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Monday, March 12, 2018

Arayik Harutyunyan: Over population hangs the threat of physical extermination

“Even if new generation has no previous fear, because they do not see a shameful defeat in the 90s, it does not mean that it does not afraid,” – said the newspaper VIEW, the Prime Minister of the self declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arayik Harutyunyan, commenting on the possibility of hostilities with Azerbaijan. However, he did not support the idea of the emergence in the region of peacekeepers from Russia.

On Monday the President of Russia Vladimir Putin will hold separate meetings with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev, after which they will be held a trilateral meeting on Karabakh. “Of course, our side will be made an active attempt to assist the parties in resolving the conflict. We have already played, I would even say a crucial role in the cessation of hostilities that occurred, – said the Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov. Now we are ready to continue its mediation mission, of course, in full cooperation with other States co-chairing the OSCE Minsk group and based on the principles outlined in the joint statement of presidents of Russia, USA and France in the period from 2009 to 2013. Our party will pursue the most interested and active negotiations.”

“They went to such a step in order to reduce the probability of our attacks, and in the case of shock – affected settlements as a propaganda chips”

Shortly before their beginning Ilham Aliyev stated that the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must find its early decision” and “if someone believes that we will continue meaningless talks, and in the next twenty years, he is mistaken.” “We will not negotiate for the sake of imitation. Immediately, unconditionally must begin meaningful and substantive negotiations. In this case, it can approach a peaceful solution. To achieve this, Armenia should abandon its aggressive policy and to liberate our lands, he said.

It is obvious that at a time when the fighting in the breakaway Republic began to decline, the diplomatic struggle over Karabakh, on the contrary, increased. At the beginning of may in Yerevan stated that it did not exclude recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, “should Azerbaijan unleash a new war in the region. The Armenian government even considered a bill On recognition of Artsakh” (Artsakh is the self of the unrecognized Republic) and sent it to Parliament. However, the Parliament the question was postponed indefinitely. The MP of the Armenian national Assembly from the ruling Republican party Lernik Alexanyan gave to understand that at the talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan will have to raise the question of the return of lands lost by the Armenian side during the fighting, 2-5 April (this is the territory of 800 hectares, in particular the height of Leletepe in Horadiz). However, in Baku want to discuss only the question of when Armenia will liberate the Azerbaijani areas – first, those that are adjacent to Karabakh.

What position takes the Stepanakert in an interview with the newspaper LOOK told the head of the government of NKR Arayik Harutyunyan.

OPINION: Arayik Vladimirovich, recently you said that, “judging by the situation analysis”, a new large-scale hostilities in the conflict zone will not. Do you have fears that vigilance among the military and citizens after such a Declaration of decline?

Causes and history of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh (click to enlarge)Arayik Harutyunyan: since may 12, 1994, after the signing of the ceasefire agreement between Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Azerbaijan with Russia’s mediation, vigilance in Karabakh never decreased, as the Azerbaijani side for 22 years, many times proved that trying to resolve the Karabakh issue through military aggression. That is, despite the efforts of the OSCE Minsk group aimed at exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict, Azerbaijan has always demonstrated a destructive attitude by the failure of the negotiation process, and through periodic escalation of tensions on the contact line. That took place in April, I believe, leaves no doubt as to the true intentions of the Azerbaijani authorities.

All this, of course, does not allow to weaken the vigilance of the people of Artsakh, as constantly hangs the threat of physical extermination by the enemy. As for my statement, it only applies to involving volunteers in the army that affect the activity of our economy. But their return to civilian life does not mean sacrificing vigilance on the front lines, as vigilance is caused not only by the number of our posts. My predictions are relatively calm situation in the first place is due to painful retaliation inflicted on the enemy defense Army of Artsakh during the four days of the April war, the readiness of our army and increase alertness, as well as the active mediation of the work of the co-chairing countries.

OPINION: IN the same TV program, you said that the combat readiness of Armenian troops remains very high” that the combat spirit of the Armenian soldier is much higher than that of the enemy. But how would you assess the claims of some, not only Baku, but Moskovskij experts that in Azerbaijan significantly decreased fear of Armenian army, reigned there after the defeat of 1993-94?

AA: In General, we never underestimated our enemy. On the basis of available information and tests we’re always trying to assess its strengths and weaknesses. I don’t share your opinion is noted, since any kind of conclusion needs to be substantiated with concrete facts. In July-August 2014 and thereafter, especially during the four days of the April war, we saw the special sabotage and reconnaissance groups, past military training in the Turkish army was defeated 18-20 year-old guys from our army.

In addition, according to our reliable sources, in some areas there were cases when Azerbaijanis fired on his soldiers, when they tried to escape or retreat under the onslaught of our army. At the same time, the Karabakh army in cases of self-sacrifice and bravery made up a significant percentage of the stories of the death of the personnel. Thanks to these and other factors, even neutral international experts indicate that the number of dead and wounded in Azerbaijan these days is several times higher than the number of casualties in Karabakh.

I believe, correctly analyzing these events, it is easy to understand the following reality: even if they are a new generation no longer had fear, because they do not see a shameful defeat in the 90s, it does not mean that it is not afraid, and the Azerbaijani army can compare with our army from the point of view of psychological and combat readiness. So my point in this regard is reasonable and solid.

OPINION: IN early may, you expressed confidence that Yerevan officially recognize Nagorno-Karabakh, but this process can take years. If the recognition takes place, is it possible to predict the referendum in Nagorno Karabakh about the accession of the Republic of Armenia? Or, in your opinion, it is inadvisable as it can cause disputes within the CSTO?

A. A.: the Recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic is no alternative. On the basis of international law on self-determination of Nations, must resolve the question of Karabakh’s status, and it is an independent Republic. And we are certainly advocate the recognition of Karabakh by Armenia, but at the same time understand that there are factors, including those arising from the peacekeeping process, to be reckoned with.

The best option is the international recognition of the NKR in the framework of the settlement of the conflict with Azerbaijan. But, given the obvious non-constructive, anti-Armenian and militaristic policy of Baku, now we should not condition the process of recognition solely by negotiations to resolve the conflict, since the recognition itself will lead to the normalization and NKR will provide for additional security guarantees.

The message of the Armenian authorities in this connection clearly: in the case that Azerbaijan will abandon the negotiation process and attempts to resolve the conflict through military aggression, Yerevan will recognize independence of Karabakh. As for our next steps as part of the membership in the RA, in this case it will be decided by our people, and, convinced that, regardless of external circumstances.

OPINION: Nagorno Karabakh is currently a de facto not represented in the negotiation process, your Republic is invariably required to restore the tripartite format of the negotiations. Yerevan has constantly said: it is a conflict between Baku and Stepanakert, but it does not recognize the NKR. It turns out that from a formal point of view for your Yerevan Republic remains part of Azerbaijan, although it sounds largely paradoxical.

AA: Yes, we require a recovery format full participation of the NKR in the negotiation process, do not agree with anything Azerbaijan. And constructive approach from his side in this matter is constantly delaying the final settlement of the Karabakh conflict. Without the direct and full participation of the Karabakh party cannot be reached any success, as is addressed directly the issue of Karabakh and Karabakh people must consent to the final settlement of the conflict.

I don’t see any legal contradictions in what you say, because the de facto status more important. In fact, the Republic of Armenia has a direct and equal relationship with the official Stepanakert, which is characteristic for two subjects of international law. In addition, because Yerevan has not recognized Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory.

OPINION: according to unofficial reports, a so-called “Lavrov plan” provides for the abolition of the economic blockade of Armenia and Karabakh peacekeepers in exchange for the liberation of five Azerbaijani districts. Your President Bako Sahakyan recently demanded an end to “groundless talk”, saying that no surrender of lands in Karabakh will not. Why, in your opinion, neither Russian nor other peacekeepers are not able to guarantee safety for the inhabitants of the Republic in the case that you will refund Baku five of the seven areas?

AA: since the Karabakh side has not accepted participation in the negotiation process as a full party to, any plan or suggestion, as I said, doomed to failure. We have not discussed any plan, so it would be wrong to draw any conclusions or opinions. Distribution in this context, the informal version, as stated by the President of NKR, can be a cause for speculation. This equally applies to the deployment of peacekeeping forces to the region. Today, the real and the only guarantor of security of Karabakh population is the NKR defense Army, which provides a peaceful activity and restrains the warlike aggression of Azerbaijan.

OPINION: a Group of Moscow journalists of the Internet publication “Kavpolit” at the end of April called for the Azerbaijani Terter district and captured the traces of shelling. The blows fell and peaceful home, and it happened after 5 April. Is it possible to avoid such episodes during the artillery duel, to avoid civilian casualties if you fire from the Armenian side?

AA: Russian and other media had the opportunity to work in Karabakh during the April four-day war, and after it. They witnessed how the Azerbaijani side targeted elected Armenian peace settlements. Of course, it is a war crime, which, unfortunately, still not given yet a corresponding assessment by the international community.

Unlike Azerbaijan, our defense forces never purposefully didn’t fire at peaceful settlements. On the contrary, we have repeatedly declared, moreover, published the photographs, indicating that the Azerbaijani side had placed his artillery in peace settlements with the aim to expose the shelling of Karabakh settlements and positions. Of course, in the result, the response of these settlements fall into the risk zone. I am convinced that they went to such a step in order to reduce the probability of our attacks, and in the case of strikes – to use the affected settlements, as campaign “chips”. This is a gross violation of international humanitarian law, as well as crime and immorality in relation to their own companies.

VIEW: You have already published a preliminary assessment of damage from the April war. Do you have the calculations, how soon the national economy of the Republic will be able to recover? By what industries? Will the government sustain the level of social obligations?

AA: If the direct damage caused to the economy, today it is possible to define, for the calculation of indirect damage will need a lot of time. Hence, today it will be difficult to predict when we will be able to restore the level of economy in the Republic. But the priority directions envisaged by the government in 2008, continue to be mining, agriculture, hydropower and tourism. By developing these industries we intend to maintain the pace of development of the economy. I am sure that in the rapid recovery and investment we will also help our Diaspora.

With regard to the social obligations of the government, they generally will be supported, as our income can afford it.

OPINION: in recent years You put one of the main tasks of the development of tourism from abroad. In your opinion, the flow of tourists will now be able to recover?

AA: First of all, I would say that the tourist places of Karabakh are far from the border zone, and they are very safe. Well aware of all the tourists who frequently visit Karabakh. Of course, after the cessation of active hostilities for some time, the tourists usually afraid to visit the above mentioned site. This circumstance, including conditional and indirect damages to our economy. However, I think it will not last long, as Karabakh, its nature and sights is considered a miracle of the Caucasus and it is impossible not to visit it.

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