Armenia’s leading political forces on Tuesday blamed Azerbaijan for the latest ceasefire violations in Nagorno-Karabakh and warned it against attempting to resolve the conflict by force.
President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) and the main opposition forces accused Baku of deliberately provoking the June 18-19 clash in Karabakh’s northeast that left four Armenian soldiers dead.
Like the Armenian government, HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov linked the incident with the latest meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents that was held in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg late on June 17.
He claimed that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev came away “extremely dissatisfied” from the talks. “This may have annoyed Azerbaijan’s little sultan and he resorted to that step,” Sharmazanov told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
“If Azerbaijan hopes that with such provocative acts it can spread panic in Karabakh or Armenia, then I must disappoint them and say our military is in very high spirits,” Sharmazanov said, adding that Azerbaijan would lose more swathes of land in case of another war.
“We all must make it clear to Azerbaijan that if it opts for war we will end up as the winners just as we did in 1988-1994,” agreed Hrant Markarian, a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun).
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Markarian likewise said Aliyev ordered an attack on a Karabakh Armenian outpost because of the outcome of the Saint Petersburg talks. He speculated that the talks marked the collapse of a modified version of a framework peace accord on Karabakh proposed by international mediators last year.
“The variant of the updated Madrid principles seems to have failed,” said Markarian. “It’s a variant that envisaged a totally pro-Azerbaijani solution. And that failure has naturally left Azerbaijan in a nervous state.”
Another, more radical opposition force, the Armenia National Congress (HAK), also condemned “the violation of the ceasefire regime by Azerbaijan.” In a written statement, the alliance led by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian said it would be “at the forefront of the fight for Nagorno-Karabakh’s security in the event of a war danger.”
“I am convinced that in the event of a real danger, the Armenian society will put aside differences and stand by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,” HAK spokesman Arman Musinian told RFE/RL separately.
“There is a danger of the war’s resumption,” he said. “That danger has somewhat increased. But in order to reduce it, we need a correct and coordinated foreign policy on the part of Armenia.”
The HAK statement charged that the Sarkisian administration has added to the increased the likelihood of renewed fighting with its “criminal” Karabakh policy.
Markarian, whose nationalist party favors a hard line on the dispute, criticized that policy in milder terms, calling it “dithering and contradictory.”