Dead-End Road

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Dead-End Road

“Misunderstanding of the present grows fatally from the ignorance of the past”
Marc Bloch, French historian
 
Although the term genocide sprang up in 1943, and was first used in international politics and law by the UN in 1948, the Soviet government for many years treated ambiguously this term, as well as the tragedy of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Armenians were not even allowed to speak in public about this issue or to take some actions in this respect. But as the Soviet-Turkish relations were getting worse and worse, the stance of the Soviet Union on the Armenian issue was also changing. The breakthrough took place at the beginning of the 60’s when Moscow decided to use the Armenian Diaspora in the fight with Turkey, the US ally and the NATO member in the Middle East. Eventually, in 1964, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the tragic events of 1915, Moscow officially allowed to publicly commemorate this event in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. On April 24, 1965 the patriarchal order of the Catholicos of all Armenians Vazgen the First declared the year of 1965 as the year of sorrow and remembrance of the Armenians killed in 1915. For the first time ever, Armenia commemorated the Armenian Remembrance Day, the day of the 1915 victims. For the first time ever, the genocide term was allowed to use in public for and about Armenians. Armenians were allowed to write, speak and film these events and even fiercely and publicly whip Turkey; the freedom which they had never enjoyed.
 
In 20 years a new generation sprang up in Armenia imbued with the propaganda, looking at Turks and Azerbaijanis as their definite enemies. When in 1988 the protesters in the squares of Yerevan and Stepanakert demanded annexation of Nagorny Karabakh from Azerbaijan, one did not need to explain Armenian young people that the payback time had come for the genocide, the time to come to grips with Azeri Turks. The Armenian SSR could not declare war on Turkey, but not about pogroms of Azeris in the Armenian SSR amid Moscow’s laissez-faire – please as much as you wish… Armenians were indoctrinated with such hatred and vendetta from school days.
 
In 1994 the bloody and fierce Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict ended in the armistice and mutual obligation to reach a peaceful solution. Almost 20 years have passed.  Azerbaijan’s territory remains under occupation of the Armenian military forces. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan regularly meet demonstrating their efforts to reach a peaceful accord.
 
Do the presidents of both countries want peace? 
 
Undoubtedly, a peaceful accord will require resolving territorial issues and ensuring safety of the people. But one must have peaceful mind to reach peace and must foster his children in the spirit of good neighborliness. Starting from 1965, Armenians have succeeded in fostering their generation in the spirit of hatred towards neighbors on the west and east. Today’s Azerbaijan exactly follows Armenia.
 
The image of enemy Armenian is a key black symbol in school books in history starting from form 5. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan did not follow the European experience in using different school books to study history. In 2001-2004 the school books previously published in mid 90’s were revised and reprinted to serve as the only version for each academic year (from Form 5 to 11); these books are still used in the country.
 
Incompetence and clear prejudice of the authors of these school books serve to distort the history of Azerbaijan. The history school books tell much about patriotic upbringing of schoolchildren highlighting the call for fighting enemies. The history school book for Form 5 clearly points to confessional origin of the enemy – and this is, of course, a Christian. It was Christians, ‘infidels in black clothes’ (this phrase is given in the history schoolbook exactly in that bold way) (Y. Makhmudlu, R. Khalilov, S. Agayev, Fatherland, Schoolbook for Form 5 – Baku «Tehsil», 2003, p. 10) who split up Muslims, according to the version of the authors, into Sunni and Shia.
 
But the main «infidels in black clothes» are Armenians. Armenians were given all possible negative epithets («gangsters», «aggressors», «insidious», «hypocrites», etc.). It was «insidious» Armenians who helped Russia to conquer Azerbaijan; it was «the upsurge of Armenian gangsters» in Karabakh in 1920 that helped to drag the main forces of the Azerbaijani Army away from the northern border and to let the 11th Red Army invade Azerbaijan. So, «infidels in black clothes again did their black deed» (Y. Makhmudlu, R. Khalilov, S. Agayev, Fatherland, Schoolbook for Form 5 – Baku «Tehsil», 2003, p. 211)
 
The Azerbaijan history book for Form 7 constantly says that «ancient Albania was systematically invaded by Armenian rulers». And although «the people and rulers of Albania lent a helping hand to Armenians when in hardship», Armenians gave «beggarly thanks» back. 
(Y. Mahmudov, Y. Yusifov, R. Aliyev, History of Azerbaijan, Schoolbook for Form 7 – Baku, «Maarif», 1997, p. 16).
The ‘friend-or-foe’ issue is the main one in schoolbooks. «Friends» are Turks and Muslims of Azerbaijan and the whole region, and foes are Armenians and their Christian patrons ….
 
The authors do not stop to contradict the historical facts and themselves. The interpretations of the 1918 events as they go in the schoolbooks of Forms 10 and 11 plainly contradict each other.
 
«One of the reasons why the czarist regime succeeded in launching the ethnic massacre is in a way how Azerbaijanis treated humanism and good nature, they were too trustful. Insidious and venal Armenians used to easily cheat them by concluding armistice in one district and massacring in another …. nevertheless, Azerbaijanis inflicted big losses on Armenians».
(History of Azerbaijan, Schoolbook for Form 10 of comprehensive schools. Edited by T. Veliyev  – Baku, «Maarif», 1998, p.191)
 
Therefore, the 10th form pupils are taught that the policy of the czarist regime triggered the massacre and both sides had losses. But the 11th form schoolbook starts with the flashy chapter – “Azerbaijani genocide.”
 
Azerbaijan lives up to the standard set by Armenia in teaching the young generation.
 
On March 26, 1998 President Heydar Aliyev issued the order declaring the 31st March  a day of genocide of Azerbaijanis
 
We’ve come now full circle. How will we reach peace and accord fostering our young generations in the spirit of hatred and enmity?
 
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”
Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

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