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

In the same month the Azerbaijani parliament, facing an increasingly fierce popular demands for decisive action in Karabakh, voted to annul Nagorno Karabakh’s status of autonomous region. The Karabakh parliament responded by holding a referendum on independence. An overwhelming majority of residents voted in favour of independence from Azerbaijan, and on January 6, 1992, the “Nagorno Karabakh Republic” parliament declared independence from Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani National army, formed in November 1991, was reported to arm intensely and was supposed to have control over most self-defence formations in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani military structures surpassed their Armenian counterparts in obtaining arms. This priority can be explained firstly by the favour of the Gorbachev military system for Azerbaijan and secondly by the close relations between the Azerbaijani leaders and the former USSR high military circles. (Admiral Cherniavin, the command of the 4th army, etc). In addition there was another factor – the leaders of the Russian military-industria complex understood very well that it was profitable to arm the stronger party first, which in the face of Azerbaijan was more aggressive and then turn to those defending themselves.

In an interview to the correspondent of the newspaper “Megapolis Express” the Minister of Interior of Armenia A. Manucharian told that arms were obtained without any difficulty. Trying not to speak about the transfer of weapons bought in Russia to the region from Armenia, he agreed to explain the same process carried by the Azerbaijani side. He mentioned that according to reliable sources during the last months, Azerbaijan had received 200 thousand “Uzi” and “Kalashnikov” machine-guns from Turkey. After the hundred “Kamaz” lorries belonging to the Transcaucasian regional military forces loaded with the property of the Soviet Army left the stores, the premises were blown up. This load found its way into the hands of Azerbaijani combatants. Thirty Azerbaijanis were being trained in Tula’s arms enterprises in Russia.1

“TASS” news agency, October 5, 1991;

“Reliable sources inform that on Saturday, November 2, in the environs of Baku the five “Zil-131″ lorries loaded with a large number of arms, were detained by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Interior. The arms belonged to a division of the Northern Caucasian and Transcaucasian military office. The appropriate instances had been informed about the passing of the lorries previously. The road to the military airport encircled. The military servicemen were forced to hand the lorries over to the representatives of the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry. With the consent of the president of the Republic the confiscated weapons were transported to the stores of Azerbaijani Ministry of Interior.”

To the following question of the reporter of “Megapolis-Express”, N43, A. Manucharian answered;

“- Mutalibov has declared that one hundred thousand Azerbaijani servicemen are to be called back from the functioning army (the USSR army) to form a National Army of Azerbaijan. What do Armenia and Karabakh have to resist this forces.

– First of all I think this step is a suicide for an internally unstable Azerbaijan. A year ago we dissolved the Armenian National Army to avoid such an unstability, though was numerically greatly inferior of the Azerbaijani one mentioned above.

In reality if the Azerbaijanis are not supported by the Soviet troops, we’ll resist all their attacks… The both sides are going to continue the war. Probably it would be right to follow the advice of a Russian intellectual to invite UNO’s troops to the zone of conflict, as the USSR, which prevented even the access of the Red Cross to the zone, has ceased to exist. Its being non-existent is evident in its president’s preference to Jugoslavia than to Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

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