By Emil Danielyan
Armenia reacted unusually sharply on Wednesday to Azerbaijan’s fresh threat to resume the war in Nagorno-Karabakh if the long-running peace talks fail to restore its control of the disputed territory.
The spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan, Hamlet Gasparian, called into question Baku’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the dispute effectively frozen a decade ago. “This once again demonstrates that in fact Azerbaijan has no desire to settle the Karabakh issue by peaceful means and is laying its hopes on a forcible solution,” he said in a statement.
Gasparian warned that Azerbaijan will face “disastrous consequences” if it tries to win back Karabakh by force. The statement came in response to the latest warning by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev that his country is losing patience with the deadlocked peace process.
“If the path of negotiations leads us nowhere, Azerbaijan will use all other means available, including the military option,” Azerbaijani media quoted Aliev as telling Azerbaijani ambassadors abroad on Tuesday. “International law is on our side. Economic potential and
other issues are also in our favor.”
The bellicose rhetoric contrasted with more conciliatory remarks made by Aliev’s foreign minister, Elmar Mamedyarov. In a newspaper interview published in Baku on Wednesday, Mamedyarov vowed to strive for a peaceful settlement “to the end.”
“I believe that a military solution is not the best way to settle the conflict,” he said. “I believe that that possibilities for a peaceful resolution of the problem have not been exhausted.”
Azerbaijani leaders regularly threaten military action in Nagorno-Karabakh and criticize international mediators for their perceived reluctance to return the Armenian-populated region under Azerbaijani rule. Aliev’s remarks therefore hardly came as a surprise for Yerevan.
The reason for the angry Armenian reaction is unclear, however. It follows cautiously optimistic statements by Mamedyarov and his Armenian counterpart, Vartan Oskanian. The two men held a series of meetings in recent months.
The United States has been particularly vocal in warning against the resumption of hostilities around Karabakh, mindful of their potentially devastating effects on multibillion-dollar oil projects implemented by Western multinational companies in Azerbaijan.