Azerbaijan International

Autumn 2002 (10.3)
Page 8

Readers' Forum
Karabakh Historically Part of Azerbaijan

Historical facts about Azerbaijan often get misrepresented and distorted in the media, invariably to the detriment of Azerbaijan. Frequently, the problems relate to the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, which has been subject to aggression and occupation by Armenia [since 1988]. (See Karabakh Conflict)

Unfortunately, even reputable and authoritative news sources make damaging mistakes as is true with several recent news items that appeared in Reuters. The letter below was written to the news agency by one of Azerbaijan's youth, Adil Baguirov.

Dear Reuters News Staff,
In one of your recent reports there is a disturbing description of Karabakh, historically a region of Azerbaijan, as being "controlled...[by Azerbaijan] since the 1920s. [September 28, 2002 and (October 1, 2002].

One doesn't have to go back very far in history to find that Karabakh and the seven Azerbaijani regions (Aghdam, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Gubadli, Lachin and Kalbajar) currently held under illegal Armenian military occupation), are Azerbaijani and have long been recognized as such. When the Russian Empire began its expansion policy into the Caucasus in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Karabakh Khanate-an independent Azerbaijani kingdom ruled by an Azerbaijani khan or local king-signed a bilateral treaty with the Russian czar in 1805, who recognized Karabakh as a Muslim and Azerbaijani territory with its own hereditary rule.

The same was true, by the way, of other Azerbaijani khanates, including those on the territory where the Republic of Armenia is geographically located today, such as Erevan Khanate (also ruled by an Azerbaijani khan).

Since that treaty, the indigenous Azerbaijani population drastically reduced-proportionally as the Armenian population increased. "After the Russian Empire eventually took control over the region in 1813, Azerbaijani Turks began to emigrate from Karabakh while the Armenian population of mountainous (Nagorno) Karabakh grew." (Source: Fact Sheet: History of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, March 30, 2001, U.S. State Department).

During the pre-Soviet years, including during the brief period of Azerbaijan's independence (1918-1920), Karabakh remained part of Azerbaijan. All official maps indicate this. When the Soviets took over in 1920, the ethnic jerrymandering masterminded by Stalin and Mikoyan arbitrarily created an autonomous region of Karabakh (NKAO) inside Azerbaijan. Moreover, Stalin went so far as to give away Zangazur to Armenia, and thus divided Azerbaijan into two parts. That's how the Nakhchivan region, came to be an exclave, separated from the main part of Azerbaijan. The rest is, as we say, history.

Hopefully, this unfortunate ambiguity and description in your reporting which is not consistent with the true facts will not reappear.

Adil Baguirov


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