Monday, November 2, 2020

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: Armenian communists call for an unconditional ceasefire

In a statement published in SolidNet, the Communist Party of Armenia refers to the tense situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and calls the fraternal Communist and Workers' Parties to support peace and an unconditional ceasefire.

The statement reads:

We call on communists from all parties across the world to join us in demanding an end to the war and for the resolution of all outstanding disputes between the Republic of Azerbaijan and Republic of Armenia through dialogue and diplomacy based on the UN Charter and respect for the rights of nations to self-determination.

The war that began on the morning of 27 September 2020, following an Azerbaijani military offensive directed against Armenian civilian targets,is now four weeks old and has had catastrophic consequences.  Hundreds of civilians have been killed.  Ancient towns and monuments of important heritage significance have been deliberately targeted and bombed.  The city of Stepanakert, the capital of Armenian-populated Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), is now largely deserted by its civilian population as a result of extensive Azerbaijani drone attacks using cluster munitions. There is also mounting evidence that the Azerbaijani forces have used white phosphorus in their bombardments.

On 28 October, Azerbaijani forces struck Stepanakert and nearby Shushi several times in deliberately targeted attacks against civilian and residential infrastructure throughout the day - including the shelling of Stepanakert’s Maternal and Child Healthcare Centre.

Since its very start, the Communist Party of Armenia has steadfastly opposed this war - and analysed it as being against the interests of the peoples of the two neighbouring countries, a threat to peace in the region, and has repeatedly called for a ceasefire.

We have recently been alerted to an erroneous and misleading statement bearing the name of the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, and dated 16 October 2020, that has been circulated to some fraternal parties.  Since we have not received this statement directly, nor has it not been published on SolidNet, we are unsure of the letter’s origin or authenticity.

Firstly, in response to this statement supposedly issued by the Communist Party of Azerbaijan, we should underline the fact that we were not shown the courtesy of being a recipient to the said statement.  As the Communist Party of Armenia, a party with decades-old fraternal links with all parties of the former Soviet Union, we would have at least expected to receive an analysis of the current tragic situation - and suggestions of the way out of it- from our comrades.  Our understanding is that as communist parties, naturally we are internationalists.

The Communist Party of Armenia finds the communiqué purportedly coming from the Communist Party of Azerbaijan to be a very disappointing statement regarding the dangerous situation facing the two neighbouring nations and the future of peace in the region.  Upon close inspection, the statement is in effect a rewording of an official communiqué issued by the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 15 October 2020.

Hence the statement by the Communist Party of Azerbaijan lacks any characterisation, let alone criticism, of the policies of the current government in Baku; its dictatorial approach and hallmarks; its bowing to neoliberal capitalism; and, in particular,its naked subservience to the designs of the government of Turkey - a NATO member.  The statement completely fails to offer any analysis on the issue of the war between Azerbaijan and the besieged people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)and whose interests it ultimately serves, but instead religiously follows the lines of justification for chauvinist military intervention as offered up in the Azerbaijani government’s formal communications thus far…  A government with a woeful reputation and track record on human rights and which has moved to imprison many members of active opposition organisations, students, campaigners for women’s rights, as well as peace activists!

Comrades, as communists and internationalists, we have the duty to refrain from regarding war through the prism of sentimental nationalism.  The fact remains that in the midst of the defeat of the Soviet Union - at the same time as and upon the same basis that Azerbaijan and many other former Soviet republics declared their independence and secession from the union- the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) also exercised their inalienable right to declare the independence of their Autonomous Oblast! This was a will articulated continuously by the vast majority of the population of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and their political representatives throughout the last century, ever since the inception of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, on the basis that most of the population is ethnic Armenian - and has been so since time immemorial.  Furthermore, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) has never come under the direct jurisdiction of Azerbaijan in its own right or as an independent entity.

A people’s right to national self-determination aside, the objections of the ethnic Armenian majority population of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to any notion of their subjugation to direct rule under the Republic of Azerbaijan are clear and well-founded.  Indeed, as the Soviet Union crumbled and with it the longstanding policy of the "inviolable friendship among peoples" which had until then held sway in the Caucasus, Armenians were subject to pogroms and horrific violence at the hands of rampaging Azerbaijani mobs cheered on by their nationalist representatives.  And, all this barely thirty years ago! In the time since then, the Azerbaijani government/regime has actively repressed its non-Turkic minority groups and officially encouraged a particular enmity and hatred for the Armenians.

And if, to paraphrase, “war is the continuation of politics” then we as communists must study the politics that led to and brought about this war - in this case the thirty-year-war declared and pursued by the Azerbaijani government, now backed by its allies in Turkey and Israel, against the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).  We very much doubt that the intention of the government of Turkey is, or has ever been, to support the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) or any other of its neighbouring peoples to be more prosperous and live in peace.  We are extremely concerned about the expansionist plans of the government of Turkey and see the manoeuvring of the government in Azerbaijan as integral to these malevolent designs.  Unfortunately, Azerbaijan has long held a deserved though unenviable reputation as the second centre of Pan-Turkism ideology.

The Ankara government’s malevolent intent in this conflict is underscored not only by its continual support for Azerbaijani aggression, and its more than logistical assistance to Baku in this respect, but also the well-documented deployment of at least a thousand Islamist fighters recruited from Idlib in Syria. The “brief” of these fighters can only be imagined in an arena most of them are unfamiliar with - and in which most of them do not have even a rudimentary grasp of any local language. The risk of a major conflagration resulting from the presence of these jihadis in this volatile border area cannot be overstated!

Dear Comrades,

The Communist Party of Armenia is a proudly anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist party and is fighting for peace and disarmament in the Caucasus and across the whole region.

We are opposed to violence against nations and,as communists and internationalists,we believe it is the duty of every communist to stand against jingoism, militarism, and war.

As communists we believe in the rights of nations to self-determination.  The people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) have long democratically decided upon their destiny - they see it as their human right to be independent, and not be condemned to the dictatorial rule of Azerbaijan and by extension Turkey.

We believe that there is only one way to resolve this dangerous situation in our region and between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and that is through peace and a negotiated settlement in accordance with international law and within the framework of the UN Charter.  

We call upon all communist and workers parties to join us in our campaign for an immediate ceasefire, and an enduring peace and fraternity - once more in the spirit of the "friendship among peoples"!

In comradeship

Communist Party of Armenia

1st November 2020.