Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents exchange insults in their speeches at the UN
21 September 2017

The Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan hurled insults at each other in the course of delivering their speeches at the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev attacked each other's positions on the Karabakh conflict using harsh terms, even as their foreign ministers were preparing to meet on Thursday (21 September) in an effort to move forward negotiations for a settlement of the conflict.

In his speech, President Sargsyan accused Azerbaijan of pursuing policies which culminated in "massacres, ethnic cleansing and mass deportation of the Armenian population of Azerbaijan", and accused the Azerbaijani President of decorating one of the soldiers who had committed war crimes in the fighting that took place in April 2016, adding that Azerbaijan "symboilises medieval backwardness"

On his part, President Aliyev described Armenia as a ""corrupt, failed state ruled by a despotic, medieval regime". He accused Armenia of genocide, and said its current president was a "war criminal".

Diplomats in New York expressed concern that the language used by the two presidents has cast a shadow over the meeting of their foreign ministers due on Thursday, making the chances of a resumption of substantial negotiations in the near future very unlikely. In their speeches the two presidents reiterated previously stated views on the Karabakh conflict and showed no sign of being willing to compromise.

Speaking on Tuesday, 19 September, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said:

"It is for the fifth time that I have an opportunity to speak from this eminent podium and again I am compelled to address the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. I should have rather preferred to talk of peace, progress and cooperation, but unfortunately we are not there yet. Hence, it is my duty to explain why we are so much away from that desirable stage. 

The new phase of the struggle for self-determination by the people of Artsakh began almost 30 years ago. The peaceful calls by the Armenians of Artsakh to exercise their inalienable right to self-determination as well as every step to that effect was met by use force, to which Azerbaijan continuously resorted to.

The policy of the official Baku culminated in the massacres, ethnic cleansing and mass deportation of the Armenian population of Azerbaijan. Once flourishing Armenian-populated districts in their entirety have been wiped out of the Armenians, and the Government of Azerbaijan continues with its policy of systematic destruction of the vast Armenian cultural and spiritual heritage on the territories under its control.

It is obvious that, under such circumstances, the people of Artsakh were left with no other choice than to resort to self-defense. The grievous war of 1992-1994, its aftermath and negotiations that followed did not serve as a lesson for Azerbaijan. Last year in April, Azerbaijan unleashed a four-day war, which came to prove that Azerbaijan pursues the objective of extermination of the people of Artsakh.
In the course of the military offensive unleashed in 2016, the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan committed a number of war crimes against civilian population and the prisoners of war. Here I am compelled to mention that a serviceman who committed such atrocities has been decorated with a high state award, and the President of Azerbaijan personally decorated him in front of the cameras.

Distinguished Mr. President,

It has been for years that hate speech and Armenophobia was made part and parcel of the Azerbaijan's state policy. It has taken deep root in the school curricula, intoxicating the younger generation. It has been for years that a number of inter-governmental and non-governmental specialized organizations dealing with racism and xenophobia have been ringing alarm bells about it.

All of these leads us to believe that the exercise of the right to self-determination by the people of Artsakh is of existential significance. In this regard, I convey the consolidated view of Armenia and Artsakh as well as the one shared by Armenians from all over the globe. I bring this message from Yerevan, where right now Armenia-Diaspora conference is taking place.

Everyone should be aware that for the democratically developing Artsakh Azerbaijan simply symbolizes medieval backwardness. Azerbaijan has got no legal or moral ground whatsoever to present any claims towards Artsakh. Artsakh has never been part to independent Azerbaijan, and therefore the attempts of its annexation to that particular state framework cannot be justified. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today free Artsakh is an established democratic society. Our shared motto and commitment of "Leaving no one behind" should be the milestone guiding the work of the United Nations family. It is exactly for that reason, I believe, that people of Artsakh should never be isolated from the implementation of the sustainable development goals.

I strongly believe that the unresolved status of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict should have no impact on the people of Artsakh as they exercise their rights. It is, first and foremost, about inalienable rights for any human being. It is about the right to life, the right to organize public life, the right to form freely one's own government, the right to communicate unimpededly with the outer world, and many other rights.

Armenia consistently contributes and will contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the people of Artsakh, its sustainable and democratic development. No one has a right to create hindrances to the implementation of initiatives and projects to that effect. The legal status of Artsakh, or, to be more precise, the lack of the international legal recognition, is not and cannot constitute an obstacle for the women and men who live there to exercise their rights.

We strongly believe that there is no alternative to the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Right now, from this eminent podium, I reiterate our commitment to that effect.

Meanwhile, everyone should be aware that the Nagorno Karabakh issue is a human rights issue. It can be resolved exclusively through one of the fundamental and inalienable human rights - the people's right to self-determination.

At the end of the day, whatever option for the conflict resolution we arrive at, the Republic of Artsakh should not enjoy a status and liberty that might be inferior to the one it enjoys today. Azerbaijan shall recognize and respect the right of the people of Artsakh to decide its own future through a free expression of will. All available international and domestic mechanisms should guarantee the security of the Armenian population of Artsakh. 

All remaining issues are collateral. All remaining issues will find their logical and fair solution in parallel to the general resolution process."  

A day later, it was the turn of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Delving straight into the issue of Karabakh, the Azerbaijani President said:

"For more than 25 years Armenia occupies 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh and 7 other regions of our country.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an ancient and historical part of Azerbaijan. As a result of Armenian aggression almost 20% of the internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan is under Armenian occupation. More than one million of Azerbaijanis became refugees and internally displaced persons. Armenia conducted the policy of ethnic cleansing against Azerbaijanis in Armenia, in Nagorno-Karabakh and 7 other regions of Azerbaijan.

Armenia committed genocide against Azerbaijanis in Khojaly. Khojaly genocide is already officially recognized by more than 10 countries. On February 26, 1992 Armenia committed war crime killing 613 peaceful residents of Khojaly, among them 106 women and 63 children. One of those war criminals who committed that terrible crime against humanity is current Armenian President.

Leading international organizations adopted resolutions demanding withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territory of Azerbaijan. In 1993, United Nations Security Council adopted 4 resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territory of Azerbaijan.

Other international organizations, such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Non-Alignment Movement, OSCE, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and European Parliament adopted similar decisions and resolutions. Armenia doesn't implement them. Armenia for 24 years ignores UN Security Council resolutions and unfortunately is not punished for that. In some cases, UN Security Council resolutions are implemented within days. In our case it's 24 years that resolutions are not implemented. This is a double standards approach. This approach is unacceptable. International sanctions must be imposed on Armenia. One of the important reforms of the United Nations must be the creation of the mechanism of implementation of the resolutions of the Security Council.

Armenia does everything to keep status-quo unchanged, blocks substantive negotiations. Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group -France, Russia, USA - on several occasions stated that status-quo is unacceptable.

The question is how can this corrupt, failed state ruled by despotic, medieval regime afford to violate international law for so many years and ignore the resolutions of UN Security Council and statements of the leading countries of the world? And the answer is double standards. There is no international pressure on aggressor, no international sanctions imposed on Armenian dictatorship. This policy must be stopped.

Such policy towards aggressor is not only demonstration of injustice, it also creates an illusion that Armenian dictatorship can continue their policy of terror.

Last April Armenia committed another war crime on the line of contact attacking our cities and villages. As a result of this attack, 6 Azerbaijani civilians were killed, among them one child and 26 civilians were wounded. Hundreds of our houses were destroyed.

Azerbaijan had to defend its citizens. As a result of successful counter-attack, Azerbaijan liberated some territories in the 3 occupied regions - Agdere, Fuzuli and Jabrayil and installed its national flag on the liberated territories. Armenian leadership should not forget this lesson. Otherwise, the result of the next Armenian provocation will be more painful for them.

Losing on the battlefield Armenia uses its mean policy of attacking our cities and villages. On July 4, 2017 a targeted attack on Alkhanli village in Fuzuli district by Armenia with 82 and 120 mm mortars and grenade launchers killed 2 civilians - 2 years old Zahra Guliyeva and her grandmother.

On August 7, 2017, a 13 years old boy in Tovuz region bordering with Armenia was wounded by Armenian soldiers. International community must stop Armenian fascism and terror. Azerbaijan is committed to peaceful resolution of the conflict but at the same time will defend its citizens in line with UN charter if Armenian military provocations continue and if necessary will punish once again the aggressor as it was done in April, 2016.

Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved on the basis of international law, relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be completely restored. Despite the enormous difficulties caused by Armenian occupation Azerbaijan develops rapidly and successfully."

source: Quotes from the speeches of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan at the UN General Assembly in New York are based on the official text of the speeches published on their respective websites

photo: The UN General Assembly Session in New York on Tuesday, 19 September 2017, during the address of the Armenian president (picture courtesy of the press service of the president of Armenia)