STEPANAKERT, Artsakh (A.W.)—During an address in Stepanakert on Tuesday—the 30th anniversary of Artsakh Revival Day—Armenian President Serge Sarkisian said that the movement calling for Artsakh’s reunification with Armenia marked the beginning of the “revival of the Armenian people.”
“Feb. 20, 1988 became the moment of unity, determination, and national awakening of the Armenian people,” Sarkisian said, referring to the day the Nagorno-Karabagh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) Regional Council—the ruling authority at the time—met in an extraordinary session to adopt a resolution expressing the Artsakh people’s will for free self-determination. “Three decades ago, Armenians all over the world joined the fair demand and struggle of Artsakh,” Sarkisian noted.
The Armenian President went on to explain that Azerbaijan responded to the Armenian people’s peaceful and legitimate demands with massacred in Sumgait and other cities in the region. “In those days, it became clear that people in Artsakh were doomed to physical extermination or victory,” Sarkisian said, adding that the Armenian people were forced to wage war at the time.
According to Sarkisian, what has become known as the Karabagh Liberation Movement saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
“With the strong backing of the entire Armenian nation, the Armenians of Artsakh managed to cope with that severe trial with honor. Today, those who call us enemies, accuse us of many things. The only fault of the people of Artsakh, however, is that they did not lose and were not exterminated in that war,” Sarkisian explained.
Tuesday’s event, which took place in the historic hall of the Artsakh Republic government, was attended by veterans of the movement, Artsakh state officials, high-ranking officers of the Artsakh Defense Army, political figures from Artsakh and Armenia, including Armenia’s second President Robert Kocharyan.
“Together with Mother Armenia and all Armenians, we have been following this path for the past 30 years and will continue our inevitable path—keeping firm our people’s victorious spirit, willm and unity,” noted Artsakh President Bako Sahakian during the event.
A day earlier, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received a delegation led by EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia Toivo Klaar. During the meeting, Aliyev stressed that Armenia’s “hypocritical” and “non-constructive” position is a major obstacle in the Artsakh conflict negotiation.
“Armenia is continuing its occupation policy and destroying national, religious, and historical monuments in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan,” Aliyev said in the meeting, reported Azerbaijan’s News.az.
Less than two weeks earlier, Aliyev vowed to “return Azerbaijanis” to Armenia during his address to the sixth congress of his New Azerbaijan (Yeni Azerbaycan), ahead of snap presidential elections slated for April 11. Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs harshly criticized Aliyev’s comments. Ministry spokesperson Tigran Balayan said in a statement that Aliyev’s call is a manifestation of the “racist essence of the ruling regime in Baku.”
“The territorial claims of the President of Azerbaijan—a state that emerged on the world’s political map only 100 years ago—are not new. This statement, together with repeated declarations that Armenians of the world are the number one enemies of Azerbaijan, once again demonstrate the racist essence of the ruling regime in Baku,” said Balayan on Feb. 9.
The people of Artsakh kicked off the 30th anniversary celebrations with a public rally and march in Stepanakert last Tuesday, as thousands marched along the capital’s central streets to the Stepanakert Revival Square holding posters and flags.