Letter: From separate sides of the conflict in the Caucasus

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Sir: Your article on 8 April ('Turks accuse UN and Moscow over Armenia') dealing with the Armenian-Azeri conflict singled out only Armenian aggression. When writing about a conflict, it is incumbent upon any journalist to ferret out both sides of the situation and put his report in proper historical perspective. Hugh Pope, your Baku correspondent, when writing about the Armenian-Azeri conflict, consistently fails to meet any of the above criteria.

Turning specifically to his report and your paper's leading article on the same day, while both underscore Armenian advances, they fail to mention that the Azeris initially started this whole sad affair by relentlessly bombing not only Karabakh but Armenia proper. Today, almost all of northern Karabakh is under Azeri military control, with tens of thousands of its Armenian inhabitants having fled.

I must quote here from your paper's leading article, which stated: 'The facts of recent history are in Azerbaijan's favour. It was the Armenians who sought to change the status quo. It is Armenia that has invaded Azerbaijani territory.' The reality is that, all over the former Soviet Union, the status quo was being changed by events far beyond the confines of Armenia. Just as the Azeris sought independence at the time the rest of the former Soviet states were pulling away, so was Karabakh doing the exact same thing vis-a-vis Azerbaijan. Why should we applaud Azerbaijan and all the other former Soviet states for achieving independence from the former Soviet Union and yet, by the same token - if we are to heed your newspaper's implicit stance - criticise Armenia for helping Karabakh to achieve the very same freedom from its oppressors?

Furthermore, how can you parallel the Serb, Croat and Bosnian war with the Armenian-Azeri conflict and, in so doing, liken the Armenians to the Serbs, when there is a distinct difference in the case of Armenia - with its people starving and being blockaded as they are by the Azeris and Turks. Armenia is fighting purely for survival against overwhelming odds. When a nation is on the verge of extinction what is it supposed to do? The Turks tried once before to wipe out the Armenian nation. Are they now using the Azeris to help them finish what they had started?

Yours sincerely,


London, W5

The writer is a former British United Nations staff member.