YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian paid tribute to the Armenian Armed Forces on Thursday, saying, in a thinly veiled warning to Azerbaijan, that they would successfully fight back any military attack on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Today we are strong, stronger than ever; our army is solid, modern and capable of fulfilling any task,” Sarkisian told hundreds of graduates of Armenian military academies. “It has passed with honor the exam of not only war, but peace as well, embodying the victorious spirit of all Armenians.”
“To those who threaten us with a war, we are reminding the biblical message: ‘For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword,’” he said. “The irrefutable truth of these words has been proved by the best sons of our nation, the generation of our fathers, my generation. Let no one doubt that if necessary, the same will happen today as well.”
It was an obvious response to Azerbaijani leaders’ regular threats to take Nagorno-Karabakh and the liberated territories by force. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has repeatedly told his nation to be prepared for war “at any moment.”
A native of Karabakh, Sarkisian played a prominent role in the Karabakh conflict of 1991-1994, commanded Karabakh defense forces before moving to Yerevan and becoming Armenia’s defense minister in 1993. He also served as defense minister from 2000-2007.
Sarkisian addressed the army college graduates after they solemnly received their first military ranks and paraded in Yerevan’s main Republic Square on the occasion. The high-profile ceremony was also attended by other top government officials and the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Catholicos Garegin II.