The Facts About Nagorno Karabagh No One is Discussing (1980s — Present)
There are KEY facts which are omitted from the narrative when Azerbaijan talks about its “internationally recognized” borders & the “Four U.N. Resolutions” which it constantly and repetitively discusses. The “Four U.N. Resolutions” serve as a key piece of technical rhetoric for the Azerbaijani position because those U.N. Resolutions also do NOT take into account the following historically verified/recorded facts.
The omission of the following historical timeline from the discussion serves as the primary technical cornerstone of the ENTIRE Azerbaijani position and narrative. These facts have nothing to do with thousands of years of history, or the abstract argument of “our grandfathers lived on this land first!” That is not what I will be discussing here, either.
The merits or offenses of “who has killed who, and who is more militarily evil than the other” will not be discussed here. War, fighting, ethnic cleansing, and death are terrible, and I do not celebrate, qualify, or support the deaths of ANY human lives. All lives matter equally. This is not an Anti-Azerbaijani post. I live in peace. I want the same for every other citizen of this planet, equally.
This timeline should be considered in two halves: Soviet-Era history, and Soviet Collapse/Post-Soviet history.
The difference between the two is VERY important, because ignoring the soviet-era VS post-soviet history is how the narrative is being manipulated.
20th Century History Only 😎
- In 1923, Nagorno-Karabagh is designated as an Autonomous Oblast (NKAO: Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast) within the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. This is the first such Christian territorial autonomy inside a Muslim-majority country.
- The existence and legitimacy of the Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast is Internationally Recognized…and of course, recognized by the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic.
Context: At the time, Soviet Census data shows that the Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast is 90–94% Armenian, 10–6% Azeri.
- In 1988, the Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast parliament *officially* appeals to the USSR for re-unification with Armenia .
- The referendum was conducted IN ACCORDANCE with Soviet law, and was approved with 99.8% of the region’s population voting “FOR” rather than “against.”
- The referendum followed all Soviet due-process, and it requested the peaceful transfer of the NKAO territory from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic to the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, in accordance with the USSR’s legal charters.
Context: The last official recorded Soviet census data from the 1980s shows that the population of Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast was: 76% Armenian, 23% Azeri.
- Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic parliament and citizens meet the 1988 re-unification vote with hostility, forced evacuations of 370,000 Armenians throughout the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (outside of Nagorno Karabagh) through violent pogroms and displacement.
- This is when the ugly episode of Sumgait takes place, and escalations begin to get tense.
Soviet Collapse & Post-Soviet History
- September 1991: The first nationwide presidential elections take place in Azerbaijan. Ayaz Mutalibov was the only running candidate. While the elections were neither free nor fair by international standards, Mutalibov formally became the elected president of Azerbaijan.
- October 1991: The adoption of the declaration of independence by the Supreme Soviet of Azerbaijan SSR on October 18, 1991, was followed by a dissolution of the Azerbaijani Communist Party. However, its former members, including President Ayaz Mutalibov, retained their political posts.
- November 1991: Soviet Azerbaijan uses its right to self-determination and initiates the process of breaking away from the collapsing USSR.
- November 1991: It declares itself a SOVEREIGN state, and then quickly and unconstitutionally abolishes the status of Nagorno-Karabagh as an Autonomous Oblast in order to disregard and nullify any claims or validity of the official reunification referendum of 1988.
Context: Follow this link for specific facts on the Abolishment of the Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast
Law on Abolishment of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast
Law on Abolishment of Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast is the Resolution No. 279-XII passed by the National Assembly…
- The newly-formed, post-Soviet Azerbaijani Republic declares that the Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast is dissolved, and the territory is under direct post-Soviet “Republic of Azerbaijan” rule.
- You have to stop and scratch your head for a second, and ask yourself the following question: How can you simply “abolish” an autonomous territory without its consent or agreement?
Context: Remember that by this time, the RECORDED facts of history show that Nagorno Karabagh had already been an AUTONOMOUS territory for 68 years!
- December 1991: In Azerbaijan, a nationwide referendum is held in which Azerbaijani voters approved the Declaration of Independence adopted by the Supreme Council in November 1991. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan is recognized as an independent state at first by Turkey, Israel, Romania and Pakistan. The United States followed suit on December 25.
- December 1991: In response to the unconstitutional abolishment of the Internationally Recognized Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast, the population of Nagorno Karabagh seek to pursue a “recognized” international process IDENTICAL to the process that Azerbaijan pursued for its own independence.
- The people of Nagorno Karabagh use the SAME right to self-determination that post-Soviet Azerbaijan did to initiate YET ANOTHER official referendum and vote to declare themselves an independent SOVEREIGN state, just as Azerbaijan did when “creating” the independent, post-Soviet state of Azerbaijan.
- It was approved by 99.98% of voters. It was unsuccessfully boycotted by the region’s Azeri population, which then constituted only 20% of Nagorno-Karabagh’s population.
- …Azerbaijan responds with military force, yet again refusing to accept the legitimacy or sovereignty of the peoples’ right to self-determination, and the military conflict (which continues today) begins.
- 1991–1994: Nagorno Karabagh — Azerbaijan military conflict continues.
- May 1994: Official ceasefire of the war, with Nagorno Karabagh in control of its own territories and a surrounding buffer zone of Azeri land. This buffer zone was taken as a defensive measure in case Azerbaijan attempts further military aggressions.
- This buffer zone of land is what Azerbaijan calls “The 7 occupied districts.”
IRRELEVANT OF ALL OTHER ARGUMENTS, the following facts are clear:
- The Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, as well as the international community, recognized the AUTONOMY of Nagorno Karabagh for 68 years during Soviet-Era history. Azerbaijan itself set this precedent.
- In 1988, The Nagorno Karabagh Autonomous Oblast followed procedural USSR due-process to be reunified with the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic through political, diplomatic, and legal means.
- Nagorno Karabagh followed the SAME principles and SAME processes that Azerbaijan did to gain its independence from the USSR in 1991.
- Nagorno Karabagh pursued its right to sovereignty and self-determination at the SAME TIME that Azerbaijan did.
- Therefore, it is FALSE (and factually indefensible) that Nagorno Karabagh was EVER officially a territory under the rule or mandate of the modern-day, post-Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan.
- There is no factual or legal basis to the claim that the post-Soviet, modern-day Republic of Azerbaijan’s “territorial integrity” includes Nagorno-Karabagh within its borders.
- Whether or not the international community “recognizes” this, these are the facts.
- It is clear that Azerbaijan, at every step of the way, has set a complete political and legal double-standard for itself, benefiting from the right to self-determination & the declaration of self-sovereignty, but completely ignoring that SAME rights of the majority-Armenian civilian population of Nagorno Karabagh.
- Each time an attempt was made by the Nagorno Karabagh population to follow due process of Soviet and/or International Law and politically/peacefully declare its right to self-determination and sovereignty, the Government of Azerbaijan has categorically refused to recognize these internationally recognized processes.
- When there was no longer a USSR there to keep Azerbaijan in check, their response was all-out war.
Armenians in Artsakh (we don’t call it Nagorno-Karabagh anymore) are fighting to defend their natural rights to self-determination and sovereignty. They are not aggressors. They are not occupants. They’re an oppressed state.
They are indigenous residents who, at every turn in modern history, have done the legwork of following non-military, legal, diplomatic, and political solutions to declare their sovereignty and to have it recognized.
Historically, the facts show that the overwhelming majority of citizens living in Artsakh have been voting and pursuing referendums to be unified with the Republic of Armenia. Armenia does not wish to simply grab land and territory, or to fight a war against Azerbaijan. It is simply defending the rights and the safety of those people in Artsakh who have been asking to be unified with it for the last 100 years.
For anyone who cares about the facts, it is morally indefensible to take any position other than to RECOGNIZE ARTSAKH.