YEREVAN—A meeting between Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev scheduled to take place August 8 or 9 in the southern Russian resort town of Sochi are unlikely to end ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, Armenian defense minister Seyran Ohanian told a press conference Wednesday.
Over recent days, simmering tensions boiled over into the fiercest clashes seen since a ceasefire was agreed to in 1994. At least 25 Azeri and five Armenian soldiers have lost their lives.”
“I think that the Azerbaijani side will try to keep tensions running high until the meeting, and for me it is unlikely that after the meeting Azerbaijan will recommit itself to the observation of the ceasefire,” he said.
Ohanian argued that ahead of important political events, Azerbaijan likes to raise tensions in the conflict zone in Nagorno-Karabakh and along its border with Armenia in an effort to influence international organizations and Armenian society, and also to raise the morale of its armed forces.
The minister noted nevertheless that high-level Armenian-Azerbaijani meetings play a positive role as well.
“Any such meeting creates an opportunity for starting negotiations and dialogue. For all of us it is clear that dialogue is the only way that we can use to give a boost to the political and peaceful solution to the conflict,” he said.
Ohanian said there is no need for peacekeeping forces in the Karabakh conflict zone.
“Karabakh is the only conflict zone in the world where relative peace is maintained through a balance between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, even when we say it is a ‘no war, no peace’ state,” Ohanian told said.
Ohanian went on to say that the probability of a new war in Karabakh is low.
“Incidents may develop into local clashes, but the probability of a large-scale war is low. Anyway, we should be on alert,” the minister told the press conference.
Azerbaijan is in permanent preparations for war, the minister said. Bearing this in mind, Armenia is taking all the required measures, Ohanian added.
“Si vis pacem, para bellum. If you want peace, prepare for war,” the minister said, quoting the Latin adage.
Ohanian explained that Armenian forces have foiled over 20 raid attempts by Azerbaijani troops in the last days.
Last week Azerbaijani troops used their special force units in an attempt to attack Armenian frontline positions and fired at civilian settlements and military posts, the minister said. Azerbaijan’s actions led to losses on both sides.
According to Ohanyan, Azerbaijani military and political leadership overestimated its power and saw, once again, the spirit of the Armenian army.
On Tuesday, Ohanian and Russian Ambassador to Armenia Ivan Volinkin discussed the current situation in the conflict zone, according to the Armenian defense ministry and the Russian embassy’s joint press release.
Expressing concern over the recent escalation of tensions on the contact line and discussing prospects for settling the matter, they stressed the necessity of solving the problem by peaceful means and continuing the negotiation brokered by the OSCE Minsk Group.
Volinkin extended condolences to families of the servicemen killed in the recent military actions.
The saboteurs arrested in the Karvachar region of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic cannot and should not be viewed as captives, Ohanian said. According to Ohanian, they are criminals and it would be wrong to grant them the prisoner-of-war status.
Ohanian added that Armenian authorities believe that the goal of the incursion was to collect information.