In 2020, after the 44-day war, an agreement was signed on November 9, 2021, and Azerbaijan failed to fulfill the agreement's obligations. In May and November of 2021 and September of 2022, the Azerbaijani army launched military incursions into border areas and settlements of Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia. They also seized 41 square kilometers from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. In 2022, starting from December 12, there was a complete 9-month blockade of Artsakh. In 2023, a large-scale military operation against Artsakh was launched on September 19. This military operation, together with the ongoing forced deportation of the Armenian population of Artsakh, along with the events mentioned above, constitutes a direct continuation of the genocidal actions and depopulation efforts that began in 1988. These tragic events commenced with the February Sumgait pogroms and continued in 1992 with massacres and deportations occurring in Baku, Kirovabad, Maragha, Getashen, and various other locations. International structures and organizations have yet to initiate any formal legal proceedings in response to this systematic genocide and ethnic cleansing. The condemnation of these actions has remained primarily confined to abstract statements, failing to manifest as concrete opposition measures or sanctions.
During at least the last 35 years, the entire education system and information landscape in Azerbaijan has consistently promoted animosity and hostility towards Armenians among their population through various means, including through the glorification of individuals responsible for violence against Armenians and the falsification of historical facts.
Even now, the "reintegration programs" extended by Azerbaijan to the Armenian population of Artsakh lack any indications of addressing the profoundly entrenched sentiments of hatred. Instead, this ethnic cleansing is carried out under the name of "anti-terrorist operation”.
This prevailing atmosphere of widespread impunity and permissiveness is a matter of grave concern for our community during this pivotal period. It serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges we encountered hundred years ago.
In the present context, amidst the conspicuous silence of “civilized humanity,” Azerbaijan not only devours Artsakh but also makes territorial claims to the Republic of Armenia. This expansionist agenda is epitomized by the implausible and contrived notion of "Western Azerbaijan," a concept progressively gaining traction as a strategy within Azerbaijan's geopolitical aspirations in the South Caucasus. Simultaneously, the emergence of territorial claims against southern Dagestan and eastern Georgia is apparent, signifying a broader pattern of territorial revisionism.
The principles of this emerging Azerbaijani identity have been subject to scholarly inquiry, appearing in numerous publications characterized by their scientific rigor. Some of these publications have even received endorsement and support from the Azerbaijani Academy of Sciences.
Furthermore, Azerbaijani lobbying groups in various countries consistently interfere with scientific and social initiatives organized in cooperation with Armenia (publishing books, showing films, performances, scientific events, etc.), hindering their implementation and the participation of Armenian scholars and professionals in these initiatives.
This, in turn, contributes to the spread of anti-Armenian sentiments outside the borders of the Republic of Armenia. At the same time, Azerbaijan's allies express their support and patronage to Azerbaijan's anti-Armenian and expansionist aspirations in every possible way.
There is no need for specialized professional analysis to foresee the trajectory of intricately complex and most likely violent developments. As scholars within the realm of human sciences, we are compelled to acknowledge that both the allied CSTO member states and the international entities such as the UN and the EU, which advocate for soft measures by excessively "moving slowly," are rapidly losing the opportunities to implement their fundamental values and assumed mission in the South Caucasus.
Should this trend persist, "peace" in the South Caucasus may come at the expense of surrendering the region to so-called "heroic" criminals. It is our sincere hope that for the aforementioned international organizations, this does not represent an acceptable price for the pursuit of a life of dignity within one's homeland and the realization of fundamental human rights.
In solidarity with our colleagues at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute who have issued the "Save Artsakh" appeal (dated September 22, 2023, http://www.genocide-museum.am/eng/21.09.23.php), we, as intellectuals and experts engaged in the study of the historical and contemporary facets of the Armenian people, and deeply concerned about the future of our community, call for the following:
1. To the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, we earnestly appeal for sobriety, unwavering strength, and steadfast unity.
2. We implore our compatriots in the Diaspora to tirelessly raise the issue of genocide and ethnic cleansing, which has already been executed, on all available platforms. Their efforts should not be limited to condemnation alone but should also encompass the mitigation of its aftermath and the pursuit of punitive measures against the guilty states.
3. We urge the authorities in the Republic of Armenia to employ every available avenue to raise the issue of the rights of Artsakh Armenians and pursue justice for the genocide through international courts. Additionally, we recommend the establishment of an inclusive Advisory Body comprised of Armenian and international professionals residing in various nations who share our commitment. This body can harness the collective potential of the global Armenian community and formulate a comprehensive action plan to preserve lives.
Furthermore, we advocate for the establishment of an expanded Political Crisis Committee, which should try to form solidarity and agreement between political forces regarding the task of safeguarding the Armenians of Artsakh and, therefore, moving away from the practice of entrusting the determination of critical national issues to small, exclusive groups.
4. We implore international organizations and foreign governments to refrain from merely expressing "concern" regarding the situation of Artsakh Armenians and instead take decisive actions. We urge them to initiate international monitoring efforts aimed at preserving Armenian cultural heritage and to hold those responsible for its destruction accountable. We call upon them to categorize Azerbaijan's policies as crimes against humanity and to initiate all necessary procedures in this regard.
5. We call upon our colleagues within the global academic community to lend their voices in support of the indigenous ethnic population of Artsakh, who, in the 21st century’s global interconnectedness, find themselves isolated in the face of xenophobic policies propagated by neighboring fascist regimes. The neglect of this crisis places upon the scientific community a profound and historic responsibility.
September 25, 2023