YEREVAN (Tert.am)—Recently, tensions at the Armenian-Azerbaijani and Nagorno-Karabakh-Azerbaijani borders have escalated significantly. In an interview with Tert.am, Artak Zakaryan, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, Parliament of Armenia, spoke about the reasons behind the recent tensions, while discussing the geopolitical developments of the region.
According to Zakaryan, Azerbaijan is actually committing an act of terror against the OSCE Minsk Group, and Azerbaijan must receive political punishment.
Tert.am: What is the reason for the recent border tensions – a forthcoming meeting between Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev or the geopolitical developments?
Artak Zakaryan: Border tensions are regular, yet occasionally increasing. Nevertheless, tensions have always been obvious, especially during the last ten years, with Azerbaijan’s militant rhetoric accompanying the negotiations. There are two ways of efficiently dealing with it. The first is what our armed forces are doing, that is, retaliatory measures, forcing Azerbaijani troops to withdraw. The second is the international community’s response, especially within the OSCE Minsk Group
The US Department of state’s latest response was addressed to Azerbaijan, implying the unacceptability of diverting from the peaceful course or using heavy weapons. I think that Azerbaijan’s regular gambles can be designated as terrorism against the Minsk Group – indirect acts of terrorism against the negotiating process and Azerbaijan must first of all face political sanctions. The Defense Army of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Armenia’s armed forces are taking retaliatory measure against Azerbaijani troops. However, Azerbaijan must face political sanctions as well.
Tert.am: The Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army issued a statement that tanks had for the first time been used since the ceasefire agreement was signed. Can we say the situation is getting out of control?
AZ: No, we cannot. The situation is always under control when any weapons are used. Our armed forces can use any military equipment in retaliation for any military actions. But we are well aware it is undesirable because a peace process is always better.
Tert.am: According to the US Department of State’s report, the situation on the border is not in conformity with the commitments assumed by Armenia and Azerbaijan. What needs to be done for the international community’s call to be addressed to Azerbaijan?
AZ: The US Department of State is well aware it was an Azerbaijani tank, not an Armenian one, that opened fire. They can also see well Azerbaijan is shelling the Armenian positions. They are well aware retaliation is a major means of deterring Azerbaijan, preventing its troops from advancing. And we consider the appeal addressed to the sides a diplomatically correct step. When I speak of political sanctions and assessments, Azerbaijan is, of course, the only addressee. Armenia is not only speaking of a peaceful settlement, but is also taking all the necessary steps to keep the situation within the peaceful course and never resorts to provocations.
Tert.am: Do you think Azerbaijan is acting alone or other forces, including turkey, are behind?
AZ: Turkey never conceals its moral, political and military support to Azerbaijan. We are seeking peaceful relations and processes. Otherwise, it will be a problem not only for Armenia and Azerbaijan, but also for many other nations, particularly for those obviously interested in the South Caucasus.