AzerNews Weekly, Azerbaijan
Dec 17 2009
Armenia defense chief downplays Azerbaijan’s calls to war
Armenian Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian has claimed Azerbaijan’s
warnings about launching a war are not serious.
`The one who wants to wage a war does not state this beforehand, and
Azerbaijan’s calls to war don’t mean anything,’ he alleged.
Ohanian went as far as trying to convince the Armenian public that
Azerbaijan is not ready for military action.
`But we, as military men, have to be ready for war any moment. If
Azerbaijan launches a war, I assure you that we will not only
counter-strike but, if necessary, do even more,’ the Armenian defense
In another astounding statement, Ohanian said that if hostilities
erupt, Yerevan relies on assistance of the Collective Security Treaty
Organization (CSTO), the military arm of CIS.
`We are a member of the CSTO, while Azerbaijan is not. Under the
union’s agreement, if military operations are waged against Armenia,
the CSTO has a duty to help our country.’
Yerevan is apparently perturbed by Azerbaijan’s warnings that it could
resort to a military settlement of the Upper (Nagorno) Garabagh
conflict. President Ilham Aliyev said prior to the November 22 talks
with his Armenian counterpart, Serzh Sarkisian, in Munich, that if the
negotiations failed to yield results, Azerbaijan could move to regain
its occupied territories by force. These concerns have prompted the
Armenian defense minister’s appeal to citizens and stepping up efforts
to present the country’s military as powerful.
Armenian Parliament Speaker Ovik Abramian recently made a similar
statement in a meeting with a parliamentary delegation of the
so-called `Upper Garabagh Republic.’ He said Armenia was in favor of a
peaceful conflict settlement and does not want war. `But I assure you
that they can’t intimidate us by war.’
A fragile ceasefire has been in place in the region since a brutal war
in the 1990s that claimed some 30,000 lives and displaced about one
million Azerbaijanis from their homes. Armenia continues to occupy
Upper Garabagh and seven adjacent Azerbaijani districts in defiance of
international law. The ceasefire accord was signed in 1994, but the
OSCE-brokered peace talks have been fruitless so far. Azerbaijan has
never ruled out military action to liberate its land and has spent
billions on dollars on building up its military.*