YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—After the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs finished visits to Armenia and Azerbaijan on July 21, Azeri forces began intensely firing at Armenian positions on the line of the contact with Nagorno-Karabakh. Spokesperson for the President of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic David Babayan has compared Azerbaijan’s public policy to that of a “terrorist and fascist state”.
Amid this new round of ceasefire violations by Azerbaijan, David Babayan has also said that a return to the borders of 1988 and 1991 is not possible, referencing demands made by Azerbaijan for the return of “occupied” territories as the OSCE Minsk Group continues to push for a comprehensive peace settlement.
Despite a planned OSCE Minsk Group monitoring mission conducted on the line of contact between the armed forces of Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan that found no ceasefire violations, Azeri armed forces began intensely firing at Armenian positions at around 2:00pm local time on Tuesday, July 21. More than 1,600 shots were fired by Azeri forces.
Babayan pointed out on Wednesday that this is not the first time Baku has escalated provocations and tensions on the line of contact following a visit of the OSCE Minsk Group and other officials.
“These actions are nothing new and completely fit into the public policy of a terrorist and fascist state,” Babayan said.
According to Babayan, though the international community should give Baku harsh assessments for its provocations, it fails to do so. “The lack of such assessments triggers aggression. The Artsakh Defense Army takes relevant measures against that aggression, however, the international community should also make its own contribution to it,” he says.
The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs finished their visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan on July 21. A planned monitoring mission in the village of Talish in the Martakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh took place in accordance with arrangements reached with the authorities of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The monitoring passed in accordance with the agreed schedule. No violation of the ceasefire agreement were registered at the time of the monitoring.
Babyan also told reporters that Nagorno-Karabakh must participate in the peace process, commenting on OSCE Minsk Group U.S. Co-Chair James Warlick’s statement earlier this week that the voice of Nagorno-Karabakh should be heard.
“We must participate in the whole process—from discussions and exchange of views to preparation and implementation of documents,” Babayan said.
According to Babayan, a peace process without Nagorno-Karabakh’s participation is illogical. “That is, we must participate in all of its stages. This is our approach,” said Babayan.
At a meeting with reporters in Yerevan earlier, U.S. Co-Chair James Warlick said that Armenia has no intention of returning territories to Azerbaijan without relevant security guarantees. Babayan agreed with Warlick.
“Therefore, we point out a need to revert to a full format of the negotiating process. We are well aware of two major problems: first, Nagorno-Karabakh’s status; second, the border problem. We are honestly saying there is no returning to the past—in terms of either status or borders. There will be no bargaining over Artsakh’s independence. Artsakh has never been nor will it ever be part of Azerbaijan. There is no returning to 1988 or 1991. It is not a result of ambitions or abnormal geopolitical developments or ideas. Rather, they are minimal security guarantees. One cannot even think of Azerbaijan’s control of Berdzor, Qarvachar, which is the source of our water resources,” Babayan said.
According to Babayan, the 1988 and 1991 borders are very attractive to Azerbaijan militarily.
“Azerbaijan is demanding territories from us, but we have territories that are occupied by Azerbaijan. Moreover, Azerbaijan’s demand would mean a 70% loss of territories for Nagorno-Karabakh. We are struggling for our life and security after all, not for Azerbaijan’s ambitions,” Babayan said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated on July 17 that it was time to intensify efforts at finding peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“It is our desire that efforts be intensified. But we have no grounds for optimism. First of all, the full-fledged negotiation format has not been restored. Moreover, Azerbaijan continues its counterproductive policy,” Babayan said in response to Lavrov’s statements.
Babayan commended the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ calls for regional stability and for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, and that no pressure on any conflicting parties would be exerted.