BAKU: Azeri MP, spokesman scoff at Armenian minister’s remarks onmil

Azeri MP, spokesman scoff at Armenian minister’s remarks on military might

Ekho, Baku
16 Feb 05

Azerbaijan has not resorted to force to resolve the dispute over
Nagornyy Karabakh since it has assumed committments to the Council
of Europe to settle conflicts peacefully, Azerbaijani MP retired
Lt-Gen Vladimir Timosenko has said. But Azerbaijanis are not going
to reconcile themselves to the occupation of their lands, the MP said
commenting on Armenian Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisyan’s statement
that the Azerbaijani army is not combat-capable. In his comment, the
Azerbaijani Defence Ministry spokesman argued that Armenia was lagging
behind Azerbaijan both in military and economic terms. Ramiz Malikov
also accused Armenia of undermining peace efforts. The following is
the text of R. Orucov’s report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho on
16 February headlined “The Armenian defence minister believes his
army is stronger than Azerbaijan’s” and subheaded “Serzh Sarkisyan’s
statements are called a lie in our country”; subheadings have been
inserted editorially:

Armenian Defence Minister Serzh Sarkisyan gave an on-line press
conference posted on the site of the Dashnak newspaper Yerkir
yesterday. Some of his answers to the questions require separate

“Wrong policy”

Commenting on the Council of Europe’s stance on the Nagornyy
Karabakh problem, Sarkisyan acknowledged that “the resolution of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE] on Nagornyy
Karabakh does not take into account the interests of Armenia”, but
added that he does not see any tragedy in it.

The Armenian minister believes that Karabakh was subjected to
aggression from Azerbaijan. “The principles in [PACE rapporteur on
Nagornyy Karabakh David] Atkinson’s report are correct. Our task is to
convince the European entities that these principles are acceptable to
us and harmful to Azerbaijan. At the start of the Karabakh movement we
proved to the world that our movement is democratic and fair. The new
generation of European politicians either do not remember or do not
know the history and origin of the Karabakh conflict. We are facing
the challenge of explaining the gist of the issue to them.”

The head of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE, Samad Seyidov, told
Ekho that Sarkisyan’s statements show that he perceives the resolution
in a totally wrong way.

“Sarkisyan acknowledges that this resolution meets objective
parameters. But he is wrong to say that it is not in Armenia’s
interests. The resolution is in the interests of Armenia, because it is
in the interests of Armenia to liberate the occupied territories and
admit that it is an aggressor and has invaded another country. The
sooner Armenia realizes this, the better for the Armenian people,
who, like any other nation, want to live in peace.

“Unfortunately, Sarkisyan’s statement again illustrates that Armenian
leaders cannot accept the objective reality. It is impossible to
overturn those values that have been accepted in Europe for quite a
long time. In other words, one cannot occupy the territory of another
state and pretend to be a victim, one cannot keep on saying that
nothing happened after conducting ethnic cleansing and one cannot
annex the territory of a neighbouring country and try to look for
legal grounds to justify this step. This illustrates that the Council
of Europe resolution has not been fully understood in Armenia so
far. Because the main idea of the resolution resides not in the lapses
of Armenian diplomacy (there are, by the way, quite a few of them),
but in the fact that Armenia as a state has a wrong policy.”

Armenia undermines peace efforts

Sarkisyan told the press conference that “calls for a military solution
to the conflict have been heard in Azerbaijan since [late Azerbaijani
President Heydar] Aliyev rejected the Key West principles”. The
minister believes that such militarist statements by the Azerbaijani
side “are meant both for internal and external use: internally in
order to raise the spirit and externally as a blackmailing tool. Such
statements have made some people in Azerbaijan believe that their
army is really capable of resolving the Karabakh issue militarily.
However, I strongly believe that the Azerbaijani army is not in a
position to do so. Otherwise, I can assure you, they would not be
asking for permission.”

“These are the statements of the enemy,” the head of the press
service of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry, Ramiz Malikov, told Ekho
commenting on this part of the press conference.

“But Sarkisyan is profoundly mistaken. Not only the armed forces of
Armenia, but also the country itself is now losing to Azerbaijan and
its armed forces on all parameters. Actually, the Armenian economy is
really in a bad state and is being ruled from outside. This country
has been marginalized from all regional economic projects, while the
Azerbaijani economy is developing rapidly. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
[main oil export pipeline] will be built this year and the
Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas project will start working soon. Azerbaijan
fares better than Armenia in other economic areas, too. Since the
strengthening and developing of the armed forces of any country
depend on the economy, we can say that the Azerbaijani army is twice
as strong as the Armenian army.

“As for the situation back in 1992, the armed forces were not at
the right level unlike the Armenian armed forces. They had been
preparing for this war, but Azerbaijan got enmeshed in it. Azerbaijan
had failed to respond appropriately at the time also due to internal
political dissent.

“But all these problems have now been left behind. We would like
to reiterate that Sarkisyan should not deceive himself with any
grand ideas. Any occupation is doomed to end, as the examples of
Napoleon and Hitler show. Sarkisyan is distorting facts by saying
that Azerbaijan is calling for war. It is Azerbaijan that calls for
a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Our leadership is faithful to
this idea today, while Armenia, which was recognized by the Council of
Europe as an occupying country, undermines efforts to find a peaceful
solution and takes a destructive position.”

Committed not to use force

A member of the parliamentary commission for defence and security,
air defence Lt-Gen Vladimir Timosenko, also commented on Sarkisyan’s

“By offering alternative ways of resolving the conflict to the world,
we proceed from the reality of the state of our combat readiness. Both
Azerbaijan and Armenia assumed commitments not to use force in
resolving conflicts when they joined the Council of Europe. This is
the first factor that deters us.

“Secondly, diplomatic means have not been fully exhausted so
far. Moreover, European entities have now joined in the process. They
have called Armenia an aggressor for the first time in many years. And
we are making it clear for the world to understand that our patience
is about to end and we have the right to start military operations on
our territory in order to liberate it without violating international
law and the UN resolution in particular. We are making it clear to
our own people and enemy that we will never accept the status quo.”