2020-07-18 18:29
INTERVIEW BY SPOKESPERSON OF THE MFA OF ARMENIA ANNA NAGHDALYAN TO ONLINE NEWSPAPER “LENTA.RU”
Question: As Grad systems, tanks, manpower, and a large number of UAVs are used on the border, can we talk about the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan?

Answer: These hostilities indicate large-scale escalation provoked by Azerbaijan. Targeted shelling of civilian infrastructure and population is a long-used tactic of the Azerbaijani side. We have encountered this over the years; we faced this in April 2016, when Azerbaijan launched a major offensive on the border with Armenia and the line of contact with the Artsakh Defense Army. 

The actions of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces both in April 2016 and in July 2020 are gross violations of international humanitarian law. We have stated on numerous occasions that the language of war threat will not work. Armenia and Artsakh have enough capacity to defend and ensure the comprehensiveness of our joint security system.

Question: Did the Armenian side have any information about the preparing attack before the launch of hostilities?

Answer: Your question is more addressed to the military than to the diplomats. Generally, it can be noted that the Armed Forces of Armenia are always ready to repel any infringement. For my side, I would like to emphasize that there were political premises. 

The escalations were preceded by the attacks and accusations of the President of Azerbaijan addressed to the OSCE Minsk Group mediation format. Moreover, the Azerbaijani leader has recently started to resort to the territorial and historical claims against Armenia, particularly the capital Yerevan, as well as the Zangezur region in the south of Armenia. In his public statements and remarks he again returned to aggressive and warmongering rhetoric, assuring the population of its country of Azerbaijan's ability to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by military means. Most probably at some point, Azerbaijan considered its capabilities match with its well-known intentions, particularly, to demonstrate the ambitions and capacities of the Azerbaijani armed forces to impose their will on Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Question: What is the supposed objective of the adversary?

Answer: Since the current escalation is entirely the result of Azerbaijan’s actions, it is better to ask the representatives of Azerbaijan. We can only guess what Baku intended to achieve by provoking escalations on the border. Most probably, the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan found it possible to demonstrate military superiority over Armenia; however, it strongly overestimated its capacities. Meanwhile, we must not forget that the leadership of Azerbaijan traditionally uses the factor of instability on the border with Armenia as a domestic political instrument. That is, the Armenophobic propaganda carried out by the leadership of Azerbaijan serves as a convenient instrument in the hands of its authorities to consolidate society. 

Hostility actions allow them to divert attention from domestic issues, such as the dictatorial character of the government, widespread corruption, mass violations of all fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Question: How do you assess the reaction of Armenia’s international partners? Some note that it is at least lackluster. 

Answer: The international community, both at the level of countries and international organizations, immediately and definitely responded to the recent events. They unanimously called to cease the hostilities. We highly appreciate the obvious and uncompromised position of our partners, who stand for the unacceptability of military provocations. Nevertheless, several individual countries have resorted to at least destructive rhetoric. In this regard, I would like to highlight the position of Turkey, which not only expressed its unconditional support to Azerbaijan, but also resorted to obvious claims against the South Caucasus, which the Turkish President and other official circles of Turkey tried to justify by referring to Turkey's “historical mission” in our region.

In such a difficult regional situation, we consider it unacceptable to resort to the direct or indirect support to the aggressive and provocative behavior of Azerbaijan, and we express our regret in connection with the statements of this nature. 

It is an imperative that third countries refrain from policies that provoke instability or, anyhow support Azerbaijan based on kinship, or encourage its illusions regarding possibility of the military solution of the conflict.

Question: Azerbaijan officially threatened to attack the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant. How seriously does Yerevan take such a threat, and how can it respond to Baku?

Answer: The Armenian Foreign Ministry has already issued a respective statement. This threat is addressed to all the peoples of the region, including the population of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan must publicly refrain from that threat, and we will be consistent in this issue. 

I would like to emphasize that this threat not only indicates the level of desperation and the crisis of mind of the political-military leadership of Azerbaijan, but also underscore absolute absence of responsibility and sound judgement from this particular member of the international community.

Question: It is noteworthy that this new escalation did not take place in the territory of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Should these actions be conditioned by the conflict?

Answer: The recent escalation should be also viewed in the context of the provocations by Azerbaijan against the Republic of Artsakh. As I already noted above, provocations and military adventurism is the primary method of the regional policy of the Azerbaijani leadership. From our point of view, a provocation on the interstate border and an attempt to seize a defense fortification located on the territory of the Republic of Armenia is a threat to our national security. This should be suppressed by all the capacity the Republic of Armenia poses.

Question:  What are the scenarios of possible further development of the events: will it be military operations, or say, new advancement by Armenia to establish a security zone?

Answer: We have stated on numerous occasions and continue to insist that there is no alternative to the peaceful settlement of the conflict. We hope that after the fiasco of its military adventurism, Azerbaijan will demonstrate responsibility for preserving and strengthening the ceasefire regime. There are concrete proposals for security and confidence-building measures, including an increase in the number of international observers on the ground and their permanent deployment, a direct line of contact, and the introduction of mechanisms to investigate alleged ceasefire violations. The implementation of those proposals can help to avoid further resumption of escalations.

However, Azerbaijan has rejected these investigation mechanisms, the absence of which contributes to both the increase of civilian casualties and groundless accusations towards the Armenian sides. I would like to underscore that the efforts aimed to cessation of hostilities, and unconditional, complete restoration, preservation and strengthening of the ceasefire signed between Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan are imperative.