Defense Minister Downplays Azeri War Rhetoric

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenia’s defense minister Serzh Sarkisian Thursday downplayed Azerbaijan’s war rhetoric saying he was sure that military activities would not resume in the near future. During a meeting with parents of servicemen in the northwestern town of Gumri the minister said Azeris realize now that they could not launch a successful offensive. "We too know it very well," the minister said, attributing recent statemen’s by officials in Baku to Azerbaijan’s attempts to justify a drastic increase in military spending for 2007, which Azeri president Ilham Aliyev said would amount to $1 billion, a sharp contrast to $280 million earmarked by Armenia’s 2007 draft budget. The Armenian defense minister said the one who would begin the war now would sustain heavy losses and damages because both sides have significantly reinforced their positions on the frontline to protect their troops. Sarkisian said Azerbaijan would not embark on an offensive, for feat of strong international pressure. "No one can gain from breaking ‘the neither peace nor war status’ as long as the talks over the resolution of the Karabakh conflict are continuing," he said.

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