative to a made-up scheme.
Suddenly I received stimulus from the most unexpected side! Karabakh
is like a drug. Having invincibly addicted to it, I kept on watching
settlement process over Nagorno Karabakh issue that I had to take
up comparatively recently, from 1992 to 1996. This period is still
fresh in my memory and there are more materials on this than on other
events. Reading what the others wrote on Karabakh I found every now
and then inaccuracies, confusion, false versions, pretentious statement
etc. Most of them dealt with Russia’s role in the settlement. But I was
the one who headed Russia’s intermediary mission on Karabakh in that
period and was Russian President’s representative on the settlement of
the conflict — personal, special and plenipotentiary respectively. I
also represented Russia in the OSCE Minsk group as a co-chair. In other
words, few people know the process in that period better than I. Like
an alarm clock, my mind would call up: you know how it happened –
not the way as it is written here! Why are you keeping silent?..
Meanwhile, the history of the conflict and its neutralization is
being recited by people who learnt things through hearsay, were far
from the events they describe and read and cut out information from
here and there. I would put up with it if it were journalists as
they work helter-skelter and can be excused for some mistakes more
or less. But among those who mess with the facts are researches that
are supposed to seriously check and recheck sources instead of blindly
referring to them. Some participants of events also stretch the truth
whether because of memory failure or yearning to push through their
own version. What kind of researches or memoirs are these if they
lack the vital element — authenticity?! The ringing of these alarm
clocks already began flow together in unbearable boom. It’s time to
put an end to lies and slander over Russia’s role in the process of
Just then I realized that I still remember certain things, that there
are many documents of 90s on Karabakh. But even this could not make
me take up my pen — I simply stuck to the keyboard and began typing
letters with only one finger — I never learnt typing.
Everything connected with Karabakh began for me very simply but
thoroughly turned my life for some years. At the end of April of
1992 minister of foreign affairs of Russia, A.V. Kozirev, called
me and offered to engage in the settlement process of conflict in
By then I had already served at the Ministry for almost 40 years;
though I was the head of the Department of African Countries at the
Foreign Ministry for the last 1.5 years, it would be difficult to
call myself specialist in African studies as my only experience was
the mission in only one African country — Angola. It was a rather
tough but meanwhile a very interesting period (1987-90) for a USSR
ambassador as the southwester Africa — Namibia and Angola — were
turning from wars to peace. But it was not obviously enough I think
for taking up African issues in the foreign policy of our country.
Now try to guess what motivates the principals of the Foreign
Ministry in their choices? I do not know what Eduard Shevardnadze’s
motivation was for recalling me from Luanda and appointing the head
of the Department of African Countries. Nor can I guess why A.V.
Kozirev chose me while he decided to put up an intermediary mission
of Russia on peaceful settlement of Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
Someone asserted later as if my experience of participant in conflict
settlement in southwestern Africa has played some kind of role in
appointing me the head of Russian intermediary mission in Karabakh.
Now we had to deal not with a remote continent but with close countries
that were already “foreign” for Russia. It was not long ago when the
South Caucasus was one of outskirts of our country and, as it seemed
at a distance, rather cozy and nice one. And now armed conflicts
battered the region killing thousand of people. More importantly, I
had to engage in the very first and most wide-range conflict, and most
“ancient” of active volcanoes in this region and in all the territory
of the Soviet Union. I have never had a chance to study such issues
concerning not foreign countries but a country that was not long ago
our common country.
I played only a rather incidental role of member of a mandatory
commission of XXVIII congress of the Communist Party. This commission
was to immediately look into the mandates of three “unwanted” delegates
of the congress of Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region (at that point,
striving to outwit the Center, the Karabakh Armenians refused to
participate in republican congress in Baku, where three delegates by
Nagorno Karabakh quota were elected for the Ã•Ã•VIII congress: an
Azeri, an Armenian and a Russian but right after this they elected
three delegates of their own in Karabakh). At the same congress,
I started correspondence with the first secretary of Azerbaijan’s
Communist Party, Ayaz Mutalibov, on the events in Sumgait. This was
indeed my first encounter with Karabakh issue — two years prior to
I have stayed in the South Caucasus only two days before while
accompanying minister of foreign affairs of Cuba Isidoro Malmierca
in his Yerevan trip during his USSR official visit in the beginning
What was Nagorno Karabakh conflict for us during that period, in the
beginning of 1992? The widely used definition “friend-enemy” from
military aviation could hardly be applied in this case. The conflict
was not to be considered “ours” any more — both Armenia and Azerbaijan
already have proclaimed independence. But it was impossible to treat
it as “foreign”: either Azeris or Armenians were still our own people
— those were our guys dying! And it turned to be then one of the key
features of our intermediary mission in Karabakh. That very fact also
facilitated to our work in many respects and extremely complicated
it tying our hands.
But at that moment, in the minister’s room, rather puzzled by his
offer, I could only murmur without choosing words: “Frankly speaking,
I am not excited over the idea. But if it is necessary, I’ll take
it”. A. Kozirev has not found it probably a sufficiently convincing
refusal. The order on setting an intermediary mission of Russia on
Nagorno Karabakh headed by special envoy was signed in a few days,
on 5 May, 1992.
I used to recollect my conversation with my friend and classmate envoy
Vsevolod Oleandrov as a funny incident. He told me that has just got
a new post connected with Armenia. “Is it connected with Karabakh?” I
sympathetically asked him and added: “Well, thanks to God, that it’s
a two-sided issue! “. It was just a day before my conversation with
the minister and my mission on Karabakh.
I began looking into the tough essence of Nagorno Karabakh conflict.
I spent a year only on digestion of the principles. I remember that
only in the first half of 1993 I felt confident enough as regards
to the conflicting sides and in contacts with many foreign partners
in Minsk group set within framework of OSCE to help in settling
the conflict. But the structure of this tragic confrontation in the
South Caucasus, that overflowed regional boundaries, is so many-sided
that even now, years later, I notice my ignorance in one or another
aspect. The conflict’s echo quite often reaches us today across
To proceed closer to the matter, I shall tell at once about the
character of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and its peculiarity.
Seemingly, there is no need of special introduction. The shock from
the first armed convulsion that shook the foundations of great world
power — the Soviet Union — is too alive in our memory.
The word “Karabakh” became a common noun indicating armed conflicts
on the territory of former USSR (owing to its duration, cruelty,
hopelessness and irrationality). It is true for the conflicts, which
already sprinkled the earth with blood in different corners of Eurasia
and for the ones that are still to come.
The malignancy of Karabakh precedent is in the fact that it encouraged,
almost “legalized”, a number of such confrontations. Its destabilizing
effect overflowed regional boundaries. But somehow Karabakh also
served as caution as it prevented political confrontations to flare
up in bloody clashes and direct military actions.
Yet, it is impossible to bypass a series of features of Karabakh
conflict that were distinguishing it from other post-soviet conflicts
in many respects.
Firstly, Karabakh issue has ancient historic roots (as opposed to the
other, “young” conflicts): the clashes between Armenians and Azeris
in the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th are well-known.
This fact predetermined a special degree of mutual mistrust of the
sides, emotional-psychological tension of the present conflict,
its fierce and lingering character. What sets military actions in
Karabakh apart is the fact that there were very few POWs compared with
the killed and the unaccounted-for people: the sides took captives in
exceptional cases. That’s why the ethnic cleansing there during the
war was specific: hundreds of thousand civilians ran upon enemy’s
oncoming thus turning into refugees. The sides quite often accuse
each other of deportation but it was more inherent in the first phase
of the conflict. There were less deported people during the years of
war than those who abandoned native places, fearing deportation or
severe treatment of the other side.
The other peculiarity of Karabakh is the gradual overflow of
separate hotbeds of conflict into a real war, especial from the
end of 1991. A war that included large-scale attacks and seizure
of vast territories. The fights crept far beyond Nagorno Karabakh,
reached borders of third states, coming closer to dangerous verge of
internationalization of the conflict. Transport and energetic blockade
distorted economy and ecology of the whole region. The interests of
Russia, Georgia, Iran and Turkey were directly infringed.
Thirdly, it was in Karabakh that the modern heavy armament, including
tanks and other armored vehicles, artillery and mounts for volley
fire and bombarding aviation, largely was used. The strikes on
settlements and civil objects were no rarity, and that resulted in
great number of victims among the civilians as well as in increase
of mass flows deportees and refugees. Multiple rough violations of
norms of the international humanitarian right that didn’t stop even
after the ceasefire are peculiar for this conflict. The phenomenon
of mercenary is another feature of the Karabakh conflict.
The specific political configuration of Karabakh conflict created and
still creates complexities. Contrary to “two-dimensional” domestic
conflicts in Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan, where two sides
directly confront each other on ethnic, clannish or other basis,
the picture of confrontation in Karabakh is not that simple: there
were two sides in the military conflict and three in the political:
Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia. Features of both domestic
and external conflict (let alone the Soviet period of 1988-91) are
intertwined in Karabakh’s case. And only this conflict includes two
former soviet republics and nowadays two sovereign states that are
members of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
All these peculiarities of war in Nagorno Karabakh urgently called for
preventing it from further overgrowth, especially internationalization,
and its soonest suppression — to stop at least only the bloodshed
and then achieve gradual de-escalation of the conflict, passing on
to political settlement in state of ceasefire. Unfortunately, ruling
elites of the conflicting parties, especial one of them, could not
part with illusory hopes to achieve their goal by military power for
long and displayed irreconcilability and inflexibility.
There is no need to explain that the specificity of this conflict
only aggravated the matter and complicated peacekeeping efforts.
General destabilization of the situation in the region stymied
ceasefire efforts and peaceful settlement.
Everything I told does not certainly exhaust all the characteristics
of Karabakh conflict but much has already been told and written about
it. Though much less was written about its settlement, there are
just greater absurdities and distortions in this sphere. Therefore
I also ventured on a “crusade” against lie and muddle over Karabakh
settlement with a focus on Russia’s role in it.
THE FIRST RESTRICTIONS of MILITARY ACTIONS
The basic scope of military actions, especially attacks in Nagorno
Karabakh and around it, fall on 1993. It doesn’t lessen the importance
of the events in Shushi and Lachin at all (May, 1992) and the attacks
of the Azeri army in the summer of the same year in territory of
the former NKAR, as well as double-edged battles in the winter and
spring,1994, shortly before the ceasefire on May 12.
As a whole, 1993 passed in the atmosphere of the Armenians’ military
activity. In late March they occupied Kelbajar region, widely closing
Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. In summer, the Armenians surrounded and
occupied the cities Aghdam and Fizouli, two important basic points
of the Azeri forces near the Eastern gates of Nagorno Karabakh, as
well as Mardakert in the North. Then The Armenian-Karabakh forces
kept staying near the southwestern regions of Azerbaijan (Djebrail,
Zangelan, Kubatlu), threatening to come out to the border with Iran
along the Araxes River. In October, 1993, having taken advantage of
the local violations of ceasefire from the Azeri side, they unfolded
a large-scale attack, surrounded and occupied the whole southwest.
In winter, 1993-94, the Azeri armed forces initiated a series of
attacks. But the attacks either ended in failure (particularly,
in Kelbajar), or brought local success (for example, in Goradiza,
near the border with Iran).
* * *
The first year of the OSCE Minsk group’s activities (since June, 1992)
showed that it can’t effectively play the role of mediator, to stop
or hold the spreading of the armed conflict in the new regions with
all the consequences following: increase in the number of the victims
and the material destructions, increase of refugee wave, as well as
the danger of making the conflict an international one. Moreover,
the Minsk group obviously underestimated the importance of stopping
the bloodshed. We continued our the activities in the Minsk group,
trying to make it take the right path, counteracting the attempts
of the Western diplomats to use this format in their geo-political
interests, directed first of all to lessening the Russia’ influence
in the South Caucasus.
In this situation we had to double our own efforts as mediator, more
actively meeting with the authorities of the countries in conflict,
calling them for achieving a ceasefire. It is necessary to indicate
in points the line of our actions directed to the ceasefire since the
mid 1993. Certainly, in real life they coincided with our activities
in the Minsk group. One can understand them out of the given context
There have been a number of ceasefires or other restrictions of the
military actions achieved by direct mediation of Russia in the summer
and the autumn of 1993. They were either violated shortly after, or we
managed to prolong them for some period. That was a line of hopes and
disappointment, nervous tension and embarrassing tiredness. The issued
we raised in the beginning were not too arrogant — it was important,
that the sides could gradually get accustomed to the idea that they
could stop bombing the cities or at least shoot for some days.
One can’t say that we realized – sooner, we felt intuitively —
that no miracle will take place, that we will fail to stop the fire
with one step, as P.S. Grachev, Russian defense minister, expected in
Sochi, September 1992. We will have to achieve that through insistent
attempts, notwithstanding the frequent digressions, prevarications of
the sides, or stopping the short ceasefires they happened to achieve.
“Annals” of the military actions’ restrictions and ceasefires in
Karabakh can seem rather boring but one can’t understand how a long
ceasefire and relative stability were achieved in the region without
that. The long-lasting narration can be explained by the fact that
each day of restricted or stopped military action has saved many human
lives. Mainly, this covers the period since mid-1993 till May 1994.
It is worth mentioning that serious inner changes took place in
Azerbaijan in this period. The general events are widely known: the
dramatic escape of Abulfaz Elchibey and Heydar Aliyev’s coming to
power that returned from Nakhijevan to Baku as a result of violent
events that took place in Gyandja in early June. On June 15 he became
the chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
while after Elchibey’s escape to Keleki, on June 18, he became the
first person in the state (since June 24 – “acting President of the
Azerbaijan Republic “). I will not touch upon the events in Baku
(it is quite a different story) but all the things that will speak
of happened in this very context.
The mission of Russia managed to independently achieve the first
essential agreement between the sides in conflict on June 17,
1993 (just few hours before Elchibey’s escape from Baku). It was a
period of fierce fights in Mardakert, Askeran and Aghdam regions,
a period of insistent mutual accusations, of attacks and shootings.
Notwithstanding the numerous warnings addressed to the Armenians of
Karabakh (including the ones made from Moscow) not to try to take
advantage of the inner political crisis in Azerbaijan, they couldn’t
stand the temptation and began attacks directed to the central parts
of the front on June 12. (The day before S. Huseynov, removed some
of “his” troops from Karabakh front because of contradictions he had
with Elchibey after the bloody events on June 4, in Gyandja.) In that
period the armed forces of Azerbaijan actively bombed the Armenian
settlements. Thus, on June 17, Stepanakert underwent hardest bombings.
The arrangement between the parties achieved as a result of our
telephone conversations with Baku and Stepanakert was quite a simple
one but was of great importance for the residents of the two suffered
cities that became targets of military actions. It was a mutual
obligation not to bomb Aghdam and Stepanakert.
Recently, I found out that the documents I have, half forgotten,
but historical for this conflict, began fading without any chances
to restore them. It was already impossible to read the text on some
of the sheets.
In June 1993 we had the best and contemporary means of transferring
texts via fax. We could use telephone communication, even through
HF (high frequency phone), only for conversations, negotiations. In
order to make more concrete and specified statement we had to either
dictate the texts by HF or better send them by fax. The Electronic
communication was not available for us and our partners even in
the capitals of developed countries. We used fax communication so
widely for sending texts to Baku, Stepanakert and Yerevan that we
involuntarily created a new king of job, calling it “fax diplomacy”.
Such a frequent use of fax was conditioned by other factors, too. The
parties, as a rule, evaded from direct meetings either with the
participation of a mediator or without it. It was hard to gather their
representatives around one table for signing the arrangements that we
had already achieved. The military actions also hindered the transport
communication in the region. There have been few transportation means
in the region, as well. We had to do many things very quickly and
at a distance, very often from Moscow. As the sides did not trust
each other, they needed mediators to believe in something and also,
to have a witness in case of treason of the opponent. Certainly, very
often the mediators were accepted with caution by the sides, each of
them suspected him in playing on the side of the other party. That is
why it was better to receive written texts in serious cases even from
the mediator, especially for reporting the authorities. In one word,
there have been many reasons. But the main point is that the strict
positions of the sides made them the slaves of their own incompliance.
Alas, the facsimile paper fades fast. Recently I decided to reprint
the text of the first documents to preserve their essence, at least,
even without grace of the forms and arms, without “odor” of signatures.
The technology of remote dialogue between the sides through the
mediator, when he was in Moscow, was as a rule, the following way: the
mediator would make the text of the arrangements based on telephone
negotiation with the sides and would send it to Baku or Stepanakert
for being signed. In case the sides agreed with the wordings,
the sides would send back the signed document to Moscow, while the
mediator would have to send it to the opposite party. The mediator
would work in the same way when, later, Armenia began participating
in such agreements as a third party.
Certainly, not always the sides signed the text in the way it was send
by the mediator. There were many cases when this or that side made its
corrections into the text, which is quite normal before signing the
document. But sometimes it was done during signing without discussing
with the mediator or directly with the opponent. Such, behavior
of the sides revealed the lack of political culture or, at least,
lack of relevant experience. Sometimes these could be trifles that
didn’t touch upon the very essence of the agreement but in some cases
such steps of the parties could ruin the principal agreement that was
supposed to be reached orally. We will touch upon a classical example
of such behavior later, dwelling on the events of December 1993.
In June, 1993, The Karabakh side didn’t use official form but they had
an unusually large (diameter 4,5 cms) round stamp with an inscription
“The Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Committee of Self-Defense”. The
inscription was made in Russian and Armenian. The text prepared by
the mediator and signed by a Nagorno Karabakh military principal, said:
“In case of the opposite side’s consent to immediately undertake the
commitment not to shell and bomb Stepanakert, we will immediately
undertake the commitment not to shell and bomb Aghdam.
S. Babayan, commander of the Army of Defense,
Nagorno Karabakh Republic
And a huge round stamp!
The form of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry bore the state symbols
and the address, as it was required: 370601, Baku, Azizbekov Avenue,
3. Here is the full text of the document from Baku:
“June 17, 1993 23:00
Defense Ministry of the Azerbaijan Republic. Fax 38-30-69 (8922)
Moscow, fax 230-24-74 (095)
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia
To Mr. Kazimirov
In case of the opposite side’s consent to immediately undertake the
commitment not to shell Aghdam, we will undertake the commitment not
to shell Khankendi.
S. Abiyev, head of the Headquarters of the Azerbaijani Republic’s
As soon as I received the signed faxes in my office on the Smolensk
Square, I immediately sent the faxes to the sides, giving documentary
confirmation of the telephone arrangement achieved between them on
that day: the text by S. Abiyev was sent to Stepanakert, while the
text by S. Babayan went to Baku. Soon both addressees confirmed that
they received the documents and it seemed that the sides should keep
It is not accidental that the June 17 documents bear no indication
of deadlines of actions. Each time we had the opportunity we achieved
open-ended commitments, trying to stop or limit the military actions.
When comparing the texts of both sides, one can see the disputes of
the sides around the name of the main city of Nagorno Karabakh. But
another thing is more important: the silence of Baku about the
bombing. Certainly, the Armenian side had no air forces, in fact,
while the Baku officials obviously didn’t want to stop bombing
Stepanakert/Khankendi (by the way it has been bombed even in
mid-June). Thus, as a result, they agreed only on limitation of
rocketing Stepanakert and Aghdam.
But even this shortened agreement was severely tested soon. Only two
days later, on June 19, the same Samvel Babayan sent me Note Â¹97,
having signed the form of Nagorno Karabakh Self-defense Committee
already as acting commander (here, I will represent the original
message, edited by the author).
“Taking advantage of the previous arrangement between the sides
on undertaking commitments not to expose to shooting the cities
of Stepanakert and Aghdam, the Azeri side is gathering military
equipment in Aghdam, including “Grad” rockets and exposes to shooting
and bombing the dwelling places of Nagorno Karabakh Republic.
On behalf of the Commanders of NKR Self-Defence Forces, I have to
warn that in case such actions continue to take place, we will take
steps in response to press the hotbeds. The actions in response will
begin in an hour after you receive the given message.
The Azeri side will bear the responsibility for everything”.
The natural reaction to such a note will be that one will regret
about the lack of the common sense or literacy of the author. But
this reaction will pass away very soon, as you come to think that
hardly the mater is about only this.
One can read between the lines of this “notification” that both sides
tried to deceive each other. In this case, the Azeri side didn’t break
the arrangement of June 17 (as it forbade to shoot, rocket the two
cities only). Certainly, bombing and shelling of towns and villages
directly violate the international humanitarian right but the Azeris
did not undertake commitments concerning military actions in other
regions or about not gathering military engineering in this or that
district. If the matter was really that the Karabakh authorities
could suggest to enlarge the former arrangement, including two new
obligations. But, probably, it was not included in their plans.
The “warning” concerning “the continuation of such military actions”
is hardly grounded. The insignificancy of the motivation is obvious,
as the mediator had not a single opportunity to agree and decide
these issues at a distance in an hour only. The very text of Babayan’s
letter testified to their decision to deliberately break the former
arrangement that was hidden behind the epistolary tricks of the newly
appointed commander from Karabakh.
So, it was so hard to deal with the first arrangement between
the sides. Certainly, we managed to preserve it somehow through
contacting with the parties. The Armenians called their actions
responding measures for pressing the weapon emplacement of the enemy
around Aghdam. Both sides protested about violations during the next
days. The protests were discussed by the sides as well as during the
telephone talks with RF Foreign Ministry; some measures were taken
for remove concerns . Nevertheless, the military commanders of the
parties stated that the general activeness of military actions, as
well as usage of hard weapons decreased in those regions for a while.
On June 24 the Foreign Ministry of Russia emphasized the
inadmissibility of interfering the affairs of Azerbaijan, as well
as the importance of implementing the Resolution Â¹822 of the UN
Security Council. The matter was that the US and, particularly, Turkey,
cherishing hopes concerning the President of Azerbaijan Elchibey,
were suspicious about the legitimacy of the changes that took place
in Baku. In future they began to use it as a measure for pressure
over the new Baku authorities and the issue of the human rights,
demanding to set free the arrested members of the People’s front of
Azerbaijan. Sometimes, they were falling into absurdity, for example,
the State Department used the word combination “the so called actions
On June 25 I discussed with the military commanders of the Armenians
of Karabakh some measures of limiting the military actions for
removing concern of the sides in over Askeran-Aghdam, as well as in
Mardakert/Agdere. I immediately sent my suggestions to Safar Abiyev
about balanced withdrawal of Karabakh’s Armenians and the Azeri forces
from a number of dwelling places and hills of the region. We wanted
to decrease the fire of the battles and to make the parties return to
the positions of June 14 when Stepanakert, last of the three sides,
gave consent for the plan of the “Minsk nine” though they asked for
a month’s delay for its implementation. But the sides proved to be
unprepared for such “conciliatory” gestures (later, we had to give
up such suggestions for a while). But if the Karabakh side directly
said that in some places they can’t remove their forces from the
occupied positions, the Azeris delayed their answer (as a result,
the Karabakh Armenians occupied the hills around Mardakert, making
the Azeris leave that).
Receiving no answer from Abiyev concerning my suggestions, I had
to send the same message with the sign “urgent” to Heydar Aliyev
on June 26. At about 15:00 Heydar Aliyev called the head of the
mediators’ mission of Russia and suggested to assist stopping the
battles around Aghdam. He said that the Armenians again tried to
surround and conquer the city. Being busy in sharing the “heritage”
of Elchibey and settling the affairs with the brave “colonel” Suret
Huseynov, he emphasized that in the current inner political situation
of Azerbaijan the loss of Aghdam would cause fatal consequences. He
even stated that he is determined to settle the Karabakh issue in the
most constructive way and will be closely contacting with Yerevan in
that issue, but at present a pause in the military actions is needed.
On June 26, during the second telephone conversation about the
situation around Aghdam, Aliyev said that he wants to change the
permanent representative of Azerbaijan to Moscow. He asked what I
think of Khikmet Gadzhi-Zade, the permanent representative. I answered
that though he belonged to the People’s Front of Azerbaijan, he was
quite flexible and constructive and rather actively participated in
the negotiations in Moscow around the ceasefire. I told how he was
disavowed from Baku twice. Listening me till the end, Heydar Aliyev
said that he is still “a man from the street” and expressed willingness
to appoint a more solid representative – Prof. Ramiz Rizayev (member
of the Academy of Science of Azerbaijan). Literarily, immediately at
17:11, Gadzhi-zade informed RF Foreign Ministry about stopping his
functions without explaining the reasons.
Reporting A. V. Kozirev about the conversations with Aliyev, I
stated that in my contacts with Baku and Stepanakert I try to stop
the military actions in Aghdam and Mardakert where fierce battles
were on. I said that we unfold larger intermediary suggestions. By
the midnight of June 26 we managed to achieve agreement of the sides
on the ceasefire of the abovementioned military for a week (i.e. till
the morning of July 4).
Here is the first text. No comments:
“230-24-74. Moscow, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Russia,
to Mr. W.N. Kazimirov
In case you confirm the consent of the opposite side, we undertake
the commitment that for one week beginning from 5:00 a.m. of June27 we
will stop any attacks and attempts to go forward from the contact line
that is set up at the abovementioned moment; any rocket, artillery
fire as well as air bombardment on the whole area of the military
actions from the village Madagiz, in the North, and to Aghdam, in
the South. This arrangement will be in force immediately after the
abovementioned confirmation is received.
head of Headquarters of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijani Republic.
June 27, 1993”.
We received the same text from Stepanakert, signed “Samvel Babayan,
Commander of Defense Army of NKR”. After we sent the texts to
Stepanakert and Baku relevantly, we made sure that they received
them. One of the messages sent to A. Ghukasian bore my inscription,
saying, “Did you receive Abiyev’s text? 27.VI.1: 45. VK.” The
confirmations of the mediator that the document signed by the other
side was not enough, each side wanted to have obvious confirmation
by fax, at least.
Unfortunately, the arrangement of June 27 wasn’t achieved easily.
They still were shooting in the morning, some incidents took place,
and only by the noon we managed to cease the fire.
In the same period, the Russian mediator, facing the violations made by
the one or the other side, began suggesting them a system of measures
directed to decreasing such incidents to secure the achieved agreement
even in such cases. These measures envisaged informing the opponent
side about the violation either though High Frequency communication or
though RF Foreign Ministry (its exact time and place, character and
consequences). The other side had to give a written answer not later
than in three hours, including the measures taken. When RF Foreign
Ministry received such information, we had to inform the other side
(immediately during the working days, while during the rest of the
time as soon as possible).
Willingly condemning each other in both real and false violations, the
sides didn’t express big readiness to use the incidents’ settlement
mechanisms. That’s why, the Russian mediator had to return to this
for several times, insisting of the suggested system of measures.
In the evening of June 27, Heydar Aliyev and Robert Kocharian agreed
through me that they can enlarge and prolong the agreement on ceasing
the attacks, the shooting and bombardments. On June 29, according to
the arrangement with Aliyev, A.V. Kozirev especially sent a message to
the sides in conflict with this very suggestion. UN Secretary General,
acting chairman of OSCE, members of the Security Council and Minsk
group were informed about this message. We spared no efforts to achieve
the realization of the attained mutual understanding, but we failed.
On July 2, RF Foreign Ministry made a new suggestion to the sides
in the development of these ideas, i.e. to prolong the June 27
arrangement for a whole month (till August 4) and spread over
the zones of Fizouli and Hadrout. We also suggested not to bomb
the dwelling places within a radius of 10 km. from the center of
the cities of Aghdam and Agdjabedi, Askeran and Martouni (i.e. two
enlarged security zones for the each side), without locating rocket
emplacement or arms near the settlements. The order of the actions
in case of violating the arrangement in the most vulnerable places
for the sides was also discussed.
Stepanakert didn’t accept the suggestion of mutual withdrawal of the
forces from the recently occupied hills and the occupied villages,
but they agreed with the rest of the suggestions. As for the Azeris,
it seemed that the idea was talked over with Aliyev. But Abiyev,
notwithstanding the numerous cases of reminding, gave no response to
Meanwhile, we received the information that in Yerevan and
Baku the US diplomats took measures directed against prolonging
and enlargement of the arrangements, achieved between Baku and
Stepanakert with the assistance of RF Foreign Minister. They tried to
make the representatives of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh
contribute to reanimation of “the trio” (Russia, the US and Turkey),
notwithstanding our curt refusal to the Americans to work in this
Using the issue of legitimacy of the changes that took place in
Baku as a pressure lever, the American made the Azeris throw out
the triple initiative of Russia, Turkey and the US, though already
in June it was replaced with “the plan of the Minsk nine.” On July
2, Aliyev especially turned to all the countries of the world,
particularly, to the US, Turkey and Russia, as to the initiators
of peaceful suggestions, entrusting these three states with the
main responsibility for realizing them. On July 5, he invited the
ambassadors of the three countries, complaining about the serious
complications at the front, especially about the fact that the
Armenians moved close to Aghdam. He called for the three sides to
effectively contribute to the achievement of the goals. It’s worth
mentioning that Heydar Aliyev already pictured Russia, the US and
Turkey as the guarantors of the conflict’s settlement.
On the other hand, what did the reproaches of Aliyev hurled in
Baku press, saying that none of the three States took any concrete
measure, mean? He said this after several attempts of Russia to stop
the military actions and Baku’s deviation to carry out the suggested
measures! Facing such reproaches and the inexact statements concerning
the commitments and guarantees of Russia, the US and Turkey, we had to
send a personal letter to Vafa Guliadze, adviser of Heydar Aliyev,
saying that there are not any commitments or guarantees yet and
that one shouldn’t confuse the role of a mediator with the one of a
guarantor. I bought him the list of the steps taken by Russia in June
and in early July directed to de-escalation of the military actions.
As a result, Baku declined the suggestion to prolong the arrangement
for a month. The week of the June 27 ceasefire expired on July 4 and
the battles around Aghdam resumed. Soon (in three weeks) the Armenians
occupied this strategically important point, transportation crossroad
and a big city, where 60 thousand people used to live. Besides, the
Azeris said afterwards from time to time that as if the Armenians
broke the arrangement, without saying that the very Baku didn’t want
to prolong and enlarge the previous arrangement.
December Fraud of 1993
Though Russia had a bunch of its own problems amidst disorder of the
beginning of 1990s, it could not remain indifferent to bloody events in
the outskirts of the collapsed USSR (from Karabakh and Transdniestria
to Tajikistan) as they posed a threat for it either. Nevertheless,
primitive speculations are circulating that Moscow held the key to
the resolution of smoldering conflicts but was reluctant to act as it
is easier to control former soviet and now independent States if they
are warring. Everybody remembers the word Karabakh turning into common
noun for interethnic clashes and a cockpit of wide-range and fierce
war. But we easily forget how the fires that flamed all South Caucasus
were extinguished due to insistent assistance of Russia and what it
cost the latter. The conflict is not liquidated so far; it continues
to smoke. But there has been no bloodshed for eleven years now.
The peak of military actions in Karabakh falls on 1993. Those were
not local skirmishes anymore but practically pitched battles and
wide-range operations with application of modern arms and seizures of
extensive territories. The initiative passed to the Armenians: apart
from the Karabakh people and volunteers from different countries,
the regular army of Armenia has already stepped in the war. The other
party recruited diverse mercenaries including many officers through
military enlistment offices in a number of regions in Russia and
about two thousand Afghan mojahedins.
Russia got more active as mediator from mid-1993 inclining the
conflicting sides at first to measures on restriction of military
actions and then to all-out ceasefire. But the path to the ceasefire
in May 12 of 1994 was full of bitter failures because of a number of
broken ceasefires. Those first ceasefires appeared short-lived. (To be
sure, for second half of 1993 the bloodshed was suspended for whole
two months if we add these terms of ceasefires: 2 months of 6 were
calm and it is a great period regarding saved human lives!)
Nobody, except for Russia — neither other States, nor the OSCE Minsk
group — managed to curb even temporarily military actions in Karabakh
(even when they had chance). But it is no wonder: as Moscow, contrary
to other mediators, purposefully pursued cessation of the bloodshed,
above all. Russia’s motives were not only those of humane character
(though this is enough for it) but also calculations that it is more
difficult to negotiate while war is in process. Our western partners
hardly wanted continuation of military actions but they were not
striving for ceasefire as Russia did. They had other priorities…
The result of faded hopes in 1993 produced not only affliction but
also serious direct or indirect consequences. In early September
the Armenians slowed with troops’ removal from conquered Azerbaijani
regional center of Kubatlu as official Yerevan and Stepanakert publicly
promised earlier. The opportunity to display flexibility, which is so
needed for all sides for overcoming obstinacy in every issue, was thus
missed. You see the first gesture of goodwill should come from those
who are in more favorable position; nobody is capable of such gestures
in disadvantage, as that would be considered weakness and defeatism.
In October breakdowns from the Azerbaijani side followed: a dangerous
incident took place on at Kuydzhak village on October 10 and Azeris
finally broke ceasefire on October 21 losing all southwest of the
But it must be noted that the ceasefire would maintain longer when
even one of the sides really needed a break. So, one such break was
prolonged for four times and lasted from August 31 till October 21.
Heydar Aliyev needed more favorable conditions for the presidential
election on October 3, which was the last step transferring authority
in his hands.
The break of ceasefire in mid-December of 1993 that was reached on
“the highest level” by Russian Foreign Ministry’s support is especially
notable for its absurdity and bloody consequences it yielded. This
time the cause of the break was not any annoying incident on the front
(as it happened before owing to precipitate actions of commanders or
uncontrolled of groups) but a bungle or a cynical trick in made in
offices in capital cities. Here is how it was.
I learnt in Moscow on 16 December, 1993, that military actions in
the south near the town of Beylagan have again aggravated. Mutual
accusations followed as usual. I called president Ãeydar Aliyev and
leader of Karabakh Armenians, Robert Kocharian, by High Frequency
phone. They both marvelously quickly gave consent for general
ceasefire. We agreed to stop fire for 10 days at midnight on December
17 in order to negotiate over its prolongation.
Heydar Aliyev told that from political leadership A. Jalilov,
deputy chairman of Supreme Council of Azerbaijan, will sign the
agreement and from the military — head of the Supreme Headquarters N.
Sadikhov. Robert Kocharian charges Arkady Ghukasian and S. Ohanian
with the job. I immediately faxed Baku and Stepanakert the outline
of the document for drawing it up. The text slightly differs from
former similar agreements.
We have barely enough time, only few hours, as after documents are
ready we should send both sides’ faxes to each other to confirm
reciprocity of accepted obligations. And the military command should
give appropriate orders after that and to inform commanders at the
front as soon as possible.
I soon receive the fax from Stepanakert: everything is signed without
corrections or insertions. Precious hours pass, and the document
from Baku is still missing. Knowing that Heydar Aliyev is very busy
getting ready for France visit, I begin to hurry Baku. They assured
me that the delay is of technical character and the document will
be signed upon N. Sadikhov’s soonest return in Baku. No remarks or
concerning the text dropped. To speed up signing, I sent the fax
with the signature of Karabakh authorities to the Office of president
of Azerbaijan ahead of time (I used to dispatch faxes usually after
receiving documents from both sides). The Azeris now could see that
Stepanakert had undertaken to stop fire if they do the same. They
should not have delusion on this ground as the text makes it clear
that the arrangement will come into force only after the mediator
has confirmed that he got documents from both sides.
Taking into account tough situation in Beylagan and that everything
was talked over personally with the Azerbaijani president (there is
no one higher – I have to trust!), I probed Robert Kocharian: what
about terminating fire today at midnight “as gentle gesture” and not
postpone it because “of a technical delay” in Baku? (I repent now of
my naivety!). To my surprise, Robert Kocharian known for his toughness
does not object. It seemed that both sides issued orders to armies:
it is impossible to control it from Moscow.
Yet, mutual pretensions for infringements followed again in the
morning. I continued forcing Baku to sign the next day and I passed
sides’ protests and urgent demands to take action. Failures in
such situations are extremely undesirable, yet they took place
(one can assume that subordinate didn’t receive and execute an
order in due time). Sometimes situation was gradually corrected,
passing into lull. But the delay with signing of the document is
It continued the next day too. The president of Azerbaijan was already
inaccessible for High Frequency phone. The wires must have worn out so
hard did I try to contact Heydar Aliyev’ staff, chairman of parliament,
minister of a defense and the Headquarters. Telephone conversations
cannot be taped but the fax to Aliyev’s secretary was kept: “Tariel,
please tell the President that the mediator did not get the Azeri
text on ceasefire signed by A. Jalilov and N. Sadikhov till now
from Baku. It’s impossible to work in such conditions. It’s a rather
serious work and there should be order. Or then it is necessary to
cancel the ceasefire. 18. Ã•II. 21.00”. No answer again.
At last, only on December 19, at 9:40 p.m. (more than three days
after the arrangement with Heydar Aliyev!) the fax on the blank of the
minister of the defense of Azerbaijan with the signatures of Jalilov
and Sadikhov arrived. The paper left extremely unserious impression. It
was not at all what we have been expecting since December 16 – not only
by the form and address but also by the content. The first gimmick
was obvious – there was no date. Secondly, the letter was addressed
not to the mediator and “leadership of Nagorno Karabakh”, as it has
been before, but only to the mediator. The signature of Jalilov was
not trustworthy – it’s scarcely resembled the previous ones.
And most importantly, there was almost nothing left from our draft in
the text that we had dispatched to Baku a long time before and which
was signed by Stepanakert. The essence of the matter was wiped out and
it seemed that the concern was not reaching ceasefire but prolonging
an existing ceasefire. In short, the letter was completely unsuitable
for drawing up what had been agreed with Heydar Aliyev. Besides, the
Armenians were offered to withdraw troops back for 10 kms: it was not
even specified where exactly – seemingly along the whole frontline! To
cap all absurdities, it expressed hope in the end that “all signed
arrangements will be strictly followed”! What is it all meant for? It
was a sneer at common sense to the detriment of their own people!
Should I remind how such delicate agreements are to be drawn up?
Usually, plenipotentiary representatives of the sides sign one
document at one time and in one place. But Baku preferred to sign
the arrangements with Karabakh in absentia (by fax via us as a rule)
not to recognize Karabakh Armenians as a side in the conflict. We,
as mediators, had nothing against it. But it’s a truism the text of a
document should be absolutely identical in any procedure (if there are
amendments, they should be talked over with the other side directly
or through the mediator). Certainly, it is impossible to consider
change of the contents or form of the text unilaterally, without
prior arrangement with the other side, especially backdating, neither
rightful nor correct. Is it possible that high-ranking officials in
Baku were unaware of it?
(By the way, on 18 and 19 December minister of defense of Azerbaijan,
Mamedov, sent me for 3 times the lists of infringements from the
Armenians’ side counting down from the ceasefire. As if Baku already
had already drawn it up properly!).
In the meantime, Heydar Aliyev was already in Paris. I scribbled a
draft cipher message to our ambassador in France, Yuri Ryzhov. He
was to quickly find the Azeri president and delicately express
bewilderment that his indications were not carried out in Baku.
Despite the rigid schedule of the visit, Yuri Alekseyevich found
him and passes the message of the Foreign Ministry of Russia. He
informed Aliyev that the letter from Baku is unacceptable for drawing
up ceasefire but confirmed our readiness to start new negotiation for
reaching armistice. Ryzhov emphasized that we consider honesty of the
sides and faithfulness to the accepted obligations an indispensable
condition of mediation, otherwise mutual mistrust between them will
deepen. The president assured the ambassador as though he had given
Baku all necessary orders and promised to settle the matter upon his
return (!) (it is uncertain how he settled the matter).
What kind of performance was it? A chain of ridiculous
misunderstandings? Fatal inconsistency inside the Baku
administration? “Illiteracy” of signatories? An attempt of direct
swindle? Above all, what orders did Aliyev give before leaving for
Paris? And, in the end, was that possible to disobey the president
in Baku? There is no ready answer to these questions – we leave it
to readers’ taste to choose.
How simple it was to find a solution! Mid-December was the beginning
of attempts of Azerbaijani counterattack on the front. Some date it
back just to December 17, others to the beginning of December 20s
but it is clear that it was the largest attempt in Karabakh war to
throw the Armenian troops back.
Our new offer during the escalation of fights to agree on two-week
“New Year” armistice from December 31 was not accepted either. The
offer was sent personally to Heydar Aliyev on December 30 but we got
no answer, though Karabakh Armenians agreed this time, too.
At the CIS summit in Ashghabat on December 23-24, i.e. in the
interval between failures of both attempts of ceasefire, Aliyev
told mass media that (quoting ITAR TASS) “[he] prefers peaceful
settlement of the conflict and stands for the immediate halt of
military actions between the confronting sides”. In his opinion,
“necessary conditions for that have not been created yet and direct
contacts with the representatives of the Armenian community of Nagorno
Karabakh did not help the process either”.
The counterattacks called, probably, to create these “necessary
conditions”, soon have choked, bringing Azeris only small local
success in the region of Horadiz. But fierce fighting in the winter
of 1993-94 still long continued taking heavy tolls for both sides.
>>From now on Baku stops direct contacts with Stepanakert, completely
ignoring it as a side in the conflict, though in 1993 it entered into
agreement on restriction of military actions and ceasefire or its
prolongation with Nagorno Karabakh (even without any participation
of Yerevan) for ten (!) times. Russia, as a mediator considered that
there are 3 sides in this conflict and being realistic about its
unusual configuration, obstinately involved Yerevan in the settlement
process but not for banishing Stepanakert at all.
December of 1993 vividly illustrates constant difficulties of
mediator’s work with the sides. It shows how important are the
political will, accuracy of actions and faithfulness of the leaders
to their given words. And, by the way, it shines light on why the
military actions battered the region for five more months that brought
considerable human loss, material destructions and increase of Azeri
refugee flow for which Baku now verbally cares… Who will answer
for needless victims?
Is that surprising that mutual mistrust of the sides appeared to be
the scourge of Karabakh settlement?! The December fraud of 1993 only
aggravated it. I shall not hide how extremely disappointed and even
depressed was I as a mediator. But I could not give up as bloodshed
in Karabakh and over it still continued.
THE BISHKEK PROTOCOL
To stop the bloodshed in Karabakh, Russia carried out large-scale and
versatile activity going beyond military and political-diplomatic
spheres. It was necessary to rapidly form a “party of peace” in
contrast to the torrid and rather vigorous “party of war” in each
conflicting camp. For that reason we initiated various meetings
of parliamentarians, the military, religious leaders, journalists
and induced to cooperation different public organizations of the
conflicting sides and sustained the offers arising in this regard.
Parliaments also applied force for elimination of the conflict,
certainly, with the most active involvement of Russia. Even a
group of assistance to Karabakh settlement was formed within the
Interparliamentary Assembly (IPA) of CIS set in 1992. It was headed
by the then chairman of the parliament of Kyrgyzstan Meditkhan
Sherimkulov. It was dubbed reconciliatory or peacekeeping mission or
IPA intermediary group of CIS on Karabakh. It was rather active on
that phase of the conflict and intimately cooperated with intermediary
mission of Russia. I participated in its trips and other arrangements.
During the meeting of parliamentarians of Azerbaijan, Armenia and
representatives of Nagorno Karabakh organized on Aland Islands on
December 21-22, 1993 at the initiative IPA, Foreign Ministry of
Russia and Aland Institute of Peace, the participants were enabled
to acquaint with the experience of the Swedes and Finns in settling
national contradictions over these islands. Sherimkulov offered then
in Mariehamn, capital of Aland Islands, to continue interparliamentary
dialogue in the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
The new meeting of the parliamentarians, this time at the level of
the heads of parliamentary structures, was held in Bishkek on May
4-5, 1994, at the initiative of CIS IPA, parliament of Kyrgyzstan,
Federal Assembly and Foreign Ministry of Russia. Armenian delegation
was headed by the chairman of the Supreme Council of Armenia, Babken
Ararktsian. The group of representatives of Nagorno Karabakh was headed
by the then “speaker” from Stepanakert Karen Baburian. The chairman of
Azerbaijani Milli Mejlis, Rasul Guliyev, promised to come to Bishkek
but failed as president Heydar Aliyev left for Brussels on May 3 to
take part at NATO’s Partnership for Peace. Aliyev handed him the
reins of government during his Brussels visit. Afiyaddin Jalilov,
deputy speaker, headed the Azeri delegation (a few months later,
at the end of September 1994 he was assassinated by an unidentified
terrorist at the entrance of his apartment house in Baku).
The chairman of the CIS IPA Council and the Council of Federation
of Russian Federation, Vladimir Shumeyko, the secretary of the CIS
IPA Council, Mikhail Krotov, participated at the Bishkek meeting as
IPA representatives and actually represented also Russia (alongside
with the author of these lines who participated as plenipotentiary
representative of the President of Russian Federation and Russian
Foreign Ministry representative). Few people know that the delegation
of Lagthing (local parliament) of Aland Islands headed by Roger Janson
arrived in Bishkek at the invitation Sherimkulov – in reply to their
hospitality offered earlier.
Contrary to the first meeting on Aland Islands where no document was
signed, we wanted to avail ourselves the opportunity of the high level
forum in Bishkek and try to adopt a final and agreed document aimed
to support the April 15 Declaration of the leaders CIS States with
its imperative on the arrest of bloodshed in Karabakh. We, certainly,
had no illusions that it would be easy. The main thing at that moment
was to shift the public opinion towards ceasefire. I prepared the
scheme of the document – “The Bishkek protocol” – beforehand, still in
Moscow. Hot discussions basically between Azeris and Karabakh people
lasting many hours each day unfolded over this very draft in the Kyrgyz
capital on 4 and 5 of May. Not always it was possible to reduce debate
to the text of the document, quite often it went much more widely.
Whole program organized by the hosts soon failed: we had to postpone
the tempting trip to Issik-Kul Lake scheduled for the end of the
first day and cancel another arrangement as well. Everything came
to standstill. Both days passed in hot arguments either with the
involvement of delegations or in a narrow circle of only their heads.
Meanwhile the other participants of the meeting pined for hours in
the halls for the outcome of sharp debates between the “speakers”,
despite the attempts of four mediators to reduce tension.
Our offer to support on behalf of the parliamentary leaders the accent
of the Declaration of the CIS state heads on the arrest of fire and
military actions has not caused discussions in itself. The essence
of the new document’s scheme was to develop this accent by appealing
on behalf of the heads of parliaments of all sides of the conflict
to stop fire. But it was necessary to express it not in a manner of
good wish but as a real initiative. The day of May 9 that the soviet
nations remembered as Day of Victory over fascism was approaching. No
one objected that I included this date in the text of the document
– I wanted to show that reason eventually wins in this conflict as
well. In the upshot, appeal with an offer to set ceasefire deadline
at midnight of 8 May, 1994, lay as the core of “Bishkek protocol”.
But disagreement between the sides on other questions remained
insuperable. Unfortunately, issues of procedural character occupied a
larger place by far in Bishkek as well: is Nagorno Karabakh a side in
this conflict and whether the status of participant in this forum of
Nizami Bakhmanov, representative of the Azeri community of Karabakh,
should be equated to the status of Armenians from Stepanakert?
Jalilov challenged legitimacy of participation of Karabakh Armenians
in this meeting (he reduced their status from “the sides in the
conflict” to “an interested side” as a matter of fact). Being unable
to achieve it, as the participation Karabakh Armenians in Bishkek
meeting was considered by Heydar Aliyev beforehand, Jalilov urged
to equate Bakhmanov, member of his delegation, with them. But it
would contradict elementary logic as the latter did not represent any
parliamentary structure (he was once for a very short time the head
of executive power in Shushi but not governmental nor even municipal).
Nobody certainly recognized and was not going to recognize NKR and
its parliament but still Karabakh Armenians had a certain elective
structure on the basis local population’s will (it was noted in
the wording of the Helsinki decision of OSCE on March 24, 1992. It
says the “elected” and other representatives of Nagorno Karabakh).
Irascibly casting off Nagorno Karabakh, Azeris failed to estimate
properly, simply took for granted, so to speak, that Yerevan gradually
recognized its status of a side in this conflict. Ararktsian and
especial Baburian naturally asserted in every possible way the status
Nagorno Karabakh in every possible way as a side in the conflict and
participant of Bishkek meeting; they also reproached Azeris for sagging
the level of their participation because of speaker Guliyev’s absence.
Shumeyko stated unambiguous during discussions that Nagorno Karabakh,
as well as Armenia, is a side in this conflict and emphasized that it
is impossible to reach settlement without comprehending this fact.
This was our starting-point at the Moscow negotiation where a draft
agreement on the cessation of the armed conflict was developed with
participation of delegations of three conflicting sides.
In Bishkek, the sides disagreed also over the essence of the
settlement. The majority of issues, certainly, could not be taken and,
moreover, they could not be solved on such a meeting of parliament
leaders in view of specificity of this forum. However, inertia of
disputes during Moscow negotiation worked and in foothills of Tien
Shan. So, considering the situation at the front, Jalilov struggled
for the immediate ceasefire more than Armenians but meanwhile
insisted on his immediate combination with instant withdrawal of
the Armenian forces from all occupied Azeri territories and homing
of refugees. However, it was striking that he did not stress how
to maintain peace – he clearly evaded the idea of placing neutral
separating forces and was content with observers.
Jalilov did not comprehend also the expediency of offering the
parliaments of CIS participating States to discuss the initiative
of Shumeyko and Sherimkulov on creating peacekeeping forces of the
Commonwealth (there was already the sense that Azerbaijani leadership
made a curtsey to the West which was sharply opposed to replacement
of Russian peacekeeping forces in the conflict zone – the CIS forces
seemed to them to be Russia’s cover).
Ultimately, the Azeri delegation tried to advance its own scheme of
the final document which only required to stop fire and immediate
withdrawal of the Armenian forces from the occupied Azeri regions
but, certainly, the declined participation of Nagorno Karabakh and
extremely narrowed the role of CIS in the settlement. Own plans of any
of the conflicting sides at such forums are practically unpromising as
they are obviously pursuing interests of only one side and are easily
rejected by opponents as one-sided. But the Azeris continually did not
understand this before and later and pushed ahead their own projects
instead of completing the schemes submitted by the mediator. So, their
project attempted to remove reference in the beginning of the text
that the conflict “essentially affects interests of other countries
of the region” but it was easily rejected by other participants of
But the Armenians set the stress on necessity of working out a
mechanism that would provide maintenance of ceasefire and stopping
of operations and would be a reliably guarantee that they will not
resume – only after that they supposed withdrawal of their forces from
the Azeri territories they occupied. Or else, they logically sought
after final signing of ceasefire and cessation of military actions —
military-technical issues — before passing withdrawal of forces —
As Shumeyko marked later, it was unprecedented that leaders of
such level worked on the text of the document for almost two days
continuously. Though, naturally, almost all hard work — search for
alternative wordings, issue of next, renovated variants of the project
— practically fall on me.
At decline of May 5, after really exhausting disputes, “The Bishkek
protocol” was signed by the heads of both Armenian delegations and
all persons acting as mediators – all except the head of Azerbaijani
delegation. Jalilov’s refusal, certainly, greased results of the
meeting. Azeris motivated their position saying that Nizami Bakhmanov
was not allowed to sign and made vague statements that the document
does not meet their interests. But these were only outer pretexts.
The true cause of Jalilov’s pose came out rather quickly. It was known,
that the president of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, made a speech at the
session of NATO Council in Brussels on May 4 and signed there a frame
document of “Partnership for Peace” program. He certainly uttered no
word about the peacekeeping efforts of Russia and CIS In that audience,
said nothing Moscow keeping the Karabakh conflict settlement key in
its hands (something that he declared publicly more than once either
before or later). Suffice it to say that the orator heaped NATO with
dithyramb in his speech and mentioned only UN, OSCE and his Minsk
group – neither Russia nor CIS were ever named. This trip and speech
in NATO headquarters were already a part of geopolitical game of
“zigzags” that the leader of Azerbaijan took up on the West’s advice.
In this context and at that time, Aliyev hardly needed signing of
“The Bishkek protocol”, which just most vigorously supported by the
representatives of Russia as an important step of ideological-political
preparation for ending the bloodshed (this fact never belittles
importance of other participants’ contribution at the Bishkek meeting).
Aliyev told during his appearance on May 21, 1994, how he blocked
signing of the protocol in Bishkek: he simply forbade Jalilov to
sign there any document without his consent. The latter followed
president’s indications in Kyrgyzstan not to stymie his activities
in Brussels. Surely it is curious but from other points of view:
whether there was separation of powers in Baku, what were the real
political customs there?
In Bishkek we, naturally, did not know about these instructions of
Aliyev, and I vainly tried to connect with Milli Mejlis chairman,
Guliyev, on the phone hoping to secure his consent to sign the Bishkek
appeal. Nevertheless, the decision taken by those signing the document
to leave Milli Mejlis an opportunity to join it later, if it will wish,
was undoubtedly right.
It would be too prodigal to throw the issue halfway after such
efforts. We had to keep going. Having arrived in Moscow for a day
(for participation in the first meeting of Kozirev with the new Swede
chairman of OSCE Minsk conference, Jan Eliasson, on May 6), I flew to
Baku on May 7 having agreed with my minister and Shumeyko to discuss
“The Bishkek protocol” with the president of Azerbaijan and chairman
of Milli Mejlis. We had to find out Azerbaijan’s final position on
this document and to try to get it signed.
On Sunday, May 8, Heydar Aliyev gathered high leadership of Azerbaijan
in his office: the heads of parliament R. Guliyev and A. Jalilov,
State adviser on foreign policy, V. Gulizade, foreign minister
G. Hasanov, minister of a defense M. Mamedov, deputy minister of
defense T. Zulfugarov, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia ÃŠ. Rizayev
and others, sat down at a lengthy table basically to the right from
Aliyev. I had to sit to his left.
Opening the meeting, the president heaped the next portion of
reproaches to the Russian mediator literally saying: “You have again
prepared a document that goes against interests of Azerbaijan”… I
had tell in response that the Armenians are also not quite pleased
with some theses of “The Bishkek protocol” but there is no phrase
in it running counter to the interests of the Armenians or Azeris
interested stopping the bloodshed.
Naturally, the statements of those present at meeting supported
the president. The correlation of “votes” at the table could not be
favorable for a soloist mediator. Suddenly Ramiz Rizayev, ambassador
to Moscow, the first supported more definitely the ceasefire. Rasul
Guliyev backed him. Gradually, turn to realism took shape.
A “compromising” idea was also suggested: to sign the document but
with amendments. Someone offered to put “international” before the word
“observers”, someone to tell more abruptly — instead of “occupied” put
“seized territories”. The first correction meant that the observers
were to be not only from Russia (by the way, inserting the word
“international” before the observers was inappropriate in that context,
as it dealt with the Protocol of a meeting of defense ministers in
Moscow on February 18, 1994. Only Russia showed readiness to quickly
set a peacekeeping contingent and observers at that moment. Turkey’s
yearning to do it was categorically rejected by the Armenians). The
second correction was more of emotional character: territories are
seized by force during military actions, with rare exception, or are
occupied if the opposite side abandons them. Both cases were peculiar
for this conflict. These linguistic nuances are clear but they little
changed the essence of matter.
I explained from my side that corrections to the text have no
substantial sense at all, as all other participants of the Bishkek
meeting have signed the document as it was and will not consider
it again – this not a treaty after all, not a legal but political
The traditional “sore” of Azerbaijani diplomacy came out: they again
began insisting on the signature of Bakhmanov on behalf of the Azeri
community of Nagorno Karabakh. I showed them that Bakhmanov can not be
equated to the heads of representative structures. Yet, the interest
of Azeri participants of this meeting was hotter and sterner than any
logical reasoning! To tell the truth, I thought that every cloud has
a silver lining: slips of tongue “save the face” of the Azerbaijani
authorities, facilitate their joining to the document.
At the end of the meeting Aliyev told Jalilov: “Well, sign,
Afiyaddin!” But the latter declared that could not do that as he had
bound himself by the position taken in Bishkek.
It was a delicate, even funny situation, not only in the sense
of Afiyaddin Jalilov’s disobedience. After the participants’ mood
turned in favor of the ceasefire, his evasion allowed to come up to
the chairman of Milli Mejlis, Guliyev, for signature – a higher and
natural level! The other signatures of the sides in the conflict
belonged to the first persons of parliaments after all. Therefore,
strangely enough, I was to express comprehension of Jalilov’s position
and support him before Aliyev, making my way though to reach speaker’s
Not without a reproach to his deputy, Guliyev said that someone is
anxious for his reputation here – he personally was not concerned
with it if only the people would benefit. He was ready to sign the
document with the mentioned corrections and Bakhmanov’s signature
under it. Aliyev agreed, and Guliyev put his signature in the place
where Jalilov’s was supposed to be. They added two “corrections”
on the last page in legible handwriting in Russian. Other important
but delicate points of the document (reference to the Protocol of
February 18 meeting of defense ministers, the role of CIS, idea of
setting peacekeeping forces within the Commonwealth) were not affected.
In one word, the meeting started on a sad note but finished on a
The freak with Bakhmanov’s signature resulted in discomfiture. The
Azeris entered his surname by hand but could not find him in Baku in
time find. Having notified Moscow that Guliyev signed “The Bishkek
protocol”, I left on Monday, 9 May, taking away the copy of the text
with two corrections and attached surname of Bakhmanov but without
In the morning of May 9 I had to answer an unusually populous (with
20 mass medias representatives) and long — more than three hours
— press conference in Baku and introduce in outline our plan of
settlement. Azeri minister of foreign minister Hasanov’s numerous
swoops on “the Russian plan” during hearings in Milli Mejlis on
April 18 were the reason of such a detailed conversation with the
I had also to confirm to the journalists that Guliyev signed “The
Bishkek protocol” with two corrections, which caused sensation. A
had to say about the corrections to the protocol that they should be
viewed as a special opinion of the Azerbaijani side as all others
who had signed the document in Bishkek the text remains such as it
was at the point of signing.
(I could not announce that defense minister Mamedov was going to sign
another document as well on that very day, May 9, — a document on
ceasefire. I was not sure up to the last moment that it will be signed,
as we planned it the day before, besides we needed to receive later
the signatures in Yerevan and Stepanakert. I told only that we need
a legally obliging agreement now that would be signed by the leaders
of Azerbaijan, Armenia and also Nagorno Karabakh. I added that we
are now closer to outbreak in settlement of the Karabakh conflict
Given the vacillation and zigzags of the Azerbaijani authorities,
it was a right and more or less timely and courageous step from
Baku’s side to sign “The Bishkek protocol”, i.e. to consent to the
ceasefire appeal. It became one of the important preconditions to the
cessation of bloodshed. “The War Party” in Baku “blindly” unfolded
a rough campaign, even a hysteria, against “Bishkek” (many did not
know the complete text of the protocol though it was published by the
local press, certainly, edited by Baku). The struggle against this
document, roused by Hasanov’s recent statement and sharp criticism
“of the Russian plan” in parliament, was another excuse for the
opposition’s pressure on Heydar Aliyev’s team and stimulus for uniting
its previously broken forces. On May 10, 12 political parties issued
a statement condemning the signature of the protocol. They threatened
saying that Guliyev’s signature beside Baburian’s will result in
international recognition of NKR, accused the speaker of national
treachery. The mouthpieces of opposition did not even consider that
it was only an appeal to prompt ceasefire, something that the Azeris
needed more at that moment than the Armenians!
There were, certainly, sober voices as well in Azerbaijan. 6 centrist
parties supported signing of “The Bishkek protocol” in a joint
statement. Quite a lot depended on Heydar Aliyev himself but he did
not hurry up to inform that personally blessed its signing. On May
13, Party of National Independence of Azerbaijan required that the
president revealed his attitude to the document. Aliyev said in a
general way that the signing of the protocol was a right step leading
to ceasefire. On May 14, Guliyev was compelled to underscore in an
interview to the Azeri television that he had signed “The Bishkek
protocol” in Aliyev’s office, in his presence and by his approbation.
We should give Guliyev his due as he announced publicly as well that
Nagorno Karabakh is a side in the conflict.
The session of Milli Mejlis was postponed from May 10 till May 13 then
till May 18 (because of my joint Baku visit with Eliasson on May 12
and four-hour talks that day at Aliyev’s where speaker Guliyev should
have been present).
A parliamentary crisis burst out in Azerbaijan on May 18: when
the oppositions failed twice to include the issue of “The Bishkek
protocol” in the agenda of Milli Mejlis (voting resulted in “draw”
– 19:19 with two abstentions), it began asserting that the chairman
of Milli Mejlis exceeded his authority and insisted on annulling
Guliyev’s signature and on his resignation. Former foreign minister
Tofik Gasimov and Etibar Mamedov were especially active. As a result,
17 deputies left the session breaking quorum (there are 50 deputies in
Milli Mejlis and the quorum is 34) and refused to work for more than a
week. Guliyev hardly expected such rough obstruction of the opposition
and such an indistinct position of the leadership of Azerbaijan.
Allegedly Jalilov let the press know in Baku that “The Bishkek
protocol” does not take into account interests of Azerbaijan. I don’t
know whether it is true or not. Hasanov took an interesting stance.
In an interview to agency ATA he in every possible way renounced “The
Bishkek protocol”, asserting that he did not see it, refused to make
comments, readdressed the correspondent to those who had signed it.
Though he was present at the office of Aliyev at that moment and was
a witness of signing.
The Azerbaijani journalists turned to me as well on this occasion.
They phoned to Moscow more than once. They were asking, for one,
whether I hope that the Milli Mejlis will ratify “The Bishkek
protocol”. I expressed them my bewilderment. Noting the importance of
the document for creating a political background favorable for stopping
the bloodshed, I asked them then what ratification they can speak about
if it is only an appeal, an offer for ceasefire and nothing more. What
is there needing ratification? It’s not a legal document, isn’t it?
Despite the opposition’s hysteria, the population of Azerbaijan
apprehended “The Bishkek protocol” rather benevolently. According to
a poll conducted by the sociological service of the Baku newspaper
“Zerkalo”, 30,7 % of the respondents evaluated it positively and 17,8
% – rather positively than negatively, whereas 17 % – negatively and
11,5 % – rather negative than positively. It should be noted that the
next question revealed unfavorable results for the opposition. 27% of
the respondents found it merely necessary to set up Russian military
bases in the territory of the republic, 30,7% – a hard but compelled
step and 29,9% answered negatively. Interestingly, servicemen were
the main category that supported the protocol and stand for setting
up Russian bases (students also backed bases) – people who were
immediately threatened in case of war’s continuation. That was the
opposition’s scarecrow for the population; it asserted that once
Russian separating forces are there, they will not leave it soon
and that will be equivalent almost to occupation and building here
Russian military bases.
Passion over Bishkek did not retreat in Azerbaijan a few weeks,
even after the ceasefire was reached. But, due to Azeris’ reluctance
to sign the Bishkek document and tough discussions in Baku on May 8
and 9, we failed to time the ceasefire to the Victory Day as it was
planned earlier. Two more days were spent working with the sides over
the text of the new agreement — ceasefire came into force only on
midnight of May 12, 1994.
Taking alarm that the bloodshed was stopped due to Russia’s mediation,
the westerners, first of all USA, feverishly quartered pressure both on
Baku and Yerevan to keep them back from accepting “the Russian plan”
(they did not have direct levers of pressure on Stepanakert). But it
is necessary to tell about it in detail – probably, even in a separate
chapter. I shall note here only how difficult it is to believe that
the US had no connection with Baku opposition’s statements against the
Bishkek document. All the more that Bishkek meeting was not linked
with the OSCE and its Minsk group anyhow and was held within the
framework of CIS.
“The Bishkek protocol” became the culmination of those political
efforts beyond the talk process and military-diplomatic work that we
applied aiming ceasefire. The highest leadership of the conflicting
sides was standing behind the heads of parliaments after all. The
document was vital in struggle for public opinion. It was the “dead
color” for the first sketch of future ceasefire’s picture.
The mass media, even the researchers and political scientists poorly
familiar with the texts of the documents, mistakenly write often
that the ceasefire in Karabakh conflict was signed in Bishkek. They
do not distinguish between a call to stop fire and documenting of
the obligations taken on the basis of political decisions of the
leadership of all sides. Without delving into the “technology” of
ceasefire, they do not count that it was the meeting of heads of
parliamentary structures of the conflicting sides and not this of
executive power. The heads of these structures would need official
authorities from higher executive command to sign such an agreement but
none of them had that, they were not even requested. The initiators
of the Bishkek meeting did not set such a goal though, certainly,
strived to realistically stop bloodshed.
It seems to me that the researchers should have paid attention also
to how Babken Ararktsian and Rasul Guliyev who signed “The Bishkek
protocol” estimated it. So, Ararktsian noted at a special press
conference in Yerevan May 7, 1994, that it is a serious political
document but is prepared in parliamentary style and has a mild
recommendatory character. At the Milli Mejlis session on May 18, 1994,
Guliyev stated in response to accusation of a group of lawmakers of
exceeding his commission that it is only a protocol on intentions
without legal force and having a recommendatory character and that
parliament’s consent nor special authorities were needed for signing
it neither does it need to be ratified.
The hypertrophy of Bishkek’s significance in Karabakh settlement
emerged “on both sides of the barricade”: it happened in Azerbaijan
owing to that piercing political struggle, which unfolded over the
protocol and among the Armenians – because of euphoria about the
place that Nagorno Karabakh occupied in Bishkek and in this document.
One of the participants of the Bishkek meeting, today’s “president
of NKR” Arkady Ghukasian, labeled it historical in the newspaper
“Respublica Armenia” as Nagorno Karabakh was represented for the
first time as a side possessing equal rights and “the chairman of
the Supreme Council of NKR”, Karen Baburian, put his signature beside
signatures of the other participants. To many Armenians it appeared
as almost recognition of NKR. Ararktsian was more moderate stating
at the same press conference that the main achievement of Bishkek
was recognition of Nagorno Karabakh de-facto as a conflicting side
by all participants of the meeting except for the Azeri delegation.
Certainly, it is not precisely the main achievement as well as that
Russia recognized Stepanakert as a side only in Bishkek but Ararktsian
was more realistic than his fellow political scientists.
It is regrettable that many serious researchers not only in Baku,
Yerevan and Stepanakert but also in Moscow lost from their spotlight
a more solid document than “The Bishkek protocol” accepted 20 days
before Bishkek on a higher level. Some of them dubbed Bishkek an
outbreak in Karabakh settlement whereas the real outbreak had taken
place little bit earlier and grew into termless ceasefire a week
later after Bishkek.
As it is known, on April 15, 1994 in Moscow the Council of the heads of
CIS member-states adopted a vital Declaration on Russia’s initiative
with clear stress ceasefire as an urgent requirement in Karabakh
settlement process. This was the first time that the Council adopted
such a document on Karabakh and with direct participation of the
presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia! The document contained the most
categorical wording: “The key priority, imperative of the settlement is
immediate ceasefire, cessation of all military actions and reliable
consolidation afterwards. We cannot pass to the liquidation of
consequences of the tragic confrontation without this”. It must be
noted that there was no definite document on this by then especially
signed on high level, multilateral and with participation of the
leaders of both States participating in the conflict.
The researches have not even noticed that Bishkek was only the
continuation of the parliamentarians’ meeting on Aland Islands and in
essence was called initially to display parliament heads’ support to
the position of the leaders of CIS States on the immediate stopping
of bloodshed that was stated in the Moscow document. ‘The Bishkek
protocol” itself mentions about that: the participants of the meeting
in Bishkek, having supported the Declaration of State leaders on April
15, “expressed readiness to render absolute support to efforts of the
leaders and representatives of the executive power on the cessation
of the armed confrontation and liquidation of its consequences by
immediately completing a corresponding agreement “. Clear as day…
As it happens sometimes, the secondary but garish issue overshadows
the main, the basic, more substantial and essential issue…
BreakThough to ceasefire in Karabakh
May 12, 1994, became the day of hope for the tortured people
of Azerbaijan and Armenia, for the South Caucasus, thanks to the
ceasefire agreement in Karabakh that came into force on that day and
remains in force for almost eleven years. It was an agreement of
real vital importance and unprecedented one in its form. At last,
we, the mediators, were lucky. But only those people are lucky who
consistently strive for success. The consistent efforts of the Russian
mediators for over two years (since September, 1991) were directed
to stopping that very bloody conflict.
I’d better say from the very beginning that neither the sides in
conflict nor the mediators strived for the ceasefire so hard and
consistently. Dozens of facts can prove this. And this will be the
most convincing answer to those that for many years try to accuse
Moscow of prolonging the conflict or its settlement.
The sides in conflict sometimes were unwilling to sign a ceasefire
agreement, but, as a rule, in case of unfavorable developments at
the front for one of the sides and only a temporal one. Usually, they
looked forward to a respite to resume the military actions again to be
a success. Unfortunately, the ruling elites of the sides in conflict
didn’t give up their illusions to achieve their goals through military
actions, expressing irreconcilability and inflexibility. While some
of the mediators thought that the military actions would continue
for sure. Other wasted their energy on quite different priorities,
pretending that they were participating in the settlement process.
The situation at the front in the beginning of May of 1994
became rather contradictory. After the Azeris exhausted their
counter-offensive potential in winter achieving quite poor results
but sharply increasing the losses of both sides, a definite balance
of forces was set up. The most severe battles took pace in Ter-Ter
region. The attempts of the Armenians to conquer this city were
of great danger. If they managed to block the roads leading to
Gyandja, the second city of Azerbaijan, or move in the direction of
Barda-Yevlakh-Mingechaur to the Kura River, the northwestern part of
the republic would be cut from the “continent.” The nightmare that
the southwest of Azerbaijan faced in the autumn of 1993 when the
Armenians reached the Araxes, the river bordering Iran, could repeat.
That’s why the Azeri authorities were interested in the ceasefire.
Earlier, they were either unwilling to sign the ceasefire agreement or
broke the agreements but in this case, they were putting forward the
issue whether Russia is unable to stop the military actions. I was
told this at the highest level as well. It is peculiar that in this
case, the Azeri authorities neither put forward any preconditions
for the ceasefire nor demanded to abandon the territories the
Armenians occupied. By the end of the May 8 conference in Baku in
the office of the Azeri president, soon after Rasul Guliyev, speaker
of Azerbaijan’s Parliament, signed “The Bishkek protocol”, Heydar
Aliyev in my presence ordered M. Mamedov, defense minister, to draw
up a document on ceasefire. We immediately began writing the text. I,
as a mediator, had to get in touch with Yerevan and Stepanakert and
arrange the document via the soviet High Frequency connection. In
some respect, the fact that Stepanakert announced about unilateral
stopping the fire at midnight, May 9, helped us. They also discussed
the possibility of unilateral ceasefire in Baku but nothing was clear
yet. Meanwhile, we still were receiving information that the clashes
between the sides continue.
On May 9, Aliyev held another meeting at his office to put the final
touches to the ceasefire agreement I prepared. Guliyev, Gulizade,
Mamedov and Rizayev, ambassador to Moscow opted in. But it was still
too early to be joyful. The Azeris again began insisting that the
representative of the Azeri community of Nagorno Karabakh signed the
document too (like on May 4-5 in Bishkek and on May 8 in Baku). This
point became the display of eccentricity of the Baku diplomacy.
Certainly, this community remained “an interested side,” but it
couldn’t be considered a side in conflict, it didn’t have its own
detachments at the front that were to cease the fire (afterwards,
Niberg, Finn colleague of mine, OSCE Co-Chair, reminded Aliyev in
this connection how Stalin asked once how many divisions the Roman
Pope had). Elementary logics didn’t allow me include the signature
of Bakhmanov into the text. But, new obstacles appeared very soon.
The Azeris who adjusted the documents on ceasefire with Stepanakert
for ten times (without any participation of Yerevan) now demanded to
sign the documents only with the representatives of Armenia, without
the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh. But, Yerevan tried to evade this.
At last, this time we managed to get the consent of Armenia to sign
the document (for the first time since the agreement of Pavel Grachev,
in September, 1992).
But Yerevan didn’t want to sign anything without the participation
of Nagorno Karabakh, while the Azeris didn’t want to sign beside
the representatives of Stepanakert, moreover, in the presence of the
Karabakh Armenians. Certainly, there are “technologies” that allow
to sign the agreement separately, i.e. without confrontation of the
sides around one table but the representatives of Baku were against
that, too. Thus, the most important point was lost behind a secondary
one. On the other hand, the arrangement of the place for signing the
document and the travel of the plenipotentiary representatives to
there would take days, while everything was so unstable that could
get spoiled during that period.
The dead-end situation was so absurd: all the sides in conflict agreed
to ceasefire but they quarreled about whose signatures should ratify
the document. We needed to use the determination of the sides to sign
a ceasefire immediately and leave out their unwillingness to meet,
in order to normally sign the document.
We had no time to arrange the ceremonial functions. Certainly, we
couldn’t choose between the continuation of the bloodshed and judicial
subtlety. The history of diplomacy didn’t help with precedents, there
weren’t any at all. We needed non-standard decisions, unusual tricks
to preserve the precious essence of the case, to avert the danger
threatening hundreds or even thousands of new people. That is why the
“technology” of the Russian mediators that had been used since 1993
for signing short time arrangements was necessary again (mainly for
ceasefire or for its prolonging). We had already used the “facsimile”
diplomacy when we couldn’t afford our time or it was impossible to
gather the representatives of the sides in conflict in one place,
the mediator adjusted the agreement by sending the arranged and later
the signed documents by cross connection.
This helped us begin adjusting ceasefire agreement on May 9 already,
notwithstanding the unwillingness of one of the sides to hold a
special meeting and sign the document with the representative of the
opponent side in conflict, that really confronted during the battle,
but wasn’t recognized in this status since the late 1993. We managed
to arrange the rest of the operation factors of the agreement. It was
decided that the agreement will be signed by the supreme military
commanders of the sides in conflict, i.e. the defense ministers of
Armenia and Azerbaijan and “the commander of Nagorno Karabakh Army.”
The text prepared by the Russian mediator in Baku contained, similarly
to the previous documents, identical appeal of all three sides to
the three Russian officials.
To improve the complicated relations between RF Foreign and Defense
Ministries, I included Pavel Grachev, RF defense minister in the first
place of the list while Kozirev, RF foreign minister, my immediate
boss, and the plenipotentiary representative of RF President in Nagorno
Karabakh issue occupied the second and the third places relevantly.
Such an order of addresses was used earlier, too. It was quite a
natural one, as the agreement was signed by the supreme military
commanders and, according to the text, ask Grachev to organize a
conference in Moscow as soon as possible to arrange the mechanism
of securing the ceasefire. We had to take into account that we
might either need the help of the Russian military observers or the
separating forces that only RF Defence Ministry had. Grachev thought
that he should be the peace keeper: as soon as in Sochi he signed the
ceasefire agreement for two months, Russia immediately provided us with
military observers (but when RF Foreign Ministry worked on achieving
the ceasefire, RF Defence Ministry used to send only formal replies
to our appeals). That is why we had to include Grachev in the first
place, though neither he nor RF Defence Ministry didn’t do anything
for preparing this document.
As a result of two days’ discussions in Baku (on May 8-9, around “The
Bishkek protocol” and the ceasefire agreement), we couldn’t time the
ceasefire to the Day of Victory, as it was suggested in Bishkek. At
first we envisaged to begin it at midnight of May 11 but we had to
delay it till 00:01 of May 12 because of the complicated order of
signing the ceasefire.
On May 9, Aliyev instructed Mamedov to sign the text consisting of
four points and stretching a page. At the bottom of the page where
Mamedov put his signature, there were the positions of other officials
published, i.e. that of RA defense minister and the commander of
Nagorno Karabakh Army but they were to sign their own identical
texts in Yerevan and Stepanakert (some people even said afterwards,
as if in the beginning the document didn’t envisage the signature
of Karabakh’s representative and the Russian mediator included it in
that later, antedating it. I might publish the Xerox of the document
in the appendix to this article to stop rather malicious tales).
I sent the text from Baku to Yerevan and Stepanakert by fax with the
request to send both of the signed samples straightly to RF Foreign
Ministry. I send the copy to Moscow, to Grachev and Kondratev, RF
deputy defense minister, writing that I had sent the document to
the Armenians for signing. In the evening I returned home to Moscow
waiting for the faxes from the Armenians.
Meanwhile, RA defense minister made few corrections (he left out
one of the references to the Moscow protocol of defense ministers of
February 18, 1994 and excluded the idea of inviting the chairman of
the OSCE Minsk conference to the signing of the future Agreement on the
cessation of the armed conflict). We had to rearrange these corrections
with Baku from Moscow already by the phone, but they agreed soon.
On May 10, in Moscow I received the final text signed by Serge
Sargsian, RA defense minister. On May 11, I received the fax from
Stepanakert signed by Samvel Babayan, “Commander of Nagorno Karabakh
Army”. As a mediator, I immediately informed all the sides about the
end of the procedure and send the texts signed by two other sides to
each side. It was time to give instructions to the forces!
These three sheets of paper (with an identical text and a signature
on each) in the hands of the Russian mediator became the ceasefire
agreement we were striving for. They became a document that is usually
signed by the plenipotentiary representatives of the sides around
one table or, at least, on one day, in one place and on one sheet of
paper (sometimes in several copies). The references to the February 18
Protocol of RF Defence Ministry and the appeal of the parliamentarians
from Bishkek in the text didn’t mean at all that the document was a
kind of a derivation from them. That was an independent agreement,
but the references to them as if strengthened the positive dynamics
of the peaceful process.
It’s worth mentioning that unlike the previous ceasefire agreements the
given agreement was primordially defined as a termless one “by silent
consent”: this time we deliberately didn’t fix any deadline. All the
sides in conflict agreed with this extremely important circumstance
(though complicated situations arouse around this afterwards).
The other difference from other arrangements is the factor that in
this case only one signature of the representative of the supreme
military power from each side was put on each sheet instead of two as
it was before (that of the political and military authority). These
points seem to be technical details but they reflected some political-
procedural moves. Firstly, notwithstanding the caprices of Baku, it
was fixed in the text that the given agreement should be signed by the
representative of Nagorno Karabakh, as well. Secondly, notwithstanding
the tricks of Yerevan, trying to show that the conflict was between
Baku and Stepanakert, the Yerevan representatives had to sign the
agreement, too. These all corresponded with the real situation in
the region more. It goes without saying that Baku was glad to see
the signature of Yerevan. Though, in future, Baku began evading the
recognition of Stepanakert as a side in conflict and a participant
of negotiations more.
As for the unusual form of the agreement, we can bring as an analogy
the widely used form of signing agreements through exchanging letters
between the sides. The peculiarity of the situation was that the
sides were not ready to exchange letters directly between each other
(besides, there were three of them). That is why we used the form
of appeal of each side to Russia as to a mediator, undertaking the
identical commitments. The case became a bit easier by the fact that
this technology was used when adjusting a ceasefire agreement in
Karabakh (though there were then two sides of agreement, i.e. Baku
and Stepanakert, without Yerevan).
That is why the May 12, 1994, ceasefire agreement has not one
original or several copies signed by the representatives of all
sides. There had been neither seal or sealing wax, nor shiny folders.
There is no formal depositary of the agreement, either, though all
the three samples were addressed and sent to Moscow. But these formal
“imperfections” of the document, the fact that it didn’t keep in line
with the well-known standards didn’t hinder the practical realization
of the ceasefire. And this is the most important thing. The matter is
not about the complications in adjusting the document; it concerned
the political will of the sides that really reflected the determination
of both Azeri and the Armenian people to achieve ceasefire.
Other drawbacks of the agreement were more essential. They didn’t
include such usual means of fixing the ceasefire agreement as
withdrawal of the forces and heavy armament belonging to the sides
in conflict from the contact line, the creation of a butter zone
where the neutral observers or the separating forces would locate,
the measures of control and international guarantees. It was supposed
that a part of these issues will be settled during the meeting of Azeri
and Armenian Defence Ministers, as well as “the commander of Nagorno
Karabakh Army.” In the appeal all the three military officials asked RF
Defence Minister to organize the meeting in Moscow as soon as possible.
The meeting took place on May 16-17, 1994, by the invitation of
Pavel Grachev. It is quite queer but the officials of RF defense
ministry, getting accustomed to frequent violations of ceasefire
agreements, prepared drafts of documents for their minister in which
they again suggested… to stop the fire on May 18. They treated
my explanations with mistrust and even without pleasure when I said
that such an agreement has been already signed few days ago and the
military actions were stopped, mainly (there weren’t many incidents,
while there was not a single big one). It was hard to believe that
the ceasefire was achieved, at last!
Some people lost nerves during that meeting in Moscow. Grachev that
had the experience of holding such meetings with the commanders
over Karabakh conflict and upset with their intractability and
untrustworthiness took up quite a strict tone, almost that of an
ultimatum or a dictate. The next day the press spared no efforts to
depict that in the brightest colors. In the course of the meeting,
they prepared and adopted mainly the measures for consolidate the
ceasefire regime that proceeded from the location of the Russian
peacekeepers in the zone of conflict.
But Grachev was not the only one to lose nerves. On the same day
Heydar Aliyev promptly instructed his minister Mamedov not to sign the
document elaborated on that meeting and to return immediately to Baku
as if for additional instructions. On May 17, Mamedov and I left for
Baku. On May 18. Aliyev received him and gave the instruction not to
sign the Moscow document. Afterwards, the minister told me that let
him know that he shouldn’t hurry. I met with the president on the same
day. In the course of the meeting he was making tricks suggesting to
meet with Levon Ter-Petrosian for signing “a big political arrangement”
in Moscow in early June. When on May 19 the Azeri minister and I
returned to Moscow, Mamedov began putting new conditions trying to
avoid signing the document prepared on May 16 during the meeting with
Grigory Kondratev, RF deputy defense minister (Grachev refused to
receive him). Mamedov tried to link the separation of troops with the
withdrawal of Armenian forces from the occupied territories. While
Aliyev explained to me the departure of Mamedov to Baku with the
strict tone of Grachev but, in fact, there were more profound reasons.
Azerbaijan was under the strongest pressure of the Western powers. If
the ceasefire achieved through Russia’s mediation greatly could
upset the West, the perspective of locating the Russian peacekeeping
forces in the zone of conflict was merely unbearable for them. The
unusual activization of the OSCE Minsk group’s co-chair after May
12, a series of trips and suggestions of Jan Eliasson, as well as
the whole dynamics of the Western diplomacy in the issue of Karabakh
during 1994, testified to that. They spared no efforts to outline at
least the perspective of sending the OSCE observers and peace keeping
forces to there, not letting the Russian forces or the forces of other
CIS country to locate in Karabakh. Aliyev yielded to that pressure,
making the next zigzag in his policy to the West this time.
Azerbaijan’s refusal to fix the ceasefire measures didn’t allow to
properly consolidate the agreement in the military-technical respect.
As a result, the ceasefire wasn’t properly consolidated neither
by Russia, nor by the West and in fact remained rather tenuous: the
forces of the sides were not withdrawn from the contact line. The sides
didn’t withdraw heave armaments from the contact line and establish
a non-aerial zone, either. Sometimes, the sides emphasize with pride
that the ceasefire is maintained by their own independent efforts,
without participation of the foreign observers and the separating
forces. In deed, it is really an achievement! But the contact line
remained quite a dangerous zone. As a result of frequent incidents,
each year many soldiers and peaceful residents die there.
We could feel the difference between the ways the sides accepted the
ceasefire. The feeling of relief prevailed in Azerbaijan. While some
Armenians, particularly, the stubborn ones from Karabakh, sometimes
regretted that Russia hindered them to occupy the town Ter-Ter and make
Baku more amenable. In public they in times stated that the ceasefire
wasn’t a result of mediators’ efforts but a direct consequence of
the military balance of the forces that was set up.
Two months later, on July 20, 1994, the West tried “to take away”
the May ceasefire agreement from Russia. In the course of a meeting
in Yerevan, Levon Ter-Petrosian said that Matias Mossberg called him
from Stockholm and, on behalf of Minsk group chair (the Swede were
in chair) suggested to prolong the ceasefire for 30 days. I told the
president that an hour ago I talked to Mossberg and he said nothing
about that suggestion to me. Moreover, what did that mean to prolong
the ceasefire when that was a termless one? What could that mean,
in practice? In fact, that could mean an opportunity for this or
that side to refuse the agreement and begin the military actions in
30 days. Certainly, we couldn’t change a termless agreement into an
agreement for a month and face the unknown.
I immediately offered the president an alternative instead: the
political or military authorities of the sides could periodically
(together or separately) confirm the ceasefire regime and that would
only strengthen it. Ter-Petrosian approved my idea. After that was
discussed with Stepanakert and Baku, we received the consent of
all the sides. We immediately began elaborating the first draft and
began drawing up the text between the sides. Returning to Moscow,
I followed how the sides, already directly, finished the arrangement
of the statement.
On July 26-27, 1994, the three military commanders, i.e. defense
ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as the commander of
Nagorno Karabakh army signed the first confirmation. The document was
again sent to Moscow to the same addresses as before by fax. But in
Baku Vafa Gulizade, adviser of the Azeri president, suggested me to
send that text to Jan Eliasson, as well. We didn’t object and the
Armenians agreed, too. Thus, the chairman of the Minsk conference,
new addressee, began figuring in the correspondence with Moscow.
Isn’t it ridiculous that the Western experts emphasize the importance
of this document for this very reason, as if in contrast to the May
9-11 agreement? (Certainly, that was no news for us, as we saw how
the OSCE Permanent Council “didn’t notice” that agreement in his
session on May 19 at all, because that was achieved by Russia. They
supported the alternative agreement project on strengthening the
ceasefire regime that Jan Eliasson “cherished” for several weeks,
hindering our work with the sides at “the big political agreement.”
He even managed to get the signature of the Azeris but they immediately
demanded that back). The abovementioned ridiculous sortie of Mossberg
is particularly interesting for the fact that in order “to grasp” the
ceasefire in the hands of the Minsk group, the Swede ran the risk of
its breakdown! It is hard to believe that competent Swede diplomats
didn’t realize that or acted like that at their own initiative.
The July 26-27 document was adjusted on one sheet of paper with the
positions and signatures indicated on that ( it may sound ridiculous
but that was almost an achievement!). In this very text for the
first time the sides stated that they pledge to secure ceasefire
until the Agreement on the Cessation of the Armed Conflict is signed.
Literally, it was said in the following way: “The sides in conflict
pledge to confirm the commitments they undertook for ceasefire in
the terms agreed, until the big political Agreement envisaging full
cessation of the military actions is signed.”
But even later we didn’t stop looking for the means to document the
rejection of bloodshed. In order to fasten the ceasefire regime
(again at the initiative of Russia, but on behalf of the Minsk
group co-chairs) an agreement was adjusted between the sides on the
order of settling the armed incidents, on February 6, 1995. Such
incidents occurred periodically, though then they took place on the
Armenian-Azeri border more frequently, than around Nagorno Karabakh.
It was important to provide the sides with a accurate mechanism that
would hinder their continuation or escalation. At the request of one
of the sides, we even elaborated a project of internal instruction for
the use of the given mechanism. If the sides didn’t use the mechanism,
that is “their own problem, ” they are responsible for that.
Many years passed and I found a pearl of Vafa Gulizade. In the Baku
based newspaper Â«ZerkaloÂ» (December 28, 1998) he said that as if in
the May of 1994 I suggested to establish three months’ deadline for
the ceasefire. “In each three months, Azerbaijan and Armenia would
have to agree on prolongation of ceasefire though the mediation of
Russia. Thus, the suggested us to knee in front of Russia in each
three months,” he complained.
A rather strange logic, isn’t it? Could Moscow that applied so many
efforts for the stopping the bloodshed in Karabakh be interested in
making such complicated partners break and prolong the ceasefire
each three months? I even don’t want to speak of its breakdown.
Fortunately, I have the hand written draft of the agreement,
the primary sketch I made in the office of Aliyev on May 8, 1994.
Certainly, it doesn’t have any direct or indirect indications of
deadlines, as I said the agreement we prepared was a termless one! (I
think I will have to install that in my site among the appendix).
But Gulizade didn’t stop on that fable. He continued fancying:
“The formula on ceasefire “until the agreement on peace is signed”
was achieved though an alternative route, passing by Moscow and
Paris, though telephone talks, thanks to the constructiveness
and collaboration of Gerard Liparitian, former adviser of the RA
ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian, to whom I directly negotiated. This
wording, as well as other factors, without any doubts, contributed
to the fact that the ceasefire became stable. The peaceful process
began and the people stopped dying”.
I don’t object the statement about Liparitian and about the importance
of the abovementioned formula, but Gulizade wasn’t accurate about the
time. The direct negotiations of the two presidents’ advisers began in
Amsterdam, on December 19, 1995, after one and a half year. So, even in
this case the participation of Moscow not was out of place, too. Though
Gulizade denies that. He totally forgot what was suggested to do once
three months. In July, 1994, in connection with the elaboration of the
text on periodical confirmation of the ceasefire, in the beginning
we really had the idea to make them once three months, but later,
in the course of the arrangements, the necessity of concrete periods
wasn’t required any more. But that wasn’t a ceasefire deadline at
all! In one word, everything was wrong… Gulizade tries to blame us
for that in vain! I don’t want to touch upon the political essence
of his statements. Does he realize that he lacks the most important
thing — trustworthiness of statements?
So, mainly this was the situation with the ceasefire and cessation
of the military actions in Karabakh in the May of 1994. Though, often
the press, the political experts and even some of the observers, being
unaware of the documents, get confused and confuse their readers. More
frequently they say that the ceasefire was achieved thanks to “The
Bishkek protocol”, knowing not that it only contained the call of
the heads of the parliaments to stop the fire at the night of May 9,
and not a ceasefire agreement. There is another frequent mistake,
when they say that the ceasefire in Karabakh was set up since May
18 (during the abovementioned meeting of the defense ministers in
Moscow). In some respect, its our fault, too, as we didn’t publish
the text of the ceasefire agreement (though, they say that it is
posted in the site of “NKR Foreign Ministry”).
It’s worth adding that the ceasefire embarrassed our western partners
in the OSCE Minsk group rather than pleased, as that was achieved
with the assistance of Russia. This made a fuss in the West and
unusual activization of the Swede, the chairmen of the OSCE Minsk
group. We have already talked of some of the “measures”. When the
Minsk group failed to grasp the ceasefire, they decided to admit
Russia’s contribution but belittle its importance. It was displayed
in various ways.
For instance, even now, after so many years, the OSCE reference
books state that the ceasefire agreement in Karabakh had unofficial
character. We have stated above that it doesn’t have legal accuracy and
other details. But it is signed by the chief military commanders of all
the three sides in conflict, authorized by the leaders of Azerbaijan,
Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Moreover, it has been approved and
confirmed by the first ranked officials of the sides in conflict
for many times and in public. It didn’t require the approval of the
parliaments, but it was definitely approved by the peoples. The years
that passed since then proved its viability. What are the grounds
to consider it unofficial? Who and by what criteria is authorized to
define how official this document is? It is hardly correct to judge it
from the viewpoint of the OSCE, that wasn’t involved in its signing. If
this statement bears the real contribution of the OSCE Nagorno Karabakh
settlement in the issue of the ceasefire, it is hardly of any use.
Levon Ter-Petrosian, RA ex-president, also mixed the facts concerning
the character of the agreement. Making a speech at the UN General
Assembly on September 29, 1994, he stated that “thanks to the direct
contacts between the sides, the ceasefire agreement signed on May 12,
was imparted de-facto an official character on July 27 and August 28,
1994.” The Armenian president’s statement was obviously aimed to show
the fruitfulness of direct contacts between the sides. But one can’t
absolutely confirm his idea saying that as if the statements made
in late July and August of that year were of more official character
than the agreement itself. They had the same level of signatures and
were approved by the supreme authorities. How could the ceasefire
become official (de-facto!) after the July and August confirmations,
only God knows?! I should admit that Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh
didn’t act so strangely.
It’s important to note that then the Americans were working on
the so-called “formalization” of the ceasefire (in other words,
as if imparting it a more official character). On September 27,
Vice-President Albert Gore and State Secretary Christopher told our
delegation about that as if that was almost of primary importance in
Karabakh issue. If we translate it from the pseudo-legal tongue to
the language of politics, in one hand that would depreciate Russia’s
achievements while, on the other hand, that would mean a new form
of grasping the ceasefire into the hands of the OSCE. That is why,
in response, Kozirev emphasized that political agreement between the
sides in conflict should be achieved, as the ceasefire will not be
stable unless it is done, notwithstanding our efforts to formalize it.
One should get surprised at the fact that later some of the
experts began calling this agreement “an unofficial” one, that the
international officials from the OSCE Department keep saying that for
many years already. But this issue has no mere historical and abstract
legal character. The fact that they try to belittle Russia’s role
is not the most important one. The more important point is that this
agreement remains the only real achievement in the Nagorno Karabakh
settlement. Both nations and the whole region feel that. They break the
little but essential things that were achieved. Moreover, the play with
fire, conniving the political adventurers that again strive for the
armed settlement of this conflict. Judging from the situation in the
region, it is directly connected with both the past affairs and that of
today. And one can’t exclude that it will have impact on tomorrow, too.
What part did Russian intermediary play in reaching ceasefire?
There are different opinions about it. Some were feverously
underscoring Russia’s role in stopping the fire and bloodshed in
Karabakh as though it only depended on the mediator and his persistency
and pressure on sides. Others play this role down as though the sides
stopped the fire themselves. The reality seems to be supporting the
last idea as the state of ceasefire is continuing for a rather long
period without having separation of the forces and heavy artillery
from the contact line, without neutral observers or separating forces.
The “foreign minister of Nagorno Karabakh republic”, Arkady Ghukasian,
for instance, stated at the hearings of the Committee on CIS Affairs
at the State Duma on April 11 1995 that the ceasefire was reached not
due to Russia’s mediation but to the side’s exhaustion and appeared
balance of forces. These two factors undoubtedly played a role in the
ceasefire. But the people of the region were tired of the bloodshed
not by 12 May of 1994 but much earlier and the balance of forces
maintained during the first half of 1993, after the Kelbajar region
was taken over. The issue is more complicated and there are more
additives than what Ghukasian mentioned.
There is much to be considered for elucidating this phenomenon.
Firstly, consistent stress on the only priority, imperative of
stopping the fire initiated by Russia and Council of CIS Leaders.
Only Russia and the Council of CIS Leaders at Russia’s initiative
clearly posed this issue as a priority.
Secondly, this was not simply a fundamental stance of Russia
but a persistent practice of its leadership, foreign and defense
ministries. Suffice it to mention series of short-term ceasefires
reached due to Russia’s mediation in 1991, 1992 and especially in
1993. Though they didn’t last long, they served as an important
political-psychological ground for the open-ended ceasefire of 12
May 1994 that has been maintained for more than 10 years now.
Thirdly, Russia was striving for that in the OSCE Minsk group as well
but its voice for the ceasefire or stopping of military operations
at least was suppressed for a long time by representatives of other
States that coursed the Minsk group then and highlighted the ongoing
talk process rather than ceasefire.
Fourthly, remember that no other mediator managed to reach real
ceasefire in Karabakh: neither the Minsk group, nor Tehran, nor
My US counterpart, Ambassador John Maresca, (as other colleagues
told me) mocked me, almost pitied me saying that I went mad about
the ceasefire, it’s not the right way of settlement, he thought.
But the Swedes – chairs of the Minsk group in the beginning of 1994 –
strived for reaching a ceasefire even together with Russia but rather
passing over it, without it, on behalf of the OSCE Minsk group.
If Arkady Ghukasian still sticks to his former view then let him
explain why the leaders of Nagorno Karabakh reproached Russia for
a rather long period of time for preventing to take Ter-Ter over
in May of 1994. It would mean opening way to Barda and Yevlakh and
would threaten with cutting all the northeast of Azerbaijan off in the
Mingechaura region (the way the southeast was cut off in ÃŽÃ±tober of
1993). Thus, despite exhaustion and balance of forces, the Karabakh
leaders still yearned for getting maximum from the attack on Ter-Ter
but had to stop fire under pressure of circumstances.
This is the role Russia played in reaching the ceasefire. It should
not be overstated but neither anyone can depreciate it.