British writer Edward Lucas

No one would expect that I dislike Edward Lucas, a well-known British writer and security-policy expert. A number of his problematic articles on international security were republished at my personal website since 2013. At least one article per year. Countless times I cited his comments that appeared in the press.

Why am I grateful to Edward Lucas?

I acknowledge Edward Lucas for his sober-minded attitude towards Russia. I think that his critical attitude towards Vladimir Putin is correct. The West too much and too often appeased Kremlin. That is why this Eastern neighbor became so insolent, angry and aggressive, neglecting international rules. Summarizing Lucas’ insights from 2016, we could single out one major European problem: “for too long the West did not believe that Russia could attack, while Russia still does not believe that the West is ready for a serious defense”.

I am also grateful to Edward Lucas for his exclusive interview that he agreed to give for my personal website Slaptai.lt “I am not sure, that we will win this time” (2014). A pretext for that interview was Lithuanian translation of Lucas’ book “Deception. Spies, Lies and How Russia Dupes the West”.

Shortly, I still consider Edward Lucas to be an important, influential and sincere lawyer of the Baltic States. He defends us from the aggression of Moscow as well as from the indifference of the West. I think that his observations, comments and books opened the eyes of many politicians working in London and other European capitals. Politicians who still try justifying Kremlin’s actions from the point of view of morality or pragmatism.

About Armenia’s “progress”

However, our opinions diverged over evaluation of the Eastern Partnership project. More specifically, our diverging opinions are not because of failures of the Eastern Partnership, but because of our attitude towards Armenia. I have in mind one article by Edward Lucas which was published in May 16th and which was titled “A decade of the Eastern Partnership: A cause for reflection, not for joy”.

No doubt, Edward Lucas is right claiming that a decade of the Eastern Partnership is “the time for sober-minded reflection and not the time for congratulating ourselves”. The most important victories have not been achieved yet. This Partnership has a trail of failures, misunderstandings, treasons and many victims.

Of course, drawing members of the Partnership towards the EU standards is correct tactics. However, good intentions are not enough. There is still a need for willpower, persistence, and finally – a strong fist. It is a shame that spoiled, sleepy and bureaucratic Europe did not have will nor determination to parry Kremlin’s attacks – to defend countries that were invited to the “Eastern Partnership” initiative. Metaphorically speaking, Europe betrayed them: countries were lured and later, when Russia started to shoot, they were left alone to defend from deceptions of Vladimir Putin’s team. The EU pretended they forgot that Russia favors power over talks.

Naive Eurocrats also mistakenly thought that the “Eastern Partnership” is beneficial to Russia because apparently Kremlin should be pleased by prospering neighboring countries. Primitive Eurocrats did not think of the worst: Vladimir Putin needs weak, barely breathing neighbors as only then they can be influenced.

I agree with such Lucas’ insights. However, I was confused by the following idea: “a modest progress achieved by domestic efforts can be noted in Armenia”.

Is Armenia really a progressive state? Sure, Serzh Sargsyan was substituted by Nikol Pashinyan, but Yerevan still do not carry out its most important and relevant demand from the West – to withdraw its occupying troops from Nagorno-Karabakh which belongs to Azerbaijan. Moreover, according to statements of Armenian diplomat Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, the 102th Russian military base near Gyumri city will remain there till 2044.

Return Nagorno-Karabakh first

So, where is this so-called Armenia’s progress if it does not uphold rules of international game and attacks its neighbors like Russia does? How does Brussels and Strasburg imagine pulling Armenia towards standards of the EU? Together with the Russian troops? Is that not an insult to internationally honorable Belarus, Georgia and Azerbaijan to talk about the slightest Armenia’s progress?

Unlike Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and Azerbaijan did not occupy a single foot of other countries’ land. In my opinion, this is very important. This should be the main condition while inviting countries to the family of Eastern Partnership. First of all, return your neighbor everything you illegally took from him and only then ask for invitation. Not the other way. Until Armenia has not returned Nagorno-Karabakh to the rightful owner, I see invitation of Armenia to Europe to be the biggest and the most stupid European misunderstanding. While there is no strict distinction between internationally honorable and aggressive countries, we only further incite military conflicts.

To make these nuances clear, I wrote a letter to Edward Lucas asking for some clarifications.

Monument to Azerbaijan’s dead. Qazax cemetery. Slaptai.lt photo

Here follow some excerpts from my letter. “Strangely enough, the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh was not mentioned in your text at all. I guess you don’t mind Armenian occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijanian territory. Why you don’t blame Yerevan for escalating an armed conflict in Caucasus region? Do you think that the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh does not belong to Azerbaijan? Don’t you know that NATO and the EU support territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh? Do you think it’s not important that almost one million Azerbaijanis cannot return to their homeland? Are you based by religion, that Armenia is a Christian country and is some what closer to your heart than Muslim Azerbaijan? Aren’t you familiar with the real causes of Azerbaijan – Armenia conflict? Do you think that this topic is not important or relevant? Don’t you know that Armenia still has a Russian military base present and it’s not going anywhere. Is dragging of Armenia, together with Russian soldiers located in Gyumri city, towards the EU can be just a simple political misunderstanding?”

Edward Lucas’ arguments

Edward Lucas answered with the following: “I am sorry you didn’t like the article. I think you should be careful about imputing bad faith though. Just because I don’t write about something doesn’t mean I have a view one way or the other.  These articles are strictly space-limited (600 words) so I can’t include everything. However, I do think that the fact that the Azeri authorities have banned ticket applications from fans who have surnames ending in -yan or -ian is a pity, as is the fact that a British-Armenian football player is not able to travel to Baku because he won’t be safe there.

The way Azerbaijan behaves in the Council of Europe is appalling — if you haven’t read the two – part “Caviar Diplomacy” report I strongly recommend it. That doesn’t mean that Armenia was or is right in the NGK dispute. But I would be cautious about assuming that this is a story with a simple division between good and evil”.

Armenian surnames – not the strongest argument

I am grateful to Edward Lucas for his answer. However, after reading his explanations, new questions came into mind. For example, it’s doubtful that Azerbaijanian government would ban sports fans from entering the country only because of their Armenian surnames. Official Baku has bad experience on that matter: some of the politicians, athletes or journalists that come to Azerbaijan have tendency to slander this hospitable country later. Imagine that: they were greeted improperly, they were threatened, secret services tried to recruit them, etc. They slander Azerbaijan not because they suffered some inhospitalities, but because such was their real mission: to visit Azerbaijan just for few hours and tell imaginary stories later. There were plenty of cases when someone tried to enter Azerbaijan with some mission given by Armenian secret services or Armenian diaspora. Has Edward Lucas never heard of that?

I also tend to believe that Edward Lucas is wrong about appalling behavior of Azerbaijan in the Council of Europe. I would like to remind him that not only the two-part “Caviar Diplomacy” report is available publicly. Preceding the “Caviar Diplomacy” there was yet another published report about behavior of Armenian representatives.

Arguments of ESISC cannot be concealed

The unfavorable report for Yerevan was issued not by Azerbaijan or Turkey but by European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. It’s field of interest is dangers to the western civilization. This intelligence organization was founded in Brussels, 2012.

The European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center (ESISC)

Namely ESISC, in its official website www.esisc.org, identified a committed and biased group of members of the European Parliament which are supported by lobbyists of Armenian diaspora and which have a goal – to do serious impact on European countries while interacting with Central and Eastern European countries. Azerbaijan is one of the targets of these MEPs. According to ESISC analysts, this group has a number of measures that secretly puts a huge pressure on Azerbaijan in regard of international opinion. According to authors of this ESISC report, large, influential, anti-Azerbaijanian, and at the same time pro-Armenian, lobbyist group of MEPs formed in 2012.

This ESISC report is not confidential and can easily be found. It lists secret connections of The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe with foreign Armenian diaspora, Armenian officials and George Soros’ fund. Their goal was to make Nagorno-Karabakh a territory of Armenia by legal means. Website Slaptai.lt wrote about it in September, 2017.

Thus, it is always strange when politicians, journalists and observers welcome only the “Caviar Diplomacy” and conceal the arguments of ESISC.

2019.05.28; 10:00

Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Slaptai.lt nuotr.

On February 18th, 2019, Hyperallergic, a digital outlet based in Brooklyn (New York), had published a long essay glorifying, revering the Armenian religious architecture and culture in the ancient land of Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. The authors of this long and misleading publication, Sarah Pickman and Simon Maghakyan have unleashed a barrage of slander, as well as spitted numerous academically shaped insults against Government of Azerbaijan.

Pickman and Maghakyan lead the reader into an abyss of misinformation, attempt to destroy and tarnish the well known historical facts about Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and its ancient history. With their misleading citations and science fiction photos throughout the article, the two authors aim to achieve international notoriety and prestige at the cost of Azerbaijan’s millenary culture; openly attacking and attempting to cover with an Armenian mantle the rich heritage of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is absolutely an act of bigotry, chauvinism and depicts once again the harmful agenda orchestrated by U. S. based Armenian interest groups whose only purpose is to destroy global interfaith dialogue, denigrate multiculturalism and promote hostility in the Caucasus region, instead of peace and prosperity.

Pickman’s appalling remarks illustrate an insidious political offensive and information warfare that is clearly orchestrated by Yerevan’s top officials, while Armenia commemorates three decades of being an aggressor state by occupying over twenty percent of the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan and daily violating the ceasefire across the borderline with Nakhchivan and along the seven surrounding districts of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia’s domestic state of affairs are in dire situation: economic stagnation, high level of unemployment and increased levels of grey economy as well as a malnourished Armed Forces. The media coverage of all these determinant nation building factors would bring more progress to every Armenian citizen and regional progress, rather than contaminate digital newspapers with manipulated facts and photos, as well as Armenian ugly propaganda machine artifacts, fake news and grossly unreliable information.   

It is evident that Armenia’s fascist regime at home and inflammatory Armenian Diasporas abroad have constantly issued offensive press releases and abhorrent remarks against the hardworking and suffering nation of Azerbaijan.  It is non-sense to addressing and responding to every manipulated source in the so called tedious and unscrupulous research presented in Pickman’s essay (as it certainly becomes a dreary read), it is unfair for the reader to address matters that have never happened throughout ancient and modern history of Julfa and Nakhchivan – Azerbaijan; the two authors even write incorrectly, misinforming the public opinion, all names of locations in the territory of Azerbaijan.

Simon Maghakyan and other sources have proved and confirmed that during the Soviet Union period, all grave stones were carried by Armenian nationals from Julfa region of Azerbaijan to Armenia.  The perfect examples are the Grave stones placed in the yard of Yerevan Brandy Factory and in Yerevan State History Museum.

An original Julfa khachkar (above) is one of a dozen surviving grave stones that were removed from Nakhchivan during or before the Soviet Union era, displayed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Armenia! exhibit (September 22, 2018-January 13, 2019), on a loan deal from Armenia’s Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

As a Ph. D. degree candidate at Yale University, Pickman should make an fairly scientific effort to write an essay about the current situation of Azerbaijan’s religious, cultural, grave stones and ancient historical monuments in the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan that have been under the occupation of Armenian Armed Forces for over thirty years and are fully destroyed, including the districts of Agdam, Kalbajar, Lachin, Qubadli, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Fuzuli.  Perhaps a research article on Sarsang Reservoir that is under the Armenian Control and is an imminent threat to over 450 thousand Azerbaijani citizens living in the regions nearby Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh, is truly among pressing matters that require a global attention, instead of pursuing American ambassador Morgenthau’s tarnished legacy during World War I. 

2019.03.18; 02:30

By Saulius Kizelavičius

In times of geopolitical cold war every larger country or alliance aims to increasetheir zones of influence. All possible measures are used, starting with military and economic, ending with cultural and religious.

Sometimes it is hard to comprehend why the world‘s leading powers show interest in and invest in some country, which has no geographical relation whatsoever. However, influence is a very important thing and it does not matter if there is a big difference in geographical location, religion, culture or even economy. All leading powers and alliances try to influence other countries in Africa or South America.

It would be the easiest way to compare all these processesto expansion of retail chains in Lithuania. Sometimes Maxima opens a supermarket in a vicinity of another one – to ensure that IKI or Norfa would not take that place. It does not really matter that this supermarket will not be very profitable; however, it will be like an outpost, an obstacle for competitors’ influence.

Leaving all these introductions, let us proceed to the main topic of this article. What games do the European Commission, members of the European Parliament and politicians and diplomats of the US play with Armenia and Azerbaijan? What obstructs them from handling Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? Who profits from that the most?

In spring 2013, David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, visited Moscow. President of Russia Vladimir Putin gave Cameron a bottle of 42 years old Armenian cognac, reminding him, that in 1945, in Yalta, during the meeting of the Allies, a similar bottle of cognac has been given by Joseph Stalin to the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill.

This example is very symbolic. The President of Russia who repeatedly shows respect to such historical figures as Ivan the Terrible, Joseph Stalin, and who often regretfully remembers the collapse of the Soviet Union, gives to his foreign guest a thing, which his country, his empire treats as the most precious, thus showing that Armenia is a part of his empire.

Imagine if the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom would present to his guests a box of Indian tea, thus reminding the times when India wasa colony of England and its rulers often presented such gifts to the honorable guests from other countries. If diplomats from the United Kingdom would allow such mistake to pass, they would make a huge and unforgivable mistake with some global repercussions. India would issue a note, etc.

In the aforementioned case of Putin’s cognac nothing happened. There was no global outrage and there was no reaction from Armenia. A conclusion can be made that, for example, Armenia has a certain place in Vladimir Putin’s created geopolitical concept of “the Russian world”, or, for example, that Armenian cognac has impact on Russian politics and diplomacy by making Russians, and sometimes influential foreign diplomats or politicians, to lose their heads.

From the first sight it would seem that everything is clear anddiplomatic demagogy cannot exist. Here are some facts: in 1993 the United Nations adopted resolutions Nr. 822, 853, 874 and 884 which claim that Armenians occupied Azerbaijani lands and waged unjustified war against Azerbaijan and its territorial integrity. The UN recognized “Nagorno-Karabakh” as a territory of Azerbaijan.

Everything would be different without this“cognac democracy”. It makes leaders and politicians lose their minds and it serves twisted imperialistic policies of Russia. It is now more than 20 years since Armenia ripped a large chunk of Azerbaijan’s territory. Armenia departs from decisions of the UN and pours more fuel to the already hot atmosphere in South Caucasus region. Tens of thousands killed. More than one million Azerbaijanis can not return to their land. They are refugees for more than two decades.

This enmity is advantageous not only for Russian imperialists, but also for some politicians of the European Union. If global organizations would have been more principled and unbiased, a verdict would have already been passed. Armenia would have been asked to withdraw its soldiers from the foreign territory in a given period of time or, in the worst case scenario, economically and militaristically stronger Azerbaijan could use its brave soldiers to push the aggressor out of its land, without any foreign intervention.

We say“the worst case”because it would mean more victims, mothers would lose their sons, wives–their husbands, and stray bullets would take away more than one civilian life. It would remind a painful but necessary medical surgery which would result peace – region, known by its astounding beauty and plentiful natural resources, would be able to evolve and go forward.

Unfortunately, at the moment all three countries are suffering – Azerbaijan and Georgia feel pain for illegally taken territories from them and their people turned refugees, whereas Armenia probably also feels no joy inthis dishonest administrationof foreign territory, especially when Armenia is not a sole independent governor of Nagorno-Karabakh.

It reminds of old Soviet animated show, in which Cheburashka wants to help Gena the Crocodile by taking his heavy bag, but only if the Crocodile agrees to carry both Cheburashka and the bag on its back. In reality Nagorno-Karabakh, along with Abkhazia, Transnistria, South Ossetia, Donetsk and Lugansk “Peoples’ Republics” are governed by Russia, including Armenia itself as its colony.

All because of the cognac diplomacy, which brings only mist and obscurity. NATO and the USA cannot make a full impact on this region and not because it would open another conflict with Russia (Russia has military bases in Armenia) but because of large and powerful Armenian diaspora in the US which has similar power as other powerful American diaspora. And when Obama became president, Armenia hoped to make its occupation of Azerbaijani territories legal.

Another important thing is the experience of NATO when interests of its two members – Greece and Turkey clashed. Any major move from NATO towards disagreement of Armenia and Azerbaijan would mean a renewalof conflict between Turkey and Greece, and the latter would probably take Armenian side.

The European Union plays many games at the same time. The EU does not want to lose influence over Armenia so it does not treat Armeniaas aggressor nor does it impose any economic sanctions. On the contrary – the EU at all costs tries to attract Armenia into its sphere of influence. At the same time political architects of the EU are busy attracting Azerbaijan as well, which could be a solid alternative for a monopoly of Russian gas in Europe.

Thus many bureaucrats of the European Commission and members of the European Parliament often visit Yerevan where they are treated that drink, which Joseph Stalin used to check Winston Churchill’s vigilance. However,Churchill was not only a professional politician, but also a professional alcohol consumer. A taste of good, brandished and strong drink did not impress him and he denounced expansion of the Soviet empire, occupation of the Baltics and forced socialism in the Eastern Europe.

Unfortunately, such personas intoxicated with Armenian-Russian diplomacy can be found in Lithuania as well. In previous Seimas a “Parliamentary group of friendship with Nagorno-Karabakh” was established and initiated by Algis Kašėta and Dalia Kuodytė, active members of The Liberal Movement, and which encompassed many parliamentarians from different fractions, thirsty for cognac of Armenian diplomacy. Leader of this political party Eligijus Masiulis was caught taking a bribe – a large sum of money was hidden in a box of expensive liquor.

The group was invited to Yerevan, but somehow, as if by accident, they all ended up in Nagorno-Karabakh. This visit was not coordinated with a legitimate sovereign of the territory – Republic of Azerbaijan. For Azerbaijan it was like a spit to the face. Later Azerbaijani Community in Lithuaniaasked members of our parliament, if they are also planning to establish a “Parliamentary group of friendship with Taliban”? There was no answer.

To sum up, we could say that while Western countries drink diplomatic cognac and play diplomatic poker, Russia is getting stronger and increases its influence around the globe. Russia has goals; it does not denounce its Tsardom politics or its totalitarian legacy of the Soviet Empire. Russia stays on the road of cruelty and ignorance carved by Tsar Ivan the Terrible. This country has not apologized to its former exploited colonies. Russia retained as much of them as it could. It tries to influencethose who managed to escape by using various informational, economic, cultural and military means, waiting for a good opportunity to “take them back” as it “took back” Crimea.

Russia can only be stopped by honest and hard politics of Western countries. One of the aspects of such politics should be following the resolutions of the United Nations.

In conclusion, let us wish Azerbaijan success in taking back its historical lands. Everything is possible, as an example of Lithuania shows. In the 20th century it was torn from all sides, but now it took back mostof its precious lands, including capital Vilnius and port city Klaipėda.

And let us wish Armenia to say goodbye to things that do not belong to it. With a release of Nagorno-Karabakh it could receive even more valuable thing – freedom and the real independence.

2017.10.25

Svante Cornell, Research Director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and co-founder of the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy, published an article in “The American Interest” called “The Raucous Caucasus” (May 10, 2017) where he reminded that Armenia had long tried to balance its reliance on Russia for security (it had accepted a Russian security umbrella to safeguard its conquest of Nagorno-Karabakh) with its hopes of growing closer to the West.

As a result, there was a deep economic downturn and Armenia accumulated a huge debt to Russia, which Moscow was more than happy to “forgive” in exchange for controlling stakes in the strategic assets of Armenia’s economy. Yerevan sought to develop what positive relations it could with the United States and especially the European Union (in 2010, it began to negotiate an Association Agreement, including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA)), but when Moscow soured on the EU, Yerevan’s policy became untenable. And in September 2013, President Serzh Sargsyan announced that Armenia would jettison the EU agreement for membership in the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

His decision Armenian president spoke in Moscow, following a meeting with Putin; he had consulted neither his government nor his parliament. Similarly, Putin had not deigned to consult with the leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan, the other members of the EEU.

Such circumstances obviously had an impact on Armenia’s domestic policies related to democracy and human rights – Moscow intends to make Armenia its vassal by “delegating” its own style of internal organization, where all decisions are made by one person, what can be seen in a regime of the new Russia. Moscow’s control of Armenia extended, although, according to S. Cornell, that submission didn’t have the expected benefits, however: when major fighting broke out in April 2016 between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, rather than coming to Yerevan’s defense, Moscow assumed a rather neutral stance, hoping to achieve a total domination over all Caucasus region.

Avetik Ishkhanyan, President of the Helsinki Committee of Armenia, in his programme “Armenian Security Improvement Policy” and in report “Situation of Human Rights in Armenia: Systemic Problems in the Light of Old and New Constitutions” (http://www.lragir.am/index/rus/0/right/view/46591) starts with a statement that usually citizen rights are threatened by executive authority, especially its power structures, and justice, by definition, is reconstructed by judicial system. In case of Armenia, all governmental structures are ruled by and obey commands of one single person – the president can punish one of his own, more specifically, he can issue a command to punish a subordinate from his own circle, and at the same time, people who are part of this circle, especially in power structures, are the main foundation of Armenian government.

Armenia has no honest trials and one of the indirect proofs supporting this claim is that a number of acquittals is as low as 2 percent, also almost all requests from investigators to arrest suspects are granted. The report of 2002-2013 by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture addresses the problem of regular tortures in some penitentiary institutions.

Thus Armenian people are protected not by law but by their official status and financial situation. These two powers usually “overlap” as most of the deputies and government ministers are businessmen as well. Law officers and their family members often get into scandals related to criminal activities, but, as a rule of thumb, they often come out unpunished. Authors of the report call this an impunity or selective justice. In Armenia, the authority means not only governance but also wealth and profitable business which needs to be preserved by all means necessary, sometimes even illegally.

Such fusion of business and authority is related to constant electoral fraud and absence of separation of power principle, and it confirms that human rights violations are already systematic. In everyday life people are indifferent to such state if it does not apply to them personally or violations do not grow to such proportions as in March 2008, when 10 people were killed and 250 injured during the clash between police and protesters. The guilty was not found and no one was punished. According to authors of the report, the worst situation is of socially unprotected part of society: they do not get basic medical aid; labour law is no use for them (they work like slaves, without any contracts, days-off or leave). Absence of separation of power principle allows businessmen=officials, who pursue maximum profit, get out of control; there are no independent labour unions; and the most influential political parties almost never talk about social justice.

Instead, in 2013, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan organized a referendum (December 6, 2015) which proposed some constitutional amendments that would lead country towards parliamentary system. According to authors of “Situation of Human Rights in Armenia: Systemic Problems in the Light of Old and New Constitutions”, the main reason of these amendments were to help ruling party (related to President) to stay in power – Article 50 of the old constitution restricted the same person to be reelected as Armenian President two times in a row. The Parliament, however, can be ruled by the same political party (it appoints the Prime Minister) for the unlimited duration. 

Article 89 of the new Constitution requires a mandatory formation of stable (about 60 percent) parliamentary majority after elections. Having in mind what was said, it can be presumed, that ruling Republican Party would pursue this “stable majority” at all costs. It was confirmed during Referendum on constitutional amendments, when many blatant violations were witnessed: voter bribery, voter impersonation, forgery of the electoral list, offering voters a “ride” to constituency, putting pressure on and threatening election observers and journalists.

On April 2, 2017, for the first time elections were held according to party list system (almost 61 percent of Armenian nationals attended the elections). A group of civil activists from “Citizen Observer” informed about more than 100 cases of malfunctioning fingerprint registration devices, and more than 150 cases of procedure irregularities (for example, ballots were submitted to ballot boxes by members of Electoral commission). Sisak Gabrielian, a correspondent for the radio station “Svoboda”, was assaulted in Yerevan after he witnessed “good” voters receiving money in headquarters of Akop Beglaryan, candidate of Republican Party). The Pro-President Republican Party won the elections with 46 percent of votes. A new president will be appointed by this political party which now dominates the Parliament.

Authors of this report pessimistically summarizes, that by surrendering its ambitions for the EU membership Armenia distances itself even further from civilized human rights standards. After regaining independence in 1990, Armenia declared loyalty for democracy – with joining the United Nations (UN) it ratified The European Convention on Human Rights. In 2001 Armenia became a full member of the council of Europe; it had satisfied its obligation to establish an independent ombudsman to investigate human rights violations; verdicts of the European Court of Human Rights became valid. Further movement towards the EU membership could have had a dissuasive effect as it could be seen from the historical example of the Baltic States.

Unfortunately, the desire for power at any price, together with a very specific geopolitical situation of the country, left the need of citizens’ rights only on a level of declarations. The decision to join Russian-ruled EES in 2013 distanced Armenia from these standards even further.

Worsening human rights situation was also noted by members of Policy Forum Armenia which was hosted in Washington, on October 20, 2016. Presentations were made by representatives of Armenian Helsinki Committee, “Transparency International”, “Human Rights Watch”, National Endowment for Democracy fund, American Lawyers Association and George Washington University Law School. Once again as the main causes of this situation were indicated Armenian constitutional system that allows accumulation of power in the hands of one man, already consistent corruption, amalgamation of business and political elite, absence of independent judicial system, and finally – strong dependence on authoritarian Russia.

David Grigoryan, one of the cofounders of “Policy Forum Armenia”, noted, that Armenia is one of the leading countries worldwide according to a relative number of policemen (per capita). In such structure, where signs of police state can be seen, the system of government shows more and more confidence and starts displaying inadequate power against its citizens, what exactly happened during protests in July, 2016.

Jane Buchanan, Associate Director of the Europe and Central Asia Division at Human Rights Watch, noticed increase of the so-called Robin Hood effect, when citizens, disappointed with current economic and social conditions, start sympathizing with those who break the law.

2017.07.20; 06:30

Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is an exclave of the Azerbaijan Republic. This wonderfully atmospheric region borders Turkey to the northwest, Armenia to the north and east, and Iran to the south. The isolation of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic from the rest of the country is dating only from 1924, when Stalin transferred the province of Zangazur to Armenian control.

In result of the Daglig/Nagorno Garabagh/Karabagh (the Azeri province occupied by Armenia) conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Armenian forces bombed Nakhchivan but never were able to invade, taking only the village of Karki. The capital of the Autonomous Republic is Nakhchivan city and the exclave has an area of 5,500 sq. km with a population around 500.000. Nearly 75% of the territory is located at a height of 1,000m and above – Nakhchivan is known for its majestic mountains. 

The city of Nakhchivan was mentioned firstly in Ptolemaios’s “Geography” as Naksuana and said to be established in 4400 A.D.  Being involved in empires, sultanate, and khanate the name of Nakhchivan was altered many times. Some of these names are: Nakshi jahan (“The Beauty of the World”), Nuh chikhan (the place where Prophet Noah landed), and etc. The word Nakhchivan was differently presented in early sources: Naksuana in Greek, Nakhch in Pehlevi, Nakhchuan in Arabic. Despite of so many ideas were put forward by different researchers about the name of Nakhchivan the name of area is closely associated with Prophet Noah and Legend of World Flooding.

The existence of the legend of Noah in holy Koran and Bible the epics Gilgamush and Gamigaya rock writings at the nearby of worship places which is located on the highest peak of the Lesser Caucasus mountains, Gapijig peak, 3907 meter from the sea level (located in the area of Ordubad of Nakhchivan) is quiet relevant to reality. Prophet Noah’s grave is also found in Nakhchivan city and a Complex is restored to this honor.

The Nakhchivan city is located on the crossroads of ancient trade routes. In The Early Middle Ages, the links between Nakhchivan and the countries of Asia Minor, Middle East and Transcaucasia became especially close. The city’s wealth and geopolitical position became the reason for frequent raids from neighboring countries. In the middle of the 1st century AD the city was sacked and destroyed by the Byzantine Emperor Iraclion the 2nd; it was frequently sacked during the Mongol raids; it became a permanent conflict of interest between Byzantine and Arab Caliphate.

In all times Nakhchivan was one of the key cities of different states – the ruling dynasties of Sadjids, Salarids, the capital of the Azerbaijan State of Atabey Eldegiz. It eventually became an independent Khanate in the 18th century and was integrated to Russia in the 19th century. In 1991, as the USSR started to collapse, Nakhchivan declared independence for Azerbaijan, second only to Lithuania. Today as an Autonomous Republic within Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan has its own parliament (supreme assembly) and Cabinet of Ministers and Chairman of Supreme Assembly is the highest position.

The city also enjoyed high level of trade and was famous for artists and craftsmen: weavers, jewelers and glass blowers. However, the city was particularly famous for its architects of the famous school of Nakhchivani architecture. French travelers Pierre Chardine and Dubois de Monpierre and British traveler Porter noted that this was a splendid city with well-preserved architectural monuments of the antiquity. Turkish traveler Evliya Chelebi was enchanted by the city’s baths with the water pools daily scattered with rose petals.

In present Nakhchivan, close attention is paid to the development science and education. There are 2 Universities, a branch of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences, branch of Teacher’s Institute. Schools are not set aside, too – old schools are being restored along with building of new ones – e.g. large, finely equipped schools. The city houses the Palace of Culture, Drama Theatre, Puppet Theater, Carpets Museum, and Historical Museum etc. The finely equipped Olympic Sport Complex has been built. Economy is developing rapidly, new plants, factories and enterprises are set up and many jobs are created.

The Tourism Potential of Nakhchivan is very high offering cultural heritage, historical, botanical, bird watching, ecological, health, and resort etc opportunities to many local and International travelers throughout the year. The most common way to reach Nakhchivan for International travelers is via air from Istanbul. Turkish Airlines have weekly 5-6 flights to and from Nakhchivan. Azerbaijan Airlines (AZAL) also operates at least 4 scheduled flights daily from Baku. You can also fly to Nakhchivan from Moscow, Russia and land pass from Julfa, (near Tabriz) Iran and Igdir, Eastern Turkey.

Nakhchivan offers rich architectural heritage to the world as the Mausoleum of Momine Khatun (12th century), the tomb of Yusuf Kuseyir (13th century), Garabaglar mausoleum with 2 minarets (13th century), Alinja Khanegah (12-13th centuries), Asabu Kahf (as stated in Holy Koran), Aza Bridge (16th century), Gulustan Tomb (13th century), Imamzade Complex (16th century), Alinja castle, the ruins of the city of Gilan etc.

Nakhchivan has also an ancient health history. Owing to the widespread natural medicine plants different illnesses could have been treated and this experience has been alive through the generations. Duzdag Physiotherapy center located at salt caves is an important medical center specialized in treatment of asthma and bronchial system illnesses. The Daridagh Balneological (arsenic water) Hospital is situated in the arsenic water bed area at 8 km distance from the city of Julfa. It was established on the basis of the mineral water bed in 1978. With the help of the Daridagh arsenic mineral water different heart diseases, support-action organs peripheric nerve system, venereal diseases, women’s diseases, anemia and other diseases are treated in this hospital. The people from different corners of the world visiting these treatment objects are healed very soon. 

The Nakhchivan is promoting these sites as a potential source of historical/cultural and ecological tourism.

To conclude, Nakhchivan is the homeland of many famous political and military leaders, scientists, statesmen, writers, philologists and etc. The national leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev was born in Nakhchivan too. Nakhchivan is a shockingly well-to-do, progressive, and proud corner of the nation obsessed with local, organic produce, alternative medicines, health and spirituality tourism, all things ecological, and universal internet access.

2017.01.15; 04:25

The Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan is located in the southwest corner of the Lower Caucasus. It is a mountainous terrain and stands at 600 to 1000 meters above sea level.

amerikietisThe Climate of Nakhchivan is mostly continental and dry; it is characterized by cold winters while summer seasons are hot and dry.  This landlocked territory of Azerbaijan has a border of 246 km long with Armenia that rings Nakhchivan from the north to the southern border where it connects with the Iranian border that stretches for 204 km from the south towards the northwest, and then Turkey shares a narrow border of 11km wide.  The prosperous autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan has a population of 390.000 and its territory is only 5500 square kilometers.

Some of the highest peaks in Nakhchivan exceed the 3,000 meters (Ishikhli mountain is 3,552 m), although 1,500-2,500 m are more common. Highland ranges of Zangazur and Daralayaz rise along the boundary of Nakhchivan. The peak of the Zangazur range – Kaputjukh Mountain is 3,904 meters; it is the tallest non-volcanic point of the Trans-Caucasian highlands. The southern foot of the Zangazur range is washed by the Araz River which is over 1.072 km long and stretches in Azerbaijan, Iran, Armenia and Turkey. The Talysh Mountains have a medium height; their highest point is Kyumyurkey with 2,477 meters.  The most north-eastern slopes of these mountains are in Azerbaijan. They are divided into three parallel chains by valleys and hollows. The main river bed creates the boundary of Azerbaijan and Iran so the Talysh slopes entirely lie on Iranian territory.

Azerbaijan is situated on the southeastern part of the Caucasus, which stretches for more than 800 km from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea. Lying at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the country has a unique geographical position, and retains its significance for world economic and cultural links.

Nakhchivan is one of the smallest regions in the nation of Heydar Aliyev, its founding leader, however it is almost impossible to find a similar place in the world with almost the same territorial size that would contribute as much to human history as this region of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has been a very strong country in almost every period of its history, particularly in the XII century. The name ‘Nakhchivan’ derives from Noah-Jahan. It is believed that the name of the city of Nakhchivan is related to Prophet Noah. According to archaeological sources, this area has the traces of the big floods in antiquity that were described in the Koran and the Bible.

More than half of the territory of Azerbaijan is mountainous, to the north is the Greater Caucasus with the highest peak: Bazardyuzy, 4,466 meters (its south-eastern part reaches Azerbaijan), to the southwest is the massive Trans-Caucasian upland extending to Armenia and Georgia, bordered by the Lower Caucasus, and to the south there are the Talysh Mountains. These highly striking territorial surfaces, along with geographical particularities, profoundly determine the diversity and abundances of its unique nature, encompassing the features of the Caucasus and Middle Asia region.

In 1920, due to the Bolshevik transfer of Azerbaijan’s Zangazur province to Armenia, the territory of Nakhchivan was separated from the mainland of Azerbaijan.

Under the rule of the Soviet Union, Nakhchivan had access to a railway that provided a connection with the mainland of Azerbaijan by using a corridor of the former Azeri region of Mehri. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Armenian Armed Forces attacked Azeri lands and occupied seven more regions and at this time the railway connecting the mainland of Azerbaijan was cut off by Armenia. Since 1991, Nakhchivan does not have any infrastructure connection with the mainland due to the blockade imposed by Armenia. The only way to visit the other regions of Azerbaijan is by plane using the air corridor through Iran and the road on Iranian territory.  Every day there are six scheduled flights that travel from Nakhchivan to Baku and in the past there have been direct flights, weekly, to Moscow and Istanbul, Turkey.

Peter Tase is a contributor, freelance journalist and a research scholar of International Affairs, Paraguayan Studies, Middle East Studies and Latin American Affairs, located in the United States.  Educated at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and Marquette University Les Aspin Center for Government; Tase is the author of “Simultaneous Dictionary in Five Languages: Guarani, English, Italian, Albanian and Spanish” and “El Dr. FEDERICO FRANCO y Su Mandato Presidencial en la Historia del Paraguay.” He’s a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy News. His personal website is www.petertase.com

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In foto: Peter Tase.

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2014.11.04; 20:11