In the immediate aftermath of last month’s “four-day war”, members of parliament in Nagorno Karabakh warned that their undeclared republic need be prepared for all-out war with Azerbaijan.
“We have quite a bit of time to buy specific weapons. This is an indicator for me, and if in the future the Armenian and NKR authorities start to buy weapons, it means they are going to seriously confront the challenges,” says Hayk Khanumyan, the leader of Karabakh’s National Rebirth faction. “If they do not buy, it means people have a defeatist attitude and do not have political will to accept challenges.”
According to Davit Ishkhanyan, the leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) faction of NKR’s National Assembly, the four-day war was a serious step to make changes in local life. He said people should be psychologically ready to be at war and to act accordingly.
“I mean, those with responsibilities starting from higher authorities of the country until lower circles, officer staff, that is, from generals until the last soldier, all of us must consolidate that mentality in us. We need to review our military structure, the strategic and tactical tasks it faces. The problem is not only about technical strength,” said Ishkhanyan.
The leader of the ARF faction said that the four-day war showed that the problems of the safety of Karabakh people are not fully solved, particularly in the northern and central parts of Karabakh.
“The northern part of Martakert region and the regional center of Martuni are not yet provided with complete components of safety, and it is important to realize that if we want to make these areas invulnerable, we need to have a larger area providing and ensuring the safety of people,” Ishkhanyan says. “We are not inclined to move any of the settlements – Talish, Martakert, or Martuni — considering that these settlements are near the line of contact. We can make the issue of the border change a matter of debate and try to solve it, considering the safety of our people.”
Arthur Tovmasyan, the leader of the Fatherland faction in the NKR National Assembly, said that being economically strong does not mean that you can win a war.
“Remember the wars between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, the United States and Vietnam, Germany and the USSR, and finally Karabakh and Azerbaijan. Were we better armed in 1992-1994? I am sure if the four-day war extended, our soldiers would not only prevent the enemy counterattack, but would also move [the actions] into the enemy’s territory, and we would get a result like we had on May 12, 1994, when they [Azerbaijani forces] asked for a truce,” said Tovmasyan.
Referring to the work of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) over the years, he said that the alternative of negotiations is a war.
“The biggest mission of that group was to ensure the preservation of the neither-war-nor-peace situation, which lasted until 2014. I do not think that the war began in 2016. Our soldiers fought heroically through micro-wars in July-August of 2014, too. Armenian soldiers are assigned to the implementation of the OSCE Minsk Group’s recommendation of keeping peace at the frontline. But how did Armenian soldiers remain committed [to that recommendation]? They took punitive actions against the enemy sabotage operations, and then the adversary fell silent,” says the leader of the Fatherland party.
According to Khanumyan, the Minsk Group is only a mediator between the two sides. There is no need to make a target out of the Minsk Group and to have great illusions related to that group.
“The fact that Karabakh must become a side of the negotiations is clear. We should not think and judge like a mediator. We should think of a pro-Armenian regulation and settlement of the Karabakh issue, for which diplomatic work should be carried out in different countries to gain the recognition of Karabakh’s independence,” says Khanumyan.
Referring to the talks on the return of territories, the MP said that the concession of any territory would lead to physical security problems of different settlements.
“If there are some people in Armenia who think that territorial concessions will lead to peace, then at least they should once hold an excursion in Karabakh and make sure that any territorial concession has no future,” says Khanumyan. “We have residential areas that are under bombardment. Moreover, these areas should be expanded, especially taking into consideration the fact that in 1992-1994 we lost some areas, for example Shahumyan region, some of the villages of the Martakert region, a small part of Martuni. During these days of April the army had the ability to solve these problems, but political will was not enough. Especially in several directions, the Army was completely routed by the enemy,” he said.
According to Ishkhanyan, rumors about the return of territories are political sabotages that are being carried out against the Armenian political thought and the public.
“No discussion about the return of lands may be acceptable for us: I’m saying this directly and clearly. The concept of concession of territories has two options for us: either having a war, or simply surrendering Karabakh. I am saying this in a tough, but sincere way,” said Ishkhanyan.