President Serzh Sarkisian warned Azerbaijan against attempting to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by force on Monday as he visited the disputed territory to mark the 19th anniversary of a key Armenian military victory.
“We silenced, and if need be will silence again all those fire spots from where our children and our parents were shot,” he said in a written address to the nation. “However, I hope that it will not be necessary: our troops, who are guarding peace of our Fatherland, hold the greatest promise that it will not happen again.”
Sarkisian issued the statement as he celebrated the anniversary of the 1992 capture by Karabakh Armenian forces of Shushi, Karabakh’s second largest town that was mostly populated by Azerbaijanis. The military operation led to the opening of a land corridor between the disputed enclave and Armenia and thus proved crucial for the outcome of the 1991-1994 Karabakh war.
A native of Karabakh, Sarkisian was one of the top commanders of Karabakh Armenian troops that stormed and seized the strategically important town overlooking Stepanakert on May 8-9, 1992.
Sarkisian and the political leadership of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic laid flowers at a war memorial in Stepanakert. They also attended on Sunday a liturgy held at the Armenian cathedral of Shushi on the occasion.
“Now and ever, we will be celebrating wholeheartedly our glorious victory; this was a victory of good over evil and barbarity,” read Sarkisian’s message. “Those who stepped into immortality on the battlefield carry on with their great mission as a moral and political force,” it said.
Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan last week, the Armenian president accused Baku of torpedoing peace talks mediated by the United States, Russia and France and planning to start another war.
The accusations were in sharp contrast to statements made by both Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev following their most recent meeting that was hosted by their Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in early March. The Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders said the summit brightened prospects for a peaceful Karabakh settlement.