President Serzh Sarkisian again ruled out any peace accord that would restore Azerbaijani control over Nagorno-Karabakh as he marked the 19th anniversary of the Armenian-populated region’s de facto secession from Azerbaijan on Thursday.
“Peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue can have only one outcome – international recognition of Artsakh’s independence,” he said in a written statement dedicated to the September 2, 1991 formation of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR).
“As for the military solution to the issue, that option, dear people of Artsakh, we defeated long ago,” Sarkisian added in reference to Azerbaijani threats to win back the disputed territory by force. “The results of that option are evident for everyone. By your creative work and iron shield of defense, you prove every day and every moment that you uphold the sacred legacy and memory of our martyrs.”
NKR President Bako Sahakian likewise described independence as a “supreme aim” as he celebrated the anniversary together with Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian in Stepanakert. The latter attended the official ceremony despite successive Armenian governments’ failure to formally recognize Karabakh as an independent state.
The authorities in Yerevan say such recognition would deal an unnecessary blow to long-running Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by the United States, Russia and France. They also argue that the mediators’ existing peace proposals uphold the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination.
Like Armenia’s leaders, Sahakian warned Azerbaijan against pushing a controversial resolution upholding its sovereignty over Karabakh through the United Nations. “We are deeply convinced that such an attempt can not be productive, neither for Azerbaijan, nor the [peace] process,” he told journalists in Stepanakert.
“If things continue like this, both Armenia and Artsakh, while standing for a peaceful solution to the problem, will have to take adequate steps,” warned the Karabakh leader. He did not elaborate on those steps.
President Sarkisian similarly threatened retaliatory actions against Baku when he visited Karabakh over the weekend. “Clearly, there will also be steps on our part, and those steps will get us closer to our aim,” he said vaguely.