Serbia’s government on Tuesday acknowledged that Serbian defense companies have supplied weapons to Armenia but did not confirm Azerbaijani claims that they included mortars.
A government-linked Azerbaijani news website, Haqqin.az, claimed on July 19 that Serbian-made mortars as well as ammunition for them were delivered to Armenia via Georgia recently and used in deadly clashes that broke out on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on July 21.
Serbia’s ambassador in Baku, Danica Veinovic, was summoned to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry in connection with the report. Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov was reported to tell her that the alleged arms supplies called into question Azerbaijan’s “friendly relations” with the Balkan state.
Serbia’s outgoing Trade Minister Rasim Ljajic said in this regard that private Serbian firms sold small quantities of light weapons to Armenia earlier this year.
“I cannot name those companies, but according to our information, they mainly supplied rifles and pistols to Armenia,” Serbian media quoted Ljajic as saying. “Their combined market value is less than 1 million euros. Those weapons were supplied in two batches, in May and June.”
Ljajic made no mention of mortars. He stressed that there are no international sanctions or agreements that bar his country from selling weapons to Armenia.
“It is therefore hard to turn down that country’s offers to buy our weapons,” added the Serbian minister.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s Foreign Ministry denied the alleged transit of Armenia-bound weapons through Georgian territory. It denounced the Haqqin.az claim as “disinformation” aimed at undermining “Georgian-Azerbaijani strategic partnership.”
Azerbaijan itself has purchased billions of dollars worth of heavy weapons from Russia, Israel, Turkey and other countries over the past decade in a bid to gain a military superiority over Armenia. Yerevan has repeatedly expressed concern over those arms deals.