On Friday, the Armenian Apostolic Church encouraged residents in Nagorno-Karabakh to “remain firm” expressing support for the region.
During a Christmas mass, Catholicos Garegin II, the Supreme head of Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan, threw support behind Karabakh Armenians in the war-torn region, Azatutyun reported.
“Dear people of Artsakh, the thoughts and gazes of our people these days are mainly directed towards you,” said Garegin. “You have never given up and never backed down in the face of difficulties. Today as well you continue to fight heroically for your free and independent life, for the sake of restoration of historical justice.”
Արդեն գրեթե մեկ ամիս շրջափակման մեջ գտնվող Արցախում Սուրբ պատարագ է մատուցվել: Ըստ Վարդանյանի հրապարակած լուսանկարի՝ նախկին ու ներկա պաշտոնյաները պատարագին միասին են մասնակցել:https://t.co/vP9bHCHzAp pic.twitter.com/mgmoGSQHgu
— Ազատություն (@azatutyunradio) January 6, 2023
“Following the glorious example of your brave ancestors, remain firm and unshaken in your determination to live and create in your native land. Our Holy Church with its worldwide dioceses is with you, assisting and supporting you,” Garegin continued.
The annual liturgy was boycotted by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and other government officials.
Head of the church’s Karabakh diocese Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamian echoed Garegin’s sentiment when addressing attendees at Stepanakert’s Holy Mother of God Cathedral. Abrahamian encouraged Karabakh Armenians not to fall into despair following shortages of food and other essential items from December’s blockade by Azerbaijan forces.
“Remember how the people of Israel ate the same food for 40 years in the wilderness,” Abrahamian said in a read out during a Christmas mass at the cathedral.
Earlier this week, Krabakh authorities supplied local food stores with essentials including oil, sugar, rice, and salt from strategic reserves, though shops have since run out of stock.
On Thursday, Karabakh premier Ruben Vardanyan said Armenian authorities were preparing for an elongated blockade vowing Armenian forces would not cede to Azerbaijanis.
Armenia has been been under blockade by Azerbaijani forces since Dec. 12 — preventing Armenia from receiving vital supplies from the sole road connecting the country and Karabakh.