By Hrant Aleksanian in Stepanakert
The Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians marked on Friday the 16th anniversary of their de facto secession from Azerbaijan, pledging to deepen their already close links with Armenia and ruling out their return under Baku’s rule.
Meeting for a special session, the parliament of unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic issued a statement dedicated to a fateful February 1988 decision by the legislative council of what was then an autonomous region in Soviet Azerbaijan.
The legislature urged the Soviet government to reunite the Armenian-populated region with Armenia, marking the beginning of mass demonstrations in Stepanakert and Yerevan in support of the demand. At least 20,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands of others displaced in the ensued Armenian-Azerbaijani war which left the Armenian side in control of Karabakh and Azerbaijani districts adjacent to it.
Friday’s statement reaffirms “the Nagorno-Karabakh people’s resolve to build an independent and democratic state” and urges Armenians around the world to “consolidate for the sake of a just and final resolution of the Artsakh issue.”
“The reality is that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Artsakh, is an integral part of Armenia,” a senior lawmaker, Vahram Atanesian, said. “Nothing will ever separate Artsakh from Armenia.”
The anniversary is officially marked in Karabakh as a “day of revival.”