Letter: From separate sides of the conflict in the Caucasus

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Sir: Having just returned from a business trip to Azerbaijan, I feel compelled to write to you in an attempt to present the Azerbaijanis' position. There is a strong feeling of resentment that reporting of the conflict in the Western press has been one-sided. In particular, they cite the biased view presented by Baroness Cox after her 'guided' tour of Armenia.

Unfortunately, the situation in Bosnia has tended to overshadow events in Azerbaijan. However, it is now widely accepted that Armenia, with the Armenian-funded Russian 7th Army, has occupied 10 per cent of Azerbaijan. In the process, 130,000 refugees have been displaced and hundreds of soldiers killed.

What is not so widely known is that Azerbaijan has no real army, and the soldiers being massacred are young conscripts of 18 or 19 with virtually no military training.

The people of Azerbaijan are some of the most peace-loving and friendly I have ever met. Even in their present circumstances, they tolerate Russians and Armenians at all levels of their society. I came across no instances of prejudice against non-Azeris.

Yours faithfully,

C. R. PILKINGTON

Horsham, West Sussex

20 April

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