WATERTOWN — Artsakh Foreign Minister David Babayan spoke about the complex realities on the ground at a Zoom press conference organized by the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (ADL) press, on February 2.
A native of Stepanakert, Babayan is also president of the Conservative Party of Artsakh.
Sevag Hagopian, editor of the Beirut-based ADL newspaper Zartonk, served as the moderator of the nearly two-hour session. After introducing Babayan, the latter spoke on current conditions in Artsakh and then proceeded to answer numerous questions from the audience.
Babayan said that Artsakh has lost all but 20 percent of its territory, and is practically completely surrounded by Azerbaijan, which is supported by Turkey. He compared Artsakh with a man who is heavily wounded but alive and in the course of recovery. Azerbaijan cannot physically destroy it due to the presence of Russian peacekeepers but instead attempts psychologically to oppress it, he declared. With faith and love, Babayan said, everything can be preserved, but, as he has often done in the past, he called for the unity of Armenia, Artsakh and the diaspora as essential.
He added during the question-and-answer session that there have been some attempts in Artsakh, just as on the border of Azerbaijan and southern Armenia, to enter Armenian-held territory, but both the Artsakh defense forces and the Russian peacekeepers have made them fail. The destruction of Armenian monuments in the territories occupied by Azerbaijan actively continues, and although the Artsakh state wants international bodies like those connected to the United Nations to visit and investigate, Azerbaijan does not permit it. Babayan added that a few places, like Dadivank, are protected directly by Russian peacekeepers, but when Azerbaijanis cannot openly destroy such monuments, they try to reidentify them as Caucasian Albanian, not Armenian. On the other hand, he said an Azerbaijani attempt to get the Russian Orthodox church involved by calling Shushi’s Armenian churches orthodox failed.
Babayan declared that Artsakh is in favor of the Russian peacekeepers remaining after 2025 and said that he believed that indeed they will continue in their mission in an even more stable fashion, even if Azerbaijan attempts to disturb the situation. On the other hand, he did not think that diplomacy alone will be able to achieve the return of the territories that Azerbaijan occupied in the 2020 war, as he did not believe Azerbaijan willingly would return even one millimeter of land.