Determined To Boost Turkic Council’s Standing, Azerbaijan Puts Zangazur Issue On Front Burner

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 16 October 2019
Determined To Boost Turkic Council’s Standing, Azerbaijan Puts Zangazur Issue On Front Burner

Azerbaijan played host to the seventh summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States (CCTS-Turkic Council) with President Ilham Aliyev, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Kazakhstan’s First President and Honorary Chairman of the CCTS Nursultan Nazarbayev, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in presence.

Baku seems determined to strengthen this shaping alliance of fraternal nations during its tenure as the chairman, and turn it into an important center of power in the world. The Turkic world covers a vast territory - from the Adriatic Sea to China, where about 300m Turks live.

Uzbekistan’s decision to join the CCTS, as well as the opening a representative office of the Turkic Council in Budapest - the center of Europe - Hungary, indicate the importance and growing role of the organization.

Indications are that some leaders of the Turkic-speaking nations can clearly foresee evolving global processes and disintegrational processes vis-à-vis the established world order, shifting values from once highly-cherished adages to the use of military muscles. And this situation calls for reliable alliances and safe borders.

Baku’s all-out support for the CCTS in the face of deepening disintegrational processes and moods is a vivid indication that the country attaches great importance to the future of this organization for the restoration of own territorial integrity and limits where possible the member countries’ fully-fledged cooperation with Armenia – a South Caucasus nation that has occupied around 20 per cent of Azerbaijan’s territories with the outright military backing of Russia at the demise of the USSR and then under sovereign Russia.

Incidentally, the CCTS made a desirable move by providing Turkey with the needed support for the Operation Peace Spring in Syria amid growing international outcry over the anti-terrorist operation.

The Turkic Council was established on October 3, 2009 in Azerbaijan’s Naxcivan Autonomous Republic with the goal of the development of comprehensive cooperation among the member states.

The Azerbaijani president’s reference to the Zangazur corridor in his address to the seventh summit was neither accidental, nor irrelevant as for 200 years various powers have been doing their best to keep the Turkic world disintegrated and underdeveloped with no respect for the rule of law.

President Aliyev of Azerbaijan, among other things, recalled that this year marks the 10-year anniversary of the creation of the CCTS, the first summit of which was held in the Naxcivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan.

He noted: “As you know, Naxcivan is separated from the mainland Azerbaijan. Between us is Zangezur - an ancient Azerbaijani land. Its transfer to Armenia created a geographical split of the Turkic world.”

We should recall that the talk is about another historical region of Azerbaijani, gifted to Armenia. Zangazur was part of the Karabakh, Naxcivan and Iravan khanates, then, after the first annexation of Azerbaijan by tsarist Russia, they became part of Yelizavetpol (Ganca) province. During the independent Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, Zangezur was part of the Karabakh governorate.

The first claims to Zangezur were presented by Armenian nationalists at the outset of the 20th century. During the ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijanis, where the future Hitler accomplice Garegin Nzhdeh was particularly distinguished, 115 Muslim villages were wiped off, nearly half a million ethnic Azerbaijanis were killed.

Armenia managed to bring the matter to the end only with the help of Russia - already after the second annexation of Azerbaijan on April 28, 1920. Already in hot pursuit of the "victory march" of the XI Red army in the South Caucasus, the local Bolsheviks, brought to power in Baku on its bayonets, obediently stamped the November 30, 1920 decision of a joint meeting of the Politburo and the Organizing Bureau of the Central Committee of the AKP (b) on the transfer of Zangazur to Armenia.

Further events are also well-known: during several waves of ethnic cleansing, the indigenous inhabitants – ethnic Azerbaijanis - were forced to leave this region, Azerbaijani toponyms were replaced by Armenian, historical monuments, mosques, sanctuaries and even cemeteries were destroyed.

But the thing is that after the concession of Irevan in 1918 and the armenization of Zangazur and Goyca with the help of Moscow, the Armenian claims to Azerbaijani lands did not stop. Moreover, today they are being carried out in the form of open aggression and occupation of 20% of the territory of our country, from which more than a million people have been expelled.

And against such a political background, the statement of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev about Zangazur is no longer just an excursion into history. In fact, the president returns the issue of Zangazur to the political agenda and the expert community is just beginning to analyze the very fact of expanding the composition of the Turkic Council, which now includes Hungary, and even more so the policy statements made during its work.

The president urged member nations to avoid cooperation with Armenia – the country that destroys mosques in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan – since this country cannot be a friend of the Islamic world: “Armenia destroys the historical and cultural heritage of Azerbaijan in the occupied territories. Armenia ignores the decisions of international organizations and avoids its obligations to implement them.”

And against this background, the Zangazur question is already receiving a completely different interpretation. From the point of view of international law, what Armenia has arranged in Karabakh is called forced redrawing of borders, and after Pashinyan’s hysterical cries “Karabakh is Armenia. Point!” there is little doubt in it. Only in Yerevan, they didn’t take into account that when they tried to redraw foreign borders, they first of all deprived themselves from own legitimacy.

Moreover, appeals to history are also not in favor of Armenia - in reality, the Azerbaijani lands were gifted to her, not the other way around. Finally, no one has canceled the responsibility for permanent “ethnic cleansing”. The Kosovo precedent provides a fair amount of food for thought. Slobodan Milosevic, recall, also tried to redraw the borders of Croatia and Bosnia under the banner of separatism, then he organized "ethnic cleansing" in Kosovo.

Finally, there is also such a side to the issue as the tender friendship between Armenia and Iran, which includes the illegal transit of weapons to radical pro-Iranian groups, and the cooperation of special services, including in the work against the United States, and the joint production of weapons.

The US concern about what is happening in and around Iran has not disappeared. And this also gives a completely different reading to the very question of Zangazur. And this means that Armenia, quite possibly, will have to pay the territorial price for its aggressive aspirations. Moreover, both the military and the political alignment of forces are now changing not in her favor.