The Republic Of Western Azerbaijan Born To Be A Voice For Deported Azeris From Armenia - Part One
It took almost 200 years for Armenians to compel ethnic Azerbaijanis to abandon their ancestral lands in areas now called Armenia. For two centuries, ethnic Azerbaijanis went through endless threats, cruelties, hatred coupled with murders of bright sons and daughters, who came out against the merciless and malicious policies pursued by Armenians with consent of regimes in Russia.
The final phase of the deportation of the ethnic Azerbaijanis from their ancestral lands completed when the evil empire ceased in 1990s. After almost 30 years since the last deportation of ethnic Azerbaijanis from the western Azerbaijan – as people who have never forgotten where they belong to and their children now in their maturity call it, have decided to act.
Scattered across the world as a result of several forced deportations, the spirit and morale of Azerbaijanis have retained their hopes for claiming back their lands, and their sons and daughters now realize that it was high time to act on it and make Armenians to come to their sense that they live in the lands of Azerbaijanis, whom they have managed banished with the help of the tsarist and then Soviet regimes.
For several days now, the proclamation of the Republic of Western Azerbaijan (Iravan) in exile by the Initiative Group, headed by Prof. Qafar Caxmaqli of Turkey’s Erciyes University, has been seriously discussed in the media and society. We wonder what are the goals of the Republic of Western Azerbaijan (Iravan) in emigration? Qafar Caxmaqli, the chairman of the Initiative Group, spoke about the idea now being implemented in an interview with Hurriyyat newspaper.
The proclamation of the Republic of Western Azerbaijan (Iravan) in early May 2020 proves the unbreakable will of those who hail from that part of the Azerbaijani homeland, to struggle for regaining it and time is and will be the best judge to decide. It would be unforgivable crime and sin to let it go as it is and allow Armenians to come up with new unfounded claims against Azerbaijan.
We reserve the right to conduct anti-terrorist operations in our territories. The occupying power will be treated as it should be. Armenia is the ancestral homeland of Azerbaijani Turks, and we have the right to demand our right to return and live there. We will demand it. But if Armenia does not allow it, other alternatives will undoubtedly be used.
[Question] First we created an Initiative Group. After this Initiative Group declared the Republic of Western Azerbaijan (Iravan) in exile, our society seemed to move, and our announcement has turned into a movement. There were messages of support from different parts of the world, including Azerbaijan. There were people who expressed their support for us at various levels, and then we formed an organizing committee as the next step, which we have already named the Council of the Nation. The Council of the Nation consists of about 50-55 politicians, scientists and people from different walks of life.
[Caxmaqli] People of western Azerbaijani origin, as well as people born in different parts of Azerbaijan, began to support us, and we declared the Republic of Western Azerbaijan (Iravan). We are now working on establishing structures. We have weekly meetings through video-conferencing format, where we listen to people's opinions, exchange views, make suggestions and recommendations, and slowly begin to move forward based on these recommendations. Our society accepted this as normal, but there were also some disagreements and some people have expressed dissatisfaction and this is normal. Because we are building something new; and there may be different views and approaches, and we must study and evaluate them. We will try to use these suggestions and ideas in our steps from now on.
Our goal is clear. We have also declared in our declaration that our goal is that western Azerbaijan is completely Azerbaijani land, and our state, the Iravan khanate, operated there. We have lost this state due to the injustice of history. The rights of our people living there (we are talking about 3-3.5 million people) have been violated, and we will fight to restore these rights. We also have a lot of documents. We think that the decision of the National Council from May 29, 1918 was wrong. We also think that the decision of the USSR Council of Ministers from December 23, 1947 was wrong and unfair. We think that their abolition will bring us closer to western Azerbaijan. As you know, this issue has been repeatedly raised by the Azerbaijani president. "We will return to Zangazur, Goyca and Yerevan," he said.
It is also our historical homeland. We have taken such a step in order not to forget this historical homeland, to keep alive the idea of returning to this historical homeland. We intend to take this step forward step by step within the framework of legal and human rights norms.
[Question] Will you be able to have the decisions you mentioned cancelled?
[Caxmaqli] There are a number of legal documents, some of which we want to have cancelled, and some are considered invalid. Not only those documents, but also some decisions and laws issued by the Armenian SSR in order to expel Azeri Turks from the western Azerbaijan. Those decisions and laws will also need to be repealed. Finally, in 1988-1989, Armenia deported over 250,000 Azerbaijani Turks from those territories without any justification. According to these documents, we will try to move forward.
[Question] There are questions in society about the realization of this idea. Will it be possible for the Republic of Western Azerbaijan (Iravan) to become a real force in emigration?
[Caxmaqli] I do not know what you mean by real force. Let me give you an example, there have been many such examples in history such as the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Now there is also an organization, called Western Armenia in exile, created by Armenians. When the organization says it acts as a "republic", it holds congresses and operates in different countries. For example, its latest congress was in 2018 and elected a "parliament", a "prime minister" and a "president". That is, there are such formations. The real force is the people behind every country, republic.
If the people support it, it will be a real force. Our biggest advantage is that the people have been very supportive of us since May 9. They say that they will support us at all levels, from young to old, and will do everything to fight for our return to our ancestral lands. This will be our greatest strength today.
[Question] Mr. Qafar Caxmaqli, you mentioned that the parliament, government and structures of this republic will be formed. Will this republic have an army and a currency? How can this republic be a real force without an army?
[Caxmaqli] I said that we are going step by step. Now our Council of the Nation has been formed and structures are being shaped. At our conference on Saturday, we formed a secretariat, as well as a center for work with information, press services and social networks. We have created a center for the study of the history of Yerevan and western Azerbaijan; that is, we are already shaping our structures. The structuring will also lead to the fact that we will go to the parliamentary elections. We think that our republic will be a presidential system as it now seems more acceptable. We have exchanged views with our supporters, members of the Initiative Group, the elderly, we will apply the presidential system, and a president will be elected.
After that, there will be structuring and a cabinet will be formed. If necessary, there will be a defense ministry and a contingent of soldiers to protect the security of this country. But this is the work of the future. Now we can't say anything concrete about it and the Armenian press is provoking us. They say they are doing this to form a guerrilla movement in the future. We cannot say yet what structures will be there. God willing, after we hold our elections and form our government, we will do what is necessary for that government. The army and currency issues, you mentioned, are a matter of the future, it is too early to talk about them now.
[Question] You announced this idea, or rather the Republic of Western Azerbaijan (Iravan) in exile in Turkey. Do you hold any political or diplomatic talks with the Turkish government to make this a reality?
[Caxmaqli] There is no such thing as the proclamation of it in Turkey as this was broken in a virtual manner. Now some members of the Initiative Group, including me, who live in Turkey, are applauded for announcing it here, but there is no such thing. We believe that Turkey will also support us in this matter. Because, as I said, a virtual state of Armenians called "western Armenia" has emerged against Turkey, and it makes threats, it has made territorial claims.
Armenia has the territorial claims on to the then six provinces of eastern Anatolia, now 14 provinces, they want to seize them from Turkey and settle here. The Armenian state itself claimed these territories from Turkey in the 1991 Constitutional Act, and Armenia is the only country that does not recognize Turkey’s territorial integrity. Given this, I think the Turkish state can also support our republic. But we have not applied yet. Undoubtedly, we will inform the people at the Turkish president, the Turkish Foreign Ministry about the republic we have proclaimed and letters will be sent.
[Question] Azerbaijani intellectuals, historians, in general, public and political figures are discussing this event in the media, expressing their views and opinions. Are there any people who want to prevent the establishment of the Western Azerbaijani Republic?
[Caxmaqli] No, absolutely not and I am very glad that this issue has been unequivocally welcomed in Azerbaijan. But, as I said earlier, it is possible that some people and organizations may have different opinions; but we are determined to overcome differences through negotiations and discussions. In the meantime, there were such cases, and we had discussions with some of our friends, including our MPs.
No-one is against it. However, in connection with the proclamation of the Republic of Western Azerbaijan (Iravan), some people think that we were in a hurry; others think it should not have been so; it could have been done differently. We also respect it very much, but there is no disagreement on this issue. We do not have an alternative. I would like to tell you that the vast majority of organizations operating in connection with the Western Azerbaijan have joined our Council of the Nation, and they also work with us, there is no disagreement.
[Question] You touched upon the decision from May 29, 1918 on the transfer of the Iravan province to Armenia to establish an Armenian state there. There are also opinions that the Republic of Western Azerbaijan has no right to annul this decision, it can only be annulled by the parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Do you think the Azerbaijani parliament will repeal this decision?
[Caxmaqli] There is usually an opinion in society that any agreement or other decisions expire after 100 years, but there is no such thing in international law. I also think that we should appeal to the Azerbaijani parliament to annul this decision. It was just a decision of a meeting. As you know, on May 29, the Azerbaijani parliament convened and adopted a resolution, which provoked protests there. These protesters were parliamentarians from the Iravan province. Then they wrote a letter to the parliament that such a decision was wrong, the Azerbaijani Turks living there could be in a very bad situation, no one could be responsible for their fate in the future, and this had happened later. We will also cite the protests of the parliamentarian from Iravan province that the decision was protested by the people at that time.
Those parliamentarians sent telegrams to Tbilisi (Georgia) that this decision was wrong; they did not want to become part of Armenia. We will legally demand the annulment of this decision. Probably, the Azerbaijani parliament will take into account our well-founded proposals when considering this. Well, if the parliament does not take it into account, we will still think that this decision is wrong and will try to have overturned by other means of struggle.