CHAPTER 13 KARABAKH UNDER SIEGE (1917-1920)

Considering that the Karabakh issue is to be settled at the Peace Conference and that any nationalistic confrontation is destructive for the population of Karabakh and that the Armenians and Muslims are to live side by side in the region, the Seventh Congress of Karabakh Armenians recognizes provisionally the authority of the Azerbaijani government.54

Article 1 of the treaty stated;

“The Contracting parties accept this temporary agreement in expectation of the decision that depends on the Peace Conference and whose same decision both parties agree to respect.”

Article 2 stated;

“The mountainous parts of Karabakh, where the population is Armenian, declares itself as part of Azerbaijan but provisionally.”

The resolution was signed by 15 delegates. The majority of delegates, those who opposed to any kind of submission to Azerbaijan, didn’t arrive in Shushi.

The Armenian Foreign Minister expressed its protest against the Seventh Congress and its agreement with Azerbaijan in a note sent to the Peace Conference on August 28, 1919. If the Karabakh Congress recognized Azerbaijan “provisionally” i.e. pending the conclusions of Paris Peace Conference, Baku and Ankara considered that period “endless”, as they had already achieved their aim of forcing the Conference not to discuss any question connected with Karabakh.

The next months of 1919 brought further difficulties in Karabakh. In late November an agreement was signed between the Karabakh Armenians and Sultanov, under the aegis of the American Colonel W.H. Haskell, representing the Allied High Commision. The latter was a crook “selling to Azerbaijan the aid sent for Armenia and particularly for Karabakh from Europe and America, and acting so as to encourage Baku’s designs on Karabakh.”55

Meanwhile Sultanov, considering the agreement of August 22 his victory, but unsatisfied of the existence of the Armenian governing bodies, renewed his threats of razing Karabakh to the ground. A new attack was organized on Zangezur. Turkey instigated a Muslim revolt against the Republic of Armenia in Nakhichevan. The Armenian troops and refugees were forced to leave the region.

Once again Armenians enjoyed their Zangezur victories. The retreating Azerbaijani troops attacked the Armenian villages of Karabakh. The former General of the Caucasian front Salkevich, now the chief of the Azerbaijani army staff, taught the Tatars his skills of masacring Armenians. There was no doubt about his experience in that sphere, as it was he, who, in the Caucasian front allied to General Yudenich, organized international retreats, leaving the last remnants of the Armenian population to the Turk murderers.56

The Azerbaijani authorities diplomatically convinced the English and Armenian representatives that it were the Armenians who attacked the Tatars and not vice versa. The Armenian diplomats failed to convince the opposite.

Again the situation was grave in Karabakh. In February 1920 Sultanov demanded that the National Council should agree to the presence of reinforcements of Azeri troops in Karabakh. The answer was negative. As a result new circle of violence was set in motion. Sultanov tried to deploy troops in the estate of Avan Yuzbashian, in the village Margushavan, but the 11 February 1920 Congress of Jraberd, Khachen and Giulistan Armenian population decided to put up resistence against that plan. The Armenian armed units drove the Turks out of the area.

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