"What is this?", I wandered.
Inscription on the flyer- "The independence of Artsakh doesn't have an alternative, September 2nd, at 19:00, Dinamo stadium, Vardanants Str 69, Mass Meeting".
On the reverse side of the flyer it was written "Dear countryman, September 2nd is the independence day of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. It's a victory day and a holiday for us but it's also a reason to speak about problems and what we should do..."
Many of my "international" friends from different countries ask me about it: "What is the problem of Artsakh". Here is a reason to tell you the whole story about that.
the conflict of Karabakh
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is a de facto independent republic located in the South Caucasus. Sometimes it is also called Artsakh.
The region of Nagorno-Karabakh (NKR) became disputed between Armenia and Azerbaijan since 1918.
Let's first compare some quick facts which may show why Kharabakh can't be under the control of Azerbaijan:
Population of Armenia-Armenians
Population of NKR-Armenians
Population of Azerbaijan-Azerbaijani
Religion of Armenia-Christianity
Religion of NKR-Christianity
Religion of Azerbaijan-Islam
Language of Armenia-Armenian
Language of NKR-Armenian
Language of Azerbaijan-Azerbaijani language
Flag of Armenia
Flag of NKR
Flag of Azerbaijan
5.Coat of Arms
Coat of Arms of Armenia
Coat of Arms of NKR
Coat of Arms of Azerbaijan
Now it's time for historical facts.
1917: After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Karabakh became part of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, which soon dissolved into separate Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian States.
1918: From 1918 till 1920 there were a series of short wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan over several regions, including Karabakh. In July 22, 1918, the First Armenian Assembly of Nagorno-Karabakh declared the region self-governing and created a National Council and government.
After this the Azerbaijani Government was trying to incorporate Nagorno Karabakh into the Azerbaijani territory with the help of theTurkish troops. Ottoman troops entered Karabakh, meeting armed resistance by Armenians. After the defeat of Ottoman Empire in World War I, British troops occupied Karabakh.
1920: In April 1920, while the Azerbaijani army was locked in Karabakh fighting local Armenian forces, Azerbaijan was taken over by Bolsheviks. Subsequently, the disputed areas of Karabakh, Zangezur, and Nakhichevan came under the control of Armenia. During July and August, however, the Russian Red Army occupied Karabakh, Zangezur, and part of Nakhichevan. On August 10, 1920, Armenia signed a preliminary agreement with the Bolsheviks, agreeing to a temporary Bolshevik occupation of these areas until final settlement would be reached.
1921: In 1921, Armenia and Georgia were also taken over by the Bolsheviks who, in order to attract public support, promised they would allot Karabakh to Armenia, along with Nakhichevan and Zangezur (the strip of land separating Nakhchivan from Azerbaijan proper). However, the Soviet Union also had far-reaching plans concerning Turkey, hoping that it would, with a little help from them, develop along Communist lines. Needing to placate Turkey, by the decision of Joseph Stalin, Soviet Union agreed to a division under which Zangezur would fall under the control of Armenia, while Karabakh and Nakhchivan would be under the control of Azerbaijan.
Had Turkey not been an issue, Stalin would likely have left Karabakh under Armenian control.
1923: As a result, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast was established within the Azerbaijan SSR on July 7, 1923.
It is very important to remember that during all this period the population of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic was consisting of christian Armenians who were speaking Armenian and have Armenian lifestyle.
With the Soviet Union firmly in control of the region, the conflict over the region died down for several decades.
1990s: With the beginning of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the question of Nagorno-Karabakh re-emerged. Accusing the Azerbaijani SSR government of conducting forced azerification of the region, the majority Armenian population, with ideological and material support from the Armenian SSR, started a movement to have the autonomous oblast transferred to the Armenian SSR.
1991: From the beginning of 1991 Azerbaijan embarked on attacking the Armenian population of both the Nagorno Karabakh region and also the Shahoumian district. In the district there appeared leaflets containing an ultimatum demand that the Armenian people should leave the bounds of Nagorno- Karabakh at the earliest possible date.
April: The situation in Nagorno Karabakh and adjacent Armenian districts became tense.One such action that gave rise to deterioration in the region was Operation Ring. This punitive act taken against the Armenians in late April and early May of 91 involved the forces of the USSR Ministry of the Interior together with Azerbaijani special militia detachments. On the pretext of a passport "check" an unprecedented action of state terror was carried out with the aim of destroying the brain-center of the Movement and annihilating the national unity. The first victims became the villagers of Getashen and Martunashen of the Khanlar district of Azerbaijan. The male population was taken out in an unknown direction where a "passport check" took place accompanied with brutality, looting, and robbery. During three days the population of 24 Karabakh villages was subjected to similar treatment and deportation. Two of the villages were in the Khanlar district, three in the Shahumian district, fifteen in the Hadrut district and four in the Shushi district. As a result of these actions in Karabakh and in near- border of Armenia more than 100 people were killed and several hundred more were taken hostages.
May: On April 24, the Armenian Supreme Soviet Chairman directed a letter to the USSR leadership with the request to take urgent measures for protecting and ensuring security guarantees of the Armenian population of the district. On May 3, the Armenian Party organization’s active members addressed President of the USSR M. Gorbachev with the same request. On May 4, the meetings of President of Armenia L.Ter-Petrossian with M.Gorbachev and President of Russia B.Yeltsin took place, but they did not produce a statement following the meeting. The USSR MVD (Interior Ministry) troops with the Azerbajani OMON continued to conduct their punitive operations. It was evident that the trend of developments was leading to a wide-scale war.
As a result of the critical situation in Nagorno Karabakh the executive committee of the district Soviet announced both locally and to the world in general that they had declared state of emergency in the district. On the same day the executive committee addressed the UN and the leadership of a number of countries with the request to save the Armenian people of NKAO from physical extermination and grant them political asylum.
On December 10, 1991, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, a referendum held in the NKAO and the neighboring Shahumian region resulted in a declaration of independence from Azerbaijan as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Though we have lost a lot of Armenian soldiers in Karabakh war, but we are proud now that this sign, which says "Free Artsakh welcomes you" stands in that region.
And at the end, I just want to add that I personally lived in that war situation, when in Armenia there was no water, light, gas and electricity and will never wish any kid to experience that.
Peace and happiness to everybody!