“The Azerbaijani president [Ilham Aliyev] keeps saying that Azerbaijan has lots of money, a powerful economy, that its population is 9 million people while there is nobody left in Armenia and so on,” Sarkisian said during a visit to a youth camp in Lake Sevan.
“Azerbaijan has had only one president who was more or less realistic,” he added in an apparent reference to Aliyev’s late father and predecessor Heydar. “The rest of them were using today’s rhetoric. And what happened [as a result?] Everybody knows quite well what happened.
“I am confident that military actions is a road leading nowhere. Azerbaijan is not able to gain military superiority over Armenia.”
Having embarked on a major military buildup about a decade ago, Azerbaijan’s leaders regularly threaten to forcibly win back Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding the disputed enclave. Baku plans to boost military spending to $3.3 billion this year, up from $2.15 a year ago and just $160 million in 2003.
President Serzh Sarkisian (L) watches military exercises in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Armenian government as well as Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership have repeatedly dismissed those threats, saying that Azerbaijan will suffer another defeat if it attempts a military solution to the dispute. They also say that the Armenian side is responding to the Azerbaijani buildup with its own substantial arms acquisitions.
The commander of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army, Movses Hakobian, told journalists last week that the “military potential” of his troops grew by 20 percent in the first half of this year. He said they will receive more weaponry in the coming months.
Addressing several hundred young Armenians affiliated with a pro-government political group, Sarkisian claimed that Azerbaijan will eventually abandon attempts to regain control over Karabakh.
He said, “For decades, the people of Azerbaijan were being instilled the idea that Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan and now the leadership of Azerbaijan faces immense complexes since they have never tried to be honest with their own people … and tell them, ‘You know what, people, this is Armenian land, Armenians have been living here for ages and it would be nice … if we respect freedom of these people so that they and we live happily. I am confident that these times will come.”
Azerbaijan condemned these remarks on Monday. Elman Abdullayev, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Baku, portrayed them as further proof of Yerevan’s “non-constructive policy” on Karabakh.
“Instead of preparing his people for peace and thus contributing to the region’s development and welfare, Serzh Sarkisian is radicalizing the Armenian society,” Abdullayev said, according to 1news.az.