STEPANAKERT — Thousands of people rallied in Stepanakert on December 25 to demand that Azerbaijan unblock the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

Karabakh’s political leaders, who organized the rally, struck a defiant note as they addressed the crowd that gathered in the city’s central square on the 14th day of the road blockade that has led to serious shortages of food, medicines, and other basic goods in the Armenian-populated region.

They appealed to the international community for urgent intervention in the face of what they see as Azerbaijani efforts to drive Karabakh Armenians out of their homeland.

Ruben Vardaniyan, Karabakh’s State Minister (premier minister), said the local population has been left with three options.

“First, we submit and sooner or later integrate into Azerbaijan,” Vardanian said in a speech. “Second, we get out of here. Third, we fight.”

“I made my decision on September 2,” he said, referring to the date of his relocation from Armenia to Karabakh. “I’m here, I’m fighting, and I’m not going to leave or obey Azerbaijan’s conditions.”

People of Artsakh Issue an Appeal to World-Spread Armenians and the International Community

Since December 12, Artsakh has been under complete blockade, more than 120,000 people, including about 30,000 children, have found themselves in a difficult situation, completely deprived of free movement and many vital opportunities related to it. Once again, the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan grossly violates the norms of international law and in the obligations assumed by the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020.

The uninterrupted functioning of the land road between Artsakh and Armenia cannot be a subject of any negotiations and bargaining. Communication between Artsakh to the outer world should be restored without preconditions and immediately, and conditions should be created to ensure its further uninterrupted functioning.

The ethnic cleansing and discriminatory policy implemented by Azerbaijan against the Armenian people, which has gained new momentum after the war imposed on us in the fall of 2020 and its disastrous consequences, aims to depopulate the Armenian Artsakh, in continuation of the 1915 genocide staged by Turkey in Western Armenia,

In 1988, the popular will to live free and independent in its historical homeland directed our people to the liberation struggle, as a result of which we have a sovereign state declared in accordance with the norms of international law and visible political, economic and social achievements proving its viability.

Today, when the existence of the Artsakh Republic, the dream of all Armenians, is threatened, we, bowing before the memory of the Armenians who sacrificed their lives on the path of our liberation struggle, renew our vow to continue the work of our holy martyrs and restore our dignity.

During the ongoing struggle, as in previous years, we still need comprehensive support from the Motherland and all Armenians. In the past years, Artsakh has been a symbol of Armenian identity and dignity. Today, when the second Armenian republic is facing new challenges, Artsakh should become the axis around which the national potential should be united. The future of the Republic of Artsakh is a matter of national significance and requires pan-Armenian consolidation and solidarity.

The Republic of Artsakh will continue to make efforts to strengthen the security and defense capabilities of its people, combining its own capabilities and the capabilities of the Peacekeeping Mission of the Russian Federation.

The Republic of Artsakh, as a state guided by the supremacy of international fundamental rights, will continue to adhere to universal values and be constructive. Expansive ambitions and economic interests should not dictate modern international relations. Artsakh is the point on the world map from which, as in 1988, the formation of the moral world order of the 21st century can begin.

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