By Hrant Aleksanian in Stepanakert
The president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arkady Ghukasian, was inaugurated on Saturday for a second five-year term almost one month after easily winning an election denounced by the international community.
Putting his hand on a 12-century Armenian Bible, Ghukasian vowed to reinforce Karabakh’s de facto independence from Azerbaijan and build a “free and prosperous country” with an elected leadership. “The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is an established state which needs international recognition,” he said in an ensued speech before several hundred officials.
Among them were Armenia’s Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian. Also present was the vice-president of Georgia’s breakaway republic of Abkhazia, Valery Arshba.
Ghukasian said that boosting Karabakh’s defense capabilities will remain one of his top policy priorities in the light of what he called “anti-Armenian hysteria” and war mongering in Azerbaijan. He again warned Baku against trying to regain control of the disputed region by force, saying that the Karabakh Armenian will successfully fight back any such attempt.
Ghukasian was declared reelected on August 12 after official figures showed him winning 89 percent of the vote. His nearest rival received only 7.7 percent. International monitors said the election proceeded without major irregularities.