Artsakh insists that it has no plans to disband the republic’s Defense Army, as both Yerevan and Stepanakert announced that no troops of Armenia’s Armed Forces remain in Artsakh, reported Azatutyun’s Armenian Service on Wednesday.
Official Baku continues to demand the withdrawal of the Armenian armed forces from Karabakh, most recently when Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov made statements that suggested he was referring to the Artsakh Defense Ministry.
The Ministry of Defense is one of the 11 ministries of Artsakh. The commander of the Armed Forces is the head of the military department.
“Disbanding the Defense Army is tantamount to treason,” Seyran Hayrapetyan, the Chairman of the Defense and Security Affairs Committee of the Artsakh National, told Azatutyun, adding that such a step would usher in another “1915 for the people of Artsakh abandoning the Defense Army can bring a new year 1915 for the people of Artsakh, as well as through future developments for all of Armenia.”
Artur Harutyunyan, the leader of the ruling “Free Homeland-Civil United Alliance” faction also insisted that Artsakh is not going to give up its Self Defense Army.
When making demands on Armenia to withdraw its troops from Artsakh, Baku regularity invokes the November 9, 2020 agreement.
Hayrutyunyan contends that Azerbaijan also has not fulfilled the provisions of the same agreement, as it continues to violate the ceasefire and has been holding Armenian prisoners of war captive.
“Regarding the withdrawal of the armed forces, it is written [in the Nov. 9 agreemen] that the Armenian armed forces will withdrawn simultaneously with the deployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent,” explained Harutyunyan
“After the war, there will no new conscription from Armenia, and the one that existed before, is no longer there. If we are talking about the self-defense forces or the Defense Army, of course, the Republic of Artsakh cannot remain without its self-defense forces. According to the UN Charter, the people of Artsakh have the right to organize self-defense,” added Harutyunyan.
At the last session of the government, the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan first announced that there are no Armenian soldiers in Nagorno-Karabakh, and also expressed his opinion about the demands from Baku for the withdrawal of the Artsakh Armed Forces.
“If the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan guarantee the integrity of the contact line, I think the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army will not need to be on combat duty. Such a need has arisen only after Azerbaijan refused to sign the mandate for the peacekeepers and continuously violates the provisions of the November 9, 2020 declaration, including the ceasing all military operations, which is the essence of the aforementioned document,” Pashinyan told his cabinet last week.
Responding to Pashinyan’s statement, Hayrapetyan, the parliament defense committee chairman, said that it would be great if Azerbaijan can guarantee the integrity and safety of the line of contact, but he is sure that Azerbaijan will not do that.
“If anyone is delusional to believe that Azerbaijan changed and is pursuing peace, I will say that it is not so, and we’ve seen this several times during these two years,” Hayrapetyan said, who called for reforms in Artsakh’s defense apparatus given Azerbaijan’s continued aggression in Artsakh. He did not rule out that there might be title change to that sector, but insisted that the duties and responsibilities would still remain the defense of Artsakh and its people.
“The name is not so important. In the early 1990s, there were self-defense forces. This did not prevent our heroes from liberating our historical homeland,” said Hayrapetyan.
The lawmaker was asked about the military mobilization announced last week by Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan, after two soldiers of the Artsakh Defense Army were killed and another 19 were wounded after Azerbaijani attacks of Berdzor. Harutyunyan lifted the mobilization order on Wednesday.
The chairman of the parliament’s Defense Committee did not want to assess the decision, merely saying that “if he [Artsakh president] signed the order, then it should have been signed.”
However, he did voice dissatisfaction with the processes taking place by the authorities of Armenia and Artsakh.
“The Armenian authorities’ silent agreement, or should I say indifference and weakness, as well as measures implemented in the Republic of Artsakh, are worrisome, because the enemy continues to make demand after demand. By giving up, we will be giving up everything,” Hayrapetyan said.