March 31, 2016 - 16:23 AMT
Karabakh has been a victim of occupation for 70 years: President

In the framework of his working visit to the United States, President Serzh Sargsyan on March 30 visited the Kennedy School of the Harvard University where he met with the Armenian students. At the School of Governance, the President gave a lecture followed by a Q&A session.

Dwelling upon the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the Armenian leader made a reference to the frequent use of the word “occupation” in this context. Sargsyan said, in particular:

“Without entering into the realm of history, I have to make a small observation here. Those who use the word “occupation,” often forget that Karabakh was a victim of occupation for 70 years. I have a question for all those who consciously or unconsciously use the word “occupation:” what was Karabakh’s annexation to Azerbaijan in 1921 thanks to Stalin, if not occupation? After receiving this generous gift, Azerbaijan, instead of creating normal conditions for the people and using soft-power tools, created such unbearable conditions that the people of Nagorno Karabakh were the first to rise up, noticing signs of weakening Soviet power. The protests of 1988 were so powerful that the beginning of the collapse of the USSR is commonly associated with the Karabakh Movement. The initial occupation was the very cause of the conflict. Hence, Nagorno Karabakh has nothing to do with the notion of territorial integrity of the present-day Azerbaijan.”

According to the President, Armenians had a firsthand experience of Azerbaijan’s policy of complete depopulation of Nagorno Karabakh from Armenians. “There was indeed the bitter precedent of Nakhijevan—another region populated by Armenians. In addition to driving out the Armenian population, the precious cultural legacy of the Jugha khachkars was barbarically destroyed in 2005. Not even a tiny piece, not even a crumb of the marvelous medieval treasure survived. The whole region has been cleansed of Armenians and all traces of Armenian culture,” Sargsyan said.