“The uninterrupted functioning of the land link between Artsakh and Armenia cannot be a subject of any negotiation or bargaining. The link connecting Artsakh with the outside world must be re-established without preconditions and immediately, and conditions must be created to ensure its continued uninterrupted operation.”
This is an excerpt from an international appeal by the Armenian people of Artsakh who gathered on December 25 in Renaissance Square in Stepanakert, the capital of the Republic of Artsakh.
Artsakh has been under complete blockade since December 12. More than 120,000 people, including about 30,000 children, have found themselves in a very difficult situation, completely deprived of free movement and many vital opportunities related to it.
The rally began with the Lord’s prayer, which was offered by Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamyan, leader of the Diocese of Artsakh.
Conveying the blessing of the Catholicos of Armenia to the rally participants, he said, “We send our appeal to the entire Christian world to rise above political motives and, motivated by Christian love, to address the issue of protecting the basic human rights of their brothers and sisters living in Artsakh, so that we too have the opportunity to celebrate the wonderful holiday of the holy Christmas in full and peaceful conditions.
Republic of Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan, former President Bako Sahakyan, National Assembly President Artur Tovmasyan and State Minister Ruben Vardanyan were present.
“I am proud and thankful that I am here with so many people,” shared Vardanyan. “I tell my friends that I am happy in my homeland, together with my people. We protect our dignity and our future. If we find meaning in fighting, if we can believe in our leaders, we are ready to face anything. I assure you that we are united. We have three options. First, sooner or later we submit, slowly integrate with Azerbaijan; secondly, we leave here; and thirdly, we fight. I will not leave here, and I will not submit to Azerbaijan’s conditions.”
Reserve army officer Armen Asryan, who lost his son in the 44-day war, said in his speech: “We have been under total siege for 14 days, but we are facing it with honor. We are bearing these hardships with honor in a manner befitting an Artsakh citizen. We know very well that under the name of these eco-activists, Azerbaijan wants to break our stubbornness, to bring us to our knees in order to achieve its goals, that is, to depopulate Artsakh. Now we have a priority goal: ensuring the existence of Artsakh.”
After the speeches, the people honored the martyrs with a moment of silence and a sea of fists in the air as a symbol of unity and solidarity.
The Weekly spoke with some of the citizens participating in the rally to understand what brought them to the Renaissance Square.
One of the participants of the multi-thousand demonstration was Sokrat Khanyan, a 93-year-old writer from Artsakh. Through the decades, he has overcome many difficulties. He believes Artsakh will overcome this obstacle even in conditions cut off from this world. “Artsakh has been an Armenian cradle for thousands of years together with historical Armenia, and the more we unite, the more our Armenianness will remain eternal,” he emphasized.
Another rally participant was 69-year-old Vera, a displaced woman from the village of Avetaranots, which was occupied by Azerbaijan during the 44-day war. She lives with her son and grandchildren in Stepanakert in a rented house. The world’s indifference toward the besieged Artsakh and also the desire to keep this small part of Artsakh brought her to Renaissance Square. “When I left our village with my grandchildren during the war, I rubbed my hands on the walls and doors of the house, bent down and kissed the floor. It is an indescribable pain. But we have also sacrificed many young lives. Even if I live as a forcibly displaced person, even without a house, on rent,” she shared, “I want to live in Artsakh. If I die, I want to die here. As long as there is peace, so that our grandchildren do not go through these inhuman deprivations, which we and our children went through,” she concluded with a sigh.
Loreta Abrahamyan is a high school history teacher. She considers this rally to be another example of pan-Artsakh uprising, as well as a request and appeal to the world not to allow Armenians with a strong will to be destroyed on their small piece of land. According to her, this is also a call to the diaspora Armenians, that Artsakh is trying to preserve Armenianness ontologically in these unspeakable deprivations. “Today, the presence of thousands of children here also gives us hope that tomorrow’s Artsakh will still be open,” said Abrahamyan.
This was the second rally organized by the people Artsakh. The people’s message is clear: Armenians are firm and dedicated in their pan-Armenian national struggle, and the opening of the “road of life” that connects Artsakh with the outside world through Armenia is critical.
Siranush , thank you for this reporting. i am a journalist in Los Angeles and i just wanted to thank you, my email if you get a chance is makmak47 and it is at that g mail. i don’tthink i can leave it intact but if you get a chance
Our brethren in Artsakh have been and continue to be an I inspiration. While the debate and definition of resolution has continued , they have never wavered despite incredible oppression. It is our collective responsibility to do what we can… starting with being active and public advocate for Artsakh.
Only an Armenian solid military superiority over the dictatorial regime of Azerbaijan will bring peace to South Caucasus with no Russian and Turkish involvement.
We already had military superiority over the enemy for decades, not to mention their devastating and humiliating defeat, and that did not bring peace. True peace will come to the region when this Soviet-invented artificial Azerbaijani terrorist cesspool ceases to exist!
It seems Armenians are very good at “carrying-on”–making the best of a bad situation. We seem less adept at preventing or changing a bad circumstance.
In the world of realpolitik there is an old axiom-paraphrased –If you can’t take it, if you can’t hold it, if you can’t govern it–then it isn’t yours.
Artsakh and Armenia viewed through that prism reveals an ugly reality.
Armenia/Artsakh had since the end of the first Artsakh war to get prepared for the inevitable. We can assign blame to others but we failed ourselves.
Is it too late? Even now I do not see a country feverishly working to develop an effective defense–I don’t see large number of citizens being schooled in weapons and small unit tactics. Has the military put in place a war fighting strategy, training, and equipment to counter opposition forces? What stops Armenia from being a hardened target? If not now-when?
We took it, that is to say we liberated it, we held it but we failed to govern it. But even that is secondary because the enemy was never going to reconcile with what they perceived as something that we ‘took’ from them. Realistically, our problems started with our victory in 1994. We won the war imposed on us despite major disparity between the two sides in terms of manpower and firepower, plus the enemy’s petrodollar wealth, but we failed to bring the war to its intended conclusion which was the liberation and reunification of occupied territories with Armenia. Instead we prematurely accepted a fragile ceasefire which meant this war was not over and the enemy got to live to fight another day. That was our biggest mistake of this brutal and bloody war. It was a major gift to the enemy to breathe and to get back up on its feet so to speak. We should have wiped out the enemy in totality when we had the chance and we failed to do so. When will our leaders learn not to trust our existential enemies under any circumstances whatsoever? It is as if they have been suffering from amnesia in the last 105 years to know and realize who they are dealing with.
We should have forced our will onto the defeated and destroyed enemy that was weak and incapable and dictated our terms to them like they are doing to us now as a result of 2020 undeclared terrorist war. We should have forced the enemy to sign a legally binding capitulation treaty and integrated and united liberated territories with Armenia. Because of our critical mistakes and short-sightedness when we had the upper hand at the time and later because of our trust on disingenuous foreign intermediaries to resolve this conflict for us ‘peacefully’ as stated by them, when the countries they represented directly or indirectly were heavily invested in Caspian energy exploration and excavation, we became lazy and fell into their trap. Now, thirty years later with tens of billions of dollars invested in Caspian oil & gas infrastructures and exports to Europe they were not going to act neutrally as we witnessed in the 2020 imposed war led by NATO member terrorist Turkey, along with half dozen other terrorist states and entities, on behalf of the militarily incompetent artificial Azerbaijani terrorist cesspool while our own military ally Russia turned a blind eye on them. Ironically, the very same ally has practically razed Ukraine to the ground merely for their suspicion of NATO encroachments on Russian territory while having no issues with another NATO member terrorist Turkish state showing its ugly face in their Armenian ally’s backyard!
Why does Armenia do nothing? Send some tanks there? Always have to rely on indifferent international community?
Armenia is doing a lot, modernizing and updating the Soviet-era army with today’s standards as a professional army. For this reason, we need time, unity, patience, and tolerance.
Because the enemy wants to drag Armenia into another armed conflict in order to force Armenia into opening an illegal passage through Armenian territory which Armenian government rightfully refuses to do so and that’s the only positive thing one can possibly say about this incompetent and dysfunctional Armenian government. We must not fall into their trap. Not at this point anyway now that Russia is bogged down in Ukraine.
The enemy already has a passage through Iranian territory strictly controlled by Iranian authorities and I’m pretty sure the enemy wants this second passage through Armenia, under their control and unchecked, in order to be able to transport illegal cargo back and forth to and from Turkey. The way I see it the Turkish terrorist leadership is behind this. They want direct link to Central Asia to tap into their untapped energy resources, in absence of now-defunct Soviet empire, to change the balance of power in the region in Turkey’s favor by using Central Asian oil & gas exports to Europe as their bargaining chips to have direct influence on Europe’s foreign policy in that troubled region. At the end of the day, I strongly believe this illegal second passage is that ‘Turanic Corridor’ our genocidal Turkish enemy had been dreaming of for over a century and could not get.
It is a corridor.
Statements about Azerbaijan being a recent entity hence being iligitermate are obfuscating the real issue, one has a hostile regionally powerful entity with staunch support from kindred Turkey and pandering from duplicitous Russia indeed it was Russia who in recent years called for Armenia to withdraw from N-K presumably in the belief of being on good favour with Baku at Armenias detriment would serve them well but Azerbaijan is too wily to fall for that and are making it big supplying oil and gas to Europe along with being a transit from central Asia over Russia becoming a pariah over Ukraine. The reality is how to manage and strengthen one’s position to avoid being bamboozled and potentially overrun and destroyed! What is clear that unless Russia is going to secure Arktash and Armenia that Armenia should under no circumstances recognise Russian annexation of parts of Ukraine (which would alienate support from France and the USA among others) , if Russia is as it seems oversee that transfer of Arktash to Azerbaijan in a softening the blow and sweetening the pill actions which seems to be its policy. Nevertheless Armenia certainly should NOT do a Ukraine and turn against Russia either! A stepping away like in Central Asian countries especially as one doesn’t have a common border and shared identity is the best way longer term IMO
The superiority of army is not enough for politics. History shows us that the wise diplomacy is more important. Unfortunately, Armenia never had it. Talks like “neighbor country is artificial” or does not help do not lead to reality. Moreover that world politics values mostly quantity of country’s fossil fuels. Armenia has to change policy, first unite all Armenians over the world and inside. Inside is most important, because with so many parties it is impossible to make wise politics. Second, be neutral and has a good relationship with all countries.
Actually, it is military superiority that opens the door for diplomacy. The stronger and the more resolute you are in your stand, the more compromising and conciliatory your enemy will be. Conversely, diplomacy is the means to avoid military conflict. The two are tied together and are equally important. And it is also very important to remind the enemy that their existence is an artificial one because that is a historical fact. No one says or claims that various people, tribes, etc. did not exist in the region. But the fact remains that this fake enemy state never existed as a nation-state, as a political entity, and it was artificially invented by the Soviets in 1918 for the homeless Caucasian Muslim Tatars and renamed to ‘Azerbaijan’ only in 1936 by stealing this name from the Persians. In reality, there is not and there has never been such a thing as an ‘Azerbaijani’ and therefore there can’t be an ‘Azerbaijani state’ unless it was artificially invented. How is this not important to keep repeating and reminding the enemy when they deny your own existence on your own ancient homeland parts of which they have seized and invented their own? Lastly, I believe Armenians worldwide are already united as one in this and it the internal enemy that tries to split them up. Therefore, the first thing we must do is to rid the homeland of internal enemies. Once that is accomplished everything else will fall in its place and the nation can focus on preparing and defeating the enemy once again as it did thirty years ago.
Dear Ararat- good posts!
Thank you! It is a minefield out there. There are so many players with self-interests that sometimes it is quite overwhelming to try to understand who is doing what and for what purpose. But knowledge is power a they say and we must keep educating ourselves so we can counter and expose our enemy lies and hopefully see things the way they actually are if at all possible.
Dear Ararat,if it was as you said why so many countries are sending arm to Azerbaijan starting from Israel, usa and etc. and as an artificial entity was accepted into NATO in 1992?
The Soviet-invented artificial gas station of Azerbaijan is not a member of the NATO alliance. The only Muslim NATO member state in the world is terrorist Turkey. All the countries that help this criminal Azerbaijani cesspool have their own self-serving agenda. Turkish and Azerbaijani dictators call each other ‘two states, one nation” while having nothing in common other than a common Armenian enemy. The may have some partial similarity linguistically, but I don’t know of any two Muslim states, one Sunni (Turkey) and the other Shiia (Azerbaijan) who can claim such a thing. These two Muslim sects are sworn enemies and have been so for the last 1,400 years since the 7th century. We witnessed this fact not so long ago in Iraq when the two sides were killing each other and targeting each other’s houses of worship. One considers the other an apostate (non-believer). This falsified coined phrase between Turkey and Azerbaijan is nothing but a euphemism for the destruction of the Armenian statehood.
Pakistan with no diplomatic relations with Armenia helps Azerbaijan because of its dispute with India over Kashmir. Pakistan considers Kashmir as Pakistan’s ‘Karabakh’. By taking such a stand, Pakistan is engaging in a tri-lateral union with Turkey and Azerbaijan sending a message to India. In return, India has started helping Armenia militarily. The hypocritical and morally-bankrupt Zionist state of Israel while preaching the world about and against genocide, sells Azerbaijan deadly weapons to commit genocide. That’s like Armenia selling deadly weapons to the Palestinians. If we ever did what Israel has done I’m sure not just Israel but the entire Jewish world would have raised hell against Armenia but for some reason Armenia is silent on Israel’s complicity in providing Azerbaijan deadly weapons knowing full well who these weapons were going to be used against. Why does Israel do this? It serves Israel’s interests in the region. What is Israel’s primary interest in the region for helping terrorist Azerbaijan without any regards for the consequences of their actions? To be in close proximity to Iran militarily, by setting up military bases in Azerbaijan right next door to Iran, in order to attack and take out Iran’s nuclear facilities like they did in Saddam’s Iraq back in 1981. In addition, nearly half Israel’s energy needs are met and provided by Azerbaijan. Iran being the leader of the Shiia Muslims in the world, has taken a seemingly pro-Armenian stand against Shiia Azerbaijan out of necessity for the security of its own borders and because of joint Turkish-Azerbaijani separatist agenda over Iranian territory.
The rest of the world, Europe in particular, act the way they do because their major energy companies are heavily invested in Caspian oil & gas exploration and importation into energy-hungry Europe. Other than that I think whatever assistance they give to our Azerbaijani enemy is more directed at Russia in order to minimize and keep our enemy as far away from Russian influence as possible. They do most of this indirectly through Turkey. These are some of the reasons why those countries you mentioned and others do what they do. They all exploit one another to advance their own agenda. The real question is how are our enemies manipulating these countries in their favor and how is Armenia countering them!
Broadly true especially about Israel a notable opponent of Armenian genocide recognition yet cries foul over the Nazi genocide of themselves. Although it’s worth noting that people in Europe are less obliged in recent years over it especially as most people killed then would have died by now anyway. However the sunni/shia issue for most Muslims the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood is actually a greater issue many sunni regard shia as heretics and thus not really Muslims and like the churches of Christianity there are different branches of sunni and shia philosopies and for the most part they actually manage along together cordially enough. Turkey and Azerbaijan whilst different do have much in common namely; race, language, religion. Its a funny old world as Israel gets on well with Azerbaijan who gets on well with Pakistan that doesn’t get on with Israel nearly as well, in turn Israel gets on well with India like Armenia who needless to say doesn’t much get on with Israel – the strange way of the world, self interest at work. European and American support for Azerbaijan is driven more by a need for oil and gas not from Russia and to curtail it’s influence and not out of animosity to Armenia unlike Turkey and Israel and Pakistan. As for shia Iran standing more with Christian Armenia than it is with shia Azerbaijan. Bit like expecting Georgia to be an ally because its orthodox church is similar in ecclesiastical structure to your own orthodox church, of course Armenians know that Georgia isn’t an enemy as such but is hardly a friend either something Armenians are quite realistic about without much to be or not division of opinions unlike that of is Russia as a friend or not? Speaking of which Georgia would rather not a direct connection between Turkey and Azerbaijan as it would reduce its importance but wouldn’t deign to show that in any way.
Thank you for the detailed response representing real situation. Unfortunately, Armenia is living the situation as 100 years ago.
In my opinion, the only way to save Artsakh is to held a referendum and to be a part of Russia like Osetia and Abkhazia otherwise Artsakh will have the same destiny as Nakhichevan.
Armenian diplomacy has to learn from history and other countries diplomacy that world countries interests and influences change over time and centuries. For example, after 100 years’ war England and France are in great relationship. Nothing is forever. For Armenia is better to be a neutral country like Switzerland.
Armenia definitely had been a creature of habit compared to Georgia and Azerbaijan upon independence in its national outlook and diplomatic orientation. However recent events in Armenia, Arktash and elsewhere in the world have led to a growing realisation that its no longer possible to continue as before
Artsakh recognized, is a dream i am afraid will never come true, but Artsakh as a purn of Russia to influence politics in both Azerbaijan and Armenia and deepen its hold over the south Caucasus while it looses influence in other areas of the world is not a dream but reality. And no amount of sympathy will allow western nations support what for all intents and purposes is a Russian asset.