In a speech at a conference of several hundred young Armenian army officers, Sarkisian pointed to the outcome of the first Armenian-Azerbaijani war that was stopped by a Russian-mediate ceasefire agreement in 1994.
“Yes, we won in a lengthy, excruciating and disproportionate war,” he said. “Some, by saying ‘disproportionate war’ mean the fact that Azerbaijan had more money, more military equipment and more troops. It is true; but for me it was a ‘disproportionate war’ because the strong was fighting against the weak, and we were the strong.
“The freedom fighter were fighting against the invader, and we were the freedom fighters. The just was fighting against the unjust, and we were the epitome of the just.”
Sarkisian, who commanded Karabakh Armenian forces in 1992-1993, then warned, “Today, we support peace but if the invaders and the unjust for a moment consider another reckless scheme, I know without a shade of doubt that there will be disproportion again, and once again we will be the strong because the defender of the paternal home and fatherland is invincible and unbeatable.”
The remarks were an indirect response to Azerbaijani leaders’ growing threats to end the Karabakh dispute by force. They stem from an ongoing military buildup fuelled by Azerbaijan’s massive oil revenues.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev last month spoke of “the last chance” to settle the conflict peacefully. He referred to the current phase of Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks mediated by the United States, Russia and France.
Sarkisian threatened a “devastating and final” blow to Azerbaijan as he monitored large-scale military exercises held by the Karabakh Armenian army last November. “If push suddenly comes to shove, we will manage not just to repeat what happened in 1992-1994 but to finally resolve the conflict and the issue will be closed once and for all,” he said.