Increasingly, academia is being bought out in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as Azerbaijan aggressively funds anti-Armenian discourse disguised as scholarship and objective research. The latest fruits of such “investments” are observable at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.
On Wednesday, Nov. 26, the University of Birmingham hosts a round-table event which includes the ex-co-chair of the Minsk Group, as well as a several academics as speakers. The title of the event is “The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: The Uses and Misuses of History.” Although the university setting and the attendance of academics bestows an air of legitimacy to the discussion, what is not disclosed in the event’s announcement is the fact that two of the academics in attendance, the Chair, Dr. Galina Yemelianova, and speaker Dr Kamala Imranli-Lowe, are currently working on a project funded by the “Council on State Support for Non-Government Organizations of Azerbaijan,” an Azerbaijani state institution. As the publicly available university report states, “In August 2013 Dr Yemelianova submitted a research proposal on Western Framing of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict to the Council on Non-Government Organisations of Azerbaijan. The proposal was accepted and the project will start on 1 January 2014. Dr Kamala Imranli-Lowe will be employed as a Research Fellow.”
Given these facts, it is especially worth noting that no Armenian scholars are speaking at the event.
Furthermore, the speaker, Dr. Imranli-Lowe, based on her research, espouses a clear anti-Armenian bias. Her latest publication seeks to delegitimize Armenian claims to Nagorno-Karabakh during the 1918 Paris Peace Conference. This article has been academically peer-reviewed and aims to distort academic discourse on the issue.
Academic discussions about Nagorno-Karabakh are important, and a diversity of voices in these same discussions is necessary. It is however inconceivable that with the presence of such a conflict of interest and the lack of an Armenian speaker, that there could be a legitimate discussion about the issue. One-sided events like this panel discussion are able to take place because they receive no resistance, especially in universities with virtually no Armenians. They are able to perpetuate and develop their anti-Armenian rhetoric under the guise of academic objectivity. Provided below are the email address of the co-directors of the Center for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Birmingham, Richard Connolly and Jeremy Morris as well as the email address for the chair of the event, Galina Yemelionova. Please take a moment to write to them to express your disapproval.