History of Nagorno
of Michigan - Dearborn.
Soviet Period (1919-1991)
first the Soviets returned Nagorno-Karabagh to Armenia; but after a brief
period, Joseph Stalin gave it to Azerbaijan as an "autonomous region,"
and altered the boundaries so that Karabagh was cut off from Armenia and
was smaller in size.
The next 70-plus years witnessed
Azeri persecution of Armenians in an attempt to drive them out and replace
them with Azeris, as was done in the Armenian territory of Nakhichevan.
In the Gorbachev era of glasnost,
the Armenians brought the persecution of their brethren to the world's
attention through massive peaceful demonstrations in Yerevan, the capital
city of Armenia, in February 1988.
By openly and bravely protesting
Soviet ethnic injustice for the first time, the reform movement in Nagorno-Karabagh
ignited the independence movements in the Soviet Bloc of Eastern Europe.
The "Karabagh Movement" is thus the grandfather of freedom not only in
Eastern Europe but in the former USSR itself.
At that time the Armenians wanted
to attach Nagorno-Karabagh to Armenia, to ensure its survival, but now
they respect the wishes of the Nargorno-Karabagh Armenians to be independent.
The independence movement has been met with appalling violence from the
Azeris. In February 1988 there was a pogrom (massacre) against Armenians
in Sumgait, a suburb of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. In November of
1988, there was a pogrom against Armenians in Kirovabad (now Ganja), in
the interior of Azerbaijan. In 1989-90, there are joint Soviet-Azerbaijani
forced deportations of Armenians living in towns and villages of Azerbaijan
bordering Nagorno- Karabagh. In January of 1990, there was pogrom (massacres)
against Armenians in Baku itself.
When the Azeris began an outright
military assault on the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh itself, they took
up arms to defend their homes, their land, and their ancient culture. The
Armenians are fighting for self-preservation and for the right of self-
determination, while the Azeris are fighting to expel an ancient people
from their historic homeland and to preserve power over a foreign province.
Today, a tenous cease-fire is in
place and has been holding for the past 16 months. However, the Azeris
number eight million and have a wealth of oil resources to draw upon in
the coming years, and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh only 160,000 and
scant resources. Very little would prevent the Azeris from reopening hostilities
and starting a full-scale war once the oil money enters its coffers. A
genocide similar to that of 1915 is threatened unless the world takes an
interest in and protects the lives of the embattled Armenian minority.
Despite numerous acts of provocation
on the part of Azerbaijan—including a six-year-old blockade of Armenia—the
Armenian government has studiously avoided being drawn into the war between
the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabagh and the Azeri leaders in Baku. In October
1992, the US Congress enacted legislation banning direct US assistance
to the government of Azerbaijan until the blockade is lifted and the aggression
The six-year-old war has taken the
lives of more than 16,000 people, and over 1,000,000 have been displaced.
Azerbaijan currently has 600,000-1,000,000 refugees, Armenia 400,000 refugees,
and Nagorno-Karabagh 60,000 refugees.
Armenian Youth Federation,
Republic of Nagorno Karabagh officially declared its independence following
a December 1991 referendum which revealed a majority in favor of secession
from Azerbaijan and of self rule. Nagorno Karabagh was a part of Armenia
until 1921 when Joseph Stalin, then the Commissar of Nationalities, placed
the region under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan. The decision to separate
from Azerbaijan resulted from a history of economic, political, and cultural
repression at the hands of Azeri authorities.
Independence was officially declared
on January 6, 1992, during the inaugural session of the newly elected 82-seat
parliament which two days later elected Artur Mkrtichian as its first president.
Mkrtichian, however, was fatally shot 3 months later and vice President
Georgi Petrosian was appointed acting parliamentary president. Petrosian
resigned in June 1993 and was replaced by Garen Babourian.
In the following months, the parliament
did not hold session, as many parliamentarians were fighting on the frontlines.
In fact, elections were held in July 1994 for 4 seats left vacant by the
deaths of parliamentarians on the battlefields.
Parliamentary elections were held
again in April 1995, forming a new 33-seat legislature to replace the Soviet-era
81-seat body. In the first election under the terms of a new presidential
system of government, incumbent President Robert Kocharian was elected
to a five-year term in November 1996, with international observers from
the European Union and the Russian parliament certifying the election as
free, fair and democratic.
Nagorno Karabagh self-defense forces
continued to control most of the republic as well as a buffer area to the
east and south in an effort to protect Karabagh civilian centers from Azerbaijani
shelling. The establishment of the Lachin land corridor, connecting Karabagh
with Armenia, allowed for the delivery humanitarian food and medical supplies
to offset the five-year full transport blockade of the region by Azerbaijani
The Nagorno Karabagh conflict became
the focus of an international mediation effort by the 54-nation Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as of some sporadic
mediation attempts by individual countries. The OSCE formalized its mediation
effort with the formation of an internal working group, called the "Minsk
Group," consisting of eleven OSCE member states with Russia and a rotating
state serving as co-chair. The Minsk Group sought to build on the progress
reached by the continuation of the informal cease-fire agreement in place
since May 1994 and aimed to hold an eventual peace conference to settle
the conflict. The fundamental obstacle toward the settlement of the conflict
was the necessity for reconciling the principles of territorial integrity
and the right to self-determination, a challenge compounded by the bloody
history of the conflict.
The Nagorno Karabagh's Parliament
convened a special session on March and resolved to suspend its normal
legislative duties. The secretary and the parliamentary chairman though,
continued to hold their full legislative portfolios.
On the 20th of March, Robert Kocharian
was named Prime Minister of the Armenian Republic as Armen Sarkisian, the
former Prime Minister, resigned due to health reasons. Leonard Petrosian,
Prime Minister of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh, assumed the leadership
until the next presidential elections.
The OSCE mediated talks in Moscow
yielded no tangible results as stated by the Armenian deputy Foreign Minister
V. Oskanian. Moreover OSCE suspended its regular monitoring of the southern
Armenian-Azerbaijani border as a result of an incident in the Azerbaijani
town Horadiz where a vehicle transporting an OSCE official monitor was
fired upon. Despite the suspension of official monitoring the OSCE sent
a new delegation to the region in an effort to stabilize the situation
along the border area.
On June 1st, 1997, the OSCE "Minsk
Group" announced a set of new proposals following a series of meeting with
Armenian, Azerbaijani and Nagorno Karabagh officials. The new proposals
that aimed at restarting the stalled mediation effort, would reportedly
enable Azerbaijan to retain control over Karabagh while giving Karabagh
a significant degree of autonomy within Azerbaijani proper. The proposal
was rejected by the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh, while Armenia and Azerbaijan
considered it as a basis to resolve the conflict. Furthermore, the foreign
affairs minister of Karabagh, Arkadi Ghoukasian, reaffirmed that his country
will continue to struggle for the recognition of its independence.
A new mission by the Minsk Group's
French-American-Russian co-chairs, to the region from July 18 to 20 did
not give the expected results. New negotiations, initiated by the American
co-chairman were put to start in September after the presidential elections
of the Republic of Nagorno Karabagh.
On September 1st, 1997, Karabagh
elected Foreign Minister Arkadi Ghoukasian to the presidency with 89,3%
of the vote. Later in the week, the Secretary of the Parliament Emma Gabrielian,
was appointed temporary parliamentary chairman after the resignation of
A. Tovmasian, while Leonard Petrosian was appointed Prime Minister of the