Karabakh finds it impossible to accept the authority of any Azerbaijani administration: April 1919

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[25 April 1919]

The Fifth Assembly of the Armenians of Karabagh to General Shuttleworth, Commander of the British forces in the Caucasus.

The Armenians of Karabagh do not oppose their Tatar neighbors’ rights of self-determination but, while awaiting the final arrangements by the Peace Conference of all territorial questions in litigation, they do demand for themselves the right to determine their fate.

With regard to the extension of Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction over Armenian Karabagh, the Fifth Assembly of Armenians of Karabagh believes it is its obligation to declare that Azerbaijan has always been and remains today an accomplice and ally of the Turks and of all the cruelties committed by the Turks against Armenians in general and against Karabagh Armenians in particular.

Azerbaijan has always shown and continues to show itself today an adherent of the Turkish orientation.

It is Azerbaijan that invited the Turks into Transcaucasia; it encouraged by all possible means acts of treason in the rear of the fighting forces, thus breaking the Transcaucasian resistance force and facilitating the triumphant entry of the Turks into the interior of our country. This “State” does not seem to have lost all hope of seeing the dream of the return of the Turks into Transcaucasia realized, and continues to persecute Armenians systematically.

The economic boycott to which Armenians were subjected at the time of the entry of Turkish pashas into Transcaucasia is now turned into a systematic governmental policy to oppress Armenians.

Brigandage, pillage, massacres, and armed attacks on main highways constitute ordinary means by which Azerbaijan wants to realize its goals.

And all these violent acts are committed when Armenians in Karabagh are not even yet subject to the government of Azerbaijan, while the representatives of powerful Britain are still here to defend us.

We have the firm conviction that the real Azerbaijan, following the example offered by its elder brother, Turkey, wants to suppress Armenians in general as constitute the only cultural element sympathizing with Europe and not the East, and to suppress the Armenians of Karabagh in particular, the latter having succeeded in defending to this day their rights and having suffered relatively fewer massacres and devastations.

The Assembly also concludes that the political, historical, cultural, juridical, and especially economic condition of the Armenians of Karabagh could under no circumstances legitimately enable Azerbaijan to impose on the Armenian people the acceptance, even provisionally, of Azerbaijani authority and administration.

The Fifth Assembly of the Armenians of Karabagh, based on these facts, finds it impossible therefore to accept the authority of any administration that is attached to the government of Azerbaijan.

With regard to the reestablishment of the means of communication, the Assembly concludes that this question has no relation to the recognition of the authority of Azerbaijan’s governor-general, sine the question of free communication and security of the means of communication constitute a vital necessity for the whole country and form a distinct economic issue.

We are convinced that the state of peace that Great Britain is in the process of establishing in Transcaucasia will hasten the realization of the conditions which are essential for the revival of economic activity.

The question of free passage through the territory of Armenian Karabagh of herds being taken to pasture by Azerbaijanis had already received a satisfactory solution, even though at the time Karabagh was surrounded by Turco-Tatar bands assisted by Baku. This question would not have presented any difficult at all if the Armenians of Karabagh had not been forced to recognize the authority of Azerbaijan.

By attaching the text of the resolution, which was approved unanimously by the congress and signed by all the delegates, and which rejects the temporary authority of Azerbaijan’s governor general, the Fifth Assembly of Armenians of Karabagh declares that it has based its decision on the firm and unwavering will of the people that has given it its mandate; the British command can discover the same by popular referendum.

Recognizing fully that cultural and economic factors play a significant role in the solution of such important political questions, the Fifth Assembly of Armenia of Armenians of Karabagh is firmly convinced that Great Britain, in the person of its military commander in the Caucasus, would never want to force Armenians to be subjected to the rule of the Khans of Azerbaijan, from which it has freed itself over a hundred years, at the cost of immense sacrifices and indescribable suffering.

The Fifth Assembly of Armenians of Karabagh, being informed of the imperative demand repeated by General Shuttleworth for the recognition of the authority of the government of Azerbaijan and having examined the reasons that have motivated these demands, concludes nonetheless that it is impossible to review its rejection of provisional Azerbaijani rule. That was dictated by the unwavering will of the whole Armenian population of karabakh, which no delegate of the Assembly could have disobeyed. The delegates cannot accept the responsibility of bloodshed which may result from the forced establishment of Azerbaijani power on Armenian Karabagh.

[Republic of Armenia Archives, File No. 9]

The Karabagh File, Documents and Facts, 1918-1988, First Edition, Cambridge Toronto 1988, by the ZORYAN INSTITUTE, edited by: Gerard J. LIBARIDIAN, pp. 17-19.