Karabakh President Offers Hope for the Future

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Karabakh President Arkady Ghoukassian addressed the National Assembly Friday on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the national liberation struggle of Karabakh:

"Dear deputies and guests–ladies and gentlemen,

"It is a great honor for me to greet you on the occasion of this unprecedented even in our national history–the 10th anniversary of the national liberation struggle of Karabakh. There is no doubt that these ten years will be recorded in history as a brilliant success for the Armenian people in their struggle for freedom and independence. I think it won’t be an exaggeration if I say that this is a remarkable event not only for the Armenian nation but the entire world community as well.

"As a result of Karabakh’s ten-year struggle for freedom and independence a new independent state was established in the world and although it is still unrecognized–it has its own state symbols and is able to engage in foreign and domestic policies and relations. I am certain that international recognition is only a matter of time and our actual existence today is the basis and guarantee of that recognition.

"This ten-year period of Karabakh’s struggle is a continuation of the liberation struggle that began early in the century following a tragic mistake which gave rise to movemen’s which were suppressed every time. Let me cast a glance at the past.

"An Armenian National Council was set up in Shushi on December 16–1917. Later–on July 22–1918–it was restructured into the government of Nagorno-Karabakh. Its foreign and domestic policies are confirmed by declarations and decisions passed during the eight congresses of people’s representatives of Karabakh held in the period from July 1918 to February 1919. They contain the will of the people to be the masters of their own destiny. Unfortunately–the will of the nation wasn’t a decisive factor then and following a dramatic debate on July 5–1921–the Caucasian Bureau of the Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks ruled that the Armenian territory be administered by Soviet Azerbaijan. In fact–Karabakh became victim to the absurd Bolshevist idea of a worldwide revolution–but the Armenia’s of Karabakh would not accept their fate; they just maintained the fire in their hearts–waiting for better times to come.

"The historic decision by a special session of the Regional Council of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on February 20–1988–the declaration of independence on September 2–1991–the ensuing referendum and all legal acts came as corollaries to the decisions passed by the Armenian National Council early in the century and the government of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is that very point of view from which that the 10th anniversary of our struggle should be considered. All these acts meet the requiremen’s of international law.

"Several generations of Armenia’s of Karabakh suffered the consequences of the tragic mistake committed early in the century. They were seriously humiliated and suffered; grief was being handed down from generation to generation; each generation tried to find its own solution to the problem–to end historical injustice. But it is our generation that had to carry out that mission–and our sacred duty is to acquire a final resolution to the problem so that generations to come will never experience the humiliations that our fathers and grandfathers had to experience. Perhaps–it is our fate that historical justice will be restored in our days–and I am sure that there will never be any better opportunity for it.

"We’ve stressed many times that the Karabakh problem is not only a problem for Karabakh but also that of the entire Armenian nation. Today–no one denies that the Karabakh movement was a rebirth of national self-consciousness of all Armenia’s. Hence–all Armenia’s ought to support Karabakh and solve the problem through nationwide efforts. We never doubt the combined efforts of the nation–its single and iron will to help solve any difficult situation–as it has often happened in the past. Thus–we stress the importance and value of the bridge connecting Karabakh–Armenia and the Diaspora.

"At the same time we never underestimate the role of the world community. Karabakh’s authorities have confirmed–on numerous occasions–their support of a negotiated–peaceful solution to the crisis. We had many occasions to express our attitude toward the OSCE negotiating process. It is not necessary to present it in detail again. I can only say that a phased solution offered by the OSCE is unacceptable to us as it predetermines Karabakh’s status and requires unilateral concessions on the part of Nagorno-Karabakh thereby disturbing the current military balance–the only guarantee of today’s fragile cease-fire. Karabakh’s leadership does not deem the current situation hopeless. Furthermore–the crisis can be resolved if Azerbaijan shows a constructive position and the negotiators a more realistic approach.

"We reiterate our willingness to reach a compromise settlement to the conflict. But we are only accepting of reasonable compromises–which implies that we will not give up our principal achievement gained with blood–sweat and strenuous efforts–our right to self-determination.

"Dear deputies and guests–ladies and gentlemen,

"Despite all the complexities of the moment–I am optimistic and my optimism is based on the iron will and strong determination of our nation. Allow me to–once more–congratulate you upon the 10th anniversary of the national liberation struggle of Karabakh and thank all those who supported us in those crucial years–all those who offered their assistance and moral support to us. With all my heart–I express gratitude to all our supporters and friends. I consider it an honor to decorate a group of volunteers with state medals and orders of Karabakh and will do it with great pleasure and deep gratitude."

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