The four-day war in April, when Azerbaijani forces savagely attacked the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, proved, once again, that the resilience of the people of Artsakh could not be shattered nor could any bullet compromise their drive to protect their ancestral land that they had won by blood.
It also resulted in a flurry of diplomatic activity around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with international mediators, once again, amplifying their ploy to dismantle the Independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by brazenly pushing the people of Artsakh to accept a set of principles that not only are detrimental to their lives but also create significant threats to the national security of our homeland. These world powers that have come together to mediate a resolution to the conflict want to reward Azerbaijan by curtailing Artsakh’s right to self-determination.
The most egregious of the mediator’s proposals, known as the Madrid Principles, call for Artsakh to return the liberated territories to Azerbaijan as a starting point for any other step toward peace. By referring to them in the enemy’s language—“occupied territories”—the mediators essentially are encouraging Azerbaijan to advance its military agenda against the Artsakh. Their failure to condemn Azerbaijan for its destructive use of force in April and myriad other instances before has emboldened Baku to continue its outright attacks against Artsakh.
The April attacks also have emboldened not only the people of Artsakh but the entire Armenian nation, which, once again, came together to protest the violence and to simultaneously assist Artsakh in its time of need, as it has done throughout the last more than a quarter of a century, sending a loud and clear message to the world that the Armenian Nation will not stand by as forces of injustice gamble with our homeland to advance their own skewed interests.
On September 2, 1991, when Artsakh declared independence from the Soviet Union and Azerbaijan it was its first expression of self-determination. That independence was later approved in a referendum cementing the people’s will to decide their fate and to utilize any means to defend themselves against an aggressive enemy that was relentlessly attacking Artsakh on all fronts. Artsakh’s declaration of independence became its saving grace and as we mark the 25th anniversary of that bold move, we must realize that that very independence is sacred and cannot be compromised.
The 25th anniversary of Artsakh’s declaration of independence is being celebrated at a volatile time for Karabakh as the realities on the ground pose the same dangers to its security as they did in 1991. That is why the imperative to preserve, protect and work toward the international recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is of paramount importance must remain a priority. Without the guarantee of Artsakh’s independent status there can be no discussion on any provision or principle that is being presented by international mediators.
After 25 years, Karabakh cannot have any other status than the one it chose for itself on September 2, 1991. There is no going back. That is why Artsakh must return to the negotiating table as a party to the conflict. Artsakh does not need outsiders to dictate its fate or status. It has already determined for itself that the path to independence is the right track for its longevity and survival.
During the quarter of a century, the people of Artsakh have chosen to confront the challenges head on and to rebuild a country that has often been called a model of democracy in a region fraught with threats and instability. Armenians from all over the world have also rose to the occasion and have dedicated their resources toward a strong and thriving Artsakh.
As we mark this milestone, we must re-pledge our commitment to ensuring that Artsakh’s independence remains as strong and viable as it is today and provide guarantees for its continued growth, advancement and development.
A strong Artsakh ensures a strong future for all Armenians. Peace in Artsakh will ensure a freer existence for its citizens and no compromises of its territory will safeguard its security and, thus, the national security of the Armenian Nation.
Long Live Artsakh’s Independence.