YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—Yerevan will recognize the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic if Baku breaks from peace talks and resumes military activities, the Armenian President’s spokesperson said Monday in a written statement.
“Should the peace talks suspend and military actions start, nothing will prevent Armenia from recognizing the independence of Nagorno Karabakh,” Presidential press secretary Samvel Farmanyan told the Armenpress news agency.
Farmanyan’s remarks came a day after Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian met with his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev for scheduled talks in Munich. International mediators from the OSCE Minsk Group gave a mixed assessment of the sixth face-to-face encounter this year between the leaders, saying that they made progress on some issues but failed to agree on others.
Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev met in Munich for their sixth face-to-face encounter this year amid lingering international hopes for a near-term solution to the Karabakh conflict. They left the four-hour meeting, partly attended by the American, French and Russian mediators, at the French General Consul’s residence there without talking to reporters.
Ahead of the Munich talks, Aliyev said that their failure to produce results would leave Azerbaijan with no choice but to try to solve the conflict by force. “Azerbaijan is spending billions on buying new weapons, hardware, strengthening its position on the line of contact,” Aliyev said in comments broadcast on Saturday. “We have the full right to liberate our land by military means.”
Farmanyan condemned Aliyev’s bellicose rhetoric, saying his remarks “testify to Azerbaijan’s unconstructive stance” in the negotiations.
“Armenia has always declared it sees no alternative to a peaceful settlement” to the Karabakh conflict, he said. “Armenia does believe that it is possible to reach the peaceful and comprehensive resolution of the issue through peace talks.”
The outbreak of tension around the Karabakh conflict “would certainly be the most unwanted outcome,” Farmanyan cautioned. “It will be the most undesirable development for Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia and the whole region.”
Although Armenia seeks peace, Farmanyan added, it “cannot stay indifferent to the fate of the people of Nagorno Karabakh. That is why the President of Armenia and other officials have declared on different occasions that we are responsible for the security of the people of Nagorno Karabakh,” he said. “There are options, and I’m confident that Armenia will use those options separately or altogether,” Farmanyan said, adding that Armenia has not recognized Karabakh’s independence in order “not to hinder the peace talks.”
“Let’s suppose that the Republic of Armenia recognizes the independence of Nagorno Karabakh with all the ensuing consequences. Secondly, the Republic of Armenia might sign a cooperation agreement with the Nagorno Karabakh Republic,” he said.
In his statement, Farmanyan also denied recent reports in Azeri media that the talks in Munich included discussions on the transfer to Azerbaijan of the liberated territory of Kelbajar, which links Armenia and Karabakh. The reports speculated that the two sides agreed to transfer the territory to Azerbaijan by year end to open the way for Turkey to ratify agreements with Armenia to normalize relations.
“In Armenia we have already gotten used to the fact that following every meeting between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, well-informed forces report about non-existent discussions and agreements. It’s simple misinformation and has nothing to do with reality,” Farmanyan said. “The question [of Kelbajar] is not for discussion. Therefore, such an agreement is impossible. It has been repeatedly stated that the issue of the status of Karabakh lies at the core of the talks. Other issues are secondary.”