President Serzh Sarkisian strongly criticized Azerbaijan on Friday for mobilizing Muslim countries to support its position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“I pointed out that Azerbaijan is stubbornly trying to present the conflict in the light of religious disagreements within the framework of Islamic countries,” he said after talks with Lebanon’s visiting President Michel Suleiman. “I think that in case of more or less knowing the history of the Armenian people and the cause of the [Karabakh] conflict it’s impossible to trust in such an approach.”
“Nevertheless, we find that approach extremely dangerous because there are also circles unfamiliar with those details and such anti-Armenian propaganda may not end up without consequences,” Sarkisian told a joint news conference.
Sarkisian appeared to refer to pro-Azerbaijani statements repeatedly issued by Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that unites 57 countries with predominantly Muslim populations, including Lebanon. Many of them also voted in 2008 for a UN General Assembly resolution that demanded the “immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces” from occupied Azerbaijani lands.
The Karabakh dispute is also the reason why at least two of those countries, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, refuse to even recognize Armenia as an independent state.
Earlier this year, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again commended Islamic states for lending unconditional support to Baku. He also called for greater “Islamic solidarity” and a “higher level of mutual support” in the international arena.
Sarkisian condemned this stance as “nonsense.” “On this issue the impartial and unbiased stance of friendly states is also important because any reckless step helps to undermine the shaky regional stability,” he said in clear reference to Lebanon, an Arab country with a sizable and influential Armenian community.
Suleiman, who is a Maronite Christian, stressed that Lebanon has never supported OIC statements on Karabakh. Moreover, he said the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict should be resolved on the basis of the principle of people’s self-determination.
Suleiman further thanked Yerevan for supporting his country in the conflict with Israel.