TODAY.AZ / Politics

Bicentenary of the Karabakh Tragedy

19 February 2005 [03:33] - TODAY.AZ
200 years ago on May 14 near Kurekchay river Ibrahim-khan Karabakhsky and the General of the Infantry of All Russia's troop Tsitsianov signed the treaty on "Sacramental promise” according to which Ibrahim-khan with all possessions of him "voluntarily" took up citizenship of All Russian Empire.
This is how begins the new history of Karabakh and of Northern Azerbaijan in the whole which has become integral part of Russia, and then of USSR. Despite 12 years of independence we still reap the fruits of the tsarist (and then soviet) policy "divide and rule over" carried out towards the region and in particular, Azerbaijan.

These are the answers on the sequence of events following signing the Kurekchay treaty given to Turan agency by Camil Hasanli, the Professor of History, the author of famous books , who studied the Azerbaijani history and worked in the in the Russian archives.

TURAN: 200 years passed since signing of the treaty on "voluntarily" joining the Kharabakh khanate to Russia. Why and on what terms was the treaty signed on?

HASANLI: This is important historical event and it has direct attitude to the Karabakh khanate of Azerbaijan and to Russia. A number of the Russian and Armenian scientists, journalists, even politicians, falsifying the historical truth connected with the Kurekchay treaty fabricate that Karabakh was joined Russia as Armenian region (vilayet). But it happened not in ancient times and today there are a lot of documents which reflect real course of history.

Signing of Kurekchay treaty by the Karabakh khanate and its transfer to Russia does not have any relation to the Armenians. Then the number of Armenian in Karabakh was so little that they could not determine policy. After destruction of empire on Nadir-shah in 40s of XVIII century approximately 23 khanates had been formed in Azerbaijan. The Karabakh khanate was one of the first and largest of them. The Sheki, Guba, Baku, Ganja, Talish, Derbend, Shemakha, Nakhchivan and Iravan khanates in the present historical understanding were the state
formations in the north of Azerbaijan. The basis of the Karabakh khanate was laid by Panahali-khan of Cavanshir's generation. In 1748 he built fortress Bayat and as the famous historian Mirza Camal Cavanshir wrote . When Panahali was creating the Karabakh khanate there was the Christian minority and they were the Dizag, Varand, Khachin and Chilaberd meliksts. But among 130,000 population there were not many meliksts. Wars with neighboring khanates, particularly the "Bayat fight" with the Sheki khanate caused construction of Shusha fortress by Panahali khan in 1715 year. After death of Panahali khan, during the period of ruling of his son Ibrahim-khan (1763-1806) the Karabakh khanate strengthened.

Early in XIX century Russia began to put into practice plans concerning the Caucasus worked out during the times of Peter I and which acquired practical character even in times of Ekaterine II concerning Azerbaijan. In 1801 Georgia was joined to Russia. In March 1803 after winning of Car-Balakian the fights for wining Ganja began and after siege lasting 9 months Ganja surrendered. Then came the turn of Sheki and Karabakh khanates. It must be taken into account that some Azerbaijani khanates very often subjected to occupation, looked at their protector, powerful Russia, not very bad. They thought that Petersburg was very far and with the help of their distant protector khans will be able to protect their independence. Such wrong thoughts, first of all, were connected with their limited imagination about Russia. Large war started by Russia against certain Azerbaijani khanates in 1803 and against Iran in 1804 aggravated situation in Azerbaijan. In the beginning of 1804 after surrender of Ganja the commander of the Russian army the General Tsitsianov sent the Major Lisanevitch to Karabakh to Ibrahim- khan with demand to transfer under "Russia's power". In order to preserve the khanate Ibrahim-khan and his sons Muhammadhasan aga, Mehdigulu aga, Khanlar aga and his son-in law, the ruler of Sheki Selim-khan agreed. They arrived in camp set up by Tsitsianov over Kurekchay river. On May 14 Ibrahim-khan set a seal and Tsisianov put his signature on the "Sacramental agreement" which entered the history as Kurekchay treaty.

That was how those events happened, and as we see there is not any Armenian factor or Armenian trace.

TURAN. What were the terms and commitments of the sides according to the treaty?

HASANLI: The Kurekchay treaty consists of 11 Articles. In accordance with the Article 1, the khan of Karabakh agreed to become vassal of the Russians tsar, his heir and all population of the khanate promised to keep faithfulness to All Russia's Tsar.

According to the Article 2, the Russia's tsar on his behalf and on behalf of his heirs gave his Emperor's guarantees that integrity of the country (the Karabakh khanate), "His Highness" (Ibrahim khan) and his heirs will be maintained. The Article 4 reads that Ibrahim Khan refused from his rights for independent foreign policy in favor of tsar. According to the Article 5, tsar promised to give all the power of internal governing, court and persecution, income and its possession to His Highness ( Ibrahim khan).

According to the Article 8, the Karabakh khan committed himself to pay contribution into the exchequer treasury of His Emperor's Highness 8,000 chervonets (gold piece coin) a year.

One of the hardest Articles of the document was that Russia got the right to keep equipped artillery of the military Commandant's office in the very center of the khanate - in the Khankendi village, close to the Shusha fortress (Khan's garden). In conformity with the Kurekchay treaty, khan was to pawn his elder Mamed- Hassan-aga's son to stay forever in Tifliss and undertook all expense on his keeping.

In conformity with the treaty, according to the tsar's decree Ibrahim-khan was awarded the rank of General-Lieutenant of the Russian army, his sons Mamad- Hassan and Mehdi-Gulu - Major-General and Khanlar - the rank of Colonel. After giving these ranks, Ibrahim-Khan Karabakhsky and his sons were to fulfill orders of the Caucasian Commander. A week later on May 21, 1805 similar treaty was signed with Sheki khanate.

Among 11 article of Kurekchay Treaty there is not any which contains something a little bit connected with the Armenians. That Treaty was the politically-legal Act reflecting transfer of Karabakh , as the Azerbaijani khanate to the vassalage dependence from Russia and everything in the Treaty was written very clearly. It is not clear how people calling themselves historians or politicians may evade from such important document very vividly reflecting the truth.

As we see in the Treaty all obligations and privileges are connected not with the Armenians meliksts but with the Ibrahim-khan of Karabakh from Shusha.

TURAN: How were the terms of the Treaty executed?

HASANLI: As always, Russia did not fulfill undertaken obligations though the Kurekchay Treaty was written forever. When in 1806 year the Iranian troops approached Shusha, Ibrahim-khan of Karabakh which moved to Khankendi with his family, except his son Mehdigulu-aga, were put to death by the major Lisanevich, who groundlessly suspected khan in possible betrayal in case of attack of Karabakh by the Iranian army. This tragic event is clear evidence that obligations undertaken by Russia on Kurekchay Treaty and giving the rank of General-Lieutenant of the Russian Army to Ibrahim-khan had only symbolic character.

At the same time, while the war with Iran was going on Tsar did not change the status of khanate. On September 10, 1806, in accordance with the decree of the Emperor Alexander I, Mehdigulu was appointed the ruler of Karabakh instead of his executed father - Ibrahim-khan. The document reads: .

Then the decree read: .

By that decree all the rights and power given to Ibrahim-khan were transferred to Mehdigulu-khan and "the whole population was to subordinate to him, to fulfill all his orders and to executive khan's command". There was nothing concerning the Armenians in order. The Decree of His Emperor's Highness of September 10, 1806 is very important document for determination the Karabakh's belonging.

After the Gulistan Treaty signed in 1813 Russia strengthened her positions in Azerbaijan and ignoring "Sacramental promises" signed for ever began to abolish khanates. The Sheki khanate was abolished in 1819, and Shirvan khanate – in 1820. After that not standing the pressure of Russia which was expressed in limitation of the khan's power in different forms , Mehdigulu-khan escaped to Iran, and in 1822 year the Karabakh khanate was abolished and the curfew regime of governing was established. Thus, 17 years later the Kurekchay Treaty lost its significance.

TURAN: What was the policy of the tsarist Russia after joining the Karabakh, including Northern Azerbaijan?

HASANLI: In a year after abolishment of the Karabakh khanate and establishment of the Russian model of governing in 1823 the Russian regime draw up (). Just that book is more or less true source about the number and ethnic makeup of the population of Karabakh. In accordance with the researches of professor S.Aliyarli, connected with that source, of 18,563 families registered by the Russian administration in 1823 year in Karabakh, 1,559 families, i.e. 8,4% were the Armenian meliksts. However, referring to the same source the Armenian scientists write about existence of 5,107 families in 1823 year in Karabakh. But even in such case the Armenians confirm themselves that prior to mass emigration of the Armenians from Iran and Turkey they comprised considerable minority as compared with the Azerbaijani population. And as did not suit the Armenians they withdrew it almost from all libraries of Russia and destroyed it. But today it is necessary to study this most valuable source more thoroughly and to re-publish it (in foreign languages as well).

In 1828 after signing of Turkmenchay Treaty re-settling of the Armenians from Iran had more mass and organized character. Then that work was led by the General Paskevich and his advisor, the Armenian by nationality -Lazarev. On February 29, 1828 General Paskevich ordered "to place the Armenians mainly in the Iravan and Nakhchivan regions and partially in Karabakh>, , and their places were given to the Armenians.

Lazarev, who led by work on resettlement of the Armenians from Iran wrote to Paskevich: . S.Glinka describing re-settlement of the Armenians wrote in 1831:

Over 3 months and a half 8,000 Armenian families crossed Araks river>. As the Russian authors wrote, namely N.Shavrov just in 1828-1830 years 40,000 Armenians from Iran and 84,600 Armenians from Turkey were re-settled to Yelizavetpol (Ganja) and Iravan provinces which the Karabakh entered. Shavrov wrote that of 1 million and 300,000 Armenians living in Transcaucasia, more than 1 million were the newcomers. This statement by Shavrov is confirmed also by French authors Lavissa and Rambo which drew up the History of XIX century consisting of 8 volumes. This irreproachable work was published in the USSR in the end of 30s years under the edition of the Academician E.V.Tarle. And they also confirmed that the "Armenians were the new comers to the Caucasus except Iravan province" (History of XIX century. Under the edition of Professors Laviss and Rambo. M., 1939, p.298). I.e. the policy carried out by Russia after occupation of Azerbaijan and Caucasus was aimed at settlement of the regions of the Armenians, which were treated as the basis of the Russia's interests in the region mainly settled by the Turks. Just as a result of that policy the number of the Armenians in the ancient lands of Azerbaijan began to grow, what caused the future problems.

TURAN: What did happen in the region after the October revolution in Russia?

HASANLI: Just like after the first revolution, tragic events took place after the second revolution in Russia too. For example, let's consider speech of the deputy of the I State Duma from Elizavetpol province Ismail-khan Ziyadkhanov on June 12, 1906. He said:

This picture was characteristic also for the post-October revolution period. Emerge of bolshevism in the Caucasus in the form of Armenians brought a lot of trouble to the Azeri Turks. Only in Baku in March of 1918 year 12,000 Azerbaijanis were killed on the basis of religion and nationality. The same tragic events repeated in Shamakha, Karabakh, Nakhchivan, Iravan and in other places.

Only after establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic on May 28, 1918 it became possible to stop troubles. By the way, in 1918-1920 Armenia occupied 10,000 square kilometers in the South Caucasus. And after sovetization its territory totaled 29,8 thousand sq. km. And no one wants to interest where arethese lands from? And these 19,8 thousand sq. km. added then to the territory of Armenia were the territories of Azerbaijan.

Concerning Karabakh, during the existence of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic it became possible to stabilize the situation there. On August 15, 1919 after the members of the Armenian National Board were driven away from Karabakh , its Armenian population called a congress at which it adopted resolution on subordination to the government of Azerbaijan. That resolution sent by the government of the country to the Head of the delegation of Azerbaijan at Paris peaceful conference A.M.Topchibashev was submitted to the Suptreme Board of Versailles. The document read: .

TURAN: The Armenians state that Stalin separated Karabakh from Armenia and gave to Azerbaijan:

HASANLI: There was nothing of the kind. Such question should not be brought up. Karabakh has never been in the structure of Armenia. The publicity is deceived by wrong statements as if Karabakh belonged to Armenia and Stalin gave it to Azerbaijan. The Armenians just wanted to take the advantage of the anti-Stalin campaign which began after destruction of USSR. In fact, everything was on the contrary. Both upland and lowland Karabakh was indivisible and Karabakh was admitted as constituent part of Azerbaijan. Just by the initiative of Moscow, with the help of Stalin upland Karabakh was separated from lowland Karabakh and by creation in July of 1923 the Nagorno Karabakh republic in the makeup of Azerbaijan (NKAR) the delayed-action bomb was put under that formation. Then leadership of Azerbaijan made very serious mistake. If to pay attention to the names of several populated areas included into the NKAR their Azerbaijani toponymy is noted by 90%. Besides, if to turn to the materials of the Central State Archive of Soviet Army we can find very valuable documents describing the
Azerbaijani-Armenian frontiers. For example, one of them is called . The document reads:

On the basis of that border the territory of Azerbaijan includes the whole Ganja province and all provinces - Surmala, Nakhchivan and Sharur-Daraleg of the Erivan province, as well as south part of the Erivan uyezd with the villages Kamarlu, Beyuk-Vedi and Davalu and Eastern part of Novo-Bayazet>. Next campaign connected with Nagorno Karabakh began after the Second World War. At the same time with claims to the Cars and Erdakhan regions of Turkey, the Secretary of the Communist party of Armenia G.Arutunov wrote letters to Stalin on November 28, 1945 about joining NKAR to Armenia. I.Stalin gave the letter to G.Malenkov for consideration, and Malenkov, in his turn passed it to the Secretary of Communist party of Azerbaijan M.C. Bagirov for expressing his opinion. The letter sent by M.Bagirov to G. Malenkov on December 19, 1945 was kept. In the letter M.Bagirov said about unacceptability of joining of NKAR to Armenia, but if Moscow insists, he considers possible not to pass NKAR but to exchange the territories.

Then Bagirov wrote that the question could be considered under those conditions: firstly, Shusha must not be the subject of discussing, secondly, the regions of Armenia - Vedi, Garabaglar and Azizbekov where only the Azerbaijanis live should be passed to Azerbaijan, thirdly, the regions Derbend and Gasimkent, recently belonging to Azerbaijan should be returned. After such answer Moscow did not return anymore to the question on the change of borders.

However, in December 1947 the leadership of Armenia obtained adoption of resolution signed by I.Stalin on re-settlement of the Azerbaijanis from Armenia. It was not connected with providing of agriculture of Azerbaijan with working power, as the resolution read. The matter was that for grounding the territorial claims on Turkey in December 1945 Moscow announced about resolution adopted by the Board of the National Commissars about repatriation of the Armenians living abroad to the soviet Armenia, it was proposed to resettle 360-400 thousand of Armenians. Contrary to expectations, the world did not welcome that decision. In 1947, in accordance with that resolution, a little more than 50,000 Armenians arrived to the Soviet Armenia. In the whole, over 1946-49 years the number of repatriated did not exceed 90,000. But as Armenians did not manage to tear away the lands from Turkey, the for resolution of the question on repatriates they adopted resolution on settlement of the Azerbaijanis from Armenia.

The letter about it of December 3, 1947 sent by G.Arutunov and M.C.Bagirov to I.Stalin was kept. It gave proof that the purpose of resettlement of the Armenians was to provide with lands the Armenians repatriated from abroad and to improve their living conditions.

Two weeks before writing that letter the question on Communist party of Azerbaijan was discussed in Moscow on November 21 at the session of the Political bureau. Even today there is no access to those documents kept in the Russia's State Archive of social-political history. And then something happened in the Political Bureau and on 3 December M.C.Bagirov agreed to settlement of the Azerbaijanis from Armenia. Fancy, 100,000 Azerbaijanis without property and houses were deported from their native places where their ancestors live for thousands years. The attitude of the repatriated population to deportation was quite negative. There is document of May 3,1948 signed by the Minister of Interior of the Armenian SSR Major General Grigorian consisting of 11 pages . It is . The document read: . That was the truth about deportation of 100,000 Azerbaijanis from Armenia confirmed by the Armenians themselves.

TURAN: How was the term "Nagorno Karabakh" formed?

HASANLI: The term was brought to Azerbaijan by sovetization. On August 7, 1921 Extraordinary Congress of the Boards of Shusha uyezd took place. L. Mirzoyan addressing at the congress stated: . In September 1921 during discussing at the session of the Organizing Committee and Political bureau the question on appeal to the Caucasian bureau N.Narimanov and D.Buniadzade opposed it and therefor the decision on the matter was not adopted. In December 1923 the members of the Commission for Nagorno Karabakh (Garakezov, Sharuntz, Manusian Mirzabekian) again brought up the question on division the Karabakh into the upland and lowland administrative territorial units. For preparation of this question the commission consisting of Garayev, Dovlatov and Mirzoyan worked out proposals and submitted them to the plenum of Transcaucasian regional committee of the Communist party of Russia. By the recommendation of the regional committee of July 7, 1923 the Communist party of Azerbaijan separated upland Karabakh from its rest part and gave Karabakh the right of autonomy. On July 7 the resolution was published. That is how NKAR was formed. As wee this term and this trouble was brought to Azerbaijan by communists.

TURAN: Was it possible to avoid the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict connected with the claims of Armenia to Nagorno Karabakh?

HASANLI: Unfortunately, including creation of NKAR and the whole next period the leadership of Azerbaijan made serious mistakes in the matter. Instead of demonstration of clear, well thought, grounded positions concerning the claims of Armenians, the leaders of Azerbaijan occupied capitulation and conciliatory positions. For example, in 60 years of ?? century emissaries which arrived from Armenia made attempt to collect signatures in favor of unification of NKAR with Armenian. In 1961 the visit of N.S. Khrushev to Yerevan on the occasion of 40th anniversary of establishment of Soviet power in Armenia was expected. The leadership of Armenia spread rumors that H.S. Khrushov would bring "surprise": just like he gave Crimea to Ukraine 1954 due to 300-anniversary of the Ukrainian- Russian union he would give NKAR to Armenia. By the way, that trick of Yerevan was not realized because the Armenians of Karabakh refused to put their signatuires in favor of those adventurist purposes. In response the leadership of Armenia made unbearable conditions for the Azerbaijanis living there.

Anonymous letters sent to L.I. Breznev and A. Gromiko in March 1965 by the Azerbaijanis living in Armenia concerning 50th anniversary of the forced "genocide" it was warned that " at present Armenian reminds a large ball full of explosive substance which cane explode at first outbreak>. The authors of the letter wrote about the threat to the life of Turkic population on the day of . In 1977 year, when the USSR adopted new Constitution the leadership of Armenia again brought up the question on NKAR's joining Armenia. But as a result of very negative positions of the authorities of Azerbaijan the claims were rejected. It means that even during the Soviet times the leadership of Armenia very skillfully supported hatred of Armenians against other peoples. And in Azerbaijan Supreme Board of the Azerbaijan SSR , adopting in June 1981 the law on status of NKAR made very serious mistakes.

Then, in accordance with the law adopted on June 24, 1981 only Nagorno Karabakh had the rights not provided for the autonomous formations in USSR. For example, the law read tat without agreement of the Regional board of NKAR her administrative-territorial structure cannot be changed.

In addition, NKAR was given two more privileges and none of the autonomous regions entering the Russian Federation did not have such privileges. After departure of H.Aliyev to Moscow Armenian saw that weak people one after another come to power in Azerbaijan. The leaders of Azerbaijan, most of all afraid to be blamed by Moscow for nationalism, closed eyes to the actions of Yerevan in Karabakh and as a result, part of the Karabakh Armenians fell under the ideological control of Yerevan.

Of course, coming of M.S. Gorbachev to power in Moscow in 1985 played great role in activation of the claims of Armenia. Familiarizing with the shorthand reports of the sessions of the Political Bureau I revealed that support of Armenians by Gorbachev began long before his coming to power.

When K.Chernenko was ill, Gorbachev as the second person in the party conducted sessions of secretariat and of the political bureau. Pay attention what question was discussed at the session of the Political bureau by the decision of the Central Committee of the Communist party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) on February 21, 1985: . And the purpose was to obtain adoption of decision of Political Bureau on the necessity to observe April 24 as the "Day of memory of victims of genocide".

However , such experienced members of the Political bureau as N.Tikhonov, A.Gromiko, V.Grishin, M.Zimanian opposed that question. Thus, Grishin stated: . A.Gromiko noted that

As a result, the Armenians separatism was supported by the Kremlin and contrary to the international law and the Constitution of USSR the Supreme Court of Armenia adopted law on December 7, 1989 adopted law on joining NKAR to Armenia ,i.e. on annexation of NKAR by Armenia. This law has not been eliminated yet.

When those events began the people in power in Azerbaijan were not ready to them. For example, when on July 18, 1988 presidium of Supreme Board of the USSR discussed that question the Azerbaijani side had not studied and learnt thoroughly the history of Nagorno Karabakh. When at that session the representatives of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh told contradictory "tales" that NKAR was mechanically separated from Armenia and given to Azerbaijan in 1921 the Azeri side did not even tried to object against such falsification and to bring order into that principal question that Nagorno Karabakh had never been in the structure of Armenia.

TURAN: In the whole, how do you assess the results of Karabakh's joining to Russia 200 years after?

HASANLI: As you know over 200 years the borders of Azerbaijan have narrowed considerably. Calil Mamedgulizade told in his time in "Molla Nasreddin" magazine concerning that matter with humor peculiar to him: . Of course it was a joke but with a grain of truth in it . Azerbaijan has gone large historical way in the structure of Russia and it had great losses on that way. And Nagorno Karabakh is the last , left us by Russia for 200 years. Repeated Russian occupation early in XIX century, the bolshevist experiments in the 20s year of XX century, the communist crazy attempt in the end of 80s years of last year confronted Azerbaijan with the danger of loss of Nagorno Karabakh. These are historical results 200 years ago concerning Karabakh.

TURAN: As a scientists studying the history of the region, how do you see the way to settlement of the Karabakh conflict with participation of international?

HASANLI: In all cases as a starting point such provisions as territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, providing of security, freedom and rights of the Armenians and Azerbaijanis living in the upland part of Karabakh should be forwarded. Unfortunately, the talks carried out within the frameworks of the Minsk group on the level of presidents and Foreign Ministers do not have any results. Over the last 12 years even inch of occupied territories have been liberated. Joining the international organizations Azerbaijan committed itself to solve the problem peacefully. No doubt, it is very advantageous for Armenia. May be some other should be found. For example, to turn to the International Court for resolution of territorial argues, there is such practice in the world. But under term: we must be well prepared to the question from the historical, juridical and political points of view. If we keep silence in Hague as we did it in Moscow in 1988, no one will pass fair decision concerning Karabakh.

But I want to note that for protection of the interests of our state and nation consolidation of all forces is necessary. First of all, people having power must undertake responsibility of leadership in this process. When in France George Clemanso was appointed as the Prime Minister, the front line of the I world War was very close to Paris. But two decisions of Clemanso changed the situation: first those who cooperate with enemy should not be quartered, and secondly, children of high-ranking officials should be on the battle front so that the minister felt the whole weight of war on his shoulder.

(c) TURAN Information Agency

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