Azeri pundits say Armenia trying to provoke resumption of hostilities

Zerkalo, Baku
1 Oct 04

Armenia is trying to speak to us in the language of threats. This
conclusion can be inferred from Armenian Defence Minister Serzh
Sarkisyan's statement made in an interview with Armenian Public
Television. He said that the fallout from hostilities in Nagornyy
Karabakh would be extremely unpleasant for both Armenia and
Azerbaijan. He added that "whatever the outcome of a possible war,
even the most beneficial for Armenia, we have no desire to be dragged
into hostilities".

He said Armenia would have to fight only if the Azerbaijani side
launched an attack. Sarkisyan noted that Armenia was capable of giving
"a response that would discourage Azerbaijan from fighting for many
years". Let's recall that Armenian officials have repeatedly made such
statements.

We have asked some Azerbaijani analysts what they think about the
Armenian defence minister's remarks. The former foreign minister,
Tofiq Zulfuqarov, said that the statement is unlikely to stem from the
Armenian minister's desire to maintain peace in the region. He said
the statement reveals Armenia's intention to blame Azerbaijan for a
possible resumption of hostilities.

Zulfuqarov said Sarkisyan's statement comes at a time when, as he
thinks, another round of talks has not produced results due to
Armenia's non-constructive position. "To demonstrate Armenia's
firmness in the issue, the Armenian minister is trying to show that
Armenia can defend its position even by force," the former minister
said.

He added that the resumption of hostilities is mainly impeded by the
position of the international community. At the same time, he said "if
no breakthrough is reached in the negotiations, the start of
hostilities is practically inevitable". The former minister did not
rule out the possibility of Armenia attempting to resume hostilities,
thus capitalizing on the factor of the US presidential elections when
the country's attention will focus on domestic problems.

Zulfuqarov believes that in a move to solve domestic problems, the
Armenian administration may provoke Azerbaijan to start a war. He
added that such statements must send a message to the Azerbaijani
authorities that the resumption of hostilities by Armenia is a real
threat and "at this juncture, our country must take specific and
large-scale action to strengthen its defence capability".

[Passage omitted: comments by another political analyst]

Military expert Uzeyir Cafarov said that Sarkisyan's statement
proceeds from his confidence in Russia. He said that the agreement on
strategic partnership between these countries enables Moscow to
provide assistance to Yerevan. Cafarov believes that the wait-and-see
position of the Azerbaijani authorities is very convenient for
Armenia. The military expert thinks that while Armenia continuously
builds up its military potential, Azerbaijan acts like a "guilty
schoolboy". He added that Azerbaijan must not allow Armenia, its
defence minister in particular, to make such statements.

Considering Sarkisyan's statement that starting from 5 January 2005
Armenia will be able to sign agreements directly with Russian
[military] enterprises on arms and ammunition supplies on the same
terms as the Russian army, our country has to think carefully about a
reciprocal action.