THE IRISH TIMES”: NAGORNO-KARABAKH’S PEOPLE ARE CLEAR ON THE FUTURE: ONLY INDEPENDENCE OR UNIFICATION WITH ARMENIA WILL DO
24 years on, the Armenian-Azeri conflict is still unresolved, writes
Daniel McLaughlin, the reporter for the Irish daily newspaper “The
Irish Times,” in an article about Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“It was very hard during the war. The whole city was being bombarded
and people lived in their basements, but we live freely now and will
defend that to the last. Whatever it takes,” says Robert Bagiryan,
who was a tank commander in the 1988-1994 war for the break away
of Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan and declaration of
independence, “The Irish Times” writes.
The author of the publication notes that amid the chaos of the Soviet
Union’s collapse, Nagorno-Karabakh’s majority Armenians demanded an
end to Azeri discrimination and the creation of their own state. About
30,000 people died in a war and more than one million were forced to
leave their houses.
24 years after the conflict began, it is still unresolved, no
peace deal has been signed, the world still does not recognize
Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azeri and Armenian soldiers regularly exchange
deadly fire across a tense ceasefire line, writes D. McLaughlin.
“The Azeris bombarded us relentlessly, it was a time of terrible
stress and the kids were traumatised. We couldn’t live with the
Azeris again. It’s impossible. All trust has been lost,” says 50
y.o. Gayane Danilyan.
Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia say the regional assembly’s 1988 vote
to break away from Azerbaijan was in line with Mikhail Gorbachev’s
liberalised Soviet laws, while Azerbaijan insists it was an illegal
attempt to change borders and destroy its “territorial integrity,”
“The Irish Times” writes. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the
row over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is rooted in the history of both
Christian Armenia and Muslim Azerbaijan, fuelled virulent nationalism,
vicious pogroms and allegations of ethnic cleansing. After initially
gaining the upper hand and besieging Stepanakert, the Azeris then
were forced back until Armenian troops took Nagorno-Karabakh and
seven adjoining regions.
Armenia accuses Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, who became
president in 2003 following his father’s death, of using bellicose
rhetoric to boost support for his autocratic regime, writes the author
in the article, adding that Armenia has withdrawn from Eurovision
Song Contest in Baku, because Ilham Aliyev recently called Armenians
the greatest enemy of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan offers a maximum degree of autonomy to the region and
wants Armenian troops to leave areas adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh as
a first step towards peace. Armenia claims that is impossible until
its safety and status are assured by a final agreement, insisting
on the Karabakhis’ right to self-determination. Nagorno-Karabakh’s
people are clear on the future: only independence or unification with
Armenia will do, the article says.
“Life isn’t easy here, but at least we live in our own state and
feel free,” notes a seller named Armine. In his turn, the former tank
commander Bagiryan says: “We spilt our blood to escape Azeri control.
If they try anything again they’ll get what they deserve. They will