YEREVAN—The arms race unleashed by Azerbaijan should be cause for concern for the entire region’s security prospects, said President Serzh Sarkisian Thursday, during his welcoming remarks to the participants of a conference entitled, “Regional Security Dynamics in the South Caucasus.”
“The arms race unleashed by Azerbaijan, which exponentially exceed the ceilings set by the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), is cause for concern not only for Armenia and the region but also on a larger scale from the perspective of regional security,” said Sarkisian. “Under these conditions, Armenia is forced to focus greater attention on modernizing its military system as a key factor in containing the belligerent ambitions and ensuring stability in the region.”
Sarkisian said the complex and difficult geopolitical developments in the South Caucasus creates opportunities and challenges for the region’s nations, as they attract international interest and foster competition in the area.
“The critical challenges facing the region are the unresolved conflicts which need comprehensive and final solutions. On many occasions, we have reiterated our solid will that the existing conflicts can be resolved only through peaceful negotiations on the basis of fundamental principles of international law,” said Sarkisian who added that the OSCE Minsk Group is the only platform for conflict resolution that is acceptable to Armenia.
He said that lasting peace in the Karabakh conflict can be attained only if the physical security and self-determination of the population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is guaranteed.
“We are confident that open borders and the implementation of common economic programs can become the best incentive for the mutual understanding and consequently will create an environment of trust resolving problems,” explained Sarkisian, warning that efforts to create schism between regional states “will inevitably lead to the instability and development of distrust in the entire South Caucasus.”
Sarkisian also said that Armenia initiated the rapprochement process with Turkey based on the ideal of neighborly cooperation. He added that while Armenia remains true to the principles of the process, political will from Turkey is needed for its success.
Sarkisian also discussed the role energy resources play in development of the region, but warned that new energy projects must not be used to upset the “equilibrium” of the region.
“Such policies are not only a threat to the security of individual states in the region, but also may seriously endanger the uninterrupted functioning of the transit routes of energy sources. We shouldn’t allow the Southern Energy Corridor to become a source for feeding a new war. That is not good for the region and for the oil and gas companies,” added Sarkisian.