It’s not yet clear whether the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in Hamburg or not, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan told a press conference ta the Media Center today.
Speaking about “James Warlick’s decision to steps down as OSCE Mink group Co-Chair was not unexpected, he was replaced as his term in office had expired.”
“Let’s not overestimate the role of persons appointed by co-chairing countries,” the Deputy Foreign Minister said. He added that each country has its policy line, which does not change with the change of individuals.
“In case of the US, there are established institutions, expert groups, long-developed policy, and abrupt steps are unlikely even considering the change of the President,” Shavarsh Kocharyan said. He added however, that some shifts in this or that direction are possible, considering that the President has greater liabilities than the Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
According to him, the Armenian parties have never avoided meetings, but we have always expected progress from those meetings.
“Progress in talks is impossible, unless the agreements reached in Vienna and St. Petersburg are called to life. It is impossible to expect progress in the negotiation process as long as the threat of resumption of war is there, as long as there is lack of trust between the parties, as long as the Azeri forces are firing along the line of contact and organizing provocations,” Shavarsh Kocharyan said.
According to him, there is one clear reason behind the lack of progress in talks. “For years the Azerbaijani side has been using the negotiation process as a cover for its policy of spreading propaganda built on the distortion of the essence of the conflict, to present it as a territorial dispute without referring to the issue of self-determination, to prepare a fertile ground for a military solution in the future,” the Deputy Foreign Minister said.
Secondly, he said, the April events came to reject the perceptions of the Azeri side. “They thought the two Armenian states were weakening and getting poorer at the time, when Azerbaijan was building its military capacity thanks to oil dollars. April showed that the Blitzkrieg they had planned simply failed,” he said. He added that the results of a second such attempt will be more painful for the Azerbaijani side.
Speaking about the lack of targeted criticism on the part of the mediators, the Deputy Foreign Minister said: “The Co-Chairs have two missions – to help the parties reach an agreement and to prevent the resumption of military actions.”
According to Shavarsh Kocharyan, the best security guarantee for the Armenian side is to rely upon itself. Speaking about the military balance in the region, the Deputy Foreign Minister said “balance does not mean only the ratio of weapons. It refers not only to human potential, the types of weapons, but also other factors such as the liberated territories, the location of those territories, and most importantly, the fighting spirit and unity.” On the other hand, he said “it would be naive to ignore the impact of contemporary weapons on the balance.”
“Azerbaijan has had a serious progress in terms of purchasing contemporary weapons, but as a counterbalance we have Smerch systems, TOS-1A Multiple Rocket Launchers (Solntsepek) and Iskander missile systems,” the Armenian Deputy FM said.
He said there are two ways to prevent the arms race. The first option is to reach a peace deal through negotiations. The second scenario, he said, is the unleashing of war by Azerbaijan, but added that the possibility of a military solution gradually tends to weaken.