GORIS, Armenia (A.W)—Meeting with journalists from the Armenian Diaspora on October 16, President Serzh Sarkisian said, “Journalistic mission is indispensable for the establishment, strengthening, and development of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh—the second Armenian state—as well as for its international recognition.”
Below is the full text of his remarks:
First, allow me to congratulate you all on today’s holiday. Today is Armenian Press Day, and I am happy that it coincides with the festive events going on in Syunik marz.
Marvelous views and unique historic sites, which you have seen in Artsakh [Karabagh] and here in Syunik, undoubtedly have impressed you and back in your home countries you will work with renewed energy and inspiration. But regardless of your job, we are always happy to see our brothers and sisters from Spyurk [disapora] in our common homeland. I didn’t say “host” you because you are not guests. Welcome to homeland, welcome to Motherland.
I view the 5th All-Armenian Journalists Conference entitled “Challenges of the 21st Century: Information Security and Armenian Journalism” and held in the capital of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic as an important initiative and thank you all for bringing to life that wonderful idea.
It is no secret, that the role of the mass media in all ongoing world processes is crucial, particularly the journalist profession. In the 21st century, precise and timely information has become a powerful weapon: its pinpointed application may become decisive for the course of events. From this point of view in all our activities, aimed at the realization of national goals, we attach utmost importance to the Armenian-language journalism and to the publications by our journalists in the world’s leading mass media. The role of the Armenian journalism is greatly stipulated also by the necessity to assist in addressing national issues, particularly, for the task of the world-wide preservation of the Armenian identity.
Journalistic mission is indispensable for the establishment, strengthening, and development of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabagh—second Armenian state—as well as for its international recognition. It should be not forgotten that victories won on the battle fields must be enforced by the victories on the diplomatic arena. At the same time, the role of the Armenian and diaspora mass media, as well as publications by the Armenian journalists in foreign media, is essential for withstanding adversary propaganda and introduction of the issue to the international community. The conference held in Stepanakert presented an excellent opportunity to thoroughly study Artsakh, to learn it from inside, to comprehend Artsakh’s problem and appreciate the worries of the people of Artsakh. I am confident that you will write many pages and create numerous stories on this account.
Further progress in the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide can also be expedited only through the increased involvement of media. Mass media can considerably promote just and fair resolution of the Armenian Cause and efficient organization of lobbying activities.
It is also apparent that the media outlets working in Diaspora bring significant input to the task of preservation of the Armenian identity, preservation and dissemination of national culture. We still have a lot to do for the creation of the common all-Armenian information field, for addressing existing problems and withstanding emerging challenges. I am sure that you have had fruitful discussions on these issues in the past days and have adopted appropriate decisions.
You are doing a great and gratifying job. I understand all too well that to publish, preserve, and disseminate Armenian periodicals in foreign countries requires great sacrifice; it also means to become organizers and leaders of community life, to engage in the preservation and spread of our amazing mother tongue, hold on to the Armenian identity and Armenian spirit, to have individual profile, national roots, Armenian mentality and eventually to become safeguards of spiritual, historical, and cultural heritage of different parts of our nation, promoters of national values, re-inventors of national traditions, and facilitators of national development.
We are aware of all the difficulties you face, problems that emerge every day. Those are problems which are first of all related to the challenges that Armenian communities come across in Spyurk; however there are also problems that should be and could be solved through our joint efforts, in close cooperation with the Armenian government.
We are also inspired to see that new Armenian outlets emerge in different parts of the world, including those are being published in foreign languages. This is a nice tendency indeed. We need to get stronger on the international information field—both qualitatively and quantitatively. We counter and will continue to counter lies and falsifications and black propaganda subsidized with the petrol-money of our neighbor with our world-wide human potential, and we will prevail because lies and falsifications don’t get far.
We don’t have to persuade ourselves that the international recognition of Artsakh’s right for self-determination has no alternative. But foreigners do need truthful and unbiased information. We don’t have to beautify reality in Artsakh or the Republic of Armenia; however, we should be able to prevent picturing everything black. Neither beautification, nor blackening—simply present the existing reality—this is the task that we have to complete together.
Indeed, anti-Armenian fascism is getting momentum in Azerbaijan; it is being executed purposefully and on the highest level. It is not about individual crooks or sick persons suffering from nationalism who can be neglected. We are speaking about the state ideology, according to which “contemporary Armenia was created on historical Azeri land.” That is to say, not only Artsakh but also Yerevan, Sevan, Saint Etchmiadzin are “historical Azeri lands.” Hence, according to this logic and in this context, Artsakh becomes a part of so called “historical Azerbaijani lands.” Last time, we “learned” about it yesterday, from the President of Azerbaijan himself.
Why this extreme jingoistic position has been articulated particularly now? Azerbaijan is staggered and infuriated that the international community and the presidents of the co-chair states publicly recognize the right of the people of Artsakh for self-determination. Moreover, free expression of will of the people of Artsakh regarding the political status of Nagorno-Karabagh and its results must have binding legal consequences for all parties. This is the very reason for Azerbaijan’s desperate convulsions. They have not prepared their own people for such outcome, and judging from their rhetoric, are not going to.
It is quite clear that the resolution of Artsakh’s problem must be found exclusively through peaceful negotiations. Today, the entire world rules out military solutions, and only Azerbaijan, according to their own words, “does not exclude military solution of the problem.” Is this assertion for internal use only? Probably. But what good does it make to the internal consumers of this assertion, i.e. to the people of Azerbaijan or foreign investors? In Azerbaijan academic humanitarian sciences have become the generators of bellicose proclamations. It’s hard to tell where science ends and puppet show starts.
In case of Artsakh, the “argument” is set forth that some of local toponyms are Azerbaijani (they could at least say Turkish or Persian) and not Armenian. How a settlement could have an Azerbaijani name 200-300 years ago? An entire generation, which tomorrow “shall heroically liberate historical Azerbaijani land,” was educated on this kind of “scientific arguments.” That generation will not be allowed to learn that the Armenian toponym for the region Artsakh was evidenced back in the 8th century BC, evidenced by Sarduri II, the son of the founder of Yerevan King Argishti I; and that in the 1st century BC, it was known to the foreign geographers, as Strabon puts it, as “Artsakh province of Armenia,” which had the largest cavalry forces; and that modern Stepanakert was built on the grounds of the Armenian settlement Varakan established in the 5th century; and that it is a genuine Armenian name which means “Squirmy brook”; and that for centuries the population of the area was homogeneous, populated exclusively by Armenians, which is confirmed also by 18th century official Turkish sources. Only in the second half of the 18th century, negligible amount of Turkic Muslim nomadic tribes settled here, whose total number at the beginning of the last century hardly reached five percent of the entire population. That generation will never learn that in thousands historical manuscripts, which narrate about Artsakh and its courageous people, the word “Azerbaijan” does not exist, couldn’t exist. That word appeared for the first time ever only a hundred years ago, I repeat—only a hundred years ago.
Moreover, in one of his statements, the president of Azerbaijan says that toponym Stepanakert exists only because of the name of the “bandit” Stepan Shahumian. One day, the generation which is going “to liberate Azerbaijani land” will turn to its leaders and ask, shouldn’t the student of one of the most prestigious Moscow Universities have been aware of the fact that at the same time the leader of Azerbaijan Heidar Alieyv, accompanied by the storm of applause, voiced the following thought that “the noble personality of Stepan Shahumian is an inspiring example for all generations of Azerbaijani workers,” “And today we state proudly and lovingly [the then-leader of Azerbaijan was speaking on behalf of the people of Azerbaijan] that Stepan Shahumian is also the son of the Azerbaijani people.” That’s what Heidar Alieyv said.
Sick fantasies resulted in claiming that Christian churches of Artsakh (Amaras, Gandzasar) are Azerbaijani. Furthermore, they were the first in the world to adopt Christianity. To Turkey they present their new slogan “One nation, two states,” i.e., the Turks and the Azeris are the same people living in two states. Five minutes later, Azeris claim that they are not Turks, or rather were not Turks: used to be Aghvans, used to write books which didn’t reach the present-day because all those manuscripts were burned by the Armenians; they were Aghvans and built masterpieces of Christian architecture that were expropriated by the Armenians, and finally they changed their language and became Turks. Later, world’s first Christian Aghvan-Azeris changed their faith and became the most faithful Muslims of the world. Simultaneously, they are promoting the idea that they are direct descendants of the Mar people, who spoke Persian, and are lawful owners of Iran’s Atrpatakan region.
This switch of languages, nationalities, and beliefs is their own business; but manifestations of anti-Armenian fascism are our business.
Azerbaijan unleashed the war and was defeated in that war; Azerbaijan asked for truce (including from the commander of Karabagh’s forces) and later started to sob about the dire repercussions of that war. As if wars ever bring pleasant repercussions. And on top of that, Azerbaijan adopted conceited stance and started to make demands as if anywhere in the world defeated aggressors are ever allowed to make demands.
To save their faces, Azeris are resorting to quasi-rhetoric that the Armenians won the war with the assistance of another country. No surprise here, how else can they explain the crushing defeat from a small number of Armenians? But they still have no guts to state officially what country or countries they talk about. Spell it. Spell it, so that it can be proved by the facts that you’re lying. What keeps you silent? Now they have decided that Armenia cannot exist on her own and has no future. They feed themselves with these fairytales and are really stunned that the world has quite a different view on a number of issues.
In conclusion, I would like to share with you the results of a study recently conducted by scientists. A large group of genetics and linguists, all of them non-Armenian, has conducted an intricate and lengthy research. According to the latest results, the Armenian language is at least 8,000 years old. It means that as a nation we have been around for the last 8,000 years. During those 8,000 years many have been trying to teach us things from the position of a larger territory, a larger population, and a larger purse. It’s true that at some points they were able to weaken us, but today the absolute majority of them are extinct; they left the stage of history. As for us, we continue our way, calm and confident because we have things to do for the next 8,000 years at least.
Thank you, and welcome to Motherland.