In the early 1980s the leaders of Soviet republics of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan Karen Demirchyan, Eduard Shevardnadze and Heydar Aliyev, respectively, visited the memorial complex dedicated to the Battle of Sardarapat (1918). The photographs were made in 1981 or 1982, before November 1982, when Aliyev moved to Moscow following his appointment as First Deputy Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers.
Shevardnadze and Aliyev were visiting Armenia because of the session of the Military Council of the Red Banner South Transcaucasus Military District. It is hard to say if Demirchyan had difficulties convincing the guests – especially Heydar Aliyev – to visit the Sardarapat memorial.
In any case, the Azerbaijani leader could hardly escape mixed feelings during the visit to a place that symbolized Turkey’s defeat.
Photo: Mediamax archive
On 1 July 1999, while speaking with Armenian journalists in Baku (such visits did not seem impossible back then), Heydar Aliyev made the following remarks about his relationship with Karen Demirchyan and Eduard Shevardnadze:
“I started working as the First Secretary of the Central Committee in Azerbaijan in 1969. Three years later, in 1972, Mr Shevardnadze was appointed to the same position in the Georgian Central Committee, and two years after that – in 1974 – Mr Demirchyan was appointed First Secretary of the Central Committee in Armenia. It should be noted that we cooperated very well. We helped each other and kept in touch.
I remember my meetings in Armenia, the respect I was shown, and not just by the officials. I visited factories, companies, met with the staff. I can recall a huge rally, held at a shoe factory, where we went with Mr Shevardnadze and Mr Demirchyan. We gave speeches and talked about the friendship between the nations of the South Caucasus. Karen Demirchyan visited Azerbaijan for so many times! People met him with great respect, so we should not forget these pages of the history. We did so much back then. You, young people, should know: we did a lot then for our republics to gain the scientific, economic and cultural potential, which allows them to be independent now.”