Philip Ekozyants, an Armenian history blogger who currently lives and works in Kharkov, Ukraine, said in an interview with the Baku-based media outlet Oxu.az that no one should doubt to which country the Nagorno-Karabakh region belongs, Caspian News reported.
“Nagorno-Karabakh is the land of the Republic of Azerbaijan, without a doubt,” Ekzoyants told Oxu.az on November 14. “Historically, it is the territory of Azerbaijan.”
“Most of the population [in Nagorno-Karabakh] was Muslim, the smaller - Christians (not only Armenians),” he said referring to indigenous Azerbaijani population in the region, to where Armenians were relocated by the Russian empire starting in the early 19th century.
Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts were occupied by Armenia during a full-scale war that lasted for four years, from 1991 until a ceasefire deal in 1994. The bloody war claimed the lives of over 30,000 Azerbaijanis and expelled one million more from their homeland.
Armenia has been ignoring four UN Security Council resolutions to pull its soldiers from the occupied Azerbaijani regions, perpetuating the conflict and maintaining what are high tensions between the two countries that were once part of the USSR.
Historical sources demonstrate that ethnic Armenians did not exist in the Nagorno-Karabakh region until after the Russian Empire made a decision to relocate them to Azerbaijani territories from Iran and Turkey in the wake of a war between 1804-1812. After Russia won the war over Iran, northern parts of Azerbaijan, except Iravan (modern-day Yerevan) and Nakhchivan were incorporated into the Russian empire. Another war, lasting from 1826 until 1828, resulted in Iravan and Nakhchivan, the entirety of northern lands, being occupied by Imperial Russia. Southern territories fell under Iran’s control.
Under the post-occupation administrative division, northern Azerbaijan was divided into provinces of Baku, Yelizavetpol (Gandja city in the west of Azerbaijan), and Iravan. The Nagorno-Karabakh region was part of the Yelizavetpol province. One of the ways the Tsardom of Russia used to expand its colonial policy in the occupied territories was to relocate people within the borders of the South Caucasus, including in Azerbaijan.
The first option was to relocate Armenians due to several reasons, including their lack of an established state and reportedly being submissive compared to others. A special commission was established to deal with the deployment of Armenians from the Ottoman and Iranian territories to the South Caucasus. As a result of the relocation, the number of Armenians in Karabakh region reached 18,000 between 1828 and 1829 and hit 34,606 in 1843.
Nikolai Shavrov, a military administrator who was involved in the relocation, wrote that 84,000 Armenians from the Ottoman were placed on the best lands in the Yelizavetpol and Iravan provinces of Azerbaijan, where ethnic Armenians practically did not exist. The mountainous part of Yelizavetpol, which is modern-day Nagorno-Karabakh region, and the coasts of Lake Goycha in the western edge of Azerbaijan received the largest part of Armenians relocated by the Tsardom of Russia. Shavrov has further noted that over one million of around 1.3 million Armenians living in the South Caucasus did not have any connection to the indigenous people and have been settled by the Tsarist regime.
The next wave of deployment of Armenians into the South Caucasus by Russia lasted from 1904 to 1915, when over 260 thousand ethnic Armenians were placed there. Despite protests, 130 thousand of them were relocated in the provinces of Iravan and Yelizavetpol.
The placement of Armenians in the territories belonging to Azerbaijan ignited what were ethnopolitical contradictions. Boris Pisarski, chief of the special department at the Caucasus province, wrote to Russia's Frontier Commissioner in Iran in 1915 that the reason why Armenians and Azerbaijanis were on the edge was the relocation of Armenians.
Ultimately, the modern-day Republic of Armenia was established in the historical lands of Azerbaijan known locally as “Western Azerbaijan”. Nearly two million Azerbaijanis were displaced from their homelands in 20th century in the wake of premediated deportation policy pursued by Armenia and the Soviet Union. Deportation of Azerbaijanis from their homeland took place in three phases: 1905-1920, 1948-1953, and 1988 -1993.
The most recent disastrous phase of confrontation that was expressly motivated by ethnic hatred and ethnic conflict rekindled by the Armenian leadership, erupted in the early 1990s when Armenia kicked off a military aggression against Azerbaijan to occupy the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan but had been partially populated with ethnic Armenians alongside indigenous Azerbaijanis.