Solutions to Nagorno - Karabakh Conflict
Posted 21 April 2003 - 10:37 AM
Nagorno-Artsax conflict has been a major hindrence
An Unfavourable Position for both republics of Azerbaijan and Armenian
By Manaf Sababi
Azerbaijani Swedish Committee, Lund, Sweden
In this paper, after a brief historical review of crucial events creating the present situation, a hypothesis based on absence of hostilities in Transcaucasian republics will be analyzed. The main object of this paper is to indicate that the conflict over Nagorno Karbakh has not been, and will not be, for the benefit of Azerbaijan and Armenia. Neither in long term, nor in short term.
Since Transcaucasian republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia gained their independence in 1991, both countries have been involved in a regular, but undeclared, war over the disputed area of Nagorno Artsax. The result of the conflict has been a huge refugee crisis in Azerbaijan mainly from occupied territory (20% of the republic), and a devastating economic condition in the Armenia. Despite disclosed ethnic cleansing and violations of international law and human rights by Armenian forces, the efforts by international communities to bring an end to the violations are hardly worth to mention. Nevertheless, post-conflict support by world communities to handle the refugee crisis in Azerbaijan increased slowly to decline in the end of the last decade.
Unfortunately, the terrible armed conflict in Nagorno Artsax got the minimum attentions and thereby interference by the world communities, and consequently the Azerbaijani and Armenians with their alliance were left alone to solve such a complicated problem.
In this paper, I will concentrate on the history of events in an impartial manner and then try to bring focus on speculation on relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia in a situation without conflict.
Following independence years after WW1, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia were incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1920-21. Despite an intensive political struggle over territorial claims by Armenian and Azerbaijanis, the status of the regions of Nagorno-Artsax, Zangezur and Nakhichevan was defined and settled in 1923. Zangezur was left within Armenia; Nakhichevan obtained the status of an autonomous republic whereas Nagorno-Artsax was granted the status of an Autonomous Oblast. Consequently the territorial arrangements ordered by Stalin, without taking consideration for the public opinion, left the populations in both sides to feel hurt.
In Yerevan eyes, Bolsheviks was favouring Soviet Azerbaijan partly because of Kemal Atatürk (in newly founded republic of Turkey), whom they saw as a potential ally at the time and partly because of Narimanov’s stubborn protest. In the eyes of Stalin, Azerbaijanis under Narimanov’s leadership seemed to be more oriented towards socialist ideas than Armenians, who had been loyal supporters of the Tsar.
On the other hand, Azerbaijanis argued that Nagorno Artsax had always been a part of Azerbaijani Khanate system and the majority of Armenian population had been settled in Nagorno Artsax after Turkmanchay Peace Treaty between the Russian Empire and Iranian Shah in 1828. An important historical document which provides detailed information about the number and ethnic composition of the Artsax population, is the taxation register of the Artsax province, prepared by the Russian officials Yermolov and Mogilevsky, soon after the elimination of the Artsax khanate in 1823. The register provides the number of population village-by-village and family-by-family and also informs about their ethnic belonging.
Resettlement of 18 thousand Armenian families in Artsax occurred during the second Russo-Iranian war in 1825-1826. However, the massive resettlement process gained additional momentum after Turkmanchay Peace Treaty. According to the Article 15 of the Turkmanchay treaty, the Armenian population of Iran had been given a right to freely resettle to the regions of the Caucasus during a period of one year.
What ever the historical truth might be, since 1923, Armenian forces have constantly attempted to reverse the territorial arrangements between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In the late 1980s, with the Glasnost policy of Mikhail Gorbachev, a petition was prepared by the Armenian academy of sciences asking to transfer Nagorno Artsax and Nakhichevan to the Soviet republic of Armenian. Later, supported by a huge demonstrations in Yerevan the authorities in Khan-Kendy requested Moscow for reunification with Armenia. Simultaneously, the Azerbaijanis in Armenia faced increasing harassment by Armenians.
Following refugee waves from Armenia to Baku, and relocation in Sumgait, with a large Armenian minority, the ground was prepared for conflict. On 27 February 1988, the collision between the two communities was a fact and then the ethnic conflict was followed by its own logic. According to Igor Nolyain, Soviet forces deliberately wanted to bring forth a conflict. However, the Soviet official stated 32 dead (26 Armenians and 6 Azerbaijanis) as a result of three days unrest in Sumgait, meanwhile Armenian sources estimated the figure over 100 dead.
In other words, the gun was fired and the conflict escalated in December of 1989 when Republic of Armenia passed a resolution incorporating Nagorno Artsax into the Republic of Armenia. There were huge refugee flows between the two republics; large numbers of Armenians were forced to leave Baku either to Moscow or Yerevan whereas Azerbaijanis in Armenia were forced to leave Armenia. In January 1990, the collision between Armenians and Azerbaijanis was moved to Baku and consequently the tragedy of black 20-January was a fact. Intervention by Soviet army resulted to hundreds of Azerbaijanis’ dead.
In a chaotic condition in Moscow, paramilitary formations in both republics, but in particular in Armenian side, were growing in number and strength. There are evidence showing that planes loaded with military equipment (from Beirut) landed in Yerevan and then the materiel was transported to Artsax. However, sporadic clashes became more frequent, and by June 1991, an undeclared regular war was taking place. Supported by regular armed forces of the Republic of Armenia, Armenian militants took control of Nagorno Artsax more and more. Ironically, Armenia still denies officially its involvement in the war, in spite of evidence of the contrary.
As, the chaotic situation in Moscow was stabilized in its own way; the Russian political and military adviser saw the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict as part of a great game in their long-time policy. Armenia was not only backed by Russian arms (beside $1 billion in arms shipments, Russian soldiers also actively participated in offensives), but also by Armenian volunteers from Lebanon with long experience in war and by financial support from Diaspora mainly in USA and France. In contrast, retired Turkish military adviser supported Azerbaijanis, occasional and sporadic volunteers from Iran (and few other well-disposed persons). Also, Azerbaijan was backed by financial support (400,000 $) from Turkey, in one occasion.
In the beginning of 1992, a series of Armenian offensives resulted in the Armenian occupation of almost 20% of Azerbaijani territory and app. 1 million refugees. In addition to the near 300,000 refugees during the first wave from Armenia, about 700.000 persons were displaced internally leaving their homes in Nagorno Artsax and its surrounding areas. A cease-fire was negotiated in May 1994, but all attempts including recurrent new planes by the organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to negotiate a settlement have failed.
The violations of International Law by the Republic Armenia have been criticized in UN (822, 854 under 1993) and in one international forum (The Charter of Paris 1990) recognizing that Armenia violates the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
The powerful Armenian lobby in the congress has heavily influenced the policy of United States towards the conflict. In October 1992, the Freedom Supports Act 907 was passed by the United States congress, denying all forms of governmental U.S. aid to Azerbaijan, unless it ceases use of force (?) against Armenia. After 11 September, this act was temporary suspended by Bush administration allowing U.S. military forces to use territory of Azerbaijan to convey war in Afghanistan and other forthcoming-armed conflict in the region.
From a logical point of view, we are forced to go back in history at least 100 years to make a sense of the reasons behind the non-constructive development of relationships in Transcaucasian republics (Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia). Whatever explains the correct nature of the conflicts in the region, peoples in these republics suffer hardly from a shortcoming evaluation of outcome from the conflicts. In consequence, they are ruled by conclusions drawn emotionally and blocked for any compromise.
From a speculative point of view, imagination in the events during the last two decades that could happen, but did not, might shed light on the opportunities missed by Caucasian citizens. Also, presentation of alternative progressive course instead of the conflict may, indeed, serve as guidance for the future attitude.
For instance, a meeting between Azerbaijani Popular Front and Armenian National Movement was arranged in Riga, 1990, to discuss the conflict. Although neither of the parties was in power, they enjoyed a great vogue in the domestic politic. Unfortunately, the leaders were fasten in their positions and accordingly missed a rare chance to create a solid dialogue for peaceful solution of already aggregated hostilities. That meeting was neither the first nor the last attempt, but perhaps the most crucial moment to steer for a change of attitude.
Hypothetically, let us turn the time back 15 years, and assume that Azerbaijanis and Armenians were reasonable and thereby restrained the course of development in Nagorno Artsax. Although a succession of events that might have had influences on course of the conflicts, yet the basic attitude between Azerbaijanis and Armenians would be on friendly terms, in any case. Then, several options would be left to people/politicians to choose in order to improve gradually the relationship between two republics. Despite obvious disparity in religion and language, a long lasting symbiotic coexistence between Azerbaijanis and Armenians is not a secret fabrication. Armenian and Azerbaijanis have hade great impacts on each other’s lives than any other ethnic group in the region. So, it is not exaggerated to postulate that the failure of these two peoples to live in comfort and become independent societies is a result of direct hostilities towards each other’s.
Considering all factors bringing happiness and prosperity for mankind, some obvious basic needs build the foundation stone of a comfort existence. Peaceful life, basic economic support and condition for aspiration after an ordinary day full with spiritual and intellectual element are the main factors making life valuable. Making these points as Azerbaijanis and Armenians initial position we will look back (from 1985 to present) in retrospect to evaluate the lost opportunities.
In General, international economic co-operation and especially co-operation between neighbouring states lay the foundations of a progressive economic growth in a country. Not only Azerbaijan and Armenia are economically paralyzed due to the Nagorno Artsax conflict, but also Turkey, Georgia and even Iran have been suffering hardly. In similarity to Bulgaria and Romanian, both republics (AZE and ARM) could derive advantage from regional co-operation and also indirectly back up each other’s to attract foreign investor. As a basic rule of free market policy, demand for a product controls the production. So, considering the size of populations in Transcaucasians, free access to the regional market is a decisive of Caucasian companies’ fate and bait for foreign investor. In addition, the domestic market (in this case regional market) increases the ability of internal production companies to compete with globalize trading. The role of oil and Diaspora (both Azerbaijani and Armenian) to strengthen the regional economy should not be neglected. Instead of confrontation policy, a co-operation among both Diaspora would doubtless bear enormous fruit for both folks.
Thus, it is obvious that Transcaucasian economy would develop in a positive way in absence of the conflict and thereby a better economic condition would establish for ordinary Azerbaijanis and Armenians. Today, the majority of Armenia and Azerbaijani inhabitant live under subsistence level. Unfortunately, this would be the case even the redistribution policy of country’s resources was different.
In contrast to previous conflicts between Azerbaijanis and Armenians, due to the advanced mass media, the degree of intensity on hatred is different. Since a decade ago majority of both Azerbaijanis and Armenians carry a feeling full of hatred and sorrow. The inward peace is constantly influenced by frightful reality. While the nationalistic fanatics use hatred for heating the conflict, the politicians make use of the conflict as a mean for their own ambition and to justify the slow process of democratization in both countries. Political persecutions and terrors belong to everyday life using the conflict as a pretext. A comparison between republic of former Soviet unions in Europe and Transcacasian republics indicate clearly those citizens in the later republics lives under severe political and economic stress. The fact is that stress is a natural part of an unsolved conflict.
It is truth that Armenia won the latest battlefield. Even if we assume that they will win future battleground too, which is not guaranteed judging from the history, an unjustified peace agreement still won’t bring a peaceful life and normal diplomatic relations in Caucasian. Perhaps, some naive nationalistic fanatics in both sides believe that people will leave the conflict behind as soon a peace treaty is settled. But, the existing conflict is per se indicating the opposite theory, when politicians force an unjust peace. Mutual understanding is the only way for a normal relationship without reservation between Caucasian peoples.
The third element, which Azerbaijanis and Armenians are missing since 1985, originates from the spiritual and intellectual life. Armenians success and Azerbaijanis defeat in the latest battlefield have forced majority of populations including elite class to focus all spiritual and intellectual activities on final outcome of the war. Any divergence from this line can easily be classed as treachery. As Armenian poets, filmmakers, artists, religious leaders and politicians propagate warmongering and hatred, Azerbaijanis also respond with the same method. Practically, the spiritual and intellectual life in Baku and Yerevan is dedicated for destructive way of thinking instead of humanistic education and exposing the positive advantages from being on neighbourly terms.
Paradoxically, as two-sided coin, Azerbaijani and Armenian cultures are in a state of dependence demanding mutual input to keep own distinctive character. Meanwhile input from Armenian lifestyle was breaking factor for Azerbaijanis to assimilate entirely either in Persian or Turkish culture, vice verse was truth for Armenians. Naturally, this kind of statement is controversial and could be regard as provocative. However, a look at Armenians culture living in the Middle East is manifesting the postulation in somehow.
As far as Armenia and Azerbaijan ignores all efforts of peaceful fair resolution, stability and rebuilding process in both republics will be delayed. In addition, without a fair peace, stability will never be firmly established in Transcaucasian. Of course, fair peace is a relative conception for different people, but at the end an unbiased outsider can easily define it.
-Armenia hopes that in line with international principle of peoples’ self-determination Nagorno Artsax will be accepted by international community as a territory apart from Azerbaijan. Also, Armenia hopes that Azerbaijanis will give up the territorial integrity in exchange for occupied land around Nagorno Artsax. To achieve these two quite different aims Armenians rely on Russia and United States will exercise pressure on Azerbaijan, while providing comprehensive support to Armenia. But, the world picture is not so simple as one would like. Armenia’s former president Ter- Petrosian pointed out clearly the complexity of Armenians dependency on foreign powers in his famous farewell speech. Yet, his argument is valid.
The Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict illustrates a complex picture of world order regarding two important principles of international law, namely self-determination and territorial integrity. Armed conflicts in Kashmir, Kosovo, Chechen, Kurdistan, Middle East, North Ireland, Basque Ian in Spain, and separatist movements in China, Morocco and Taiwan, are some of those conflicts around the world to mention that argue the legitimacy of the international law. However, considering this reality in the world, it is far-fetched to believe that international community will treat the Nagorno Artsax differently and discriminate in favour of Armenia. This particular conflict is also further complicated by the fact that 35% of population in Nagorno Artsax prior to war were Azerbaijanis.
On the other hand, acceptance of Nagorno Artsax as an independent country by international community does not mean that Azerbaijanis will automatically improve its relation unreserved to neighbour people. Any agreement forced by outsiders will make people (in both sides) carry a feeling full of sorrow and frustration.
- Azerbaijan hopes to liberate its occupied land either by peaceful resolution backed by international community or by building a strong army. Azerbaijanis believe that the economy of Armenia is much more vulnerable due to the conflict than Azerbaijani. Furthermore, Azerbaijanis believe that Iran’s attitude towards republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia will be more balanced as Azerbaijani national movement in Iran is intensifying. Also, awareness about ethnic band among Turkic republics such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan with Azerbaijan will increase by time and that will make republic of Armenia further isolated. Therefore, Armenia will lose more on a long drawn-out conflict and consequently will reconsider their occupations policy.
Also, Some Azerbaijanis believe that judging from the past a turning point will appear in the battlefield, sooner or later. So, the prevailing cease-fire must be used to build a strong army. It is unlikely that as far as president Heydar Aliyev is in the power, the war preparation will gain a hearing. However, the president is 80 years old now and has been treated for cardiac and prostate diseases. In relation to his health, the present circumstances can be changed over one night.
To move on a peaceful settlement of the conflict, there are several solutions deserving serious attention by both Azerbaijanis and Armenians. Meanwhile the Aland-modell is the most realistic option in this case, other options such as Land exchange should not be ruled out.
- ALAND option: A modified version of ALAND (Åland or Aoland) system may serve as a model for Nagorno Artsax. Therefore, a short view on the ALAND could help us to clarify some controversial issues.
The Aland Islands form an autonomous, demilitarized and anilingual Swedish province (unlike Nagorno Artsax prior to the conflict) of Finland. They consist of more than 6.500 islands with a population around 40.000. The Alanders have been Swedish-speaking and the Islands belonged to the Kingdom of Sweden up to the 1808-1809 war, when Sweden was forced to relinquish Finland and Aland to Russia. When the Russian Empire started disintegrating, Finland proclaimed itself an independent republic in December 1917. At that time the Alanders in support of reunion with Sweden invoked same principle of national self-determination. However, the Finns were not prepared to comply with the Alanders’ demand for reunion with Sweden. The Parliament of Finland passed an autonomy act in favour of Alanders in 1920, but the Alanders were unwilling to accept it. In June 1921 the Council of the League of Nations (that time’s UN) decided that Finland should receive sovereignty over the Aland Islands. Finland, on his part, guaranteed the inhabitants of the Aland Islands their Swedish language, culture and customs. A treaty between Finland and Sweden on how the guarantees were to be effected supplemented the decision. Also, it was decided that Aland should be a neutral and demilitarized Autonomy. In 1922 the first election to the Aland Parliament (The Landsting) was held. Since then the Autonomy Act has been completely revised twice, in 1951 and 1993.
Alands Legislative Assembly in 79 sections giving the Alanders to possess the right to pass laws themselves concerning their own internal matters and to exercise budgetary powers has approved act on the autonomy of Aland. The Act on the Autonomy can only be changed by the Parliament of Finland in constitutional order and with the consent of the Aland parliament. The Autonomy Act specifies the spheres in which the Aland parliament has the right to pass laws. The most important sectors are education, culture and preservation of ancient monuments, health and medical services, promotion of industry, internal communications, municipal administration, the police service, the postal service, radio and television. In other sectors like administration of foreign affairs, most aspects of civil and penal law, courts of justice, customs and monetary services, the laws of Finland are applied just like in the rest of the country. In addition, Aland has its own representative in the Parliament of Finland, who is elected in the same way as other Members of Parliament in Finland.
The parliament of Aland consists of 30 members, elected every four years, appoints the Alands “government”(Landskapstyrelsen). The Landskapstyrelse group consists of 6 members from different political parties. Landsrad acts as chairman of the steering group.
- Land exchange option: An intensive political followed by armed struggle over Nagorno Artsax and Zangezur has never been considered closed by populations of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijanis have always considered Zangezur as a physical hindrance between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan, while the enclave Nagorno Artsax part of Armenia by Armenians.
For Armenian this option is unacceptable. Partly Armenia will lose the border with Iran and partly resettlement of Zangezur residence will be emotionally impossible, international communities might secure even the economic matter. Emotionally impossible because, the republic of Armenia has already grip on both provinces. However, these two main obstructions have to be solved smoothly by Armenian politicians to be able to bring the negotiation to a successful close. For Azerbaijanis this option is also unacceptable. Nagorno Artsax is a part of Azerbaijani soul and it is emotionally impossible to Azerbaijanis to think of the republic of Azerbaijan without Nagorno Artsax. As they say “defeating in the latest battlefield does not mean the end of the war”.
Note: Manaf Sababi, PhD, is an Azerbaijani Senior Scientist in Lund, Sweden. firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted 21 April 2003 - 10:57 AM
This research note is from Volume 9 of the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies (1996, 1997 ). The original pagination has been kept intact, although the paragraphing has been altered to fit the web. The footnotes in the original have also been converted to endnotes for the web. This is made available with permission from the Society for Armenian Studies.
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The Politics of Demography: Misuse of
Sources on the Armenian
Population of Mountainous Artsax
George A. Bournoutian
The Armeno-Azeri conflict over Nagorno- or Mountainous Artsax has spilled over into the academic world. Armenian historians maintain that all of Artsax was at one time part of the ancient Armenian kingdom and that the disputed territory of Nagorno-Artsax has had an Armenian majority for several hundred years. Azeri historians assert that the region was never part of Armenia and that the Armenian population of Nagorno-Artsax arrived there from Iran and Turkey after 1828, and only thanks to Russian policy, which favored Christians over Muslims, did the Armenians establish a majority in Nagorno-Artsax. That Azeri diplomats and journalists echo this claim in their statements and articles is understandable. What is lamentable is the willingness of some Western scholars to accept the Azeri claims without examining primary sources.
In her study The Azerbaijani Turks: Power and Identity under Russian Rule (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1992), Professor Audrey Altstadt states,
In the first decade of Russian rule, immigration [to the Caucasus] appears to have been confined to Russians . . . and Armenians from Iran, as provided in the Treaty of Turkmanchai. Armenian immigration affected mainly the Shemakhi, Ganje, and Karabagh regions and areas west including Erevan (p. 28).
She cites my article, "The Ethnic Composition and Socio-Economic Condition of Eastern Armenia in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century," in Ronald G. Suny, ed., Transcaucasia: Nationalism and Social Change, East European series 2 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1983), pp. 77-79, as the source for this information. My study deals primarily with Erevan and Nakhichevan. Nowhere in that work, nor in my two books on the region,(1) have I ever discussed population figures for Shemakhi, Ganje, or Artsax. Altstadt, well aware of the narrow scope of my work (she participated at the conference held at the Kennan Institute in 1980 where I presented the paper cited in her work), uses it inaccurately to give credence to the Azeri point of view. By lumping Artsax with Erevan, she confuses the issue
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and the reader; from her footnote, those not familiar with my work would assume that it contained population data on Artsax as well as Erevan.
Later in her same work, Altstadt is even less cautious, for she states,
On the issue of the current majority in mountainous Karabagh, Vahabzade and Aliyarov noted that the Armenians had been a minority in most of Caucasia at the time of the Russian conquest and were encouraged to immigrate from Iran by the Treaty of Turkmanchai (1828) and Russian state policy until they formed majorities in several pockets (p. 196).
An uncited Russian survey of 1832 and my article are used as the main sources for this statement. The survey lists the Armenian population of the whole of Artsax at 34.8 percent (slightly over one-third) and that of the Azeris at 64.8 percent. This time Altstadt confuses the reader by identifying the whole of Artsax with Mountainous Artsax. The Armenian population of Artsax (as will be demonstrated below) was concentrated in 8 out of the 21 districts or mahals of Artsax. These 8 districts are located in Mountainous Artsax and present-day Zangezur (then part of Artsax). Thus 34.8 percent of the population of Artsax populated 38 percent of the land. In other words the Armenians, according to the survey cited by Altstadt, formed 91.58 percent of the population of Mountainous Artsax.
Altstadt continues her campaign of misinformation in a volume entitled Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet World: Case Studies and Analysis (New York, 1997). She states,
As a result of the Russo-Iranian Treaty of Turkmanchai (1828), thousands of Armenian families were relocated from Iran to the Caucasus. The influx of Armenians, from Iran and the Ottoman Empire, led, by the end of the century, to the formation of Armenian majorities in various areas of that region, including the mountainous part of Artsax (p. 229).
My article is once again used as a source.
Unfortunately, those who have the habit of copying sources without verification have used Alstadt's misleading footnotes and have further damaged my credibility as a scholar. The worst offender is Suzanne Goldenberg's Pride of Small Nations: The Caucasus and Post-Soviet Disorder (London: Zed Books, 1994), which states,
Even in 1832, after considerable migration had taken place, it is generally accepted [my emphasis] that Muslims were a majority in Artsax. An official Russian survey of that year recorded that Muslims made up 64.8 percent of the region and Armenians 34.8 percent (p. 158).
The note cites my article as the sole source. The survey, which I have never seen or cited, is now attributed to me. To add insult to injury, Azeri newspapers in the
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West, including one in Toronto, portray me as the Armenian scholar specializing in the region who agrees with the Azeri point of view.
To aid Professor Altstadt and all the others who have either misused their sources or cannot decipher manuscripts, have no or poor knowledge of the necessary languages, or are just too slothful to check sources, I shall present below the information I have gathered from the primary sources on the demographics of Artsax. I hope that this material will finally clear the smoke and spare me the embarrassment of the last few years.
Correct Figures on the Armenian Population of Mountainous Artsax as Derived from Primary Sources
Prior to Soviet rule, the Russians conducted a number of surveys in the different regions of Transcaucasia.(2) Although not as accurate as a present-day census might be, the surveys were the first of their kind in Western Asia. In 1822, the Russian administration decided to determine the Armenian population in Transcaucasia. The survey was primarily to determine how many "non-Orthodox" Christians there were in the region.(3) The survey managed to record the number of Armenians in Georgia, Ganje (Elisavetpol), and Baku.(4) Erevan and Nakhichevan were under Persian rule and were not included. The Khan of Artsax, Mahdi-qoli, fearing that the Armenian-populated districts might be removed from his control, did not permit the survey in Artsax. Later that year, he fled to Persia, and the Russian were able to commence their first survey of Artsax. The survey began in early 1823 and was completed on 17 April of that same year.(5) Its more than 300 pages recorded both the Armenian and Muslim population, not by numbers, but by villages and tax assessments. It noted that the district of Khachen had twelve Armenian villages and no Tatar (Russian term for the Turkish population) villages; Jalapert had eight Armenian villages and no Tatar villages; Dizak had fourteen Armenian villages and one Tatar village; Gulistan had two Armenian and five Tatar villages; and Varanda had twenty-three Armenian villages and one Tatar village. Thus the five mountainous districts (generally known as Nagorno-Artsax today) which, according to Persian and Turkish sources, constituted the five (khamse) Armenian melikdoms,(6) had an overwhelming Armenian population before 1828.(7)
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The mahal of Tat'ew had twelve Armenian and one Tatar village; that of Kiopar, six Armenian villages; and Bargushat, two Armenian and three Tatar villages. Thus these mahals, which form part of present-day Zangezur and were a part of the larger region called Artsax, were also overwhelmingly Armenian. Armenians were also represented, in small numbers, in all the other non-nomadic districts of Artsax.
It is possible that the cryptic survey cited by Altstadt was an official Russian state publication regarding the population of Caucasus which was published in St. Petersburg in 1836.(8) That source puts the Armenians of all of Artsax at approximately 19,000 and the Tatars at approximately 35,000. Thus the Armenians were 35.2% of the population, which is close to the so-called 1832 survey cited by Altstadt. The important fact is that the official 1836 survey clearly states that the Armenians were concentrated in the mountainous part of Artsax (generally called Nagorno-Artsax). Thus once again 35.2% of the population of Artsax (the Armenians) inhabited 38 percent of the land, where they formed an overwhelming majority.
The Myth of Armenian Immigration from Iran and Turkey
Having disposed of one myth, I shall concentrate on the question of the immigration of Armenians from Iran and Turkey into Artsax. Between 1828 and 1831, 45,207 Armenians immigrated to Erevan (23,568 from Iran and 21,639 from Turkey), and 3,883 to Nakhichevan (3,856 from Iran and 27 from Turkey).(9) The Armenians of Bayazid desired to settle in Artsax but were told that there was not enough land for them there. They were encouraged rather to settle around Lake Sevan, where Muslim tribes had evacuated. They did, and the district became known as Novo-Bayazid or New Bayazid (later Gavar and Kamo).(10) The only work which deals primarily with the Armenian immigration from Persian Azerbaijan to Russia is by Sergei Glinka.(11) He does not supply any numbers, but makes it clear that the majority of the Armenians were headed towards the newly-established Armenian Province, created from the Khanates of Erevan and Nakhichevan. An archival document, however, does shine some light on the issue. The document states that only 279 Armenian families decided to immigrate to Artsax, and that they settled in Kapan and Meghri on the banks of the Arax (in the southernmost
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part of Zangezur bordering Iran).(12) All documents relating to the Armenian immigration make it clear that Russia, for political, military, and economic reasons, strongly encouraged the Armenians to settle in the newly-established Armenian province, especially the region of Erevan, which between 1795 and 1827 had lost some 20,000 Armenians who had immigrated to Georgia.(13) Since few Georgian Armenians planned to return, Russia concentrated on repatriating the Armenians taken to Iran in the seventeenth century by Shah Abbas. The only major immigration into Artsax was by the former Armenians of Artsax who had escaped the oppression of its ruler Ebrahim Khan,(14) some as late as the 1790s, who had sought refuge in Ganje, Georgia, and Erevan. They began returning home after a decade or so, following the Russian protectorate over Artsax in 1805 and continued to do so until the 1820s. According to archival documents most of them returned to their own villages, which, for the most part, had remained abandoned.(15)
In conclusion, non-Armenian primary sources clearly demonstrate that the Armenians of Mountainous Artsax (Nagorno-Artsax) had an overwhelming majority in the region presently claimed by them long before 1828, as far back as the seventeenth century.(16) Scholars who deal with the issues of Artsax and Nagorno-Artsax would do well to respect this fact.
New Rochelle, New York
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1. George A. Bournoutian, Eastern Armenia in the Last Decades of Persian Rule, 1807-1828 (Malibu, CA: Undena Publications, 1982) and The Khanate of Erevan Under Qajar Rule, 1795-1828 (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1992).
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2. The first survey was conducted in Georgia at the start of the nineteenth century, and the last was the complete survey of Transcaucasia in 1897.
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3. The Georgian Church was in communion with the Russian Orthodox Church.
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4. Akty sobrannye Kavkzskoiu Arkheograficheskoiu Kommissieiu (Documents Pertaining to the Russian Administration of the Caucasus), VI/1 (Tiflis, 1866), doc. 601.
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5. The survey, conducted by State Counselor Mogilevskii and Colonel Ermolov II (a relative of General Ermolov, commander-in-chief of the Caucasus), was printed in Tiflis in 1866 (no pagination).
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6. For example see Tarikh-e Qarabagh, written by Mirza Jamal Javanshir, the vizier of Ebrahim Khan of Karabagh, manuscript no. B-712/11603, Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, Baku (my English translation and the facsimile in A History of Qarabagh [Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1993]).
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7. The survey lists Goris and Khan-Kend (present-day Step'anakert, capital of Nagorno-Artsax) as Armenian settlements.
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8. Obozrenie rossiskikh vladenii za Kavkazom v statisticheskom, etnograficheskom, i finansovom otnosheniiakh (St. Petersburg, 1836), no pagination.
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9. Russian survey of the Armenian Province (former Khanates of Erevan and Nakhichevan) 1829-1832 in Ivan Shopen, Istoricheskii pamiatnik sostoianiia Armianskoi-oblasti v epokhu eia prisoedineniia k Rossiskoi-Imperii (St. Petersburg: V tip. Imp. Akademii nauk, 1852), English translation of the survey in Bournoutian, The Khanate of Erevan, pp. 204-270.
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10. Central State Historical Archives of Georgia (Tbilisi), record group 2/1, file 2254, f. 8.
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11. S. Glinka, Opisanie pereseleniia Armian Adderbidzhanskikh v prediely Rossii (Moscow: V Tip. Lazarevykh In-ta Vostochnykh Iazykov, 1831).
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12. Central State Archives of Military History, record group VUA, file 978, ff. 22-26.
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13. Akty sobrannye, docs. 559, 564, 568, 570, 573, 582, 586, 614; and S. Glinka, Sobranie aktov otnosiashchikhsia k obozrenii istorii Armianskogo naroda, II (Moscow, 1838), pp. 163-166.
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14. Panah Khan and his son Ebrahim Khan were the first Muslims to make any inroads into mountainous Karabagh. They controlled parts of the region from 1755 to 1805 and were responsible for the temporary Armenian emigration.
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15. Archives of the Foreign Policy of Russia, record group 100/3 (Russian Relations with Armenians), file 464, ff. 5-9, 12, 189-190, 347-348; Akty sobrannye, I, docs. 871, 874.; II, doc. 1714; III, 598-600.
Back to text
16. The documents cited here are included in my Russia and the Armenians of Transcaucasia, 1797-1862: A Documentary Record (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1998), which contains an annotated translation, with commentary, of hundreds of documents from various archives of the former USSR.
Back to text
Volume 9 of the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies can be purchased for $20 from the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS) at the following address:
Armenian Research Center
University of Michigan-Dearborn
4901 Evergreen Rd.
Dearborn, MI 48128-1491
Posted 22 April 2003 - 09:43 AM
Posted 22 April 2003 - 08:22 PM
Also, who are Azeris? Do they have anything to do with Albanians? If so, how much Albanian are they?
Posted 22 April 2003 - 08:53 PM
Artsakh has been part of Armenia for very short period of time, and that is very long time ago. For all practical purposes, Artsakh has never been part of Armenia.
However, one may raise a legitimate question as what was Albania and who where the Albanians. It would not be a far fetched statement to claim that Albania has been a satellite state attached to Armenia throughout its existence.
Posted 23 April 2003 - 12:50 PM
Posted 23 April 2003 - 01:25 PM
I have the same problem. In the past, it was readable. Don't know what has changed.
MJ, thanks for the link. For some reason, I can't read it. My comp shows the titles in Armenian, but looks like the rest of the text use a different font which I don't have.
Posted 25 July 2004 - 06:06 PM
I've found an interesting review of the book writen by David Davidian.
Forced Juxtaposition in the Black Garden
By David Davidian
Black Garden attempts to objectively analyze and chronicle events before, during, and after the war between Armenia and the Armenians of Nagorno-Artsax on one side, and Azerbaijan, on the other. The conflict was the most severe eruption of ethnic violence during the last days of the Soviet Union. This truggle of self-determination versus territorial integrity temporarily concluded with a truce in May of 1994.
This book is based on a preponderance of data, much of which, unfortunately, is incomplete. De Waal assumes that no comprehensive non-partisan archive or compilation of events exists, which is why he felt this book was necessary. He uses the forced juxtaposition of seemingly related events to present the illusion of neutrality and moral equivalence. With information not readily available, a generally well-informed reader is lead down a path of comfort in the assumption that someone else has provided facts and analysis. As a result, this book has already beguiled many, as demonstrated by their reviews. De Waal forces a side-to-side comparison of seemingly equivalent events, including war crimes, in the name of "two-sides to any issue". This is a technique employed when one is not willing to take sides, or when further, in-depth research will lead to an inevitable hard conclusion. When events clearly don't lend themselves to such manipulation, de Waal does an admirable job. This is evident in his treatment of facts such as Azerbaijanis cashing in personal items, enhancing Azerbaijan's ability to purchase arms above those agreed to internationally (page 198), and the role of the Russian forces on both sides of this conflict.
The author asks the reader to evaluate his book as a whole with a neutral viewpoint; however, his conclusions are far from neutral. His widespread use of forced juxtaposition is compelling enough to label de Waal partisan. De Waal requires parity for the February 1988 anti-Armenian pogroms in Sumgait, Azerbaijan. Upon failing to find any organized pogroms of Azerbaijanis in Armenia, he turns to anti-German violence in East London in 1915, after the sinking of the Lusitania (page 44) as a contrasting event. Once again, further research has shown that in the weeks prior to the Sumgait pogroms, Azerbaijani officials in Sumgait distributed addresses of Armenians to local henchmen. This clearly qualifies these acts as premeditated murder with the connivance of local authorities. The Sumgait events can be evaluated on their own merits. Had he done so, de Waal would be required to actually reach a
De Waal compares the circa 1990 desecration of the Armenian cathedral in Baku by the Azerbaijanis with the subsequent destruction, by Armenians, of a small, unused mosque in Yerevan (pages 79-80). In parallel, this inappropriate comparison is obfuscated by de Waal's discounting Armenia's reconstruction of Yerevan's Blue Mosque. Having seen both mosques, it is clear that further research would have lead de Waal to either dumping this topic, or reaching the conclusion that his choice of parity in desecration is not appropriate. When de Waal's research on the Azerbaijani historian Ziya Bunyatov concludes that his writing is inflammatory, he chooses to compare this Director of the Oriental Institute of the Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences and Azerbaijani national hero of the time to a Glasnost-era Armenian journalist Zori Balayan - pointing out they have the same initials. Further investigation would have shown that in the years preceding the conflict, Bunyatov's translation of a number of original texts about the region had systematically removed the noun "Armenian" from the translation, or simply omitted entire sections. Also, De Waal cannot seem to find comparable figure anywhere in dynastic Azerbaijan to equate with the warlord like figure of Samvel Babayan in Nagorno-Artsax, so he finds the Chechen Samil Basaev - again, two people with the same initials.
Forced juxtaposition is used in the Black Garden various ways depending upon the caliber of the event. If the event is relatively innocuous, parity is presented on the same page or even in the same paragraph. At other times the comparison spans pages or chapters. This is very evident when de Waal characterizes the Turkish genocide of the Armenians as a unilateral Armenian claim (page 75, confirmed in note 5), thus denying it from having any role or basis for actions associated with national survival or self-determination of the Armenians. He contrasts this with an unsubstantiated Azerbaijani genocide counter-claim of 2.5 million people by Armenians over the span of 200 years. This is an interesting technique both; in not taking a position on genocide, and in forcing equivalence with an invalid Azerbaijani claim. Ignoring facts and giving the reader the illusion of neutrality generates a skewed perception of reality. At the end, de Waal takes the unfortunate position that international recognition of the genocide of the Armenians discourages peace (page 277). This clearly partisan stance is finally stated some 200 pages after the issue of the genocide was first introduced.
The process of forced correlation reaches a wasteful level with the entire tenth chapter, which is dedicated to contradictory historical claims, between Azerbaijani and Armenian historians, regarding Caucasian Albanians (no relation to Balkan Albanians), the pre-Islamic inhabitants of areas immediately east of Armenia. De Waal dedicates 13 pages to finally establish that this topic was a non-issue, concluding that it took a New Jersey-based professor to confirm that the Azerbaijani claims are groundless.
De Waal would be much more credible by actually giving the events chronicled the required level of analysis. He heavily implies that the mutilation of the dead or dying is something contemporary Armenians and Azerbaijanis learned from the Armenian guerilla leader Antranik in 1918 (pages 168-169). De Waal's precluded research on the Turkish genocide of the Armenians shows that it was common for the Turkish murderers of Armenian women to cut off their nipples, dead or alive - those with more carried bragging rights. Dehumanizing one's perceived enemy this way has its origins deep in human history, and is not a twentieth century Armenian, Turkish, or Azerbaijani invention.
Avoiding evaluation of events, ideologies, etc., on their own merits assumes there is no right or wrong, only a continuum of events in human relations. The practice of forced parity serves those who are unwilling by choice or unable by circumstance to engage in an in-depth analysis of events. This method allows one not to take a position on the Nazi Holocaust of European Jews by equating it with claims that more Germans died than did Jews during the same general period. Such claims may be true in isolation, but cannot be juxtaposed, nor are they equivalent.
De Waal's utopian proposal (page 283), based on a song from an eighteenth century Armenian troubadour, Sayat Nova, calling for Georgian rule and lingua Azerbaijani as the formula for achieving nirvana in the Caucasus, is taken out of context. A more vigorous study on Sayat Nova chronicles that the Qajar Prince Agha Mohammed Khan, an Azerbaijani, was responsible for his death in 1795 during an invasion of the region.
Peace can only be achieved through an understanding of events and their causes, not by wishfully granting "parity" to each side. The likely result of de Waal's Black Garden is to stiffen the resolve of the belligerents by obfuscation of the historical record.
Edited by Fadix, 25 July 2004 - 06:12 PM.
Posted 25 July 2004 - 06:19 PM
Posted 25 July 2004 - 06:26 PM
Goltz is a correspondant... his Turkish wife Dr. Hicran Goltz is in an anti-Armenian propaganda war against the Armenians... De Wall is the "Caucasus Project" coordinator and editor for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting, and he's a close friend of Thomas Goltz.
BTW, I know it is the wrong place, I take the occasion to say, Happy Birthday to you.
Edited by Fadix, 26 July 2004 - 10:21 AM.
Posted 25 July 2004 - 06:35 PM
Domino, I know they are journalists. I meant ethnically "lawyer"
Both of them gave Azeries western sources to refer to by writing their books. The whole Azeri "Khojaloo" thing is based on Goltz's book.
Posted 28 July 2004 - 08:17 AM
US experts happy with "election process" in breakaway Artsax
26 Jul 04
International experts are closely following the situation in Nagornyy
Artsax and have not registered any violations in the election
process over this period, the president of the Project on Transitional
Democracies and the head of the US Senate Committee on NATO, Bruce
Jackson, said at a meeting several days ago with the head of the
Central Electoral Committee CEC of the Nagornyy Artsax Republic NKR,
Sergey Davidyan. Jackson was on a one-day visit to Stepanakert.
Our Arminfo correspondent reports from Stepanakert that during the
meeting, Davidyan familiarized the guests with the NKR's election
law. He said that the referendum on independence and a number of
presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections have been held in
Nagornyy Artsax since the republic was proclaimed in 1991. Davidyan
informed the experts about preparations for the upcoming elections to
local government bodies on 8 August. Davidyan said that the NKR
adheres to democratic values, and the conduct of free and fair
elections was only a mechanism for forming legitimate authorities in
According to the CEC, 375 candidates for community leaders have been
registered in the NKR. Commissions have registered 1,582 of the 1,708
candidates for membership of the councils of elders. Ten people have
been nominated for mayor of Stepanakert, however, only six candidates
are continuing the struggle at the moment, while 46 of the 52
candidates for membership of the council of elders have been
Posted 28 July 2004 - 10:15 AM
Posted 06 August 2004 - 11:17 PM
Perpetual War or Perpetual Peace?
Published in "Panorama", Institute of War and Peace Reporting, July 2004
Hikmet Hajizade, Vice-President of FAR Centre, Baku
13 June 2004
"And how is the Artsax conflict?" a famous Pakistani journalist
asked me at a seminar in a small German town. "Just the same, the
conflict continues, there's no peace, no war," I replied. "How
interesting," he said with a smile. "The break-up of the USSR began
with this conflict. Now the USSR no longer exists and the conflict is
Yes, on the whole things are pretty much the same. But we can notice
some changes which are unfortunately changes for the worse. What I
have in mind is Azerbaijani public opinion on the Artsax issue,
which could be described as close to despair. "It's impossible to
fight, Russia is behind Armenia, while the West is stubbornly
demanding a peace settlement to secure it's investments in Azerbaijani
oil. Negotiations, with all possible mediators, have been going on
for years and lead to nothing. Oil diplomacy (our oil in return for
Western support on the Artsax issue) has brought no
results. People's diplomacy, sponsored by the West, has also failed?"
So there is a growing feeling in society that Azerbaijan is betrayed
and besieged on all sides. Society is close to a frustration which has
begun to be expressed in uncontrolled hatred and its desperate
manifestations very similar to what is happening in the
"And we understand this despair and hatred," well-known Armenian
journalist Mark Grigorian told me several years ago at a conference in
Tbilisi. "First it was you who were victorious for a long time (it
seems he meant the Armenian-Turkish conflicts of the last thoutsand
years) and we it was us who hated you. Now we have defeated you and
you are hating us..."
I didn't have an answer to this piercing observation, I just felt
despair. What is the solution here? If, inshallah, we manage to
defeat them, then they will hate us again and we will carry on
destroying each other till the end of the world. Are we to have
It seems that the question "who, in the end, finally won in history"
is one of the main questions, if not the prime question, in the
Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. Of course the issues of protecting the
rights of national minorities and of individuals are important and so
is the role of the super-powers. But "who, in the end, finally
won...?" is still more important for us?
But of course there will be no final victory here, only perpetual
despair and hatred and it is time we all understood this. And
generally whichever of the opposing sides "won" a certain round in
this millenium-long dispute failed to understand this. Today Armenia
has won and it now wants to "cooperate" with us, hoping that
cooperation will heal the wounds of defeat. But it is not working:
"There can be no cooperation with the occupiers of our land," even new
head of state Ilham Aliev said recently and his words reflect public
opinion in Azerbaijan.
As long as this problem is unsolved no road can lead us to peace. Even
if well-intentioned international powers force peace on us, our hatred
will only be driven deep inside us and could flare up again.
Our mentality, our view of the world and history, have to change. We
have to understand that all these "noble historical victories" were
nothing but the pillage and violent eviction of neighbours in the era
of a battle of all against all for limited resources -- and that now
these resources over which we destroyed each other have lost whatever
value they once had.
Our confrontational mentality can't be changed by "third forces" or
written constitutions and ratified European conventions on human
rights. It can change only as a result of honest and free discussion
conducted by citizens of a free country. So I believe that for
perpetual war to be replaced by perpetual peace our countries should
become democratic. Or as Kant wrote in his "Perpetual Peace": "The
Civil Constitution of Every State (that wants perpetual peace) Should
Before beginning negotiations (negotiations with international
mediators, bilateral negotiations or negotiations within the framework
of people's diplomacy), the parties ought to pay attention to
themselves! The parties ought to become republics, free and diverse
discussions have to begin in their societies about anything and
everything that is of concern to their citizens. The societies have to
find the civic courage in themselves to throw off their historical
ghosts and discuss the problem of perpetual war and perpetual
peace. And if the international community wants to help our countries
establish Perpetual Peace, it should stop spending money on senseless
"joint projects and research" and help our countries become honest and
open, help them become democratic. Democracies do not fight one
As for Azerbaijan, which is sunk in its internal political despair and
internal political apathy, then I have to forecast that Artsax,
which we have desired all this time, won't return until we build a
democratic society. Even if Azerbaijan is three times as strong as
Armenia, the world won't allow a government which oppresses its
citizens to extend its inhuman rule to the Armenian national minority?
I don't intend to forget about the influence of third forces or the
role of superpowers in fanning the conflict but I believe that first
we have to get to grips with ourselves and then it will be clearer
what we should do about third forces?
Earlier this year I met Mark Grigorian again in Durban, South Africa,
at the Third Assembly of the Word Movement for Democracy. Mark had had
to leave his country and move to London because he was being
persecuted in Armenia for his journalistic work. I was also reluctant
to leave the fairytale beauty of Durban to go home to a country which,
after the presidential elections at the end of 2003, had suffered a
massive crackdown on opposition activists and protestors.
It occurred to me later that, without agreeing to do so, neither of us
uttered a word about the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict. Mark showed me
the wounds left by the exploding grenade which had left 32 pieces of
shrapnel in his body which pro-government forces had thrown at him. I
told him about torture in our prisons which our citizens who protested
against mass vote-rigging in the presidential elections endured.
No desire emerged to destroy one another, even in argument. The desire
emerged to help one another?
Posted 13 August 2004 - 11:30 AM
Aug 12 2004
RUMSFELD ADDRESSES SECURITY CONCERNS ON LIGHTNING TRIP TO
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard: 8/12/04
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on a secretive and whirlwind
trip to Central Asia and the Caucasus, sought to keep the Afghan
election process on track and the Azerbaijani government in line.
Rumsfeld arrived with little prior notice in Afghanistan on August 11
to express US support for the Afghan election process. The country's
presidential election is now scheduled for October 9. The vote,
originally scheduled for last June, has been pushed back twice
because of logistical difficulties. Officials have also voiced
concern that the country's booming narcotics production could
adversely influence the electoral process. [For background see the
Eurasia Insight archive].
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has identified the narcotics issue as
among the biggest threats to Afghanistan's stability. [For background
see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Bush administration officials have
long acknowledged the drug danger in Afghanistan, but the US
government's efforts to date have been ineffective in helping to curb
burgeoning production. [For additional information see the Eurasia
Insight archive]. In Kabul, Rumsfeld indicated that Washington, after
witnessing two years of explosive growth in poppy production, was now
ready to make the anti-drug issue a priority.
Rumsfeld told reporters shortly before his arrival that Pentagon
planners were still working to develop a "master plan" for
counter-narcotics operations in Afghanistan. During a joint press
conference, though, he declined to elaborate on strategic and
tactical elements of the "plan."
Earlier on August 11, Rumsfeld made a brief visit to the eastern city
of Jalalabad, located in one of the largest drug-producing regions of
the country. "It is increasingly clear to the international community
that to address the drug problem here is important," Rumsfeld said in
During perhaps Rumsfeld's most significant meeting of his lightning
visit, he discussed security issues with Afghanistan's controversial
Defense Minister, Gen. Mohammad Fahim, who was recently dropped by
Karzai as his vice presidential running mate. [For additional
information see the Eurasia Insight archive]. A main topic during the
20-minute discussion was the slow pace of disarmament of Afghan
militias. The disarmament effort, known as DDR, was seen as a key to
reducing the influence of Afghan warlords who control many of
Afghanistan's provinces. [For background see the Eurasia Insight
archive]. However, the program has lagged far behind expectations and
Fahim, the Afghan official responsible for implementation the
program, has faced criticism for obstructing efforts to disarm
militia forces under his direct control.
In recent weeks, US officials have pressed for a faster disarmament
pace. Some Afghan political observers consider the US stance to be
cynical, pointing out that since the opening of the anti-terrorism
campaign in Afghanistan, the United States has provided extensive
assistance to various warlords, playing a major role in sustaining
their private armies. These militia groups have been used effectively
as mercenaries in helping US forces hunt for Islamic militants.
A spokesman for Fahim, recounting the conversation with Rumsfeld,
said the Afghan defense minister blamed the United Nations for DDR's
slow pace, claiming that it had not provided sufficient funds to
assist demobilized militia members. "The United Nations did not
remain faithful to its end of the bargain," the spokesman, Mr.
Gulbuddin, quoted Fahim as telling Rumsfeld. "Without its (UN) help,
how can the [Afghan] Defense Ministry be expected to create jobs or
pay militia members to give up their weapons?" In addition, Fahim was
highly critical of the UN's anti-drug strategy, Gulbuddin said.
Despite the concern hovering over the anti-drug and disarmament
initiatives, Rumsfeld proclaimed the Afghan electoral process to be
on sound footing. "I believe Afghanistan is on the path to having
successful, free and fair elections," he said.
A sense of urgency also surrounded Rumsfeld's brief stop in
Azerbaijan. Local political analysts characterized Rumsfeld's trip to
Baku as "unscheduled." The US defense secretary's talks August 12
with top Azerbaijani officials, including President Ilham Aliyev,
were driven by "concern over the latest trends in Baku's foreign
policy," said a commentary published in the Zerkalo daily on August
Of late, the commentary indicated, Azerbaijani officials have shown
signs of wavering in their pro-Western foreign policy orientation, an
impression underscored by the visit of Iranian President Mohammad
Khatami earlier in August. [For background see the Eurasia Insight
archive]. Azerbaijan in recent months has sought to improve relations
with a number of states - in particular Russia and Iran -- that are
seen as competitors of the United States for influence in the
Caucasus. [For additional information see the Eurasia Insight
The diversification trend appears closely linked to mounting
frustration in Azerbaijan to the stalemate in the Nagorno-Artsax
peace process. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Many
in Baku hold the United States responsible for the lack of progress
in the search for a Artsax political settlement. Azerbaijan, the
thinking in Baku goes, has steadfastly backed the US-led
anti-terrorist campaign, including the military operations in Iraq,
but has not received a reciprocal level of support from the United
States on the Artsax issue.
The Zerkalo commentary reflected the rising level of anger in
Azerbaijan towards the United States. "Washington's main goal is not
to help the Azerbaijani nation to prosper, but to oust Russia from
the Caucasus and build a strategically important corridor between
Central Asia, the Caucasus and Europe," it said.
Political analysts, including Vafa Guluzade, who served as an adviser
to former president Heidar Aliyev, suggest the Azerbaijani government
has felt compelled to reach out to Russia and Iran in an effort to
achieve a breakthrough on the Artsax issue. "If the United States
continues to turn a blind eye to the situation, it can lose
Azerbaijan as a strategic partner," Guluzade told Zerkalo.
Azerbaijani officials made a direct appeal to Rumsfeld for stronger
US support for Baku on the Artsax question, according to local
reports. Rumsfeld was reportedly non-committal in his response.
Following their talks, Rumsfeld and Ilham Aliyev provided no public
hints that US-Azerbaijani relations were experiencing underlying
tension. Aliyev characterized bilateral strategic cooperation as
operating "at the highest level," according to an August 12 report
broadcast by ANS television. "I am confident that in the future we
will further strengthen our ties to become a closer friend and ally,"
Aliyev added. Rumsfeld echoed the Azerbaijani leader's comments,
praising Azerbaijan for its "major efforts in combating terror."
Editor's Note: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard has reported from Afghanistan
and Iran for EurasiaNet.
Posted 13 August 2004 - 11:31 AM
Azeris Seek U.S. Involvement In Artsax
By Tabassum Zakaria
(Reuters) - Azerbaijan asked the United States on Thursday to support
its bid to regain control over Nagorno-Artsax.
But visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who pledged to
build ties with the Caucasus ally, did not offer any help beyond
supporting international mediation which has yet to reconcile Azerbaijan
with its ex-Soviet neighbor Armenia.
Thousands of people were killed in fighting in Artsax before a truce
was struck in 1994. Artsax Armenians now control the enclave and a
swathe of Azeri territory around it. Azerbaijan, upset by a lack of
progress in mediation efforts by the Minsk Group of 11 states, led by
France, the United States and Russia, has urged the European Union and
other Western powers to get involved directly.
"What we want from the United States as our ally and partner is for it
to support Azerbaijan in this conflict and demand that Armenia
immediately withdraws its occupation forces," Defense Minister Safar
Abiev told a joint news conference with Rumsfeld.
At the start of his visit, Rumsfeld said Washington was committed to
developing ties with Azerbaijan -- an oil-rich country which should
start pumping oil to the West through a pipeline across Georgia and
Turkey next year. "I agree completely that the security relationship
between our two countries continues to grow and strengthen," Rumsfeld
said during a meeting with President Ilham Aliev.
But he avoided responding to Abiev's call. "As you know the United
States supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan," he told the
news conference, adding that Washington was involved in the Minsk group.
Ties between the United States and Azerbaijan, which is seeking to
develop ties with NATO in contrast with its pro-Russian arch-foe
Armenia, strengthened after Baku backed the U.S. intervention in
Afghanistan by sending 30 troops. Azerbaijan became the only
predominantly Muslim state to send troops to support the U.S.-led
military engagement in Iraq. Around 150 Azeri troops are deployed in
(AP-Photolur photo: Rumsfeld and his wife Joyce greeted after arriving
in Baku on Wednesday.)
Posted 21 August 2004 - 09:52 PM
The hazards of a long, hard freeze
Aug 19th 2004 | STEPANAKERT, SUKHUMI, TIRASPOL AND TSKHINVALI
From The Economist print edition
Unresolved wars have poisoned the newly independent republics of the former Soviet south—and could flare anew
IF THE so-called frozen conflicts of the Black Sea region are ever thawed out, somebody will need to be standing by with a very large bucket indeed.
To outsiders, that may seem like an odd warning: unless you have a special interest in the obscure enclaves of small, impoverished states, where local feuds have flared up and died down, a frozen conflict may sound like a conflict you can forget. But such a conclusion would be wrong: the region's unresolved wars—in Transdniestria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Artsax—are a big reason why the newly independent states of the former Soviet south have failed miserably to fulfil their potential. Instead of enjoying their freedom, they have emerged into the world as stunted, embittered and ill-governed creatures. And if real fighting flares again—a process which has begun in South Ossetia (see article)—things could become far worse.
At the heart of each conflict is a claimed mini-state whose rulers prevailed, by dint of Russian arms, in a local war. While there are huge differences, these statelets have things in common. Ten years or more of isolation under unrecognised governments have left them as harsh, militarised societies, with few functioning institutions, and economies open to crime.
South Ossetia is the pettiest, but currently the hottest of the conflict zones. It is a landlocked province of Georgia which would have no viability as a legitimate country. It survives as a conduit for smuggling between Georgia and Russia, mainly in cheap spirits, arms and grain, under the diplomatic protection of the Russian government and the military protection of Russian troops.
Of the four statelets, Artsax comes closest to being a normal society—at least for the ethnic Armenians who remain there. Nearly a million people from both sides of the war were put to flight by the fighting which concluded in 1994 with a big victory by soldiers from Artsax and Armenia itself.
Especially since 2001, when a local bully and racketeer, Samvel Babayan, was put in jail, Artsax—which calls itself independent but is in practice virtually joined to Armenia—has had something recognisable as local politics and a mixed economy. Investment from the Armenian diaspora has boosted the economy. One new arrival from America, Vartkes Anivian, started a dairy-products company after the war, and now employs 250 people. Municipal elections have just been held in the enclave—to the fury of Azerbaijan, to which Artsax legally belongs—and there was genuine competition between the candidates. The atmosphere in Stepanakert, Artsax's capital, is orderly in a post-Soviet way, not chaotic.
So Artsax might have a decent future if the enclave's future could somehow be settled. Four years ago, a compromise seemed within reach: most of Artsax would have been joined to Armenia, while the Azeris recovered the surrounding areas and gained a corridor between their republic's two parts. More recently, the mood on both sides has hardened, and a big body of Azerbaijani opinion longs to recover the land by force.
Small wars, or medium?
The fighting over Artsax was and could again become a fair-sized war; South Ossetia by comparison is a small, though strategically significant, squabble. Abkhazia, in Georgia, and Transdniestria, in Moldova, fall somewhere in between.
Both Abkhazia and Transdniestria can make claims to special political status, if not to independence, on historical grounds. Both regimes control territories and economies capable of standing alone. But both are willing hostages of Russia, which helped them fight their wars of secession when the Soviet Union collapsed, and has given them military and diplomatic support ever since. It has issued passports so freely that probably a majority of the population in each enclave could claim Russian nationality. But Russia's “protection” has also become the main obstacle to a constitutional settlement. Russia prefers to keep the enclaves as its own pawns. At its most mischievous, the Kremlin's strategy may view Transdniestria as a second version of Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave near Poland—in other words, a trouble-making outpost on the borders of NATO. And some of the worst features of Russia's own governance have been transferred to its protégés in Georgia and Moldova: organised crime, corruption, and authoritarian leadership.
For the people of these non-countries, life goes on, after a fashion. “It is a normal town, but blown up a bit,” says a United Nations official trying to put the best face on Sukhumi, “capital” of Abkhazia. And there is indeed the ghost of something lovely in the landscape, where the beaches curve north to the Russian border.
But to call Sukhumi “normal”, even by the elastic standards of the Caucasus, is stretching things. For one thing, half of its population is missing. Ethnic Georgians fled the city or were driven out in the civil war of 1992-93. And to say that Sukhumi is blown up “a bit” risks flattering a town where only about one-third of the buildings are in good shape, one-third are badly run down, and one-third are derelict. The roads are crumbling, the pavements are grassing over, and the airport is dead save for a few UN helicopters. Tourists from Russia are the mainstay, along with agriculture, of the visible economy. The invisible economy belongs to burly men who drive smart cars with handguns on their hips. They, or their like, run a blacker-than-black trade centred on the port. Smuggling probably involves drugs, arms, fuel and stolen cars. “Whatever you have”, says the UN official, “it disappears into a black hole when it hits the docks.”
Tiraspol, the capital of Transdniestria, presents a more orderly façade. Streets are eerily quiet and clean, and almost bare of cars, even on a weekday afternoon. Nobody in civilian clothes carries a gun openly. A statue of Lenin looks down from a pink marble column in front of the presidential palace. The Bolshevik leader looks uncannily like Transdniestria's own bearded “president”, Igor Smirnov, a former metalworker from Kamchatka in the Russian Pacific who moved to Tiraspol in 1987 as a factory manager and manoeuvred his way into power. Mr Smirnov's son heads the “state customs committee”, the second-biggest job in a land which lives largely on trade, licit and illicit, between Ukraine and the rest of Moldova.
In the past month both Moldova and Ukraine have announced much tighter customs controls on goods moving out of Transdniestria. Moldova was retaliating against a decision by the authorities in Transdniestra to shut schools there still teaching Romanian in the Latin alphabet.
But despite such occasional flurries of firm government, experience suggests that Transdniestria's borders will remain porous enough for it to go on supplying Moldovan markets with untaxed consumer goods, and to go on shipping its more sinister cargoes, including arms, out through Ukraine or by air. According to a recent report from the International Crisis Group, a Brussels think-tank, Transdniestria has five or six arms factories making small arms, mortars and missile-launchers, for sale to the world's trouble-spots. A recent study from the German Marshall Fund of the United States has called the conflict zones “unresolved fragments of Soviet Empire [which] now serve as shipping points for weapons, narcotics, and victims of human trafficking, as breeding grounds for transnational organised crime, and last but not least, for terrorism”. That may be a bit too hard on Artsax, but a fairly accurate account of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestria. It may be time for the world to slop them out.
Edited by Sasun, 21 August 2004 - 09:53 PM.
Posted 22 August 2004 - 05:25 AM
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