Nagorno-Karabakh: "Black Garden of the Caucasus" smells of gunpowder and is watered with blood
What is happening in the region from the Middle Ages and Joseph Stalin until the 1988 war and today's revival
His "black garden CaucasusIs watered with blood. A story of bloody conflict between two countries, which has been going on for over a century, over who will be the master of this "garden", has made Nagorno-Karabakh reminiscent of the ever-burning region of the Middle East.
As, for example, in Palestine or Lebanon, a spark is enough to bring disaster, so in Nagorno-Karabakh, the line separating peace from war is so thin and so fragile that no one can be sure what will dawn on him the next day.
The danger of ignition in this extremely sensitive region of the planet is such that even in times of (superficial) peace, the two warring parties do not speak of a ceasefire but of a "frozen conflict"!
In one of the most militarized zones on the planet, after all, 150 kilometers long, it makes sense that weapons always have the first say.
Nagorno-Karabakh is an independent country that's virtually non-existent since no UN member state has recognized it.
Artsakh is the ancient Armenian name of the region. Nagorno Karabakh is the Soviet name, meaning "black mountain garden" and has a triple linguistic root (Russian, Persian, Turkish).
The lands we know today as Nagorno-Karabakh are the lands that, according to archaeologists, were inhabited by the Kura-Araxes people, that is, the people who lived between the Cyrus and Araxi rivers. This is an area of 4.400 square kilometers. It is mainly mountainous and wooded, having high ridges along the northern tip and along the west and mountainous south. The area has many thermal springs and deposits of zinc, coal, lead, gold, marble and limestone.
The ancient population of the area consisted of various indigenous local groups and immigrant tribes who were mostly non-Indo-Europeans. Armenian culture flourished during the early medieval period in Nagorno-Karabakh, and around the middle of the 7th century, the region was conquered by the invasion of Muslim The Arabs were then ruled by local governors approved by the Caliphate and in 1805 Karabakh became a protectorate of the Russian Empire, while after the end of the Russo-Persian War (1804-1813) Persia formally ceded Karabakh to the Russian Empire.
From the above it is easily understood that this area "generates" conflicts between heterogeneous peoples in the last 2.000 years. What is happening today, however, in Nagorno-Karabakh is very much rooted in the Soviet era and in an inspiration from Joseph Stalin.
But let's take things in stride. In the beginning is its end World War I. but also the fall of the Russian Empire into the hands of Lenin's rebellious Bolsheviks. After these two great historical events, Armenians, Azeris and Georgians decide to form the Transcaucasian Federation, which, however, lasted only three months and then disbanded.
The first extremely intense disputes between them followed of Christians Armenians and Muslim Azeris. Armenia and Azerbaijan quarreled over three regions: Nakhchivan, Zangezur and Karabakh.
Andranik Ozanian, an Armenian general, taking advantage of a series of political upheavals, invades and occupies Karabakh. The British, who had meanwhile occupied the South Caucasus, proposed a ceasefire and a settlement at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.
The Soviets, however, had a different view. They occupy the whole region, become the absolute masters and create the Transcaucasian Federation of the Soviet Union and set up a special office, the aim of which was the final settlement of the disputes between the three countries. The head of the office was the over-ambitious People's Commissar for Ethnicities, Joseph Stalin!
The later Soviet leader, without the slightest delay, did what he knew best. On July 4, 1921 he transferred the territory of Karabakh to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia. On July 5, 1921, a day later, he revoked his decision and voted to leave the region to his Soviet Socialist Republic. Azerbaijan!
Many historical analysts say that this move by the USSR was a gift to him Kemal Ataturk. Others say it was simply his well-known "divide and rule" tactic. In any case, from that point on, the Armenians never stopped claiming the return of Nagorno-Karabakh to their own lands.
The first General Secretary of the Communist Party of Armenia, Aghasi Khanjian, was executed by the ruthless Lavrenty Beria when he asked him to convey to Stalin (who had now taken over the reins of the USSR) the Armenian grievances on the issue.
From the death of Stalin onwards, but especially after its fall USSR, all the problems and the huge ethnic differences that were buried came to the surface again and this time with even greater intensity.
Worst of all the conflicts that have taken place to date is the one that began in 1988, culminated in 1992 and ended in 1994 with the two former Soviet republics suffering huge losses and blaming each other for ethnic cleansing!
The reason for this very hard war was on the one hand the resolution of the National Assembly of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh for unification with Armenia and on the other hand the almost simultaneous referendum which was supported by the Armenians but was undermined by the Azeris.
The war between the two countries' forces ended with a ceasefire in 1994, with the Armenia to have full control of Nagorno-Karabakh and other smaller enclaves in the territories of Azerbaijan.
No matter how many attempts were made to find a solution at the international and diplomatic level, they did not bear fruit. Either they were made by the OSCE or by Russia, they failed miserably. Result; The Nagorno-Karabakh region remains in a state of "legal scarcity" to this day, while the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh remains de facto independent (with close ties to the Republic of Armenia and uses the same currency, the dram) but is also internationally unrecognized. .
One of the most responsible people to talk about the current situation in this flammable area is Lawrence Brewer, director of the Caucasus program at the Conciliation Resources peace organization.
"With the coronavirus pandemic having an impact on Azerbaijan's oil and gas prices, the rulers may now have decided that this is a good time to act," Boers said. "They may have thought it might be a "It is a good idea to do business now, to unite the people behind the flag, to gain some territory and to re-enter the peace process from a position of power."
The wider South Caucasus region is a critical artery for oil and gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey and from there to Europe and other world markets.
Azerbaijan supplies about 5% of Europe's oil and gas needs (helping the EU reduce its dependence on Russia), and the 2016 conflict was close to several of these pipelines.
The situation becomes more dangerous (something that became extremely evident in the middle of last week) when the whole affair involves Turkey, which has always had and still has a clear position in favor of Azerbaijan and the Russia which (although maintaining a more neutral stance given the economic relations that have developed with the Azeri elite) has always been close to Armenia.