STEPANAKERT (RFE/RL) — Azerbaijan will not achieve a military solution to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, President Serzh Sarkisian said on Friday as he attended official ceremonies in Stepanakert to mark the 25th anniversary of the republic’s declaration of independence from Baku.
Sarkisian joined Karabakh’s political leaders as well as thousands of ordinary people in marching to Stepanakert’s military cemetery where many Karabakh Armenians killed in the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan were laid to rest. He laid flowers at an adjacent war memorial.
“You fought and won an unequal war,” he said in a statement issued on the occasion. “You built a state and society which is now freer than ever before. You created an army which is now stronger than ever before.”
Born and raised in Karabakh, Sarkisian commanded Karabakh Armenian forces in 1992-1993 and went on to become Armenia’s defense minister.
President Sarkisian mentioned last April fighting in his statement, after the Azerbaijani army went on an offensive at two sections of the demarcation line around Karabakh, saying that Azerbaijani troops will again be repelled if they make further attempts to “solve the issue in a military way.” The four-day hostilities demonstrated that “no power in the world” can achieve a military solution to the dispute, he said.
“There is no military option,” he added. “There can only be a political option.”