CHAPTER 16 THE KARABAKH PROBLEM AS A RESULT OF THE PAN-TURKIC POLICY OF THE BAKU AUTHORITIES

In 1965 the leader of the national-liberation movement of Karabakh B. Ulubabian left for Moscow. He and his adherents were sure that the Kremliun was being constantly disinformed about the real situation of events in the region, and reading the letter, would try to correct the mistake. But none of the Kremlin functionaries wished to meet with Ulubabian to discuss the matters. The Centre turned a deaf ear to the claims of the Karabakh Armenians, though “the letter of the thirteen” had obtained 45.000 signatures in the region, including Azerbaijani ones.

In the same period the “Party of National Unity”, which sought for independence in Armenia, but was also deeply concerned with the problems of Nakhichevan and Karabakh, was established in Armenia.

On 24 April 1965 the 50th anniversary of the genocide of the Armenians in Turkey, there was a demonstration in Yerevan, accompanied by spontaneous cries of “our land”, referring both the Armenian regions in Turkey and to those in Azerbaijan. The people demanded to declare April 24 a day of national grief officially. Moscow chose to satisfy this demand and gave its consent to eract a monument commemorating the memory of 1,5 million Armenian victims.

On August 8, 1966 the Central Committee of the USSR Communist Party adopted a resolution that charged the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders with discussing the issue of reattachment of Karabakh to Armenia jointly, and introduce the suggestions concerning the problem to the Central Committee for the final solution of the problem. This resolution appeared to open up hopeful prospects for the just satisfaction of all manner of formerly ignored claims, cultural, territorial and even secessionist, but the steps taken by the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia Yervand Kochinian turned to be slow (though he supported the Armenian claims), while the Azerbaijani leaders (Akhundov, Alikhanov, Iskenderov) flooded Moscow with protests against the reattachment, trying to prove personally that the only “place” for Karabakh was the Republic of Azerbaijan, even threatening the Centre with an Azerbaijani revolt, the result of which would be the enmity of the whole of the Muslim world with the USSR.

The Autonomous Region of Karabakh, as well as the Armenians of the whole world lost that decisive battle. Reprisals followed the position in Karabakh steadily worsened. Arrests, deportations, illegal imprisonment, murders were committed with impunity and official threats. The prominent communist leader Aram Babaian was forced to resign, unable to bear unjustice his heart gave in.

Though in their letters and petitions the Armenian and Karabakh Armenian leaders complained about oppressive measures taken by the Azerbaijani authorities and explained the socio-economic and national-cultural advantages of an annexation of Nagorny Karabakh to Armenia (with explicit reference to the will of the population of Nagorny Karabakh to decide their political fate themselves), on the whole they failed to convince the Kremlin that the just solution of the Karabakh problem was more important than the absurd project of attaching Iranian Azarbaijan proper to the false Republic of Azerbaijan, thus carving up Iran and providing Turkey with an access to Central Asia. In January 1966 the poet Balash Azeroghli, who had fled Iran, in a speech, made at the Azerbaijani Writers’ Union’s Congress, declared;

“I am looking forward to the day when I can accept you in Tabriz already attached to the Soviet Azerbaijan”.

A storm of applause followed the declaration. The Byelorussian representative added;

“We know very well what it means to live under capitalism. I am sure that you’ll succeed in liberating the Southern Azerbaijan, and our next meeting will be in Tabriz”.30

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