200 years after Gulistan: Armenian scholar urges Putin to “annex” Karabakh on basis of Russo-Persian peace treaty

While mass actions of protests against migrants, especially Caucasus natives, were being held in Moscow on Sunday, with calls for ousting all of them from the Russian capital and while riot police were dispersing protesters near the Biryulyovo market, in Yerevan a heated discussion went on around the letter of Karabakh movement activist, writer and publicist Zori Balayan’s letter calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “annex” Karabakh to Russia.

October 12th marked the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Gulistan on the results of the Russian-Persian war, in which Russia won. According to that treaty, much of the Persian Empire land, including the Karabakh khanate, was ceded to Russia “in perpetuity”.

The fact that Karabakh was a part of the Russian Empire in accordance with the Treaty of Gulistan has been mentioned by Russian experts since it became clear recently that no one can give an answer to the question of what will be the fate of Karabakh in the event of Armenia’s joining the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. There is no answer to this question till today, and it looks like Russia, with the help of its “friends” in Armenia, is preparing a variant of recognition and, thus, political annexation of Karabakh.

It is not without reason that an international conference entitled “The National-Liberation Struggle of Karabakh: from Gulistan to the Present Day” was held with pomp in Karabakh a week before the 200th anniversary of the treaty. The very name of the event already indicated that the transition from the Persian into the Russian Empire in Karabakh is considered as the beginning of the “national-liberation” struggle.

And so on the day of the anniversary of the treaty Balayan, who is considered all but a number one enemy in Azerbaijan, wrote a 10-page letter to Putin in which he cited lots of arguments in favor of the Karabakh problem being the problem of Russia as much as that of Armenia and said that Russia should solve this issue by recognizing Karabakh as it did in Gulistan.

Balayan, who stood at the sources of the Karabakh movement and frequently went to Moscow to try to convince Russia to recognize Karabakh’s independence, after the war in Karabakh worked for the “unification” of the Armenian nation by organizing two round-the-world trips by sea visiting major ports with Armenian communities along the way and making a lot of writing on state budget money.

The letter provoked a strong reaction on the Armenian segment of online social networking sites. Some said that the old man Zori is, probably, out of his mind, others argued that while a few years ago this letter would have been taken in Armenia “with understanding”, now no one understands who Russia should save independent Karabakh from now. Still others argued that the letter was written in consultation with the authorities of Armenia and Russia.

Either way, it is clear that Russia is preparing some acts in connection with Karabakh, which may be accompanied by a “generous” political recognition of the NKR and its inclusion in the future Eurasian Union as well as the deployment of Russian troops in Karabakh. It is not excluded that the newly renovated Stepanakert airport will be put into operation but already under the aegis of Russia.