President Serzh Sarkisian branded Azerbaijan a “medieval khanate” ruled by dictators on Monday as he celebrated the 22nd anniversary of Nagorno-Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Baku.
Sarkisian also accused the Azerbaijani leadership of pursuing a policy of “anti-Armenian fascism” in a written statement issued on the occasion.
“There are some countries in this world which are officially recognized by the international community but would dream of having internal orderliness and stability of Artsakh (Karabakh), its level of democracy and political freedoms,” he said.
“Certainly, there is still much to be done, serious problems still exist ranging from everyday life problems to political and military issues. However, one thing is clear for us all: there will be no return to the prison cell of a medieval khanate,” added the Karabakh-born president who was one of the disputed territory’s leaders during its 1991-1994 secessionist war with Azerbaijan.
Karabakh Armenian officials likewise ruled out Karabakh’s return under Azerbaijani rule as they marked the anniversary with ceremonies attended by Armenia’s Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian. Karen Mirzoyan, the foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, said the international community will eventually recognize territory’s de facto independence. “I have no doubts about that,” Mirzoyan told reporters in Stepanakert.
Azerbaijan was quick to condemn Serzh Sarkisian’s statement. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman, Elman Abdullayev, called it a “vivid example of attempts to justify Armenia’s militarist policy.” “As a result of that so-called ‘defense of freedom’ more than a million Azerbaijani refugees and internally displaced persons were subjected to bloody ethnic cleansing and expelled from their historical lands,” Abdullayev told the Trend news agency.
Sarkisian made the scathing reference to Azerbaijan and “whims of dictators” in Baku just two weeks after declaring that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s victory in an upcoming presidential election would be good for the Armenian side. He said it could also bode well for a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh dispute. A top aide to Aliyev denounced this purported endorsement as “absurd” and “false.”