Defense Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia Safar Abiyev and Serj Sargsyan held a meeting on July 8. The meeting was organized in connection with the aggravation of the situation on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As is known, a fight broke out near the village Garakhanbeili (290 km from Baku) a few days before the meeting. Ramiz Melikov, chief of the press service of the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan, said that as a result of the fight “two servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan perished; five soldiers and officers of the Armenian Army were killed”.
Armenia’s statements are somewhat different. Seiran Shakhsuvaryan, press secretary of the Armenian defense minister, said that “no serious fight, which entailed casualties, took place on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border”. According to him, he is “tired of denying Baku’s allegations regarding skirmishes and casualties on the border”. He noted that the Armenian Armed Forces are on alert and can “repulse any attack”.
It’s not easy to check both theories because there are no eye-witnesses. However, it’s hard to deny the fact of skirmishes. The press service of the Defense Ministry of the Republic of Azerbaijan said that this was the third armed incident on the border during the past ten days. The press service reports that Armenian units fired at the positions of Azerbaijani troops on June 28 and June 30, as a result of which two servicemen of the Azerbaijani Army perished. This theory is trustworthy because Lieutenant-General Seiran Oganyan, commander of the Karabakh army, told WPS some time ago that Armenian and Azerbaijani troops are separated by a thin front line. This is why any incautious action may lead to a skirmish. Mr. Oganyan noted that sometimes Azerbaijani servicemen provoke such incidents by moving their observation posts closer to Armenian trenches.
To all appearances, Baku intends to exert pressure on Yerevan via international peacekeeping organizations. Last Thursday Ali Gasanov, head of the socio-political department of the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration, stated that Baku will raise this problem at a meeting of the Minsk OSCE group.
It should be noted that Baku has been making such statements for over ten years. It’s easy to understand Azerbaijan. Baku has lost control over Nagorny Karabakh and adjacent districts as a result of a bloody conflict, whcih began in the 1990s.
According to Armenia’s theory, Karabakh occupies 8% of Azerbaijan’s territory. At the same time, Baku states that it makes 20%. It should be noted that Azerbaijan controls the Shaumyanovskii district and part of the Mardaketskii and Martuninskii districts of Nagorny Karabakh.
Territory seized by Karabakh’s troops border Iran in the south. The republic is linked with Armenia by a road built a few years ago. It should be noted that many international observers acknowledge that the Republic of Nagorny Karabakh has managed to create an efficient government, which created a monoethnic state. It is hard to say if this corresponds to the principles of social justice because Azerbaijanis and representatives of other ethnic groups accounted for 24% of the population of Nagorny Karabakh before the break-up of the USSR. Meanwhile, the fact remains: Nagorny Karabakh opposes Azerbaijan and can defend its independence.
Around a million Azerbaijanis have become refugees as a result of war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. At the same time, Azerbaijan has expelled all Armenians.
The UN Security Council reproached Azerbaijan and Armenia for aggressive activities in its resolutions No. 822 dated April 30, 1993, No. 853 dated July 29, 1993, No. 873 dated October 14, 1993, and No. 884 dated November 12, 1993. The UN Security Council demanded that Armenia and Azerbaijan withdraw troops from the conflict zone. As is known, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a cease-fire agreement on May 12, 1994. The conflicting sides are now discussing this problem through the mediation of international organizations.
The Minsk OSCE group consisting of the US, Russia and France also focuses on settling the conflict over Nagorny Karabakh.