Artsakh president says ultimate goal is union with Armenia

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YEREVAN, September 3. /ARКА/. Our ultimate goal is creating a single homeland with Armenia, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) President Arayik Harutyunyan told at a press conference today convened on the occasion of 100 days of his presidency.

“But we have to be realistic. We know that there is very little chance that this will happen within the next decade. Therefore, by strengthening the army, we must force the enemy to get used to the Armenian force of Artsakh, we must maintain the status quo until large geopolitical developments that could lead to a partial settlement of the conflict,” he said.

At the same time, Harutyunyan stated that the priority at this stage is strengthening the independence of Artsakh.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict erupted into armed clashes after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s as the predominantly Armenian-populated enclave of Azerbaijan sought to secede from Azerbaijan and declared its independence backed by a successful referendum.

On May 12, 1994, the Bishkek cease-fire agreement put an end to the military operations. A truce was brokered by Russia in 1994, although no permanent peace agreement has been signed. Since then, Nagorno-Karabakh and several adjacent regions have been under the control of Armenian forces of Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh is the longest-running post-Soviet era conflict and has continued to simmer despite the relative peace of the past two decades, with snipers causing tens of deaths a year.

In the early hours of April 2, 2016 Azerbaijan, in gross violation of the agreements launched a large-scale offensive along the entire Line of Contact between the armed forces of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan, using heavy weaponry, artillery and combat aircraft. Only thanks to the decisive actions of the Defense Army, which gave a fitting rebuff, on April 5, Azerbaijan was forced to ask, as in 1994, through the mediation of the Russian Federation for the cessation of the hostilities. It has been generally maintained, despite the recurrent violations by the Azerbaijani side.

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