Armenia and Azerbaijan: Threat of war is growing

By Arshaluys Mgdesyan

Tension at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone is growing. Frequent sabotage actions are increasing tension. Firing at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border continues. Both sides have officially confirmed the death of four Armenian soldiers and five Azerbaijani at the contact line. Later, Armenian intelligence reported that as a result of the respond by the Armenian troops that the number of victims in the Azeri armed forces had reached seven dead, which was refuted by Baku.

Apparently, the situation at the contact line is so aggravated that the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, being on an official visit to Japan, made a pretty strong statement, noting that the provocation at the contact line was "extremely dangerous, and they will get a harsh response".

With regard to responsibility for the incidents in the front line, in an interview to Panorama.am the Armenian leader said that either the provocation was carried out by order of the Azerbaijani leadership, and then they are personally liable for breach of their international obligations to keep the cease-fire, or the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were beyond the control of Central Command, and "we must be prepared to deal with individual warlords".

As for the military option to resolve Karabakh conflict, Serzh Sargsyan said that Armenia had no reason to use military force, since the negotiation process was the only way to solve the problem and solution must come from the right of the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) to self-determination. Armenian armed forces, he said, were ordered to show restraint and vigilance, but at the same time to prevent any provocation.

Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry called the statement by the President of Armenia "an attempt to hide the failures". According to Azerbaijani media, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman Eldar Sabiroglu stressed that Sargsyan was trying to conceal the truth, so no one should attach importance to his statement.

The leader of the organization "Armenian Eagles", the Deputy Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Khachik Asryan announced today that in the coming days the organization intended to appeal to President Serzh Sargsyan to be allowed to serve in the hottest points of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border zone and the Karabakh conflict zone, if Azerbaijan party "continues violating the cease-fire". The organization comprised of 2000 people on military service.

The head of the Union of volunteers "Yerkrapah", lieutenant-general, MP from the ruling Republican Party, Manvel Grigoryan also made a statement about the aggravation of the situation in the frontline. "Azerbaijan is well aware that it would lose in the event of renewed hostilities". At the same time the head of the "Yerkrapah" emphasized that if the war resumes, members of the organization "would defend the homeland".

June 7, in Yerevan, public organizations held a protest march related to the volatile situation in the frontline. The participants sent letters to the presidential administration and the MFA demanding to suspend talks with Azerbaijan and to give an adequate response to the actions of Baku. According to participants, to deter Azerbaijan from further provocations, the Armenian Armed Forces "must kill 10 Azerbaijani for each killed Armenian soldier".
The real threat of war

There is a real threat of resuming war in the Karabakh conflict zone, since at one moment the confrontation may go out of control, and the Armed Forces of the two sides may start firing trying to avenge every loss, the director of the European program of the International Crisis Group Sabina Fraser believes. "If this happens, it would be very difficult for the sides either to retreat or to win the war quickly", she said.

In an interview with GTimes reporter the director of the Center for Regional Studies Richard Giragosian (Yerevan) explained the actions of Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict zone with Baku's frustration regarding the peaceful settlement of the conflict. This led to the fact that "this way Azerbaijan gave a slap (to Clinton) and showed its displeasure". In his view, this was a message not only to Karabakh and Armenia, but also to the international community. "This approach is fraught with danger for Azerbaijan, since Baku is now being considered a threat rather than a party to the conflict", he concluded.
The Georgia Times