STEPANAKERT—Artsakh President Bako Sahakian, in an interview with Italian publication Il Giorno, shared his insights about his country’s challenges in light of the continuing dispute with Azerbaijan.
Sahakian said that Azerbaijan’s oil exports encourage Baku to eschew peace negotiations. “The more Azerbaijan exports hydrocarbons, the tougher its stance on negotiations,” Sahakian said.
Thanks to high profits from oil, Azerbaijan’s military expenses have increased by 2,500 percent in the past ten years, the President noted. “But I believe that oil and military expenses are worth nothing whenever we fight for freedom and the protection of fundamental human rights,” Sahakian added.
Sahakian stressed that the international community can do much more to reign in Azerbaijan’s aggression, especially in light of its rapidly worsening human rights situation.
“As for the international community, the process of our Republic’s independence and our people’s right to self-determination — we, unfortunately, witness double standards here. Kosovo and Sudan’s recognition were glaring examples of that. But we never lose spirit. Our state was founded at the moment when, like the world’s key democracies, we too, reacted to the adversary’s transgressions, exercising our right to rebel and [to protect] our self-determination,” Sahakian explained.
“We were coerced into an unequal war and nevertheless won. There was a disproportion between sets of values. We were leading a battle to protect our homes and our fundamental rights, while the Azerbaijanis preoccupied themselves with territorial invasions.”
Sahakian also rejected that the war had religious motivations, as so many in the international media tried to portray it.
“The reasons were universal in terms of fundamental human rights. But there were religious speculations by Azerbaijan during the war, with the Azerbaijani front having Chechen jihadists and contract killers,” the President said.
“All wars are tragedies. I share every individual’s grief, both on the one side and the other,” Sahakian told Il Giorno. “The war was imposed on us; we won and developed sensitivity; it is possible to avoid new wars. What Baku obviously lacks is sensitivity, as certain lessons have been forgotten.”
Asked by the Italian journalist what message he has to convey a hundred years after the Armenian Genocide, Sahakian said, “We, the descendants of that genocide’s survivors, committed ourselves to prevent a new genocide as early as twenty years ago, and we will do that again when necessary. The Armenophobia preached by Baku is, of course, very precarious.”