The following article is being released by the Public Relations Department, Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia in Los Angeles:
The Government of Azerbaijan has recently voted to allow its air force to shoot down civilian aircraft overflying the Republic of Artsakh. This decision came in the wake of the announced resumption of flights from and to Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh in Russian).
The threat to destroy civilian aircraft with passengers aboard is a complete aberration by standards of any civilized and respected member of international community. However, given Azerbaijan's track record of respect for international law and human rights, it is quite conceivable that the decision of the government of Azerbaijan is not entirely declarative in its nature.
During the last days of the Soviet empire, Azerbaijani authorities orchestrated kristallnacht-styled pogroms on its citizens of Armenian origin – a crime that forever stained the face of Baku, Azerbaijan's capital and a crime yet to be repented by its perpetrators. The Azeri government then sent warplanes to drop cluster bombs on apartment buildings, hospitals and schools of unarmed people in Stepanakert, who in exercise of their constitutional right, voted for self-determination and freedom. Repelled in a humiliating defeat, Azerbaijan imposed a tight blockade on 150,000-strong population of Artsakh, with the hope to starve them and force to capitulate -- all in vain as we know.
And then comes the act of utmost barbary: intoxicated by hate speech towards anything Armenian, an Azeri officer beheads his sleeping fellow Armenian classmate – both attending a NATO seminar in Budapest. Abominable in its design and execution, this crime was subsequently glorified by the government of Azerbaijan and the axe murderer was honored and promoted in rank, thus leaving Artsakh and its people with no illusions as to the ability of the modern day Azerbaijan to maintain civilized neighborly relations or relations with anyone of Armenian descent.
21 years into a successful nation-building existence, the Republic of Artsakh is taking measures to re-launch air communication with Armenia only to face more hostility and outright blackmail from Azerbaijan. Air traffic is not an end in itself for Artsakh, although it is very natural for all people, no matter if their country is recognized or not, to fulfill their fundamental right for free movement. With the resumption of civilian air traffic with Armenia, Artsakh intends to improve the country's accessibility to the outside world with all the economic and humanitarian ramifications this move entails. Neither Armenia nor Artsakh consider the re-opening of the Stepanakert airport as an escalatory move intended to damage the negotiation process that Azerbaijan has been consistently trying to derail. Similar to this is the reaction of international mediators who warn Azerbaijan against the use of force and call for a refrain in politicizing the matter.
Azerbaijan's aggressive reactions repeat a familiar pattern, a deja vu, by futilely attempting to prevent the people of Artsakh from strengthening their statehood and democratic traditions. Speaking of democratic traditions, on the other side of the world, before the California State Senate, the Consul General of Azerbaijan just recently referred to his country as a democracy. This came in the wake of the latest report by Freedom House that rated Azerbaijan as "Not Free," while classifying the Republic of Artsakh as "Partly Free," i.e. among the nations with nascent democratic traditions such as genuinely competitive elections and participation. This "glitch" is not the only one. In yet another astonishing revelation, the Azeri diplomats claimed that Azerbaijan- a predominantly Shiite Muslim country - was one of the first Christian nations!
Having declared the worldwide Armenians Azerbaijan's worst enemy, Azerbaijan has in recent months imported its deceptive propaganda and bellicose rhetoric to the US West Coast – home to one of the largest Armenian Diasporas in the world. Thus far, this new effort by the Azeri propaganda has only resulted in a number of embarrassing situations and heavy blows to the country's own standing, in addition to strengthening the already overwhelming support of the global Armenian community to the Republic of Artsakh.
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