Azerbaijan “Statements”: Azeri hostilities precede meeting of foreign ministers

Political analysts in Armenia are convinced that the Azeri military forces’ sabotage groups’ intrusion into the front divisions of the Nagorno Karabakh’s Defense Army prior to the meeting of the two countries’ foreign ministers next week is another attempt to show their readiness to resume active hostilities; they say peaceful settlement of the conflict does not seem likely.

The recent intrusion took place during the night between January 19 and 20, in the north-eastern (Jraberd) and the south-eastern (Korgan) directions of the Karabakh-Azerbaijan line of contact.

Completing a field trip to the region on December 15-19, OSCE Minsk group (MG) co-chairs released a statement urging the parties to “refrain from actions that can increase the tension and work on maintaining an atmosphere favorable for making progress in the negotiations.”

Political analyst Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan believes that the sabotage attempt was a challenge not only against Armenia, but also the Minsk Group.

“And, until the MG co-chairs start treating these instigations as a threat to their efforts, their mediator mission, Azerbaijan will continue. In order to make Azerbaijan refrain from such strategy, the MG co-chairs have to stop playing a blame-game and for once call things by their true names,” Melik-Shahnazaryan told ArmeniaNow.
Experts believe that Azerbaijan’s unchanging actions effect the negotiation format.

“Azeri foreign minister Elmar Mammediarov stated that such incidents would keep happening until the conflict got settled. Meaning, we are dealing with an absolute blackmail – if you do not settle, do not put settling the Karabakh issue (and do it the way I want it) on the list of your top priorities, incidents are unavoidable,” political analyst Styopa Safaryan told ArmeniaNow.

According to him, Azerbaijan is well aware that the world today has other more urgent issues to mind – Syria, the Ukraine – but is trying to show that the conflict is not “asleep” by increasing the tension on the line of contact, despite the fact that it is Azerbaijan “waking up” the conflict.

“However, it is not in Azerbaijan’s interest to discuss what has been discussed for years, because it cannot sell that settlement to its society for having promised something else, namely, claims for half Armenia’s lands, as well as return of the ‘occupied’ territories,” says Safaryan.

Expert in regional and political issues Tigran Abrahamyan wrote on his Facebook page that the sabotaging actions followed Azeri President Ilham Aliyev’s statement made during the January 9 Azeri cabinet meeting, saying: “I am certain that Azerbaijan’s strong army has to have its word in the Karabakh conflict settlement, and it will when the time comes.”

Analysts believe that the results of the November 19, 2013, meeting of the Armenian and Azeri presidents in Vienna promising positive developments in the negotiation process is undermined by such actions.

“Azerbaijan has signaled political retreat, putting the forthcoming events under real threat,” Abrahamyan writes.

Melik-Shahnazaryan says in foreign policy ensuring security takes more drastic steps.

“The fact that it was possible to bring Aliyev back to the negotiation table was a rather serious achievement, giving hope that the probability of active hostilities would drop, but we cannot think it is enough and the further steps have to be more drastic and consistent in terms of factual demands,” says Melik-Shahnazaryan.

During the entire day on January 10, the Azeri armed forces violated the ceasefire regime in various sectors of the Armenian-Azeri border, opening fire at the Armenian positions and settlements, namely, Tavush province’s Aygepat and Nerkin Karmraghbyur villages. On December 14, 2013, another Armenian soldier fell victim of Azeri bullets.