By Aram MATEVOSYAN
Repetition and recollection: the same movement, only in opposing directions. Recollection turns man back, making him repeat what has been backwards; – as for the true repetition, it makes man, recollecting, anticipate what will be.
USA, The Preliminary Treaty of Peace signed in San-Stefano
19.02./03.03.1878 Article 16
As the withdrawal by the Russian troops of the territory which they occupy in Armenia, and which is to be restored to Turkey, might give rise to conflicts and complications detrimental to the maintenance of good relations between the two countries, the Sublime Porte engages to carry into effect, without further delay, the improvements and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by Armenians, and to guarantee their security from Kurds and Circassians.
The Berlin Treaty
The Sublime Porte engages to realize without further delay, the ameliorations and the reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhabited by the Armenians, and to guarantee their security against the Kurds and the Circassians. The Sublime Porte will periodically render account of the measures taken with this intent to the Powers who will supervise them.”
The identity of these two documents is broken just by the fact that the second document is signed by representatives of a greater number of states, which let Minas Cheraz, secretary of the Armenian delegation in Berlin, write in a brochure “What we have won from the Berlin Treaty” that it was announcement of the internationalization of the Armenian Cause and the point that “from now on it is not only Russia, but also Europe should become defenders of Armenians.” We all know very well how the “united Europe” defended Armeniain 1915. Setting hopes upon alien forces, since San-Stefano up to the Kavbureau decision of 1921, we turned our history into a chain of historic failures. The contemporary Armenian political thought is much more watchful and realistic, despite controversial publications and gossips.
The initiators of the Karabakh Movement that started in February 1988 know the history and their goals.
Even the perfunctory study of the history shows that the self-determination of nations is possible only as a result of the collapse of empires. And the fact that the declaration of independence of Nagorno Karabakh had to follow the proclamation of independence by the Trans-Caucasus republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia is fully in line with the logic of disintegration of the Soviet empire. The pseudo- substance of the Stalin formalism came out in the very first days of the mentioned collapse. The artificial conglomerate, named the Union of Soviet Republics, will be still disintegrated a long time on. The same expects the Ottoman, just as other countries, based on the totalitarianism.
But as far as topic of this conversation is Shushi, I would like to say that the liberation of the Artsakh ancient capital, Shushi, became one of the starting points for emergence of new states that were born through the collapse of empires. That is why they, i.e. the empires, are in confusion, being occupied with elaboration of all sorts of principles in Moscow, in Madrid, other places. Armenian political scientists insist that the Madrid principles are aimed against Armenians… Not at all. It depends on who interprets them and how.
The modern international law declares “self-determination of nations within the territorial integrity.” It is written as if it is just for Artsakh. The self-determination of the Artsakh people took place just in its historic territorial integrity. The belonging of the territory is not defined by the cartography or enforced adoption of pseudo-documents; and it is impossible to become masters of the land just by changing the church domes. Armenia almost lost original Armenian place-names in the Soviet years. Russians renamed places, Azerbaijanis renamed … But Tsakhkadzor did not become Turkish, when it was renamed as Darachichak. The same with Shushi, which was called as Shusha to make it sound Azerbaijani. In addition, the cartography does not help to define to whom the territory belongs.
The territorial belonging is hereditary, historically hereditary. And the Artsakh people have restored the right to dispose their own heritage. I am not an expert in international law, but I do not think that restoration of the rights to dispose one’s own property is a violation of international law. So there has been restoration of the right to property of those who lived on this land, which allows the residents of the newly independent country to build up plans and develop as they would like it. And it is the matter of the conscience of the neighboring and distant states: to recognize it or not.
Shushi as a student center and Stepanakert as a business center: this is how I imagine the development perspectives of the second Armenian republic. In my messages, sent to the ruling elite since the very first days of our independence, I have always reminded the necessity of a horizontal development. In the strategy of occupation of the lands, our enemy was guided by this fundamental principle: they settled somewhere, built a home on the edge of a village, then the second one –several hundred meters away from the first one. With their low level of life, they made their civilized neighbors turn away and leave their land. The Ararat valley even lost almost all Armenian place-names, to say nothing of the Azerbaijanized Artsakh.
It is the creation of infrastructures throughout the whole territory should be priority of those who are in command of our state.
The attempt of Europization of Armenia by means of construction of the North Avenue in Yerevan should have been started from Shushi.
The newly independent elite now in power, using the imperative of implementation of national projects, have concentrated the whole national capital in its hands. We have agreed, reconciling ourselves with the thought that it would be difficult for us – for the sake of the national perspective. And what is next? The continuation has become vicious. Now the nation is in expectation when the Yerevan streets will be once and for all conquered and when funds will flow to the periphery, to borderline regions, to Shushi and Stepanakert. I have always considered these two towns as one – in one perspective of development: one as an old city and education center, and the second, as a new city, the business capital of the newly independent republic.
The liberation is not the end in itself. The liberation movement is not a discrete process; it is a lifestyle, a systemic constructive condition. The liberation of Shushi is a remarkable fragment of realization of the national-liberation project. So we have just to comprehend it correctly and continue working. Understanding the continuity of liberation brings up the character and behavior.
The war was necessity, and liberation is guaranteeing the conditions for life. The liberation of Shushi was a vital necessity, the necessity that gave birth to the Armenian liberation movement. This necessity was felt much earlier: before San-Stefano, during the Berlin Congress, when the Alexandrapol peace treaty was concluded, and while the bitter decision of the Bolshevik Kavbureau was made in 1921. Going straight to the imposed war, liberating the historic lands, the Armenian people has actually partly implemented the demand of the European states, articulated in San-Stefano and addressed to the High Porte. I do not know what the so called civilized nations understood and what they understand as the High Porte, but any nation and community can be raised only by a talent who was born in its bosom and who created a universal value. Well, let me leave the people, who lived and created so much chef- d’oeuvres in Constantinople, and get back to Shushi. The number of graves of talented people, who were born in Shushi, is enough to fill the pantheon of the whole capital city. This fact should be assumed as a basis of their position by the mediators who have taken on the mission of settlement of the Karabakh problem.
The whole “Repetition” of the Danish thinker, the fragment of which was used as an epigraph of this reflection, is a hymn to the people who have passed through trials with the Beatitudes. The Armenian people, especially, its Artsakh part, are honorably passing through its share of trials. As a result of the patient waiting and struggle, the people have got the repetition. The original text of the fragment that we used as an epigraph has the following continuation:
The recollection has a big advantage: starting from the loss, it is self-confident, as far as it has already nothing to lose.
Shushi is repetition, just the repetition that makes every man, recollecting his past, apprehend and build the future.