Spring 1994 (2.1)

No Winners in Any War

As I sit writing this letter, the war between my country, Azerbaijan, and Armenia has tormented us for almost six years - this war that the outside world knows so little about. During this time, more than one million of my fellow countrymen have been forced to flee their homes. Nearly one fourth of my country's territory is occupied.

But my main purpose for writing is not to speak about the horrendous images of torture, plunder, and destruction; or of the horror of civilians being murdered, raped, and taken hostage; or of the stories we hear from distant lands that the enemy is selling internal body organs that they have stolen from our mutilated bodies-both dead and alive.

Is it not enough that we Azerbaijanis and Armenians have blamed, cursed, and killed each other for six years. The season of passions must soon be replaced with reason.

There have never been winners in any war-only losers, suffering varying degrees of defeat. We understand that. But we are afraid of those degrees. We are afraid that our defeat might be greater than theirs. But someone has to compromise.

It is the ugly truth; we are very weak. We can't even prove to the world that nearly one quarter of our land is under occupation; that, in reality, 200,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh have managed to defeat 7 million Azerbaijanis.

We can't even convince a single representative of the U.S. Congress that both the time and circumstances have changed since they voted against sending us any assistance and their response to us is like an old record that is stuck in its groove. We haven't succeeded in countering the lies of a century-old, well organized, well-funded Armenian lobby. We are weak and small when our interests counter the interests of giants of international relations. And it is for these reasons that we suffer immensely.

If an Armenian reads these lines, he knows that Armenia can never re-locate to Australia; or Azerbaijan, to Africa. We are destined to live side by side-to be neighbors.

Each day the river of blood running between us flows higher and higher. It will not be easy to dry that river even if we did agree to do so. It will not be easy to forget six years of mutual hatred. But we must; otherwise, there will be no end to this destruction. Hatred blinds and deprives us of seeing the reality of the world as it really is.

That hatred is so strong that no one dare tell an Azerbaijani or an Armenian mother whose only son has been killed to forget it all and live together peacefully. Not a single politician could survive such a proposal. People would not accept it.

But there is no way out. Sooner or later, it will have to be the politicians who make the compromise and they will have to succeed in convincing their people to accept it. Each day of delay only adds more drops of blood in this river that separates us.

Azar Panahli
Baku, Azerbaijan
November 2, 1993

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