CHAPTER 20 NATIONAL REVIVAL. THE COLLAPSE OF THE USSR THE EMERGENCE OF THE FIFTEEN INDEPENDENT REPUBLICS

The Armenian and Persian-Tajic cultures have a lot in common. There’s no doubt that they have originated from the same source. Similar sounds are found in the works of the Tajik poet Rudaki and Armenian poet Narekatsi. Nahapet Kuchak’s quatrains remind us of those of Omar Khaiam. The Tajik poetry speaks of Armenians in tender metaphors. The seventh century historiographer Sebeos testified that the Tajik and Armenian nations always relied upon each other for help in critical or decisive situations. Our King Khosrov Parvis is known to say to those instigating inter-ethnic lashes; “Though we and the Armenians are of different faiths, but we have the same tribal ancestor and we are brothers.

We, the Tajik intellectuals, always remember this advice of our great ancestor but unfortunately, we must say that recently some elements, taking advantage of our difficulties, spread false news and deceived the people and set them against our Armenian brothers. We ourselves were not ready to resist the provocation. We were unable to prevent our nation from unacceptable actions at first and consequently couldn’t give shelter to our suffering brothers and care for them tenderly, a duty that we were obliged to do by our age-long mass conscience and ancient traditions. And we are ashamed. It must be noted that not only the Tajiks took part in the anti-Armenian disturbances, unfortunately we are minority in our city. However we should like to stress that not considering this last events of Dushambe, our Armenian brothers live in the republic peacefully and they are treated well and will be treated well forever. We, the Tajic intellectuals, backed the programme of founding a Centre of Armenian culture in the capital city. It is already functioning and will develop further. We’ll do our best to make the Centre a hotbed of friendship between the Armenian and Tajic peoples.

We condemn the attitude of the Soviet mass-media to those events. It was reported that the Tajiks were against the Armenians at first and now they are acting against the Russians and the Russian-language population of the republic. All these reports are far from the truth.

The hard-working Tajik people, during its age-long history has never tried to suppress other nations, to conquer lands and to plunder others’ property. We have always been loyal to our humane traditions, hospitable and kind-hearted. On the contrary, the nomads of the fields have constantly seized parts of our land. Once again we, the Tajik intellectuals assure you that our friendship will remain unstained and pure and different instigators will be powerless against it. Nothing in the world can make us hurt the feelings of our beloved and talented Armenian nation. Our fates are the same. It was fortunate that we managed to defend our brothers in time and none of them suffered”.

The Armenians had appeared in Central Asia after the 1905 and 1918-1920 Armeno-Tatar clashes. As a result of their deportation, a part of them found shelter in Central Asia. They were mostly Karabakh and Siunik Armenians, whose villages were taken by the Tatars.

It was evident that the leaders of the Popular Front were trying to create an anti-Armenian atmosphere in the Muslim environment. The Azerbaijani national intelligentsia was already lost in the Popular Front, less-educated and less-privilaged people had begun mobilizing. The pull toward democratizing the society in Azerbaijan and Armenia and the process of the dissolution of the USSR faltered on the Karabakh issue and the representatives of Baltic popular fronts (demanding independence of the Baltic region) decided to mediate a temporary settlement satisfactory to both Armenian and Azerbaijani parties. On February 1 a meeting was held in Riga. Representatives of the Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian popular fronts and Armenian National Movement and Popular Front of Azerbaijan took part in it. Hekmet Hajizade and Sabit Bagirov represented the Azerbaijani party, Ashot Manucharian, David Vardanian and Ashot Bleyan – the Armenian. This was the first meeting between the two national movements. The serious political problems prevented the parties to come to an agreement. The Armenian side suggested to invite representatives of Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of Karabakh to take part in the meeting. It was decided to stop the practice of hostage-taking, return all the hostages within one and a half months and not to engage in communal violence. In the question of Karabakh, a complete deadlock appeared to have been reached. Meantime the Azerbaijani OMON units backed by Soviet Interior Ministery troops under the command of Major-General Safonov attacked the Armenian villages Azat and Kamo. The Armenians of the villages received an ultimatum from the Azerbaijani Popular Front to leave their homes as that Azerbaijani refugees could be settled there. This event interrupted the talks of the representatives of national movements of the two republics, on February 3 they hurried home, previously reporting that the meeting would resume its work after the clearing of the situation. The meeting showed that the attitudes on both sides had hardened and a settlement satisfactory to both parties was extremely unlikely. The individual suggestions of the party-members were unacceptable to the movements on the whole. For example El. Mehtiev in his article in the Latvian newspaper “Atomada” suggested that Karabakh could belong both to Armenia and Azerbaijan, which would guarantee the territorial self-governing process of the Armenian-Azerbaijani population. The author meant that the residents of Karabakh could enjoy double citizenship and a right to election in both republics.5

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