The Armenians of Karabakh "have the right". ... What about the Azerbaijanis of Zangezur and Iravan, the Georgians of Abkhazia and Samachablo?

04.03.23 10:20

Today the most popular thesis among Armenian nationalists and especially revanchists is the need to ensure "the rights of Armenians of 'Artsakh' - i.e. Karabakh. Although Azerbaijan considers these people as its citizens and guarantees them all their rights. First of all the right to live in safety in their homes. That is, the right which hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani refugees from the territory of the Republic of Armenia are deprived of (and still cannot be exercised by Azerbaijanis from Khankendi, Khojaly and other settlements of Azerbaijani Karabakh in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers).


Meanwhile, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also regularly refers to the Armenians of 'Artsakh' and their 'rights'. Although, in fact, these Armenians live on the sovereign territory of another state. But here it is logical that the President of Azerbaijan, too, worries about the violated rights of its citizens and compatriots - natives of the territory of the current Republic of Armenia - historical western Azerbaijan. But for some reason this angered the Armenian prime minister.


Thus, Nikol Pashinian, speaking on March 2, 2023 at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) panel discussion on 'Security and Stability in the South Caucasus. Armenia's Prospects' panel discussion stated that he considered President Ilham Aliyev's initiative on 'Western Azerbaijan' to be 'bizarre'.


"Do you know what does it mean? It means that Armenia 'has no sovereign territory', the whole territory of the Republic of Armenia is so-called West Azerbaijan. At the same time he (Ilham Aliyev) says that we want peace, etc. etc. This is a very weird situation. Here is the main problem of our relations"., — Pashinian stated.


Here the Armenian prime minister is 'twisting the facts'. No one is yet questioning the sovereignty of the Republic of Armenia over its internationally recognised territory. But 'Western Azerbaijan' is its historical name for these lands. They were part of Azerbaijani states - the Iravan Khanate, the Sevefevid Empire, Ak-Koyunlu, Kara-Koyunlu, etc.


On the contrary, neither states nor even administrative-territorial units and formations of the Khay ethnos historically existed before 1918. An entity with the word "Armenia" in its name has not existed here for the last 2 thousand years. And existed more than 2 thousand years ago a very short historical period under the name "Armenia" headed by Parthian dynasty had nothing to do with the Khay ethnos.


The indigenous population of these lands, Azerbaijani were step by step completely ousted and expelled from these lands. And this process was initiated by the Russian Empire. Then the Dashnaks killed and expelled the Azerbaijanis (especially in Zangezur in 1905-1906 and 1918-1920, with particular atrocities in the latter period distinguished future Hitlerite executioner Garegin Nzhdeh. 


The expulsion of Azerbaijanis from the Armenian SSR was continued by the USSR (mass deportation of Azerbaijanis to the Kura-Araks Lowlands and artificial settlement of their abandoned homes by Armenian settlers from outside the USSR in 1947-48). This process was completed by the bloody pogroms and genocide of Azerbaijanis by Armenian nationalists already during the collapse of the USSR. Although at the time the Karabakh Armenian separatist movement began, there were many more Azerbaijanis living in the Armenian SSR than there were Armenians in the NKAO of Azerbaijan.


For this reason President Ilham Aliyev supports the concept of return to Western Azerbaijan recently adopted by public activists from amongst Western Azeris.


The concept states, inter alia, that due to the widespread and systematic violence perpetrated by the government of the Republic of Armenia against Azerbaijanis, the community of West Azerbaijan does not trust the security issues of that state, and considers it important that an international security mission with an appropriate mandate, consisting of forces from countries they trust, is deployed in territories to be returned by the West Azerbaijanis. That is, it is analogous to the peacekeepers that are now, as you know, on Azerbaijani territory in Karabakh. They will remain there until November 2025, ensuring the integration of Karabakh Armenians into Azerbaijani society and the return of Azerbaijani refugees to their homes. The fact that these processes (the integration of Armenians and the return of Azerbaijanis) have not yet started is not Azerbaijan's fault; it is the Revashists, separatists and international swindlers such as Ruben Vardanyan, as well as non-compliance by the Russian peacekeepers with their obligations.


But according to the logic of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, it turns out that the President of Azerbaijan, while undertaking obligations to respect the rights of Karabakh Armenians as citizens of Azerbaijan, should not even remember the rights of Azerbaijanis born on the territory of the current Republic of Armenia? Strange logic comes out from Mr. Pashinyan and Armenian nationalists.


So, Armenians have rights not only to live where they want, but even to claim some kind of "status", while other nations do not even have the right to live in their own land? And not only Azerbaijanis.


For almost three decades now, Armenian nationalists have been denying Georgians Abkhazia and Samachablo the right to return to their homeland. Armenia regularly votes at the UN against the return of Georgian refugees to Abkhazia.  At the same time, at the instigation of the Armenian lobby, Russia also opposes the return of Georgians (and many houses and flats of expelled Georgians in Abkhazia are occupied by Armenians). What else can we call this than the most blatant kind of Nazism?


Meanwhile, the Russian Federation organised the aggression against Ukraine under the slogan "fighting Nazism" (although not a single person was expelled from Ukraine because of their ethnic origin). This is an outrageous cynicism, given that the Russian Federation itself, together with its Armenian "allies", is implementing the most rabid Nazism in the occupied territories.


It is time for Armenian politicians (and not only them) to get rid of the racist division of people into "sorts" according to their ethnic origin and relegating only Armenians to the "higher sort" or "superior race". It is time to recognise that other people of non-Armenian ethnic origin also have the right to live in their native land and to enjoy all civil rights. The Western Azerbaijani Community stated this very clearly in its response to Nicola Pashinian:


"Today, in a speech to the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attempted to distort calls to allow expelled Azerbaijanis to return to their homes as something affecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Armenia...


We would like to remind the Prime Minister that ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity and that the safe and dignified return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia to their homes is a fundamental human right. Ensuring the return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia to their homes is an obligation of Armenia deriving from the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and many other important international documents.


Ensuring the rights of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia is an indispensable condition for maintaining peace and security in the region. We have formulated our vision for a peaceful, safe and dignified return, and presented it to the public. Once again we call on Prime Minister Pashinyan to immediately start negotiations with the community, through an appropriate international process, to ensure the safe and dignified return of Azerbaijanis expelled from Armenia.


The return of ethnic Azeris to their native land in West Azerbaijan, even if the Republic of Armenia retains its sovereignty on this territory, must begin sooner or later. And the return of Georgians to their historical territories - Abkhazia and Samachablo - should also inevitably take place. All the more that these lands are an integral and internationally recognized part of the Georgian state. The time of ethnic cleansing and its "legitimization" through nationalist-racist politics and separatism is hopelessly passing.



George Mazniashvili

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