Armenia will bolster Nagorno-Karabakh’s security through a defense treaty that will be signed with the Armenian-populated territory, President Serzh Sarkisian said on Saturday, responding what he called unprecedented Azerbaijani truce violations.
Sarkisian held an emergency meeting of his National Security Council just hours after the outbreak of worst fighting in and around Karabakh in over two decades.
In opening remarks at the meeting publicized by his office, Sarkisian praised the Armenian military’s response to an Azerbaijani offensive that left at least 31 soldiers and civilians on both sides dead.
“Thanks to its timely and professional actions, the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army not only kept the situation under control but also inflicted considerable losses on the enemy,” he said. He cautioned, though, that hostilities are continuing along “the line of contact” around Karabakh, saying that “it is still not clear what they will lead to.”
“Armenia’s Armed Forces are acting in accordance with a previously drawn up plan, and I think that some ministries should switch to a special, enhanced regime without fuss or tension,” the Armenian leader went on. “Measures have been taken to ensure the safety of the population of border regions. I think those measures are sufficient.”
Nevertheless, Sarkisian said, Yerevan should now take “one step forward” and negotiate with Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership a “treaty on mutual military assistance.” “The Republic of Armenia will fully fulfill its obligation to ensure the security of Nagorno-Karbaakh’s population, and we already have a legal right to do so because we were a party to the ceasefire agreement signed in 1994,” he said.
The president stopped short of pledging to formally recognize Karabakh as an independent republic. A deputy chairman of his ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Armen Ashotian, made clear that such a move is still “premature.”
Ashotian sought to stress the significance of the document announced Sarkisian, saying that it will formally commit Armenia and Karabakh to creating a “single military area.” “The treaty will allow Armenia to more actively intervene in the defense ofNagorno-Karabakh’s people assist the Karabakh army,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
In a rare display of unity, Armenia’s main opposition parties shared official Yerevan’s assessment of the latest escalation in Karabakh and its military actions taken in response.
One of them, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), said that the country’s main political and civic groups will unite “in the face of any kind of foreign aggression.” “The relevant circles in Azerbaijan can rest assured that no internal political problem will mean a division or split among the Armenian people and base its aggressive calculations on that,” the HAK said in a statement.
The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the second largest in parliament, said it stands ready to “invest its full potential in the inviolability of the borders of the two Armenian states.”