Comment by the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Artsakh on the Occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War, the 28th Anniversary of the Liberation of Shushi and the Army Day

09.05.2020

May 9 is one of the most significant dates for the people of Artsakh. On this day, with boundless gratitude we pay tribute to the memory of those who, having gone through inhuman hardships during the Great Patriotic War, performed immortal feats, fighting against fascism in the name of peace and freedom of future generations. During the Great Patriotic War, one third of the population of Artsakh was mobilized into the army or went to the front voluntarily. Half of them have never returned. We are indebted to all those that sacrificed their lives to bring the victory and the cherished peace closer. Their feat and selfless deeds, courage and perseverance serve us the best example of service to the Fatherland.

After decades, the people of Artsakh had to go through the most severe ordeals in the total war of extermination unleashed by Azerbaijan. Thanks to the self-organization of the people of Artsakh, which has built a viable state with all the necessary institutions, including an efficient army, as well as the support of Armenians from around the world, it was possible to repel the armed aggression of Azerbaijan. May 9, 1992 became another glorious page in the history of Artsakh. On that day, Shushi was liberated from the Azerbaijani armed units. The city, one of the historical centers of the Armenian culture, was turned into a military bridgehead by the Azerbaijani side, and its churches - into ammunition depots.

The constant artillery shelling from Shushi and other Azerbaijani firing points led to numerous casualties among the Armenian civilians. Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh was in extremely difficult conditions, where up to 70 thousand people had concentrated by that time. As a result of intensive shelling of Stepanakert, the objects of vital activity of the population were destroyed. The citizens of besieged Artsakh, which had been under siege for many months, was given only up to 400 grams of flour per month. In the harsh winter of 1991-1992, the residents of Stepanakert were forced to hide in basements without electricity, water, heating and minimum living conditions. Numerous cases of frostbite and death from hypothermia and starvation of infants and the elderly were recorded.

The liberation of Shushi had not only psychological but also military strategic significance, since it allowed to halt the constant artillery shelling of Stepanakert, to prevent the impending humanitarian catastrophe and to save the people of Artsakh from imminent physical extermination. The liberation of Shushi was followed by the opening of the Road of life connecting Artsakh with the Republic of Armenia. Today we bow our heads to the blessed memory of the fallen soldiers who, at the cost of their lives, have accomplished that feat and, without any exaggeration, changed the course of history.

It is highly symbolic that the Day of the liberation of Shushi is celebrated along with the Day of the Defense Army of the Republic of Artsakh, which is the guarantor of security and peaceful development of its people. The creation of an efficient army is the most significant achievement in the process building the independent statehood of Artsakh. It is thanks to the Defense Army born in the crucible of the war that the right to life, freedom and dignity of the people of Artsakh was defended.

The liberation of Shushi became not only a landmark event, evoking a sense of legitimate pride for the entire Armenian people, but also serves as a reminder and warning to those who threaten to start a new war with the aim to resolve the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict by force.

The liberation of Shushi also created the prerequisites for the start of the process of reviving the rich cultural heritage of the historical capital of Artsakh, which the Azerbaijani authorities had diligently destroyed since 1920 in an attempt to permanently erase the traces of the Armenian origin of the city.

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