Armenia: Verbal ceasefire may not be enough to prevent new hostilities in Karabakh

Photo: Nazik Armenakyan

Despite the current relative calm in the Karabakh conflict zone the situation may escalate into a full-scale war “at any moment”, official Yerevan believes.

A Russian-brokered verbal ceasefire between the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides, which stopped four-day hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh on April 5, may not be enough to prevent fighting “on an even larger scale”, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan warned in an interview with Bloomberg published on Monday.

The situation around Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on Monday was also described as “very fragile” by the Russian president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov. His words were cited by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency.

Senior representatives of France and the United States also discussed the Karabakh issue with the Armenian leadership on Monday.

French Minister of State for European Affairs Harlem Desir, who was paying a visit to Yerevan before traveling to Baku, suggested that OSCE monitors and devices be deployed at the line of contact between the Karabakh and Azerbaijani armed forces.

A statement by the Armenian presidential press service said Desir and Sargsyan agreed that the confidence-building measures are critical for renewed Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly initiated a telephone conversation with President Sargsyan during which he also stressed that a peaceful settlement has no alternative.

While both reportedly attached importance to the role of the OSCE Minsk Group as the only internationally recognized format for the settlement of the conflict, President Sargsyan stressed that “Baku’s irresponsible moves have caused great damage to the peace process.”

In an interview with Bloomberg, Sargsyan made clear that it is “unreasonable” for Armenia to return to peace talks with Azerbaijan without security guarantees because “the situation is entirely different now.” “On the one hand we’d be talking somewhere while, on the other, military officials would be engaging in war here to try to settle the conflict,” he said.

On April 25, the situation around Nagorno-Karabakh also became a subject of discussion at the Armenian National Assembly. A number of opposition lawmakers demanded that Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan and government officials be invited to parliament to testify on measures being taken as well as the efficiency of spending on the army.

Opposition lawmaker Zaruhi Postanjyan suggested that representatives of the Karabakh executive should also be invited to the Armenian parliament.

Ninety-two Armenian servicemen and a number of civilians were killed in the April 2-5 hostilities triggered by Azerbaijan’s aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh. Also, more than 120 servicemen were killed in fighting.