In an interview with CivilNet, a leading local news website, on Monday Secretary of Armenia’s Security Council Armen Grigorian, in particular, said that by accusing Yerevan of ceasefire violations in recent days Baku is seeking to escalate the situation and unleash hostilities against its neighbor.
“At this moment, there is still a risk that Azerbaijan may carry out a military provocation against Armenia, and in this context we continue to work and strengthen our capabilities, as well as work with the international community so as not to allow such an escalation,” he said.
About three hundred soldiers were killed on both sides during several days of clashes along the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in mid-September that proved to be the deadliest fighting between the two countries since the six-week war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.
During the latest escalation Armenia accused Azerbaijan of committing aggression against its sovereign territory as a result of which, it said, Baku occupied dozens of square kilometers of Armenian territory.
Grigorian said that Azerbaijan’s offensive in September was possible to stop due to resistance by Armenian armed forces as well as the involvement of the international community.
But he stressed that international mechanisms alone are not enough to prevent Azerbaijan’s aggression.
“Therefore, Armenia should reform and strengthen its defense system,” he said.
“It is necessary for us to be able to increase our capabilities, reform our army and create a set of mechanisms in this regard in order to exclude further provocations by Azerbaijan against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” Grigorian added.
Grigorian’s remarks echoes concerns voiced by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian who condemned the recent rhetoric by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev as war-mongering.
In a Twitter post late on Monday Pashinian criticized Aliyev’s statements and demeanor during a visit to the Azeri-controlled Karabakh town of Shushi (Susa) on November 8, a day that Azerbaijan calls Victory Day to mark the end of the Armenian-Azerbaijani war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020.
“Dressed in a military uniform and in a military audience Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev in his threatening and aggressive speech of November 8 announced that Sisian, Goris, Kapan and other Armenian towns are in the field of their view. And Armenia understands what it means. It is a blatant act of terrorizing the civilian population,” the Armenian leader charged.
Last week, former Armenian ombudsman Arman Tatoyan published a fact-finding report of the foundation that he runs concerning the situation in Armenia’s Syunik and Vayots provinces. The report said that Azerbaijani armed forces that advanced several kilometers into Armenian territory and captured some high ground as a result of the most recent fighting have no intention of leaving the area. Moreover, it added that Azerbaijani forces are building roads and even bunkers in the sovereign territory of Armenia controlled by them.
Armen Khachatrian, deputy chairman of the parliament’s defense committee, did not deny the report presented by the foundation run by Tatoyan, but said there was nothing new about it.
“Yes, we know and you all know that it is so. There is an Azerbaijani armed force in the sovereign territory [of Armenia]. And, of course, that army does not sleep on the ground, it does some fortification work, digs trenches, and so on,” the pro-government lawmaker said.
Khachatrian said that Armenian forces could start operations and achieve a local success in trying to oust the Azerbaijani troops from Armenian territory, but he warned that such actions could trigger a large-scale war between the two countries.
“Azerbaijan is doing everything to torpedo the peace process. Starting large-scale military operations at this moment will have very serious consequences for the Republic of Armenia,” the lawmaker said.