Azerbaijani & Armenian voices reflect on Nagorno-Karabakh

As the world watches the highly divisive dispute over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, members of the One Young World Ambassador Community from both sides of the aisle share their points of view.

Views reflect those of the writers and not One Young World.

Image credit: Al Jazeera

nagorno karabakh

Voices from Armenia

Anna G

As a pacifist myself, I despise any kind of violence, especially war. I sympathize with the Azerbaijan people who were forced to leave their houses on the disputed territory. As an Armenian I experienced relocation and pain of losing one’s home (my ancestors suffered from it). But for most of Armenians now, this conflict is the fight for not simply a land, but our nation’s right to exist. There is no simple solution to this situation. Too much has been done from both sides. I only wish for a day when both Armenian and Azeri people can live on that land and be able to do so without risk. I pray for peace every day. My hope is to live in a world where the value of a single human’s life will be more than the ease at which wars are declared.

Image: Aris Messinis / AFP - Getty Images

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Anonymous

My heart has been bleeding for the past few weeks. As a child in the early 90’s, I witnessed the horror of war. My brain refuses to accept that the next generation has to live it again.

We are at the edge of another full-scale regional war if the international community continues to close their eyes to it, remains silent about the violence or attempts to diminish its seriousness. War cannot be the answer, it can only bring more tears, more pain, more hatred, and pull the region back for decades.

An additional challenge is the vast amount of false information that is being produced and disseminated. Targeting civilians, children, women with banned-by-humanitarian law weapons, destroying churches and civilian infrastructures, must be stopped before it’s too late.

 

Lidya C

In the morning of September 27, Azerbaijan launched an artillery offensive attack against the peaceful people of Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian Artsakh), including the capital Stepanakert and other residential areas, such as the Christian Ghazanchetsots Cathedral, theatres, kindergartens, and so on. The Azerbaijani armed forces are backed by Turkish military. There are international, fact-based reports which state that Syrian jihadists came to the region to fight against Armenians who live in Nagorno-Karabakh. They also bombed the Armenian regions of Vardenis and Kapan.

The world is watching a genocide happening again and they are calmly waiting to take their stake in it. I know you can read the same story from very different angles, but I exhort everybody to educate themselves, read as much unbiased literature as they can and logic will lead everyone to the right response. Our small Armenia would never start a war against a country three times larger than it. They have more money, they have more weapons, whereas for us this is an existential fight.

This UN General Assembly Security Council document from 2018 states, "According to well-known sources, since ancient times Artsakh has been one of the provinces of historical Armenia and has never been part of an independent Azerbaijan. Under the pressure of Joseph Stalin, Peoples’ Commissar on Nationality Issues of the Soviet Russia, parts of Artsakh were forcefully included within Azerbaijan in 1921 under the name of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region (NKAO). This unlawful act was formalized by the decision of the Caucasus Bureau of the Communist Party of Russia contrary to its previous decision that recognized Artsakh as part of Armenia and in sheer defiance to the will of the people of Artsakh."

I hope this issue will soon be resolved and I appeal to all of civilized society to stop watching and start acting to stop the terrorism in our region.

Eliza C

This crisis has consumed my thoughts. As Artsakhs, our hearts here in Los Angeles belong to Armenia. Armenians all over Los Angeles are protesting for representation in media coverage in the United States which, so far, has been slim to inaccurate.

We see footage of our brothers and sisters in Armenia in war, cities shelled, grandmothers displaced but still baking bread for the soldiers, praying for the soldiers.

We know that the genocide not recognized in 1915 is leading to ethnic cleansing today. We are aware that if Azerbaijan puts its weapons down, there will be peace. If Armenian puts its weapons down, there will be no Armenia. My heart is heavy for the diaspora and we are frantically collecting funds via Armenia Fund to help our motherland.

 

Chougher Maria D

Witnessing two wars by the age of twenty-two is something I would never wish upon anyone else. Surviving the war in Syria and seeking refuge in Armenia in 2014 was not an easy journey, but having to witness yet another war only six years after is devastating to say the least. I strictly condemn all forms of violence that have been inflicted by the Azerbaijani government against the innocent civilians in Nagorno Karabakh, as well as Turkey’s extremely troubling involvement in this large-scale offensive. As a Syrian Armenian and a third-generation genocide survivor, I am a firm believer in the power of negotiations and peace talks. This war has re-opened far too many wounds for Armenians and Azerbaijanis alike. This region deserves peace and prosperity, Armenians and Azerbaijanis deserve better, it is time to put an end to violence and stop the war.

Miganoush M

The last two weeks have been devastating for me and my home country Armenia. Armenian civilians in Stepanakert have been under attack by Azerbaijan with the support of Turkey. With no international mediation, Armenia is standing alone under the threat of a second genocide. The media is full of biased information. If you ask the humans living in Artsakh, all they want is to be recognized as a nation, but what they experience now is nonstop bombing from Azeri troops.

The situation can be easily illustrated by means of a comparison. The root of the problem is Stalin, who drew a line deciding to which country Artsakh belongs (see paragraph 1 in the history section). Apparently, he made other similar decisions which destroyed the lives of many humans, not only in the Caucasus region but in other post-Soviet countries as well. My dear friend and co-founder Gretta is Romanian/Hungarian. Her grandmother lived in a Hungarian village which from one day to another became a part of Romania! Virtually overnight, they had to study in and speak another language, and were forced to associate with a wholly new cultural identity. What could they do? Families who were unhappy and could afford to start anew left their homes. But most of the families could not afford to do this and had to cope with the new culture, language, and state. Read more here.

Well, Artsakhi Armenians don't want to leave their homes! And why should they - just because a long-dead dictator decided to draw a line and split territories like a piece of pie in a way which benefited his goals of appeasing Turkey at the time? If we are meant to accept Stalin's decisions as the law today, does this mean that we should also bring back the gulags? Is this what the world has come to?

I want to raise my voice and bring this topic to your attention. Armenians want peace and peace talks and international recognition of the Armenian nation of Artsakh.

Call for action

  • If you live in Germany please raise your voice and sign this petition.
  • Support humanitarian efforts for the Armenian civilians affected by the war by donating here.
  • Support medical aid support for #covid-19 and war victims here. I know the initiators in person and I give my full recommendation that your donation is in trustworthy hands.
  • Spread the word to raise awareness about the war and demand your country leaders to take action to stop the war.

Voices from Azerbaijan

Farida A

My country is in active war.

The war is not on the territory of Armenia. The Azerbaijani army is not trying to seize the territory of Armenia or any part of it. Nagorno Karabakh is not a disputed territory. It is officially recognised territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan.

I am a peacebuilder, social entrepreneur and the founder of Human Foundation. Without a doubt, I am against war. Now it is all about justice. We had hoped the Armenian military would leave occupied territory in peace. However, Armenia has already started terrorising Ganja, Migachevir, Barda and Absheron.These regions are very far from being a war zone. They are killing civilians.

From my side, I am organizing a fundraising campaign to help Azerbaijani civilians who lost their homes as a result of Armenian attacks since the 27th of September. I am also actively sharing true stories, justified by history, on our social media.

We want to stop a terrorism! We want peace!

Fagan A

Recent activities started on 27th of September, 2020, when Armenian forces in Karabakh attacked the Azerbaijan forces in nearby regions. Azerbaijan forces are adequately counterattacking. In addition, Azerbaijan forces went further and have released several villages and important highlands from Armenian occupation, basically releasing its own internationally recognized territories. The war is not taking place on Armenian soil. Azerbaijani armed forces are not trying to seize Armenian territory. Armenia has occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijani lands. Azerbaijan has every right to liberate its occupied lands based on the self-defense principle of the UN Charter (Article 51), since the Armenian side has repeatedly refused to give Azerbaijani lands back.

More information about former UN Security Council resolutions regarding this matter can be found here.

On 4 October, Armenian armed forces had shelled our cities which are far from frontlines including my homeland Ganja. Three missiles fell near my house and my house suffered damage.

They are taking the fighting outside the NKR conflict zone, targeting many zones, many civilian settlements and energy infrastructure like biggest power plant of our country and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline which deliver crude oil from Azerbaijan to the Europe.

Ali R-Z

Armenians are spreading lies and misinformation in the world media, claiming the Azerbaijani-Turkish alliance is planning to commit a second genocide against Christian Armenia with help of terrorists mobilized from Syria. This is a complete lie, Azerbaijani forces do not need any help from outside as our army is larger in count and is better equipped. Recently, the Azerbaijani government officially released a recorded conversation between terrorists from the Middle East fighting on the Armenian side. These false accusations of Turkey being involved in the conflict are aimed to make Russia respond and fulfill its responsibilities as a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization.

For 30 years, the Armenian government has rejected all peaceful resolution terms and conditions proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group and continued to bomb peaceful civilians living near the borderlines. The Azerbaijani government responded to Armenian aggression and urged the Armenian government to retrieve its army from occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Our government promised to ensure the safety of Armenian people that stay in their homes in Karabakh and adjacent regions.

Rufat B

1. Nagorno-Karabakh is not a disputed territory. It is a territory of Azerbaijan - historically and officially recognized by the whole world, including Armenia. In 2008, the UN adopted another resolution re-affirming sovereignty of Azerbaijan and demanding unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied territories of the Azerbaijan Republic.

2. The war is not on the territory of Armenia.The Azerbaijani army is not trying to seize the territory of Armenia or any part of it. The war, which began with the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan more than 30 years ago and as a result of which up to 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan was occupied, is the liberating one to get the lands back to Azerbaijan.

3. In May 1994, the parties pledged to resolve the conflict peacefully and to do it with the help of mediators - the OSCE Minsk Group. Unfortunately, after all these years, Yerevan has not shown the political will for the peaceful liberation of at least 1 cm2 of the occupied land.

On 11.10.2020, 14hrs after the humanitarian ceasefire, Armenia shelled with ballistic missile Azerbaijan, the second largest city Ganja, located 60 km far away from war zone. Middle of the city was destroyed and innocent civilians sleeping in their houses were recovered under rubbles: 9 dead and 40 wounded, more than 10 residential building destroyed. Azerbaijan did follow the ceasefire and did not attack territories of Armenia. Armenian official posted in his social pages that ordered to target Ganja city. I would like to reach out to all OYW Ambassadors, how can you stay silent for such a war crime !

I hope Armenia will eventually remove all army forces from Karabakh which will then bring peace to the region and save many lives.

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Image: Aziz Karimov / AP

Anonymous

I do not hate Armenian people. Many people around me do not either. I have many friends and acquaintances of Armenian origin scattered all around the world. I like Charles Aznavour, Cher, Khachaturian, Kasparov. I am sure I will love Armenian mountains and nature, when I am allowed to visit. In fact, my great grandparents lived in Yerevan, until they were forced to leave to Baku, and my late grandpa up until his last day on earth dreamt of going back to his home in Yerevan. Azerbaijan and Armenia share so many amazing things in our culture, similar food, music, traditions, and even words that we use in our languages.

When I was 5 years old – I remember over a million refugees and internally displaced people coming to Baku. It was heartbreaking to see them suffering and dreaming to go back to their homes, to the land of their ancestors. Out of that million – thousands were displaced from Karabakh and from the surrounding regions. Three decades have passed and the children who were my age when displaced are now in their 30s.

As with my grandpa on his deathbed wanting to get back to their childhood home in Yerevan, they saw their grandparents and parents passing away, with massive pain and unfulfilled dreams of returning to their homes.

I am sure there are tons of Armenians who want peace as I do. They want to settle this long standing issue with Azerbaijan and build peace and stability in the region. I remember talking to a group of Armenians in one of the international diplomatic leadership programs. It was their first time being out of Armenia and in the first few days they were afraid of me. They thought I was some kind of a monster. Having lived in 10 countries and consider myself a man of the world – I spoke to them. At first, we didn’t even touch the Karabakh conflict, we talked about international relations, about culture and music. On the last day of the workshop, during the farewell dinner, one of them approached me and said that he was so sad that he had lived two decades of his life and had absolutely zero knowledge about Azerbaijan. He said there was zero benefit from having the conflict or the territories occupied by Armenia and he would trade all of that just to have a chance to know his neighbours better. I am sure there are tons of these kinds of people on both sides.

Laman J

Let me start with a question: how would you react if you, your family and your friends were expelled from the city you lived in because it was occupied by a neighbouring country and you had to run a long distance barefoot in winter just to avoid becoming a victim of a massive massacre? This is what happened to Azerbaijani people 28 years ago in Karabakh.

In all these years, Azerbaijan has demonstrated a willingness to gain territories back by peaceful means. Why isn't there enough pressure on an aggressor ignoring the principles of international law when there are four UN resolutions (822, 853, 874, 884) that demand its immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal from occupied areas of the Azerbaijani Republic?

Armenian provocations with irreversible consequences - such as the killing of civilians, the demolition of hundreds of civilian houses, the attack of villages that are far from the frontline, aiming at oil pipelines, etc.- are obvious signs that they are not interested in bringing peace and stability to the region.

On the contrary, Azerbaijan has never considered a war a solution of the present conflict — the only thing we want is to restore our territorial integrity, which is undisputed and is recognised by the whole world, and let the expelled Azerbaijani population return to their place of origin. What we demand is unequivocally in accordance with the international law and is something we have every right to demand.

Let justice prevail! Qarabağ Azərbaycandır!

Image:  Aris Messinis, AFP

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Aydin A

I support my President, who was and is always ready to continue peace negotiations to restore the territorial integrity of my country and provide the residents of Karabakh with the highest level of security. I hope that the conflict will be resolved in the near future, and our neighborly relations with Armenia will be the same as they were during the Soviet Union era.

Incha A

After Dagliq Garabag (meaning: ‘Mountainous Black Garden’ – “Nagorno Karabakh '' being the Russian language version) was occupied, there was always a longing for it in our society.

As we have close cultural, historical bonds with Dagliq Garabag, how could we ignore this piece of our legacy? I ask myself, when we have a myriad of connections both physical and spiritual with Garabag, how could we be distanced from it so violently? Many songs, literary pieces and artworks have been dedicated to Dagliq Garabag after occupation of it. Verses written by poet Ozan Arif called “Garabakh or death, there is no other way’’ are rooted in our minds. Dagliq Garabag is not only a politically strategic area, but also carries cultural-historical importance. Long-history musical heritage of Garabag music is considered a central jewel of Azerbaijani music.

Both sides have had losses – military and civilians. All we Azerbaijani people want is to return back to our lands. There seems to be no solution to the occupation. Just prolongation of the occupation. This seems to Azerbaijani people like a waste of time. Every minute seems like a lost opportunity to return lands back.

Despite all this, hopefully, peace will prevail in the region again…

Aqil I

Azerbaijan is fighting in its own territory and did not attack any country or civilians. However, the Armenian army is attacking not only Azerbaijani army, but also the regions near Karabakh where Azerbaijani civilians live. For instance, the city of Ganja was fired with projectiles by the Armenian army.

Azerbaijani people have always shown themselves as internationalists and a lot of other nations live in Azerbaijan in peace. Azerbaijan’s aim is to free its occupied lands and live peacefully with its neighbours and the world.

Reyhan C

Since my childhood, I was told about Nagorno-Karabakh's illegal occupation by Armenia. I heard the real horror stories from the Khojaly genocide victims and saw pictures of children killed by Armenians. Now, I am witnessing the Armenian aggression in my country again.

I do not like war and want people to live in peace, but I also want our lands back. I want to see the day when more than 1.2 million refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh say, “I am not a refugee anymore” after desperately waiting for more than 30 years.

Territorial integrity and safety of citizens are the cardinal concerns of all states, so is it ours. We strongly expect the support of the international community against Armenian aggressive and invasive actions! We will always stand for our nation, for our precious martyrs no matter where we are; either in the trench or here!

Sara R

I wish to see people who are free from the fear of hearing weapons at any point in their day.

I wish to see people with peace of mind, free from any propaganda of hate, abuse and terrorism.

I wish to see people raising their children without hate for other nations, races and social statuses.

I wish that tourists would stop supporting the illegal occupation of lands.

I wish people would stop feeling proud for murdering innocent locals and calling it the “liberation of cities”.

I wish all organizations that call themselves “peaceful” stop any aggression and not close their eyes to problems.

Peace starts with our mindset. Peace starts from accepting our mistakes, learning from them, being powerful enough to ask for forgiveness and to forgive. We should remember that a war is only a war if both sides utilise military actions and are equipped. When military actions are focused on citizens (as it was recently in Ganja, Beylegan, Mingachevir, Khizi etc.), it is not a war, it is a lack of humanity.

After my experiences with people from different nations and building friendships with people from various countries, I have come to understand that even in the 21st century, nations will always have conflicts when international organisations are afraid to tell the truth. This happens when people are not brave enough to see, research and accept the truth.

 

 

For our readers around the world, particularly those living in countries affected by conflict, we ask you, what does your vision of peace look like?

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