03/01/2023, 09.55
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Armenians and Azeris remember victims of each other's massacres

by Vladimir Rozanskij

26 Armenians were killed In the pogrom of Sumgait, in Azerbaijan, 35 years ago. In February 1992, Russian-Armenian troops attacked the Azerbaijani city of Khodžali. Perennial tension in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan, together with President Vaagn Khačaturyan and other members of the Yerevan authorities, visited the Tzitzernakaberd Hill Memorial in the capital.

It is dedicated to the victims of the Turkish genocide, to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the pogrom in Sumgait, an Azerbaijani town where there were 26 Armenian victims, the beginning of the conflict in the region that led to the war in Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s, which has flared up again in recent years.

According to Pašinyan, "after 35 years, the Armenians of Artsakh [Karabakh] are again faced with the need to defend their right to live in their home, in their homeland." Khačaturyan also reiterated the accusations against Azerbaijan, which has been trying since the end of the Soviet period to 'forcibly deport Armenians in order to plunder their land and property'.

For the Armenian leaders, the lack of punitive measures for the events of February 1988, still in the Soviet era under Gorbačëv, led to the repetition of such tragedies in Baku, Gandzak and elsewhere in Azerbaijan, to the detriment of the local Armenian minorities.

The sharp tones of the statements also reflect the situation after 80 days of the blockade of the Lačin corridor, an action 'aimed at evicting the remaining 120,000 Armenians from the territory', says Pašinyan.

According to the Armenian premier, the blockade 'continues, ignoring even the decisions of the highest international judicial bodies, continuing the devastation and desecration of Armenian historical and cultural monuments and religious shrines'.

The Armenian Republic, according to its leaders, 'expresses its consistent adherence to the prospects for peace and stability, considering it a shared imperative to achieve long-term peace, including all the necessary conditions'. The US and EU embassies in Yerevan expressed their closeness in commemorating the fallen of Sumgait.

At the same time, the victims of the Khodžali massacre are remembered in Azerbaijan. On the night of 25-26 February 1992, a battalion of Armenians stationed in Stepanakert, together with a division of Russians, attacked the Azerbaijani town, after several warnings, causing a massacre among the civilian population. From Khodžali, the Azeris had repeatedly attacked the Armenian capital of Nagorno-Karabakh.

This was the most tragic episode of the Karabakh War, which lasted from 1992 until 1994, and stemmed from the tensions of the last Soviet years. This conflict dated back to the beginning of the 20th century, with two bloody phases between 1905-1907 and 1918-1920, which followed the disintegration of the Russian empire and the convulsive turns of the revolutionary period.

In 1994, the two sides signed the Biškek Protocol on the suspension of hostilities, mediated by Kyrgyzstan and Russia. The agreement 'froze' the war without resolving any territorial issues, and Nagorno-Karabakh remained a de facto independent Armenian republic until the 44-day war of 2020, with Azerbaijan's aggression and new massacres of soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Commemorations of past events certainly do not help soothe tensions, providing further motivation for mutual aggression, which may soon turn into new tragic episodes. Mediations by the Russians and Europeans have so far failed to achieve any concrete results, even risking complicating the situation.

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