2 Shusha is Karabakh’s city on the hill, a town of great meaning for Azerbaijanis, the birthplace of composers and poets, seat of khans. It was also home to many Armenians (who call it #Shushi) and to Karabakh’s cathedral, shelled by Az. forces in the recent fighting.
3 In the late Soviet era Shusha's population was 85 percent Azerbaijani, 13 percent Armenian. See my 2003 book cover, for view of both mosque and church. https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41-e-WaQFZL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
5 Researching my book, in 2000, I spent a lot of time with displaced Shusha Azerbaijanis in Baku, and in Shusha itself. Some IDPs, like Cavid’s interlocutors here, were very bitter and talked of “driving the Armenians out of Karabakh.” Of course that view will be stronger now...
6 Others still remembered Armenian friends in Shusha and wished they could live together again. If you’ve read the book, you'll know I managed to reconnect some lost friends--who remembered each other fondly even though they'd fought on opposing sides in the war.
7 When I read about Azerbaijan recapturing villages lost in 1993 in Jabrail or Zangelan, I understand the joy of those displaced people who now know they have a chance of returning home. Why “understand” not “celebrate” as many Azerbaijanis are asking me?...
8 ...Because, in my view, the human cost is so high and we now have war for another generation. Also because I know the return of those territories has been on the table in all talks since 1994. Both Arm. and Az. leaders failed everyone by repeatedly not agreeing a peace deal.
9 And because war continues. Pres. Aliyev has said, “Of course, without Shusha our mission will be half done.” If that indeed is the military objective, given the geography of Karabakh, that is a very bloody mission. https://en.trend.az/azerbaijan/politics/3318480.html
10 I’m sure if it was up to the old friends I met Shusha could be a mixed town again. But we know that's almost impossible, with this new savage war. Az. return would mean expelling Armenians this time. Last line in Cavid’s piece says, “Enforced peace is not real peace.” ENDS
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