“A free people cannot renounce their sovereign rights and submit to the rule of an alien state, especially one ruled for many years by an authoritarian, corrupt, and racist regime, intoxicated by its impunity.
Our collective decision to leave our Homeland – the Republic of Artsakh (the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), our homes, and our Armenian churches, leaving behind the relics of Saint John the Baptist (Surb Hovhannes Mkrtich) and the graves of our ancestors, which we have protected for centuries, is the proof to the whole world that freedom is the highest value for the people of Artsakh. We have made this forced decision amidst ongoing genocidal actions and looming serious existential threats.
We made this decision because those who call themselves champions and defenders of freedom and human rights decided to deny us our right to live with dignity in our homeland and our right to self-determination, thus aiming to achieve an imaginary peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan and for the sake of their own geopolitical interests.
We left because it was the only way to guarantee our safety and preserve our human and national dignity and our gene pool, expose the big lie, on which the political idea of unilateral and forceful resolution of the conflict was based, by forcing us and our children to accept citizenship and swear allegiance to the regime that hates us.
For more than three decades, we have defended with all our might our children’s right to peace and free development. We opposed the political deals that were offered to us at the expense of our sovereign right to live in our Homeland, won at the cost of lives and enormous sacrifices of many generations during the long centuries of struggle to preserve our national dignity and identity. And this struggle is not over. We are confident that we will regain our Motherland with the power of truth and justice.
For those who think that the world can be ruled by lies and brute force, we repeat the following:
The Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) was proclaimed on September 2, 1991, by the legitimate authorities of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region (NKAO) and the Shahumyan Region of the Azerbaijani Soviet Social Republic, when the authorities of the latter announced their decision to secede from the USSR. The political Declaration on proclamation of the NKR was based on the legal norm of the Soviet law in force at that time and the will of the Artsakh people, expressed in a national referendum.
Our right to self-determination was recognized even by the authorities of Soviet Russia and Azerbaijan in 1920, and became the basis for creation of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region in 1923, was enshrined in the constitution of the USSR, the constitution of the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic and its law “On NKAO”, and was preserved in the Law “Concerning the procedure of secession of a Soviet Republic from the USSR” of April 3, 1990, and is also based on the UN Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966.
The referendum of December 10, 1991, confirmed that the absolute majority of voters supported the decision to declare the independence of our Republic. The legitimate parliament, elected according to democratic standards and in the conditions of a genocidal siege and armed aggression, adopted on January 6, 1992 the Declaration of Independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, Artsakh. Thousands of our compatriots paid for this choice with their lives.
In 1992, all CSCE/OSCE member states recognized the right of elected representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh to participate in the OSCE international conference mandated to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In a referendum in 2006, our people approved the Constitution of the Republic, which defined the procedure for electing legitimate representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh and their powers; in 2017, again in a referendum, the people approved a new Constitution. This Constitution was and remains the only fundamental document by which the citizens of our Republic are guided and obeyed of their own free will.
Accordingly, we, the citizens of the Republic of Artsakh, in an effort to defend our legal rights and the right to preserve the subjecthood of our Republic, affirm that the self-determined Nagorno-Karabakh did not take any part in the formation of the constitution and authorities of the self-proclaimed Republic of Azerbaijan, and, on the contrary, declared its independence. However, the newly formed Azerbaijan did not hide its baseless claims to Nagorno-Karabakh.
It was in such conditions that the international community recorded the fact that there were disagreements over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, recognizing the disputed nature of this territory. Armenia and Azerbaijan then became participating countries of the CSCE/OSCE on the condition that they recognized the existence of disagreements over the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh and agreed that the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh would be determined at a peace conference under the auspices of the CSCE/OSCE. Both states have assumed an international obligation to resolve the issue exclusively by peaceful means.
However, once it became an CSCE/OSCE participating state, Azerbaijan immediately violated its international obligation to resolve disputes peacefully. Official Baku illegally used force against the NKR as a disputed territory in order to prevent holding an international conference to determine the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. In those conditions, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh exercised their right to self-defense. The armed aggression of Azerbaijan in 1992-1994 resulted in its defeat with significant territorial losses. It is important to emphasize that the Line of Contact between the NKR and Azerbaijan was internationally recognized.
However, during the three decades of the conflict, not a single statesman, politician or international legal authority answered a simple question: why Azerbaijan and other states that have legally recognized the obligation to follow the rule of law as a fundamental principle of their statehood, can disregard the obligation to respect the right of self-determination of Nagorno-Karabakh and the principle of non-use of force, both arising from that fundamental principle?
This circumstance allowed Azerbaijan to retain in its policy arsenal the strategy of annexation Nagorno-Karabakh through the forced expulsion of its indigenous people. Azerbaijan’s aggressive policy has yet to receive due international condemnation. International actors, contrary to their international obligations to bear responsibility for protecting the population from genocide (Responsibility to Protect), unfortunately, did not pay due attention to the warnings contained in the Statement of the Parliament of Artsakh of July 27, 2023 about the most serious existential threats facing the population of Artsakh, did not prevent the criminal actions of Azerbaijan, which committed another military aggression against the NKR in September 2023 and completely expelled the indigenous Armenian population of Artsakh from their historical Homeland.
It should be recalled that after conclusion of truce on November 9, 2020, the President of Azerbaijan stated that the Nagorno-Karabakh problem no longer exists, and everyone must come to terms with the results of the Second Karabakh War. In an effort to change the essence of the conflict, Azerbaijan has introduced into its diplomatic vocabulary a false narrative of “Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani lands,” through which it attempts to mute legitimate concerns about its aggressive genocidal policy.
We do not intend to compromise our principles, beliefs and our rights in relation to our own Motherland, neither in the face of force, nor under the threat of destruction, neither in exile, nor under any other political circumstances.
The whole civilized world faces a choice today: either to restore the international order in Nagorno-Karabakh, based on respect for the right to self-determination and other rights and freedoms of peoples and human rights, or to agree that blockade, armed aggression, genocide and occupation are legitimate ways to resolve conflicts.
Today, leaders of many states speak about the need for the return of Armenians to Nagorno-Karabakh. However, we believe that for the peaceful, safe and dignified return and life of our people in their homeland the following indisputable conditions are required:
First, we rule out the return of citizens of the Republic of Artsakh to the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani armed forces, police and administration must be completely withdrawn from the territory of the Republic of Artsakh, including the Shahumyan region, where too Azerbaijan bears full responsibility for the ethnic cleansing in 1992.
Second, multinational international UN peacekeeping forces should be deployed along the entire border of the Republic of Artsakh, and a demilitarized zone should be created.
Third, the internationally recognized Lachine Corridor should be completely transferred to UN control and management.
Fourth, the territory of the Republic of Artsakh should be handed over to the UN control to ensure the conditions for the return of all refugees, formation of democratic and legal institutions and the restoration of the economy. All refugees must have equal status, equal rights and be subject to the common rules of the transitional period until a referendum is held to confirm the final political status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the result of which will be legally recognized by all states.
Fifth, the possibility of criminal prosecution by Azerbaijan of citizens of the Republic of Artsakh on any charges for the entire period of the conflict should be completely excluded. All arrested and already convicted Armenians in Azerbaijan must be released immediately. We are ready to recognize the competence of an international tribunal to investigate every war crime for which our citizens are accused, provided that in a similar way this tribunal will also address all war crimes committed by citizens of Azerbaijan and its mercenaries.
We are ready to do our best to contribute to achieving a peaceful resolution to the conflict, which will be based on the full respect for the right to self-determination and other internationally recognized human rights and freedoms of peoples.”
The addressees of the appeal are: the UN Secretary-General, the UN Security Council, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, the Council of Europe (Secretary-General, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, President of the Committee of Ministers), the President of the European Council, the President of the European Parliament, the Secretary-General of the CIS, the Secretary-General of the CSTO, and the Secretary-General of NATO.
The invitation remains available for additional signatures. Entities interested in joining are encouraged to send a formal request via email to the following address: Artsakh.December10@gmail.com.