Ethnic Armenians in Georgia against Azeri oil pipeline

Yerkir web site, Yerevan, in English
9 Mar 04

Ethnic Armenians in Georgia against Azeri oil pipeline


During his recent visit to Baku, Georgian President Mikheil
Saakashvili, speaking about the security of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
oil pipeline, said that the Armenians living in the regions that will
be bisected by the pipeline have no problems with the construction of
the pipeline.

The Armenian population of Tsalka, Borjomi and Akhaltsikha, however,
have been continuously voicing their complaints about it.

The residents of the Armenian-populated village of Tapatskur in the
Borjomi region have not yet received compensation for the property
taken from them for the pipeline.

“Lost territories of the winner country”

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 8 2004


One who is unaware of their losses is on the verge of new losses.
This was the concern of the exhibition opened on February 25 at the
museum-institute of Alexander Tamanian devoted to North Artsakh, part
of our historical territory cleansed of Armenians by our enemy of
centuries in 1988-1992. Through about 100 colored large-format
photographs and a number of maps (demographic, historical monuments,
names of places) the small and large settlements, various historical
and cultural monuments of the region estranged from us not because of
the power of the enemy but our indifference and drowsiness was
presented to public. The aim of the exhibition is to increase the
knowledge of our country, the lack of which was felt as in the Soviet
times so as at present, however strange and inadmissible it may seem.
The exhibition will last till March 18 and on March 10-12 it will be
exposed at the Ministry of Defence.


Dental center at ARSU

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 8 2004


Very soon the State University of Artsakh will have its own dental
center provided with modern equipment. This means that the students
of the department of dentistry will not have to go to the policlinics
of the town for practical work. The equipment was acquired owing to
the rector of the ArSU Hamlet Grigorian and the “Union of Armenian
Doctors” of Teheran where the rector has been recently on a business
visit. Hamlet Grigorian told our journalist that one of the main aims
of his visit to Teheran was the acquisition of equipment for the
dental center. “As the university already has a department of
dentistry and already has graduate students, we must provide all the
possibilities and conditions for preparing qualified specialists. In
any sphere education should not be formal,” said the rector.
According to the arrangement with the rector of the ArSU in the
upcoming months the representatives of the “Union of Armenian
Doctors” will visit Artsakh State University. They promised to
provide part of equipment and medicament to the university as
humanitarian aid.


Int’l tournament in Stepanakert

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 8 2004


On March 8-18 in the capital of NKR an international chess tournament
will be held devoted to the 75th anniversary of the 9th chess
champion of the world Tigran Petrossian. Ten chess-players from
Poland, Switzerland, Latvia, Georgia, Iran and Armenia will
participate in the tournament. The guest of honour of the tournament
will be the 10th world champion Boris Spassky who arrived in Yerevan
on March 5.


Statistics of AA website

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 8 2004


Immediately after its registration in August of 2001 the web site of
the newspaper “Azat Artsakh” had 312 visitors. In February 2004 the
number of visitors reached 5131. In 2003 the number of visitors
reduced 4 times-1176. According to experts, of Karabakh web sites
“Azat Artsakh” has the most visitors. In 2004 people from 58
countries of the world visited “Azat Artsakh”, 17 percent of the
visitors are not signed up. Visitors from Russia form 34.5 percent,
USA 14 percent, Azerbaijan 7 percent, Armenia 3 percent, Germany 2.5
percent, France 2 percent, Belgium 1 percent. The geography of
visitors is rather vast. Besides the countries of the region and the
co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, Turkey, Israel, Algeria, Hong
Kong, Cyprus, Kuwait, Guinea, Egypt, Vietnam, Cote d’Ivoire,
Philippines are also interested in the developments in NKR. During 2
years of existence the web site became an initial source of
information about Karabakh for many visitors. The materials of the
web site are reprinted in other electronic mass media, there are
references to the web site in various news portals. During the last
two months the web site was regularly visited from Turkey, Israel and
Great Britain. In the second half of January the number of visitors
grew steeply. According to experts, this is the result of the
increasing interest of European organizations in the Karabakh
conflict and the growing role of Nagorni Karabakh in the negotiation


Revolution may be prevented if imposed from above

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 8 2004


-After his meeting with the president of Georgia George Bush said
they had discussed the possibility of spreading the sprouts of the
“rose revolution” in other countries. Mr. Petrossian, in your
opinion, may the direct neighbours of Georgia Armenia and Azerbaijan
be included in the list of “other countries”?
– Certainly, these countries first of all. The president of the USA
would not discuss the problem of democratization of the countries of
Arabic world, Africa or Latin America with Georgian president. They
could have referred to only those countries which have common
political system and problems with Georgia. Still in December “The
Washington Post” wrote when the heads of the states formed in the
territory of the Soviet Union gathered in Baku at the funeral of
president Heidar Aliev behind the scenes rumours were circulated
about change of power not in Azerbaijan but neighbouring Georgia. The
revolution deposed the president of Georgia E. Shewardnadzeh and his
colleagues in the CIS were worried by the possibility of such
situations in their own countries. President of Russia Putin caught
these moods and, as two direct sources state, during his talk to the
acting president of Georgia Nino Burdzhanadzeh mentioned with
rudeness typical of him, “All the CIS heads were scared the pants
– Do you think that “a rose revolution” is expected in Armenia.
– But why not? I consider it not only possible but also inevitable;
it is possible to avoid a revolution from “beneath” if only it is
organized from “above”. Let us consider: during the last 10-12 years
our almost unchanged government did not stir a finger to punish at
least some bribe-taker and robber officials. But discontentment is
genetically inherent to man, especially its “plural number” people.
And this in normal conditions for existence. But when you are in need
of everything, when cynical injustice is around, blast of the bomb of
protest, serious shocks within the society are inevitable. By the
way, a “bloodless” revolution was possible in Armenia last March,
earlier than in Georgia if the protests of the people in 1996 did not
fail. The failure of this attempt and the hopelessness that followed
were still fresh in the memory of the people and oppressed their hope
and spirit. In spite of all this the government were hopeful and
continue to be that the people will wait until the “reforms” will
slowly but give “fruits”. They hope that the inert majority of their
citizens understands them, understands that the difficulties are
overcome by objective reasons which are not dependent on the
activities of the government. Almost in everything the “transition
period” is to blame and as evidence they point at our neighbours. But
“the political wonder of Georgia” dealt a strong blow to this absurd
principle, and became a reality by the slogan “Down with corruption,
the source of poverty”. And if the words of Sahakashvili and his
supporters do not essentially differ from their actions and the
organizational streak does not betray them (and I believe in this)
the true results of their work will not wait long. In this case the
neighbouring nations, at least the Armenians will gain hope and
belief that by active opposition it is not only possible to depose an
ineffective government but also radically change their life and the
life of their country. That is to say, in a year, or a year and a
half the rule of law will be maintained in Georgia and the population
will feel the results of the activities of the new government, which
will certainly provide favourable basis for the “Georgian practice”
in Armenia.
– However, many analysts forecast the possible failure of
Sahakashvili because of hastiness of his plans and ambitious actions.

– Of course, there are and there will be faults. New actions,
especially the reconstitution of the system cannot pass without
mistakes. As great organizer Vladimir Lenin confessed, “there has not
been such a cause to which we did not come back”. You say what the
majority of the Russian and CIS mass media write or broadcast, which
are under the influence of either authorities, or big capital. And
radical changes are not favourable for either the first, or the
second, more exactly such actions are directed against them. And I
can state for sure that the activities of the new government of
Georgia have already produced results. The first result is the
improvement of relationships with Russia. “I did not expect such
wonders from that visit,” confessed Sahakashvili after returning from
Moscow to Tbilisi, and added, “Our talk with Putin lasted for four
hours and we arranged to work on painful issues unless they are
eliminated. Our line is to shift the relationships with Moscow to a
strategic level and we will not deviate from that line. Demanding
from Russia to withdraw their military installations from the
territory of our country we do not refuse to cooperate in either the
military or political and economic spheres,” clarified the president
of Georgia. The same was confirmed by the Russian party. I. Ivanov
said, “Moscow is pleased with the results of the negotiations with
the president of Georgia.” The second result is the assistance of the
USA to Sahakashvili which he was granted during his visit to
Washington. Answering the questions of journalists, Colin Powell
expressed support for the actions of the president of Georgia against
corruption. The state secretary of the USA mentioned that he was
impressed by the determination of the president of Georgia in his
struggle against corruption as it is impossible to build democracy
with a corrupted state system. He said he is sure that president
Sahakashvili will manage to maintain rule of law and uproot
corruption. What is more, he mentioned that the Georgian leadership
may rely on the support of America. In his turn at the meeting with
the president Sahakshvili on Wednesday George Bush highly appreciated
the contribution of the president Sahakashvili in maintenance of
democracy and struggle against corruption which also aim at
stabilizing the economy of Georgia. According to the agency
“Associated Press” George Bush expressed his support to the “rose
revolution” characterizing it as an example to the people of the
world who seek for democracy, who want to have honest government.
Bush stated he was impressed by the sensibility and courage of this
leader and was encouraged by the fact of having such a reliable
partner with whom they have common values. He said he had first-hand
information that president Sahakashvili does everything possible to
win the trust of the people by following their will, fighting
corruption and creating an effective state system. At the end of the
meeting he told Sahakashvili that in he current year Georgia will be
the CIS country which will receive the biggest aid of the USA,
reaching 200 million dollars. Aren’t these true results?
– But what about the suppositions about confrontation of Russia and
the USA in Georgia?
– No, the United States and Russia must and will cooperate in Georgia
and not compete for Georgia. This was stated by the US state
secretary C. Powell after the meeting with the president of Georgia
on February 26.


All ways of conflict settlement lead to Stepanakert

Azat Artsakh, Republic of Nagorno Karabakh
March 8 2004


– Mr. Baburian, recently the discussion of the Karabakh conflict by
the European organizations on the plane of a territorial dispute
between Armenia and Azerbaijan has become evident. Whereas not very
long ago the same organizations considered the proclamation of
independence of Nagorni Karabakh the result of the collapse of the
Soviet Union. Which is the cause, in your opinion, for change of
approach. – In fact there were changes in approaches. I mean the
changes extended recently by the representatives of the Council of
Europe and the PACE. This is apparently connected with the fact that
the Karabakh conflict should be dealt with seriously. The OSCE Minsk
Group, which has been dealing with the problem for a long time,
already has its clear-cut approaches. It is doubtless for the Minsk
Group co-chairmen and it is accepted unambiguously that Nagorni
Karabakh is a conflict party. We should say that the same
Europarliament in March 1999 adopted a resolution where it is
directly stated that in September 1991 after the collapse of the USSR
the Autonomous Region of Nagorni Karabakh declared its independence
after the similar declarations of the former soviet socialist
republics. In my opinion the reason for the mentioned changes are
determined by the fact that formerly the Europarliament, the former
parliamentarians were attentive to the Karabakh conflict. Still in
June 1994 the NKR parliamentary delegation left for Strasbourg by the
invitation of the secretary chief of the Council of Europe to take
part in the discussion of the Karabakh conflict organized by the
commission on relations with non-member countries. In December 1998
at the discussion of the Karabakh conflict by the PACE political
committee in Paris the president of the republic Arkady Ghukassian
stated our approach in his speech, despite the fact that the
Azerbaijani party tried to prevent the participation of the NKR
delegation through putting pressure on the PACE in the form of an
ultimatum. However, the PACE showed fidelity to its principles and
did not refuse the former arrangement. That is to say, if formerly
the PACE made certain decisions, by all means met with the conflict
party, including Nagorni Karabakh. And this was, in my opinion, a
normal practice. Unfortunately, recently they have been deviating
from this principle. The representatives of the European
organizations often make hasty conclusions not having visited
Stepanakert and met with the main party of the conflict. For example,
the PACE reporteur on Nagorni Karabakh Terry Davis, who recently has
visited NKR, confessed that the meetings with the government of the
republic, the ordinary citizens were very important for him and
provided him with necessary and useful information for the report.
The second reason, in my opinion, is that the question of providing
materials is not accorded with the Armenian society. After the
meetings with Terry Davis I had the impression that this honourable
parliamentarian does not have a clear idea of what we the people of
Karabakh want. Mr. Davis put it directly that if the Azerbaijanis
state unambiguously that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan, the Armenian
society has two opinions: either Karabakh is part of Armenia or it is
a separate republic fighting for its independence. To some extent I
understand the concern of the PACE reporteur. It is time that the
Armenians clarify their approach to the problem and bring forth a
united opinion. I think that controversies in this important issue of
national significance are impermissible. Our enemy skillfully makes
use of this, and we must confess that they have managed to shift the
problem of self-determination of Nagorni Karabakh to the plane of
encroachment of Armenia on the territory of Azerbaijan. That is why I
think that the determination of the people of Nagorni Karabakh
expressed by the referendum of December 1991 for independence should
be honoured, including in Armenia, as the only real way in modern
conditions. Besides, all the parts of the Armenian nations, Armenia,
the Diaspora and Nagorni Karabakh must make their rights and duties
in reference to the conflict settlement distinct. Because of not
being recognized de jure NKR is not represented in international
organizations and therefore the opportunities for expressing its
opinion are limited. In its turn the Diaspora must unite its efforts
to defend the interests of NKR. And for the fate of the settlement
the main responsibility must belong to Nagorni Karabakh as the main
conflict party, and the NKR government has a number of times
announced about their willingness to start negotiations with
Azerbaijan for the final solution of the conflict without any
preconditions. – What is the opinion of the NKR government in
reference to the suggestions which provide liberation of the
territories occupied by the Karabakh party in the initial stage? As
it is known, these found their reflection in the report of the
Europarliament reporteur on the South Caucasus Pierre Garton. The
latter set forth the idea of opening the Baku-Nakhijevan-Yerevan
railway for liberation of five regions. – This suggestion may be the
evidence of what was mentioned above, the not so sensible steps of
the representatives of the international organizations which set
forth this or that idea without the knowledge of the essence of the
subject. The concerning fact is that Pierre Garton could express such
an idea without being to Nagorni Karabakh. It is absurd to offer to
return five regions to Azerbaijan and instead open the railway to
Nakhijevan again for Azerbaijan. The question occurs what is in
favour of Nagorni Karabakh? Nothing. Moreover, as a result Nagorni
Karabakh is deprived of the security zone and the possibility of
undergoing bombing by Azerbaijan increases as it happened during the
years of war. The problem of territories is directly connected with
the problem of security of the population. This, as well as the
problem of refugees are essential to the settlement of the conflict
and should not be considered separately from the package solution.
The Karabakh party in the face of the president of the republic has
for a number of times announced about this, and this approach is
well-grounded, because the security of Nagorni Karabakh and the
people living there is concerned. Fortunately, the European
parliament seems to have realized that this suggestion is unreal and
absurd and this formulation has been withdrawn from the report of
Pierre Garton. We may state that sound reason has overwhelmed.
However, it should be noted that even if the idea of the
Europarliamentarian was born with the consideration of achieving
peace in the region, its results were negative. It radicalized public
opinion in Nagorni Karabakh. Several members of our parliament, in
answer to the suggestion of Garton, even proposed passing a
corresponding law and maintaining in it that the mentioned
territories are under the control of NKR and are an important and
indivisible element of the security of our country. Another group of
members of parliament even offered to maintain this principle in the
future constitution of NKR. – Such pro-Azerbaijani suggestions also
radicalize the approach of official Baku, too which, actually,
excludes any compromises and offers and demands starting the
negotiation process from the very beginning. – Yes, the president of
Azerbaijan certainly refused the former arrangements achieved by
Aliev Senior and announced the intention of Azerbaijan to start
negotiations from zero. It should be emphasized that there is no such
understanding as zero in politics. Zero is a popular expression in
casinos whereas here we are concerned with absolutely important
things, the fate of nations (Armenian or Azerbaijani). Suggesting
starting from zero Ilham Aliev actually buried all the positive that
was achieved under his father. Anyway, we would like to know what
Ilham Aliev means when saying zero. Which is the starting point, 1988
when the present stage of the Karabakh national liberation movement
started, 1992 when the OSCE Minsk Group was formed within the
framework of which the conflict settlement is carried out? Or maybe
it is more logical to return to the year 1918 when for the first time
Azerbaijan appeared on the political map, and to which Nagorni
Karabakh did not belong at all. Besides, when announcing about
starting from zero consistency should be kept and not repeat about
the return of territories and refugees all the time. In brief, it is
obvious that the approach of the new Azerbaijani government is absurd
and inconsistent and has no prospects. In my opinion, the reason for
this is that Ilham Aliev does not possess the charisma of his father
and apparently does not have enough power to make inevitable
compromises in the process of conflict settlement. Therefore in the
beginning he set forth an inadmissible and unreal scheme of
negotiations to take his time. – However, the propaganda machine of
Azerbaijan seems not to need to stop awhile. – In fact, the
anti-Armenian propaganda in this country does not stop. Today we may
even speak about hysteria of propaganda which does not favour in any
way the maintenance of an atmosphere of trust between the parties,
which is so very important to the settlement of the conflict. The
murder of the Armenian officer in Budapest by his Azerbaijani
colleague is but the logical result of the anti-Armenian hysteria of
the Azerbaijani authorities. This cruel crime proved once again that
the Azerbaijanis and the Armenians have nothing in common. I do not
state that thinking in Azerbaijan is on the level of the stone age
but that an axe still serves as a means of international
communication and that the security of the officer of the RA armed
forces is not guaranteed even within the framework of such a powerful
organization as NATO reveals the impossibility of protection of
rights of the Armenians of Artsakh within the framework of a common
statehood with Azerbaijan. It is terrible that in this country they
not only attempt at justifying him but even try to render him a
national hero. Whereas as distinct from the Azerbaijani army our
armed forces are aware of what is honour and dignity and therefore
are used to solving problems in open field and not stealthily. In
this reference I would like to mention that the wish of Nagorni
Karabakh to integrate with European organizations is based on the
traditions of many centuries. The evidence to this are the numerous
monuments of the Christian culture, the spirituality of our nation
which thinks and creates in a way close to the European ways and
which has had a great contribution to the European culture. The
people of Karabakh are brought up by the European spirit, the spirit
of world classical creations. It is not a secret that by the level of
democratic development Nagorni Karabakh is ahead of Azerbaijan and
this is not only my opinion. This fact was maintained by a number of
famous international organizations, including the international
federation on human rights, the USA State Department, other
organizations in the USA. The American organization “Freedom House”
characterized Azerbaijan as a non-free state where the basic human
rights are absent and the civil freedoms are regularly violated.
These facts give rise to the logical question: how is it possible to
demand returning Nagorni Karabakh to Azerbaijan, a country where the
form of power is hereditary monarchy, where even the rights and
freedoms of the Azerbaijanis are not protected, where anti-Armenian
ideology is raised up to the level of a state policy and the criminal
murdering of the Armenian officer within the framework of the NATO
program “Partnership for Peace” is declared a national hero?


Kocharyan Doesn’t Grant Citizenship To A War Hero

A1 Plus | 16:51:16 | 09-03-2004 | Social |


Robert Kocharyan has recently ignored the application by Jirayr Sefilyan on
citizenship. Sefilyan was the Commander of Shushi special battalion during
Artsakh War. {BR}

Later he was the Commander of NKR Defense Army brigade. He is a knight of
“Battle Cross” Order. During the recent years Sefilyan coordinates
“Protection of Liberated Territories” social initiative.

Intelligentsia Forum focused its attention on the fact president’s staff
didn’t grant citizenship to Jirayr Sefilyan. Intelligentsia Forum
established on the initiative of Silva Kaputikyan, Rafael Ghazaryan, Khoren
Palyan, Lenser Aghalovyan, Sargis Muradyan and other intellectuals approved
a statement condemning refusal by Kocharyan at its March 6 conference.

A Staff For Coordinating Actions For Power Change Set Up

A1 Plus | 16:20:20 | 09-03-2004 | Politics |


“Justice” Bloc sitting took place. The expectations that the sitting would
be decisive failed. Only a coordinating council was established, which will
work under staff system – a plan will be elaborated and “Justice” actions
will be controlled.

Viktor Dallakyan was elected the head of the Coordinating Council or Staff.
“Justice” news service head Ruzan Khachatryan informed that “during the
Saturday discussion Vazgen Manukyan suggested to elect a temporary president
for 2 years who will guarantee conduct of just elections”.

All the parties in the bloc refused the above version.

As to “Republic” Party, which was to introduce own strategy for actions on
power change, the issue was discussed at none of sittings.

Letter of the ROA Permanent UN Rep to the UN Sec Gen. & Sec. Council

United Nations S/2004/168
Security Council
Dist.: General
1 March 2004
Original: English

Letter dated 1 March 2004 from the Permanent Representative of Armenia to
the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General

I have the honour to transmit herewith my letter regarding the concerns of
the Republic of Armenia arising from the recent intensification of the
political situation after the brutal murder of the Armenian military officer
by his Azerbaijani colleague in Budapest, Hungary (see annex).

I should be grateful if you would have the text of the present letter and
its annex circulated as a document of the Security Council.

(Signed) Armen Martirosyan
Permanent Representative

Annex to the letter dated 1 March 2004 from the Permanent Representative of
Armenia to the United Nations addressed to
the Secretary-General

Letter on the concerns of the Republic of Armenia arising from the recent
intensification of the political situation after the brutal murder of the
Armenian military officer by his Azerbaijani colleague in Budapest

On 20 January 2004, during the discussion of the item entitled “Children
and armed conflict” in the Security Council, the Azerbaijani representative
launched another round of unsubstantiated allegations towards Armenia and we
took them as such. However, the recent brutal murder in Budapest of an
Armenian officer in his sleep through axing by a young Azerbaijani officer
at a NATO “Partnership for Peace” training programme could not but raise
concerns over the increase of aggressiveness in Azerbaijani society as a
result of such groundless accusations by the authorities, encouragements,
distortions, exaggerations, in short, effective hate propaganda. It comes as
no surprise that the cultivation and encouragement of war rhetoric by the
authorities, which adversely affects the prospects of the peace process,
would outpour into such gruesome acts. The response and the further comments
made by the Azerbaijani officials on different levels trying to justify this
horrendous act, and the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Azerbaijan on 20 February 2004, are simply testimonies to it.

The significant flare-up of falsified propaganda from the Azerbaijani
officials aimed at presenting a distorted picture of the roots and causes of
the Nagorno Karabagh conflict and the resulting situation on the ground,
which has greatly deteriorated during the last several months, and the
unconcealed efforts to obliterate the 12-year efforts of the international
community aimed at achieving final resolution to the conflict serve no other
purpose than discrediting the international mediation and the peace process.
Moreover, it threatens the ceasefire regime, the tenth anniversary of which
would be marked in May of this year, and increases the instability and
insecurity in the region as a whole. The speech of Ilham Aliyev, now
President of Azerbaijan, in the general debate at the fifty-eighth session
of the United Nations General Assembly, the recent announcements by the
Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan and the numerous speeches of Azerbaijani
representatives in different international forums, including the United
Nations, are a demonstration of the concerted effort by the Azerbaijani
leadership to fuel aggressiveness and war-mongering in the society to score
internal points. However, a natural result of this kind of intoxication is
the vicious act in Budapest, as the younger generation is the most
susceptible to propaganda.

It is regrettable that the political short-sightedness of the Azerbaijani
leadership does not allow it to learn lessons from tragic events of a
not-too-distant past, when the deliberate manipulation of the Azerbaijani
public led to massacres of Armenians in Sumgait, Kirovabad (Ganja) and Baku.
Sixteen years ago to this date, on 27 February 1988, Azeris went on a
three-day rampage in Sumgait, a new industrial town 20 miles from Baku,
murdering members of the town’s large Armenian minority, looting and
destroying their property. Most of the victims were burnt alive after being
assaulted and tortured. The murderers enjoyed total support of the
Azerbaijani authorities and full freedom in committing their inhuman acts
against the Armenian population. The peak of the atrocities committed by
Azeri perpetrators occurred from 27 to 29 February 1988. The events were
preceded by a wave of anti-Armenian statements and rallies that swept over
Azerbaijan in February 1988.

I consider it unnecessary to give a detailed historical overview of the
pogroms in Sumgait here as the international community and the United
Nations, in particular, have been duly informed in the past of the events
through documents circulated on the occasion of the anniversaries of the
Sumgait tragedy, the latest one being A/57/742-S/2003/233. The international
community’s response to the events was explicit. On 7 July 1988, the
European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the massacres in
Sumgait, which read:
“The European Parliament,
“B. having regard to the historic status of the autonomous region
of Nagorno-Karabakh (80% of whose present population is Armenian) as part of
Armenia, to the arbitrary inclusion of this area within Azerbaijan in 1923
and to the massacre of Armenians in the Azerbaijani town of Sumgait in
February 1988,
“C. whereas the deteriorating political situation, which has led to
anti-Armenian pogroms in Sumgait and serious acts of violence in Baku, is in
itself a threat to the safety of the Armenians living in Azerbaijan,
“1. Condemns the violence employed against Armenian
demonstrators in Azerbaijan;
“2. Supports the demand of the Armenian minority for
reunification with the Socialist Republic of Armenia;
“4. Calls also upon the Soviet authorities to ensure the
safety of the 500,000 Armenians currently living in Soviet Azerbaijan and to
ensure that those found guilty of having incited or taken part in the pogroms
against the Armenians are punished according to Soviet law.”

The Sumgait events were organized with a view to hushing up and concealing
the Nagorno Karabagh problem. While the population of Nagorno Karabagh,
trusting in glasnost and perestroika, and after 70 years of unlawful
subjugation to Azerbaijani rule, raised its voice in peaceful demonstrations
for the legally and universally recognized right to self-determination, thus
choosing the democratic, constitutional and peaceful path to the exercise of
its right, the response of the Azerbaijani authorities was pogroms and
killings of Armenians. The premeditated killings in Sumgait were to
transform the problem of Nagorno Karabagh from a peaceful and democratic
process into a violent confrontation, which turned into one of the world’s
bloodiest ethnic conflicts after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The
atmosphere of total impunity, the repeated incitements to the perpetration
of further Sumgait-like massacres and the encouragement to those who showed
the greatest zeal by the Azerbaijani leadership greatly contributed to this.

The assault of a sovereign Government against its citizens continued. In
May 1988 in Shushi, the local authorities initiated the deportation of
Armenians living in that hilltop city from which Karabagh’s largest city,
Stepanakert, was to be so easily shelled for the next several years. By
September 1988, the last Armenians were ousted from Shushi. In November and
December 1988, a wave of Armenian pogroms swept Azerbaijan. The worst took
place in Baku, Kirovabad (Ganja), Shemakh, Shamkhor, Mingechaur and
Nakhichevan. In the winter of 1988, all Armenians were deported from dozens
of Armenian villages in Azerbaijan. The same fate befell more than 40
Armenian settlements in the northern part of Karabagh – outside the borders
of the autonomous region, which was demanding self-determination – including
the mountainous regions of Khanlar, Dashkesan, Shamkhor and Kedabek
provinces. The 40,000 Armenians of Azerbaijan’s third largest city, Ganja,
were also forcibly removed from their homes. When it was over, there were
fewer than 50,000 Armenians left in Baku, out of a total of 215,000.

Throughout 1989, sporadic attacks, beatings, looting and massacres in Baku
reduced that number to 30,000. By early January 1990, Armenian pogroms in
Baku intensified and became more organized. Several hundred Armenians were
killed, some of whom were burned alive, ripped apart or their bodies
dissected. Pogroms continued until 20 January when Soviet army troops were
brought to Baku. By then, the city was fully “liberated” from “Armenian
elements” except for a couple of hundred Armenians in mixed marriages.
During the military conflict over Nagorno Karabagh, the latter were
literally “fished out” for exchange with Azeri prisoners of war.

The revisiting of history by Azerbaijanis is no surprise to us. However, it
is appalling that in the same statement that my Azerbaijani colleague made
in the Security Council, he referred to these very events as “Soviet
invasion [when] on 20 January 1990, Soviet troops, 35,000 strong, stormed
the capital of Azerbaijan in a desperate, extremely brutal and yet futile
attempt to strangle the ever-growing independence movement and to stop the
demise of the communist regime in Azerbaijan”.

The Azeri leadership encouraged the ethnic cleansing and massacres of the
Armenians of Azerbaijan or the Armenians of Karabagh, directly and
indirectly, through creation of a conducive environment for violence and
impunity for such crimes. Unfortunately the same policy continues today
when, after the vicious act in Budapest, which was unequivocally condemned
by the international community, so-called “committees for the support” of
the Azerbaijani military officer are being created in Azerbaijan and the
perpetrator of a cowardly act is, right before our eyes, being transformed
into a hero.

Azerbaijan presents itself as the victim, giving a distorted picture of the
facts on the ground today. There are refugees and territorial losses on both
sides. The Armenian side has a refugee problem of 400,000 – almost equal to
Azerbaijan’s refugees. Indeed, today’s facts on the ground are the
consequences of a cycle of violence and intolerance that began with
Azerbaijan’s suppression of the calls to peaceful self-determination.

It is dangerous that the lessons of tragic history are being forgotten.
Moreover, Azerbaijan is ready to throw the 12-year efforts of international
mediation away and start from a “blank page”, as stated by its Foreign
Minister, threatening the peace process and the relative stability
established 10 years ago with a ceasefire. It seems we have come full circle
here – from Sumgait to Budapest.

Meanwhile, at every step Armenia has stated and demonstrated its
willingness to cooperate, wherever possible, to create and implement
confidence-building measures. Without building such confidence, neither side
can convince its own population to accept peace. At each step and every
opportunity Azerbaijan has refused to demonstrate any flexibility or
willingness to start a process of unfreezing the conflict in the minds of
its own population. It is the reduction of tension, hostility and pumped-up
hatred that will lead to resolution and peace, not the other way round.