YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A top Armenian security official on Friday dismissed speculation that a new war with Azerbaijan is imminent after Azerbaijani forces last week attacked an outpost in Nagorno-Karabakh, sparking deadly fighting that claimed the lives of four Armenian soldiers.
The clash, which Yerevan says resulted from an Azerbaijani attack on Karabakh Armenian army positions, underlined the shaky state of a ceasefire that has kept the Karabakh conflict essentially frozen for the past 16 years.
“We are now prepared for any scenario, but do not support artificial rumors circulating in our society that war is imminent,” said Artur Baghdasarian, the secretary of President Serzh Sarkisian’s National Security Council. “On the contrary, I condemn such statements.”
“We must realize that we live in a difficult region and have an unresolved crisis which means that as long as this period of relative peace lasts our armed forces must be ready to repel any military aggression,” Baghdasarian told a news conference. He insisted that the armed forces of Armenia and Karabakh are “sufficiently combat-ready” to fight back a possible Azerbaijani offensive.
Echoing a statement by Sarkisian, Baghdasarian said the incident will not influence Armenia’s position in peace negotiations with Azerbaijan. “Armenia is committed to continuing peace negotiations, and we believe that we must not succumb to various provocations or organized sabotage actions,” he said.
Like the Armenian president, Baghdasarian also made clear that Yerevan will not drop its insistence on a peaceful settlement that would preclude Karabakh’s return under Azerbaijani rule and give the disputed enclave a reliable overland link with Armenia proper. The Armenian side will also continue to seek international “security guarantees” for Karabakh, he added.