BAKU (RFE/RL)–Azerbaijan is closely examining a new military accord signed by Armenia and Russia to determine its conformity with multilateral arms controls treaties, a senior aide to President Ilham Aliyev said on Wednesday.
“The latest agreement signed by Armenia and Russia is an inter-state issue,” Ali Hasanov, the head of the public-political department at Aliyev’s administration, was quoted by Azerbaijani media as telling journalists. “But the security of the South Caucasus and the deployment of conventional and strategic weapons in the region as well as the question of their quantity is not an issue concerning only the two countries.”
Hasanov said the Russian-Armenian pact must not run counter to the 1992 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty that limits the maximum number of troops and military hardware each state in Europe and the former Soviet Union can have. “The weapons deployed by Russia in the South Caucasus must not exceed Armenia’s [arms] quotas,” he said.
“Right now, our specialists as well as OSCE officials dealing with the issue are calculating whether that quota has been breached. After the clarification process is over, the government of Azerbaijan will publicize its position on the issue,” he added, according to the APA news agency.
Hasanov claimed that the Armenian military has already violated CFE quotas by deploying large quantities of weapons in Nagorno-Karabakh, an area effectively not covered by the treaty.
Armenia has repeatedly denied such claims. It has also for years accused Azerbaijan of exceeding arms ceilings set by the OSCE. A top Armenian military official warned in late 2007 that Yerevan could pull out of the CFE if Baku continues its military build-up “in contravention of that treaty.”
Azerbaijan’s reaction to the Russian-Armenian accord has been rather cautious until now. A spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry expressed hope last week that Russia will not use its troops stationed in Armenia against Azerbaijan.
Still, Baku indicated its unease over the development in more explicit terms on Wednesday. “We have now all the grounds to call Armenia a dependent country,” Defense Ministry spokesman Eldar Sabiroglu told APA. “Whether or not Armenia has earned that status voluntarily doesn’t matter. Armenia has thereby fully disgraced itself before the international community.”