It is necessary to pick lessons from the past – Armenia’s Ombudsman presents a historical overview

Aysor, Armenia
Jan 26 2021

Armenia’s Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan made a historical overview about Armenia’s border issues, stressing the necessity to take into account all the mistakes made in the past.

“In 1923 [after the 1921 initiative of I. Stalin ], the "Red Kurdistan" province was artificially created to divide Armenia and Artsakh. This division was made to cover from Karvachar to the Iranian border and from Mrav to the Arax river. Accordingly, those very territories which were within the borders of Soviet Armenia were annexed to Azerbaijan (this issue needs a separate address).

The archival documents related to the determination of the borders of that period are of fundamental importance for the protection of the rights of the border residents of the Republic of Armenia at present.

For example, in 1923, in order to resolve the border disputes between the Red Kurdistan and the Zangezur Province of the Armenian SSR, the Central Executive Committee (CEC) formed a commission in October of the same year where various commissions functioned.

At that time, the border demarcation work with Azerbaijan was still going on with serious difficulties.
In particular, various gangs attacked from the territory of Kurdistan and looted the Armenian border villages of Syunik. There were constant clashes, thefts of cattle from Armenian villagers, provocative arrests, etc.

The archives of the Central Executive Committee of the Armenian SSR in March 1924 attest to these border violations which were compiled on the basis of the applications of the Executive Committee of Zangezur Province.

At that time, there were serious disputes over the demarcation of arable land, pastures, forests and even mountain peaks. In 1926, a local commission was formed, consisting of Axel Bakunts, who was a land builder by profession and who paid special attention to these issues. It is clear from his reports that the Armenian villagers were the main victims, and that their rights were not taken into account.

Axel Bakunts’ October 18, 1926 report suggests that when determining the boundaries of Zangezur, one should take into account the villages’ connections to one another, their capacities (which were already scarce) and the difficulties the people faced, and their economic ties (for example, the connection with Kapan; at that time about 50% of the villagers worked in Kapan copper mines).

Further, on the issue of the borders between Meghri and Zangelan, the USSR KGB in 1925 noted the importance for the Armenian villagers of winter pastures, who at that time were actually used by the residents of the villages of Meghri and Kapan regions without grasslands. Moreover, it was specially mentioned that without these pastures, the cattle breeding in the surrounding villages would be paralyzed.

The situation of the past is very much the same today.

These historical facts show that, at the present time, the issue of demarcation is of fundamental importance for the rights of the border residents of Tegh, Goris, Kapan, the Syunik Region and other communities, both in terms of their right to life and security, and in terms of socio-economic rights. They can be used not only by the villagers to support their daily lives, but also in terms of economic rights.

The archival documents clearly confirm that the more uncertain the border issues or the solution of today's improper mechanical approaches, the more the rights of the villagers will be violated, and increasingly, disputes and conflicts will arise. It is necessary to take into account that now, in the peaceful communities of Armenia, in the immediate [literally meters] neighborhood of the civilians, there are Azerbaijani soldiers and armed personnel.

It is necessary to take into account all the errors made in the past, to learn the necessary lessons from them, and not to allow any violation of the rights of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia.”

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