Nagorno-Karabakh President Bako Sahakian on Friday said the war with Azerbaijan is unlikely to resume soon and again ruled out any peaceful settlement that would place his disputed territory back under Azerbaijani control.
“The likelihood of large-scale hostilities is small,” Sahakian told the Russian Interfax news agency in an interview. “First of all, there is a very effective balance of forces existing between the conflicting parties.”
“Secondly, war is fraught with unpredictable consequences, and the international community and, in particular, the mediating countries are hardly interested in instability in a strategically important region like the South Caucasus,” he said.
Tensions along the main Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact have risen since a June 18-19 firefight in northeastern Karabakh that left one Azerbaijani and four Armenian soldiers dead. The incident was followed by fresh Azerbaijani threats to resolve the conflict by force.
“Such [ceasefire] violations can not change the existing balance of forces or undermine the spirit of our people and its army,” said Sahakian. Karabakh Armenian forces are capable of not only repelling an Azerbaijani offensive but also “taking hostilities deep into the enemy’s territory,” he added.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group urged the conflicting parties to “reinforce the ceasefire and demonstrate a spirit of compromise.” They also confirmed that the parties failed to overcome their differences over the conflict’s resolution during recent negotiations.
Sahakian scoffed at Azerbaijani statements that Baku is only prepared to give Karabakh a high degree of autonomy. “We already had that autonomy during 70 years of Soviet rule and we all know how it ended,” he said. “A broad or any other autonomy within Azerbaijan is out of the question. The conflict with Azerbaijan can only be resolved through a formal international recognition of the independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.”
The Karabakh leader also insisted that the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice upholding the legality of Kosovo’s secession from Serbia is also applicable to the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.