Kamal Abdulla: There was no sign of life in Shusha

Kamal Abdulla: There was no sign of life in Shusha
# 29 June 2007 13:06 (UTC +04:00)
- How did you meet the proposal on visiting Karabakh?
- It was unexpected for me. Azerbaijani ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu offered this to me. The nobleness of the mission made me believe in the importance of the visit and I agreed to. The aim was that a group of Azerbaijani and Armenian intellectuals would visit Nagorno Karabakh, Shusha and Yerevan, watch the state of Azerbaijani and Armenian monuments, at the same time Armenia intellectuals would watch the state of Armenian monuments in Azerbaijan. There were impressions in both countries that all monuments were destroyed. We had no idea what Shusha is like. We witnessed the situation, Karabakh reality. I was trying to look at Karabakh lands from the eyes of Azerbaijanis deported from there for many years.
<>b>- What was Shusha like?
- There was no sign of life in Shusha. There are ruinous houses, remains of cultural monuments. Only four walls of our mosque in Shusha remain. There are stoned in front it, as though it will be repaired. One of the places we visited in Shusha was the memorial house of Polad Bulbuloglu’s father great singer Bulbul. Only four walls remained from the house. Bulbul’s bust was covered with bullet holes. It was unrecognizable. I can not explain firing on a cultural monument. Let Armenians explain it. They planned our route. We wanted to see Jidir plane, they refused to take us there. They said the roads are in bad conditions.
- What was the aim of your visit?
- This problem will one day be solved, either peacefully, or in other way. We are obliged to be Armenia’s neighbor after the problem is solved. This is our fate. We had pacific times and war period. How will these two nations live after the problem is solved? Will be able to live with Armenians? We paid this visit to find answers to these questions.
- How did Armenians meet you?
- Very well. May be there were dissatisfied people. But the visit was accompanied by positive people. Our delegation was composed of Azerbaijani ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuolglu, rector of Baku Music Academy Farhad Badalbayli, chief of Theater Figures Union Azerpasha Nematov and famous engineer-architect Ilhami Fataliyev. Ilhamli Fataliyev once chaired the reconstruction of cultural monuments in Shusha. A lot of civil Armenians recognized him they greeted him.
- Do Armenian senior officials impede these meetings?
- No. We did not feel serious pressure, to tell the truth, but impact on the relations was felt.
- How was the condition of Azerbaijani cemetery?
- They did not take us to many places under the pretext of road. There was remained no trace of cemetery. One of the interesting factors is that though our route was Barda-Shusha, they did not go there through Aghdam. We went there through Aghdere. This fact also has moral side. They did not want us to see Aghdam. Half-hour way was two hours.
- How did you get there?
- We went there by car, passed Aghdere, Khankendi, then Shusha, Yerevan-Baku.
- How was the living condition in Shusha?
- There was not life breath in Shusha. Of course, people are living there, but there is not life breath there. People are living in Khankendi, the children are going to schools. We can say the same about Aghdere. We did not see any car, any man while driving. I appeal to community representatives, not to politicians. We examined whether intercourse, contact was possible with Armenians or not. Are there contact points?
- Are there?
- I think yes. Because, our countries are neighbors. Nagorno Karabakh conflict will be solved sooner or later. I think that mutual visits will help to the solution of the conflict. After passing contact line we met Armenian side without mediators and talked. There was no any mediator, OSCE mediators, Russian representatives there. We sat and talked. We thought whether we can talk. We-five people trusted them.
- Was there any problem, argument on the way?
- After passing the contact front line the military men told us that they were aware of ceasefire. The ceasefire won’t be violated in any case. We were offered to wear protective clothing for being sure. But we objected to such an offer. Both they and we-intellectuals refused to wear “bronjet”. So we counted on each other though it is very strange. But the OSCE official put on bronjilet and helmet.
- What did you discuss while meeting with Gukasyan and Kocharyan?
- No political issue was discussed. We were searching for the common point, not for principal issues. There was no any arguing discussion. We were taken to the museum of Armenian producer Karacanov. Georgians claim that Karacanov be Georgian and Armenians demand that he be Armenian while Karacanov considers himself Azeri. We were trying to check common points whether we could seat nearby and talk or not. Our political leaders check such points on his side. The rest of the intellectuals are to check them also to see if we can understand each other or not. They also stepped masterly over sharp angels.
- Was this meeting agreed during the Presidents’ meeting?
- I cannot say, but I think no. As this meeting was the part of the project of the ambassadors of both countries to Russia. We were seeking for this contact in the fire that military men were exchanging. The fire-arms we were facing were the contact. We made an effort to find the contact of human relationships.
- The Ambassadors of the two countries to Russia initiated the visit. The version of Russia’s having planned the visit comes to mind at first…
- I would not say. On the contrary, the countries mediating in the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict did not approve the project as we organized the meeting without any mediation and succeeded.
- Did you touch on the issue regarding our monuments in Karabakh which are in critical condition at your meeting with Gukasian?
- Of course, we did. We even proposed that our specialists participate in the restoration of our monuments together with Armenian ones. The symbolic aspect of the issue is that the warring parties are jointly involved in removing the aftermath of the war. So, why not those who destructed the Shusha mosque restore it together with those intending to rebuild it?! Our proposal was met normally. Anyway, they came to realize our serious intention.
- What about the Armenian visitors? What did they visit in Baku?
- We took them to Armenian church. They witnessed a clean, tidy church. The Armenian visitors also viewed the rich library of the church where a lot of Armenian books are kept. The church is not operating, but it is in normal condition. This is our attitude to God’s house. This antidote is sourced from our culture.
- Did the Armenian visitors met with Nizami Bahmanov, head of Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh?
- No, as it was not a political visit.
- But. The Azerbaijani visitors did meet with Arkadi Gukasyan, head of Armenian community of Nagorno Karabakh…
- Well, that is right. We got permission from him to visit Shusha. We needed to go to Shusha. That is the matter of other time.
- Did you touch on the issue on Azerbaijani prisoners of war?
- The aim of this visit was to get an idea of the condition of the captivated cultural monuments. We did get familiar with the condition.
- Will you further continue making such visits?
- Well, it is difficult to say. It depends on the development of political processes.
- The visitors were received by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. What was on focus at the meeting?
- The President received the mission and underlined the importance of that. The societies should be prepared to possible political decisions. We are to find out whether the hostility will last for many years, for centuries or we can live together in a peaceful atmosphere. There are some who think the hostility will last forever. We wanted to monitor the real situation and looked into their eyes. The door has opened… I hope it will be followed by political decisions soon. The Armenian side witnessed how decisive is the Azerbaijani president in his position. I would say this visit woke them up from euphoria.
- What is the living condition is Armenia? What impressions did Armenians got from Baku?
- I think we passed central streets of Yerevan. We saw two or three new constructions. And what Armenians saw in Baku instead? I find it difficult to express the very meaning in their eyes when they were in Baku…. We could demonstrate our economic power to them by our city. I believe the Baku night turned to be one of strange nights for them. They realized that they have achieved nothing. We could demonstrate this reality to five Armenian intellectuals. That was the very aim of our visit. /APA/

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