Artsakh Leaders Mark Liberation Movement Anniversary, Discuss ‘Mass Repatriation’

February 20 marks the anniversary of the beginning of Artsakh’s National Liberation Movement. To mark the occasion, President Samvel Shahramanyan and other exiled leaders of Artsakh visited the Yerablur National Cemetery Tuesday.

The Artsakh Parliament held a special session at the Artsakh representative office in Yerevan, with an agenda of marking the anniversary of the Liberation Movement and discussing issues related to the mass repatriation of the displaced Artsakh Armenians.

Gagik Baghunts, the acting Speaker of the Artsakh Parliament, told after the session that the Artsakh leadership is taking “concrete steps” for the eventual repatriation of Artsakh Armenians.

“Our struggle will continue,” Baghunts told Azatutyun.

“The Armenians of Artsakh will not accept the idea that we have closed the page of Artsakh, and the desire to return will always stay with us. I hope that we will have significant success in that direction already in the not-so-distant future,” he added.

“We are taking concrete steps, we will continue to do everything possible so that the Artsakh Armenians return to the homeland, our historical homeland, and I hope that despite my rather old age, I will return, not my grandchildren,” Baghunts said without specifying the steps, only to say that they are ready for  “cooperation with world powers” and even “contacts with the Azerbaijani authorities.”

The Deputy Speaker of the Artsakh Parliament, Vahram Balayan, echoed the sentiments of his colleague when he told reporters on Tuesday that the Artsakh chapter of history is not yet closed.

“Today we are in a disillusioned and broken state, but there is a need to use the available opportunities and strengthen Armenia. And in the context of all this, try to continue our further struggle, liberate a part of our historical homeland,” Balayan told reporters.

He also emphasized that the Artsakh issue had no correlation with the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, saying the the self-determination of the people of Artsakh, and the struggle that began in 1988, did not seek to lay claim on territory, but rather stemmed from the special status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast during the Soviet Period.

Balayan said that the NKAO had the same status as Azerbaijan SSR did under the Soviet Union, with its own constitution and Armenian as its state language.

“Due to many factors, we could not keep, protect what we had,” said Badalyan about the current fate of Artsakh.

“In general, history is not only a lesson, but also a punishment for all those who do not take the lessons of history into account. Unfortunately, we did not take into account the lessons we learned, we could not preserve our statehood,” he added.

He called the forced exodus of Armenians from Artsakh in September, following Azerbaijan’s large-scale attack, a genocide.

“In reality, it [the attack] was a genocidal act against our people. This is an obvious fact that we must present to the world, and demonstrate that our people have the right to full return [to Artsakh], and must fight to exercise that right,” said Balayan.

“We still have a ways to go. It seems to me that we should not be deprived of existing opportunities, we should continue to work from the viewpoint of ensuring our full return,” added the deputy speaker.

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