A fight between democracy and autocracy: Artsakh’s Ruben Vardanyan discusses ongoing crisis with CBN

The blockade of Artsakh is sparking a crisis, Minister of State Ruben Vardanyan said in an interview with CBN’s Faithwire Friday.

He is hoping to see the issue remedied as quickly as possible, as his citizens do not have access to travel or much-needed resources.

“They block[ed] the road … without any negotiation with us,” Vardanyan told CBN’s Faithwire Friday.

The individuals responsible for the blockade say they are environmental activists upset with mining in Nagorno Karabakh, which they say is “illegal.”

Vardanyan declined to speculate on the identity of those protesting but explained the blockade’s impact on residents. In addition to losing access to resources and travel, natural gas was initially shut off “without explanation.”

While access to this energy source has returned, residents are facing ongoing supply issues due to intentional limitations and efforts to conserve resources.

“It’s tough, because it’s winter and without gas and with the limited access to food …. we have already put some limitation for people,” Vardanyan said. “We don’t know how long it can continue. … We have a reserve, we prepared some reserve, but, because it was unclear how long it can go, we said, ‘Let’s put, from the beginning, some limits.’”

Despite the harrowing ordeal for the 120,000 residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, Vardanyan said his people have a strong resolve and a “very strong character.”

He believes the constraints being placed on the people there have made them more unified.

“They have become more unified and closer to each other,” he said. “And I think it was really amazing to see how people, despite all these problems, really found themselves that they are better to live together and to try to fight against these problems.”

Vardanyan also discussed the region’s Armenian roots and the ongoing quest for independence in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“Despite the political system, whatever happened in the past, in the 20th century, 90% of people [who were] living here [were] Armenian,” he said. “And this is very important to understand.”

Vardanyan continued, “Artsakh has a right to keep their own language, their own culture, their own religion. Thirty-four years ago, we got [to] start the fight for independence, and it’s continuing with people who live here. They don’t want to be part of any other country.”

He said the battle between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan is a fight between a democratic country and a non-democratic and autocratic nation.

“In Azerbaijan, everybody knows they don’t have a democratic system, and we all know … they don’t have … human rights,” Vardanyan said, differentiating between the democratic ideals embraced by Nagorno-Karabakh and the restrictive governmental system in Azerbaijan.

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