Former Defense Minister Warns Of Potential Azerbaijani Aggression


March, 30, 2010

YEREVAN, March 30, /ARKA/. Samvel Babayan, a former defense minister
of Nagorno-Karabakh, warned today of a potential military aggression on
part of Azerbaijan saying Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh must focus their
efforts on building powerful states in order to rebuff Azerbaijan’s
‘impudence’. Speaking at a news conference Samvel Babayan said no
political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is likely in the
next several years.

‘To all appearances Azerbaijan is gearing up for a war, but we all
must work together to prevent it,’ he said.

He was also asked to comment on a recent statement by president
Serzh Sargsyan in an interview with Syrian newspaper Al Watan that
Azerbaijani territory currently held by Armenian forces could be
returned in exchange for security and self-determination for the

"When the people of Karabakh get a true chance to realize their right
to self-determination and mechanisms for security and development are
created, then in compromise the Armenian side can consider the return
of the regions around Karabakh, preserving the corridor linking it
and Armenia," he said, warning that "unilateral concessions will
deepen the existing dangers and threats."

According to Samvel Babayan, Serzh Sargsyan will not make such
concessions and his statements in the interview should be reviewed
in the political context only.

‘Azerbaijan is not talking about concessions but demands the immediate
return of the territories and when a party to the conflict comes
with such demands it is meaningless to talk about concessions,’ he
said. He then downplayed speculations that the mounting tension around
the conflict may prompt a change of power in Armenia as was in 1998.

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh broke out in 1988 after the
predominantly Armenian-populated enclave declared about secession
from Azerbaijan As Azerbaijan declared its independence from the
Soviet Union and removed the powers held by the enclave’s government,
the Armenian majority voted in 1991, December 10, to secede from
Azerbaijan and in the process proclaimed the enclave the Republic
of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Full-scale fighting, initiated by Azerbaijan, erupted in the late
winter of 1992. International mediation by several groups including
Europe’s OSCE’s failed to bring an end resolution that both sides
could work with. In the spring of 1993, Armenian forces captured
regions outside the enclave itself. By the end of the war in 1994,
the Armenians were in full control of most of the enclave and also
held and currently control seven regions beyond the administrative
borders of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Almost 1 million people on both sides have been displaced as a result
of the conflict. A Russian- -brokered ceasefire was signed in May
1994 and peace talks, mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, have been
held ever since by Armenia and Azerbaijan.

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