The Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) today marks the 35th anniversary of the current stage of the national liberation struggle of Artsakh Armenians - Karabakh movement, a struggle that embodied the collective aspiration of the people to restore historical justice, preserve national identity and dignity, and fully realize their inalienable right to live freely and develop in their homeland. In response to the decades-long discriminatory policies of Azerbaijan, the people of Artsakh gathered all their will and rallied for the idea of the revival of Artsakh and reunification with Armenia.
35 years ago, on 20 February 1988, an extraordinary session of the Council of People's Deputies of the NKAO was held, which decided to petition the Supreme Soviets of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR to transfer the autonomous region from Azerbaijan to Armenia. The issue of the transfer of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia was raised in a democratic, parliamentary way, on the basis of the people's will, in strict accordance with the Soviet legislation in force at that time and the generally recognized norms of international law.
The decision of the session, which confirmed the right of the people of Artsakh to decide their own destiny, marked the current stage of the Karabakh Movement and predetermined the prospects for the socio-political development of Nagorno-Karabakh. It, in fact, became the forerunner of the Declaration of Independence the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, adopted on 2 September 1991, under the new historical and political realities created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and marked the beginning of the path to the state independence of Artsakh.
This act of a nationwide expression of will by the people of Artsakh was rightly regarded as a reliable guarantee against the policy of discrimination of the ethnic Armenian population pursued by Azerbaijan for decades, which ultimately should have led to its complete destruction. Subsequent events confirmed the legitimacy and rightness of the historical choice of the people of Artsakh. Just a week after the session of the regional Council, the Azerbaijani authorities organized brutal pogroms and murders of Armenians in Sumgait and other cities of Azerbaijan, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, they unleashed a full-scale war against Artsakh. The criminal policy of official Baku, aimed at the destruction of the people of Artsakh, has not changed even decades later. This is evidenced by the military aggressions of 2016 and 2020, the ongoing state terrorism against the people of Artsakh, as well as the transport and energy blockade of the Republic that has been going on for the third month already.
Despite the incredible difficulties and trials, the people of Artsakh continue the struggle for their free and independent existence in the historical homeland, thereby realizing the right of peoples to self-determination, enshrined in international law, including the UN Charter. The past 35 years have clearly demonstrated that the most important prerequisite for solving national problems is national unity, the consolidation of the moral and spiritual forces of Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora, which makes it possible to confront the most serious challenges of the time.
Through many years of struggle for national dignity and the right to freely decide their own fate in their historical homeland, as well as the creation of a democratic and viable state, the people of Artsakh proved that they deserve recognition of their independence by the international community.
On this memorable day, we honour the memory of all those who gave their lives for the freedom and independence of Artsakh, and for universal ideals and values.