Jan 182011
 

By Alec Rasizade

In the 1988-1994 war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, populated by Armenians but located within the Azerbaijan SSR, the latter lost 20 percent of its territory. Armenians established the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) which declared its independence from Azerbaijan on January 6, 1992. The Caspian oil boom since 2005 has strengthened Azerbaijan’s hand in the conflict. However, this advantage is doomed to disappear in 2011-2019 with the dwindling of Azerbaijan’s oil reserves.

The Current Status of the Conflict

Since the death of Heydar Aliev in 2003, tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan have taken a turn for the worse. His son, the new Azeri President Ilham Aliev, has threatened to resort to force to retake Nagorno-Karabakh and exchanges of fire along the frontline have increased. One explanation for this escalation is the rapid growth of Azeri defense expenditures, driven by the influx of petrodollars, which shifted the military balance in Azerbaijan’s favor. Azerbaijan’s defense budget alone, at US$3 billion, exceeds the whole state budget of cash-strapped Armenia.

On the other hand, Aliev’s threat of military buildup comes in the wake of Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008, which he fears could set a dangerous precedent for mutinous secession. This fear was reinforced by Russia’s subsequent recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states after the war with Georgia in August 2008.

Armenian President Sarkisian responded to Aliev’s warnings on December 2, 2010 during the OSCE summit held in Astana. Sarkisian threatened to formally recognize the NKR as an independent state if Aliev tries to use force to win back the enclave and other Armenian-controlled territories around it, saying, “If Azerbaijan resorts to military aggression, Armenia would not have any other choice but to recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic de jure and to invest all its capabilities into ensuring the security of the people living there… Nagorno-Karabakh has no future within Azerbaijan.”

How real is the danger of resuming this war in Transcaucasia? The victorious Armenian side is quite content with the status quo in Karabakh where it had achieved all strategic goals prior to the 1994 armistice. (Armenian ideologues have lately started to talk about the return of Nakhichevan, the Azeri exclave within Armenia, but the Azeri status of this territory is protected by Turkey under the 1921 Treaty of Kars). The potential of the losing Nagorno-Karabakh Azeri side depends not only on its military buildup and patriotic bluster, but more on the civic morale and social welfare of its population, which is profoundly unwilling to wage a re-conquest of Nagorno-Karabakh given the present political situation and social injustice in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan’s Petrodollar Dependency
Modern Azerbaijan is a typical Middle-Eastern petrostate ruled by a classical Middle-Eastern despotia, where political (and economic) power is concentrated and inherited within the ruling family. The extended family includes, along with the kinsmen of Azeri president and his wife, the top bureaucrats who, apart from their government duties, run vast business empires in every industry and trade, and enjoy a virtual monopoly in their respective fields and import operations. The petroleum export operation belongs to the ruling family – a fact that has been clearly revealed in the series of Wikileaks of American embassy dispatches from Baku.

In 1994, Heydar Aliev gave the largest oil concession in the Azeri sector of Caspian Sea for 30 years to a Western consortium led by British Petroleum, which has persuaded Western governments to overlook the glaring violation of human rights, the poor imitation of democracy, and the egregious conflating of business and political interests in this petrostate for the sake of unhampered pumping of one million barrels of Caspian oil daily through a pipeline built in 2005. The family receives in return 15 billion to 20 billion petrodollars annually, which it mostly spends on prestigious construction projects and other grandiose displays of independence, such as the recently erected tallest flagstaff in the world, turning the city of Baku into a Dubai-style amassment of futuristic skyscrapers by demolishing European quarters built during the first Baku oil boom of 1907-1915 and brutally evicting its citizens from their privatized homes.

However, this second Baku oil boom of 2005-2013 is doomed to end in a few years without any significant economic achievement as all the petrodollar revenue is being spent in a construction frenzy on ostentatious “white elephants” without modernizing even the city’s basic infrastructure, such as the water and sewage systems, let alone creating non-petroleum industries that might become useful in the future with the end of big oil. Almost all the factories and manufacturing plants, left over from the Soviet industrial past, have been grazed down to clear the ground for economically useless hotels and convention centers, magnificent mosques and shopping malls, and opulent office and residential buildings for Azerbaijan’s new petrodollar elite. This leaves little room to live or work for the rest of population, which is emigrating in large numbers: presently 3 million of Azerbaijan’s 9 million citizens live and work abroad.

Petroleum production provides 85 percent of Azerbaijan’s state budget revenues, accounts for 78 percent of the country’s GDP and 92 percent of Azerbaijan’s export. In other words, Azerbaijan completely depends on oil revenue in its standoff against Armenia, in military expenditures, in the food import-based welfare of its populace, and in ensuing political stability. The lion’s share of oil revenue is provided by one single cluster of three offshore oil fields, Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli, discovered before Azerbaijan’s independence by Soviet geologists in the Caspian Sea. These three platforms presently supply 42 million of Azerbaijan’s 50 million tons of annual oil production. Since then, 23 exploration contracts signed with foreign oil companies have failed to find any new oil deposit in Azerbaijan and its sector of the Caspian Sea.

Therefore, any speculation about Azerbaijan’s prospects, both domestically and in Karabakh, is made simple by the country’s complete dependence on these three oil fields: with their inevitable depletion Azerbaijan’s economic strength will attenuate, which will in turn diminish its chances of resolving the Karabakh issue by force. The reserves of these fields are a state secret in Azerbaijan, but numerous foreign oil industry sources give evidence that, at the current rate of extraction, the three main fields will be depleted by 2019.

In 1992 the oil deposits of Azerbaijan were estimated at 7 billion barrels, 5 billion of which were under the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli cluster. The total Caspian Sea reserves, including Kazakhstan, which possesses 80 percent of Caspian oil, were around 25 billion barrels. Since then, nothing new has been found in the Azeri sector of the sea, while the giant Kashagan oil field was discovered in the Kazakh sector. Suppose that during the 16 years since the signing of concession, the Consortium has been pumping half a million barrels of oil per day on average, i.e. 182 million barrels per year. (In fact, since 2005 the daily output has been 1 million barrels). Multiply that number by 16 years and it is evident that from its total stock of 7 billion barrels Azerbaijan has already pumped out about 3 billion, leaving only 4 billion barrels of oil.

Now generously presume the remains of Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli to be 3 billion barrels (of the initial 5 billion) and divide that by 365 million barrels a year: the resulting estimate gives only nine more years of production at one million barrels per day (which the Consortium plans to increase up to 1.2 million per day). Thus, it is easy to calculate the end of Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli in the year 2019. Given that 2010 was the peak year of Azeri oil production, the descent begins as of 2011. (The IMF predicts the beginning of descent in 2012). Of course, the output will not stop immediately, but its reduction by 10 percent a year will be a severe blow to this petrostate.

This is only my generous calculation; the real decline may be even steeper because Azeri officials routinely inflate their oil assets, which are mysteriously increasing instead of decreasing, in spite of the one million barrels pumped out daily. According to them, Azerbaijan’s oil reserves rose last year to 923 million tons, an equivalent of 6.7 billion barrels. In other words, the stock of oil in Azerbaijan, after 18 years of extraction and no new discovery made, has declined by only 300 million barrels, which is Azerbaijan’s production in one year. Where the output in the remaining 17 years has vanished to is unknown.

This same kind of overstatement pertains to Azerbaijan’s natural gas resources, which the officials hope will replace the dwindling oil revenues. Gas reserves, however, are insignificant: Azerbaijan currently exports only 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to Turkey, hoping that the annual production from its Shahdenis gas field will double in the future, compared to the annual export of 70 bcm of Turkmen gas, 46 bcm from Iran and 350 bcm from Russia. Even gas-thirsty Ukraine, which is entangled in a gas-import dispute with Russia, produces 20 bcm of its own gas, compared to the 15 bcm produced in Azerbaijan, of which 10 bcm is consumed domestically.

Given this negligible volume of natural gas export and the certain end of big oil, the absence of real industrial production and manufacturing base in the post-petroleum era could lead to economic plight and public frustration. Azerbaijan has not developed any alternative source of economic income comparable to the current oil-export revenue. Moreover, instead of modernizing the Soviet-era industries, it has torn down the old factories and plants to clear the ground for office buildings and shopping malls, where the petrostate citizens were supposed to spend their petrodollars. However, Baku is neither a new Kuwait nor a new Dubai: its oil boom is to end within a few years. Yet the closed political system prevents a meaningful debate on post-boom challenges and breeds a sense of apathy and complacency.

The international pressure which the Azeri government is trying to exert on great powers in resolving the Karabakh conflict by using its oil production as a foreign policy leverage is more important than the arms race. In 1994, Heydar Aliev hoped that the Western interest in energy resources would play in his favor on this issue. Composition of the Consortium, which included the European, American and even Russian companies, perfectly fitted into this strategy. However, Aliev’s hope to relate oil development to the resolution of Karabakh conflict produced little effect. The only gain on this path was the softening in 2001 of Section 907 of the 1992 Freedom Support Act, which barred Azerbaijan from receiving American humanitarian aid until it lifts the economic blockade of Armenia.

Roughly speaking, the political clout of the one-million-strong Armenian community in the United States countervails the powerful big-oil lobby in Washington that promotes Azeri interests. Thus, the strategy of defeating Armenia diplomatically at the hands of oil-thirsty great powers has failed. Neither the European Union nor the United States have increased their support for Baku in the so-called Minsk process for settling the Karabakh conflict sponsored by OSCE. This strategic failure caused a reconsideration in Baku of the diplomatic impact of Azeri oil on the West, and both Alievs turned then to Moscow, trying to manipulate the United States and NATO by the Russian card.

Russia is still the strongest military power in the region, but its capacity to control events there is far weaker than most observers assume. Both the physical barrier of the Greater Caucasus range and the insurgency in its own turbulent North Caucasus reduce Moscow’s ability to operate in the South Caucasus. To confront the growing political and economic influence of Turkey and Iran there, Russia if anything calls for the help of local Armenians, Abkhaz, Ossetians and others nations capable to maintain the Russian interests. The 2008 Georgian war and the renewal of Russia’s military alliance with Armenia in August 2010 were both evidence of this. The calm reaction in the West to both events suggests that a dose of insignificance for Western strategic interests would be very healthy for Caucasian nations since it would allow the local governments to concentrate on solving their essential problems on their own.

Transcaucasia is indeed an important transport corridor for Caspian energy exports independent of Russia and Iran. But the romantic project of a new Silk Road stretching from Central Asia to Constantinople after the collapse of the USSR was unrealistic, unduly raising the hopes of small nations along the Road of becoming essential to the West, while antagonizing Russia and Iran. Also in the 1990s, Caspian enthusiasts in the West extravagantly believed that the oil reserves of Caspian Basin (allegedly 200 billion barrels) were equal to those of Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf. Their claims later turned out to be exaggerated almost 10 times. Due to its impending economic and strategic insignificance to the West, Azerbaijan needs to become more realistic in its claim to Nagorno-Karabakh as its ability to persuade the great powers is set to wane synchronously with the depletion of oil reserves in 2011-2019.


Source: Harvard International Review

Dec 012004
 

«Highlights», ХII.2004
Vladimir KAZIMIROV

KARABAKH AND UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS

The resolutions of UN Security Council are among the decisive documents in the modern international life. All the UN member-countries, of course, focus their attention on the complete and well-timed (and not postponed or selective) fulfillment of those documents. There are 4 resolutions on Karabakh conflict (822, 853, 874 and 884). All of them were adopted in the heat of Karabakh war, from April 30 to November 12, 1993.

In the recent years, the fulfillment of resolutions has been more frequently demanded by Baku but only concerning the part of immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupation forces from 7 regions of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenian-Karabakh troops and return of their refugees to those territories. Now Nagorno Karabakh itself is also more and more persistently enclosed by those demands; Heydar Aliyev was more moderate in this issue (too much formal logic hardly ever applicable in conflict situations is necessary in order to refer Nagorno Karabakh to occupied lands).

To put it differently, Azerbaijan, in essence, reduces the requirements of resolutions to the liberation of occupied territories. This country wants to draw attention to this grave consequence of an armed conflict, to the pain of the forced migrants. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan wants to push to the background, to delay the elimination of the major disputable problem and cause of the conflict, determination of Nagorno Karabakh’s status.

1. Adequate treatment of the UN Security Council resolutions is impossible without considering the hierarchy of their demands, without taking into account the fact that in the summer and in the fall of 1993 did the culmination of the war arrive. That’s why the priority and the most important demand was to cease fire, all the military and hostile activities. This demand passes through all the 4 resolutions as if it is their common pivot.
UN Security Council brought forward this demand as early as in the very first resolution N 822 adopted on April 30 1993, but a whole year and another 3 resolutions were not enough for its fulfillment.
It’s high time we specified which side violated this basic demand of all resolutions and bears special responsibility for the fact that its failure to solve this cardinal problem laid the foundation for the failure of almost all other demands, a complex non-fulfillment of the Security Council resolutions.
Of course, nobody is innocent here, but, no doubt, the “palm” belongs to the Azeri side. Even having lost the control over its territories Azerbaijan’s leaders both in the years of A. Elchibey and H. Aliyev were persistent in their attempts to achieve a sudden change on the front and solve the conflict by force as if they were unaware of their own responsibility for the occupation and its extension. In the years of Russia’s active mediation, a whole calendar of cases of cease-fire breaking by both sides, evasion from such agreements and other cases of underestimation of peace-making initiatives accumulated (resolution N 884 also speaks about this in Aesopian language). With all the four resolutions of UN Security Council, three times did Baku directly neglect (December 1993 and February 1994) the chances of putting an end to military operations.
Cease-fire was achieved with Russia’s assistance on May 12 1994 not so much on the basis of the UN Security Council resolutions, rather, on the basis of April 15 1994 statement of the Council of CIS country-heads, anyway, they had a common goal. This agreement was already different as compared with the previous ones, it wasn’t a temporary one or envisaged for several days only, but it was perpetual (by definition). i.e. actually permanent, and owing to the persistence of Moscow, it was not signed by two sides only as it was done before but by all the three sides of the conflict (not only Baku and Stepanakert, but also Yerevan).
2. …..
3. The demand on liberation of the occupied territories or immediate withdrawal of all the occupation forces also passes through all resolutions. Baku claims that all the resolutions demand unconditional withdrawal, but this only refers to July 29 resolution N 853. How did the word “unconditional” disappear from resolutions N874 and N884? Did it disappear by accident, because of absent-mindedness? What if it disappeared in consequence of regular non-fulfillment by one of the sides of the major requirement, i.e., to cease military operations. Who could have expected to withdraw the forces without ceasing the fights? And who didn’t want to cease them? The UN Security Council couldn’t have compensated for non-fulfillment of its resolutions. On this very background did the unconditional demand turn into a subject of negotiations between the sides. For many times this issue has been a subject of negotiations but it wasn’t solved because of the position of Armenians and because of the fact that Baku immediately insisted on the withdrawal from all the territories, even from Shushi and Lachin, without even showing any willingness to touch upon the Nagorno Karabakh status.
4. The UN Security Council resolutions contain a number of other demands and appeals that remained non-fulfilled:
a) “to restore economic, transport and energy communications in the region” (853); “to eliminate all the obstacles to communication and transport” (874). From the very start of the conflict, Azerbaijan made use of the total blockade of Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia meanwhile accusing Armenia of Nakhijevan’s blockade. To fulfill those demands he puts forward the liberation of the lands as a preliminary pre-condition.
Besides, Baku broke off its contacts in all the spheres with Armenia and the more so with Nagorno Karabakh;
b) a number of appeals were raised in the negotiation process. Since as early as on May 19 1992, Azerbaijan refused to participate in the Minsk conference unless the Armenians left Shusha and Lachin occupied by them and on April 6 1993 they left the consultations of the “Minsk Five” in Geneva, the UN Security Council resolutions proposed that “negotiations should be immediately resumed within the framework of the Minsk Group peace process” (822), persistently urged to refrain from any actions hampering the peaceful settlement of the conflict and to “continue the negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group, as well as by means of direct contacts” (853), and to convene an urgent Minsk conference (874).
The negotiations within the framework of the Minsk Group continued in 1994, as for direct contacts with Nagorno Karabakh, Baku completely contracted them at the end of 1993 against resolutions N853, N874 and N884.
The resolutions call “the local Armenian forces” (822), “Armenians of the Nagorno Karabakh region of Azerbaijan” (853, 884) a side opposed to it. By saying direct contacts, the resolutions meant the ones between Baku and Stepanakert (also because the agreements on cease-fire reached with the assistance of Russia are mentioned there for many times and all these agreements were concluded with Stepanakert in 1993, but Yerevan was not a party).
One may sum up all this as follows:
AZERBAIJAN persistently wouldn’t fulfill the main demand of the UN Security Council resolutions, to cease the fire, military and hostile operations, which had a negative impact on the fulfillment of other demands. Azerbaijan doesn’t fulfill them at present, either as far as the following points are concerned: 1) restore the economic, transport and energy communications in the region, 2) use the direct contacts with Nagorno Karabakh, 3) convene a Minsk conference.
ARMENIA AND NAGORNO KARABAKH refuse to meet the demand of withdrawing the occupation forces from Azerbaijani regions beyond the boundaries of Nagorno Karabakh insisting on a package and all-embracing settlement.
ARMENIA didn’t completely meet the appeal to exert restraining influence on Nagorno Karabakh and at present by mistake substitutes for it in the negotiation process, which though differently but again distorts the real configuration of the conflict.

As a result, the truce that has lasted for more than 10 years now remains the main achievement. It’s impossible to consider the UN Security Council resolutions on Karabakh as fulfilled and the position of sides of the conflict as adequate to them. It’s significant that the UN Security Council didn’t adopt any other resolutions on this conflict as their non-fulfillment by the sides undermines its authority.
Of course, the resolutions adopted 11 years ago can hardly be considered free of mistakes and valid for all times. They were dictated by the realities of that time.
Now when for this or that purpose attempts to involve UN in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict are again made it’s important to sum up the activity of last 10 years. We shouldn’t shut our eyes to the past, we should learn our lesson from it.
We should demand from the leaders of all the sides, in all forms and from any tribune a rigid political will for settlement, serious efforts and energetic negotiations (instead of false gestures of maneuvering, information war and propaganda performances). So far, their efforts have proved to be obviously insufficient. They should coordinate the bases of a peaceful settlement, which would make it possible to adopt a new resolution of the UN Security Council in the future in order to support a historical reconciliation between Azeries and Armenians.
The international community should put a question before the sides, if they are able to recognize the Nagorno Karabakh status a disputable problem. It’s clear to the whole world but only not to the sides. No matter how hard it may seem, the authorities of all the sides still need to pass this test on practicability and capability of transition to a constructive search of settlement. If not, then what caused the conflict, why did we hold negotiations for so many years? If yes, then this would be the first step of deviation from the current ultimatum demands excluding any solution to the problem except the one in favor of them, the first step towards a more civilized solution to the dispute, elimination of vain but dangerous appeals to its forced solution as well as the grave consequences of the armed conflict.


Source: Vladimir Kazimirov’s personal website

Similar Russian article: Карабах и резолюции Совета Безопасности ООН

Apr 271998
 

Survivors of the Maraghar Massacre

It was truly like a contemporary Golgotha many times over.
Baroness Cox
4/27/1998

The ancient kingdom of Armenia was the first nation to embrace Christianity—in A.D. 301. Modern Armenia, formerly a Soviet republic, declared autonomy in September 1991 and today exists as a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States. There you find many of the oldest churches in the world, and a people who have upheld the faith for nearly 1,700 years, often at great cost.

Nowhere has the cost been greater than in the little piece of ancient Armenia called Nagorno-Karabakh, cruelly cut off from the rest of Armenia by Stalin in 1921, and isolated today as a Christian enclave within Islamic Azerbaijan. Only 100 miles north to south, 50 miles east to west, there are mountains, forests, fertile valleys, and an abundance of ancient churches, monasteries, and beautifully carved stone crosses dating from the fourth century. Continue reading »

Sep 271990
 

(This is a joint initiative of the Helsinki Treaty Watchdog Committee of France and intellectuals from the College International de Philosophie, Paris.)

An era which we all thought had ended, the era of pogroms, has resurfaced. Once again this year, the Armenian community of Azerbaijan has been the victim of atrocious and intolerable premeditated massacres.

As scholars, writers, scientists, political leaders and artists we wish, first of all, to express our profound indignation over such barbaric acts, which we wanted to believe belonged to humanity’s past.

We intend this statement as more than an after-the-fact condemnation. We want to alert international public opinion to the continuing danger that racism represents to the future of humanity. It forebodes ill that we are experiencing the same powerlessness when faced with such flagrant violations of human rights a half century after the genocide of the Jewish people in Nazi concentration camps and forty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would be inexcusable if, because of our silence now, we contributed to the suffering of new victims.

The situation of Armenians in the Caucasus is, in fact, too serious for us to remain silent. There are moments when we must assume the moral obligation to assist a people in peril. Our sense of obligation leads us today to appeal to the international community and to public opinion.

More than two years ago, active persecution against Armenians began in Azerbaijan. The pogroms of Sumgait in February, 1988 were followed by massacres in Kirovapat and Baku in November 1988. As recently as January 1990, the pogroms continued in Baku and other parts of Azerbaijan. The mere fact that these pogroms were repeated and the fact that they followed the same pattern lead us to think that these tragic events are not accidents or spontaneous outbursts.

Rather, we are compelled to recognize that crimes against the Armenian minority have become consistent practice—if not official policy—in Soviet Azerbaijan. According to the late Andrei Sakharov (New York Times, November 26, 1988), these pogroms constitute “a real threat of extermination” to the indigenous Armenian community in Azerbaijan and in the autonomous region of Mountainous Karabagh, whose inhabitants are 80 percent Armenian.

Horror has not limits, especially when we remember that the threat is against Armenian people who in 1915 paid dearly for their right to be different in the Ottoman Empire. There, Armenians lost half their population to genocide, the worst consequence of racism. Furthermore, if the recent pogroms have revived nightmares of extermination not yet overcome, the current total blockade of Armenia and Mountainous Karabagh and 85 percent of those into Armenia pass through Azerbaijan; it would not be an exaggeration to maintain that such a blockade amounts to the strangulation of Armenia. In a land devastated by the earthquake of December 7, 1988, the blockade has paralyzed the economy and dealt a mortal blow to the reconstruction efforts.

It is our sincere hope that perestroika will succeed. But we also hope for the success of glasnost and democratization. We recognize that the passage from a totalitarian state to a rule of law can not be achieved overnight. It is nonetheless necessary that in the process of transition, the government of the Soviet Union promote, legalize and institutionalize such critical forces for democracy as human rights, the principle of toleration, and democratic movements. There is no better defense and demonstration of democracy. At any rate, that is the only way to avoid the worst. In the case of a multinational state, the worst may mean threats to the right of a people or a minority to exist. It is during periods of transition and uncertainty that rights of peoples—today Armenians, tomorrow another people or minority—are threatened or denied. In this respect, the ease with which we see today the development in the USSR of racist movements, especially the anti-Semitic movement know as Pamyat, is for us cause for grave concern.

In the name of our duty of vigilance, we demand that Soviet authorities as well as the international community condemn unequivocally these anti-Armenian pogroms and that they denounce especially the racist ideology which has been used by the perpetrators of these crimes as justification.

We ask from the Soviet authorities and the international community that all necessary measures be taken immediately to ensure the protection and security of Armenians in the Caucasus and other parts of the Soviet Union. This can begin by bringing about a definitive lifting of the Azerbaijani blockade.

It should be clear that the forceful deportation of Armenians is not the solution to the problem of Mountainous Karabagh which, in essence, is a problem of human rights.

Because the genocide of 1915 began with pogroms and massive deportations, and because that painful memory still endures, Armenia lives today in anguish and despair.

It is in such circumstances that the international community of states under the rule of law must prove the authenticity of its commitment to human rights in order to ensure that, due to indifference and silence bordering on complicity, a second genocide does not occur.

David Aaron (Trustee, International League for Human Rights)
Sir Isaiah Berlin (All Souls College, Oxford)
William M. Chace (President of Wesleyan University)
Jacques Derrida (Philosophy, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris)
Luc Ferry (Philosophy, University of Rennes)
Alain Finkelkraut (Philosophy, Paris)
Hans-Georg Gadamer (Philosophy, University of Heidelberg)
André Glucksmann (Philosophy, Paris)
Vartan Gregorian (History, Brown University)
Jürgen Habermas (Philosophy, University of Frankfurt)
Agnes Heller (Philosophy, The New School for Social Research)
Benjamin L. Hooks (Executive Director, NAACP)
Leszek Kolakowski (Philosophy, All Souls College, Oxford)
Emmanuel Levinas (Philosophy, University of Paris IV, Sorbonne)
Adrian Lyttelton (History, Johns Hopkins Center for International Studies)
Jacques Poulain (Philosophy, University of Paris VIII)
Hilary Putnam (Boston)
Paul Ricoeur (Philosophy, University of Paris/Nanterre)
Richard Rorty (Philosophy, University of North Carolina)
Jerome J. Shestack (Chairman, International League for Human Rights)
Charles Taylor (Philosophy & Political Science, McGill University, Montreal)
Reiner Wiehl (Philosophy, University of Heidelberg)
Reginald E. Zelnick (Professor of History, University of California at Berkeley)
and 110 others


Source: New York Times

Jan 191990
 

Azerbaijan is no Lithuania. True, resurgent nationalism arouses people in the Caucasus just as it arouses the Baltic republics. But there the comparison ends – and the trouble for Moscow begins.

Nationalists in Lithuania are struggling to wrest independence from Moscow by nonviolent, political means. Nationalists in Azerbaijan also talk of independence, but their protest includes bloody pogroms against their Armenian neighbors. Nor do Azerbaijani nationalists limit their actions to Soviet Azerbaijan. They transgress the border with Iran to make common cause with Azerbaijanis there.

Mikhail Gorbachev seems prepared to bargain with Lithuania’s nationalists. But Azerbaijan’s violent nationalists leave him no choice but to send in the troops.

The nationalism now surging from Omsk to Tomsk is an understandable reaction to decades of forced assimilation. Stalin redrew borders, relocated populations and suppressed cultural and religious differences, all in the name of internationalism. But ancient national aspirations did not dis-appear.

This week’s massacre in Baku, of predominantly Christian Armenians by Muslim Azerbaijanis, shows nationalism at its nastiest. Generations of religious hatred erupted in spasmodic violence two years ago as armed Azerbaijanis rampaged through the town of Sumgait and slaughtered 32 people, mostly Armenians. After the 1988 earthquake that killed 25,000 Armenians, Azerbaijanis blocked railways to Armenia, holding up aid. Now the rivals vie for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian enclave that Stalin incorporated into Azerbaijan in 1923.


The Armenians sought protection from Moscow. Mr. Gorbachev first resisted but renewed strife forced him to intervene. The Azerbaijanis added to his unease by declaring their interest in carving out a state on both sides of the national border. This was a clear threat to Iran’s territorial integrity and its warming relations with the Soviet Union. Teheran asked the Soviets to beef up border patrols.

Mr. Gorbachev and his reformist Kremlin allies are prepared to tolerate, even encourage, moderate nationalists who challenge central control and demand autonomy. But Moscow rightly feels that, in a polyglot country with 104 different nationalities, ethnic violence is beyond the pale.

Azerbaijan dramatizes Mr. Gorbachev’s larger dilemma. To generate economic thrust, he wants to shift power from Moscow’s stodgy bureaucracies to the regional republics. But how can he do this without unleashing nationalist hatreds and irredentism? The problem is illustrated by the struggle over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region as big as Long Island with a population of 160,000.

Putting either Azerbaijanis or Armenians in charge would leave one people at the mercy of the other. Moscow has to assume direct control. But that runs counter to Mr. Gorbachev’s desire for devolution. And the troops, once introduced, will be difficult to extricate. Nothing so challenges Mr. Gorbachev’s resourcefulness, and his fragile coalition of reformists and moderate nationalists, as the flow of blood in the Caucasus.


Source: New York Times