NAGORNO KARABAGH: THE MAIN STAGES

OF 10-YEAR STRUGGLE

 

Mher Haroutunian

Candidate of Historical Sciences

Lecturer of the Chair of History

of the State University of Artsakh

 

 

The slogan of the new phase of Artsakh Armenian people's national liberation movement - "Uniting" with the Motherland Armenia, met the severe counteraction of the leaders of the previous USSR and Azerbaijan. Moreover, the stubborn efforts of Moscow and Baku to suppress the nation-wide movement in blood, resulted in reviewing the ways, the methods and the ideology of the struggle. The only true step in the situation created was taken: the Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh was proclaimed. In the course of the 10 years of its existence the Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh (RNK) passed the difficult way of self-determination and establishment as a cosmopolite reality. Reviewing the process of formation of Artsakh statehood, its several important aspects could be distinguished.

1.  Historical aspects. Speaking about the 10 years of independence,  the political  developments  preceding  the movement also should be reviewed. The RNK is certainly the natural result of development of Nagorno-Karabagh's Armenian population's social-political life. Its roots reach to the depth of centuries. Artsakh was one of those mountainous provinces of Armenia, where the germs of independence had been preserved even after the loss of all-Armenian statehood, becoming one of the always-alert centers of national liberation movement. In 1918-1921, as the result of struggle for independence, it achieved one the forms of the Soviet statehood - the status of autonomous district. The struggle, lasting many years, came to its logical end in September 2, 1991, when a resolution and a declaration were adopted on the proclamation of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh on the territory of Nagorno-Karabagh Autonomous District and the adjacent Shahoumian district, as well as temporary structures of state authority and government were formed.

2.  Legal-political aspects. As it is known, during the decay of the USSR, in 1991, the independence of the Azerbaijan became reality by means of refusing from the succession of Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic and restoring the state independence of 1918-1920 years. Therefore, the legality of the RNK is provided not only by the fact that in September-December, 1991, it was formed on the territory juridically not belonging to Azerbaijan, but also by the law of the USSR dated on April 3, 1990, which, as it is known, reserved Nagorno-Karabagh Autonomous District the right to solve independently the problem of its state-legal status. The next important step taken towards real independence was the referendum, which was not only the expression of not leaving the USSR system with the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic, not only a step of determining its legal-state status, but also a guarantee of withstanding the aggression of that same Azerbaijan, protecting the physical existence of the Armenian population. The referendum, the results of elections of deputies of the Supreme Soviet of the RNK, in 1991; results of elections of deputies of the National Assembly of the RNK, in 1995; the results of the election of the first president of the RNK, in 1996; and the results of the extraordinary elections of the president, in 1997; the results of elections of the local government bodies, in 1998, became the important steps of establishment of a new statehood, development and deepening of the democratic process, and, finally, the realization of our national goals on the ancient territory of Artsakh.

3. Military aspects. Parallel to the military operations, voluntary self-defense troops, spontaneously formed still in the beginning of the movement, began to rally around and increased in number. Under the circumstances of expansion of the war operations and activity of separate troops could no more be fruitful. The armed forces of the RNK began to be formed step by step. That process allowed to solve successfully not only the problem of civilians' safety, but also to quell down gradually the Azerbaijani military bases. Till summer 1992, the self-defense forces of the RNK succeeded to find solutions to the vital problems of the republic. Thanks to it the communication links and roads within the territory of the republic were opened, the rear of the troops, protecting the frontiers, was strengthened. Thanks to the military operations in Shoushi and Lachin, the chain of blockade was split. A highway to Armenia was opened. In fact, the main slogan of the movement - "Uniting" - came true. However, Artsakh side does not make as a compromise the claim to reunite with Armenia.

The new aggression, initiated by the enemy on June 12, 1992, showed that it is easier to proclaim than to defend independence. A comparatively lasting period of struggle started. Concentration of the governmental system's armed forces and self-defense forces allowed to solve the problem of halting the enemy's advance. In April, 1993, the counter-attack of the self-defense forces and liberation of Martakert region started. In April-August a safety zone around the RNK was created. After that independence of the RNK became real and tangible. It was more fostered, when in the bloody battles, going on at the end of 1993 and at the beginning of 1994, the Armenian population of Artsakh, with the help and support of the Motherland - Armenia, managed to defend its achievements. Moreover, the confident operations of the self-defense army forced Azerbaijan to agree with the terms of truce. The truce, declared on May 17, 1994, is lasting up to date.

 During the next years the scope of the process of fostering the statehood of RNK, its economic and social development, the strengthening of the Army grew steadily. Efficient and powerful Army remains the guarantee of independence. The last several years can be considered a period of economic reforms.

4. Diplomatic aspects. The process of negotiations has gained a new quality and sense. If in 1995-1997 no achievements in that relation were registered, then in 1998, the ice was broken thanks to the new strategy of the authorities of the Republic of Armenia. Basing on the democratic changes and strengthening of economy, Armenia started a consistent struggle for the independence of the RNK, according importance to the role of negotiations in the solution of the conflict. Since 1992, the issue of participation of the RNK as a conflict party was discussed with a new urgency, and it was once more underlined that the process of negotiations without the participation of the RNK is condemned to failure. Up to date even the meetings of the Presidents of Armenia and Artsakh, organized without mediation, showed no essential result.

In all cases, the RNK, as an independent state, takes firm steps directed to achieving international recognition. Despite the bellicose and aggressive appeals, sounding in the neighboring republic, the developments in the RNK have a positive tendency and inspire hope that the problems set forth will find their solutions.

 

 

 

Vasn Hayutyan quarterly, Yerevan, #1, 24 April, 2002, p. 8.

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