President: Armenia and Karabakh do not want war, but will respond any challenge
YEREVAN, January 16. /ARKA/. Armenia and Artsakh (Armenian name of Karabakh) do not want a war, but everyone should know they will give a fitting rebuff to any challenge thrown down, Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan said.
“From now on the population of Artsakh will never face the threat of physical extermination, and Armenia will be the guarantor of it. It is Artsakh people who will determine the fate of Artsakh, and it is recognized in the international law and numerous international documents. Hence, full participation of Karabakh authorities in the negotiations is becoming dictates of the time,” Sargsyan said in his speech at an extended meeting of Armenian ministry of defence.
The president pointed out that the South Caucasus could develop in a harmonic way and could become an ideal partnership model if all the states of the region had the same system of values, the same intentions in terms of state-building and the same development objectives.
“But if your neighbour has another, a contrary system of values, it jeopardizes your state seriously,” he said.
The president stressed that the Azeri war-encouraging regime may undertake a military gamble every day, every moment.
“I believe our neighbour understands well that a war will be a disaster for both Armenia and equally, if not more, for Azerbaijan. But I don’t think today’s leaders of Azerbaijan are concerned about the fate of their people. They will be ready to resume the war, once they believe they will have an absolute advantage over Armenia and if it will be required for drawing attention away from internal problems,” Sargsyan said.
Armenian president pointed out that Armenia’s approaches in the negotiations are reasonable and balanced and take into account the need for sustainable and peaceful development in the region, Sargsyan said. Yet, Armenia should continue its efforts toward stronger state and army, developed democracy, protected citizens and prosperity for guaranteeing the peace, the president said.
The Karabakh conflict started in 1988 when prevailingly Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh declared withdrawal from Azerbaijan. On December 10, 1991, a referendum was held in Nagorno-Karabakh where 99.89% voted for independence from Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan responded by large-scale military operations that led to loss of control not only over Nagorno-Karabakh itself, but also over seven adjoining areas. About 25-30 thousands people were killed and about a million had to leave their homes during the military operations.
A trilateral cease-fire agreement was signed on May 12, 2004, and has been followed since then. The ongoing Karabakh peace process started in 1992 under auspices of OSCE Minsk Group. -0-