STEPANAKERT (Pan Armenian)–"We are not going to return territories–which serve as a security zone for Nagorno-Karabakh," Karabakh Defense Minister–lieutenant general Seyran Ohanyan stated at a news conference in Stepanakert. Ohanyan remarked that Karabakh exclusively supports a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
"Azerbaijan imposed a war on us and we had to solve the problem by force. Territories controlled by Nagorno-Karabakh are not an end in itself–but serve as security zone," he added.
The defense minister emphasized that the question of territory and deployment of peacekeeping forces will only be considered at the final phase of the settlement–after the core issue–determination of the Nagorno-Karabakh status–is solved. "If there is no decision over the core issue–return of territories is out of question," he said.
Commenting on statemen’s made by the Azeri president regarding a military solution of the conflict and hostilities resuming in the region–the minister stated that the Azeri party does not wish to launch a war. In his opinion–militant rhetoric is aimed at testing public opinion.
He added that the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army has counter measure plans that focus on defense.