Karabakh Able To Fight Off Azeri Attack – Karabakh Minister


Ayastani Anrapetutyun, Yerevan,
8 May 04

Text of David Mikaelyan’s report by Armenian newspaper Ayastani
Anrapetutyun 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.

(Ayastani Anrapetutyun 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.