Gintaras Visockas. Slaptai.lt foto

Tomorrow is February 16th. It is a very important holiday for Lithuania. During these days, in our press, on television, on radio, there are many comments about February 16, 1918. This day is given to history, to politics.

However, while welcoming the increased interest in history, I must admit that Lithuania is unfortunately not one of the countries where historical topics are examined very objectively, honestly. There are many silenced moments and biased approaches. There are even nagged historians in Lithuania, because instead of being silent, they draw unpleasant, uncomfortable facts in public.

So let me also say a word for the reflection on February 16th. Unfortunately, not very happy. It is common to have fun and be proud during the holidays. But why should I be overwhelmed with joy, if not so much of it is around?

We still do not have monographs on dushanskis, raslans and zimanas

(Jewish collaborators of the Soviet regime participating in the killing and deportation of Lithuanians – T.P. )

First of all, it is striking how Lithuania deals with topics that are unpleasant for the Jewish community. It simply does not. It is a taboo. Deadly silence. Everyone who mentions them is attacked, criticized and eventually falls. I agree, we must know the crimes of our bad guys. I do not dispute – all mistakes must be registered, described in detail. Lithuanian sins must not be hidden. However, pushing aside our historians or publicists interested in history of the country simply because they raise issues that are inconvenient not only for Lithuanians, but also for Jews, is that democratic?

Historian Valdas Rakutis did not say anything reprehensible, urging to look at the history of the Second World War from both sides. The only minor sin was that the call should not have been made on the Holocaust Day. But a democracy must tolerate such „sin.“ After all, in such cases, the most important thing is whether this is true: if we stubbornly condemn people who were at least somewhat related with fascist Germany, let us also register those who cooperated with the Kremlin regime.

Valdas Rakutis. Slaptai.lt nuotr.
Vidmantas Valiušaitis. Slaptai.lt foto

We are urged to honestly analyze our peoples’ biographies, to look through the magnifying glass at the slightest suspicion. Just why has the other side so far neither prepared nor has plans to prepare scientific monographs on, say, the crimes of the dushanskis, raslans, zimanas? What should we do if we record every one of our real or perceived sins and others hide their own sins? If that side relies on the KGB archives and accept them as true facts, why can’t we analyze what was written in the Lithuanian Archives during the years of German occupation?

Historian Arūnas Gumuliauskas proposed to adopt a resolution declaring that the Lithuanian nation is not the nation of Jewish killers. There was a real need for such a resolution. But he was silenced, claiming that no one blames the Lithuanian nation for this sin attributable to the fascist Germany. Is it true that no one reproaches, no one rebukes, no one condemns?

Vidmantas Valiušaitis, a publicist interested in history, has been expelled from the Lithuanian Center for Genocide and Resistance, in his books, articles and video comments presented the obvious facts about how our heroes Jonas Noreika and Kazys Škirpa are unjustifiably accused of sympathizing with fascist Germany.

What will fall next? Will it be Dalius Stancikas, an LCGR employee, who wrote the much-needed book „Hammering the history of Lithuania“? After all, he is not in a hurry to hang the labels of Jewish killers on Lithuanian characters of that time…

Belarusian accents

Another topic is Belarusian. The leader of the Belarusian opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, is both praised and supported in our country. This is the right posture. It is not possible to beat the protesters in this way, as Alexander Lukashenka is doing. Lithuania must lend a helping hand to Belarusian protesters.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. EPA-ELTA foto.

But I have not heard that any of our journalists and politicians have publicly and openly asked that lady about the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Astravec nuclear power plant. I am very interested to know what this lady thinks about the origin of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and whether she agrees that it is necessary to shut down the Astravec nuclear power plant as soon as possible? And if she even said that the origin of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was Lithuanian, even if she confirmed that „the Astravec NPP must be stopped because it threatens Vilnius“, is our intelligence certain that this lady does not speak the opposite during private conversations?

What do we know about Alexei Navalny?

The story of Alexei Navalny is similar. Of course, he is a brave man. Navalny’s documentaries, which tell how Russian intelligence poisoned him with „Novichok“, or that film about Vladimir Putin’s fabulous palace, are noteworthy and respectful.

Alexei Navalny. EPA – ELTA nuotr.

But my first concern is to find out what Navalny said when Russia invaded Georgia, Ukraine. If he really claimed that it would be worthwhile to throw those Georgians with cruise missiles, if he claimed this sincerely, without being forced by anyone, then there is a high probability that this man will want to throw cruise missiles on Lithuania. I hope that the Member of the Seimas Laurynas Kasčiūnas, who recently participated in the rally in support of A. Navalny in front of  the Russian Embassy, knows the answer to this question?

Curbing corruption in Russia is an important issue. But it is no less important to know that the heart of the tireless anti-corruption fighter is not trapped in the icebergs of imperial thinking.

When will the activities of ASALA be evaluated?

Here is an excerpt from the text of Rayat Ibrahim, a senior fellow at the Gateston Institute (author of the book “The Sword and the Scythian: Fourteen Centuries between Islam and the West”), which prophesies that „as many as 340 million Christians in the world are being persecuted”. It says that in the present world, 13 Christians are killed, 5 Christians are abducted and 12 churches are attacked every day for their religious beliefs.

We need to know these sad statistics. But aren’t you missing a comparative analysis? Why is there no figure for how many people are killed every day in the world just because they are Muslims? I would then compare the anti-Muslim facts with the attacks on Christians and see the real situation. Now it seems that the blowing is only one way – only Muslims are hurting Christians, and the Christians have never hurt Muslims anywhere and are not going to hurt them.

ASALA

But this is not true. Let us remember the Crusades, the occupation of Algeria, the war against Afghanistan, the bombings of Iraq, the attacks on Muslims in the Balkans, the equated Chechen capital, Grozny.

Finally, let’s remember how many Turkish diplomats residing in Vienna, Madrid, Paris, Berlin, and Copenhagen were killed by the Armenian terrorist organizations ASALA, Dasnakcutiun, Gncak in the European capitals from 1975 to 2002? There were 235 terror acts, 70 murder and 41 assault cases. 524 people were killed during these attacks, including 105 hostages.

Let’s recall how in the second half of 2020, the Armenian armed forces fired on the Azerbaijani cities of Bard, Gianja and Terter (69 civilian Azerbaijanis were killed and another 322 were injured in these attacks).

Are these figures included in reports of religious intolerance? Do we know that the infamous ASALA, who persecuted Turkish diplomats a few decades ago, sent a scary letter to a Turkish diplomat residing in Beirut (Lebanon) on January 1, 2019, and burned a Turkish flag near the embassy building (Turkish flags were burned in other countries as well, near the Turkish missions)? Do we know that on January 20, 2021, ASALA issued a statement that members of the organization are not barred from committing terror against the citizens of Azerbaijan and Turkey, who took back Nagorny Karabakh in the end of 2020?

Try to publish these facts in the Lithuanian media, and you will see that it is not so simple. It is allowed to criticize Muslims – as much as the heart desires, but not to blame Christians! Although, for example, the international community recognizes that Nagorny Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan. However, Lithuania did not congratulate Azerbaijan, which recovered the lands lost decades ago due to the Armenian aggression, including those seven neighboring districts that had nothing to do with Nagorny Karabakh. Also it did not congratulate Turkey, which helped the Azerbaijanis to regain what belongs to Azerbaijan according to the international law. After all, this is an important, significant event.

What is hidden in the Armenian archives?

Find the text of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL) published by LRT – a conversation between Harry Tamraziano, Director of the RL Armenian Service, and Thom de Waalu, a Caucasus expert at “Carnegie Europe”. There is not the slightest hint that, under international law, Nagorny Karabakh is an indisputable territory of Azerbaijan. When this fact is silenced, all other discussions are meaningless. At least that’s what it seems to me.

Remember how the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences did not allow historians invited by the Turkish Embassy to present their position on the tragic 1915s, and opened doors for guests invited by the Armenian Embassy? That is why we do not know that the US Ambassador Henri Morgentau, who resided in Istanbul in 1913-1916, for a total of 780 days, wrote a report extremely unfavorable to the Turks, entitled „The Tragedy of the Armenian People“, grossly distorted the facts. During his residence in the Ottoman Empire, he did not leave Istanbul in order to visit any problematic region – he limited himself to leisure, recreational trips around the then Ottoman Empire. Therefore, his report cannot be regarded as objective.

But there is another reason why his reports should not be considered objective. The translator, an adviser, considered his right-hand was Arshag Simavonian, helped him write this report. And his secretary was Acopus Andonian. What matters is not that both the adviser and the secretary were Armenians. It is important that both these Armenians hated the Turks and everything Turkish. They were therefore grossly biased.

Turkish flag

And what about Johannes Lepsius’ work „Germany and Armenia 1914 – 1918. Collection of Diplomatic Mail“? Is it worth  to trust it blindly? This person is known to have been blindly pro-Armenian and pathologically hated the Turks. He did not include in his mail, for example, reports from Lois Mozel, a special Caesar agent, and Felix Gus, officer, informing that Armenian armed formations befriended the enemy of the Ottoman Empire, Tsarist Russia, receiving weapons from Russian Tsar, and coordinating their attacks against the Turks with the Russians.

There are a lot of such tendentious defaults and distortions. But Lithuania does not want to know them. Avoiding even mentioning that in 2005 it was Turkey that proposed Armenia to convene a joint commission of historians to investigate all the causes and consequences of the 1915 tragedy. Official Yerevan – categorically refused. Apparently, there are fears that a lot of unpleasant facts will come to the surface.

Donald Trump and censorship

So Lithuania is still a long way from a real democracy. There are many forbidden, ignored, and silent topics.

The only consolation is that not only Lithuania is in difficulty. On the Delfi.lt portal, I read an interesting article by Vidas Rachlevičius „The Big Break: the End of the American Dream“. I will admit: I never liked Donald Trump. Especially when he pandered Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Trump’s accusations of rigged elections were also unconvincing. I also remember an interview published on the gordonua.com portal with Yuri Schwec, a former KGB employee who had left for America a long time ago, who claimed that the Russian special services had been eyeing Trump for a long time.

Donald Trump

And still, Trump’s accounts on social networks should not be blocked. Let us argue with him, criticize him, unmask him, but let us not restrict his right to freedom of expression.

I agree with V. Rachlevičius, who believes that blocking D. Trump’s accounts is an anti-democratic step. I agree with V. Rachlevičius that real democracy and human rights start with freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech is inviolable and unquestionable in any form. Freedom of speech – without any „provided“, „if“, „but“.

Freedom of speech either exists or does not exist.

2021.02.15; 00:30

Gintaras Visockas. Slaptai.lt foto

Today I would like to ask: what is journalism worth if it does not seek the truth? What are photo reports worth if their authors are not interested in justice? This journalistic activity is not only useless, it is dangerous. It can lead you down the wrong path: oppose countries, cause new military clashes, hurt a victim, provoke the aggressor to perform new attacks …

Is this path justified?

I do agree: sometimes it is difficult to find the truth, sometimes it is unsightly. But if one does not consciously strive for it, and even is proud of this – such a person is difficult for me to understand.

This bewilderment is addressed to the photojournalist Vidmantas Balkunas, who published “Letters from Nagorno-Karabakh” on the website delfi.lt. On his page on the social network, this journalist, who has traveled a lot around the world and published valuable pictures, writes: “Perhaps that is why I never try to find out which side is right and which is not. And more often than not, there is no right answer. It is important for me to show how people who have fallen into this whirlpool live (…). Geopolitics is definitely not my sphere. (…) And therefore, it is difficult for me to understand people who, being thousands of kilometers from the war, broadcast their truth and explain who is right and who is wrong. “ This is how V. Balkunas philosophizes in social networks. And this is his right, his will. Moreover, V. Balkunas is really courageous – it is dangerous in Nagorno-Karabakh in nowadays.

Vidmantas Balkunas, who published “Letters from Nagorno-Karabakh”

But what is this courage for? It is illegal to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia and with an Armenian visa. Moreover, it is illegal from any point of view – Lithuania, the EU, NATO, the UN. International community considers Nagorno-Karabakh to be the territory of Azerbaijan. Even Armenia does not recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as its own territory. Therefore, every educated journalist must understand that if he wants to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh, he must obtain an Azerbaijani visa. If you are flying to Armenia, of course, you do not need an Azerbaijani visa. But if you go to Nagorno-Karabakh, you must get an Azerbaijani stamp in your passport, despite all the assurances of the Armenians that Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian territory.

By the way, Azerbaijan would hardly bless V. Balkunas’s trip to the Black Garden (this is how the name “Karabakh” is translated into Russian). Because if official Baku approved this visit, the journalist would most likely not have been admitted by Armenia, which controls Nagorno-Karabakh. Figuratively speaking, they would consider him a spy of Azerbaijan.

This is an important fact. In my opinion, if we do not follow the rules that secure respect for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan (including Nagorno-Karabakh), real chaos may ensue, because there will be states that disregard, for example, the fact that Vilnius or Klaipeda regions belongs to Lithuania. Does Lithuania have the right to condemn Western and Russian singers, journalists, politicians who illegally, without the consent of Kiev, Chisinau or Tbilisi, travel to the occupied Crimea, Transnistria or South Abkhazia? We have our own „travelers“ who do not know what respect for international rules that have legalized the borders between states is.

Guilt of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania

The fact that there are strange „tourists“ in Lithuania is a huge fault of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, which until now officially, publicly, has not clearly stated that it is not recommended to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh with an Armenian visa. It is impossible to prohibit Lithuanian citizens from traveling to Nagorno-Karabakh from Yerevan, and not from Baku. But they must be warned. And it was necessary to do so as soon as the first shots thundered. After all, it could have been predicted that Armenian ambassador Tigran Mkrtchyan, residing in Lithuania, would feverishly seek curious people who would agree to visit suffering Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Our parliamentary Committee on International Affairs, and the leaders of parliamentary friendship groups with Armenia and Azerbaijan, and, ultimately, Lithuanian journalists’ organizations, could have explained to Lithuanian citizens why it is undesirable to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh with the blessing of Armenia. No bans, no threats – just a warning: it is not recommended. By the way, my conscience is clear: back in 2014 in my articles on the slaptai.lt. I urged not to send Lithuanians to Nagorno-Karabakh from the Armenian side.

If you ask who gave me the right to reproach brave journalists who travel to hot spots, I will answer: I have such a right. I have been working as a journalist for over 35 years and have seen some violent conflicts with my own eyes. Russian-Chechen, Ossetian-Ingush, Georgian-Abkhaz clashes – I saw all this and wrote about all this. But unlike V. Balkunas, I was worried first of all who was right, and not who was louder and more convincingly shouting.

I also cannot be silent, because I am well aware of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict – I have been interested in this topic for more than ten years. I cannot boast that I traveled far and wide across Azerbaijan, but I happened to be in the Khojavend, Terter, Barda regions and witnessed how Azerbaijanis who suffered from the Armenian shelling and who lost their loved ones live there. Most of all, I was shocked by a trip in 2016 to the Terter region – the villages of Gasangaya, Gapanly, Maraga, Shikar, which were subjected to increased artillery shelling. I saw ruined houses there, crippled children, women weeping at graves. I was in Ganja, which recently came under an artillery attack by the Armenians. I can give my head to be cut off – both Armenian and Azerbaijani women have equally clear tears. To make sure that everyone has red blood – both Armenians and Azerbaijanis – it is not necessary to go somewhere.

How many Azerbaijanis live in Yerevan?

Still, the difference between the shelling of Ganja and Nagorno-Karabakh is obvious. Azerbaijan is living in their homes in Ganja, Terter, Hasangay, according to international law, live in their own state – in Azerbaijan. And the Armenians who settled in Nagorno-Karabakh do not live in Armenia. They are located on the territory belonging to Azerbaijan. If they are law-abiding citizens, they should obey Baku.

The opponents of the author of these lines, of course, will argue with foam at the mouth that ethnic Armenians live in Nagorno-Karabakh and that there are no Azerbaijanis there. And it is true. But a journalist who is looking not only for impressive shots, but also for the truth, should ask a question:  where did all the Azerbaijanis who lived in Nagorno-Karabakh a few decades ago go? Did they leave of their own will, or were they cynically expelled?

Other inconvenient questions can be asked. For example, where did the Azerbaijani community that lived a hundred years ago in Yerevan disappear? Azerbaijanis in those days constituted the majority in Yerevan – they made about 75% of dwellers. One should be a fool to deny this statistical fact. There is not a single Azerbaijani in Yerevan today. Did they all leave the city of their own free will?

The lesson of Javakheti

And lastly, why does the large Armenian diaspora living in one of the regions of Georgia, Javakhetia, prove today (visit the Armenian portal armenianreport.com) that this is not a Georgian territory, but an Armenian one and therefore, you see, they need to secede from Georgia and create an independent state?! In Javakhetia a tactic, similar to the one that was tested in Nagorno-Karabakh, is used: they oust the locals, then they begin to propagandize the ideas of separatism more and more loudly and blackmail the Georgian authorities harder: if you do not support Yerevan, you will be punished – you will lose Javakheti.

If a Lithuanian journalist got into Nagorno-Karabakh, he should be worried about all the issues. For example, to what extent do American, French, Russian Armenians help the Armenians to fight the Azerbaijanis? It is obvious that Armenia with its three million population (three times less than in Azerbaijan) lacks soldiers. The fact that Armenian militants of all kinds helped the Armenians to attack Azerbaijan earlier (for example, a certain Monte Melkonyan once arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh from Lebanon; later he died), is not a secret to anyone, this information is accessible to those who looking for answers to all, even uncomfortable questions.

French smoke screen

And the tales that Turkey sends fighters, subordinate to Ankara and Istanbul, from Syria, Lebanon, Kurdish settlements to Azerbaijan to fight the Armenians are complete nonsense. I received this information from Ambassador of Turkey Gokhan Turan, whose residence is in Lithuania. And, by the way, his words sound quite convincing. Azerbaijan really has enough of its own soldiers to conflict with Armenia. If there was China instead of Armenia, then one would believe that Azerbaijan has too few defenders. But is not the case.

Ambassador of  Turkey Gokhan Turan. Slaptai.lt foto

Allegations that all sorts of militants controlled by Turkey are helping Azerbaijanis to offend Christian Armenians are a smokescreen that Yerevan needs to cover up its swindle.

Even French President Emmanuel Macron, who is entangled in Armenian intrigues, needs it today. A large, extremely influential Armenian community lives in France, which the French authorities cannot control. Yerevan via France (and not only via it) is recruiting fighters for the so-called Nagorno-Karabakh front. If everything that the French authorities turned a blind eye to will surface, the French president with his French intelligence and advisers would find himself in an unenviable position. So, the best defense is offense. Therefore, the French authorities began to blame others for what they themselves were to be blamed.

Official Paris makes a gigantic mistake – sooner or later the truth will surface and face the light.

I address these remarks to those who are not satisfied by sensational photographs alone, to those who are looking for the truth.

2020.10.22; 12:00

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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2014.11.04; 20:11