STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)—A spokesperson for President Bako Sahakyan of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has said that the return of territories to Azerbaijan is “impossible”, in response to comments made by the US Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick. In an interview with the Russian daily Vedomosti, Warlick said that the “occupied” territories of Azerbaijan must be returned to Azeri control as part of a comprehensive settlement of the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Spokesperson David Babayan told reporters on Wednesday that Stepanakert’s position on the settlement of the conflict remained unchanged. Rather than focusing on the consequences of the conflict, negotiators should make eliminating the reasons the conflict began their main priority.
“The fact that we have different borders and a different military and political situation today is a consequence of military reasons. If these reasons are not resolved, how can one address the consequences?” asked Babayan.
“Trying to cope with the consequences without dealing with the causes is not only unrealistic, but is also a way to disastrous developments in the region – wars, bloodshed, deaths. That is why we say causes must be done away with,” Babayan said.
He said that it is impossible to speak about the return of territories as long as the political status of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic remains undecided.
“We have repeatedly stated that we are not opposed to discussing any issues. We stated our readiness to discuss the refugee problem, but it should be done on the basis of equal principles. Azerbaijani refugees may not return if Armenian refugees do not return to Baku, Sumgait and other cities where they lived,” Babayan said, noting that any changes to the borders are out of the question because it cannot guarantee the security of the people of Artsakh.
“We repeatedly said that the return of territories is impossible—being an enclave, Artsakh, with its former borders, cannot exist and defend itself. Besides, the adversary is tempted to solve the problem by military means and commit a new genocide. It is a fact, it is history, we are not speaking about theoretical things. They have maintained a blockade since 1988, they organized pogroms throughout the former Azerbaijani Soviet Republic, committed Sumgait pogroms, deported Armenian population of northern Artsakh. And now we need to forget it and return to the territories existing in 1988 so that we will be massacred?”
“Imagine that the enemy again establishes control over Karvachar where our rivers head – rivers such as Arpa and Vorotan that flow into Lake Sevan making up 80% of Armenia’s water resources. The enemy will just poison this water to commit yet another genocide. There was a precedent in 1990 when they poisoned the springs that supply water to Stepanakert. All cattle died at that time, numerous people were hospitalized,” Babayan said.
“It’s not a matter of ambitions or just extravagant ideas; it has to do with simple human security.”
In response to Warlick’s remarks on the deployment of peacekeeping troops, Babayan said, “What can peacekeepers do if the USSR with its huge army failed to solve that problem? For many years, we have protected our borders without peacekeepers, and everything is all right, there are no problems. Everything is more stable than in many other conflict zones.”
In response to questions about Baku’s latest ceasefire violations on the line of contact after days of quiet, including the use of 60mm mortars in an attack on July 14, Babayan said he was not surprised.
“Baku has always behaved like that. It just restrained itself for ten days in connection with the European Games, in its own interests. It does not mean that Azerbaijan’s policy has changed. Azerbaijan was and remains a terrorist and fascist state. We cannot expect anything else from that country,” Babayan said.