Sarkisian Rejects Arming Border Villagers

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian speaking at a meeting of the Public Council. July 24, 2014. (Photo: official publication)

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has rejected the idea of providing residents of villages situated near the restive border with Azerbaijan with weapons for defense purposes.

The measure was earlier proposed by the Public Council, a body comprising well-known public figures and advising the authorities on policy issues. The idea came in response to rising concerns in society over the security of borderlands especially in the wake of recent reports about infiltrations by Azerbaijani armed groups into Armenian territories.

Last week authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh said a group of Azerbaijanis had been arrested in the region on suspicion of espionage and subversive activities. The Nagorno-Karabakh police force said the group members had killed one military serviceman and severely wounded a civilian. Another local teenager, it said, had been kidnapped and then brutally murdered by the Azerbaijani “saboteurs.”

In the wake of the incursions, authorities in Stepanakert did not exclude that residents of the Armenian district of Karvachar (Kelbajar), where the incidents are said to have occurred, would be provided with “means” to bolster security along the Line of Contact with Azerbaijani armed forces.

Still last week Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian assured the Armenian public that none of the Azerbaijanis who had infiltrated into the Karvachar district managed to cross the border into Armenia proper. He, however, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service ( on Thursday that the country’s armed forces have been putting in place some “engineering facilities” along with other measures to prevent possible attempts by Azerbaijani forces to make raids into Armenian territory.

Speaking at the July 24 meeting of the Public Council, President Sarkisian stressed that he saw no point in arming residents of Armenian villages situated near the border with Azerbaijan.

“We invite all residents of border villages who can use weapons to serve in our armed forces where good conditions are created and where they can receive a net monthly salary of 150,000 drams (about $370) plus perks. They can serve only half of the month, spending the rest half working on their land,” he said in televised remarks.

“It concerns all of our communities situated near the border [with Azerbaijan]. People there who know how to use weapons and want to serve in the military are provided with such an opportunity,” the president added.

Meanwhile, many people living in communities not far from the border with Azerbaijan still believe that being armed is a necessity for them.

“If something happens, how can we protect ourselves if no one has arms?” one elderly woman said. “If they give us arms that would be good,” said another man in the village of Nerkin Karmiraghbyur.


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  1. Hye said:

    If Mr. Sarkissian cared about Armenia and Armenians he would not be against arming people. But, forgot mother Russia always wants to be the protector of “poor Armenians” after 65% of them are massacred. So no order from Russia to arm people. Mr. Sarkissian, it was armed people in Sardarapat that won the battle.

  2. Norin said:

    Simply providing arms to untrained villagers in hopes of forming a rag tag militia is no solution. President Sarkisian’s suggestion of joining the military as a reservist of sort would be akin to forming a national guard like in the US. Only after formal training could we consider handing arms over to a civilian populace.

    The Swiss allow arms to be housed in civilian homes after they have competed mandatory training , not before.

    Unfortunately, Armenia’s populace thinks the land it tills should not be defended by their children, instead of serving they constantly are on the lookout to avoid the mandatory military service.

    Typical Armenian peasant mentality, whe this mindset has been cleansed in the diaspora and Armenia proper, only then will we flourish.

  3. bigmoustache said:

    didn’t you learn anything from 1915 ?

  4. edward demian said:

    I blame the Old Soviet mentality for this type of thinking. Citizens everywhere need to have the right to possess arms to defend their lives and property against all threats; Foreign or domestic. I could not imagine moving to Artsackh if I could not bring my personal hunting weapons with me , nor have the right to buy a military type weapon if I lived in a contested area. What are the authorities afraid of? Switzerland, has a gun law. Everyone that served in the Armed forces, takes their weapon home with them upon discharge. That way, every citizen is an instant warrior. Switzerland has a very low crime rate. Penalties are far harsher for using you military weapon to commit a crime. It works.

    • Hay said:

      Don’t worry you can bring your hunting rifle along. It may be a little bothersome, but anybody can be licensed to own one provided they pass a background and mental health check.

  5. Sarkis said:

    Well said, Norin. One thing I would ad is the effects the Soviet Union had on this pleasant mentality you speak of. Most parents weren’t open to the idea of their children being sent to another world to serve, especially during the Afghanistan era where many Armenian men lost their lives fighting for mother Russia. People must first trust the military and that’s not going to be an easy task to accomplish. Not when we have oligarchs looking out for their own children more than the entire populace of Armenia.

  6. zee said:

    give them arms for gods sake , how could he disarm and weaken his own people in the face of the enemy ! that sounds to me like typical WHITE MANS ILLOGICAL mentality ! dont you dare be a stupid fool sarkissian !!!! DUMB FOOL !!!

  7. edward demian said:

    What is this “give em guns”? The culture has to transform itself more in line with American thought on the subject of Gun Ownership. In the US the 2nd amendment to the constitution gives every citizen the right to own an bear arms. The government has been trying to chip away at that for awhile, but unsuccessfully. But the people already have the guns.!!!! It is the most ignored la ever. Every transaction between private individuals is without any paperwork. Except for the CASH. That’s paper. The Armenians are still waiting for the government to give them guns and the right to own guns. And in case of Artsackh, I understand that for fifty bucks that I probably could buy some sloppy AK47 once there. But I’m in California, and I have my Granddads Bollo Mauzer. 1895 Broomhandle pistol. Works like new. A beauty. I don’t want to loose it. The rest are Hunting guns. 45-70 Lever action buffolo gun, A 12 ga. Side by side Basque bird gun, a 20 ga. semi auto for rabbits, all replaceable. But the Broomhandle has history and I know that overseas, some customs agent would want it bad enough to take it from me. Damn thing is worth around four thousand dollars.

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