YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—President Serzh Sarkisian on Tuesday again blamed Azerbaijan for recent ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone and the lack of progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks.
“The policy adopted by Azerbaijan in the past year, its bellicose statements and unfounded self-confidence are causing tension both on the [Karabakh] line of contact and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” he told a joint news conference with Austria’s visiting President Heinz Fischer. “And it was not accidental that as a result of those provocations young men were killed and the situation escalated in the last several weeks.”
Sarkisian referred to a series of clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani force that left at least nine soldiers dead early this month. Each side blamed the other for the truce violations that coincided with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to the South Caucasus. Sarkisian warned on June 7 that the Armenian military will continue to take “tough” action against Azerbaijani “provocations.”
The deadly fighting came amid a continuing impasse in long-running negotiations on the Karabakh conflict’s resolution that are mediated by the United States, Russia and France.
Sarkisian claimed that the peace process is deadlocked because Azerbaijan accepts only one of three internationally recognized principles that are at the heart of peace proposals made by the three mediating powers.
“While claiming to agree to these three principles, Azerbaijan in reality accepts only one of them: the principle of territorial integrity of states,” he said. “It rejects peoples’ right to self-determination and the principle of peaceful solutions to conflicts. So when these principles are really accepted, the conflict will be resolved.”
Azerbaijani leaders have repeatedly ruled out any settlement that would not place Karabakh back under Baku’s control. They have said that the Karabakh Armenians can exercise their right to self-determination only within the framework of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
“Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral part of Azerbaijan,” President Ilham Aliyev said on Monday, addressing graduates of his country’s main military academy named after his late father and predecessor Heydar.
Aliyev defended a massive military build-up launched by his government and said it will eventually enable Azerbaijan to win back Karabakh. “Armenia will not be able to withstand Azerbaijan,” he claimed. “Our growing political weight, economic potential, military might, role in the region and growing population will lead to a just solution to the problem.”