THE WOMAN OF THE WORLD - THE LOVE OF ARTSAKH
On 6th of July, 2017 the member of the UK House of Lords Caroline Anne Cox, the Baroness Cox of Queensbury turned 80.
On this day the President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan sent a congratulatory message in which, on behalf of the Artsakh people, authorities and on his own behalf, he cordially congratulated the baroness on her jubilee, wishing her peace, good health, success and all the best to her and her family and friends.
The generation of Armenians over forty, not to mention the older ones, know the name of Baroness Cox, the name of a brave woman who, at the call of her heart and demand of her mind, was and is still dealing with problems of human rights protection. Speaking against violence, she defends the rights of the Christian population in those Muslim countries in which they are being trampled upon. As a professional sociologist Caroline Cox wrote hundreds of articles and dozens of monographs about the tragic fate of Christians, most often oppressed by Islamists of the Pan-Turkic type - in Sudan, Ethiopia, Bosnia, Northern Cyprus.
Since the late 80-ies of the last century Baroness Cox has become an active and principled defender of the rights of Armenians of Artsakh, fighting for their freedom and independence from pan-Turkist Azerbaijan. Always standing by the Armenian people, she shared their pain and suffering, contributed to the fair struggle of the Karabakh people in every way. Due to Baroness Cox many countries learned the truth about Artsakh, they got true information about the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict.
The young generation of Armenians born in sovereign Armenia at the beginning of the 1990s and at the beginning of the third millennium will probably wonder why after her first visit to Armenia and Artsakh this woman was ready to give her life for the Christian Artsakh? Why is her active work in defense of the rights of the Artsakh people the best manifestation of humanism and worthy of the highest appreciation? What is the essence and meaning of her long-term principled and consistent work for the benefit of Armenia and Artsakh?
In order to answer these questions correctly, we have to retrospect into the not so distant past and once again restore in memory the truly heroic time of the selfless nobility of a woman who once did not know about the existence of Artsakh and its place on the globe map, but learning and loving Artsakh and its people in the most tragic days, months and years, remained faithful to this love for the rest of her life.
To this end, the informational and analytical agency De Facto appealed to Zori Balayan, a well-known writer and traveler, who always accompanied Baroness Cox and her group on their round the world trips so that he could share his travel notes as well as the memories of this amazing woman with readers.
"The Baroness"s sincere attitude to Artsakh and her warm friendship with its people are quite natural, - Zori Balayan told us. - Here, after all, the Baroness"s commitment to the universal human values and the principles of democracy must be taken into account. Therefore, it is quite logical that she made a huge contribution to the protection of the Armenian population of Artsakh by organizing a number of trips with humanitarian assistance for its residents, and provided them with the necessary medicines during the war.
Her devotion to Armenian culture in general is logical. She visited about forty countries where Armenian colonies with churches, schools, political parties, cultural centers, and publishing houses have long been historically settled, including the southern hemisphere - Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Australia.
Indeed, during the war and after that I accompanied the Baroness Cox and her numerous teams in traveling around the world. And I"ll tell you this: wherever she was she had one goal, one supertask - Artsakh is doomed to the final victory. She often repeated it.
By all means, I will provide you the pages from my diary and books in which I tell about her. And I have a lot to say about my sister, as I call her. I do not know how you will finish your material about Lady Cox"s glorious and disinterested mission in Artsakh, but I"d like to begin by offering you the following: When they called me and asked how old Caroline Cox was, I answered without thinking: "Twenty-seven." After all, twenty-seven years ago, Caroline became a sister for me and a daughter for Karabakh.
In Karabakh there"s a hill named after Caroline Cox, there"s a forest trail named after Carline Cox. There"s a modern Rehabilitation Center created by her and bearing her name. There is an eternal memory of a great love to our sister.
God bless her!
I think from the historic point of view it will be correct, especially for young people, if the acquaintance with this legendary woman who devoted her whole life to the struggle for the tragic destinies of Christians under the yoke of panturkists, starts with a brief excursion into the recent past, when the Soviet Union was already agonizing, "preparing" to its dissolution, and in Artsakh, gangs of Azerbaijani riot police raided together with the Soviet army units.
From the Karabakh notes and Zori Balayan"s memories
…The 21 of May, 1991. The day of Andrey Sakharov"s birthday – he would become 70. Delegations from all the continents arrived in Moscow at the First International Sakharov Congress. The opening speech was held by the academician"s wife Yelena Bonner. Among the world known scientists and public figures at the podium there was the president of the USSR M. Gorbachev with his wife.
In the evening I went to Yelena Grigorievna"s house on Chkalov street. I was walking and recollecting her words said in the crammed Congress hall. At the time I didn"t know the meeting was being broadcasted live all over the world. On the eve I called her from Artsakh as usual and told her what was going on in Getashen, Martunashen, Hadrut region, Berdadzor sub region at that time. And so Bonner"s words about all this thundered like a bomb for the whole world.
Yelena Grigorievna looked tired. There were a lot of miscellaneous people in the house. The steam from the coffee, cigarette smoke (Yelena Grigorievna was smoking shamelessly much). Hum. Hubbub. Seizing the moment I told the hostess that I had to go home the next day, because the situation there was becoming critical.
- Are you mad? – she said loudly.
- Lusya, no one knows that not only Azerbaijanian but also soviet army is fighting against us. Not Russian but soviet army.
- Don"t you understand, - she interrupted me, - don"t you understand that the meetings in sections will start from tomorrow at the congress. And you are officially included in the committee of the massive violations of human rights, that is – rights of peoples. And the most important thing – the head of the committee is Caroline Cox herself – the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords of Great Britain. You have to be there by all means.
- Please understand, Lusya, we are already tired of all kinds of futile words.
- Caroline Cox is another case. And now I have to disappoint you…
- It"s already impossible to disappoint me.
- Everything is much more complicated than you think. Today during the break as the initiator and the organizer of the Sakharov congress I invited everyone to the so-called 5 o"clock tea in the presidium. Gorbachev and Raisa Maximovna were also there. The president was red in the face. I very well knew that my words about the past events in Karabakh were the reason of it. I repeated the horrible story you had told me before by the phone from Artsakh. I"m speaking now about the three children"s mother"s destiny who was nine months pregnant. While telling I was peering in Gorbachev"s and his wife"s faces. When I said that in the eyes of a pregnant woman, her three children and the soviet soldiers of the internal forces who were standing aside, azeri riot atrociously killed her husband and then didn"t allow to bury him explaining all this horror with the fact that this is azeri land, Gorbachev changed his countenance while his wife kept on drinking tea. She nibbled the cake and asked calmly: "Yelena Georgievna, why do you hate azeri people so much?" To put it mildly, she had quite a strange reaction to the human tragedy. I gasped in surprise. But calming down I reminded them of my last trip to Baku with Andrey, when Vezirov said that "land is not given, it"s conquered with blood…". Whatever, tomorrow in the morning you go directly to the Hammerov centre. There will be Cox"s committee.
Baroness Cox"s committee was placed on the 8th floor. It was a stuffy and airless day. The head of the authoritative committee was a woman about fifty, she was in a light cotton dress and every time after finishing a phrase she turned abruptly and looked at the interpreter smiling broadly. There were about 20 people sitting at the long table. She listened to everyone attentively. I was the last one to speak. And at that very moment Yelena Bonner entered the room. Silently she sat near the door, she dropped a note and in a minute I received a piece of paper folded in four: "As we"ve arranged, speak about the last events, about the refugees, about the tent cities. You told me yesterday that they"d better held a meeting not in Moscow but in the villages where the refugees were placed. I don"t remember the name of the village…"
I"ll remind. The village is called Kornidzor, Goris region. It"s a legendary village. It"s very beautiful and one of my favorites. At the time a whole group of refugees from Berdadzor was languishing there. So I told the Cox committee in details what was going on in Artsakh. I said that I highly appreciate the work of the Sakharov congress and especially the work of the committee, which deals with the people"s rights and I offered to organize the next meeting in Kornidzor, In Yerevan or at least on the border with Azerbaijan.
Lady Cox"s first question didn"t surprise anyone. I think, all the present would like to know the answer. She asked: "Where is Karabakh situated geographically?" Looking ahead I"ll say that in a year Caroline Cox will write a monographic booklet about the Armenian genocide in Karabakh.
Someone of the hosts brought a big piece of whatman paper and some markers. Two volunteers helped me gladly. Standing by two sides they pushed the whatman to the wall and I quickly drew a line from the left marking the east shore of the Black Sea, and a line from the right marking the west shore of the Caspian Sea. On the top I drew the line of the Caucasian Mountains. On the bottom I drew lines for Turkey from the left side and lines for Iran from the right side. In the centre I drew the outlines of the three republics, bold denoting the borders of Karabakh. Somebody said that now he"d never forget where the Karabakh was. Lady Cox asked: "You invite us to come to Karabakh. But how do you think to do it in practice? We all have visa only to Moscow".
And not waiting for the answer she suggested to write a letter to Gorbachev with her signature. The project of the letter I wrote with Yelena Georgievna"s help, someone was synchronously translating the letter. And at the very day the letter was sent to Kremlin.
We"ve been waiting for the answer too long. On the third day Caroline sent the second letter. This time she was dictating the text herself. She emphatically notified that the letter is written on behalf of all the member of the committee, listing the countries: Britain, USA, Norway, Japan, Switzerland, France, USSR. And she also notified that in case of ignorance the committee would have to promulgate the text of the letter to the president on the last meeting of Sakharov congress.
In an hour Gorbachev sent a letter which said that the committee of Cox was allowed to go to the region. There were no any explanations of who and where will register the documents and how the members of the committee will reach the "region". The matter was complicated with the fact that it was Saturday evening. In my book "Between the hell and the paradise" while speaking about this episode I wrote:"Only God knows how we managed to reach Yerevan".
Gorbachev"s telegram was governmental, it was red. It"s already a serious document. I called to the head of the VIP airport "Vnukovo" and introduced myself as the MP of USSR. I voiced the text of Gorbachev"s telegram by phone. I called the envoy of Soviet Armenia in Moscow, my good friend Edward Haykazyan and asked him to send a bus to the hotel "Russia" without any questions. In half an hour my request was complied. Mrs. Cox gave me the list of the twelve (of twenty) members of the committee. For some reason she obeyed watching the process which she couldn"t understand. Only once she said smiling as usual: "I don"t understand anything. We don"t have visa, not even tickets. I don"t understand anything. But at the same time me and all my colleagues break to Karabakh although yesterday no one knew where it was".
I called the chief of the Yerevan aviation Dmitriy Atbashyan who said: "What"s going on in Vnukovo is aweful. There is not a single ticket to the evening flight". And then he added optimistically: "We"ll think something out." We climbed the ladder into the first salon of the huge IL-86 knowing very well that all the three hundred places were busy. The very first thing we paid attention to were the sad faces of the silent passengers. It was the 24th of May. All the previous days of the month starting from the 1st of May our nation have been suffering a drama. Getashen, Martunashen, Berdadzor, some villages of the Gadrut region, capturing of other villages, refugees, The "Ring" operation, the impunity of vandals and barbarians…all this was reflected on our compatriots" faces.
I appealed to the passengers by the translational phone. I told them about the situation. I explained who our guests were and why we were going to Yerevan. I asked the parents to sit their children on their knees if possible. Before I could finish my speech all the passengers suddenly stood up, young and old. I could hear the interpreter to translate what was going on in the plane. I turned and looked at the baroness. She was smiling broadly without hiding her tears. I will never forget this moment. At the time I made the greatest discovery for our people. It was sort of a tangible continuation of Byron, Griboedov, Nansen, Brusov, Gorodetsky. Fortunately there are many of them on the earth.
I walked along the whole giant plane. Everyone was seated, not a single person was standing. There was no place only for me. I placed myself in the pilot cabinet. At three o"clock in the morning we were in Yerevan. We were met by Ara Sahakyan, who organized everything perfectly well, including Mrs. Cox"s journey to Zangezour. I repeat, it was three o"clock in the morning , because at 6 o"clock a.m. without having breakfast one part of our group went to the Goris region where there were refugees from Berdadzor and the other part went to Voskepar where a week ago azeri band shot a whole police department at close range.
Late in the evening on the next day Mrs. Cox gathered the whole group in the hotel "Hrazdan" and offered to appeal to Mutalibov for the committee to be allowed to fly to Baku. In response the assistant of the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist party of Azerbaijan said on the HF unit that no one will ever come to Baku from Yerevan. On the same day Caroline urged me to organize her trip to Goris again and from there to the border of Lachin region. She hid her intentions from me. Soon I was telephoned from Goris and told that together with five daredevils from her group and with a white rag on a stick baroness crossed the border and was going to Lachin. In few hours they fell into the hands of soviet soldier and azeri riot. And only then and there baroness realized that on that stage of the war which per se had started long ago no reconciliations were possible. The former boss of the Azerbaijani communists Abdurakhman Vezirov told Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner in Baku: "Lands are not being given up without blood" - reconciliation is impossible even today. And then, on the border with Lachin, Baroness Cox was convinced that the situation in Armenia could not be compared to anything else.
The next morning as a Deputy I organized a big press-conference for Cox in Moscow. It was the 28th of May, 1991. From that day the name of the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords of Great Britain became known to the whole Armenia, the whole Diaspora.
Before flying to London she looked at me with her eyes full of sorrow and said quietly: "Brother, if the situation becomes too hard in Karabakh, although I can"t imagine what can be harder than this, let me know in any case". At that time I accepted her words only as a sign of politeness and just said: "Thank you, sister".
On those days I was often recollecting her words told in the airport. Every day the situation in Artsakh and Shahumyan region was becoming more and more critical and tragic. Per se it was a real war. And Ո la guerre come Ո la guerre – you have to fight, resist, attack. Here we have to remember that on the territory of Artsakh, more precisely NKAR, six thousands of soldiers from the Soviet Ministry Interior troops were deployed, who didn"t let the azeri implement the genocide, of course if the commanders were honest and just. And suddenly on the 4th of July in 1991 on the radio and by TV they voice Gorbachev"s decree on the withdrawal of troops from the Shahumyan region. In the text of the decree it was notified that "Mutalibov promised not to deport Armenian people". I think the world has never faced such a pathological cynicism. Gorbachev had no idea of the fact that no sooner had the ink of the decree he signed dried, the villages Erkedzh, Buzlukh, Manashid began being burnt. Gyulistan, Verinshen, Armenian Borisy and other settlements were fired. At the same time under the guise of internal forces the azeri riot broke into 20 villages of Gadrut region.
We immediately warned people about this. I sent a telegram to Mrs. Cox too. She answered in an hour and that text couldn"t be read calmly. Baroness wrote that she had already given the order to her assistant to contact the members of her group and she had to fly to Canada where her daughter had lost her child at birth. The telegram ended with the following words: "At least a day I"ll sit next to my daughter and I"ll come to you. At that time my colleagues will gather and we"ll come to Yerevan by all means. Please inform Bonner about this".
On those days Yelena Georgievna was telephoning me all the time. She sought to the group of Mrs. Cox to be accepted in Baku. Mrs. Cox at that time tried to contact her kiths Yazov and Lukianov. In short, the meeting in Baku took place. The group was accepted by Mutalibov and Polyanichko. Yelena Georgievna included her son Alesha in Cox"s group.
It"s a long story how we sent the Armenian YAK-40 to Baku to take the Cox"s group to Yerevan. It turned out that both Mutalibov and Polyanichko didn"t let any of the human right activists speak. They excitedly told them about the "ungrateful Armenians", who allegedly deported all the azeri people, took them hostage, burned their houses. On Cox"s request to visit the Shahumyan region they said that they are very much anxious for her fate. But when the group arrived in Yerevan and immediately flew to Stepanakert by helicopter Cox managed to go to the Shahumyan region and also to Shushi and Berdadzor and even to the burning Dolanlar in the Gadrut region. On her return she met with Yazov and Lukianov again. In a week she told the whole House of Lords about the atrocity in Karabakh.
...A few days after the Shahumyan self-defense forces liberated the three previously deported and seized by Azerbaijanis Armenian villages, Lady Cox visited Armenia again. This time, besides journalists, one of the leaders of the international organization "International Christian Solidarity" John Eibner was in the group. We decided to visit the Shahumyan district first and then fly to Stepanakert.
Shahen Meghryan took the group to Buzlukh, an ancient Armenian village on the slope of a steep mountain. Houses were destroyed, burned, robbed. We silently wandered through the deserted streets of the village. I thought: if this was done by the Armenians, the Turks and Azeris would make a fuss over it to the whole world. But the point is not that Armenians, like Christians, are not able to commit such a thing. The point is different: why does the same world keep a stone silence when the Azeri do it? Only a few - such as Cox and the CRIKs *) respond to our pain ...
We went up to the cemetery. The graves were destroyed and ruined. Marble slabs were taken away. What couldn"t be taken was smashed with sledgehammers. At the edge of the cemetery we saw a freshly dug grave. When the Azeri hosted the village, they opened it, pulled out the body of the villager, took off his clothes, tore out his gold teeth.
Cox asked the TV journalist not only to photograph the grave, but also to film the story. When we went down to the village we saw an old man in a quilted jacket sitting on a boulder. He turned out to be the father of the very man at whose ruined grave we were horrified by the inhuman savagery and vandalism. Caroline Cox asked everyone to sit for a while with the old man.
On January 4, 1992 the first session of the newly elected parliament in Karabakh was appointed. On the eve, already as the People"s Deputy of the NKR Armed Forces I flew to Yerevan. At night I met Cox"s group with another load of medicines and food. On January 3, the jam-packed MI-8 took off. We had to land in Gulistan, leave some cargo there and fly to Stepanakert. But Gulistan, where Shahen Mehryan waited for us, was closed tightly. We flew as if in milk.
Therefore, the helicopter landed in Verin Horatagh village of Martakert region. The whole village came out to lead our group to the village council. And there they said there was no transport. There was only one way out: to find a bit of diesel fuel, to load valuable items on the carriage with a tractor and walk along the snow-covered road, across the pass to the famous village of Vank (where the Gandzasar temple towered) and somehow on to the capital of Karabakh. Two kilometers later the tractor broke down. And there were ten more to go. Getting to Vank is a separate story which is also instructive. It accurately depicts the image of Cox, as a woman not only initiative and decisive, but, most importantly, effective, even daring.
Cox was to speak on behalf of the House of Lords of Great Britain at the first meeting of the first in the history of Artsakh parliament elected by the people... But even for her it was impossible to postpone the session. And the weather was non-flying. Verin Horatagh village was the final point of arrival, and as I said, we could get to Stepanakert only by crossing the heights, not Wuthering, but even worse - frosty. The Deputies of the State and Moscow Duma, journalists from Armenia, Russia and from abroad, they all were with us. Would they stand?
When Caroline learned that the session could not be postponed, she silently climbed the gangway of the helicopter, got her backpack, came up to me and asked quietly: "In which direction is Stepanakert?" I replied that it was not about direction, but there was a huge mountain standing between Verin Oraktag and Stepanakert, and on that mountain there stood the Gandzasar temple. I pointed at the mountain.
Without saying anything, she set off at night. And, of course, immediately we all followed her. By the midnight we reached the top. We waited for everyone. At the top we were met by the people from the village of Vank due to the efforts of the Verin Horatagh village council. By the morning a big truck arrived, this time due to my efforts. And we were on time for the first meeting of the first parliament of Artsakh.
Throughout the year, Cox, wherever she was, talked about that fantastic pass. And she often said that was her historical path.
Before she could come back home she learnt that "Grad" was used in Shahumyanovsk. She came to Yerevan and on the same day we went to Shahumyanovsk together. We were met by Shahen Meghryan. He showed us the school, which, in fact, already wasn"t existing. The rocket went from one side of the building till another one destroying all that was inside. "Grad" is not only exploding but also burning. Fortunately all the children left the school ten minutes ago. Not very far, near the road there were the fragments of the rocket. Mrs. Cox offered to take them with us. I didn"t know then what she was thinking of. Only the next day she suggested me and Pargev Srbazan to fly with her to Moscow and then to the USA.
In Moscow Cox organized the meeting with the ambassadors of the USA, Canada, Germany, France and Britain. And everywhere she showed the fragments of "Grad". She did the same in Washington in the White House in the cabinet of the adviser to the U.S. President for National Security Brent Scowcroft. The owner of the office was holding the piece of iron in his hands for a long time and then he said: "Monster!" I asked him: "Can we fight this monster?" And he answered: "Against a monster you need a monster."
... They called Stepanakert from Yerevan. It was reported that a large group from Zurich was arriving at Christmas. It was headed by the President of the International Organization "Christian Solidarity" Hans Stuckelberger, a well-known human rights activist and a church figure. Caroline Cox was also in his group.
Forty-five tons of cargo was brought on IL-76. I went to Yerevan and met the group. The cargo was sent by the KamAz cars, and the group left by the Ikarus. It was the 5th of January, 1993.
A lot of cars crowded round the village of Saravan. It was snowy and windy. Our bus hardly moved. Finally, it got stuck. There were snow-covered cars, trucks around us...
By five o"clock it got completely dark. It seemed we were stuck for a long time. And that meant the Ikarus motor should run all night without stopping since it was -15/20 in the street and the danger of freezing was quite real.
We all, more than 30 people, were captured in snow. And we didn"t know when the road workers would be able to clean the track. We had to put up with fate and ... get the food supplies. It cheered us up a little. But suddenly somebody knocked loudly on the bus door. When the driver opened the door, a sharp frosty air burst into the cabin and a young woman with a nursling baby came in the bus ...
Seeing a chilled woman with a child in her arms, Cox was alarmed. She immediately suggested leaving the car and looking around if there were other children in the cars and in general pay attention to all cars: if the passengers needed help.
She was the first one to leave the bus.
Cox told a wide audience in Boston about the night when the blizzard captured more than hundred people, including children, who were dragged into our bus and if not the Ikarus the consequences could be disastrous, she told about the people who prevented that disaster, despite the cold and the wind. When I was watching the tape with her performance sent to me from America, I had the impression that at that time she herself was sitting in the cabin, and some heroes saved the children, as if she wasn"t the first one to jump out into the cold ...
... During each and every visit to Artsakh Lady Cox met with the commander of the Martuni Defense District, Monte Melkonyan. The people called him Avo, it was shorter and clearer. Avo was born and raised in America, and naturally his native language was English. We all were drawn to this courageous man and besides, he was a philosopher.
Their first meeting took place in June 1992, that is, a month after the liberation of Shushi. At that time, few knew Avo. As it was decided not to publicize his name in the media so the Azeri could not spread information that the entire Diaspora is fighting in Karabakh. There had already been talking about the volunteers of the so-called "Armenian Expeditionary Corps" flocking to Karabakh from all five continents.
That"s why we warned Cox that she could film Monte Melkonyan but it was better not to show the footage anywhere. She agreed and promised not to do so.
At the end of this very first meeting Avo told us that he could not let the guests leave hungry, and offered to "have a snack" in Martuni. It was all right, and we agreed despite the fact that a real "snack" was waiting for us in the village of Shosh, which is ten to twelve kilometers from Stepanakert in the north-west direction. We were being waited there for the wedding of the hero of the Artsakh war, Ago Harutyunyan. Running ahead I will say that we were late for the wedding due to Avo. But this is another story, a funny one. In short, they repeated the wedding specially for us(that is, in fact, for Lady Cox).
And before that, on the famous Martuni off-road (as a graphic illustration of the indifference of the Azerbaijani leadership to the local problems), we were rushing to Shosh overcoming not only mud, but also dark. On the way, Cox was silent against the habit. It seemed to me she was puzzled.
- Any problems? – I asked.
- There are problems, - she said, - you made a wrong decision. Monte shouldn"t be hidden from the world. Of course I gave the promise and I"ll keep it but this is wrong. People should be told whatever Monte told me. There"s so much common sense and logic in his words. His philosophic views are so interesting. I told him that many should have been surprised that he left his home in America and came where they were being killed every day. And he said that they should be surprised not at that but at the fact that not everybody left their houses and came… because it was not just a simple war. The whole world is vilifying the poor Karabakh people. What for? For they don"t want to die? For they fight for their freedom? For they behave the way every nation should behave in the given situation? They are the way God created them. The truth is on their side. And I think they should at least allow telling people about Monte"s philosophy.
I promised Lady Cox to coordinate this issue with the leadership of the Karabakh movement. That was also a discipline that could not be violated. After talking to Serzh Sargsyan, then the head of the Defense Ministry of Artsakh, the next day I informed her that her proposal was accepted quite fairly. And soon the whole world (not only Armenian) learned about the national hero of Artsakh Monte (Avo) Melkonyan, who became a real legend.
... Each time a new team accompanied the baroness. During the years of war most often they were doctors, sappers, politicians, journalists and others - all from different countries. And with each visit, the number of our friends grew. It was astonishing that she planned, as she said, "the content of the visit." When she learned about the Battle of Karintak (January 26, 1992), she realized that a real war had already begun, which would take place on the territory of Artsakh. And that meant there would be a huge number of wounded. And from the beginning of February to the middle of April 1992, I organized five flights on a forty-ton Il-76 airplane with humanitarian cargo. Indeed, these were the air services of the "first aid", which by air carried hundreds of kilometers of bandages, thousands and thousands of square meters of gauze, not to mention the mass of the front medicines.
Mrs. Cox always said that people must not die in pain, and the wounded must never suffer pain. She was always proudly speaking about the fact that many captive Azerbaijanis were saved from death by Armenians.
It was the end of 1992. I must say that after the liberation of Shushi and Lachin it didn"t become easier for us. Every day Stepanakert and its surroundings were bombed by the sinister MiG-21 and Su-25. Agdam was beating Stepanakert, Askeran, Noragyugh with salvos of rockets. At that time Cox drew up a new group of doctors and deminers and also her colleagues from the House of Lords. In December of 1992 Lord Malcolm Pearson with his daughter appeared in Caroline"s group. He lived almost a week under the endless fire. He was calm, always smiling. He was surprised mostly because of the fact that the world was silent, although all the great powers were aware of what was happening in Karabakh. Soon I learnt that all the notes in Malcolm"s notebook were kind of a fuse. At the first after the visiting Artsakh meeting in the House of Lords Malcolm Pearson burnt his "fuse". The explosion was heard far beyond London. He recounted everything he saw with his own eyes and showed his own pictures of the captured guns produced in the European countries and mostly in Turkey.
Just in a day after his speech he received an ultimatum from Turkey. It turned out that this high-hearted, principled and wise man had common shares in joint insurance business. The ultimatum was stern: "Either you deny your words publically, or we break the contract". This meant losing more than four million pounds. And Pearson answered from the high tribune of the legendary House of Lords: "For me a child"s life, in this case an Artsakh child"s life, means more than all the money in the world".
Before her visits Caroline was making a plan to know who to include into her new group. And every time she contacted me. I told her that we faced a huge problem in the face of the wounded people who were confined to a wheelchair. Mostly there were boys with a spinal cord injury. This time Caroline arrived with a group of twenty people. Almost everyone worked in the International and the English Christian Solidarity, there were major specialists in neurology and surgery in her team. And so, in the dilapidated former school number 10 without windows and doors there gathered dozens of patients in wheelchairs. Near each wheelchair there were wives, mothers, children with sad eyes. Immediately they set up a clinic with a great name "International Christian Solidarity." Two months later workers came with the special equipment. And all this was happening in the times of war. Soon the building looked like a real clinic. Later they brought the medical equipment for the physical therapy. Today it"s a modern recreation center named after Caroline Cox. There are now commonly treated many patients with difficult diagnosis.
And early in the morning on the 11th of April 1992 when we were going to Shosh (by the way Yelena Bonner"s son ALesha and TV reporter Arthur Grigoryan were also with us) somebody called me and said that at night the Armenian village Maragha was burnt down. Armenians were burnt alive. I changed the rout. In few hours we saw a real Auschwitz. Azerbaijani were kicked away but there was nothing left from the village, only few people. All day long Caroline Cox and a TV reporter from London were photographing all that Hades. Only these shots were included in our chronicle.
... Member of the House of Lords of Great Britain, Baroness Caroline Cox responded to the note of the Azerbaijani Ambassador to Great Britain Fahraddin Gurbanov in the British edition of The Guardian, in which he indignantly wrote about the documentary photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind who visited Nagorno-Karabakh in 2011. The letter of the Baroness is also published in The Guardian.
"I"ve visited Nagorno-Karabakh 80 times, many during the bitter war from 1991 to 1994, and I witnessed Azerbaijan"s attempted ethnic cleansing of Armenians, including firing 400 GRAD missiles a day on the civilians in the capital city of Stepanakert and numerous atrocities including the slaughter of civilians in the village of Maragha in 1992. I saw the homes still smoldering, decapitated corpses, charred human remains, and survivors in shock. In a nearby hospital I met the chief nurse who had lost 14 members of her extended family including her son, whose head had been sawn off", - Baroness Cox wrote. (2014)
... In 2013, on Caroline Cox"s 89th trip to Nagorno-Karabakh, I wrote an essay on Lady Cox, who, after her first visit, became a painfully dear daughter of Artsakh, then - long-suffering and rebellious, now - free and sovereign. It is no accident that for almost a quarter of a century we have been communicating with each other as brother and sister - as sister and a brother. In that jubilee essay I noted: "Eighty trips to Artsakh are, among other things, eighty accompanying groups, each of which had about ten people. And this, in turn, means - about eight hundred people from different countries became good friends of Artsakh. "
In the year of the centennial of the memory of the monstrous Armenian genocide, elevated to the rank of the state policy of Turkey, Lady Cox already with the eighty-fourth team made a special, ten-day memorial tour of ten mountain routes of Artsakh. And let this not surprise anyone. Caroline has an unusual passion for traveling through mountains, to a kind of mountaineering. After each visit to Artsakh, she invariably mastered, all over again herself, more and more of new routes. At the same time she mastered, not only for herself, her infinite love for Artsakh. That is my dear sister. That is Baroness Cox, whom the unforgettable Andrei Sakharov called the woman of the World.
P.S. Talking about Caroline Cox"s visit to Artsakh will take us too much time. The newspaper field is not enough. But I"ll ask you to put one of my incomplete stories in your review. The meaning of it is a simple formula - the price of love is love.
At the beginning of the 1994 together with my true front-line friend and permanent helicopter detachment commander Sergey Vantsyan and our legendary surgeon Valeriy Maroutyan we flew to the very top of the ridge where at that memorable night Caroline"s whole team gathered. The helicopter had a big basalt stone aboard with an inscription in three languages "Cox"s path" (Path of Cox). At that time Caroline brought a large group of the deminers with her. It was planned two months ago. It became known then that the villagers, cars and even cows hit a mine. And Cox invited the best deminers who became famous by saving thousands and thousands of lives in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. However, neither the baroness nor her team knew why we landed on the top of the mountain which nevertheless offered a beautiful view on Artsakh. And suddenly one of the guests shouted loudly – "Path of Cox!" Everyone ran to him. Caroline was the last to come up. She didn"t understand anything. A minute later I saw her happy face. She was standing silently at the stone with her name for a long time. Then she looked at me, smiled broadly and started kissing not me, not Valerik or Vantsyan, but the helicopter pilots. She was very fond of our heroic boys…
There we bummed the champagne in the Gandzasar sky. We congratulated the Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords of Great Britain who not hiding her joy said loudly: "I"m extremely happy that I have my own path on this earth".