Displaced Students Face Difficult Graduation

By ICC’s Field Correspondent

06/24/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by first lady Emine Erdogan and several Turkish officials, arrived early Tuesday, June 15 in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.

Upon his arrival, he traveled to the beautiful green but decimated town of Fuzuli (Armenian: Varanda), located to the southeast of Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). This was the first town that Azerbaijani forces won back during the 44-day war in fall 2020 from ethnic Armenian forces, who have controlled it since the early 1990s.

As part of his official visit, Erdogan’s mission included travel to the city of Shushi in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan’s seizure of this mountain fortress city in early November was a crucial moment in the war. It gave Baku a tactical advantage over the Armenian forces and led to a Russian-brokered cease-fire that ended the fighting.

Turkey’s president was honored in Shushi with an official greeting ceremony. This was a historic day for both countries (Turkey and Azerbaijan). For more than 300 years, the leaders of the Ottoman Empire, and later the Young Turks, sought to conquer the fortress city of Shushi in the heart of the mountainous part of Artsakh to control the entire region. Even in the historical absence of a state, the Armenian forces in Artsakh had previously resisted the attempts of the Turkish armies.

After the greeting ceremony, Erdogan and Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev signed an 11 paged document called the Susa Declaration on Allied Relations between Turkey and Azerbaijan. It is expected that because of this document, a Consulate General of Turkey will soon be opened in Shushi, Azerbaijan will start producing UAVs, and the “Zangezur corridor” connecting Azerbaijan and Turkey will be opened.

While the Turkish and Azerbaijani leaders were busy admiring their occupied territories, the same day not far away from them in Stepanakert (the capital of Artsakh), another beautiful but sad ceremony was ongoing: displaced Armenian high school students from all over the Artsakh region were graduating the school. They had lost everything because of Turkish-Azeri aggression: their homes, their personal belongings, and other types of invaluables. On the faces of the students, one may see dignity and silent resistance. But one could not see happiness. On their ribbons were the names of the villages and towns of Artsakh the students are originally from. These students were supposed to graduate there, but now it is occupied by the enemy. On one giant poster, the students held a written sign, “We’ll win our territories back.”

For more information about the humanitarian implications of the war, see ICC’s recent field trip report: Nagorno-Karabakh: A Humanitarian Perspective.

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