Defining Occupation: Sargsyan says Karabakh Armenians rectify Stalin-era annexation to Azerbaijan

While no direct negotiations on the Karabakh settlement have been held during President Serzh Sargsyan’s ongoing trip to the United States, the issue appears to be invisibly present during his various meetings.

No tete-a-tete talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders were planned in Washington DC despite the fact that both Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev are visiting, upon U.S. President Barack Obama’s invitation, to attend the Nuclear Security Summit.

Meanwhile, U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick has already met with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, who is on the Sargsyan-led delegation.

At the same time, Azeri President Aliyev met in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It is noteworthy that the U.S. secretary of state reminded the Azeri leader that the final status of Karabakh should be determined in peace negotiations. He expressed concern over the continuing escalation in the conflict zone.

And on March 31, Armenian President Sargsyan met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. The issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement was also reportedly addressed during the meeting.

Meanwhile, it is during the days of Sargsyan’s visit to the United States that the American state of Hawaii formally recognized the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. This is the seventh U.S. state to have recognized the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

President Sargsyan held meetings in Massachusetts, visiting both Armenian structures, and large educational institutions of the state. During a lecture at a Harvard school Sargsyan made an interesting statement about Karabakh.

He described as occupation Karabakh’s annexation to Azerbaijan in 1921, stating that then Joseph Stalin simply willfully decided to give Karabakh to Azerbaijan. “What is it, if not occupation?” he said. “In 1991, liberation from occupation took place. Consequently, today’s Nagorno-Karabakh has nothing to do with the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.”

The Armenian leader accused Baku of lacking the desire to make compromises in the negotiations. “As a concession they perceive rejection of military force, but it is not a concession, but a requirement of international law,” Sargsyan emphasized.

Meanwhile, the situation in the Karabakh conflict zone and at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border continues to remain tense.

Reports suggest continuing shooting from the Azerbaijani side and damage incurred by the Armenian side.