Armenia / Places We Go

Armenian Ethnic Cleansing? Or The Spoils Of War?

On the main route to the Georgian border from Armenia, the road crosses territory that until intense fighting in 1994 was part of Azerbaijan.  The road passes through several ruined villages – in some of which  just one wall of each building has been left standing:

former azerbaijan territory

A weird sight on a hillside to the right of the road is the completely restored 7th-century Voskepan Church surrounded by ruined and abandoned houses:

voskepan church

Some of the homes that were destroyed in the war or abandoned:

armenia ethnic cleansing

armenia ethnic cleansing

Abandoned Azerbaijani houses do not mean the area itself is abandoned though as you can see from this military outpost… This close to the current (and hotly disputed) border of Azerbaijan, there is a heavy Armenian military presence here:

armenia military outpost

In a demonstration that life goes on, these Armenian farmers have opted to grow hay in the ruins of a former Azerbaijani village:

armenia hay production

The road re-enters Armenia proper and 41 kilometers from the junction with the former main road to Azerbaijan it reaches the town of Noyemberian.


Ethic cleansing: “A purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.

Now, any suggestion of ethnic cleansing is particularly sensitive in Armenia given its own history of genocide at the hands of the Turks less than a century ago…  And undoubtedly even just the title of this post will result in some hate emails from Armenians.  However, it cannot be denied that this was once territory that belonged to Azerbaijan and now all of the Azerbaijanis are gone.  The Azerbaijanis did not leave because they sold their homes at a tidy profit to the Armenians and retired comfortably in Florida.  They left because they were killed or because they feared for their lives.   And they have not been welcomed back.

Ethnic cleansing?

This is one of those situations where there are no good guys or bad guys.  Both sides did nasty, unpleasant things during the war.  And both sides were equally victimized by the other.  Both sides have convincing arguments about the justness of their cause.  How do you place sympathies or decide which side is right or wrong in an environment like that?

So, spoils of war?

Either way, the “facts on the ground” have been established and it would likely take another war to change them.

3 thoughts on “Armenian Ethnic Cleansing? Or The Spoils Of War?

  1. Indeed, just like we were all bad guys in the former Jugoslavia. At least it seems they carried it out successfully there, whereas the former Jugoslavia is a mess, it’s no better than when they started off..far worse actually…I sometimes think the collapse of Soviet communism, much lauded by the west and the ‘yuppie neocon cafe set’, was not such a good idea. They didn’t have to live through it. I really believe, that given 20 years, Gorbachev could have rectified the Soviet system to something along the lines of the Chinese communists and maybe everyone would have had far less ethnic strife at least. (and been better off economically too in general). The collapse of Jugoslavia was directly related to the collapse of the Soviet Union…I lament the collapse of the USSR…

  2. There was an ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabagh, not to mention Nakhijevan (which had a 93% majority Armenian population, until Stalin agreed to cede it to Azerbaijan. Nagorno Karabagh was also awarded to Azerbaijan because of the agreement between Stalin and Ataturk.
    Now, out of the 30,000 killed in the war, 27,000 happened to be Christian Armenians (sad but true). Yet, the West, starved for oil, preferred to help Muslim Azerbaijan.
    And you (Justin Ames) are falsely accusing Armenians for ethnic cleansing.
    And NO, I am Not an Armenian, but a German.
    Yes one thing you are right about, the Turks killed 27,000 innocent Armenians, but No, your stupid silly remark about “..sending to Florida,” was really uncalled for.
    Armenia is the Only Christian nation left on that part of the world, Georgia is only 60% Christian, and both are surrounded by Bloodthirsty Muslim hordes waiting for an opportunity to wipe out both Armenia and Georgia.
    Are you happy for siding with the stronger Muslim hordes?
    Are you scared of Islam?
    Are you planning to convert?
    You owe a GIANT apology to the poor, forsaken and friendless Christian Armenians, they basically fighting against powerful neighbors and all alone, relying on no one but their determination and the will to survive.
    Shame on you.
    That is all, if you are a COWARD, I will see this removed, but man up, and just for once in your life, side with the weak and forsaken Christian Armenia, just once in your life. Armenians are not rich, but they will take you in and become your friends.

    • Haha, Matt, you have to be a troll with that rhetoric, but you made me smile, so I’ll make the effort to respond…

      Falsely accusing the Armenians of ethnic cleansing? Why are all of those homes standing empty, Matt? Why are so many other homes across Nagorno-Karabakh standing empty? Just because the Armenians have suffered terribly in the past doesn’t mean that they should get a free pass if they in turn do terrible things.

      “Bloodthirsty Muslim hordes”? You think that’s maybe just slightly over the top, Matt? Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran are not exactly the Islamic State (ISIS). Have you ever been to any of those countries? Have you ever been to ANY Muslim country?

      “Poor, forsaken and friendless Armenians”? How about Russia? The Russian Bear seems like a pretty good friend to me. A pretty powerful one too! I wouldn’t mind having Russia as a friend.

      Oh, and just to be clear – I liked Armenia and the Armenians very much, so come off it… That doesn’t mean that every thing they do is perfect though, and I’m not going to lie for them.

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