CHAPTER 23 THE PROCLAMATION OF THE NAGORNO- KARABAGH REPUBLIC AS A GUARANTY FOR SELF-DEFENCE

The loss of military outposts was the sign of Mutalibov’s defeat. A violent struggle began between Mutalibov and the Popular Front for power. The Azerbaijanis needed a ceasefire to fight in the new “front” of Baku. They achieved it through the May 8 Iran – brokered eight-point agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia, under which Azerbaijan would lift the economic blockade of Karabakh and Iran, would serve as a peaceful mediator for both sides.

Following the course of events, the Armenian party understood well why Azerbaijan signed the agreement. The Popular Front hastily withdrew its forces from Shushi to Baku. Shushi was weakened. The next day Armenian forces launched an attack on Shushi, the last Azerbaijani stronghold in Karabakh. The May 8 was the first day for the realization of the Armenian project. A corridor was left open through which the Azerbaijanis could escape to Lachin. Women and children had been evacuated from Shushi in early February 1992. Shushi was taken on May 12. The Azerbaijanis used the escape route with alacrity, offering little resistance. A wave of panic went through Lachin, Ghubatli, Zangelan, Jebrail.

Following the retreating Azerbaijani combatants, the Armenian forces found the above regions empty. They were not interested in occupying these territories but opening a corridor through Azerbaijan linking Karabakh with Armenia. The necessity to open an overland route through the town of Lachin and the establishment of a corridor for the transport of food, fuel and medicines was urgent.

Thus, after an interval of 72 years the Armenians became the masters of Shushi again. The Lachin road was called “a humanitarian corridor” by the international community. The blockade of Karabakh came to an end.

The secret of the Armenian success was in the fact they were defending their motherland, while the Azerbaijanis knew in their hearts that the land of Karabakh did not belong to them and were not ready to die for an alien land.

In June 1992 Azerbaijan held a general election and a new government representing the extremist Azerbaijani Popular Front took power. A key feature of the manifest was the “settlement of the Karabakh problem.”

REFERENCE MATT

After the formal break-up of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the USSR Interior troops, believed by some to have had some mitigating effect on the hostilities, withdrew from Karabakh. Perceiving the imminent demise of any measure of autonomy and the associated threat to their viable existence, Karabakh felt obliged to resort to measures for self-protection and survival. The Autonomous Region hurried to form its own armed forces to face an Azerbaijani attack. But the establishment of the armed forces was possible only on the basis of a firm and stable state structure, which firstly should defend the interests of the region in different international institutions and negotiations and secondly guarantee the protection of the population.

When the leaders of Karabakh perceived that their future as an autonomous enclave was in danger, the only democratic solution they could envisage was to hold a referendum with a view to the possibility of declaring independence from Azerbaijan. The last 2 September 1991 session of the Regional Soviet of the Peoples Deputies of Nagorny Karabakh and the governing council of the Shahumian District announced the establishment of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and declared that it was no longer under Azerbaijani jurisdiction. Of course this was not the first time that Karabakh was trying to establish its statehood (in the Y century, 9-10 centuries, in early XVIII century). In November 1991 Armenian forces in Karabakh were organized under a single command structure into the Popular Liberation Army of Karabakh, which was unswerable to the parliament of the proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

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