29 May 2016 History 12:03
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The summary of the history of Nakhchivan until 20th century

The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, an integral part of the Republic of Azerbaijan, is one of the very ancient settlements of the Azerbaijanis. The cultural specimens discovered demonstrate the people living here since the Stone Age. The researches indicate that there were proper circumstances for primitive men to settle down in the age of Mustye civilization starting even 100-35 thousand years ago. As in other regions of Azerbaijan wide-range researches have been conducted throughout Nakhchivan and history of the region have been thoroughly studied.

There is a great deal of interesting information regarding Nakhchivan in the works of ancient Greek, Latin, Rome, Arabic, Iranian historians, geographers and travelers. The first written information was come across in the masterpiece "Geography" of Clavdi Ptolomeous, a famous Greek geographer and astronomer, and the name of the city was dubbed Naksuana.

Nakhchivan has about 3500-year old history in the light of the ancient stone tools found in salt-mines, colored earthenware found in Qızılburun (Qızılvəng), revealing of the stone with human pictures on it by A.A.Miller in 1926 and other evidences. The Gamigaya drawings from the Bronze Age of 3rd and 2nd millennium on the climax of the Minor Caucasus mountain located in the district of Ordubad, even the pretension that Nakhchivan was the destination point of the ship of the prophet Noah and Nakhchivan was the first city formed by himself give the chance to compare Nakhchivan with other ancient cities of the world.

Throughout the ages Nakhchivan has undergone serious attacks of foreigners and was over and again destroyed. In 655 AD Muslim Arabs involved Nakhchivan as a part of caliphate conquering it, and hence the islamisation process of the region was launched. Through becoming Muslim, in Nakhchivan the Islamic culture was founded.

Once the Arab caliphate weakened Nakhchivan became subordinate to local feudal states. The Selchuk Turks then migrating to Minor Asia from Central Asia conquered Nakhchivan, hence blocked the Arabic influence there and rekindled the Turk-Islam culture. The existence of the Selchuk state was of great importance for the entire Middle East region including Azerbaijan. The emergence of many Turkish people, spreading of Turkish language and the development of science and culture were basically related with the Selchuk period.

In 12th century Selchuk state disintegrated into khanates. Shamseddin Eldeniz, one of those khans, founded the Azerbaijan Atabeyler state (1136-1225) and Nakhchivan became the capital city of this state until the 70s of the 12th century. Throughout that period Nakhchivan was tremendously developed and many valuable architectural monuments were built.

Nakhchivan was completely destroyed by Mongols in 1221 and became subordinate to Jalaladdin Mangburni, son of Kharezmshah Muhammed, in 1225.

The region of Nakhchivan became one of the centers of the political-economic and cultural developments in Azerbaijan and generally in the Middle East. Nakhchivan in the sphere of influence of Hulakus, Chobanis and Jalaris had the impact on the internal policies of these states. The march of Emir Teymur into Azerbaijan and the resistance of Nakhchivani people against him were of importance in regional history.

During the 15th century Nakhchivan was part of Garagoyunlu state (1410-1467) at first and then Aghgoyunlu state (1467-1501). And in 1501 it was given under ruling of Safavids after the triumph of Gizilbashs over Aghgoyunlus. The establishment of Safavids state and then its activities had deep impact on the provinces of the state, including the South Caucasus region. The largest area of Azerbaijan in Middle Ages was reached during Safavids ruling period. Unfortunately, throughout the Safavi-Ottoman wars (15-16th centuries) Nakhchivan became the main battlefield for wars between the two countries and was consequently destroyed several times. Due to these military and political circumstances Nakhchivan lost its grandeur and importance Azerbaijan. The inhabitants of town tremendously reduced as result of the wars and exiles. The population of Nakhchivan was considered to be 200 thousand in 11-12th century, whereas it was only 6 thousand in 18th century.

Nakhchivan region was mainly included into newly founded Nakhchivan sanjak after the conquest by Ottoman state in 1724. Nadir khan declared himself as shah in 1736 putting an end to Safavids ruling and Nakhchivan as well as other regions of Azerbaijan thus became under his sway. After the decease of Nadir shah in 1747, Azerbaijan disintegrated into several khanates. And one of these khanates was Nakhchivan khanate surrounding the territory from Zangezur Mountains into Araz valley. The appearance of severe threat for the independence of Nakhchivan khanate due to Qajar dominance upon the southern khanates of Azerbaijan led to the propensity of Nakhchivan khans towards Russia tsar.

The northern khanates of Azerbaijan weakened after military and political struggle against each other and could not attain an alliance. Starting from early 19th century the khanates were easily occupied by Russia tsar and soon Azerbaijan became a battlefield of Russia-Iran armies. Due to the I Russia-Iran War (1805-1813) the Nakhchivan Khanate fell into hand of Iran government according to Gulustan Treaty. In the course of the II Russia-Iran War (1826-1828) Nakhchivan was captured by the Russian Army in June 1827. According to the Turkmanchay Treaty in 1828, determining and confirming the separation of Azerbaijani nation into two parts, Nakhchivan was joined into Russia together with Iravan (Yerevan) khanate. The "Armenian province" was artificially established in the territories of Nakhchivan and Iravan khanates abolished by decree of I Nikolai on 21 March 1828; thousands of Armenian families were moved from Iran and Turkey, and resided in Nakhchivan so as to shift the demographic structure of this region. All of these were the beginning of creating of the puppet "Christian Armenian State" which would be useful for Russia Tsarist regime to carry out its regional policy.

In 1840, Tsar Authority had included Nakhchivan into Georgia-Imeretia province (gouberniya) as Nakhchivan county by administrative reforms. Then in 1849, Nakhchivan was included into the Iravan province. In fact, the territory of the Nakhchivan khanate was shared among other provinces and thus diminished, and the movement policy of Armenians into the region was resumed.

Even though Nakhchivan was successful in terms of economy, science and education after becoming remote colony of Russia, the Armenian trouble was again encountered since the end of XIX century and the people were subjected to Armenian terror acts starting from early XX century.

 

The question of autonomy status of Nakhchivan

The Russia Tsarist regime opened new-style Russian schools after the occupation of the north of Azerbaijan. However, the graduates of these schools did not serve for the Russia Tsarist regime but worked for the enlightenment and education of their own nation. The second term of 19th century is accepted as the period of enlightenment in Azerbaijan. This period was of significance for also Nakhchivan causing the emergence of patriotic scholars. The enlightenment movement gave a push to the regaining of national consciousness and the political establishments. In early 20th century the political organizations struggling against the tsarist colonialism and autocracy were established in Baku. After the long-lasting scientific, cultural and political struggle the first democratic republic in the Muslim World - the Demoratic Republic of Azerbaijan was established on 28 May 1918. During the establishment process and afterwards one of the most important problems encountered by the independent Azerbaijan state was to fight against Armenian terrorist mentality and actions. As result of the considered deportation policy of the Russia Tsarist regime, the Armenians placed into Azerbaijani lands became a serious threat against the living rights of local people and the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Starting from 20th century the massacre of humanist and peace-loving Azerbaijan nation was realized.

The territorial claims of Armenians against Nakhchivan region had been intensified particularly since the late 1917. Under the pretext of struggle against Turks, many villages of Nakhchivan were destructed by dashnak armies, and the reprisals of people were inflicted. After the declaration of Armenian state in historical Azerbaijan lands in May 1918, the Armenian Dashnak government backed by the ruling circles of USA and Britain started to conduct the annexation policy of Nakhchivan to itself. However, resistance of local people and inclusion of Turkish armies into the region prevented the implementation of these insidious intentions.

According to the Mondros armistice (October 31, 1918), the Turkish armies left the region. In November, the Araz-Turk Republic was founded by the initiatives of Turkish officersafter in order to protect Nakhchivan people from dashnak gangsters.

Mondros armistice is an agreement signed to confirm the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the World War I. According to the provisions of the Treaty, Turkey had to withdraw its troops from the South Caucasus, including Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan was declared as an influence circle of England by the article 11, Azerbaijan roads and oil reserves were transferred to English headquarter by the article 15, and Turkey asked not to object the occupation of Baku. The foundation of the Araz-Turk Republic in such tough historical and political circumstances aimed to prevent the realization of baseless territory claims, the establishment of their authorities, the genocide of indigenous Turkish-Muslim people by Armenians, as well as to include Nakhchivan region, which was temporarily separated from the rest of Azerbaijan, into the entire Azerbaijan as soon as possible. In March 1919, English invaders put an end to the Araz-Turk Republic occupying Nakhchivan. The historical importance of the short-lasted Araz-Turk Republic is its significant role as to the mobilization of Turkish-Muslim population of the Nakhchivan region and its surroundings against Armenian invaders in extremely difficult period. Most importantly, the territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan was ensured pre-empting the occupation of these territories by Armenian dashnaks.

Even if the English succeeded to establish the Armenian governorship (May-July 1919) after the abolishment of the Araz-Turk Republic and Nakhchivan National Committee, they could not be able to ensure its actual existence owing to the determined resistance of the people. Consequently, Armenians were banished from Nakhchivan in late July. The new situation emerged after the takeover of mandate of the League of Nations on the region by USA. The American colonel V.Haskel commissioned as the supreme commissar of the allied powers in Armenia since July 1919 came to Baku on 26 August and put forward the idea on creation of neutral zone comprising Sharur and Nakhchivan. He, moreover, appointed colonel E.Delli as American general-governor of this region on 24 October. Nonetheless, as result of zealous work by the Peoples Republic of Azerbaijan and local people this initiative was failed. E.Delli starting his tenure just as a representative of Paris Peace Conference (1919-20) left Nakhchivan after a short time, other American officers followed him in early 1920. In spite of the failure of American General-Governorship idea, as Haskel, the Chief of General Staff of the allied powers' supreme commissariat, returned to Paris, J.Ray acting in his position was able to sign 5-article agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Tbilisi on 23 November. Nakhchivan was again come across with a threat and hundreds of Azerbaijanis were subject to massacre in the wake of withdrawal of military forces from Zangezur region by the deceived Azerbaijan government.

The military intervention of the XI Red Army of the Soviet Russia into Azerbaijan and the demise of the People Republic of Azerbaijan on 28 April 1920 completely changed the general situation in the region. Furthermore, the Nakhchivan Revolution Committee was established in the wake of the occupation of Nakhchivan by the Soviet armies on 28 July. The Soviet Russia was tending to conduct the policy of separation of Nakhchivan soils from Azerbaijan after the sovietization of Armenia (November, 1920). After the Zangezur region was given to Armenia by the Soviet leadership the next was Nakhchivan being separated from rest of Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, in referendum conducted with the initiative of the representatives of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia in 1921, more than 90% of Nakhchivan population voted for the Nakhchivan district with its autonomy status within Azerbaijan.

The hazardous processes in Nakhchivan were not apart from the attention of international public. The Nakhchivan question was discussed many times in the Trans-Caucasian congress, in the parliament of the Peoples Republic of Azerbaijan in 1918-20, in the Tabriz municipality department, in Maku khanate, in the Paris peace conference (1919-20), in Armenia and Nakhchivan representations of the USA in 1919-20, in the revolution committees of the Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan and the Soviet Republic of Armenia in 1920-21, in the political bureau of the Russian communist (Bolsheviks) party, and in the Council of People Commissars of the Federative Socialist Republic of Soviet Russia (FSRSR) in 1920-21. The historical fate of Nakhchivan, however, was determined only by the Moscow (1921) and Kars (1921) treaties.

The Moscow Treaty was signed on the March 16, 1921 between the Soviet Russia and Turkey as result of special endeavor by M.K.Atatürk. The third article of the treaty which includes 16 articles and 2 annexes was directly related with the Nakhchivan territory of Azerbaijan. It was indicated in the article that the parties concurred agree upon the establishment of the autonomous region under the patronage of Azerbaijan without making concessions for any third state regarding the borderlines underlined in the I(C) annex of the current treaty. The treaty by the exception of article 13 (dedicated to military captives) had to be come into force once the ratification decrees were exchanged. The Moscow Treaty was ratified on 20 July 1921 by the Central Executive Committee of the FSRSR and on 21 July 1921 by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and was exchanged on September 22 of the same year. In accordance with the Moscow Treaty, the Kars Treaty comprising 20 articles and 3 annexes was signed between the three Soviet republics of the South Caucasus and Turkey with participation of Russia. In the article 5 concerning Nakhchivan question it was indicated that "The government of Turkey, and the governments of Soviet Armenia and Azerbaijan agree upon the Nakhchivan as an autonomous region under the protection of Azerbaijan within the borderlines shown in the III annex of the current treaty". This treaty, with the exception of articles 6, 14, 15, 16, 18 and 19 which would come into force as soon as the treaty was signed, had to be come into force once the ratification decrees were exchanged. The exchange process of the Kars Treaty took place in Yerevan on 22 September 1922 and the validity of this treaty was by no means limited. Consequently, the autonomy status of Nakhchivan within Azerbaijan was recognized by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, and international legal guaranty was ensured.

Although the bloody wars were ended in Soviet period, the USSR leadership skillfully utilizing the political and ideological atmosphere of the country went on the distribution process of the Azerbaijan lands to Armenia. The provisions of the Moscow and Kars Treaties were repeatedly violated and the autonomy status of Nakhchivan was tried to be subject to delimitation. Nonetheless, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was established by the decree of the Central Executive Committee of the Azerbaijan SSR on February 9, 1924.

The area of the Nakhchivan ASSR was determined as 5988 km2 at the outset owing to the III annex of Kars Treaty. On 18 February 1929, the 657 km2-area region belonging to Nakhchivan was given to Armenia upon the decision of Transcaucasus Central Executive Committee. In 1930, moreover, the Mehri district was established on the basis of separated land. The area of Nakhchivan ASSR thus became 5.5 km2.

 

The genocide acts by Armenians in Nakhchivan region

The Azerbaijan nation which has ancient history and culture is one of the nations subjected to the most terrible genocide acts. Armenians were backed by the imperialist powers and became strong in the region after they were moved to the South Caucasus. Thenceforward, starting from the early 20th century, they began to procreate genocide against Azerbaijanis from time to time. The massacres exercised in the majority of the regions of Azerbaijan were extended even after the overthrow of tsarist regime and covered Nakhchivan as well. The Armenians gained the protection and support of the Soviet Russia with special endeavor of S.Shaumian, particularly band of armed robbers of Andronik exercised stern barbarism inflicting reprisals to peaceful Turk-Muslim people of Nakhchivan district in June-August 1918. The people of Yayji (Julfa rayon) were exposed to massacres and the village itself was devastated. The bridge on Araz River in Julfa rayon was burnt and 2000 Turk-Muslim people were wildly massacred. The women, children and old people were not compassionated, the hot samovars were tied to the back of bare-hand people, the bellies of pregnant women were torn and other inhuman tortures were carried out. Up to 300 innocent people trying to step aside this savagery drowned in Araz River while crossing it.

Another armed Armenian band under the leadership of "Japanese"-named robber drove the people of Almali settlement living on the 40-km north of Nakhchivan city out of their historical homeland. Some 200 men were killed and many young people were captivated. The lives of people of Nakhchivan were saved from larger-scale slaughters thanks to the Ottoman armies under the leadership of Kazim Karabekir coming to the region.

In early 1919, the armed forces under the leadership of Armenian colonel Dolukhanov used violent force against the peaceful people greeting them in Sharur-Sadarak regions. The siege was laid to 8 Muslim villages, Damirchi village were plundered, 60 people being jailed were sent to Iravan, and 200 people drowned in Araz River while crossing it. The Armenian military unit encountered with the stiff resistance of local people was obliged to step back.

In the first half of 1919, also during the English and Armenian governorship in Nakhchivan district inadmissible violence acts were imposed to the Azerbaijani people of the district. During the two-month "Armenian governorship" (May-July, 1919) up to 330 investigations were conducted, about 600 guiltless residents were jailed, and horrible tortures were imposed to approximately 150 people. The successful one-week (19-25 July) rebellion of local people of the region against the "Armenian governorship" entailing the withdrawal of dashnak armed forces from the district barred new genocide acts.

As result of the ethnic cleansing "burnt soil" policy conducted by Armenians, refugees turned out to be challenging problem for Nakhchivan in 1918-1920. Turk-Muslim people driven out by Armenians from the outskirts of Iravan and the Zangazur immigrated to Nakhchivan on the one hand, and many residents of the region migrated to the South Azerbaijan during Andronik's occupation and the "Armenian governorship", on the other. The attacks of Armenian military units to Ordubad district in March 1920 led to the massacre of many innocent people.

The Turk-Muslim population of Nakhchivan was also subjected to genocide after the occupation of North Azerbaijan by Russia, during the initial period of Soviet authority. One of these horrible slaughters was realized during summer months of 1920. The official research-investigations as to savagery and violence acts against the peaceful people of Zangabasar-Vedibasar-Shahtakhtı-Sharur by the Armenian armed forces during the bloody march revealed the following facts.

In Zangabasar, 48 villages were completely burnt, 18 girl and young women were captivated, more than 400 children and 150 old people were killed, 100 sick people were burnt, 816 refugees drowned in Araz, and 160 thousand people became homeless in South Azerbaijan after migration. In Vedibasar, 118 villages were burnt, 900 people were killed by gun-firing, 6 women were captivated and more than 300 children and old people were executed. Furthermore, 74 villages in Daralayaz and 76 villages in Sharur and Shahtakhti were burnt. In Sharur, 810 people were executed in sick bed, 144 women were captivated, 72 people were killed by gun-firing, and 150 old people and women were killed. In Shahtakhti, moreover, 3 women were put into captivity, 35 children, 14 old men, 8 women and 9 sick people were killed.

In total, 73,727 Turk-Muslim people were wildly killed in Nakhchivan region by the Armenian robber bands in 1918-21.

50 thousand neat and small cattle were taken from these districts, and 500 thousand people were made extremely poor. More than 45 thousand people moving to the South Azerbaijan because of massacre and plunder perished after starvation and disease. 70 thousand of refugees in South Azerbaijan and 400 thousand of refugees in Nakhchivan became homeless.

Since the Nakhchivan people resolutely notified their will through referendum in January 1921 to live within Azerbaijan, the autonomy status within Azerbaijan was granted for the region by the Moscow and Kars Treaties of 1921 and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic was established in 1924. Consequently, the genocide of Turk-Muslim people in the region was partly turned down. However, the Armenian chauvinists dreaming bewildered "Great Armenia" did not relinquish this policy, and they overtly and covertly carried on this policy from time to time even throughout 20th century (the bloody repressions of the 30s, the mass deportation of Azerbaijanis from the West Azerbaijan, their historic lands, in 40s, 50s and 80s, and etc.). The bloody wars were waged in order to prevent armed attacks against the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic in 1990-93. During these wars 362 Azerbaijanis were martyred, about 500 were wounded, 1 village (Karki) was occupied, and about 500 settlements, public and official buildings and social objects were demolished.

 

The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic

In the late 20th century as result of intensive historical and political processes taking place in the world and in the region, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic has again become one of the hot points of the world. The Armenians using skillfully the political situation of the final period of the Soviet Union resumed their works to realize the incomplete insidious plan of early 20th century. Hence, the Republic of Azerbaijan again confronted with the Armenian terrorism. The Azerbaijanis living in the territory of Armenian state "being established" upon the historical Azerbaijan soils were sent into exile as a whole since the late 1980s, and the armed attacks were launched onto Garabagh and Nakhchivan. Just 8 hours before the Soviet troops were brought into Baku on 19-20 January 1990 night Karki village of Sadarak district had been occupied by Armenian-Soviet troops.

In the wake of aggressive policy pursued by Armenia, the railway line and motor-way of the All-Union network joining Nakhchivan with the other regions of Azerbaijan were closed, and Nakhchivan being isolated was constrained to subsist under the blockade conditions. The indifferent attitude of Azerbaijan leadership, being directed from Moscow in that period, towards the fateful problems of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic made the situation more difficult. Unfortunately, the general situation did not change as the Azerbaijan People Front came to power in May 1992. The Nakhchivanis, uniting around Heydar Aliyev and demonstrating great bravery and self-sacrifice, were protected in such a circumstance, the ancient land of Azerbaijan was saved from Armenian occupation and its autonomy status were preserved.

The Nakhchivan period (1990-1993) of political life of Heydar Aliyev who gave his consent to lead the Supreme Assembly of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic after the persistent request of Nakhchivan people on 3 September 1991 is one of the magnificent pages of Azerbaijan history. Heydar Aliyev establishing the perfect model of struggle for independence and large-scale state creation in this relatively small region made Nakhchivan the ideological and real activity center for the independence struggle of Azerbaijan. Namely, thanks to Heydar Aliyev's initiative, the national state symbols of Azerbaijan were first time accepted in Nakhchivan, the "Soviet Socialist" phrase was extracted from the name of the Autonomous Republic, the work of local agencies of the communist party was ceased, the referendum for the continuation of USSR was refused, and the decision was taken to name the Supreme Soviet as the Supreme Assembly (Supreme Majlis) of the Autonomous Republic. Thenceforward, Soviet troops were taken out from the region, Azerbaijan's 3-colour flag was raised in border points, the decrees establishing principles of historical justice and independent statehood were issued, the agrarian reform was conducted, the important measures were taken in order to ensure the protection of people and soil, and the query regarding the solidarity day of world Azerbaijanis was raised before the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Azerbaijan. On the other hand, the security of people was ensured in the autonomous republic, the Armenian occupation was prevented, the economic relations were granted with neighbor Turkey and Iran to compensate the blockade sufferings. In particular, the establishment of "The Bridge of Hope" connecting Turkey and Nakhchivan on Araz River was one of the most important achievements of that period. Furthermore, the electric power was delivered from Iran and Turkey, the heat-electric station was founded in Duzdagh territory, and Julfa, Shahtakhti and Sadarak crossing points started functioning.

Heydar Aliyev as the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan always paid significant attention to Nakhchivan and strived for the development of the region. On November 12, 1995, the first Constitution of the independent Republic of Azerbaijan was accepted, and the first democratic elections to the Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan parliaments were held. In the first session of the Supreme Assembly of the Nakhchivan AR, held on 16 December, Vasif Talibov, was elected the Chairman of the Supreme Assembly. The Constitution of Azerbaijan, forming an independent democratic, legal and worldly firm legal basis for state building, gave to the Nakhchivan AR an autonomous status within the structure of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The new Constitution of the Nakhchivan AR was worked out according to the new Constitution of Azerbaijan, and it was accepted by the Supreme Assembly of the Nakhchivan AR on April 28, 1998 and affirmed by the National Assembly of the Republic of Azerbaijan on December 29 of the same year.

The decree signed by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev on "celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic" is an important event of the history of Azerbaijan nation. The 75th anniversary of the autonomous republic with the participation of foreign guests became a real national holiday not only in Nakhchivan but also in all regions of Azerbaijan.

Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic has been home to the centuries-long statehood traditions, preserving rich cultural heritage of our nation and playing unique role in socio-economical, public-political life of our country with its numerous scientists, artists, historical personalities. 80th, 85th, 90th Jubilee Ceremonies of the autonomous republic have been celebrated solemnly on the state level according to the respective Decrees by the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Furthermore, 2014 has been announced as the "Year of Autonomy" in the autonomous republic by fourth call, eighth session of the Supreme Assembly of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic held on December 28, 2013. It has been set forth by the Chairman of the Supreme Assembly that dynamic progress of the economy will continue, targets will be successfully fulfilled, and efforts to study the history and culture of Nakhchivan as part of the history of Azerbaijan will be strengthened.

These jubilee celebrations have considerable political, historical and scientific significance in the history of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

In the time being, the national renaissance policy launched by the National Leader Heydar Aliyev in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is being pursued by Vasif Talibov, Chairman of the Supreme Assembly, consistently with the support of Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Thus Nakhchivan is regaining its grandeur and significance.