Long-Range War: Armenia, Karabakh harden positions after Azeri aggression

Photo: Nazik Armenakyan /ArmeniaNow.com

A long-range war is continuing in Nagorno-Karabakh as both sides fire at each other’s military positions from heavy guns and rocket launchers. The Armenian side claims it has to defend itself and lays down conditions for the resumption of negotiations with Azerbaijan.

The four-day war in April with its brutalities against Armenian civilians and soldiers, some of whose bodies were decapitated and mocked at, has led the Armenian side to changing its approaches to the Karabakh settlement.

While earlier Armenia and Karabakh expressed their willingness to conduct negotiations and reach compromises, then now they put forward the only condition for the resumption of negotiations – conclusion of a certain agreement to waive the use of force and provide security guarantees.

After the meeting of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia’s (RPA) executive body chaired by the party’s leader, President Serzh Sargsyan, RPA spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said that the Armenian leader had put forward three conditions for the resumption of talks: the introduction of mechanisms to investigate border (line of contact) incidents, addressed statements as well as guarantees that Azerbaijan will not commit a new aggression and terrorist acts against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

BAko-SahakyanThe Karabakh leaders have made about the same statements. First, presidential spokesman David Babayan said that the negotiations will have to be started from scratch, and the mediators need to introduce measures for investigating line of contact incidents as soon as possible. Later, President Bako Sahakyan himself called for an end to “empty talk” about possible concessions of land. Earlier proposals implied an Armenian withdrawal from certain territories around Nagorno-Karabakh.

Sahakyan said that currently he sees no possibility of the negotiation process. “What Azerbaijan allowed itself to do in no way indicates that in the near future we will return to the negotiating table,” he concluded.

The Karabakh leader noted that the barbaric actions of Azerbaijani have forced Karabakh to resort to countermeasures, in particular, to protect its capital.

“I have ordered to deploy at firing positions our anti-aircraft missile systems, multiple rocket launchers and missile systems,” Sahakyan stated, answering the question about how real the threat of Azerbaijan regarding possible bombardments of Stepanakert are.

“The killing of a 12-year-old boy near his school, the decapitation of the bodies of our men, the killings of our 90-year-old parents in their houses, other atrocities [of Azerbaijan] show that they [Azeris] once again came to behead us and desecrate the graves of our ancestors, rape our women and children,” the leader of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic said.

Sahakyan stressed that the international community should give a more accurate assessment to the actions of Azerbaijan, as it is also a threat to the international community.

Experts are skeptical that it will be possible to force Azerbaijan to sign an agreement on nonuse of force anytime soon. At the same time, they note that this should be the task of the mediators, who now only call for peace, not accepting Armenia’s proposals for the introduction of mechanisms to investigate border and line of contact incidents.

However, even the international mediators acknowledge that without securing the ceasefire renewed political negotiations are unrealistic.