the Resolution of the Karabakh Conflict
Source: Azerbaijan Embassy, Washington D.C.
1. The resettlement of Armenians in the territory of Azerbaijan
The Russian Empire regarded the Armenian Christian population
living in the Ottoman Empire and Iran as a key element in the
achievement of its far-reaching Eastern policy, which was designed
to secure for Russia access to the shores of the Persian Gulf.
The Russian authorities began to exploit the Armenian factor
as early as the eighteenth century.
Taking advantage of the weakened condition of the Safavid State,
on 10 November 1724 Peter I issued a decree allowing the Armenians
who were being assigned the role of a "fifth column"
in implementing the Russian Empire's plans to seize vast territories
to the south of the Caucasus, as far as the Persian Gulf - to
settle in a strip of Azerbaijani land located along the Caspian
Sea and containing the cities of Derbent and Baki as well as
the regions of Gilyan, Mazandaran and Gorgan. As part of this
scheme, the Russian generals were instructed to "displace"
the local Azerbaijani population in any way they could. However,
Russia's subsequent military reversals in the Caucasus blocked
this planned resettlement of the Armenians.
Under the terms of the Turkmanchai Treaty, 40,000 Armenians were
resettled in Azerbaijan. Following the conclusion in 1829 of
the Peace Agreement in Edirne, 90,000 Armenians who had been
living in the Ottoman Empire were also resettled in Azerbaijan.
The Russian authorities resettled the Armenians primarily on
the territory of the Nakhchivan, Iravan and Garabagh khanates.
As the well-known Russian diplomat and writer, A.S.Griboyedov,
has written, "the Armenians have for the most part been
settled on the lands of Muslim landowners... The settlers...
are forcing out the Muslims... We also discussed at some length
the work of persuasion to be done with the Muslims in order to
reconcile them to their present hardships, which would not continue
for a long time, and to rid them of the fear that the Armenians
would maintain permanent possession of the lands to which they
had once been allowed to move."'
In pursuing their colonial policy in the Southern Caucasus, the
leaders of the Russian Empire banked heavily on the Armenians
resettled in Azerbaijan. In the work of the American scholar,
Justin McCarthy, the following data are given on the colonization
of the Southern Caucasus or, more accurately, of Azerbaijan by
the Armenians. Between 1828 and 1920, when a policy was being
implemented to alter the demographic structure of the population
of Azerbaijan in favour of the Armenians and. to the detriment
of the Azerbaijanis, "over two million Muslims were forcibly
exiled and an unknown number of them were killed... On two occasions,
in 1828 and 1854, the Russians invaded Eastern Anatolia... and
on both occasions they were forced to retreat, taking 100,000
Armenians with them to the Caucasus, where they were resettled
in place of the Turks (Azerbaijanis) who had emigrated or perished.
In the war of 1877-1878, Russia seized the Kars-Ardagan district,
forced out the Muslims and settled 70,000 Armenians there...
During the events of 1895-1896, approximately 60,000 Armenians
were resettled in the Caucasus... Migration during the First
World War was fairly balanced 400,000 Armenians from Eastern
Anatolia were exchanged for 400,000 Muslims from the Caucasus."'
According to the figures given by this American academic, 560,000
Armenians were resettled in Azerbaijan between 1828 and 1920.
In this way, it was precisely after the conquest of the Southern
Caucasus by Russia that the Armenian population on the territory
of Azerbaijan north of the River Araks began to increase rapidly.
Quite noteworthy in this same connection is also the admission
of Z.Balaian: "Its (Yerevan's) residents are people who
have come from other places. There are practically no true Yerevanites.""
Academician A.I.Ionisian writes that "one-fourth of the
population of the city of Erivan were Armenians, with the Azerbaijanis
constituting a majority.""
In accordance with a decree of the Russian Emperor Nicholas I
of 21 March 1828, the Nakhchivan and Iravan khanates in Azerbaijan
were abolished and replaced by a new administrative unit known
as the "Armenian Oblast [Region]", governed by Russian
officials. In 1849 this region was renamed the Erivan Guberniya
In pursuit of their far-reaching goals, the Armenians succeeded
in bringing about the abolition by the Russian authorities in
1836 of the Albanian Christian Patriarchate, which had been operating
in Azerbaijan, and the transfer of its property to the Armenian
Church. Somewhat later, in a situation where the population in
the western districts of the former Albania namely the
Garabagh region, which Armenian elements were continuing to penetrate
in the nineteenth century - had lost both statehood and ecclesiastical
independence, there began a process of the Gregorianization (i.e.,
Armenianization) of the local Albanian population.
The truth of this situation was already well known in the nineteenth
century. The famous Russian historian, V.L.Velichko, wrote: "An
exception were the inhabitants of Karabakh, incorrectly called
Armenians ..., who professed the Armenian-Gregorian faith...and
who had gone through the process of Armenianization only three
to four centuries earlier." This was also known by the Armenian
author, B. Ishkhanian, who wrote: "The Armenians residing
in Nagorno-Karabakh are partly aborigines and descendants of
the ancient Albanians ..., and partly refugees from Turkey and
Iran, for whom Azerbaijani lands offered a refuge from persecution'
The ideological justification for the territorial claims of the
Armenians in the Southern Caucasus were linked to the formation
of the nationalist parties "Armenakan" in 1885 in France,
"Gnchak" (Bell) in 1887 in Geneva, and "Dashnakzutyun"
(Union) in 1890 in Tiflis. These parties set themselves the task
of using armed uprisings and terrorist actions to unite the territories
on which Armenians who had been resettled from Iran and the Ottoman
Empire were living.
The "Gnchak" programme contains, in particular, the
following call: "To kill Turks and Kurds under any conditions,
never to spare Armenians who have betrayed their cause, and to
take revenge upon them".
"Dashnakzutyun" was an authentic Nazi-style party,
which anticipated by 30 years the ideology of the National Socialist
Party of Germany and whose programme contained the words: "The
objective of the Dashnakzutyun Party is to form an anarchist,
democratic republic. The means of achieving this objective are
the following: 1) armed insurrection; 2) intensive work to develop
a revolutionary mentality among not only the Armenians; 3) the
arming and organization of the Armenians; 4) terror and the destruction
of government persons and institutions."" "To
achieve this objective, everything is permitted: propaganda,
terror, merciless guerrilla warfare."
Recounting the consequences of the activities of the Dashnakzutyun,
the Georgian writer, Karibi, wrote with bitterness in 1919: "The
Dashnaks arrived, bringing with them national hatred. And on
such a soil, need it be said, nothing but Armenian-Muslim carnage
and war between Armenia and Georgia was able to grow.""
It was organizations of this kind, together with the authorities
of the Russian Empire, who were intent on curbing the revolutionary
and nationalist liberation movement in the Caucasus, that provoked
the first confrontations between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in
1905. Between 1907 and 1912 approximately half a million Armenians
from the Ottoman Empire and Iran moved to the Kars, Erivan and
Elizavetpol regions, where a vast majority of the population
was made up of Azerbaijanis. This movement of population took
place with the connivance of the Russian administration, whose
aim was to push the situation in the area of inter-ethnic relations
to the limit and so strengthen Russia's dominion over the region."
2. The transfer of Azerbaijani territories to Armenia
The migration of Armenians to the Southern Caucasus in the first
half of the nineteenth century and their settlement mainly in
Azerbaijan was accompanied by the separation of territory from
Azerbaijan and its incorporation in the "Armenian Oblast"
that had ' been created within the Russian Empire. The expansion
of the territory of Armenia continued into the present century.
As recently as 29 May 1918, the Government of the Azerbaijan
Republic ceded part of the Erivan district (the former Iravan
Khanate) to the Republic of Armenia. This also, however, proved
to be too little for the Armenian Government, and between 1918
and 1920 part of Garabagh, Zangazur and the Lake Geija (now Sevan)
district a total area of 9,000 square kilometres
was seized by force of arms.
After the formation of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic,
its leaders at the time did not demand the return of the Azerbaijani
territories. On the contrary, there then ensued the next "peaceful"
stage of land seizure, realized with assistance from the Communist
leadership of Russia and the Soviet Union. In 1921, Armenia's
"acquisition" of the Zangazur district and a significant
part of the Gazakh district, totalling approximately 9,000 square
kilometres and populated to a large extent by Azerbaijanis, was
legalized." As a result of the transfer of Zangazur to Armenia,
the Nakhchivan area was cut off from Azerbaijan.
In 1922 the Bolsheviks dealt in similar fashion with the Azerbaijani
lands of Dilijan and Geija. In 1929 a number of villages were
taken from Nakhchivan and annexed to the Armenian SSR. In 1969
the Armenian SSR again expanded its territory at the expense
of Azerbaijan by taking land as far east as the Gadabay district.
Under pressure from the central authorities, Azerbaijan "transferred"
a number of villages in the Gazakh district to Armenia.
3. The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of the Azerbaijan
The Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region (NKAO) occupied the south-eastern
part of the Lesser Caucasus and covered an area of 4,388 square
kilometres. The territory of the region stretched for 120 kilometres
from north to south and for 35-60 kilometres from east to west.
It included five administrative areas Askaran, Gadrut,
Mardakert, Martuni and Shusha. The chief town is Khankandi (Stepanakert).
The population of the NKAO, according to estimates for the beginning
of 1989, was 187,000, consisting of: 137,200 Armenians, or 73.4
per cent; 47,400 Azerbaijanis, or 25.3 per cent; 2,400 representatives
of other nationalities, or 1.3 per cent."
Contrary to the assertions of Armenian nationalist leaders concerning
violations of the rights of the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan,
the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region possessed all the fundamental
attributes of self-government and achieved a high rate of development
in the social, economic and cultural fields. The well-known historian
and specialist in Turkic affairs, Audrey Alstadt, says that "..'.Armenian
villages were incorporated within the territorial borders [of
the former NKAO when it was artificially established by the Bolsheviks],
whereas Azerbaijani villages were excluded in order to ensure
an Armenian majority.""
Audrey Alstadt further notes that in the former NKAO "the
Armenian language was designated as an official language for
administrative purposes and in everyday life" and that "the
staffs of territorial, legislative and party organs, as well
as the senior staff members and employees of cultural and educational
establishments, were, in the overwhelming majority, Armenians
from the moment of the creation [of the former NKAO].""
From the facts in question, the writer conclu'des that "the
cultural and administrative character of the region favoured
Azerbaijani emigration ... and, as regards the problems and abuses
that existed [in the former NKAO], they should be laid at the
door of the local Armenians who ... were administering Nagorno-Karabakh,
and not of Baku.""
The legal status of the NKAO, under the Constitution of the Azerbaijan
SSR, was defined by the Law on the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous
Region adopted on the recommendation of the Soviet of People's
Deputies of the NKAO by the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan. The
Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, as a national-territorial
entity, enjoyed administrative autonomy and, accordingly, possessed
a number of rights that, in practice, allowed the specific requirements
of its population to be met. Under the Constitution of the former
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the NKAO was guaranteed
representation by five deputies in the Soviet of Nationalities
(one of the two equal chambers of the parliament) of the Supreme
Soviet of the USSR. Twelve deputies from the Nagorno-Karabakh
Autonomous Region sat in the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan
The Soviet of People's Deputies of the NKAO the organ of
State authority in the Region was vested with a broad spectrum
of powers. It took decisions on all local matters, on the basis
of the interests of citizens living in the territory covered
by the Soviet, bearing in mind national and other particularities
of the Autonomous Region. The Council of People's Deputies of
the NKAO participated in the consideration of issues affecting
the whole Republic and made its proposals concerning them. All
organs of State authority and government administration, the
judiciary and the Office of the Public Prosecutor, the managements
of production enterprises, and the educational and cultural institutions
conducted their work in the Armenian language, in line with the
linguistic needs of the population.
During the rule of the Soviet Union, the Nagorno-Karabakh region
developed faster than Azerbaijan as a whole. Thus, while the
industrial output of the Republic as a whole rose by a factor
of 3 in the period from 1970 to 1986, the figure for the NKAO
was 3.3 (annual growth rates here were above 8.3 per cent). Capital
investment rose by a factor of 3.1 in the period from 1970 to
1986 in the Region, and bp a factor of 2.5 in the Republic. The
basic indices for social development (living standards) in the
NKAO exceeded the average indices for the Azerbaijan SSR and
the Armenian SSR. Particularly noteworthy was the higher level,
in comparison with the Republic, of the provision of housing,
goods and services to the population. The housing space available
to each inhabitant of the NKAO was nearly one-third greater than
the average for the Republic. Per inhabitant of the Region, there
were more intermediate-level medical personnel (by a factor of
1.3) and more hospital beds (by 3 per cent).
Possessing an advantage over practically all the other regions
of Azerbaijan in terms of coverage by cultural and educational
institutions (schools providing general education, specialized
secondary educational establishments, general libraries, museums,
clubs, and arts and crafts centres) geared to the linguistic
needs of the local population, the Autonomous Region enjoyed
the most favourable conditions for the preservation of the identity
of the Garabagh Armenians and, in general, of the ethnic and
cultural particularities of the area. Not only was there a network
of music and drama clubs, but a professional company performed
in the regional capital at the Drama Theatre, where most of the
plays staged were by Armenian playwrights.
Persons passing the university qualification examination who
wished to receive a higher education without leaving the country
had the possibility of entering the Pedagogical Institute in
Khankandi (Stepanakert). Scientific personnel were concentrated
in two scientific institutions, in the Leninavan community and
the main town of the NKAO. Five periodical publications in Armenian
appeared in the Region. Unlike other administrative-territorial
units of Azerbaijan located at a distance from the capital of
the Republic in mountainous areas, the Region had its own infrastructure
for the reception of television and radio programs.
The whole history of the development of the Nagorno-Karabakh
Autonomous Region within Azerbaijan, which became a kind of promised
land for several generations of descendants of the Armenians
who had earlier settled there, shows that not only was this development
in conformity with the interests of the Armenian population of
Upper Garabagh, and the economic, social and demographic features
of this area, but that more than this the Region
enjoyed, in accordance with the principle of "positive discrimination"
that is widely applied in the civilized world, a privileged place
in relation to the rest of Azerbaijan.
The Armenians, who were first resettled during the nineteenth
century by the Tsarist authorities in the Azerbaijani lands of
Nakhchivan, Iravan and Garabagh, and who in the 1920s, with the
support of the Bolsheviks, created the Armenian SSR on the territory
of the former Iravan Khanate and an autonomous district in the
Nagorno-Garabagh region of Azerbaijan, have now waxed insolent
to the point where they are demanding independence for the Armenians
of Nagorno-Garabagh, with a view to uniting them, at a later
stage, with Armenia itself. Will there ever be an end to this
1. Newspaper "Trud", 26 April 1995. (In Russian)
2. Soviet-Iranian Relations in Treaties, Conventions and Agreements.
Moscow, 1946, pp. 24-29. (In Russian)
3. Ibid., p. 30.
4. State Archives of the Azerbaijan Republic (GAAR), F. 970,
op. 1, d. 1, l. 51. (In Russian)
5. Ibid., F. 894, op. 10, d. 104, 1. 1-3.
6. State Archives of Political Parties and Movements in the Azerbaijan
Republic (GAPPODAR). F. 1, op. 1, d. 11, 1. 91. (In Russian)
7. Collection of Laws and Orders of the Government of the Azerbaijan
Republic. Baki, 1919, No. 1, article 1. (In Russian)
8. From the inaugural address of the President of the Azerbaijan
Republic, G. A. Aliyev, on 10 October 1993. Newspaper "Bakinski
Rabochi". 12 October 1993. (In Russian)
9. Griboyedov, A.S. Too Clever by Half. Letters and Notes. Baki,
1989, p. 387. (In Russian)
10. McCarthy, Justin. Armenian Terrorism. History as Poison and
Antidote. Ankara, 1984, pp. 85-94. (In Russian)
11. Balaian, Z. Hearth. Yerevan, 1984, p. 110. (In Russian)
12. Yonisian, A.I. Armenian-Russian Relations in the 18th Century.
Vol. 2, part I, Yerevan, 1964, p.23. (In Russian)
13. Quoted from: Aliyev, I. Nagorno-Karabakh: History, Facts,
Events. Baki, 1989, pp. 73-74. (In Russian)
14. Malevil, Georges. The Armenian Tragedy of 1915. Baki, 1990,
p. 79. (In Russian)
15. Central State Archives of the October Revolution (TsGAOR)
of the USSR, F. 102, op. 253, d. 280, l. 1-12. (In Russian)
16. Malevil, Georges. Op cit., p. 80. (In Russian)
17. Quoted from: Pompeyev, Yu. A. The Bloody Clamp of Karabakh.
Baku, 1992, p. 67. (In Russian)
18. State Archives of Political Parties and Movements in the
Azerbaijan Republic (GAPPODAR). F. 276, op. 8, d. 277, l. 48.
19. Ismailov, M., Tokarzhevsky, E. Truth and Fiction. The Conflict
in Nagorno-Karabakh. Baki, 1990, p. 28. (In Russian)
20. This section presents data obtained from the State Committee
on Statistics of the Azerbaijan Republic.
21. Levon Chorbajian, Patrick Donabedian, Claude Mutafian. The
Caucasian Knot: The History and Geo-Politics of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Zed Books, London and New Jersey, 1994, p. 13.
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