Rouben Galichian

Cartographer Galichian Declares ‘Border Demarcation May Take 10-20 Years’


YEREVAN — Geographer and cartographer Rouben Galichian spoke about the baseless demands and threats of Azerbaijan against the Republic of Armenia. Galichian is the author of many articles published in the world press and books about the Caucasus region. He has lectured extensively in the United States, Russia, Iran and elsewhere.

He declares that Azerbaijan’s territorial claims have no legal basis and cannot be satisfied, because they are just wishes, not documents.

“The map that the prime minister [of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan] presents, according to which Armenia should have an area of ​​29,800 square kilometers, is a map drawn by the military headquarters of the Soviet Union, which was begun in the 1930s and completed in the 1970s and 1980s,” he said. Galichian believes that this map is not very accurate and is not in the best interests of Armenia, because it is based on many falsifications and a number of territories of Armenia are given to Azerbaijan illegally and without grounds. Instead, he suggests that Armenians should work with older maps, which are drawn on a fairer legal basis and, moreover, are recognized by both countries.

The 1926 Soviet map which shows Armenia with a territory of greater than 31,000 square kilometers, includes the Al Lakes and shows no enclaves. Armenia and Artsakh share a frontier

He explained: “We need to ensure that the process is carried out with the map drawn in 1926, which is an official publication ratified by the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union. This is the most official [map], dated April 1, 1926. There are no enclaves on this map. All enclaves on this map are within the territory of Armenia, and the territory of Armenia is greater than 31,000 square kilometers. Our target should be to reach this, which is the first map of the Soviet Union. They also prepared the same map for Azerbaijan signed on the same day of the same year, and it gives exactly the same borders, and it can be seen that there are no enclaves in Armenia. But the most important thing is that in that map, Artsakh and Armenia are next to each other – they are neighbors. Only the Aghavno River separates them, but a few years after that, a piece was taken from the Berdzor region of Artsakh, so that Armenia is separated from Artsakh by 15 kilometers.”

Galichian related that during the Soviet years, the Azerbaijani authorities did everything in order to extract as much territory as possible from Armenia, hiding this plan under the guise of “friendship”. He said: “A number of territories of Armenia, including the Al Lakes, were gradually given to Azerbaijan from 1929 to 1948, most of them in 1928-29. In 1923, Azerbaijan announced that they would create the Red Kurdistan province, where all Kurds living in Azerbaijan should reside, so that they could graze their cattle. They managed to get those territories taken from Armenia, so it turned out that Artsakh from Kovsakan to Karvachar was cut off from Armenia. But during that time, the Armenian peasant was cut off from his livelihood. This happened at the expense of the Armenian peasant’s bread. About 1,000 square kilometers were given to Azerbaijan, but when the plan to create Red Kurdistan was canceled in 1932-1933, these lands were not returned to Armenia, but remained to Azerbaijan. Today we can legally present the issue to the international court that this land was illegally given to Azerbaijan.”

The expert is certain that lengthy work in international courts can give some results and not only curb Azerbaijan’s appetite, but also “bring it to justice.” He also believes that Azerbaijan poses a threat to the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia with its fake maps.

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He said that international lawyers told him that President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan’s “fake map” was a warning of a new attack so that Armenia could apply in this vein to the UN Security Council. It can also show the Wilsonian maps prepared for the Treaty of Sèvres. One such map depicts Armenia with a territory of around 120,000 sq. km., extending far to the east, practically approaching Baku.

Galichian also pointed out that if Azerbaijan claims enclaves on Armenian territory, it is up to it to document its assertions, but it states the contrary, challenging Armenia to provide proof that it is wrong.

As far as the border demarcation process, the cartographer noted that it will be a lengthy process of many years. He said, “That demarcation can be done only when the Azerbaijani troops are withdrawn from Armenia. The current border demarcation body is made up of deputy ministers and other officials who have to do the executive work, but they are unable to reach a professional conclusion. I am not aware that a professional expert group has been created in Armenia. its creation would take 6 to 12 months, because Armenia has to choose its specialists, present them to Azerbaijan, the latter should ratify it, and Azerbaijan should do the same. Only after that can they start the demarcation process.”

In other words, he said, “From an international point of view, it will take years of work to take back the enclaves. It must be done during the demarcation process, that is, in the next 10-20 years. It may take several decades. We have been working with Georgia for 25 years and we have not finished that demarcation process yet. And this is when Georgia is a more friendly country. Can you imagine how many years it will last with Azerbaijan?”

He added: “I want to emphasize that during the delimitation, there is a need for the presence of a neutral organization, but it cannot be Russia, because those territories were given to Azerbaijan by Soviet Moscow. An impartial, neutral state is needed.”

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