Azerbaijan’s grand experiment of scaring everyone with its blacklist and making the Russian-Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin an example has failed spectacularly. All kudo’s go to Lapshin, of course. What a guy! But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
The official flag of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) was raised high and proud in Boston’s Armenian Heritage Park on Tuesday as Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan came by on a working visit to the USA. The flag jumped right out of every official photo published by Armenian President’s website. You could just see that they’re making a point. And rightly so.
On February 20, 1988 a decision was adopted in the extraordinary seesion of Nagorno-Karabakh region’s Council of People’s Deputies to present a petition to the government bodies of Azerbaijani and Armenian SSRs to hand over the NKAR to Armenia.
The maps below via Pigh illustrate the situation on this date, which marked the start of the Karabakh Movement and today.
According to the plan, which Hurriet Daily News claims is part of a Turkey brokered Nagorno-Karabakh deal, Armenia would give away some towns surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh region to Azerbaijan in a specific timetable and repatriate Azeris fled the region; administration of NKR would be handed to a provisional body. Furthermore, the newspaper says Karvachar (Kelbajar) would be handed out to Azerbaijan, the railroad and highway between Azerbaijan and Armenia would be opened and international peacekeeprs would be deployed at the border region between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
The report has since been called absurd and false by both Armenian and Azerbaijani officials.
One wonders, however, how could all these details emerge out of thin air? Did Hurriet just invent it all? Why would it want to do it? Who do we trust?
In connection with the anniversary of the NKR State Independence Referendum and the Constitution Day NKR President Bako Sahakyan has issued a congratulatory address to the citizens of the republic, where he has noted: “On very day in 1991 our people officially sealed their will to form free, independent and sovereign state. And it was not a coincident that 15 years later on this very day of 2006 the people of Artsakh once again expressed their resoluteness to further strengthen and develop independent statehood and on a nation-wide referendum adopted the basic of the country – the NKR Constitution. It has marked the irreversibility of our state policy to build democratic country, our commitment to the follow international norms and integrate with the civilized world.”
Remarkably, the tiny Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is often much more advanced in terms of democratisation, basic freedoms, culture to hold referendums and elections, than either Armenia or Azerbaijan, which assume the responsability to speak about the future status of Karabakh.
Joining in with my congratulations to the people of Karabakh, I want to also share my vision: the only way for Karabakh to remain independent and become internationally recognized, is to pursue further reforms and improvement of its fragile democracy. The only way, for Armenia to attain greater moral weight in speaking on behalf of NKR, is for Armenia to overcome its major problems with democracy and human rights, which were especially visible this year as a result of 2008 Presidential elections and the violence that followed afterwards.
PS: Coincidentally, today is also the International Day of Human Rights.
Armenian blogs did not greet the signing of declaration between presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia at the “Main Dorf” castle near Moscow, although this was the first document to be signed by the two sides of the conflict – Armenia and Azerbaijan. The bloggers were concerned by the absence of the third side – the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
Download the podcast for a blog-roundup on the topic as well as an interview with Armenian journalist, blogger Armen Sargsyan from here or listen to it online by clicking the player icon below.
Resolution of Karabakh conflict is possible, the president of Armenia Serge Sargsyan said in an interview to Armenian Public TV, at the site of Military manoeuvres held in Artsakh by the Karabakh Self-Defense Army.
“Karabakh resolution is possible”,-president Sargsyan said in the interview,”if Azerbaijan recognizes the right of Karabakh people for self-determination; if Mountainous Karabakh has land border with Armenia and if the International Community and the leading states guarantee the security of Karabakh people”.
Serge Sargsyan’s words come days after the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev stated in his inaugural address, that Azerbaijan will never accept Karabakh independence.
President Sargsyan also said he found the recent active discussions and public debates in Armenia on the subject of Karabakh resolution “useful” and predicted an even more active phase of discussions on the subject in the future.
An unprecedented wedding ceremony, which married 675 new couples, took place in Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on October 16. The ceremonies took place in St. Ghazanchetsots church of Shoushi and ancient Gandzasar monastery of Martakert. The Karabakh wedding, followed by a solemn dinner and issuance of wedding certificates and wedding gifts in Stepanakert’s republican stadium, was implemented with the initiative of Russian businessman of Karabakh descent – Levon Hairapetyan, who was also the main sponsor of the event.
The couples were presented ‘golden’ banking cards with $2500 worth of AMD on the balance for each new family to spend. The beneficiaries have also thought about future children: following the birth of the first child the family will receive $2000, the second child – $3000, third child – $5000, fourth – $10,000, fifth – $20,000, sixth – $50,000, seventh – $100,000. That’s plenty of reasons for 675 children to be born in Artsakh next year – 2000 reasons starting from the first child 😉
The fact is – Karabakh has a serious population problem, and similar steps are the surest way to tackle it. Earlier this year Hetq published an article which adds another dimension to this story:
All this commotion is not only the result of the planned collective wedding event but also due to the government’s program unveiled in January of this year that calls for providing gifts of 300,000 drams to newly wed couples. To this end the Karabakh government has earmarked 450 million drams out of the 2008 state budget to be allocated to some 1,500 couples. However, it is already apparent that the number of couples that will register to get married this year will exceed this number. This became clear back in April when figures at the NKR National Statistical Agency showed the number of couples registering for marriage at 1,887. This compares to 224 couples during the same period in 2007. Interestingly, a portion of these 1,887 couples have already gotten hitched but the marriages were never properly registered in order that they are able to take advantage of the government’s largesse. In 2007 there were 519 marriages registered in Karabakh and 827 in 2006.
Apart from ensuring record number of marriages and most probably – a boom in next year’s child birthrates, this event will also serve the important purpose of establishing long-lasting relationships between donors and Karabakhis – given the fact, that the beneficiaries of the event are also becoming Godfathers for the newly formed families. No wonder, that the President of Karabakh Bako Sahakyan spoke on the event stressing it’s importance for the country. Overall – this has been the best piece of news I’ve heard so far this year.
Photos via: 517design
The world is filled with comment and analysis about the Georgian-Russian war and while the active military actions have ceased, the information war is going on full speed. The Guardian has been my main source of information throughout the past 5-6 days of armed conflict in Georgia, along with the Russian version of the BBC, which was a great deal more balanced than its English language version. At any rate, this analysis by BBC’s Paul Reynolds has captured the essence and reality of the Georgia conflict in short and simple formulations, which are hard to disagree with. Observe the following balance sheet:
2. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
3. The South Ossetians
4. Old Europe
|1. The dead and wounded and the refugees, of course
2. President Saakashvili of Georgia
3. The truth
4. The West
The calculation of winning points and losses is still on and looking at how effective the western propaganda means like BBC and CNN are at disseminating cleverly designed half-truths, Saakashvili might just be able to turn this defeat into a victory.
Meanwhile, Armenia kept an uneasy silence throughout the clash of its two vital partners – Georgia, the main trade route to the world and Russia, the actual owner of this country (Armenian gas, electricity, communications infrastructure, railways are all controlled by Russian companies, Russian army guards Armenia’s border with Turkey).
There were a couple of vague and failed attempts to provoke and involve Armenia into the conflict in Georgia. The first of such attempts was the claim that the Russian warplanes bombing the military airfield near Tbilisi had actually taken off from the Russian airbase situated in Gyumri, Northern Armenia. Following refutations from Armenia, Georgian and Russian sources, the news died down, but the damage was done and Russian bases in Armenia were seen as a potential threat. Armenia was once again depicted as the Russian fore-post in the Caucasus – not that it needed proving or any further publicity. A second false rumor concerned the Armenians in Georgia’s Javakheti region – a nationalist Russian website claimed, that Georgia is planning ethnic cleansing in this mostly Armenian populated area, and that Armenians are gathering into armed groups to defend themselves. And although Armenia successfully avoided any involvement into the Georgia-Russia conflict, there are already sings, that the developments have left great impact on us. Making the assumption, that independence and physical safety of citizens are the key assets of a nation, here are some points for us to consider:
- We are hanging out with the strongest guy on our block – Russia showed the world who is the boss in the South Caucasus. Sadly though, the big guy has a nasty character – any attempts to demonstrate independence will result in severe punishment. There goes our independence…
- There was strong militaristic sentiment in Azerbaijan on the first day of the conflict, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia. Many in Baku were suggesting Azerbaijan should act by force, just like Georgia and attack Nagorno-Karabakh – a seemingly similar breakaway region of Azerbaijan. Following Russia’s violent response, calls for war toned down in Azerbaijan. However, looking at things more realistically, we will see that South Ossetia has nothing to do with Nagorno-Karabakh. There are no Russian peacekeepers standing on the border and Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev has so far been much more balanced in its attitude towards the West and Russia, than his Georgian counterpart, so Russia has no reason to ‘punish’ Azerbaijan if it attacks Armenia, even though Armenia is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and Azerbaijan isn’t. With the Georgian invasion Russia has proved all it needs to the West already, so it will have nothing to gain and everything to loose by defending Armenia against Azerbaijan. There goes the physical safety…
…and especially for those who believe in ‘collective security treaties’ and century long friendship of Armenians and Russians, my response will be short – LOL!
- an outgoing US President, a Republican facing a democratic majority in US Parliament will have the political resources to risk a new war after horrors of Iraq;
- NATO – alliance of countries with stagnating and fuel hungry economies, who have just started to breathe freely because the oil prices have gone down a little bit, will engage in anything against the world’s largest oil and gas exporter, which will surely kick up the energy prices once again and finally kill their economies;
- that if Russia gets really angry and decides to declare South Ossetia an independent country, UN will be able to do anything, given the Kosovo precedent and the fact that Russia is already quite sick and tired of UN trying to dictate things to it.
Now we have what we have – 1400 reported (unconfirmed) civilian deaths, 10 Russian peacekeepers killed and 30 wounded, heavy fighting on the territory of South Ossetia, Russian tanks and jets entering Georgian territory and according to Georgian claims bombing their military and civilian targets. There are no figures of losses from the Georgian side, but clearly, such an operation will cost them dearly. Saakashvili has already called back the Georgian contingent of 2000 from Iraq and has announced plans of declaring martial law and calling reserves to arms. A full scale war is looming and it doesn’t look like Georgia’s getting any help from anywhere. US President spoke of supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity – but will he dare to translate words into action, given the points I highlighted above? Hardly.
The UN Security Council met late last night only to reveal one more miscalculation of Mr. Saakashvili – with wourld leaders away in Beijing, away from their consultants and intelligence reports, the accusations of Georgian envoy were counterbalanced by the Russian envoy’s equally valid points and counteraccusations, so the Council broke on promise to meet again this morning, not that any results are to be expected anyway.
Meanwhile, we – Armenians have Azerbaijan to worry about – Ilham Aliyev might just decide to take advantage of general disorder in South Caucasus and attempt an attack on Nagorno Karabakh. Armenia’s defence Minister Seyran Ohanyan was in Artaskh yesterday – clearly not a simple sightseeing mission.