Karabakh Able to Fight Off Azeri Attack – NKR DM

KARABAKH ABLE TO FIGHT OFF AZERI ATTACK – NKR Defense Minister

Hayastani Hanrapetutyun, Yerevan
8 May 04

Text of David Mikaelyan’s report by Armenian newspaper Hayastani
Hanrapetutyunni on 8 May headlined “‘If the army and society are
united, they are invincible,’ Seyran Oganyan says”

This is an interview with the defence minister of the Nagornyy
Karabakh Republic, Seyran Oganyan.

(Hayastani Hanrapetutyun correspondent) Mr Minister, the Azerbaijani
press often touches on the situation on the Armenian-Azerbaijani
border and says that the Azerbaijanis are holding commanding positions
and making progress in those sectors of the border that are controlled
by the Artsakh (Karabakh) defence forces. Are these rumours true? And
what is the situation today?

(Seyran Oganyan) Since the 1994 armistice, i.e. over the past 10
years, no serious change of positions has taken place on the
Armenian-Azerbaijani border. First of all, I mean the contact line
with the enemy. I should say that our forces always control the
situation, and any attempt to violate the border is foiled. Until 1996
there were frequent active exchanges of fire on the border. Sometimes
there were even incursions by sabotage and reconnaissance groups. In
1996-2000, these incursions almost ended while positional exchanges of
fire continued. In recent years there has been certain activity by
sabotage groups. But they have always been defeated. The rumours
disseminated by the Azerbaijani mass media that the enemy (Azerbaijan)
has infiltrated our territory in some cases and that as a result of
their “progress”, they have taken the commanding positions are an
absolute lie. Naturally, this propaganda aims to carry out
psychological attacks and terrorize the peaceful population, to cause
a feeling of fear, hopelessness and panic among the people. But this
is doomed to failure.

(Correspondent) To what decree is a resumption of hostilities
possible?

(Oganyan) On the whole, the war can resume at any time. For this
reason, we should always be ready and on alert. But I do not think
that today Azerbaijan is ready to start the hostilities, especially as
we manage to maintain the correlation of forces. The process of army
build-up, in particular, the fulfilment of strategic programmes (the
strengthening of defence structures, positions, the renewal of modern
military equipment, measures directed at raising the fighting spirit
of soldiers, etc.) give us an opportunity to take realities into
account and at the same time, to analyse and assess the situation
soberly. I repeat once again that the fighting efficiency of the army
is on such a level that not only can we defend ourselves, we can also
carry out a counter-strike at the enemy. In recent years we have
carried out great work in the sphere of strengthening the link between
the army and the people. And if the army and society are united, they
are invincible.

(Correspondent) Representatives of the so-called “Karabakh Liberation
Organization” in Baku have been more active of late. They call for “a
peace march” to Shushi (Susa) on 9 May. Do you think that such
statements are serious?

(Oganyan) As is known, we are at war at the moment and war has its own
rules. We have a state border and they should have a visa for
crossing it. It is difficult to guess how they will manage to get this
right. If they have bellicose purposes, they will naturally get a
relevant response from our side.

(Correspondent) It is no secret that regular supplies play a decisive
role in the army. How do you settle the commanders’ problems and renew
the staff of officers?

(Oganyan) An army cannot be organized in one day and all problems
cannot be settled immediately. It is no secret that the staff of
officers is reinforced by people of different professions. Most of
them had participated in the war and had gained experience. But within
the framework of the personnel policy, we have been sending our boys
for higher education in military institutions of Armenia and other
countries since 1995. This process is continuing today and according
to an agreement, the staff of officers and commanders is reinforced by
relevant personnel. The state is taking care of improving social
conditions for its officers and their families.

(Correspondent) Mr Minister, what did the 10 years of the armistice
give us?

(Oganyan) First, I should emphasize that the armistice was a result of
the efforts of the whole Armenian nation. It gave us an opportunity to
switch to a peaceful life after long-lasting suffering, to seriously
deal with army build-up, to restore the economy, to gradually
strengthen the army, and to ensure the security of our country and
people. Unfortunately, it is impossible to restore spiritual values
and human losses. One should not forget that we are in a so-called
relative war. And the situation “neither peace nor war” compels us to
be on alert all the time.

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