Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, in an address to the nation on Wednesday, laid out why winning is the only option in the current situation. He called on all Armenians around the world to mobilize in the defense of the homeland.
Below is the translated text of the prime minister’s address, provided by his press office.
Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia,
Proud citizens of the Artsakh Republic
Proud Diaspora Armenians,
The terrorist war unleashed by Turkey and Azerbaijan against Artsakh has been going on for 18 days now. Before referring to the frontline situation, I consider it crucial to emphasize that today we need to understand the military-political situation, but we first must understand the reasons behind the war and the underlying conditions.
In the process of negotiations over the Karabakh issue, step by step Azerbaijan reached a point where it insisted that the Armenians of Karabakh should renounce their rights. Their demand consisted in the following: Immediately hand over 5 out of 7 territories to Azerbaijan, develop a clear-cut timetable for handing over the remaining 2 territories and state that any status of Nagorno-Karabakh implied being part of Azerbaijan. Moreover, the status of Nagorno-Karabakh should not be associated with the transfer of territories. In other words, territories should be handed over not for status but for peace, otherwise Azerbaijan threatened to resolve the issue through war.
Our government, which had inherited the current framework of negotiations, refused to discuss the issue in this way because it was unacceptable. Under these circumstances, as we tried to state clearly that the settlement of the issue without defining the status of Artsakh was impossible, Azerbaijan gave up any serious discussion on the status, stating in fact that the only status that Artsakh could have was autonomy within Azerbaijan, which in fact was meant to build up an institutional framework that would pave the way for ethnic cleansing in Artsakh. At the same time, Azerbaijan was developing military rhetoric and anti-Armenian propaganda.
Over the past two and a half years, we implemented reforms to upgrades our army in a bid to provide real preconditions for the premise that “the Karabakh issue has no military solution.” The victorious battles waged in Tavush in July 2020 came to evidence a reality, which was unexpected for many, namely that the Azerbaijani army is actually unable to resolve the Karabakh issue through military means. This fact was shocking not only for Azerbaijan, but also for other countries, especially for Turkey.
Unprecedented Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises were launched shortly after the July battles; a large number of Turkish troops and military equipment were transferred to Azerbaijan. The exercises once again testified that Azerbaijan’s armed forces were unable to fulfill specific tasks in the foreseeable future, and Turkey decided that it is up to them to deal with the Karabakh issue.
Something unprecedented happened at that point: Turkey started to openly and publicly threaten Armenia, with a large number of terrorists and mercenaries being transported from Syria to the Karabakh conflict zone, realizing that the Azeri forces could not tackle the problem on their own.
In this situation, we tried to implement strategic containment mechanisms, considering that if Turkey achieved its goals in the South Caucasus, it would inevitably trigger a chain reaction of developments, and therefore, those regional and extra-regional countries that will inevitably suffer from such destabilization should take strategic containment measures.
At this stage, however, we recorded a strange circumstance: A number of countries, capable of taking strategic deterrence measures, failed to properly assess the threat. They continued to view the issue in the context of the Karabakh conflict, considering that the “territories for peace” formula could save the situation. This unacceptable formula is similar to the 1938 Munich Agreement, when the European powers allegedly surrendered Czechoslovakia to Germany for the sake of peace. We all know what happened next. Now the question is whether the world will allow the emergence of a new Hitler in Asia Minor.
The war against Artsakh did not come as something unexpected for us. We were prepared and only wondered when and from where the enemy was going to attack.
Artsakh’s Defense Army has been waging a heroic battle since the outbreak of the hostilities. The Turkey-Azerbaijan-terrorist-mercenary military alliance launched the strongest-ever attack on Artsakh: tanks, armored vehicles, missiles, artillery, military planes, helicopters, drones, a huge number of combatants, including several thousand special troops from Turkey and reportedly from Pakistan, as well as mercenaries and terrorists from Syria.
The adversary did not record any strategic or territorial gains during the first week, when it faced no supply and manpower restrictions whatsoever, while Artsakh and Armenia were operating in the midst of a long-standing blockade. During this time, the adversary lost a huge amount of military hardware, suffered a large number of casualties, including mercenaries.
Each drop of Armenian blood hurts us all, not to mention the enormous number of victims we already have at the moment. In order to prevent further losses, we joined the process launched and the statement adopted in Moscow last Friday, which provided for a humanitarian ceasefire, full exchange of corpses, prisoners and detainees, return to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing format with the logic of resolving the issue as soon as possible. However, Azerbaijan did not adhere to the ceasefire agreement for a second and carried on with the attacks, simultaneously hindering the establishment of a ceasefire monitoring mechanism.
This means that Azerbaijan continues to adhere to the policy line adopted originally and has set itself the task of full occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh. At this point, however, we can record the following fact: the Turkish-Azerbaijani terrorist plan to occupy Nagorno-Karabakh and the adjacent territories with a blitzkrieg has failed owing to the joint efforts of our army of heroic generals, officers, non-commissioned officers, sergeants, volunteers, soldiers, our public administration system – the leaders of Artsakh and Armenia, the governments, the national assemblies, local self-government and state agencies.
We have suffered numerous casualties. I mourn for our brave martyrs who fell defending the Homeland, protecting our people’s right to live, safeguarding the Armenian identity, dignity and Armenia’s future. And I bow to all our victims, martyrs, their families, their parents and especially their mothers, and I consider their loss my loss, my personal loss, the loss of my family.
Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia,
Proud citizens of the Artsakh Republic
Proud Diaspora Armenians,
During the past 18 days of the war, our heroic troops retreated to the north and south. In recent days, the adversary changed its tactics trying to cause a mess in the rear with subversive groups. Nevertheless, at the cost of heavy fighting, losses of manpower and equipment, the Artsakh Defense Army keeps the situation under control, inflicting numerous losses of manpower and equipment on the enemy.
But we all need to know that we are facing a difficult situation. This is not a statement of despair or desperation. I provide this information because I am committed to tell our people the truth, unlike Azerbaijan, which conceals the fact of thousands of victims from its own people and, according to our estimates, the loss of more than USD 1 billion in military equipment. But the main purpose of my message today is to talk about what we have to do and our strategy, as well as to rally our national unity around that goal. Therefore, it is necessary to state that the Turkish-Azerbaijani terrorist alliance will not stop its attack on Artsakh and Armenia.
These days the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs – Russia, France, and the United States – have endeavored and continue to work for a ceasefire. Statements were issued by the presidents and foreign ministers of the three countries, followed by the October 10 statement adopted in Moscow.
I would like to thank the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs for their efforts.
I am grateful to the U.S. Administration for all the efforts that have been made so far.
I wish to thank France and President Emmanuel Macron for his determination to name things from the very first days of the war and for his willingness to make further efforts.
Special thanks to President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, with whom we have been in close contact during all this time. Russia has been able to fulfill its role of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair and Armenia’s strategic ally at a high level, and I am convinced that Russia will implement this role unequivocally in accordance with the best traditions of friendship between the Armenian and Russian peoples.
Committed to the logic of a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, I would like to emphasize that we will be highly constructive in making our diplomatic efforts effective.
However, so far these efforts have not been enough to defy the Turkish-Azerbaijani terrorist bloc, because the task that they have set is not only to resolve the Karabakh issue, but also to continue the traditional Turkish genocidal policy against our people.
But at this crucial moment we will not back down, because this is a crucial war for our people. In this situation, the Armenian people have only one thing to do: unite, mobilize all the potential we have, halt the enemy with a decisive blow and achieve a final victory, that is, the final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the recognition of the right of the Nagorno-Karabakh people to self-determination.
The souls, spirit and strength of our other great martyrs and heroes, King Artashes, Tigran the Great, Ashot Yerkat, Aram Manukyan, Hovhannes Baghramyan, Monte Melkonyan, Vazgen Sargsyan, are with us today. Today, the Armenians are united more than ever. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians are providing financial, economic, media-borne and political support to Armenia and Artsakh.
In hundreds of Diaspora-based communities our compatriots are holding peaceful rallies of solidarity, protest and support, with two specific issues on the agenda: international recognition of Artsakh’s independence and condemnation of the Turkish-Azerbaijani terrorist aggression.
This is the culmination of our national unity, and this culmination must be crowned with the realization of our specific national goals. No one can break the will of the Armenian people, it is impossible to intimidate the Armenian nation, it is impossible to defeat the Armenian people. We will stand up to the last, we will fight to the last, and the name of that end is Free and Happy Artsakh, Free and Happy Armenia.
Today, at this crucial moment, each and every one of us must focus on achieving this goal. Artsakh, the army, the soldier and the frontline should be the focus of our efforts in the Diaspora and in Armenia.. We must turn our mourning into anger, our fears into determination, and our doubts into action.
We must win, we must live, we must build our history, and we are building our history, our new epic, our new heroic battle, our new Sardarabad.
Long live Freedom!
Long live the Republic of Armenia!
Long live the Artsakh Republic!
Long live the Armenian Army!
Long live the Armenian volunteers,
Long live the Armenian Diaspora!
Long live the Armenian people!
And long live our children who will live in a free and happy Armenia, in a free and happy Artsakh.
Glory to the heroes!