Armenia Doubts Karabakh Conflict Would Flare Up

MOSCOW (Interfax–Itar-Tass)–Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan expressed doubt about possible flare of the Karabakh conflict in the near future.

"A balance of military forces has been established between the conflicting parties which has a positive impact on the situation in the region," he told Interfax.

He said–however–that "there are factors which may upset the current balance." Baku may try to gain military superiority–"given its close contacts with Turkey and NATO," he said.

"Such developmen’s would arouse great concern in Stepanakert and in Yerevan," Sargsyan said.

"Baku’s possible attempts to gain military superiority will be properly rebuffed," he continued. "But this does not mean," he said–"that we shall turn to Russia for assistance- we have enough resources to deal with the situation on our own," he said.

Sargsyan on Sunday made a stop-over in Moscow en route to Armenia from China.

"During talks in Beijing I realized that China intends to deal with Russia on the basis of strategic partnership extending to the 21st century. Moscow and Beijing are interested in stability in the Trans- Caucasus and attach great importance to Armenia in this context," he said.

The military cooperation between Russia and Armenia is not directed against a third country or international organization–Armenian member of parliament Smbat Aivazyan said–regarding Azeri president Haydar Aliyev’s statement that Russia–allegedly–"is arming Armenia against NATO."

"This has been one more of the Azeri president’s attempts to shift the problem of the Karabakh settlement to a different plane," said Aivazyan.

He said Armenia closely cooperated with NATO within the Partnership for Peace Program.

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