Conference on the “Armenian-Turkish Relations and the Artsakh Issue” - Stepanakert July 10-11, 2009

President Bako Sahakyan said: The independence of NKR is not a subject to discussions.

Conference on the "Armenian-Turkish Relations and the Artsakh Issue" was held in Stepanakert today. Addressing the conference, NKR President Bako Sahakyan said:

"Respected participants of the conference, Ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome cordially the participants of the conference on the Artsakh issue and the Armenian-Turkish relations and put special emphasize on the fact that it takes place in the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

This representative conference envisages comprehensive discussions of the issues on the agenda with participation of attendees from Armenia, Diaspora and Artsakh, who made national concerns of the Armenian people their daily life and the essence of their very existence.

Being very much aware that those present are competent and professional people, I would like, nevertheless, to touch upon our recent history. It is known that in this period of the modern history of the Armenian people, Artsakh found itself in the frontline of the liberation movement, giving a new impetus to the revival of national consciousness and unity of all Armenians.

Almost two decades have passed since the world-spread Armenians, putting aside ideological and party discords, personal ambitions and priorities, have stood by the Artsakh people fighting for restoration of their rights and justice.

Unity became our first victory in this struggle. It unified the will and spirit of the Armenian people at the epoch-making and hard time, when Armenia, having survived destructive earthquake and the influx of tens of thousands refugees, was imposed to the blockage and found itself on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe. We, the people of Artsakh, will never forget all those who where with us during the hard days of the Motherland, when the fate of Artsakh was to be decided.

The war was not our choice; it was imposed on us in response to our peaceful and civilized call for restoration of historical truth.

Heavy and unequal battles created our Defense Army, which in a very short period of time carried out its sacred duty of defending Artsakh people and statehood with flying colors.

Each of you has had a personal contribution to great and small military and economic victories of Artsakh. And this very spirit of a unified victory has made the unshakable will and readiness of the people of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic to live freely and independently in their own land be heard more audible.

This spirit predetermined our past, it determines the present and the future of our people. On September 2, 1991, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic was proclaimed. On 10 December of the same year the people of Artsakh carried out a nation-wide referendum and announced their decision to live in a free and sovereign country.

Our position is clear-cut and unchangeable. The independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is an accomplished fact and is not is not a subject to discussions.

Any attempt to present the Nagorno Karabakh Republic within the framework of Azerbaijani territorial integrity is both incomprehensible and unacceptable for us. This neglects natural development of history and life, as well as contradicts the realities of the past.

Since the proclamation of independence we have stood behind the path of our choice, successfully defending the borders of Artsakh, building and strengthening our state, efficiently overcoming difficulties on the way of recreating and developing the country. As the result the world has got convinced that it deals with a full-fledged state and society, which has all the necessary attributes of statehood, embarked on the path of democracy.

For this very reason we do not consider the restoration of the full-fledged negotiation format as an additional pretext to remind about our existence, but because this format is indeed a deficient one. Artsakh, being the main party to the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, is now out of the negotiations and we should restore this important principle. Without the consent of the people of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic any decision will be impossible to implement.

We have reiterated many times that we support equal participation of all parties in the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict. However, political leadership of Azerbaijan has another vision and always speaks about its would-be right to solve the conflict in a military way.

We cannot be indifferent towards the policy the neighboring state follows. The authorities of Armenia and Artsakh have made many statements on the impermissibility of the dissemination of hatred and militant rhetoric. The people of Artsakh have gone through all the hardships of war and are fully conscious of the price and importance of peace for our region. However, it does not mean that we are not ready to repel any aggression of the enemy.

As to the Armenian-Turkish relations, this complex and multilevel issue touches upon both political and economic spheres and to a great extend depends on some historical and psychological factors, which exercise influence on political reality and developments.

In any case it is very much clear that any shift in the Armenian-Turkish relations must not and cannot be implemented to the prejudice of the Karabakh conflict settlement. Any attempts to interconnect these two issues lying in different realms will definitely lead to an impasse.

Another important issue that touches upon both the settlement of Artsakh issue and the Armenian-Turkish relations is orderliness and unity of our people.

Today we are much more obliged to have a united front to address issues of pan-national importance and assess the situation. This must be so not only by words and viewpoints, but also by our united and joint approach and towards solving issues we face. That is true for Armenia, for the Diaspora and for Artsakh. We need work that will unify the whole potential of the Armenian people thus creating firm foundation for our struggle.

From this very viewpoint we rate high the undertaking of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation to hold this pan-Armenian conference in Artsakh, where we steadily strengthen the independence reached at the cost of numerous victims and much hardship. On this path we have already gained great and small victories standing behind either successes or the issues still to be solved.

Only unity, deep comprehension of national goals and priorities it will be possible to overcome difficulties and neutralize the threats we face.

I am confidant that combining efforts of Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora we will be able to solve all problems, build and make prosperous our two Armenian states and create worthy future for the generations to come."