By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian said on Wednesday that a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict requires “painful” concessions from both sides and again warned Azerbaijan against resorting to military action.
“The problem’s resolution will indeed be painful for both the Armenian and Azerbaijani peoples because mutual compromise means giving up some of what you have. Nobody gives up anything voluntarily and without pain,” Sarkisian told parliamentary hearings in on Karabakh.
He specified that Armenian concessions could include another referendum of independence in Karabakh and a return of occupied Azerbaijani lands. “We could make concessions on the condition that Azerbaijani side gives clear guarantees of not restarting the war which would be certified by authoritative international organizations and states,” he said.
The remarks appeared to be an indirect confirmation of the Armenian side’s readiness to embrace a peace formula that would contain at least some elements of a gradual resolution of the conflict. The parties allegedly discussed last year a deal calling for an Armenian troop withdrawal and a future referendum in Karabakh.
Armenia and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic until recently demanded a single “package” peace accord that would settle all sticking points at once.
Sarkisian at the same time did not rule out the possibility of another Armenian-Azerbaijani war, saying that Azerbaijan still hopes to win back Karabakh by force. “If hostilities resume, we will win,” he declared.
But the powerful minister who led the Karabakh Armenian forces in 1992-93 was quick to warn that Armenia would face “destruction” in the event of domestic turmoil. “Our victory would depend on the extent to which the Armenian people, Armenia’s political force will stand by the army,” he said.
Speaking at the hearings on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian claimed that Azerbaijani troops have been digging in closer to Armenian positions around Karabakh and may thus be preparing for war.