The Azerbaijani statement of 22 February 1997, with regard
to what they call the Khojalu event, is the most cynical and
vicious statement ever made by Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan refers shamelessly to a 1992 military event, where,
according to then-Azerbaijani President Mutalibov, the responsibility
for the slaughter of the civilian population of the mostly Azeri city
of Khojalu near the capital Stepanakert of Nagorny Karabakh fully
falls on the Azeri opposition group, the Azerbaijani National Front.
In the days following the event, President Mutalibov, in an
interview with Czech journalist Dana Mazalova published in the 2 April
1992 issue of the Russian newspaper Nizavisimaya Gazeta, said that the
militia of the Azerbaijani National Front actively obstructed and
actually prevented the exodus of the local population through the
mountain passages specifically left open by Karabakh Armenians to
facilitate the flight of the civilian population.
(On this matter, the September 1992 report of the Helsinki Watch
international non-governmental organization quotes an Azerbaijani
woman who says that Armenians had notified the Azerbaijani civilian
population to leave the town with white flags raised.) In fact the
Azerbaijani militia shot those who attempted to flee.
The hope and intention of the Azerbaijani opposition was to
utilize civilian losses of such a magnitude to instigate a popular
uprising against the Baku regime and seize the reins of power.
Azerbaijan does not stop at simply distorting the truth. Not only
does it falsely attribute its own opposition's merciless slaughter of
Khojalu's civilian population to Armenians, it brazenly characterizes
the killings as "distinctively inhumane and cruel" and "massacres".
In so doing Azerbaijan fully comprehends that for the Armenian people
these terms unfailingly evoke memories of massacre and genocide in
Armenians' distant - and recent - past.
It is not coincidental that Azerbaijan has dared to make this
statement on the anniversary of the most bloody event of Armenia's
recent history. On 28 February 1988, when the people of Nagorny
Karabakh were arguing by peaceful and constitutional means for their
right to self-determination, Azerbaijani authorities organized and
armed a mob, which began pogroms against Armenians in the Azerbaijani
city of Sumgait. The Sumgait massacres were followed by killings and
pillaging in Gianja in November 1988 and Baku in January 1990.
In the spring of 1991, the very leaders of the current Azerbaijani
regime, assisted by the Soviet Army, organized the depopulation of the
Armenian regions of Northern Artzakh, and the deportation of the
Armenian population of Nagorny Karabakh and the surrounding 24
regions. Helsinki Watch, in the above-mentioned report, testifies
that "these events were intended to exacerbate the fear and horror of
ethnic Armenians in other parts of Azerbaijan" and lead to the
deportation and ethnic cleansing of more than 600,000 Armenians.
These atrocities were followed by a cycle of large-scale
Azerbaijani military offensives and operations designed to produce a
military solution to the conflict by annihilating the population of
Although such acts have all taken place in the last decades of the
twentieth century, the people of Nagorny Karabakh experienced a
similar fate during the first two decades of this century as well.
The massacres and pogroms of 1905 in Baku, and 1918 and 1920 in
Shushi, where the entire city of Shushi was burned and its whole
population was annihilated, are still vivid memories.
Therefore, this statement can only be seen as a crude, gross
violation of the norms and principles of international law. While
fostering an aggressive and exclusive nationalism, Azerbaijan
blatantly promotes and incites ethnic hatred towards the population of
Nagorny Karabakh, with whom it continuously claims it can peacefully
and harmoniously live together. Further, Azerbaijan proclaims it can
guarantee Karabakh's security and peaceful existence, even while it
advances distrust and enmity by falsely accusing Armenians and
callously misrepresenting its own role and responsibility in recent
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia once
again reiterates the warning sounded by the President of Armenia,
Levon Ter-Petrossian, during the Lisbon summit of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe, that, in the event of imposed
Azerbaijani rule on Nagorny Karabakh, the people of Nagorny Karabakh
will face the threat of genocide.