Azerbaijan waits for a reason for war: Armenian president
Armenia's President Serzh Sargsyan reviews the guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi June 8, 2012. REUTERS Photo
The Armenian president has accused Azerbaijan of being eager for armed conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, vowing a “disproportionate” response to Baku if a fight is started, speaking to The Wall Street Journal.
“Unfortunately, I believe Azerbaijan is waiting for an occasion to start a conflict,” Serzh Sargsyan said on Nov. 8. “I am confident such a mistake would harm the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia but that the most harm would come to the people of Azerbaijan. … We won’t stand aside when the population of Nagorno-Karabakh is going to be destroyed.”
Sargsyan said the Armenian government would continue to push for a negotiated settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, The Wall Street Journal reported on Nov. 9 on its website. But he also tapped the rising tensions in one of the world’s key energy corridors.
Sargsyan said Armenia would strike Azerbaijan only if Nagorno-Karabakh or Armenia were attacked but vowed that Yerevan’s response would be “disproportionately” strong.
He also warned that the prospect of a military strike against Iran, with which Armenia shares a border, was an issue of “extreme concern” which could set off a sequence of events that could also trigger a conflict between Yerevan and Baku.
He said deeper international engagement in the region was vital to help reduce tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia. “If we had been living in an isolated region where there was no international impact, war would have already begun,” he said. He also blamed Azerbaijan for increasing the hatred against Armenians living in Azerbaijan.
“What is the reason for establishing such a xenophobic atmosphere and hatred against Armenians in Azerbaijan?” Sargsyan said. “It is easier to create such an atmosphere, to encourage hate speech, rather than deal with the consequences of that atmosphere and turn the tide back.”
Armenia-backed separatists seized Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan in a war in the 1990s that left some 30,000 dead, and no final peace deal has been signed since the cease-fire.