Creating National Identity: Historic Negationism in Azerbaijan

“Those who cannot remember the past are bound to repeat it,” said George Santayana, a writer and philosopher of Spanish origin. This statement is especially relevant in these times of alternative facts and distortion when historical and cultural negationism is on the rise. The term is used to describe a phenomenon when impermissible methods, such as presenting known falsified papers as authentic, ascribing conclusions to sources that contradict them, altering data to favor a specific point of view, and intentionally mistranslating texts, are conducted with the goal of promoting a specific political agenda.

Condemned by many, historic negationism is widely used in Azerbaijani state-sponsored “research,” with the aim of ascribing Caucasian Albania as the alleged ancestor of modern-day Azerbaijan and cleansing information about the millennial-old Armenian presence and its heritage in the region, especially in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). The process started back in the 1960s in Soviet Azerbaijan when primary sources on the history of the region were revised by excluding any mentions of Armenian heritage or attributing it to Caucasian Albania. These actions were followed by the same dishonest practices in modern-day Azerbaijan, regarding the Albanization of Armenian khachkars and much more.

According to Azerbaijani historiography, Armenians arrived in Transcaucasia only after 1828, when the region was handed to Russia. Nonetheless, a vast number of Persian, Russian, Arab and other primary sources document a major Armenian presence in the region, particularly in Artsakh. George Bournoutian’s research showcases that the greatest annoyance among Azerbaijani historians was the fact that even Muslim primary sources on South Caucasus, who lived in the present-day Azerbaijani territories, such as Abbas Quli Bakikhanov (Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan is named after him), clearly mention solid Armenian presence in Artsakh. To counteract this, Azerbaijani historians started to republish primary sources, by simply removing any mention of Armenians. One such example is the re-publication of Mirza Jamal Javanshir’s book Tarikh-e Qarabagh (A History of Karabakh) by Nazim Akhundov, where in the sections presenting the Armenian holdings in Artsakh, the word Armenian is systematically removed.

This does not go unnoticed by Armenian and international historians, who pinpoint the unethical wrongdoings of Azerbaijani historians, who falsify history by state orders. Historians Willem Floor, Hasan Javadi, Victor Schnirelmann, Robert Hewsen and many more have spoken about the phenomena of historic negationism in Azerbaijan on multiple occasions. Conversely, the position of Azerbaijan is that the scholars of other countries are distorting the history, to the extent that in 2007 the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Russia accused the Great Russian Encyclopedia of falsifying facts and demanded to stop the circulation of the books. Russia ignored these demands.

The historic negationism and propaganda reached new heights after the 44-day war raged by Azerbaijan on the indigenous Armenians of Artsakh. After taking control over parts of Artsakh, Azerbaijani government representatives started the active Albanization of historic Armenian churches and monuments, first by removing the Armenian scripts from the walls of churches, alongside the distraction of numerous centuries-old monasteries and monuments of historic value. Later on and to this day, Azerbaijani state officials and institutions continue distorting facts by presenting Armenian churches as Azerbaijani both in social media, as well as advertising Armenian medieval monasteries as Albanian in various cities across Europe.

Gandzasar monastery, August 2018 (Photo: Soghomon Matevosyan, Wikimedia Commons)

The most recent such cases are the posts by Azerbaijani officials, presenting the Gandzasar monastery as the center of the Caucasian Albanian Catholicosate, or using photos of Armenian Dadivank on the occasion of Christmas to showcase Azerbaijan as a “multicultural” country with respect to Christian monuments of Caucasian Albania. In 2020, a number of billboards appeared in Thessaloniki in Greece, showcasing Ghazanchetsots cathedral of Shushi as part of Azerbaijani rich history, which were removed due to the efforts of the local Armenian community and the Armenian Embassy.

Using historical negationism to create “national identity” and cleanse Armenian heritage seems like a state strategy of the Azerbaijani government, against which Armenians all over the world are fighting. However, it’s not always easy to withstand the oil money and caviar diplomacy of the autocratic regime of Azerbaijan. It seems there is a need for a systemic response strategy from the government of Armenia; otherwise, when one tells the same lie too many times, it becomes the new “reality.”

Davit Manukyan

Davit Manukyan

Davit Manukyan is a graduate of American University of Armenia and the President of the European Youth Parliament in Armenia. He has been studying Artsakh and other frozen conflicts in the region for years.


  1. The so-called leaders, officials and fake “historians” of this pseudo-Turkish criminal tribe, the former homeless Caucasian Muslim Tatars, today and since 1936 called Azerbaijanis with the name stolen from the Persians, are some of the most vile, dishonest and racist anti-Armenians in the world. When it comes to the indigenous Armenians, these despicable sub-humans have no respect for historical truth. Their entire existence is predicated upon denigrating the Armenians and falsifying their history.

    How could have the native Armenians arrived in Transcaucasia only after the 1828 Russian conquest of the Caucasus when as recently as in the year 2005 the sadistic and defeated criminal army of artificial Azerbaijan republic erased one of the last remnants of Armenian existence in the region when they desecrated and destroyed a 1,300 year old Armenian cemetery in Julfa, Nakhijevan today under their occupation? It is laughable. How can Armenians have buried their ancestors here for thousands of years when they out of nowhere showed up here only 194 years ago?

    These degenerates also suffer from self-imposed amnesia. They pick and choose parts of history that suits their falsified script while leaving out what could expose their TRUE deceptive character. They claim that once this region came under Russian control, Armenians from Iran were brought and “settled” here to populate the region. Entertaining their preposterous claims and bold face LIES just for the sake of discussion; the question is how did Armenians end up in Iran in the first place? Well, they were uprooted from their native homeland across the Araxes River in Nakhijevan and settled in the ancient Persian capital of Isfahan as a result of a war between the Shia Persian and Sunni Ottoman empires at the beginning of the 17th century in 1603. Now, even if some of these Armenians managed to return home from where they were forced out, were they being settled there or were they repatriating back to their homeland?

    As for so-called Caucasian Albania, Aghvank-Աղվանք in Armenian, if you study the ancient maps of the region you will find out that this was a narrow strip of land on the Caspian coast. If these homeless Azerbaijani tribesmen are the descendants of the Caucasian Albanians, what are they doing nearly 600 miles, about 1000 kilometers, away from their “ancestral homeland” near the Iran-Armenia border region? If these despicable LIARS are the descendants of Caucasian Albanians and they were Islamized in the 7th century, how is it possible that, as new Muslim converts, they could have and would have built Christian Churches and Monasteries for centuries after their conversion, instead of building mosques, and today claiming them as theirs when obviously these could only have been built by the Armenians! It makes no sense, does it? It defies logic. Once you pay close attention and study the history, you realize that all the falsehood spewed by these racist criminals do nothing but expose their LIES and falsified fake history. Of course history has long been written but we still need to stop being so passive and assume the whole world knows or is supposed to know about our past and instead educate the world and be proactive and begin using their own falsehoods against them. They need to be exposed and embarrassed in a big way and where it actually counts. We must not let them have any room to breathe with their distortion of history.

  2. That’s OK. One day we will rise and evict all muslims out of Azerbaijan. Send them all to Tatarstan, Like the Israelis are sending all their undesirables far away to Africa.

  3. Ararat, you are so worthy of your name!
    As you put it so well, we as a nation should not and cannot rely on others to expose the truth. We need to put all our resources together and with a united effort get to on with the serious business of exposing the falsehood and educating the world.
    Before it’s too late!

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