11:03 pm - Friday March 24, 2017

Karabakh Knot: Identifying Myths and Clarifying Realities

Subsequent UNSC Resolutions 853, 874 and 884 were passed due to the ongoing advance and occupation of Azerbaijani districts by the Armenian army, reaffirming the stance of the U.N. Security Council on previously adopted documents calling for occupying Armenian forces to withdraw. Resolution 853 was passed on July 29, 1993, six days after occupation of the Agdam district of Azerbaijan and in accordance with the report by the Chairman of the OSCE (CSCE) Minsk Group.[10] Resolution 874 was adopted on October 14, following the occupation of the districts of Fizuli, Jabrayil, and Gubadly on August 23, 26 and 31, respectively.[11] Finally, Resolution 884 was adopted on November 12, 1993 after the last region in southwestern Karabakh, Zangelan and the city of Horadiz were occupied on October 29.[12] Remarkably, Mr. Avetisyan also chooses to forget four critical points:

1)The term “occupying forces” in the resolutions is used in reference to the occupying Armenian armed forces, because Azerbaijan, in all of the districts specified in the resolutions, was on the defensive, not offensive;
2)Azerbaijani forces could not have ever been an “occupying force” in Nagorno-Karabakh, simply because Nagorno-Karabakh is a constituent part of the Republic of Azerbaijan (duly recognized so by the international community). Hence, there are no grounds to misinterpret and play around the term “occupying forces”;
3)“Local Armenian troops” would never have been able to withstand campaigns of the Azerbaijani army should they have not been aided by the Armenian army and Russia’s 127th division stationed in Gyumri (Armenia) and 366th regiment deployed in Khankendi (Stepanakert). The latter had already become notorious for its role in the joint operation in Khojaly on February 26, 1992, which ended up in the slaughter of 613 Azeri civilians by Armenian detachments [13],[14];
4)There is ample evidence of the Armenian army participating in hostilities against Azerbaijan in Karabakh. Reputable sources, including Human Rights Watch, state that as much as 30 percent of Armenian army soldiers interviewed in Yerevan fought in Karabakh.[15] Many Armenian soldiers, who currently serve in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, are a part of the armed forces of the Republic of Armenia. The deaths of Armenian conscripts in Nagorno-Karabakh every now and then often make their way into the media and shed light on the denials of the Armenian side about the Armenian army being deployed in Azerbaijan’s occupied territories.[16]

Yet, the aforementioned four UNSC resolutions are not the only documents clarifying the stance of the international community. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution 1416 on January 25, 2005 on the situation in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and called for compliance with four UNSC resolutions.[17] The U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution A/62/L.42 on March 14, 2008 reaffirming the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and demanding the withdrawal of occupying Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh.[18] Many more resolutions condemning the Armenian occupation of Azerbaijani territory were passed by other international organizations such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. From the EU presidency to Minsk Group co-chair states, leaders have called on Armenia to respect the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and withdraw the occupying forces from its territory.[19],[20]
By contrast, no documents by international bodies and governments were issued condemning any “Azerbaijani aggression,” as implied by Mr. Avetisyan, not even during the Azerbaijani campaign from December 1993 to January 1994 when Azerbaijani forces were able to liberate Horadiz, just because the restoration of the territorial integrity of a sovereign state is the right of any country, maintained by every legitimate government on the planet. Furthermore, no international organization or government has recognized the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh Republic ruled by a regime branded by U.S. Assistant of Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones as one run by “criminal secessionists.”[21] It is noteworthy that U.N. member Pakistan does not even recognize Armenia itself, due to its aggression against the Republic of Azerbaijan.[22]

Unsurprisingly, commentator Avetisyan reiterates the official rhetoric of the Republic of Armenia on the continuing blockade of Armenia by the Republic of Azerbaijan, but fails to provide precedents from the history of conflicts where and when a country, a part of which had been occupied, extended a lifeline to the economy of the occupying country. This would be similar to Nazi Germany complaining about a blockade of the Allies during WWII, imposed on it untiil the end of the war while it maintained the occupation of a large part of Europe and Northern Africa. Needless to say, Azerbaijan sees no point in opening borders with Armenia or extending all economic opportunities to it, which would bring Yerevan money to sustain its occupation of Karabakh, so long as Armenia is unwilling to compromise. Unfortunately, the Armenian leadership has imprisoned the Armenian population and Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh, depriving them of all economic incentives and projects which enriched all countries in the region, including Georgia and Turkey. Undoubtedly, Armenia, which was left behind all major international energy and communication projects in the Caucasus, has been ranked by Forbes magazine as the second-worst economy in the world.[23] Therefore, due to deteriorating economic conditions in the country, Armenia has ranked third among 28 post-socialist countries for having the most decreasing population, losing 15.1% of its population between 1989 through 2007. By contrast, Azerbaijan’s population grew by 20.8% in the same time period.[24] A strikingly worrisome concern is that over 1.1 million people have left Armenia since 1991.[25]

The core of the problems Armenia faces today is the irredentist and decrepit ideology of the state, imposed on the Armenian public, impeding the economic and social development in the country. It is the only state in the South Caucasus which lays territorial claims on Azerbaijan (its Nagorno-Karabakh and Nakhchivan regions), Georgia (Samtskhe-Javakheti region) and Turkey (eastern provinces) simultaneously. It is the only state violating international laws and norms in the region. And it is the only state depriving its own population of economic benefits other countries have been enjoying. Yerevan should seriously rethink its strategies and start integrating into the region instead of conspicuously calling on the younger generation of Armenians to ominous causes such as “fighting to annex eastern Turkey.”[26] The mere fact that the international community has not recognized the regime in Khankendi (Stepanakert) in the last two decades and does not endorse the occupation of Azerbaijani territory by Armenia should give it a hint. Saber rattling against Azerbaijan does not supply the Armenian public with income, nor does it increase their chances of justifying the occupation of a sovereign state’s territory in the eyes of the international community. Only through good-willed compromise and respect for international laws can Armenia overcome this impasse.


[1] News.az agency, Azerbaijan ready to start work on major peace agreement. December 6, 2011 (http://www.news.az/articles/50317)
[2] Yusif Babanly, History of peace process disruptions:
starring Armenia, July 14, 2011 (http://www.todayszaman.com/news-250436-opinion-history-of-peace-process-disruptions-starring-armenia.html)
[3] BBC Russian, Karabakh: Chronology of the conflict (http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/russian/news/newsid_3681000/3681079.stm)
[4] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Jean-Christophe Peuch. Caucasus: Iran Offers to Mediate in Nagorno-Karabakh Dispute, RFE/RL (http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1097022.html)
[5] Russian News Portal, State Secretary arrives in Azerbaijan. July 4, 2010 (http://old.er.ru/about/text.shtml?14/4223,110989)
[6] The New York Times, Bill Keller, Armenia Yielding Claim on Enclave, September 23, 1991 (http://www.nytimes.com/1991/09/23/world/armenia-yielding-claim-on-enclave.html?scp=1&sq=Armenia%20Yielding%20Claim%20on%20Enclave&st=cse)
[7] UN SC Resolution 822 (1993) Adopted by the Security Council at its 3205th meeting, on April 30, 1993 (http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3b00f15764.html)
[8] Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Azerbaijan: Seven years of conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh: Human Rights Watch, 1994
, p. 116 (http://books.google.com/books?id=4ipKwifQaNIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Azerbaijan:+
[9] See note 7
[10] UN SC Resolution 853 (1993) Adopted by the Security Council at its 3259th meeting, on 29 July, 1993 (http://www.unhcr.org
[11] UN SC Resolution 874 (1993)Adopted by the Security Council at its 3292nd meeting, on 14 October, 1993 (http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3b00f1684.html)
[12] UN SC Resolution 884 (1993) Adopted by the Security Council at its 3313th meeting, on 12 November, 1993
[13] The New York Times, Massacre by Armenians Being Reported. March 3, 1992 (http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/03/world/massacre-by-armenians-being-reported.html?scp=7&sq=Khojaly&st=nyt)

[14] The Journal of Turkish Weekly,The Debacle: From Kafan to Khojaly,Yusif Babanly (http://www.turkishweekly
[15] Thomas De Waal, Black Garden:New York University Press, 2003, p. 236 (http://books.google.com/books?id=pletup86P
[16] Human Rights Watch World Report 1999: HRW, 1998, p.240 (http://books.google.com/books?id=LdWZrfsdqAEC&pg=PA240&lpg=PA240&dq=Armenian+conscript+Vanadzor+Karabakh&source=bl&ots=UGuVnwhvJT&sig=M5Y3SxkMkkznsHrWaMI18Q455mA&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false)
[17] PACE Resolution 1416. The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region dealt with by the OSCE Minsk Conference, Text adopted by the Assembly on 25 January 2005 (2nd Sitting) (http://assembly.coe.int/Main.asp?link=/Documents/AdoptedText/ta05/ERES1416.htm#_ftn1)
[18] General Assembly calls for removal of Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh, 14March 2008 (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp
[19] Leonidas Themistocles Chrysanthopoulos, Caucasus chronicles: nation-building and diplomacy in Armenia, 1993-1994: Gomidas Institute , 2002, p. 134 (http://books.google.com/books?id=cELfINDAH0oC&pg=PA141&dq=Horadiz&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false)
[20] Chicago Tribune, Azerbaijan, Armenia take steps toward cease-fire in enclave,May 7, 1993 (http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/chicagotribune/access/24283152.html?FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=May+7%2C+1993&author=ASSOCIATED+PRESS&pub=
[21] U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones, Speech on 13 January 2005: Karabakh Factsheet, Excerpt from the website of
Embassy in Moscow(http://karabakh.usazeris.org/)
[22] Senate of Pakistan World View, 7 July 2008 (http://www.foreignaffairscommittee.org/includes/content_files/Report%2021%20-%20Visit%20to%20Azerbaijan.pdf)
[23] Forbes Magazine, Daniel Fisher, The World’s Worst Economies, 5 July 2011 http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2011/07/
[24] World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2009 , adapted from Elizabeth Brainerd, “The Demographic Transformation of Post-Socialist Countries: Causes, Consequences , and Questions”, Brandeis University, August 2009
[25] Eurasianet.org, Mariana Grigoryan, Armenia:Russian GuestWorker Program Highlights Population Drain. 25 march
2011 (http://www.eurasianet.org/node/63157)Sargsyan for Western Armenia remarks (http://www.armenia.com.au/news/Armenia-News/English/3283/Erdogan-wants-apology-from-Sargsyan-for-Western-Armenia-remarks)

* Yusif Babanly is the co-founder and secretary of the US Azeris Network (USAN) and a member of the board of directors of Azerbaijani American Council.


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