Jun 16 08, 10:10pm (about 13 hours ago)
The author is reserved in his language: this is not the case on the other side of the fence. I was recently in Baku amd can testify that anti-Armenian propaganda has no bounds, even on the highest levels. Obviously frustrated that the little Karabakh (even if with help from Armenia) beat them in a bloody war and gained independence, Azeris now are ready for anything to regain control of the lands that were never theirs. Although the ordinary people in Baku and elsewhere did not really care much about Karabakh, or Garabagh as they call it, they have to show that they agree with the official line. Their primary concern is corruption and ever-shrinking human rights. Oil money has not reached most people out of the capital either. Some people I met confided to me in private that they were fed up with the anti-Armenian histeria and were worried that their sons died in the Azeri army more from bullying and other reasons, than from the occasional bullet from the other side of the front line.
As a historian I know that Karabakh (a piece of larger what Armenians call Artsak, parts of which are under Azeri control) was a part of the Soviet Union but not Azerbaijan. In fact, any claim that it was historically part of Azerbaijan, is simply untrue. Any decent historian can prove that Azerbaijan as an independent state entity appeared on the world map only in 1918. Of course the Azeris exert huge efforts to prove the contrary. They spend a lot of money publishing books and booklets and creating websites with distorted narrations of history to suit their needs. These can impress a few ignorant folk but they can withstand no scientific scrutiny.
This is however not the point. On the "human level" I can understand the Azeries. They still have refugees and their pride is wounded. However, Mr Peterson's motives should be questioned. As outsiders, we should try to calm down the fires of hatred, not to kindle or put oil in them. It is different when an Azeri paper or TV channel or a politician would not see clearly because of the hatred and military rhetoric. It is their children who will go to war. Printing allegations and siding with a party in a world-class paper can be a recepie to disaster in the long run. We in the Middle East know what a misinterpreted history and distorted reporting can lead to. When they come from rich and powerful countries, it is a lot more dangerous.
Alexandros Petersen's article repeats allegations in the right-wing Azeri press without any evidence or analysis. Yet from what I have read about terrorists, arms dealing and drug trafficking, the most important considerations for these is to have reliable known counter-parties in the chain of dealing and secure logistics. If Alexandros considered the options for such dealers, they would choose people connected to them by ties of kinship, family and even faith. These conditions do not apply with Karabaghi Armenians but are more likelyy to be found in the Azeri and Turkic communities on either side of a number of borders. And if the goods reallt did make their way to Europe, then this would imply working relationships across the closed borders bentween Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Turkey and Armenia. This would be a very damaging situtation for these countries. I cannot envisage any self-respecting security expert treating these allegations as anything other than pure propaganda.
Jun 16 08, 04:59pm (about 18 hours ago)
Serious question to the knowledgeable posters on this thread. Why doesn't Armenia simply recognise Nagorno-Karabakh? Although in isolation it wouldn't achieve that much as a gesture, not having that gesture makes the independent republic seem isolated and friendless in the world. Even the TRNC has one country's recognition.
Jun 16 08, 06:43pm (about 16 hours ago)
Ambassador Gabrielyan must be congratulated for his excellent rebuttal of Mr Petersen's largely outrageous article.
Your article on 'the Black Hole' of Nagorno Karabakh by Alexandros Petersen (June 7) contains so many false allegations and untruths that I consider a disgrace for your reputable paper to print such serious lies without checking them out thoroughly.
I have been in Nagorno Karabakh many times and I have never seen or heard such lies, it would be much better for this writer to go and see first hand rather than print such rubbish.
It was the Azeri side who first hired Afghan and chechen Islamic merceneries to fight the freedom loving people of Artsakh.
The Armenians of Karabakh, have a better track record and commitment to democratic principles (their elections have been declared free and fair by independent respected international observers) than the Azeris.Please have a look at their track record on human rights with such org.as Amnesty, Helsinki watch, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, and others, it stinks.
My advice to this writer is do your homework before you come out with such idiotic allegations.
Jun 16 08, 03:13pm (about 20 hours ago)
Spot on StrictChastiser and techstein! Ambassador Gabrielyan must be congratulated for his excellent rebuttal of Mr Petersen's largely outrageous article. Below is what I sent to the Guardian after reading the offending article which has not so far been published.
10 June 2008
Letters to the Editor
Your article the Black hole of Nagorno Karabakh by Alexander Petersen, dated 7 June, was so outrageously out of order that I wondered if your writer wrote it while drunk in Baku, Azerbaijan!
I have travelled to Nagorno Karabakh regularly since 1994, over 40 times in all, especially since investing and building a modest hotel there in 2003. I was last there in March-April this year. I can solemnly testify that Mr Petersen is either trying to be funny or is deliberately or otherwise making completely false allegations and absurd statements. I cannot understand or explain how else a journalist would get his facts so wrong!
Your outrageous allegations of Nagorno Karabakh involvement in drug and human trafficking, and being a haven for Islamic terrorists is infuriatingly false and inaccurate. The Armenians of Nagorno Karabagh defended their land and freedom against Azerbaijani aggression, including against Chechen and Afghan Mujahedin Islamic mercenaries fighting on the Azeri side. Having defeated Azeri aggression and won their independence with great sacrifice, they have been building a democratic country and continue to re-build their shattered lives against unbelievable odds, including Azeri hostility and blockade, and certainly without any oil dollars. And by all independent accounts they have done a fantastic job!
They are a dignified, hospitable and very kind, friendly and gracious people whether local farmers, students, intellectuals or government officials or indeed refugees and survivors from Azeri pogroms and massacres in Baku, Sumgait and Kirovabad in 1990s (in Azerbaijan), ten of whom work in my hotel since 2004 providing a first class and friendly service to visitors and tourists from all over the world.
I wonder if your writer would care to travel there to see the facts for himself and hopefully apologise for spreading the outrageously misleading allegations and absurdities in his entirely false article. The decent thing to do then would be to write an informed and truthful one instead.
The original article
MISREPRESENTING THE ISSUES IN NAGORNO-KARABAKHALEXANDROS PETERSON IS WRONG: THIS SOUTH CAUCASES COUNTRY IS A WELL-FUNCTIONING DEMOCRATIC ENTITY DESERVING EU RECOGNITION
Monday June 16 2008
The article Negotiating a black hole by Alexandros Petersen on
Cif on June 7, was regretfully unbecoming for such a reputable
newspaper. The author refers to a conflict of which he either has
little understanding, or knowingly distorts the truth. He fails to
mention how the conflict evolved and grossly misjudges its character.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is not an "ethno-religious conflict"
and not one over a disputed territory where "Armenian Christians [are]
against Azerbaijani Muslims". It is about the fundamental human rights
issue of self-determination, one of being able to peacefully live on
the land of your ancestors and be the master of your own destiny. The
current situation is a result of decades-long systematic abuse of the
human rights and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Armenian population
by the Soviet Azeri authorities since the unlawful annexation of the
ancient Armenian province (Artsakh) to Azerbaijan and later, of pogroms
and outright military aggression against the peaceful population.
The military phase of the conflict between Azerbaijan and
Nagorno-Karabakh ended with the victory of the latter's hastily-formed
defence forces and enabled their people to start re-building their
lives and homes. Since its independence (impeccably proclaimed
according to same laws and procedures by which Azerbaijan gained
independence from the USSR), in the political and socio-economic
turmoil following the break-up of the Soviet Union and even under
military aggression, Nagorno-Karabakh has been a surprising case
of rule of law and well-functioning state machine. Starting with
the independence referendum in 1991, all manifestations of its
people's will, which included four presidential elections and
several parliamentary and local ones, have been orderly, dignified
and democratic exercises, as witnessed by numerous independent
international observers, including, incidentally, members of the UK
parliament and the US Congress.
Indeed, Nagorno-Karabakh is not "a governance black hole", but a
well-functioning democratic entity with strengthening civil society
and full economic and cultural life, possessing all attributes of an
independent state, save for international recognition. Its elected
authorities have announced on several occasions that they would be
happy to receive international inspection missions who can study the
situation in situ and refute any groundless allegations. There have
been no volunteers to chase ghosts. The allegations of all earthly
sins in the mentioned article, happily picked en masse from the Azeri
propaganda machine of libellous campaign of hatred and misinformation
against Karabakh and enriched by references to all possible evils
of our times to scare the modern security-conscious citizen are so
bizarre that they are at best ignored or frowned upon in any more or
less informed circles.
However, the author is right in saying that the conflict should concern
Europe. It should, because although the people of Karabakh have been
able to stop the regular bombings of their homes by resorting to
self-defence, peace has not been made final yet and threats of war
are heard from the other side of the border regularly. It should,
because although we keep fingers cross for the renewed negotiations
between the presidents and foreign ministers to succeed - the last,
June 6 round was constructive and it was decided to continue them
- the continuing military rhetoric and the fierce anti-Armenian
hate campaign on all levels of society, combined with the mentioned
ever-growing military budget, are an ominous sign. It is much worrying
that today, fed on this campaign; more than one-third of Azeris are
for a military solution while international mediators (the Minsk Group
co-chair countries) are widely lambasted for their impartiality. The
oil money paid by the European companies should not facilitate the
unleashing of another war, the consequences of which will indeed be
dire. With a fragile ceasefire being maintained simply because of the
balance of power, it is easy to instigate another war that will hugely
increase the toll on human life and create new refugees. On top of
the already existing one million, about 400,000 of which by the way
are the Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan and from Nagorno-Karabakh,
this will result in a large-scale humanitarian disaster affecting whole
of Europe and beyond. This cannot be allowed to happen. This is why
both past and present Armenian authorities have readily engaged in
negotiations in good faith and have strived to find lasting peace,
despite and because of the fact that one party of the conflict,
Azerbaijan, refuses to talk to Nagorno-Karabakh, the other party.
Security in the modern world is certainly a global problem and in
order to ensure global peace and security, frozen conflicts should
be resolved in a way so that the vital interests of all parties are
taken into account. That will take concessions on both sides and it
is a hard thing to do. In order to help, the international community,
as well as its individual members, should adopt an attitude based on
values and principles that apply universally. Acknowledging that the
people of NK have the right to be in charge of their own destiny would
have helped. It has in other cases. On the other hand, giving in to
dirty propaganda and trying to discredit one side, be it with either
explicit or implied allegations does not help and raises questions.
About this articleClose This article was first published on
guardian.co.uk on Monday June 16 2008. It was last updated at 12:13
on June 16 2008.