Thursday, March 20, 2003

I got the following e-mail from one of our readers about the �Karabagh Conflict: Public Discussion� at the House of Lords in the UK which was held on March 17th. I thought you might find the message interesting.

Dear Ara,

Yesterday, I attended Dr. Brenda Shaffer's lecture at the House of Lords.

I now understand what you meant in your log.

The good news is that the Azeris are paying someone like her. With enemies like that who needs friends?

She was embarrassing and came across as a "fanatic" rather than the "impartial historian" - an image she wanted to project.

Her number of Azeri refugees increased from 800,000 to 1 million - within 20 minutes.

She was trying to convince everyone that NKR is not under blockade as she herself had seen "thousands and thousands" of Iranian cars there.

How, since her childhood, she had read about the Poets of Shusha and how unthinkable it is for her to see Shousha in Armenian hands...

Armenians must be aware that Azerbaijan is much richer and one day they will rebuild their army.

Baroness Cox was at the meeting and asked a few relevant questions, very politely. Cox's questions included:

1. For the sake of completeness one must also mention Sumgait and Baku pogroms which triggered the violence.
2. How come the "impoverished" Armenian government manages to re-settle the Armenian refugees whereas the "rich" Azeris keep theirs in misery?
3. Shushi was an important Armenian Cultural centre...
4. What confidence building measures should the two sides take?

Instead of answering Baroness Cox, Dr. Shaffer - in a very rude tone - kept on about how she is a "qualified historian" and that Baroness Cox is not a historian and that is why she does not have the right facts.

Then the mask dropped and she started listing all that is wrong about Armenia - Corruption, poverty, immigration (one minute she was complaining that Armenians are re-settling on Azeri lands, then she was saying most Armenians refugees are leaving the country...) Armenia will not get a penny from the pipeline, etc.

When Baroness Cox tried to say something, Dr. Brenda raged "I did not interrupt you when you said your bit. I thought the British are meant to be polite". These words were said in the British House of Lords!

None of those impartial members of the audience were impressed by it.

There were only 4 or 5 Armenians and 50 Azeris at the lecture. I was proud of the 2 young ladies from the Armenian embassy who asked very polite, very logical questions. They ended up speaking 80% of the time, while Dr. Brenda and the Azeris were getting more and more frustrated...

We left the lecture and went to the House of Commons to follow the debate about Iraq. Dr. Brenda - the "historian" - could have learnt a few lessons about the art of debating.

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