Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan on Friday warned Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to “never speak in terms of using force,” when referencing Artsakh, saying that if Azerbaijan is threatening use of military force, Artsakh is ready.
Harutyunyan was responding to comments made by Aliyev on Thursday during a ceremony for the opening of apartment buildings for the so-called displaced people from the Karabakh war. During that speech, Aliyev, once again, threatened to use military force to “liberate” Karabakh and reiterated his claim that Yerevan was an ancient Azerbaijani city, which, under his leadership, also will be “liberated.” Aliyev told the crowd on Thursday that the current negotiations were being held over a “stage-by-stage” approach, which envisions Artsakh “returning occupied territories.” Official Yerevan has denied that the negotiations are being under such an agenda.
During a Facebook Live presentation on Friday, President Harutyunyan referenced Aliyev’s remarks about the use of force becoming a priority, asking: “In other words, did you choose the path to solve the issue through force, Mr. Aliyev?”
“We are ready,” Harutyunyan said. “I want to assure that the results are clear to us: what you got in 1994, you will also get today,” referring to the victory of the Artsakh Armed Forces in the war.
“Never try to speak to us in the language of force!” warned Harutyunyan.
He also challenged Aliyev on the “stage-by-stage” approach, saying that he envisioned the first step of that scenario to be the recognition of the Artsakh’s people right to self-determination.
“Of course, [the conflict] can be solved through stages, but there is only option: firs, the recognition of the right to self-determination; second, the acceptance of our security guarantees after which we can hold negotiations. There will be no other option,” said Harutyunyan.
President Harutyunyan, who was inaugurated on May 21 after winning the runoff elections on April 14, met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday in Yerevan, where he was attending official events marking the 102nd anniversary of Armenian Independence and the establishment of the first Republic of Armenia.
“Armenia and Artsakh are a common security zone, and from this perspective our activities and challenges are obvious, and I am confident that we will be able to manage the challenges in collaboration with each other, leading our homeland to a path of strategic and sustainable development,” Pashinyan said at the meeting.