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The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict : towards a just peace or inevitable war

De
434 pages
The purpose of this book is to analyse the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh from a historical, geopolitical and legal perspective. The inter-state nature of the conflict means this could destabilise the entire region. Azerbaijan and Armenia have come out in favour of a peaceful solution, but the negociations have stalled and the threat of war continues to hang over the region. Thus, it is down to the leaders on both sides finally to agree on a peaceful outcome that would allow their countries to live in harmony.
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The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict:
towards a just peace or inevitable war





















« Diplomatie et stratégie »
Collection dirigée par Emmanuel Caulier

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Fazil Zeynalov










The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict:
towards a just peace or inevitable war

A historical, geopolitical and legal approach




Preface by Emmanuel Caulier








































Translated from the French by Dr Myles O’Byrne






© L’Harmattan, 2012
5-7, rue de l’Ecole-Polytechnique, 75005 Paris

http://www.librairieharmattan.com
diffusion.harmattan@wanadoo.fr
harmattan1@wanadoo.fr

ISBN : 978-2-296-99593-2
EAN : 9782296995932
CONTENTS
ABBREVIATIONS .......................................................................... 11
PREFACE .........................................................................................13
Introduction ...................................................................................... 17
Chapter I
Early political history of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from
the time of Caucasian Albania ........................................................ 25
1.1. Caucasian Albania and Nagorno-Karabakh ............................ 26
1.1.1. The South Caucasus: Albania and the Armenian factor... 27
1.1.2. Nagorno-Karabakh as a province of Caucasian Albania.. 31
1.2. The rise and fall of Caucasian Albania ................................... 33
1.2.1. Albania as a sovereign and semi-sovereign political
entity........................................................................................... 33
1.2.2. Albania under the reign of Javanshir................................ 36
1.2.3. The demise of Albanian political unity ............................ 40
1.3. The Albanians and the formation of the Azerbaijani people... 42
1.4. Christianity, identity in Caucasian Albania and the Albanians
of Nagorno-Karabakh..................................................................... 47
1.4.1. The spread of Christianity ................................................ 47
1.4.2. The problem of emerging strands within Christianity...... 52
1.4.3. The Albanian conversion to Islam following the arrival
of the Arabs ................................................................................ 54
1.4.4. The demise of the Albanian Catholicos ........................... 58
1.4.5. Continuity of the Albanian identity among Albanians in
Nagorno-Karabakh 59
1.5. Nagarabakh in the Middle Ages .................................. 62
Chapter II
The deterioration in inter-ethnic relations and the Russian
empire’s annexation of the South Caucasus 65
2.1. The khanate of Karabakh: a Tsarist annexation of an
independent and feudal Azerbaijani state....................................... 66
2.2. Shusha: a strategic and cultural bastion .................................. 74
2.3. The nature of Russian domination........................................... 76
2.4. The Azerbaijani struggle to have their rights recognised........ 81
2.4.1. The modernisation movement .......................................... 81
2.4.2. The movement for the recognition of national identity.... 87
2.5. Worsening relations between Azerbaijanis and Armenians.... 91
2.5.1. Russian ethnic policy in the South Caucasus ................... 91
72.5.2. Peter the Great’s expedition into the South Caucasus ...... 93
2.5.3. Russian attitudes towards Christians in the South
Caucasus..................................................................................... 98
2.5.4. Mass displacement of Armenians within the region ...... 101
Chapter III
thThe emergence of the conflict at the beginning of the 20
century............................................................................................. 109
3.1. The events of 1905 and the first armed clashes..................... 110
3.2. The March 1918 massacres in Baku and the second round
of armed clashes ........................................................................... 123
3.2.1. The political landscape after the October revolution ..... 123
3.2.2. The Bolshevik-Armenian alliance.................................. 128
3.2.3. The Baku massacres ....................................................... 131
3.3. Independence won in 1918.................................................... 135
3.3.1. The birth of new independent republics ......................... 135
3.3.2. Azerbaijan gives up Yerevan ......................................... 140
3.3.3. The liberation of Baku 141
3.4. The question of Nagorno-Karabakh: 1918-1920................... 145
3.4.1. Nagorno-Karabakh: an integral part of the Republic of
Azerbaijan ................................................................................ 146
3.4.2. Territorial claims ............................................................ 153
3.4.3. Armenian-Azeri rivalries and Bolshevik control of
Azerbaijan 155
Chapter IV
The conflict during the Soviet era................................................. 163
4.1. Soviet policy on national groups favoured the emergence
of conflicts and not their resolution.............................................. 164
4.2. Territorial claims over Zangezur and Nagorno-Karabakh .... 172
4.2.1. The allocation of Zangezur to Armenia ......................... 172
4.2.2. Autonomy granted to Nagorno-Karabakh...................... 179
4.2.3. Developments in Azerbaijani-Armenian relations ......... 185
4.3. A weakened USSR and the resurgence of the conflict.......... 191
4.3.1. Legal disarray and the emergence of the conflict........... 192
4.3.2. Ambiguous attempts in Moscow to take the situation
in hand ...................................................................................... 196
4.3.3. Radicalisation of the parties ........................................... 199
4.3.4. On the cusp of war.......................................................... 201
8Chapter V
Independence against a backdrop of war..................................... 207
5.1. International armed conflict between Azerbaijan and
Armenia ........................................................................................ 208
5.2. Factors preventing an end to the military escalation............. 218
5.2.1. Strategy of the protagonists: a preference for war over
peace......................................................................................... 218
5.2.1.1. The Azerbaijani strategy ......................................... 218
5.2.1.2. The Armenian strategy ............................................ 223
5.2.2. The Russian factor.......................................................... 225
Chapter VI
The conflict against a new regional geopolitical backdrop......... 229
6.1. Russia: a major power in the South Caucasus....................... 230
6.1.1. The new Russian foreign policy..................................... 231
6.1.2. Russian dominance in the South Caucasus .................... 239
6.1.3. Russian military power in the conflict zone................... 245
6.2. Other regional powers in the South Caucasus....................... 249
6.2.1. Turkey: a key player....................................................... 249
6.2.1.1. Turkish policy in the South Caucasus ..................... 250
6.2.1.2. Factors impeding the normalisation of Turco-
Armenian relations ............................................................... 254
6.2.1.3. Towards strengthened military cooperation with
Azerbaijan ............................................................................ 258
6.2.2. Iran tries to find its place within the South Caucasus .... 260
6.2.3. Heavy US involvement in the region ............................. 266
Chapter VII
The involvement of the OSCE and Russia in managing the
crisis: competition, rivalries and cooperation.............................. 277
7.1. The OSCE’s involvement in the peace process ..................... 279
7.1.1. OSCE measures for peaceful conflict resolution ........... 280
7.1.2. The role of the OSCE’s Minsk Group ............................ 285
7.2. Russian mediation ................................................................. 293
7.3. Peacekeeping operations ....................................................... 301
7.3.1. OSCE commitment to mounting a multinational
peacekeeping operation ............................................................ 301
7.3.2. Russia’s efforts to lead its own peacekeeping operation 306
7.4. The role of the European Union in settling the conflict ........ 310
Chapter VIII
The notion of aggression in the conflict........................................ 317
8.1. Convening the UN Security Council..................................... 318
98.2. The attitude of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation ...... 323
8.3. The notion of indirect aggression and the responsibility of
Armenia ........................................................................................ 325
Chapter IX
The principles of conflict settlement............................................. 331
9.1. Difficulties associated with the positions of the parties ........ 332
9.1.1. Differing points of view ................................................. 332
9.1.2. The arguments put forward by the parties...................... 335
9.2. The challenge of Armenian policy in the occupied
territories ...................................................................................... 339
9.3. The challenge of interpreting conflict settlement principles:
the principle of territorial integrity and the right to self-
determination................................................................................ 342
9.3.1. The principle of territorial integrity................................ 343
9.3.2. The right to self-determination....................................... 345
9.4. The assertion of conflict settlement principles by the OSCE,
Council of Europe, and the European Union ............................... 353
9.4.1. The position adopted by the OSCE ................................ 353
9.4.2. The position adopted by the Council of Europe............. 356
9.4.3. The position adopted by the European Union ................ 360
Chapter X
Conflict resolution via victory or compromise: what path to
peace? .............................................................................................. 363
10.1. Restructuring the Minsk Group chairmanship .................... 364
10.2. The impotence of the Minsk Group to resolve the Nagorno-
Karabakh conflict ......................................................................... 367
10.2.1. The failure of its first written peace proposals and the
win-win approach ..................................................................... 368
10.2.2. Stalemate in the peace process and a win-lose
scenario..................................................................................... 373
10.3. Back to scratch: the Madrid principles................................ 375
10.4. Peace built on compromise and a satisfactory outcome for the
parties is the only way to avoid war ............................................. 383
Conclusion....................................................................................... 389
BIBLIOGRAPHY .......................................................................... 393
INDEX ............................................................................................. 415
APPENDICES ................................................................................ 419ABBREVIATIONS
ANM Armenian National Movement
APF Azerbaijani Poular Front
BTC Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan [oil pipeline]
BTE Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum [gas pipeline]
CFE Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
CFSP Common Foreign and Security Policy
CIS Community of Independent States
CPSU Communist Party of the Soviet Union
CSCE Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe
CSO Committe of Senior Officials
CSTO Collective Security Treaty Organization
ENP European Neighbourhood Policy
ESDP European Security and Defence Policy
EU European Union
EUSR European Union Special Representative
GUAM Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan & Moldova
HLPG High-Level Planning Group
NACC North Atlantic Cooperation Council
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NIS Newly Independent States
OSCE Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
SCO Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
SOCAR State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic
SR Socialist-Revolutionaries
SSR Soviet Socialist Republic
TRACECA Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia
UN United Nations
USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
11 PREFACE
“The wise man never ceases to have the whole present in his mind”
B. Groethuysen
“But why are we not all like brothers with brothers?”
1
Dostoïevsky
For centuries Nagorno-Karabakh has been the site of an
exceptionally rich history, exposed to a range of complex external
influences in which Russia, Turkey, the United States and Europe
have all played and continue to play a crucial role. In this work, Fazil
Zeynalov quickly highlights the global dimension of the region’s
instability. His abilities as a historian are clear as he retraces centuries
of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with reference to
Caucasian Albania and the Karabakh khanate, as well as the role of
the Soviet Union and the consequences for this region of its break up.
Azerbaijan’s declaration of independence was followed by a vote
among the majority Armenian community for the break up of the
country and the proclamation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, a
symbol of regional instability. Despite international mediation by the
OSCE and the Minsk group in particular, and despite the signing of a
ceasefire in May 1994, the conflict sparked by this move has resulted
in around 250,000 Armenians fleeing Azerbaijan and the departure
from Armenia and Karabakh of some 950,000 Azeris.
Drawing on more than 1,000 solid reference works, Zeynalov’s
research is built on an intimate understanding of the region, and the
original, written in French, is as accomplished a piece as any he may
have written in Azeri or Russian. However, most impressive is the
way in which the breadth of his geographical and historical knowledge
is complemented by an insightful legal approach. This is essential, as
the search for a satisfactory solution which underpins this work is
1 Translated from the French.
13dependent on systematic recourse to all of the mechanisms available
under international law. For the processes related to peace, war, armed
conflict and the rights of refugees are inextricably linked to resources
such as negotiation, UN resolutions, conciliation, mediation,
arbitration and diplomacy. This book is a useful – even essential –
contribution: the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh could at any time
slide towards the worst imaginable scenario, yet an understanding of
the best possible scenario is equally within reach. One is reminded of
Victor Hugo’s comment: "I endeavour to understand in order to
forgive". The mutual forgiveness of appalling crimes is a necessary
cornerstone of peace, even if it involves suffering ethical
contradictions. In Jankelevitch’s Forgiveness, the author reminds us
that "the inexhaustible goodness of forgiveness surmounts the
insurmountable wall of wickedness" and reciprocally. Here, Zeynalov
takes us down a comprehensive research path that tackles the new
dangers of barbarism in an effort to overcome the ever-present risks of
ever-worsening dramas. Democracy, it would appear, must forever be
regenerated. And we must believe in the possibility of a valuable
metamorphosis – that of peace.
EMMANUEL CAULIER
Lawyer with the Paris Bar
Rector at the University of Brazzaville
Professor at the Centre d’Études Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris“The peoples of the Caucasus have
nothing in common but a handful of
customs that allow them to co-habit,
and their primary interests have
forever been opposed to those of the
Russians. They do not appear devoted
to the Union.”
“Here, one senses how difficult it is to
be sincere, as the many past
opportunities for candour flood one’s
memory. It is impossible to see beyond
what once was, a time when every
hour of the day was occupied.
Thoughts that never come to the
surface now overflow. You learn that
you are not who you once thought,
and a new beginning becomes
possible: new sentiments, new
feelings, new opinions, new
perspectives and new passions. One’s
judgement becomes clear, and
although a cosmopolitan detail or a
familiar face would be enough to
banish this feeling of isolation,
everything seems neutral beyond
belief.”
2André Beucler
2
Translated from the French. BEUCLER (A.) – Caucase, Paris, Editions Emile-Paul
Frères, Col. "Ceinture du monde", 1931, pp. 5-6 and 78-79.Introduction
“[S]ince wars begin in the minds of
men, it is in the minds of men that
the defences of peace must be
constructed”.
Preambule to the UNESCO Constitution
The Caucasus hosts a mosaic of peoples; it is a strategic region
that is rich in natural resources and it has been a zone of instability
since the emergence of armed conflicts following the break up of the
USSR and the independence in 1991 of the federated Republics.
Although the region boasts significant assets that could be used to
ensure a bright future for its inhabitants, conflict – in particular
between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh – has
hindered the development of its potential, thereby blocking regional
integration and the possibility of shared wealth via the exploitation of
the energy resources that lie beneath the Caspian Sea.
A look at any world map quickly reveals the importance of the
South Caucasus: located at the gateway to Europe and Asia, it is a
strategic yet sensitive crossroads between the two continents. Strategic
because it is a transit zone that is not under the political control of any
neighbouring power, and also because it holds vast reserves of oil and
gas. In this context it is of course essential to highlight the key role
played by Azerbaijan, the only country in the Caucasus that is rich in
natural resources. In recent years, Azerbaijan has become the focus of
attention in the South Caucasus and a key player in the Caspian basin.
17The political approach adopted by President Heydar Aliyev has
allowed for democratic progress, continued economic growth and the
transformation of natural wealth into human resources. His policy to
expand the network of pipelines, combined with the necessary
political will, have made it possible to complete large-scale projects
such as the construction of the Bakou-Tbilissi-Ceyhan (BTC) and
Bakou-Tbilissi-Erzroum (BTE) pipelines, which respectively carry
most of Azerbaijan’s oil and gas to Western markets, along with the
fuel resources of Central Asia. This makes Azerbaijan a strategic
“bridge” for the development of an energy link between Europe and
Central Asia, which holds one of the world’s largest gas reserves and
3
is a potential supplier of the European Nabucco project.
Traditionally, the South Caucasus has served as a transit zone
between Europe and Asia and has therefore played a key role in the
development of trade between the two continents. The famous Silk
Route brought both European and Asian traders through this region,
but was also the object of considerable interest among major
neighbouring powers seeking to establish a position of dominance.
This had a profound effect on the development of inter-ethnic
relations in the South Caucasus and on the many tragic episodes in the
thregion’s history. The emergence of the khanates, 18 -century
independent and semi-independent feudal states, and the presence of
small kingdoms hindered the manifestation of any national sentiment,
but the various groups nonetheless managed to live in harmony and
enjoyed close economic and trade relations. Ethnic diversity was not a
source of instability. That reality was radically altered following the
eruption of the Russian factor, when ethnic divides made the
construction of a state a fragile process. A series of faltering moves
towards independence from 1918 to 1920 were unable to overcome a
climate of regional hostility, but it was the deterioration of inter-ethnic
relations together with diametrically opposed territorial claims that
made any lasting agreement impossible and were the primary cause of
instability and armed conflict.
3
With support from the European Union, this project aims to ensure Europe has
access to new supplies of gas and seeks to reduce dependency on Russian reserves.
It is one of the "Southern corridor" projects and is designed to ensure a regular flow
of gas from the Caspian Sea to European consumers. There is a transfer capacity of
30 billion m³ of gas, which must travel 3,300 km in order to reach Austria. However,
progress has been slow and it may not become a reality before 2016.
18The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, the focus of this
publication, is one of the long-standing conflicts in the South
Caucasus and has yet to find a definitive solution. It would be wrong
to refer to it as a frozen conflict, as the threat of renewed violence
continues to darken the region, which is liable to derail at any time.
The recent conflict in South Ossetia is an illustration of this.
Developments in relation to Nagorno-Karabakh show that there is a
high risk of a return to violence. This should act as a warning to
international organisations, who must strengthen their commitment if
a fresh outbreak of war in the South Caucasus is to be avoided. The
aim of this work is to explain the causes of the conflict and the nature
of those involved in the security of the region and to assess the
development of the peace process. It is hoped that this will lead to a
better understanding of the conflict in all of its dimensions and
contribute to the search for a peaceful solution.
Nagorno-Karabakh is the mountainous section of the vast and
historic Karabakh region. A literal translation of Karabakh is "black
garden". Rendered as "Qarabagh" in Azerbaijani, this term is the
combination of two words, kara and bakh, both of Turkish origin.
Kara means both black and rich or fertile. Bakh can be translated as
garden but is also used more generally to refer to a large area of
natural beauty. The qualities of a fertile and rich territory were
therefore attributed to the Karabakh region, emphasising its natural
wealth and geographical characteristics.
As part of this study, it is important to consider the notion of
conflict, a term that is commonly used as a synonym of war. However,
in legal terminology the term conflict is preferred: war, which cannot
be used as an instrument of national politics, is fully at odds with the
principles and norms of international law. Legal texts no longer speak
of the "laws of war" but rather the "laws of armed conflict". The term
conflict "better accounts for the complexity of the phenomenon than
4
the more traditional concept of war" , and becomes appropriate in
cases where two individuals, groups or parties set themselves
5
incompatible objectives. Conflict can be defined in many ways. Jean-
Baptiste Duroselle provides three possible definitions in order to
4 e
DUFOUR (J.-L.) and VAÏSSE (M.) – La guerre au XX siècle, Paris, Hachette,
1993, pp. 10-11.
5
DERRIENNIC (J.-P.) – Introduction à l’analyse de la fin des conflits armés,
Revue française de science politique, n°2, 1974, p. 279.
196account for the many dimensions of this term. One of these
definitions is as follows: "a clash between entities of opposing will,
regardless of the means envisaged or employed by their adversaries in
7
an effort to ensure the triumph of their ambitions". This is not
therefore a notion that is limited to the manifestation of organised
8violence , and war can be said to constitute just one aspect of conflict.
Some studies have shown that the nature of war is changing
9
and that nation-states are engaging in war less and less. While it is
true that international law has played a positive role by providing
limited channels for the use of force in the relations between nation-
states, inter-state wars continue to be a reality. This is because states
seek to avoid becoming directly involved and prefer instead to use
minority groups and means of communication to disguise their
military acts. From this point of view, "the minorities involved are
10little more than hostages, masses by which to manoeuvre". In today’s
world it is hard to find a state whose borders coincide with those of a
majority ethnic group. As a result, the protection of minority rights
has become essential in ensuring peaceful coexistence between ethnic
groups, although this has not quite done away with secessionist
movements. This is particularly common for minorities with a parent
state. The existence of neighbouring states associated with minority
groups often leads to a rise in tensions or conflict. Pierre Renouvin
th
suggests that in the first half of the 20 century, "the movement of
different nationalities directly resulted in an increase in international
11disputes and the proliferation of conflict". This was repeated at the
end of the Cold War and the break up of the Soviet bloc, which
undermined the peace and international security of the former Soviet
Union and in the Balkans. The idea of unification under a parent state
6 DUROSELLE (J-B) – La nature des conflits internationaux, Revue française de
science politique, n°2, 1964, pp. 295-297.
7 Italics in the original text. Ibid., p. 295.
8 e
DUFOUR (J.-L.) and VAÏSSE (M.) – La guerre au XX siècle ... op. cit., p. 6.
9 While 85% of conflicts were inter-state conflicts between 1900 and 1940, this
trend was completely reversed between 1945 and 1985, when 85% of conflicts were
eintra-state conflicts. DUFOUR (J.-L.) et VAÏSSE (M.) – La guerre au XX siècle ...
op. cit., p. 8.
10 MEYRIAT (J.) – Minorités ethniques et conflits internationaux. Note introductive,
Revue française de science politique, n°4, 1967, p. 717.
11 RENOUVIN (P.) – Les forces profondes, in RENOUVIN (P.) and DUROSELLE
(J.-B.) – Introduction à l’histoire des relations internationales, Paris, Armand Colin,
Col. "Agora", 1991, p. 187.
20is therefore at the root of highly charged conflicts such as in Nagorno-
Karabakh, where there is an armed struggle between two states:
Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Ghia Nodia identifies two factors that made conflict in the
South Caucasus inevitable against the backdrop of the fall of the
Soviet Union: the first is the general lack of a feeling of citizenship
12 13
and the second is the emergence of nationalism along ethnic lines.
While there is no direct link between citizenship and nationalism, the
absence of a unifying ideology following the loss of confidence in the
14tenets of communism , as well as a focus in official political circles
15on the notion of ethnos and ethnic belonging, contributed to the
emergence of ethnic nationalism. The deterioration of inter-ethnic
relations, accompanied by worsening historic disputes, quarrels over
cultural traditions, inward-looking behaviour, the exaltation of group-
specific traits, and the renewal of territorial claims all pointed towards
the radicalisation of the competing entities and meant that a fresh
perspective on relations between the two peoples was felt to be
necessary. These factors reinforced the ethnocentric trends that made
the different groups consider themselves as "the reference point for
16the others". At this stage, the primary characteristic of ethnic
nationalism is that it is perceived as a unifying factor within the group
12 th
The notion of "nationalism" was developed by Prévost-Paradol, a 19 -century
French journalist and politician, "to refer to advocates of the principle of
nationalities". The term "nationality" emerged around 1800 to describe "a nation in a
state of movement or action, whereby a group of people claims the existence of a
nation and seeks to establish itself as an autonomous and sovereign political State".
YACOUB (J.) – Les minorités dans le monde. Faits et analyses, Paris, Desclée de
Brouwer, 1998, p. 52.
13 NODIA (G.) – Politiceskaya smuta i etnoterritorialnie konflicti v Gruzyi
[Political disorder and ethno-territorial conflict in Georgia], In. Contested borders
in the Caucasus, Edited by COPPIETERS (B.), VUB Press, Brussels,
[http://www.vub.ac.be/POLI/publi/].
14 GELLNER (E.) – Le nationalisme en apesanteur, Terrain, n°17, 1991, pp. 7-16.
15
This Greek term carries several definitions. The most famous Soviet-era
ethnographer, Yulian Vladimirovich Bromley, suggested that an ethnos "can be
defined as a historically formed community of people with specific, shared and
relatively stable cultural characteristics, as well as an awareness of their unity and
difference in relation to similar communities". Cited by SKALNIK (P.) – Union
soviétique-Afrique du Sud: les "théories" de l’ethnos, Cahiers d’études africaines,
vol. XXVIII, n°110, 1988, p.165.
16 MOZAFFARI (M.) – Explication typologique des conflits du Caucase, In. Le
Caucase postsoviétique: la transition dans le conflit, under the supervision of
DJALILI (M.-R.), Brussels, Bruylant, 1995, p. 200.
2117and rejects anything that does not belong to the ethnic majority ; this
agitated majority then forces other groups to leave the national
territory. Armenia’s territorial claim over Nagorno-Karabakh is one of
the main reasons behind the antagonism, and this has led to open
armed conflict between the two groups.
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is of an ethnic nature, but
researchers reject use of the expression "ethnic conflict", preferring
18
instead to speak of an "ethno-territorial conflict". Historically,
territory has been a major factor in conflict as it is associated both
with power and wealth. The ethnic dimension makes a conflict more
bloody because it is about ensuring the ethnic uniformity of a territory.
Separatist ethnic movements tend to impose homogeneity, "the most
19
salient, unpleasant and dangerous aspect of the ethnic phenomenon".
Yet studies show that conflicts of an ethnic or ethno-territorial nature,
although more bloody and cruel, can be brought under control by
deploying rigorous state mechanisms, especially at an early stage. Eric
Hobsbawm suggests that "the primary condition for the control of
20
ethnic conflict is the existence of an effective state with real power".
However, the "deliberate" or "unwitting" lack of severity on the part
of the Soviet and Azerbaijani authorities is responsible for the
development of all-out armed conflict, while adequate measures – in
particular firm efforts by the communist leaders to apply and enforce
respect for the legal framework – would have served to appease
tensions and avoid futile suffering among civilians. Faced with a more
complex reality on the ground, this opportunity was not seized for
three reasons:
the Armenian authorities felt that the use of force was the only
means by which to change the status quo and revise the existing
borders, i.e. annex Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. This is the
rational logic of warfare, which Clausewitz defines as "the pursuit
of politics via other means". In that case, war makes it possible to
settle conflicts or disputes in favour of those in a position of force
and ultimately determines the rule of law;
17
Ibid., p. 202.
18 NODIA (G.) – Politiceskaya smuta i etnoterritorialnie konflicti v Gruzyi
[Political disorder and ethno-territorial conflict in Georgia] … op. cit.
19 HOBSBAWM (E.) – Qu’est-ce qu’un conflit ethnique? In. Actes de la recherche
en sciences sociales, vol. 100, December 1993, p. 52.
20 Ibid., p. 55.
22
the central Soviet authorities, although opposed to Armenia’s
demands for the annexation of Nagorno-Karabakh, sought to
channel the efforts of the national movements in order to maintain
the political unity of the crumbling Empire, or at least to maintain
a position of influence over the peripheral republics. Inter-ethnic
conflict provided a means by which to "divide and rule";
the Azeri authorities, who were relieved by Moscow’s official
position, were slow to take measures that would prevent the
situation from worsening. They believed in maintaining a renewed
Union and that this would normalise relations between the two
groups. This position subsequently became untenable as the
situation on the ground worsened dramatically and the Azeri
communist leadership was left in a difficult situation: it had lost all
credibility and was swept aside by the national movement.
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is also an irredentist
conflict in that it is between "two independent States on a single
territorial entity that is inhabited by two different ethnic groups who
21respectively belong to two antagonistic States". Such a conflict has
the potential for the escalation of military activity between the two
22
States. The irredentist claims are linked to the interests and
nationalist nature of the State’s political elite, which is fighting for
reunification.
It is therefore an inter-state conflict but one which, if we are to
classify it, is limited in its objectives, in the means employed and in
23
the territory in which it takes place. Although certain foreign powers
are concerned by this conflict, their involvement does not stretch to
outright military intervention. This is true of Russia, whose military
participated as the conflict manifested itself but which has never
officially intervened. It is also a conventional conflict, with a clearly
determined frontline around which troops from either state regularly
clash, using military means they inherited from the Red Army.
21 Ibid., p. 208.
22
CARMENT (D.) – The international dimensions of ethnic conflict: concepts,
indicators and theory, Journal of Peace Research, vol. 30, n°2, May 1993, p. 140.
23
This is a "geographically limited conflict in which the antagonists use force not to
destroy the enemy or force it to capitulate, but rather to reach a clearly defined
objective that does not require the deployment of all available means". DUFOUR
e(J.-L.) and VAÏSSE (M.) – La guerre au XX siècle ... op. cit., p. 7.
23
A study of this conflict also requires us to clarify certain
concepts that have been substantially developed in legal doctrine but
whose application presents theoretical and practical difficulties. It is
also important to consider the role of the relevant international
organisations, which must adopt a firm stance. Legal experts face the
difficult task of assessing the relevant issues to ensure that legal
statutes may not be transformed or exploited. What is needed is an
informed evaluation of the claims made by each party, claims based
on legal statutes that may be interpreted in different ways.Chapter I
Early political history of the Nagorno-
Karabakh conflict from the time of
Caucasian Albania
"History does not instruct us, it keeps
us in check – magistra vitae. It teaches
us nothing but punishes us for the
lessons we fail to learn."
Vasilii Osipovitch
24Klyutchevskii
Historical analysis of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is
essential if we are to understand its origins and nature and identify
possible solutions that would allow the Azerbaijani and Armenian
peoples to live in peace and harmony. Historical events are like a
chain made up of successive links, and those wishing to trace the
origins of the conflict cannot afford to ignore any one of these links.
One must look to the sequence of past events in order to find the
answer to certain questions.
Although the causes of the current conflict are highly
th
complicated and can be traced back to the end of the 19 century,
24 Author’s translation. KLYUTCHEVSKII (V.-O.) – Aforizmi, istoricheskie portreti
i etyudi. Dnevniki [Aphorisms, historical portraits and studies. Diaries], Moscow,
Ed. Misl’, 1993, p. 36.
25when nationalism began to emerge in the Caucasus, the divergence of
views relates to ancient times, with opposing positions adopted by the
Azerbaijanis and Armenians. Each group argues that the other is not
native in the region, which they claim has been theirs since ancient
times. This involves looking for historical elements and arguments to
prove the legitimacy of their claim. Historical research has been
exploited by the nationalist groups in defining their territorial claim
and is proving to be a heavy burden on the current peace process. This
is a subject of intense study for historians, although for our purposes a
brief look at the region’s history will be useful in shedding light on
certain questions.
Very little is certain about the region’s ancient history, but the
story of Nagorno-Karabakh, or Artsak, can be linked to the kingdom
of Caucasian Albania. At that time the borders between Albania and
Armenia and between Albania and Iberia were most likely not static
and liable to change depending on internal politics and the power of
each state. However, such changes would not have been significant
and do not challenge our current understanding of the ethnic and state
borders dividing the population of the South Caucasus.
1.1. Caucasian Albania and Nagorno-Karabakh
According to Strabon, Caucasian Albania was located between
the Caspian Sea and Georgia and stretched from the Caucasus
25mountain range in the north to the Arax in the south. It was made up
of some 26 different tribes who, despite their differences, managed to
form a unified state under the authority of a king. Strabon tells us that
the Albanian kings came from those sections of society considered to
be the most dignified.
Albania was crossed by the river Kura, a fact that is confirmed
by historians whose work indicates that the territories between the
Kura and the Arax, and modern-day Nagorno-Karabakh in particular,
made up one of the Albanian provinces – known as Artsak – as well as
26
the provinces of Sunik and Utik. Historical sources cite the name of
25 STRABON – Géographie, Paris, Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1867, Book XI,
Chapter IV, point 1.
26 MAMEDOVA (F.) – Politiceskaiia istoria i istoriceskaiia geografiia Kavkazskoy
Albanii [The political history and historical geography of Caucasian Albania],
Baku, Ed. Elm, 1986, p. 105.
26Artsak as one of Albania’s fortified provinces. The earliest recorded
information about Albania has been traced to the fourth century BC. It
is first referred to in the context of the battle of Gaugamela, which
took place in the year 331 BC between the armies of Alexander the
27Great and Darius III. This information, which comes to us from
ndArrian (2 century), along with other written works from the same
period concerning the Albanian king Grois’ battle against General
Pompey’s Roman legions, are of crucial importance in determining
that the formation of the army and the quest for ethnic and political
unity among the Albanian people had already begun as early as the
fourth century BC.
Albania may also have had its own political structures,
institutions and religious practices, but it was not yet ready to engage
in independent politics like the other states in the region. At times,
Albania maintained autonomy over internal affairs in return for
subordination to one imperial power or another. Indeed, it even found
itself having to make payments to all three empires – Rome
(Byzantium), Parthia (Sassanids) and the Huns (Khazars) – at the risk
of ruining its local population. Yet despite the constraints imposed by
the struggle between the empires, it managed to survive through the
careful game of alliances it kept up during certain difficult periods.
Regardless of tribal belonging, the term "Albanian" refers to
the whole population that came together to form the state, an amalgam
of many tribes according to Strabon.
1.1.1. The South Caucasus: Albania and the Armenian factor
28
The kingdom of Albania generated a lot of interest among
29researchers during the Soviet era , and the current context has
resulted in renewed interest. Although it is not the focus of this work,
a study of its history will allow us to dissipate some of the tensions
27
ALIEV (K.) – Antichnaïa Kavkazskaïa Albaniia [Ancient Caucasian Albania],
Baku, Ed. Azerbaycan dovlet neshriyyati, 1992, p. 166.
28
The origins of the word "Albania" are subject to various interpretations. For some
it means "white" or "mountain country", while others consider it to be a Turkish
toponym. BUNYADOV (Z.-M.) and YOUSIFOV (J.-B.) – Azerbaycan tarihi
[History of Azerbaijan], Baku, Ed. Çiraq nechriyyati, 2005, vol. I, p. 153.
29
ALIEV (K.) – Antichnaïa Kavkazskaïa Albaniia [Ancient Caucasian Albania] ...
op. cit., p. 47.
27between Armenia and Azerbaijan as a result of the conflict in
Nagorno-Karabakh. This conflict has a significant historical
dimension, and the political and public debates that dominate the
national stage and primarily relate to the territory’s ancient history are
30a good illustration of this. On one side of the debate, some Armenian
historians point out that in the Karabakh region the land between the
Kura and Arax rivers was once part of Armenia and was included in
the kingdom of Albania when Armenia was divided amongst the
Roman and Sassanid empires in 387; this point of view would suggest
that the Albanian territory is limited to a smaller area on the left bank
of the river Kura. On the other side of the debate, Azerbaijani
historians claim that in ancient times the land between the Kura and
the Arax belonged to Albania. They accuse the Armenians of falsely
interpreting the past, in particular a book on the "history of Albania"
written by Albanian author Moïsey Kalankatuglu, and point out that
references in this book to the "East", "Eastern people" and "Eastern
31
population" should not be read as signifying the "East of Armenia"
or the "Eastern population of Armenia". This also applies to the
author’s reference to the seventh century Albanian king Javanshir as
32the "King of the East" . Kalankatuglu writes in proud terms of this
king and expresses his great sadness at his assassination. He is an
Albanian Christian writer describing the history of the Christian
segment of the Albanian population, living to the east of the Christian
world. It is a matter of geographically placing Albania and its
33population in relation to Jerusalem and Byzantium. What is more,
there are no Armenian toponyms in this region, which is also referred
to in Armenian sources as Albanian or Aghvan rather than Hayk.
The area peopled by the Armenians (Armenian plain) is
located in the upper Euphrates valley, where they settled in the early
part of the first millennium BC during successive waves of migration
among the Aryan people, who originated in India. The Armenians
30
MEHDIYEV (R.) – Gorus-2010: Absurd teatri movsumu [Goris-2010: season of
theatre of the absurd], Baku, Ed. Sherq-Qerb, 2010, 80 p.
31
He points out, for example, that Thaddeus was sent to spread Christianity among
the Eastern peoples. MOISEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of
Albania], Baku, Ed. Avrasiya press, 2006, Book 1, Chapter VI, p. 20; Chapter XXX,
p. 75.
32
GUEYBULLAYEV (G.) – Qarabag: etnik ve siyasi tarhine dair [Karabakh:
political and ethnic history], Baku, Ed. Elm, 1990, pp. 167-168.
33
VELIKHANLI (N.) – Azerbaycan tarihi [History of Azerbaijan], Baku, Ed. Elm,
2007, vol. II, p. 78.
2834held independent and semi-independent principalities in this area.
They spread out as the territories under their control expanded and
progressively migrated towards those in the South Caucasus. The
work of Moïsey Kalankatuglu, however, provides no information
about the Armenians settling in Albania, particularly in the Artsak and
Utik provinces. According to Ramiz Mehdiyev, the Armenian ethnos
is not therefore indigenous but rather is the result of a migratory
35
process.
Armenian historians also confirm that "Great Armenia, the true
Armenian homeland, was in Asia Minor and therefore outside of
36Russia". Strabon points out that Armenia, which originally covered a
small area, expanded because of the conquests by Artaxias and
Zariadres of neighbouring countries. Farida Mamedova has remarked
that the notion of a "Great Armenia" is used in two ways: as a
37geographical and political term. As a geographical term, it is
associated with the conquests of Artaxias and Zariadres, lieutenants
38
under Antiochus III the Great (223-187) , and in particular with the
occupation by Artaxias of the Ararat provinces. According to Strabon,
they initially governed on behalf of Antiochus, who was confronting
his Roman enemies but suffered defeat in Thermopylae in 190 BC and
again a year later in Magnesia. Following their leader’s downfall, the
lieutenants quickly aligned themselves with the Romans, who were
willing to recognise their independence and see them established as
34 FEIGL (E.) – Ipek yolu uzerinde odlar yurdu: Azerbaycan tarihi, [History of
Azerbaijan: land of fire on the silk route], Baku, Ed. Azertac, 2009, pp. 60-61.
35 MEHDIYEV (R.) – Gorus-2010: Absurd teatri movsumu [Goris-2010: season of
theatre of the absurd] … op. cit., p. 55.
36 ICHKHANIAN (B.) – Les peuples du Caucase, Petrograd, 1916, p. 18. In.
TABRIZLI (A.) – Histoire du Daglig (Haut)-Garabagh à la lumière de documents
historiques, Frankfurt, Dagyeli Verlag, 1989, p. 11.
37
MAMEDOVA (F.) – Politiceskaiia istoria i istoriceskaiia geografiia Kavkazskoy
Albanii [The political history and historical geography of Caucasian
Albania] ... op. cit., pp. 55-56.
38 Following the death of Alexander the Great, his empire was divided amongst his
successors. Seleucus I Nicator (305-280), satrap of Babylon at the time, seized
possession of Syria and declared himself king in 305. The Seleucid dynasty that he
established continued to reign until 64 and managed to expand the Empire’s borders
into the eastern territories previously conquered by Alexander. However, retreat
from these borders was imposed in the middle of the third century, with the
emergence of the Parthian empire. During his military campaign in the East (209-
205), Antiochus III had some initial success in attempting to reclaim these territories
in the name of the Seleucids, before being defeated by the Romans.
29kings, thereby making Armenia "Great". As a political term, it
corresponds to the epoch of Tigranes II (95-55), whose conquests
were reinforced and expanded during the first century BC. It was
during this period that the provinces of Araksena and Caspiana, as
well as Sakasena in the Atropatene state to the south of Albania,
capitulated to Armenia due to the weakened position of the Parthian
kingdom. But the success of Tigranes II was not to last as the Roman
legions of General and Consul Lucullus were dispatched to the East
by the Senate in Rome in the year 74 BC. Three years later, having
soundly defeated the ally of Tigranes II, Mithridates VI of Pontus,
Lucullus headed towards Armenia, where he secured fresh victories in
69 and 68. In the year 66, however, he was replaced as head of the
Roman legions by General Pompey, who was considered "a more
39
gifted successor in the celebration of triumph than in warfare itself".
Tigranes II ceased to resist upon learning of the "conciliatory and
gentle nature" of Pompey and decided to give himself up. This
enabled him to hold on to his throne, although he had to relinquish the
territory lost to Lucullus, and also retain his other conquests on
40
condition that he pay an indemnity to Rome. Following the death of
Tigranes II, the Armenian kingdom returned to the borders he had
inherited. The Armenian territory defined in the 37 BC treaty between
the Roman and Parthian empires remained unchanged until the year
41
387.
In the first century, Armenia was the locus of warfare between
the two great empires. However, peace was achieved in the year 63
and Armenia found itself under a dual authority. Hostilities later
resumed when in 114 the Emperor Trajan (98-117) launched a
military campaign against the Parthians and occupied Armenia. On
Roman coins produced between 115 and 117, Armenia is represented
42in the form of a woman lying at the feet of the Roman emperor.
Armenia had been reduced to the rank of a Roman vassal and
43
continued to pay taxes to Rome until 358. All of this makes it clear
39
PLUTARQUE – Vie parallèles, Paris, Gallimard, 2001, p. 1168.
40 Ibid., p. 1172-1173.
41
ALIEV (I.-G.) – Daglig Garabag: tarih, faktlar, hadiseler [Nagorno-Karabakh:
history, key facts and events], Baku, Ed. Elm, 1989, pp. 27-28.
42
GUEYBULLAYEV (G.) – Qarabag: etnik ve siyasi tarhine dair [Karabakh:
political and ethnic history] ... op. cit., p. 181.
43
ALIEV (I.-G.) – Daglig Garabag: tarih, faktlar, hadiseler [Nagorno-Karabakh:
history, key facts and events] ... op. cit., p. 28.
30that Armenia was in a position of successive dependence under the
Roman and Parthian empires, and also that following the demise of
the empire of Tigranes II, any notion of a Great Armenia had lost its
44
political significance; Armenia would never again enjoy such power.
The historian Farida Mamedova summarises as follows: "from the
stdownfall of the empire of Tigranes II (1 century BC) until 428, there
were practically no Armenian state structures; these were formally
abolished in 428. Throughout this period and up to the sixth century,
45
the Armenian territory continued to oscillate from West to East".
Suggestions that Armenia managed to re-occupy the Artsak and Utik
provinces from a position of weakness and dependency have
46
absolutely no credibility. According to the historical information
available, only the Albanian province of Paytakaran was occupied by
King Artashes I in the second century BC and it remained part of
47Armenia before returning to Albanian hands.
1.1.2. Nagorno-Karabakh as a province of Caucasian Albania
There is no concrete or reliable information available about
Artsak, the old name for Nagorno-Karabakh, but we do know that in
ancient times this territory belonged to the kingdom of Caucasian
Albania, the first indigenous state structure in the territory of what is
now Azerbaijan. Prior to Albania, it was under the influence of Medes
and the Persian Achaemenid empire. Herodotus, a Greek historian
from the fifth century BC, tells us that the reign of the Persians
44 As we have already seen, following the demise of "Great Armenia", Armenia
enjoyed virtually no independence. From 52 to 185, it was occupied by Roman
troops. In 117, Rome re-established the Arsacid dynasty in Armenia, but it remained
under Roman control and continued to pay taxes. In 387, Armenia was divided
amongst the Byzantine and Persian empires, and in 428 the royal authority in Iranian
Armenia was dissolved and Armenia was made a province under the administration
of a Marzban.
45
MAMEDOVA (F.) – Le problème de l’ethnos albano-caucasien (sur la base des
recherches de Ju. V. Bromlej sur la théorie de l’ethnos), Cahiers du monde russe et
soviétique, vol. XXXI, n°2-3, avril-septembre 1990, p. 388.
46 ALIEV (I.-G.) – Daglig Garabag: tarih, faktlar, hadiseler [Nagorno-Karabakh:
history, key facts and events] ... op. cit., p. 28.
47 MAMEDOVA (F.) – Politiceskaiia istoria i istoriceskaiia geografiia Kavkazskoy
Albanii [The political history and historical geography of Caucasian
Albania] … op. cit., p. 116.
3148stretched as far as the Caucasus mountain chain. However, the
possible capture of this province by Armenia may have coincided with
the brief period of Armenian power that ended with the demise of
Tigranes II (95-55). It is thought that the emperor’s conquests
49stretched as far as the western territories of Albania. At that time
several ethnically distinct groups were under the authority of the
Armenian kingdom. However, none of the ancient historians,
including Strabon, wrote that this region was populated by
50
Armenians. In relation to Armenia, there is no mention in the
accords between the Roman and Iranian empires of the Albanian
province of Artsak. Historical research has shown that "Great
Armenia", either in its geographical or political interpretation, cannot
51
be linked to the evolution of the kingdom of Albania. Nor does this
term reflect the territories in which the Armenians settled, but rather
those occupied at the expense of neighbouring peoples, as Strabon
points out.
The events that followed the demise of Tigranes II are
illustrated in Moïsey Kalankatuglu’s History of Albania. According to
this eighth century author, King Vologases I (51-78) from the Parthian
empire established his authority over the tribes of the Caucasus,
demanding that they pay taxes and end their pillaging. He nominated
52
Aran , a representative from the local Sunik dynasty, to govern these
tribes. Aran inherited all the plains and mountains of Albania, from
53
the Arax to the Iberian borders. Despite some debate among
historians about the occupation by Armenia of certain Albanian
48 ALIEV (I.-G.) – Daglig Garabag: tarih, faktlar, hadiseler [Nagorno-Karabakh:
history, key facts and events] ... op. cit., p. 17.
49 MEHDIYEV (R.) – Gorus-2010: Absurd teatri movsumu [Goris-2010: season of
theatre of the absurd] ... op. cit., p. 28.
50 Ibid., p. 30.
51
MAMEDOVA (F.) – Politiceskaiia istoria i istoriceskaiia geografiia Kavkazskoy
Albanii [The political history and historical geography of Caucasian
Albania] … op. cit., p. 56.
52 The term Aran is used in Turkish to mean brave, valiant or courageous. This has
led certain historians to suggest that the name of the Aran dynasty has Turkish
origins. According to legend, Albania takes its name from the "benevolent and
Clement" nature of Aran. BUNYADOV (Z.-M.) and YOUSIFOV
(J.-B.) – Azerbaycan tarihi [History of Azerbaijan] ... op. cit., p. 185.
53
MOISEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of Albania] ... op. cit.,
Book 1, Chapter V, p. 19.
32provinces, it would appear that at this time Albania was in full
possession of its historic territory.
Armenian historians themselves recognise that the origins of
54
the word Artsak are not Armenian. The toponyms Artsak and Utik
are also used in the Spanish Pyrenees. Artsak was first used in the
Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism, to signify the "land or
55
province of the wind". The province of Artsak was divided into a
dozen administrative entities known as Meliks. It was part of Albania
but enjoyed significant political and religious influence over the
kingdom as a whole. It was home to three episcopates, and several
Catholicoses (leaders of the Albanian apostolic church) were elected
56
by its representatives. Moïsey Kalankatuglu mentions on several
occasions that Albania’s three western provinces, Artsak, Utik and
Sunik, were inhabited by the Albanians and were under the authority
of the Albanian kings. It is noteworthy that the author himself is from
57the village of Klanakatuglu in the Utik province.
1.2. The rise and fall of Caucasian Albania
Despite great interest from the powerful neighbouring empires,
Albania managed to retain its autonomy within the confines of its
political borders. The arrival of the Arabs had a profound effect,
ultimately removing it from the regional political stage.
1.2.1. Albania as a sovereign and semi-sovereign political entity
Albania maintained a more or less sovereign existence until the
eighth century, under the reign of the Aran, Arsacid and Mihranid
dynasties. Despite occasional political leanings in favour of Iran or
Rome, it never lost its sovereignty and "for a period of 1,000 years
54
GUEYBULLAYEV (G.) – Qarabag: etnik ve siyasi tarhine dair [Karabakh:
political and ethnic history] ... op. cit., p. 210.
55
MAMEDOVA (F.) – Kavkazskaïa Albania i albanii [Caucasian Albania and the
Albanians], Baku, Ed. Tchentr issledovanii Kavkazskoy Albanii, 2005, p. 647.
56
It is important to note that the number of episcopates was not equal in all Albanian
provinces. From a total of 12, three were located in Artsak.
57
MOISEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of Albania] ... op. cit.,
Book 2, Chapter X, p. 102.
33(from the third century BC to the eighth century A.D.) managed to
58
preserve its territorial and political unity as a state power". It should
be remembered that in the third century BC Albania issued its own
coins, a sign of political unity, independence and power, and a sign of
59strengthening economic and trade relations and craftsmanship. This
process also contributed to urbanisation and heightened the prosperity
and influence of towns.
According to Strabon, the Albanians had the capacity, if
necessary, to put in place an infantry of 60,000 men and a cavalry of
6012,000 men. It was with this kind of military force that the Albanian
king Grois confronted General Pompey’s Roman army in 65 BC. Two
major battles took place. According to Plutarch, the Albanians initially
responded favourably to the general’s request that the Romans be
allowed to pass through. However, the Romans were unprepared for
the harsh winter and chose to wait for the spring. The Albanians opted
for a pre-emptive attack for fear of being routed by the Romans.
Pompey signed a treaty with them and marched instead on the
Iberians. A short time later, however, the Albanians once again sought
to try their hand in battle. The infantry and cavalry, comprising 72,000
men, were led by the king’s brother Cosis, but the battle was
61ultimately won by the Romans. Plutarch also writes about the
participation of the mythical Amazons in battles alongside the
Albanians. Grois retreated to the mountains with the rest of his army,
no doubt to continue the struggle, but Pompey managed to reach an
62agreement with him. The Roman general did not venture into the
63depths of Albania because of difficulties encountered along the way
and for fear of an Albanian insurrection. The Emperor Nero (54-68)
made another attempt to take control of Albania in the year 68, but
died before being able to achieve this objective. His legionaries had
nonetheless reached the Absheron peninsula; the Latin writing
discovered in Gobustan is proof of this. Yet Albania had not fallen
58
MAMEDOVA (F.) – Le problème de l’ethnos albano-caucasien ... op. cit., p. 388.
59 RASULOVA (M.-M.) – Torgovo-ekonomicheskie i kul’turnie svyazi kavakzskoi
Albanii s antichnim i ellinisticheskim mirom: IV vek do n.e. – III vek n.e. [Economic,
trade and cultural relations between Caucasian Albania and the ancient and
th rd
Hellenistic worlds: 4 -3 centuries BC], Baku, Ed. Mutardjim, 2008, 228 p.
60 STRABON – Géographie … op. cit., Book XI, Chapter IV, point 5.
61
PLUTARQUE – Vie parallèles … op. cit., pp. 1173-1174.
62 BUNYADOV (Z.-M.) and YOUSIFOV (J.-B.) – Azerbaycan tarihi [History of
Azerbaijan] ... op. cit., p. 164.
63 PLUTARQUE – Vie parallèles … op. cit., p. 1175.
34under the authority of the Romans. It maintained its independence
following Emperor Trajan’s successful military campaign. Trajan re-
established the local Aran dynasty to escape the political authority of
the Parthians. His successor, Emperor Hadrian (117-138), also
64maintained friendly relations with the Albanians.
At the beginning of the third century, the Arsacid dynasty
acceded to the throne in Albania, with its first monarch, Vachagan I
65
(215-255), assuming authority of all Albanian provinces. However,
following the arrival in 226 of the Sassanids, who had defeated the
Parthian and Seleucid armies, the Iranians managed to redress the
balance and actually extend their dominance over the South Caucasus.
King Shapur I (241-272) defeated the Roman military in 260 and the
Emperor Valerian (253-260) was taken prisoner and died in captivity
in Persia. He sent letters to neighbouring countries boasting of his
66victory, but both Albania and Iberia dared to refuse these letters and
promised to fight for the liberation of Valerian. At that time Vatche I
(255-262), who had control of Albania, sought to strengthen his
67
alliance with the Romans. However, he had to accept the authority
of the Sassanids as Albania was cited in 262 in an epigraph inscribed
on a temple wall as belonging to those countries that were subordinate
to the Persian Empire. Of course this did not result in a Persian
military campaign in the region: Vatche I would have preferred to
remove himself from the rivalry and warfare between these great
empires, and for him the recognition of the Sassanid authority carried
the advantage of being able to preserve his territorial and political
68unity, as well as autonomy over internal affairs. This policy was
corrected during the decade beginning in 270, when Albania once
again adopted a pro-Roman policy of independence. This can be
explained as an attempt to protect Albania from its aggressive
neighbour, but later developments make it clear that the Albanian
64 ALIEV (K.) – Antichnaïa Kavkazskaïa Albaniia [Ancient Caucasian Albania] ...
op. cit., p. 181.
65 Moïsey Kalankatuglu cites the names of his successors as follows: Vatche I,
Urnair, Vachagan II, Mehravan, Satoy, Asay, Arsvagen, Vatche II and Vachagan III.
MOISEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of Albania] ... op. cit.,
Book 1, Chapter VIII, p. 22.
66 ALIEV (I.-G.) – Daglig Garabag: tarih, faktlar, hadiseler [Nagorno-Karabakh:
history, key facts and events] ... op. cit., p. 29.
67 BUNYADOV (Z.-M.) and YOUSIFOV (J.-B.) – Azerbaycan tarihi [History of
Azerbaijan] ... op. cit., p. 186.
68 Ibid., p. 181.
35kings preferred to return to their traditional policy and re-establish
their alliance with the Sassanids. Furthermore, a blood link was later
established between the two dynasties when the Albanian king Urnair
(313-371) married the sister of the Persian king. It is clear that the
Albanians did not adopt an expansionist policy, but rather sought to
maintain more or less stable borders. The rapprochement with the
Persians was no doubt intended to protect the country’s territory and
political unity. On two occasions it was directly placed under the
authority of the Sassanids. First, when Albanian king Vatche II (440-
463) decided to strive for political independence and briefly go to war
69with the Persians, he was forced to abdicate in 463. For 24 years
thereafter, Albania was governed by an Iranian Marzban until
Vachagan III (487-510) reached power. The second occasion followed
a period of stabilisation within the empire, when in 510 the Sassanids
abolished the local dynasties in Albania and Iberia and brought an end
to the Arsacid dynasty. Following the administrative reforms
introduced by Khosrov I, the territories of the empire were grouped
into four administrative units. Along with the whole of the South
Caucasus, Albania joined Atropatene (Atorpatkan), the northern
70administrative unit. Until 629 Albania was placed under the direct
administration of the Marzban, who governed from his seat in Gabala.
The arrival of the Mihranid dynasty, which was to remain at the head
of the Albanian state for almost 100 years, marked the beginning of a
new era.
1.2.2. Albania under the reign of Javanshir
Following the arrival of the Mihranid dynasty and despite
71Albania’s status as a Sassanid vassal , the Albanian princes quickly
69 Following the death of Yazdegerd II (438-457), Vatche II acted with political
independence and defied the authority of Peroz I (459-484). He forged alliances
with various tribes and went to war with the Sassanids in 460. But Peroz I merely
sent letters requesting his cooperation, while at the same time encouraging the Huns
to mount a military campaign against Albania. The intervention of the Huns in 462
led Vatche II to give up power and seek refuge in the village he had inherited from
his father. MOÏSEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of
Albania] ... op. cit., Book 1, Chapter XXI, pp. 45-46.
70 VELIKHANLI (N.) – Azerbaycan tarihi [History of Azerbaijan] … op. cit., p. 76.
71 th th
BUNYADOV (Z.) – Azerbaycan VII-IX esrlerde [Azerbaijan from 7 -9
centuries], Baku, Ed. Azerbaycan dovlet nechriyyati, 1989, p. 56.
36managed to re-establish their kingdom’s authority and moved the
capital to Barda in the province of Utik in 630. However, this was a
period full of uncertainty because of a fragile balance of power and
the emergence of a new power in the form of the Arabs. In 638 the
Sassanids lost their first battle against the Arab forces and suffered a
fatal blow when the Persian capital was seized at a time when the bulk
of their army was enduring a crushing defeat. The empire’s weakened
state, together with internal struggles, meant that the organisation of
an effective resistance was impossible. Iran was not a unified and
centralised state; it was made up of independent and semi-independent
principalities and provinces whose leaders had strengthened their
position to such an extent that they no longer paid heed to the
demands of the Shah. What is more, their petty rivalries prevented
them from fighting alongside one another and on occasion they would
lead their military forces back to their homeland without ever
participating in the battle. This scenario favoured those with
centrifugal tendencies who had begun to express their desire for
independence and assisted the Arab conquest. The Arabs had
conducted separate negotiations with certain princes, who signed
peace treaties under which they recognised the authority of the caliph
in return for the protection of their privileges and the maintenance of
72
law and order in their own land. In these circumstances, the fall of
the Sassanid empire was inevitable and eventually came about in 652.
The Albanian prince Javanshir (637-680) had fought alongside
the Iranians and had received an offer from the Shah Yazdegerd III
(632-651) of two golden spears, two golden shields and a flag for his
exploits on the battlefield. The Shah held him in high regard for his
bravery and intelligence. Javanshir had indeed fought the Arabs
alongside the Persians for seven years, but when he realised there was
73no hope of victory he and his armies retreated to Albania.
The disappearance of the Sassanid state paved the way for an
Albanian conquest. Upon his return, however, Javanshir sought to
exploit certain alliances and protect himself by courting the
Byzantines. In a letter sent to Constans II (641-668), he suggested
74mounting a common front. The Emperor was delighted to receive
such a proposal. He awarded the prince the title of first Patrician,
72
Ibid., p. 71.
73 MOISEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of Albania] ... op. cit.,
Book 2, Chapter XVIII, pp. 127-128.
74 Ibid., Book 2, Chapters XIX and XXI, pp. 129-133.
3775recognised him as king of the East and left Albania and all of its
wealth to be inherited by his descendants. Javanshir met the Byzantine
emperor for the first time in 654 to discuss shared interests and, on his
own initiative, sign a treaty with Theodorus Rshtuni, the Marzpan of
Armenia who also placed himself under the authority of Byzantium.
That same year, however, Rshtuni changed his mind and chose to
recognise the authority of the Arabs, who gave him control over most
of the South Caucasus. Meanwhile Javanshir pursued his pro-
Byzantine approach and met the emperor for a second time in 660;
Moïsey Kalankatuglu writes that he was always received by the
emperor with all the courtesy afforded to kings and that he governed
76
land from Iberia to Chola and from Chola to the river Arax. During
this period, he also resisted the invasion of the Khazars and in 662
77
even managed to secure a resounding victory over them. Two years
later, however, the Khazars mounted a fresh military campaign on a
large scale; Javanshir was resigned to signing a peace treaty and
78
married the daughter of the Khazar king. According to Moïsey
Kalankatuglu, the weakened position of Byzantium, whose emperor
had retreated to the inner depths of his empire, led the Albanian king
to reflect gravely on the future of his country. The balance of power
was no longer in favour of Byzantium and he was aware that the room
for manoeuvre in any alliance with it was limited. He could have
sought assistance from his Khazar ally but felt it was more rational to
79
negotiate with the caliph.
After the Umayyad dynasty took over as head of the caliphate,
Javanshir perceived a fresh window of opportunity, which he
immediately seized in 667 by making his first trip to Damascus, the
capital of the caliphate. There he agreed to recognise the caliph’s
authority and make a financial contribution which would protect the
Albanian population from the pillaging of the Arab armies. His first
visit was a success and he returned home having achieved his
objectives. The peace treaty allowed him to continue governing his
75 Ibid., Book 2, Chapter XXIII, p. 134.
76
Ibid., Book 2, Chapter XXV, p. 135-137.
77 Ibid., Book 2, Chapter XXVI, p. 137
78 th th
BUNYADOV (Z.) – Azerbaycan VII-IX esrlerde [Azerbaijan from 7 -9
centuries] ... op. cit., p. 76.
79
MOISEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of Albania] ... op. cit.,
Book 2, Chapter XXXII, p. 142.
3880country independently , authorised the free practice of Christianity
and recognised the status of the Mihranids as an Albanian dynasty. On
top of this, Javanshir had the extremely rare pleasure of enjoying
extraordinary popularity due to his struggle against the Arabs. This
popularity was such that not only did the caliph ask his people to
ensure the prince was welcomed in a manner that befitted his exploits,
81
but the inhabitants of the city also came out in droves to see him. As
a result of this rapprochement, however, Albania now had the status of
a dual vassal – of both the Arabs and the Khazars. Javanshir stayed on
as a respected head of state, and it was no coincidence that in 670 he
was invited back to see the caliph in Damascus and asked to play a
82
mediation role in the negotiations with Byzantium.
The prince’s diplomatic and strategic talents may have been
responsible for prolonging the reign of his dynasty, but his primary
achievement was in normalising relations with the Arabs, the
Byzantines and the Khazars, thereby protecting his people from
attack. His successor, Varaz-Trdat, was recognised by the caliph
Yazid I (680-683) as "governor of the eastern provinces and king of
83
Albania and Utik". He too tried to follow this extremely delicate and
selective political line but ultimately, according to Moïsey
84Kalankatuglu, resigned himself to being taxed by all three nations.
On the basis of the treaty signed in 685 between the Byzantine
emperor and the caliph, taxes received from the Caucasus were to be
85
shared evenly. The South Caucasus had officially become an area of
influence for the two great empires. This polarised political opinion in
Albania between those who favoured close ties with these empires and
those who favoured the Arab solution. Prince Varaz-Trdat complained
that he was being strangled by these taxes and suggested sending
representatives to see the caliph and the Khazars in order to negotiate
86for a just and peaceful solution. In 699 the prince himself was
80 Ibid., Book 2, Chapter XXXII, pp. 144-145.
81
Ibid., Book 2, Chapter XXX, p. 143.
82 th thBUNYADOV (Z.) – Azerbaycan VII-IX esrlerde [Azerbaijan from 7 -9
centuries] ... op. cit., p. 77.
83 Ibid., p. 100.
84
MOISEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of Albania] ... op. cit.,
Book 3, Chapter X, p. 198.
85 th th
BUNYADOV (Z.) – Azerbaycan VII-IX esrlerde [Azerbaijan from 7 -9
centuries] ... op. cit., p. 103.
86
MOISEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of Albania] … op. cit.,
Book 2, Chapter XXXXI, p. 164.
39accompanied by his two sons to Constantinople to renegotiate his
position with the Byzantine emperor. He was accused of complicity
87
with the Arabs, however, and imprisoned until 705. When he
returned to his land, he aligned himself with the caliphate, knowingly
displeasing the Byzantine emperor, and his military forces fought
alongside the Arabs in their battle against the Khazars.
1.2.3. The demise of Albanian political unity
The Arab invasion of the region in the eighth century brought
an end to the kingdom of Albania. It resulted in a new administrative
entity in the South Caucasus, sometimes called "Ermeniyye" or
88
"Azerbaydjan" ; this was later broken up at the beginning of the ninth
89century. The inclusion of these territories in a single administrative
entity has no political or geographic significance. Despite the
disappearance of their state structures, the Azerbaijanis continued to
resist the Arab authorities and the insurrection reached a new scale
around the middle of the eighth century. It was led by local feudalists
who were angry at being excluded from the affairs of the province and
90whose land had been confiscated and privileges withdrawn.
Of particular interest is the Khurramite movement, which was
distinct from other movements because of its nature and geographic
scope. It reached its apogee under the leadership of Babek (816-838),
who for 20 years fought against the caliphate and established his
authority over the whole of Azerbaijan. He inflicted heavy defeats on
the Arab armies, who lost more than 255,500 men, including three
commanders-in-chief who were killed and three more taken
91
prisoner. The success enjoyed by this movement seriously
undermined the caliphate’s power and was one of the reasons for its
weakened authority. The Khurramites were not seen merely to
87 VELIKHANLI (N.) – Azerbaycan tarihi [History of Azerbaijan] ... op. cit., p.
183.
88 IBN AL ASIR – Al-kamil fi-t-tarix [A complete history], Baku, Ed. Azerbaycan
SSR Elmler Akademiyasinin neshriyyati, 1959, p. 30.
89 th thBUNYADOV (Z.) – Azerbaycan VII-IX esrlerde [Azerbaijan from 7 -9
centuries] ... op. cit., p. 136.
90 BZ.-M.) et YOUSIFOV (J.-B.) – Azerbaycan tarihi [History of
Azerbaijan] ... op. cit., p. 266.
91 IBN AL ASIR – Al-kamil fi-t-tarix [A complete history] ... op. cit., p. 64.
40represent popular insurrection, but a veritable liberation war to free
92
the Azerbaijani people from foreign aggression.
The caliphate’s weakened position at the end of the ninth
century coincided with the emergence of new feudal states on the
periphery of the empire. The Azerbaijani territory saw the creation of
the Sajid state, established by the Turkish dynast Youssif, who was
granted ownership of the province of Azerbaijan for his efforts in
93
serving the caliph. Around 915, he strengthened his authority to
cover the whole of Azerbaijan.
th thThe Arab authors of the 9 and 10 centuries, in reference to
the occupation of Aran (the term they used to refer to Albania) by the
94
armies of the caliph, write that Artsak was part of Aran and was
ruled by representatives of the Mihranid dynasty. These men
continued to govern the Christian population in the mountainous part
of Karabakh, which had not converted to Islam. In 866, Grigor
Khamam, a descendant of Varaz-Trdat from the Mihranid dynasty,
95
"re-established the declining kingdom of Albania" , including the
Artsak region, and declared himself king of Albania. Although there is
little available information on him, historical works refer to him as
96"the great prince of the East" and "the prince of Albania". Under his
son’s reign, the unification of the Albanian provinces of Utik and
Sheki helped expand the borders of the kingdom, which survived until
th
the 11 century and included the western section of ancient Albania,
while in the eastern section the Shirvanshah dynasty had established
th thits kingdom. Between the 12 and 13 centuries, the Albanian
principality of Khachen quickly developed in the western territories of
Albania (Artsak province); prince Hasan-Jalal (1215-1261) is its most
97
famous representative.
92 th th
BUNYADOV (Z.) – Azerbaycan VII-IX esrlerde [Azerbaijan from 7 -9
centuries] ... op. cit., p. 32.
93
Ibid., p. 196-197.
94 GUEYBULLAYEV (G.) – Qarabag: etnik ve siyasi tarhine dair [Karabakh:
political and ethnic history] ... op. cit., p. 218.
95 Author’s translation. MOISEY KALANKATUGLU – Albaniya Tarihi [History of
Albania] ... op. cit., Book 3, Chapter XVIII, p. 213.
96 th thBUNYADOV (Z.) – Azerbaycan VII-IX esrlerde [Azerbaijan from 7 -9
centuries] ... op. cit., p. 181.
97 MAMEDOVA (F.) – Politiceskaiia istoria i istoriceskaiia geografiia Kavkazskoy
Albanii [The political history and historical geography of Caucasian
Albania] … op. cit., p. 105.
411.3. The Albanians and the formation of the Azerbaijani
people
According to Strabon, ancient Albania was populated by 26
tribes that made up the Albanian population and shared a language,
religion, culture and ethnic affinity. Historians are in no doubt that
they were indigenous. In Moïsey Kalankatuglu’s work, the Albanians
are depicted as an ethnically distinct people in comparison to
neighbouring populations.
The Albanians also had their own language and their own
alphabet, which was discovered in 1938 near Mingachevir. The
98
alphabet was based on the language of the Gargars and contained 52
characters. The language of the Udis who now live in Azerbaijan is an
Albanian dialect. We are told that in the first century BC the Albanian
king Grois sent Pompey a letter. Furthermore, writings from the third
century demonstrate that the Albanians had their own alphabet which
99
they used to draft decrees. According to Arab sources, Aran
(Albania) had its own people and its own language, implying that the
Albanians used their own language and form of writing prior to the
arrival of the Arabs. At the beginning of the eighth century, however,
the existing written and literary sources were systematically
destroyed. Arabic and Persian were used by a segment of the
population, in particular traders and landowners. During this period,
the Azerbaijani language of Turkic origin, however it was referred to,
replaced Albanian using the Arabic alphabet. It became the language
spoken by the population and struggled to free itself from Arabic and
Persian influence before eventually becoming the only language used
in the country. This explains why a large number of Turkic words can
be found in Moïsey Kalankatuglu’s work on the "History of Albania",
100as pointed out by historian Alisoybat Sumbatzade.
Among the tribes that made up the Albanian people, the Turks,
who were seen as aborigines, were a significant presence and had
98 ALIEV (I.-G.) – Daglig Garabag : tarih, faktlar, hadiseler [Nagorno-Karabakh:
history, key facts and events] ... op. cit., p. 22.
99 BUNYADOV (Z.-M.) et YOUSIFOV (J.-B.) – Azerbaycan tarihi [History of
Azerbaijan] ... op. cit., pp. 227-228.
100 SUMBATZADE (A.) – Azerbaydjantsi: etnokenez i formirovanie naroda, [The
Azerbaijanis: ethnogenesis and formation of their people], Baku, Ed. Elm, 1990, p.
89.
42101occupied the land for a long time. As well as the indigenous Turkic
tribes in Albania such as the Kaspis and Gugars, other ethnic groups
of Turkic origin – Goros, Guangars, Kipchaks, Bolgars, Pechenegs,
Chuls and Terters – had settled mainly on the plains at the beginning
102of the common era. Farida Mamedova, a historian who specialises
in Caucasian Albania, also writes that in the Karabakh region "since
ancient times, the Albanians lived alongside large groups of Turkic-
speaking tribes – Barsils, Savirs, Huns and Khazars – whose numbers
103
were swelled by other Turkic-speaking tribes". Worship of the
moon, which in antiquity constituted one of the first religious
practices of the Albanian people, was also one of the primary religions
practised by the Turkic people. The question at the heart of the debate
between Azeri historians is whether the ethnic groups of Turkic origin
104
made up a significant segment of the Albanian population.
According to certain historians who refer to research carried
out by the British archaeologist James Mellart, Central Asia was not
the only place inhabited by the Turkic people; it has been
demonstrated that they were also to be found in Asia Minor and on the
105
shores of the Caspian Sea. Erich Feigl writes of a triangle of Turkic
culture – the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and Asia Minor – which
progressively expanded throughout the region and whose influence
has enriched Mediterranean and European culture. Others suggest that
the Turks also have Aryan roots: that they are part of a branch that
separated from the Aryans around 2000 BC and later arrived in groups
in the Caucasus and Asia Minor. From an anthropological point of
view, the ancient Turks much more closely resembled the Aryans than
106
the Altaics.
Although there is no precise information available on the
ethnic and linguistic characteristics of the groups living on the
101
FEIGL (E.) – Ipek yolu uzerinde odlar yurdu: Azerbaycan tarihi [History of
Azerbaijan: land of fire on the silk route] ... op. cit., p. 31
102
GUEYBULLAYEV (G.) – Qarabag: etnik ve siyasi tarhine dair [Karabakh:
political and ethnic history] ... op. cit., p. 44.
103
MAMEDOVA (F.) – Le problème de l’ethnos albano-caucasien ... op. cit., p.
393.
104
GUEYBULLAYEV (G.) – Qarabag: etnik ve siyasi tarhine dair [Karabakh:
political and ethnic history] ... op. cit., pp. 46-55.
105
FEIGL (E.) – Ipek yolu uzerinde odlar yurdu: Azerbaycan tarihi [History of
Azerbaijan: land of fire on the silk route] ... op. cit., pp. 30-31.
106
OZTUNA (Y.) – Büyük tarih ansiklopedisi [The great encyclopaedia of history],
Ankara, Ed. Batesh, 1992, tome I, p. 48.
43