in the Transcaucasus
in a state of emergency
by Hikmet HADJY-ZADEH
Hikmet Hadjy-zadeh is one of the founders of the
Popular Front of
Azerbaijan. He worked as chief editor of the Popular Front Newspaper
"Svoboda," he was also Deputy Prime-Minister and ambassador to Russia during
the term of Elchibay's government(92-93). At present he is the head of the
analytical centre of the Musavat party.
Address: Azerbaijan, Baku, Bul-Bul pr.14/9;
Phone: (8922)93-09-51; E-mail: email@example.com
The difficulties of establishing stable democracy
in Central and East European countries, freed from communism,
given rise to various research works and papers on the problem.
In many of these papers the authors, following the
well-known philosophy that the cause of every phenomenon should
be found in itself, come to the conclusion that these people are
not ready for democracy. At the end of report, concerning military
coup d'etat that overthrew democratically elected government of
Azerbaijan (summer 1993) "Time" magazine quotes one
of the citizens of Baku: "We are given freedom, but we do
not know what to do with it." A similar quotation is set
forth in the "Financial Times," in a report about falsification
during Parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan (November 1995):
"The voters say they have got freedom only they do not know
what to do with it." The striking resemblance of these quotations
makes me think that there is a stereotypical view at work in the
thoughts of Western magazine editors.
Of course we are not ready to accept the democracy
as would have been desired. But to what extent? Then to what
extent are our failures to establish stable democracy determined
by the above unreadiness? Are not there some other reasons? Why
do the scholars and observers pay so little attention to the induced
instability in our countries?
It is well known that tension imposed on the country
from outside often results in the growth of separatism, ethnic
nationalism and paternalism. Democracy cannot successfully develop
in a condition of a permanent state of emergency, in which we
found ourselves because of our geographical location -- we are
too far from God and too near to Russia.
It could be argued that western observers in trying
to ignore the above issue are trying to evade the answer to the
following question: "What is to be done and why don't we
help them?" Of course it is so simple to say "we do
nothing, because they are not ready and there is nothing to help
"THE EVIL IMPIRE" IS REVIVING, WHAT
IS TO BE DONE?
"...In the short term the main task of the West towards Russia is not to clear up the prospects of democracy in this country, but to define if Russia will become national state or restore its empire status."
In 1994 public opinion in the West was seriously
concerned for the first time by the fact that the democratic wave
on the territory of the former USSR began to go down and the pro-imperial
public attitude was intensified by the failure of the supporters
of independent pro-western policy at Presidential elections in
Ukraine . Although president Kuchma, who won the presidential
elections maintained a policy of independence for the Ukraine,
we could see the extend of resistance to this policy within
the country as well as pressure coming from outside which he
had to overcome. Then there was another warning: the communists
in Boleros came to power and declared openly the necessity of
reconstituting the USSR. They also called for necessity of opposing
However the backlash to democracy and expansion of
neo-imperialism on the territory of the former USSR began before.
It took only a year for imperialistic forces in Russia to overcome
the shock, caused with disintegration of the USSR in 1991. Since
the autumn of 1992 Russia (its force ministries and especially
General Staff of Russian Army) started making the situation unstable
almost unintentionally, without working out a clear foreign policy
and then exercised harsh military pressure into the affairs of
the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, with
the aim of reconstructing its influence upon them. Armenia practically
has lost its independence, Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Ukraine
are oppressed and the republics of Middle Asia and Kazakhstan
are in permanent fear for their future. Of course, the longing
for freedom in these countries was replaced by longing for safety.
The end of 1993 was marked by impressive success
of adherence to the idea of Russian Super Power and socialist
economy. It brought the victory to communists and nationalists
at parliamentary elections in Russia. In 1994 - 1996 this tendency
became stronger and brought a great success (some 40%) to the
supporters of this idea at parliamentary elections in December
1995 and the presidential election in 1996 (41%).
Even the representatives of the reformative wing
of the political elite in Russia headed by Yeltsin have to repeat
the ideas of the supporters of the empire about the greatness
of Russia and its special interests.
These expansionist ambitions are restricted not only
to the territory of the former USSR. Today "admirers of the
former greatness" work out actively the idea of "After
Byzantine space," where Russia must prevail. Further and
further they turn their eyes towards the Balkans and Middle East.
These people are not looking for space to co-operate, to be engaged
in commerce or to exchange ideas; they want a space to dominate
or to have so-called "Lebensraum" (Space for the living
-- germ.), an expression well known since before Second World
Today it is clear that the "Evil Empire"
is reviving regarding its policy toward CIS and that this is going
on with the silent connivance of the West. There is no need to
remind that such policy finally makes America pay twice, when
Russia will take control of CIS without any hindrance.
RUSSIAN AMBITIONS REGARDING CIS
How does Russia itself formulates its national interests
and foreign policy problems in CIS? Today, when Russian society
has gained a certain amount of freedom of information, this is
easy to see even from sources published officially as well as
from the quite frank statements of high-ranking Russian politicians.
1. Western countries at present have lost their ability
to maintain an active foreign policy and they are busy now with
domestic affairs. USA devotes a lot of attention to its domestic
affairs, Europe is busy with the Maastricht process, Germany has
the problems of uniting its divided territories. So there will
not be any special resistance to Russian expansion in the CIS.
However the West has enough resources to unleash a new cold war
in which Russia will be defeated again.
2. At the same time, Russia can hardly keep from
taking advantage of the weakness of some of the CIS countries
in order to entirely return its unrestrained influence over them,
to use their resources, to seize their markets, to deprive them
of the possibility of choosing their own way of integrating themselves
into the economic and political systems of the world.
"Integration with a great number of states of
the former USSR... or (in the case of their disintegration) with
regions that broke away from them is almost inevitable in strategic
prospect. There is no way out of this and the only problem is
in its forms and conditions," -- as was confirmed in the
"Theses of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy"
(1993), headed by some famous Russian political leaders: A.Adamishin
(at that time first Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, (at present
he is the ambassador to Great Britain ), D.Rewrikov (Yeltsin's
assistant for foreign policy issues), S.Stepashin (then the Head
of Federal Security Service ), S.Shakhray (then Deputy Prime Minister
of Russian Federation) and others.
3. However Russia should not overestimate its abilities
in maintaining the political stability and economical situation
in CIS countries -- as they consider in the Kremlin. The mistakes
of the USSR mustn't be repeated, which was broken down because
of trying to help all the republics to develop simultaneously.
Russia needs the time to "accumulate strength" to assure
the well-being of its people first.
4. Russia considers that at present there are only
two ways to solve the problems of the CIS:
a) Unification with these countries or with their
regions into a federate state;
Russia is now hampered by economical crisis and it
will be a costly enterprise to form the federate state of out
of CIS countries that would in addition set Western countries
against Russia. It seems to be more pragmatic to choose a policy
of keeping the formally independence of CIS in exchange for unlimited
access to their resources, their markets, stocks and services
for the creation of an effective defense union and insuring single
legal space for all national minorities.
(From the "Theses" of Foreign Policy
In the highest strata of Russian government there
are supporters of the first as well as the second way of "integration"
of the countries of the former USSR. These two ways for the "Russian
type to integration" promise to cause much suffering for
the countries that have chosen independence. They will abandon
democracy because of their permanent state of emergency and they
will be isolated from the whole world. Western countries will
then witness a State that is again rising from ruins, which is
great not because of its economical or cultural achievements but
due to its aggressive aspiration for conquest.
THE INTENTIONS OF RUSSIA IN THE TRANSCAUCASUS
Submit to a new reality -- the independent policy
of former vassal states and to leave Caucasus alone? Never! The
imperial thought that was restored very quickly in the heads of
Russian politicians dictates quite another thing to them. "If
we leave the Caucasus, others will come: Turks, Americans...
And no matter who comes, the Transcaucasian republics will be
lost for us." Why it does not strike their minds that the
idea of "coming ..." and " leaving" makes
no sense at the threshold of the 21 century, the century of democracy,
with the disappearance of frontiers and unification efforts all
over the world.
There are no changes can be seen in Russian policy
in Transcaucasus after the victory of Yeltsin on president elections
in 1996. The President himself and his renovated team are forced
to keep the same course on the "Russian type to integration"
according to pro-imperial public attitude.
Having gained a victory over Azerbaijan in alliance
with Russia, Armenia fell under the military, political and economical
dependence of Russia. It is not possible for Armenia to carry
on military operations in the territory of Azerbaijan without
Russian support. At the same time the present administration of
Armenia cannot abandon its policy of expansion because it has
come to power under slogans, proclaiming the annexation of Karabakh
to Armenia. Besides, the Armenian industry today is not able
to develop without deliveries of oil and raw materials from Russia
as it always got the subsidies from the budget of USSR. According
to the facts given in the Moscow's free press, Russia pays 57%
of Armenian`s budget (as "Segodnya" newspaper reported
in the summer of 1993). Russia took from Armenia anything that
As then Minister of Defense of Russian Federation,
P.Grachov reported in an interview to the ORT TV: "Levon
Ter-Petrosyan has successfully gone through all the trials..."
(by this he means that the first residents of Georgia and Azerbaijan
couldn't undergo all these trials).
The frontiers of Armenia are guarded by Russian army.
According to the agreement Russian military bases has settled
in the territory of Armenia for 25 years and from these bases
military operations are carried on against Azerbaijan that persists
in objecting to the "Russian type to integration ."
Though Russia has maintained its interests in Georgia
to the fullest. The country was forced to join the CIS, to sign
"the agreement on collective security of CIS" and to
sign the intention record, according to which 3 Russian military
bases will be settled in Vaznani, Ahalkalaki and Batumi. The latest,
almost solved the problem of Russia, is to settle its naval
forces on the Black Sea shore of Georgia in Abkhazia.
However, the overall crises is still going on in
the country. Three hundred thousand refugees from Sukhumi, that
were ravaged by Russian bombers, still cannot return home. Georgia
has lost control over the South-Osetia before, which is guarded
by Russian army today. Civil war between the supporters of the
former president Gamsakhurdia and the current president Shevardnadze,
stirred up by Russia, rendered the country lifeless. About a
million people left Georgia and have become economical immigrants.
We can hardly speak about democracy in such a situation.
Russian policy makers think that it will be difficult
to set active co-operation with Armenia without having the required
dependence of Georgia from Russia, because Russia has no frontiers
with Armenia. One can get there only via Georgia or Azerbaijan.
Independent Georgia and Azerbaijan serve as "a
bad example" and they are the factors making the situation
unstable in the North-Caucasian autonomous republics of Russia.
It was the first republic among CIS that during the
democratic government of Elchibey (1992-1993) gained the withdrawal
of Russian army and frontier troops from its territories in the
spring 1993. Moreover, after accession to power, the government
of Democrats has made switch in policy of the country towards
Of course Russia took vengeance over Azerbaijani
democrats for trying to pursue the independent policy . In June
1993, Elchibay's government fell with Russian assistance. Just
after that event Armenia with Russian assistance occupied four
regions in the territory of Azerbaijan, beyond the borders of
Nagorny Karabakh. It put former CP leader Haydar Alyev's Administration
into a state of emergency. From September, Azerbaijan was forced
to join the CIS being foolished by then Defense Minister, P.
Grachov, who assured them in his interview given to Azerbaijan
TV that Russia would immediately help Azerbaijan to withdraw Armenian
troops from the occupied lands. In October, after Azerbaijan had
joined the CIS, Armenia with Russian assistance occupied two more
regions in the territory of Azerbaijan.
Russia threatens Azerbaijan with annexation of its
lands, having the aim:
- getting the consent of Baku to guarding its frontiers
by Russian frontier troops and for forming military bases on the
territory of Azerbaijan;
- gaining that Azerbaijan will recognize Russia to
be the only negotiator in the Karabakh conflict and to settle
Russian "peacemaking troops" there;
- taking an active part in extraction of Azerbaijan
oil. Moreover Russia put forward the problem that the oil, being
extracted from the Caspian shelf near Azerbaijan is a common property
of all Caspian regions.
(In the former USSR Caspian basin and its shelf has
been divided between the republics as an internal reservoir.)
- making that oil, extracted on the territory of
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan will flow trough the pipe-line,
passing through the territory of Russia; otherwise Russians think
they will lose control over these countries.
Furthermore, Azerbaijan is of great strategic value
for Russia. A glance at the map will be enough to understand that
in the territory of the former USSR all the railways from Russia
to Iran and to oil-bearing fields of the Persian Gulf lie through
The independent democratic Azerbaijan will be the
attractive example for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and
Tadjikistan, the countries trying to resist Russian control.
Russia could not make yet Azerbaijan agree with the
requirements given above. How long can Azerbaijan stand against
Russia without any support from the West? If Armenia will go on
occupying district after district on the territory of Azerbaijan
then, Haydar Alyev has nothing to do but to accept the suggested
"Russian type to Integration." Also it will be difficult
for the Democrats to suggest an alternative to society.
THE OPPORTUNITIES RUSSIA HAS IN AZERBAIJAN
Russia has some other opportunities, besides the
Karabakh crisis, to exert influence over Azerbaijan.
a) About 40% of the commodity turnover in Azerbaijan
belong to Russia. The Russian frontiers, recently closed, as a
result of the Chechnya conflict, which drove the economy of Azerbaijan
into a desperate state.
b) There are 300 000 ethnic Russians in Azerbaijan.
Russia uses them as a ground for interference, though all their,
cultural rights were guaranteed already by Elchibey's Decree,
"About the rights of ethnic minorities."
c) Russia takes an active part in stringing up the
separatism of the Lezghins, who live in the North of the republic
and the Talish people, who live on the South. Lately, Russia and
Armenia try to raise the question of the Kurdish people in Azerbaijan.
Armenian propaganda alleges that most regions in Azerbaijan, occupied
by Armenians are places of compact residence of Kurdish people,
who are in favor of Armenia.
d) The representatives of the former Communist nomenclature
are also pro-russian. This well-arranged force, associated with
financial, commercial and industrial groups, headed by former
president A.Mutallibov (who has gotten Russian shelter), is the
main hope of Russia.
e) Since the USSR period, the Russian espionage system,
has been distributed for 70 years by KGB, Army Security Service
and Frontier troops of the former USSR.
From the evaluations of the Ministry of National
Security Service of Elchibey's Administration about 100,000 people
in any case were linked with the USSR Secret Services in Azerbaijan.
A great number of adherents to Russia are in the supreme officer's
corps of the Azerbaijan Army.
Iranian secret services are also intensifying their
efforts in Azerbaijan. At the time of the Democrats' government,
about 100 Iranian agents and citizens of Azerbaijan, recruited
by Iranian secret services, were arrested as a result of the
efforts of the Ministry of National Security Service. It is clear
that the aims of Russia and Iran are almost the same.
Fundamentalist Iran, more than Russian imperialists,
does not want to see the Open Society near itself, considering
that about 20 million ethnic Azerbaijani Turks living in Iran.
THE PROSPECTS OF DEMOCRACY IN THE AZERBAIJAN
Military coup d'etat inspired by Russia in the summer 1993 struck a blow to democracy in Azerbaijan. According to the "Freedom House" reports on Human Rights, Azerbaijan from the "Partly free country" in 1993 has become the "Not free country" in 1994 and 1995. In spite of the mass arrests of the democrats, informal veto on occupation for them, and severe censorship it was impossible to turn back society to Stalinism. As the result of an unceasing three-year political struggle, the democratic community of the
country gained the government recognition of the
existence of opposition political parties and partly free mass
media. The most happy thing is that the present government had
to renew the foreign policy adopted by democrats which towards
independence and integration with the democratic world community.
Embassies of democratic countries, especially the
US Embassy gave indispensable help to the democrats in their struggle
for existence. This demonstrated that there are no bounds for
democrats, that morale support can be affective and it is possible
to struggle against dictatorship by peaceful means...
Obviously, without support of the world democratic
community Azerbaijan won't stand long against Russia and Iran.
The loss of Azerbaijan for the West means the loss of future prospects
for a successful struggle against Russian expansion on the South,
against Iranian fundamentalism, the possibility to support the
democratic processes in the republics of Central Asia, and naturally
the loss of markets in these countries.
It should be explained to the Russian government
that Russia won't be able to become a full member of democratic
community (The Country of the Seven, European Council and others)
if it continues a neo-imperialistic policy towards its neighbors.
Support the democrats and defenders of independence
in CIS countries? The answer is yes! They should be given a hand.
They need help in establishing contacts with the global system
of democratic organizations. They need intellectual and technical
support. Their intellectual community subdivisions need help
in making contacts with the intellectual centers of the West.
The situations with Human Rights in these countries
have to be closely watched. The present Azerbaijani administration
should be informed by the Western community that they will not
communicate with regimes violating Civil and Political Rights.
It is necessary also intensify the spread of democratic
values, of world coexistence and the advantages of market economy
in Russian Society. Russians have lost very quickly the guilt
complex gained during the years of Perestroika for the injustices
of 70 years of communist imperialism toward individuals as well
as to the whole nations.
The efforts and means needed for all that are 1000
times less than for keeping the stability of national financial
system in countries sliding to despotism...
How ready were we for democracy during the time of
Elchibey's administration? The estimate of the experts of the
European Bank (EBRD) in their report published on March 1993 is
"Azerbaijan with regard to the work that
was done in the orientation toward
market economy, as well as establishment of multi-party
democracy, to the economic potential and mental
ability of the population is
one of the most prepared countries of the former
USSR which have already
started to carry out the economic reforms."
Then this is the report of the Parliamentary elections
in 1995, written together with the Joint Mission of UN-OSCE.
"...Violation during pre-election campaign casts
doubts on democracy of the
election." "...Elections do not answer
the world standards."
At the same time, a conclusion of great importance
for us made by the Joint Mission, is as follows:
"...Azerbaijan is able to hold elections true
to international standards."
Yes, we are able to do it, only if they leave us