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History of Nagorno-Karabakh

Karabakh is one of the most ancient lands not only in Azerbaijan, but in the world in general. The oldest human settlement was discovered in the Azykh cave in this area. This settlement proves that Azerbaijan, including Karabakh, the Mediterranean basin and East Africa, was one of the first homelands of mankind. In 1968, the jawbone of a man called Azykh man – azykhantrop was found in the top layer of Azykh cave. It is believed that the Azykh man lived 350-400 thousand years ago. During the Eneolithic (VI-IV millennia BC), Bronze and Early Iron Ages (late IV millennium BC – early I millennium BC) great changes took place in the life of Karabakh. The Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages (XIII-VII centuries BC) were called Khojaly-Gadabay culture. Along with the development of economic and cultural life, ethno-political processes continue. In the south of Azerbaijan there is a powerful state of Manna (IX-VI centuries BC). At that time, not only in Karabakh, but in the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia) in general, there was no Armenian ethnos.
After the destruction of the Achaemenid state by Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), political processes in the north of Azerbaijan entered a new stage. With his death, the empire was divided into Atropatena in the south of Azerbaijan and Albania in the north. BC In the 4th century and later, Atropatena also had territories in the north of Azerbaijan, and at that time a part of the lands included in the territory of Karabakh belonged to that Azerbaijani state. The state of Albania, which was formed at the same time as Atropatena, dates back to about BC. IV – e. It existed in the VIII century and played a great role in the history of Azerbaijan for about 1200 years. By expanding its borders, Albania covered the entire territory of Karabakh, and with some exceptions, it was able to achieve this by fighting for the preservation of this province.
The first appearance of Armenians in the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia) dates back to about BC. It occurs after the 2nd century. With their entry into the region, aggressive actions against local states and peoples begin. BC of the Roman Empire. With the destruction of Tigran II in 66, the fictional legend of “Greater Armenia” came to naught, and they became vassals of Rome. This situation lasted until the 4th century. In this case, the description of the historical lands of Albania temporarily occupied by the Armenians as an integral part of Armenia has no scientific and historical basis. However, unlike the Armenians, the Azerbaijani-Albanian state continued to pursue an independent policy, and the historical regions of Karabakh were part of it.
The epos “Kitabi-Dada Gorgud”, a magnificent monument of Azerbaijani and all-Turkic oral folk literature, also proves that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan and various Turkic ethnic groups have lived here since ancient times. The epos “Dada Gorgud” was spread in all Azerbaijani lands, including Karabakh, in the VI-VII centuries, including in the basin of Lake Goycha, which the Armenians now call Sevan.
The main changes in the history of Karabakh took place in the VII century with the occupation of the Arab caliphate and the consequent abolition of the Albanian state. As a result of the tragic policy of the Arab Caliphate towards Azerbaijan, the religious supremacy of the Armenians in the mountainous part of the province was reflected in the ethnic sphere: the population of the historical Arsakh region of Albania began to be Gregorianized and then Armenianized.
After the disintegration of the Arab caliphate, the principalities of Syunik and Arsakh-Khachin were established in that part of Albania. Towards the end of the twelfth century, the Sünik kingdom collapsed, and the ruling dynasty was severed in 1166 by the deaths of Princes Gregory and Smbat. The principality of Khachin, which was formed in the territory of Arsakh in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, was, in the words of historian IA Orbeli, “part of ancient Albania.” Thus, it is quite natural that at the time of the collapse of the Arab caliphate, there was no Armenian state among the local states revived in its territory. This proves that, unlike Azerbaijan and Georgia, Armenians in the South Caucasus have no history of statehood at all.
With the second march of the Mongols and the end of the occupation of Azerbaijan (1231-1239), Karabakh, like other Azerbaijani lands, was part of the Supreme Mongol Khaganate (1239-1256), and then the Hulagu (Elkhanid) state (1256-1357). The information about the history of Karabakh in this period is relatively more comprehensive and better studied. At that time, the word “black” and “garden” – “Karabakh” – began to apply to a specific geographical area.
In the 15th century, Karabakh was part of the Garagoyunlu (1410-1467) and Aghgoyunlu (1468-1501) states of Azerbaijan. However, during the Garagoyunlular period, an event took place in the later history of Karabakh. In the 15th century, the descendants of the former Albanian ruler Hasan Jalal (Jalali) received the title of “king” from Jahan Shah of Garagoyunlu. Later, the property of the Jalali dynasty was divided into five Albanian feudal principalities – the kings (Gulustan, Ceraberd, Khachin, Varanda, Dizag).
With the establishment of the Safavid state of Azerbaijan (1501) the centralization of all Azerbaijani lands began. In the middle of the 16th century, the centralization of Azerbaijani lands as a single state was completed. Thus, the Safavid state of Azerbaijan became the second most powerful state in the region after the Ottoman Empire. In this case, at that time, any ethnic and political superiority of the Armenians was not possible. On the contrary, at that time, the ethnic and political borders of Azerbaijan became clearer. The Safavids created 4 principalities in Azerbaijan, one of which was the Karabakh or Ganja nobility. After the weakening of the Safavid state, the lands of Azerbaijan became a battleground between Iran, Russia and the Ottoman Empire.
Nadir Shah Afshar (1736-1747), who came to power after overthrowing the last Safavid ruler Abbas III, imposed severe sanctions on the Turkish-Muslim population of the Ganja-Karabakh principality, which refused to recognize him as a legitimate ruler, which strengthened the position of the Albanian kings of Karabakh gave a boost. With Nadir’s death, his state was divided, and local states – khanates – were established in Azerbaijan. In other words, Azerbaijan has once again restored its state independence in the example of khanates. Two Azerbaijani khanates – Ganja and Karabakh khanates – were established in the territory of the former Ganja-Karabakh province.
The founder of the Karabakh khanate was Panahali khan Javanshir, one of the prominent statesmen of Azerbaijan. As Panah Khan became stronger, the destructive activities of the feudal lords, who were pro-retail, also increased. It was necessary to prevent this from the military-political point of view. Otherwise, the territorial and administrative integrity of the khanate could be lost.
From 1783, the Russian state began to interfere in the struggle between Panahali khan’s successor Ibrahim khan and the separatist kings. Russia, trying to occupy the South Caucasus, was trying to establish a “Christian state”, or rather, support itself, with the help of these kings in the territory of Azerbaijan.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Russia’s aggression in the South Caucasus, including Azerbaijan, intensified. In 1801, Georgia was annexed to the empire, and the Tsar-Balakan community of Azerbaijan (1803) and the Ganja khanate (1804) were occupied.
In such a situation, Ibrahim khan signed a contract with the commander of the Russian troops RD Sisianov (1802-1806) in Kurakchay. According to the Kurakchay agreement, the Karabakh khanate was annexed to Russia as a Muslim-Azerbaijani land. The Kurakchay Treaty, which reflects the historical reality, is also the most authoritative document proving that Karabakh, including the mountainous part of the region, belongs to the Azerbaijani people.
During the administrative-territorial division in 1846, Shusha district was subordinated to the newly created Shamakhi province (Baku since 1859). When Yelizavetpol (Ganja) province was established in 1867, Shusha district was given to it and its territory was divided and three more districts – Zangazur, Javanshir and Jabrayil districts were organized here. Thus, Shusha district also loses a single administrative-political department. Such an administrative-territorial division was carried out for a special purpose. These reforms have opened up comprehensive opportunities for the wider representation of Armenians in the system of government.
As Tsarism occupied the lands of Northern Azerbaijan, it also pursued a policy of Armenianization of the population in order to consolidate in these lands. After the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, this situation became more regular and purposeful. The resettlement of Armenians from Iran to Northern Azerbaijan was confirmed by Article XV of the agreement.
With the Treaty of Edirne in 1829, the resettlement of Armenians from the Ottoman Empire to the newly occupied lands of Northern Azerbaijan began. One of the main directions of the resettlement of Armenians was the territory of Karabakh.
According to official data, between 1828 and 1830, ie in just two years, 40,000 Armenians were relocated from northern Iran, including Karabakh, from Iran and 90,000 from the Ottoman Empire. Together with the unofficial Armenian IDPs, their number exceeded 200,000. After the resettlement, the number of Armenians in the ethnic composition of Karabakh began to increase.
Even after the 1930s, the mass resettlement of Armenians to the lands of Northern Azerbaijan, including Karabakh, continued. Russian Caucasian scholar N. Shavrov wrote (1911) that more than 1 million of the 1.3 million Armenians in the Caucasus did not come. Despite all this, since 1916 in Karabakh (within the borders of the khanate) about 51% of the population were still Azerbaijanis, and 46% were Armenians (along with Armenians of local Albanian origin – Y.M., K.Sh.). The resettlement of the displaced Armenians in the mountainous part of Karabakh, where dozens of locals of the same religion (Gregorianized and Armenianized Albanians) lived, became more widespread. This was done in order to ensure that the newcomers lived together in a compact way and had a strategic intention.
Thus, the Armenians, who had created ample opportunities for administrative-political, socio-economic and cultural development in Northern Azerbaijan as a whole, including Karabakh, moved en masse to these lands and soon began an open struggle for the realization of the idea of ”Greater Armenia” in Azerbaijan. One of the main components of this idea was to destroy the local-Azerbaijani population of Karabakh, Yerevan, Nakhchivan and other Azerbaijani lands and to seize the lands where they lived. After the failure of the treacherous uprisings of the Armenians against the Ottoman state since the 1890s, the center of this struggle shifted to Northern Azerbaijan.
Armenians have committed mass genocides against the Azerbaijani people since 1905. The genocidal policy of the Armenians against the Azerbaijanis took a more tragic form in Karabakh. The massacres committed in 1905-1906 did not calm down the Armenians. Using the historical conditions created by the First World War, they tried to re-create the mythical “Greater Armenia” state. Unsuccessful in their new uprisings against the Ottoman state in 1915, the Armenians began to continue their genocide against the Azerbaijanis, concentrating their main forces in the South Caucasus and taking refuge under the protection of tsarism. After the overthrow of the tsarist government (February 1917) and the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in Russia (October 1917), in the conditions of anarchy in the Caucasus, Armenian armed groups serving in the Russian army for a long time united with the Dashnak-Bolshevik group. began a more terrible period. The new mass genocides that began in Baku in March 1918 and covered the whole of Azerbaijan dealt a heavy blow to the Azerbaijani people.
However, on May 28, 1918, after nearly 120 years of Russian captivity, the people of Azerbaijan established a new independent state in Northern Azerbaijan. Naturally, like other lands of Northern Azerbaijan, Karabakh, an integral part of Azerbaijan, was included in the territory of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. However, at that time, the newly proclaimed Republic of Armenia (Ararat) made an unfounded claim to Karabakh. The government of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic denied the claim. Thus, the Armenians continued the genocide they started earlier to seize Karabakh during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. The Shusha accident and the atrocities of the Armenians in the city of Shusha, the political center of Karabakh, took a more brutal form.
One of the most treacherous armed uprisings of Armenians in Shusha during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic took place on March 22, 1920, the day of Novruz holiday of the Azerbaijani people. This separatist uprising was ordered by the Bolsheviks, who were preparing to occupy Azerbaijan. At that time, despite the repression of the Armenian-separatist uprisings in most places, they were able to capture the fortress of Askeran. As a result of the military-political measures taken, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic restored its sovereign rights in Karabakh. However, the separatist uprisings and genocides committed by the Armenians in Karabakh, who betrayed their state – Azerbaijan, on the eve of the occupation in April 1920, dealt a heavy blow to the defense of the country’s northern borders and threatened the existence of an independent Azerbaijani state – the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.
Thus, the 23-month-old Azerbaijan Democratic Republic was overthrown by the bayonets of the 11th Red Army from Bolshevik Russia, and Soviet power was established in northern Azerbaijan. Thus, a new stage of events around Karabakh began.
Granting autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh went hand in hand with the process of establishing the Transcaucasian Federation and the USSR. In February 1922, at the First Congress of Transcaucasian Communist Organizations, the Transcaucasian Country Committee of the Russian Communist (Bolshevik) Party, of which S. Ordzhonikidze was elected chairman, resorted to administrative-command methods in its implementation, as in the July 5 decision to grant autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh. At the meeting of the Transcaucasian Country Committee on October 27, 1922, the Central Committee of the Communist (Bolshevik) Party of Azerbaijan was offered to implement the July 5 decision. Despite all this, Moscow continued to put pressure on Azerbaijan. On December 22, the Union Council of the Transcaucasian Federation adopted a special decision to accelerate the granting of autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh.
After the creation of the USSR, the demands of the Transcaucasian Country Committee became more stringent. In May 1923, the report of the Karabakh Committee was included in the agenda of the plenum of the Transcaucasian Country Committee. On June 1, the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist (Bolshevik) Party of Azerbaijan decided to decree autonomy and submit its draft to the Central Committee within three days. The Regulations on the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region were published on November 26, 1924.
Thus, Karabakh, an integral part of Azerbaijan, was artificially divided into lowland and mountainous parts, and the Azerbaijani leadership was forced to grant autonomy to the Armenians who later settled in the mountainous part of Karabakh. In fact, this step was taken in that part – without taking into account the opinion of Azerbaijanis living in Nagorno-Karabakh, their rights were grossly violated. As a result of purposeful processes carried out in 1920-1923, the lands of Azerbaijan, which were part of the former Karabakh khanate, lost their traditional historical-geographical unity or integrity. So far, when discussing the issue of granting autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh, almost no attention has been paid to the most important events in the history of the administrative division of its territory.
The analysis shows that the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was formed not on the basis of scientific and geographical principles reflecting the real history, but on the basis of a special purposeful voluntaristic approach, ie by uniting local territories dominated by Armenian settlements under the name of autonomous organization. From the above facts, the anatomy of the plot of the Armenians resettled to the lands of Karabakh in Azerbaijan to create a state for themselves in other lands is very clear. The Armenians did the same in Western Azerbaijan, where they moved in time – in the territory of the Iravan Khanate, and now they intend to use this trick in Karabakh.
On the one hand, keeping Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan’s historical lands and thus continuing the tradition of historical ties with other Azerbaijani lands, on the other hand, Azerbaijan’s special care for the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region is exceptional for the socio-political and economic development of the region. created conditions. However, in the late 1980s, Armenian “ideologues” and their supporters, who aimed to separate Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan, began to openly deny this. But the facts remain factual. The high level of development of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region within Azerbaijan is reflected in the statistical bulletins published by the Regional Statistics Office in Stepanakert.
A comparison of the indicators of economic and social development of the Azerbaijan SSR as a whole in 1965-1987, including the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, clearly shows how rapidly the autonomous region developed during that period. It is clear that in 1987, the number of people employed in industry per 10,000 people was 686 in the republic, 387 in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, and 657 in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region. The gross agricultural output per capita was 588, 501, and 692, respectively, and i.a. As for the indicators of social development, these figures were much higher not only for the Azerbaijani SSR, but also for the Armenian SSR and the USSR as a whole. Provision of hospital beds for every 10,000 people was 86.2 in the Armenian SSR, 97.7 in the Azerbaijani SSR, and 101.7 in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region.
Even after the granting of autonomy to Nagorno-Karabakh, an integral part of Azerbaijan, neither Nagorno-Karabakh, nor Armenia, nor Armenians outside these borders stopped their separatist activities. During the silence of the Armenian “politicians”, writers, poets and other people became carriers of separatism, or rather, “politicians” pushed them forward. Even in the 1960s, as the anti-Turkish campaign intensified in the USSR, this problem was raised again. In 1965, a petition for the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, “signed” by 45,000 people, was submitted to Moscow, but these claims were not granted.
The publication of Z. Balayan’s book “Ojag” in Yerevan in 1984, its purposeful distortions on the history and modern period of Karabakh, nationalist-separatist calls rekindled passions. This mood gained great support in the Soviet leadership (in the example of MS Gorbachev!) In the conditions of “openness and reconstruction” announced by Gorbachev, surrounded by Armenian nationalists, and entered a new stage. Nagorno-Karabakh, ruled by Armenian separatists and terrorists with full support from Moscow, again betrayed the Azerbaijani people, as it did in the 1920s during the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.
Armenian academician A. Aganbekyan, who joined Gorbachev’s team in November 1987, said that a proposal on Nagorno-Karabakh had been made to the Soviet leadership in Paris and that he hoped to find a solution to this problem in the conditions of reconstruction and democracy. The formerly secret Armenian “Karabakh Committee”, its separatist-terrorist organization “Krunk” (Durna) in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, went to work, and the “Miatsum” (Unity) movement was formed. This movement relied on the potential of Armenia, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region, the leadership of Moscow, the USSR and the Armenians of the world. Events have become more aggressive since February 1988. In February, a wave of rallies by separatists and Armenian nationalists began in Yerevan and Khankendi (Stepanakert). On February 20, the session of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region Council appealed to the Supreme Soviet of the Azerbaijan USSR to consider the status of the region.
The then leadership and the general public of Azerbaijan were unprepared for the new tactics of the Armenian separatists and their defenders. The killing of two Azerbaijani youths and the wounding of 19 by Armenian separatist terrorists in the Askeran region on February 24 did not result in a deliberate political line against the Armenians’ plans.
It was also clear that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet government were not interested in a realistic assessment of the situation at a time when separatist-terrorist Armenian atrocities were taking place. The decision of March 24, 1988 “On measures to accelerate the socio-economic development of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of the Azerbaijan SSR in 1988-1995” was deliberately aimed at concealing the fact that the issue was an act of separatism. Such support further encouraged the Armenian separatists and increased their aggression. Demonstrating obedience to Moscow, the Azerbaijani leadership, led by A. Vazirov, betrayed its people and made concessions to the aggressor. Finally, Moscow took another step towards the exclusion of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region from the Azerbaijani SSR: on January 12, 1989, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted a resolution “On the application of a special form of government in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of the USSR.” . The purpose was clear: the Special Management Committee established in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was to ensure the transfer of the Autonomous Region from Azerbaijan to Armenia. However, as a result of the democratic struggle of the Azerbaijani people, who understood this, on November 28, the Special Management Committee was abolished. But instead, a new body was created – the Organizing Committee. Taking advantage of this situation, the Armenian SSR adopted an unconstitutional decision on December 1 to annex Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. This was an open act of legal intervention by Armenia against the territorial integrity of the Azerbaijani SSR. Moscow, as expected, turned a blind eye to this brutal intervention.
On August 30, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of Azerbaijan adopted a statement on the restoration of state independence, and on October 18, the “Constitutional Act on State Independence” was adopted. Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh also took advantage of the situation to continue separatist political organization. In September 1991, they announced the creation of a toy organization called the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The Republic of Azerbaijan refused to recognize the organization, and on November 26, the status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region was abolished.