During a presentation at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on Wednesday, President Serzh Sarkisian said that Nagorno-Karabakh has nothing to do with the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the presidential press service reported.
“All those who view Nagorno Karabakh in the context of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, indirectly support the harsh policy of Stalin “divide and rule” that caused suffering and misfortune to millions,” said Sarkisian.
“Since the first day of independence we have been struggling for peace and security. The question of self-determination of the people of Nagorno Karabakh, which was regularly raised during the Soviet era, transformed into the bloodiest war of post-Soviet era in 1990s. The people who made use of the international and domestic Constitutional right were met with weapon, force, and ethnic cleanings. 22 years have passed since the ceasefire of 1994, but even today Armenians living on the state border of Armenia and different parts of Nagorno Karabakh are still under the threat of fire. It goes without saying that Azerbaijani regime serves this conflict to approving the problems in its own country,” Sarkisian said, while providing a brief synopsis of the Artsakh conflict.
“I believe you are familiar with this behavior from the theory of international relations. This is the reason the Azerbaijani authorities spare no efforts to maintain tension on the border, and presumptuously boast about it. They publicly blame the mediators for inaction and glorify themselves in front of their own people, labeling the Minsk Group proposal aimed at reinforcement of security on the contact line as strange and get surprised at it. The word “occupation” is often used in the context of Karabakh. I don’t wish to go back to historical backgrounds, but I will just make a small remark. Those who use the word ‘occupation’ often forget that Karabakh itself was under occupation for 70 years,” referring to Joseph Stalin’s forceful integration of Karabakh into Azerbaijan in 1921
“Moreover, after Azerbaijan received the generous gift, instead of creating normal conditions for the people of Nagorno Karabakh, using soft power tools, it created such intolerable conditions that as soon as the weakening of the central Soviet power was noted, the people of Nagorno Karabakh were the first to uprise. Was it caused by good life? By the way, themovement of 1988 was so powerful, that the collapse of the USSR is associated with Karabakh movement. The root cause of that conflict was that initial occupation, therefore Nagorno Karabakh has nothing to do with the territorial integrity of today’s Azerbaijan,” Sarksiain told the audience.
“Armenians could feel on their own skins the impact of the Azerbaijani policy of depopulation of Nagorno Karabakh. The bitter experience of depopulation of Nakhichevan was in front of the eyes of Armenians. It is not enough that this Armenian region was depopulated, an entire Armenian cultural heritage, the Jugha (Julfa) khachkars (crossstones) were barbarically destroyed in 2005. Nothing remains from that magnificent medieval heritage. The trace of Armenians and Armenian culture has been annihilated in that region. The same logic goes on today. It will seem ridiculous, but foreigners of Armenian descent are not allowed to visit Azerbaijan. Irrespective of the fact that they are citizens of the US, Russia or other country, their entry is banned. Nonetheless, they promise to ensure the security of Armenians if Karabakh becomes part of Azerbaijan,” added Sarksian.
“We have encountered a state of affairs, where the perceptions of our neighbors on negotiations were far away from modern realities. I am convinced that “negotiation” is among the most demanded subjects at Harvard and I am sure that here you are taught that at least reciprocal concession is required for a positive outcome in any negotiation. It is impossible to reach a solution to an issue based on maximalistic and one-sided demands. But in order you are able to well comprehend what we face in negotiations with Azerbaijan, I will point out one single example. Azerbaijan thinks that not resumption of war is a concession to Armenia, while preservation of peace is not a concession but a commitment, international commitment,” explained Sarkisian.