A change of the status quo in the protracted Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is acceptable to Armenia, “but only if there is a comprehensive solution to the problem.”
This was stated by President Serzh Sarkisian in his address to the Armenian parliament today.
According to Sarkisian, Armenia has repeatedly pronounced in favor of resolving the conflict with Azerbaijan on the basis of “mutual concessions whose essence is the recognition and exercise by Artsakh (ed: Nagorno-Karabakh) of its right to self-determination.”
“Yes, on the basis of a compromise, and not unilateral concessions, yielding to Azerbaijani threats that otherwise a war is inevitable. We don’t want to maintain the status quo for a single day if we don’t have to. We don’t want to put the burden of resolving the problem on the shoulders of the generations to come, and this is what our common efforts with the mediating countries are aimed at,” the Armenian leader emphasized.
Sarkisian warned, at the same time, that while being ready for a peaceful solution to the problem, “we are also ready and will be ready to defend our homeland, our dignity and our freedom at any cost.”
Sarkisian’s statement comes amid heightened tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone where in recent days the Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces claimed to have destroyed enemy defense facilities and inflicted casualties on each other.
As recently as Monday Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov stated that after the Moscow meeting with his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian hosted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov he “got the impression that peace in exchange for an Armenian withdrawal, in other words, according to the ‘territories for peace’ principle, was possible.”
He said that this was “the logic of the whole negotiating process during the past 12 years.” “Today it is evident to all that Armenia must withdraw its troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan,” the top Azerbaijani diplomat said.
Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly reacted to the remarks as its spokesperson Tigran Balayan implied this was not what was discussed during the Lavrov-Nalbandian-Mammadyarov meeting in late April.
The American, Russian and French co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Minsk Group, which has an international mandate to broker a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, are expected to pay their next visit to the region in June or July.
Nagorno-Karabakh broke free from Baku’s control in the early 1990s, triggering a three-year war that killed an estimated 30,000 people and left ethnic Armenians in control of the region.
The Armenia-backed Karabakh military and Azerbaijani armed forces clashed in April 2016 in what was later dubbed as a four-day war that killed dozens on both sides.
International diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict during the last 25 years have brought little progress.