STEPANAKERT—“Artsakh has never been and will never be a part of independent Azerbaijan. This very idea should be the basis for the settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict. Any attempt to forcibly annex Artsakh to Azerbaijan would be a gross violation of international law and an official license to commit another genocide against the Armenian people; therefore any document of such a content is unacceptable for the Republic of Artsakh.”
Thus read part of the statement that was unanimously adopted by all parliamentary factions during an extraordinary session of the National Assembly of the Artsakh Republic. The statement was read by MP Areg Avagyan, whose son fell victim during the 2020 44-day war.
The statement also says: “No authority in the Republic of Armenia has the right to refuse the mission to ensure the security of the people of Artsakh or to accept any document questioning the existence of the sovereign Republic of Artsakh. We urge the authorities of the Republic of Armenia to defend the common interests of the two Armenian Republics at international platforms, based on the existing fundamental documents, in particular, the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Armenia and the historic decision of the Supreme Council of July 8, 1992.”
In his speech, Speaker of the Parliament Artur Tovmasyan addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the Armenian people, noting that “this small world does not pose a threat, but it is endangered… For the right of the people of Artsakh to live and survive fully, so that the people of Artsakh can live and work in their homeland, you must recognize the right of self-determination of Artsakh.”
Artur Mosian, head of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) faction, stated in his speech, “No one knows the value of peace better than the Armenian people. In order to build sustainable peace, we must give up the illusion of peace. It is necessary to get rid of weak, incompetent, artificially instilled complexes and people. We will achieve success only with the pan-Armenian potential fighting relentlessly for our rights with the Artsakh-Armenia-Diaspora trinity.”
“Every document that includes Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan should be torn up and thrown away, no matter who presented it, because it carries the risk of a new genocide or the depopulation of Artsakh in the 21st century,” he added.
The session was broadcast live and watched by more than 40-thousand Artsakh citizens gathered in Stepanakert’s Renaissance Square. Following the conclusion of the session, parliamentarians joined the crowd.
President of the Republic of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan and former presidents Arkady Ghukasyan and Bako Sahakyan also took part in the rally.
On October 29, on the eve of the rally and the tripartite meeting being held in Sochi on October 31, President Harutyunyan posted a message on his Facebook page stating that “the proposals and principles that deny the right to self-determination of the people of Artsakh disrupt the prospects of a fair settlement of the conflict and question the existence of Artsakh. And it stems not only from the interests of the Republic of Artsakh, but also from the interests of all Armenians, because the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh form one homeland and have an inseparable set of values and interests.”
Primate of the Artsakh Diocese Bishop Vertanes Abrahamyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Babayan, People’s Artist Kajik Harutyunyan, student Hrach Saian and rector of Mesrop Mashtots University Donara Gabrielyan gave speeches. In her remarks, Gabrielyan recalled the words of world-famous Soviet academician and Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov: “If for Azerbaijanis, Karabakh is a matter of principle, then for Armenians it is a matter of life and death.” He spoke these words after the Armenian pogroms in Sumgait. “We have won the war imposed on us, and over the years we have built a legal and democratic state. Today, they are trying to merge our democratic state with totalitarian Azerbaijan, which we will not allow,” she continued.
The Weekly spoke with some of the citizens participating in the rally, the largest since 1988, to understand what brought them to Renaissance Square and what their expectations are. Many of the participants made comparisons with the atmosphere and mood of the 1988 rally.
Lavrent Ghalayan, People’s Artist of the Artsakh Republic and creator of the Artsakh Coat of Arms, hopes that this rally is another step toward eliminating the clutches of Azerbaijan, who through its oil, in every possible way is trying to subject not only Artsakh but the entire Armenian people to deprivation. He believes that the atmosphere of 1988 existed in the square on Sunday. He said that maybe people are a little broken and disappointed, but the citizens of Artsakh have lived through more difficult times. For the artist, the land of Artsakh is a gift from God; Artsakh was Armenian and it always will be.
During the rally, he was accompanied by Hrayr Ulubabyan, a public speaker who was at the forefront of the Artsakh liberation struggle. His father is novelist and historian Bagrat Ulubabyan, who named the monument “We are our mountains.” He has been persecuted by Azerbaijan for his national thinking and struggle since the 1960s. He also believes that Artsakh cannot be a part of Azerbaijan under any circumstances, but Armenia and Artsakh must fight together with our culture. “Now it is an ideological and civilizational war, and our struggle must be fixed by our culture; with our culture we must serve as an example to the world,” said Ulubabyan.
Tiruhi is a student. Sunday was a very important day for her and her contemporaries. “Today the question of our existence and future is decided. We are living a fateful moment, and my counterparts and I must not be silent. We must protect our rights; we must make our voice heard by the world.”
Mrs. Melsida is from Taghavard village. After 44 days of war, half of the village came under the control of Azerbaijan, including her family’s house. Now, she and her husband are forcibly displaced and live in Stepanakert with their three sons and grandsons. Even with a broken leg, she did not hesitate to participate in the rally. She and her husband have faith and expectations from both Armenia and Russia, who, according to her, could stand as a guarantee for Artsakh’s struggle.
Sose Balasanyan is a European judo champion who fought against the enemy with a weapon in her hand during the 44-day war. She came to Renaissance Square because “today’s military trench is here.” “Nations with genocidal intentions cannot take over a creative nation that has given the world heroes and scientists. We have fed the world with humanity. As a citizen of Artsakh, I consider it my sacred duty to be here today with my people, because Artsakh has always been and will be Armenian,” said Balasanyan.