A meeting of OSCE Minsk Group on Nagorno-Karabakh was held in the summer of 1992 in Rome.
The deputy head of the Karabakh delegation Arkady Ghukasyan – later the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic – would frequently put his opponents in an awkward position with his wit and quick reaction.
At the meeting, suppressing the reasoning of one of the members of the Azerbaijani delegation who claimed that Karabakh has always been a part of Azerbaijan, Ghukasyan reasonably remarked that one can’t talk about Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan since Artsakh or Karabakh has been known to the whole world for more than a thousand years, while Azerbaijani was barely over 70 years of age.
During the break, Nizami Bakhmanov from the delegation representing the Karabakh Azerbaijanis approached Ghukasyan who he was familiar with from the past, peaceful life. Being of old age, former foreman Bakhmanov had served as the mayor of Shushi for only two weeks before the capture of the city by the Karabakh self-defense forces.
This man got exhausted in the negotiation hall since he understood very little of what was happening and knew Russian poorly.
Bakhmanov told Ghukasyan:
“Listen, Arkady, why are you saying this? My grandfather has lived in Shushi, my great-grandfather has lived in Shushi 150 years ago, and you are claiming that Azerbaijan is 70 years old?!”
During a walk around Rome in the evening, Ghukasyan stumbled upon a bridge featuring a bas-relief map portraying the Ancient World, including the Roman Empire and Greater Armenia.
Ghukasyan returned to the hotel, found Nizami Bakhmanov, and told him: “Nizami, I was wrong. I’ve just seen an ancient map of the world in the city, and it has Azerbaijan!” He then explained to Bakhmanov how to reach the bridge with the map.
Bakhmanov gathered the Azerbaijani delegation and went to the bridge. They approached it and froze in place at its sight.
Excerpt from Arsen Melik-Shahnazarov’s book “Nagorno-Karabakh – facts against lies”