People of Artsakh deserved the right to have an independent state

People of Artsakh deserved the right to have an independent state

Senator Jaromir Shtetina

In the frameworks of the work conducted over the film “The Ordinary Genocide. “Koltso” Operation” the film-crew holds meetings and talks with those who witnessed the events. Video footage of these meetings will be included in the film to be; so far an interview ( see video in russian) with the member of Senate of the Czech Republic Jaromir Shtetina will be presented to our readers. He has been a famous Czech TV journalist and public figure who repeatedly visited Karabakh during the war time, he has also been the representative of the organization called "People in Need".

“I first went to Artsakh in 1991as a journalist and later visited it for many times. Very often me and other journalists had to break through Yerevan to Stepanakert. These were difficult times – counteraction from Azerbaijani and Soviet authorities was very strong. I remember the commander of the Stepanakert airport Hajiyev, who once even deported me back from Karabakh to Armenia. And Mr. Polyanichko (former head of the Organizing Committee of Nagorno Karabakh – Ed.), that was sitting in Stepanakert at that time, took me into the custody for a night and I set in jail until morning, then I was again “banished” to Yerevan on a plane.

Moscow then wished to preserve the status quo, i.e. to consider Artsakh a part of Azerbaijan officially. This was used by the nationalist forces of Azerbaijan for conducting the first ethnic cleansing. I saw with my own eyes, and then described in my articles how the inhabitants of Armenian villages were being deported from the southern parts of Karabakh to Armenia. It happened like this: Soviet troops entered the village and under the pretext of “protecting citizens from the Azeri thugs” offered to get into the trucks quickly and leave their lands. The “salvation”, thus, meant taking hundreds of Armenians away from Karabakh. These obviously were the criminal actions of the Soviet army.

As a journalist and an eyewitness of the events I even spoke in the Supreme Council
of the USSR, where I was given the floor at the request of Sergei Kovalev. I confirmed that it was the Soviet army that took part in the deportation of the peaceful Armenian population.
I have also witnessed the firing of Stepanakert from the side of Shushi and Aghdam, I have been in villages near the river Khachen, where fierce battles were going on. I remember the Armenian guerillas who fought in civilian clothes against the Azerbaijani army … I’ve been in those villages when the Azeri army attacked and started to kill the civilians. In front of my eyes, they killed an Armenian old woman, and we even filmed her body on camera … By the way, 10 years later I found the sons of that old woman and learned where she was eventually buried.

I think the Karabakh war was the first strive for freedom in the Soviet Union. It were the people of Karabakh that came to Prague during the Soviet era and laid flowers at the place where Jan Palak died (Czech student who committed suicide on 16 January 1969 in protest against the Soviet occupation – Ed.) protesting against the Soviet occupation. In my opinion, the Karabakh movement played a decisive role in accelerating the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Hajiyev that I mentioned above was a real murderer. He told me that he started human hunting at night – it was his hobby. I was therefore not surprised at the news that in the end the Armenians found and shot him to death.

I have preserved many bright memories about the people of Artsakh, my friends. I remember, for instance, my friend Rafik’s son who studied in Leningrad, but left everything and arrived in Artsakh to fight for his homeland. Unfortunately, he shot dead.

Karabakh war was the first war where I worked as a journalist. Therefore, the first killed people I saw remained in my memory forever. They were four young guys whose bodies were taken to an area in Stepanakert on stretchers. They were killed just a few minutes ago and their eyes were not yet closed. It was unbearable to look into those eyes, so I did shut them down by myself.

Already in those years, I felt that the Karabakh conflict is a spiral of hatred that will always get more intense. In about 2001-2002 I visited Azerbaijan and met with many Azerbaijani refugees, including those from Aghdam. This town doesn’t exist today first of all because during the years of war it was turned into a fire base of Azeris from where Stepanakert was under fire. It means that this spiral of hatred had begun to wind back at that time by the Azeri. Then I realized that it will be very difficult to solve the problem by force even taking into consideration the fact that Azerbaijan today is a rich country with a large military budget. People of Artsakh have turned their country into a powerful fortress; I saw the forts in Aghdam by my eyes. And I am sure that the Karabakh conflict solution by force is impossible.

I am very happy with the rapid development of the NKR, I would even say that in recent years, this development appears to be faster than in Armenia. The international recognition of Artsakh will take time. But I am sure that after all those things that the people of Artsakh endured, they deserve the right of having their own independent state. Armenia and Artsakh in particular should be more initiative and actively pursue the policy of a small unrecognized country. Representatives of Artsakh should take part in various forums, conferences and even in those of the Council of Europe, they should be confident in themselves and keep going.

Video, in Russian


Prepared with the assistance of the Public Relations and Information Center of the Office of the President of Armenia, Yerevan.


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