War may recur as causes not eliminated - Vladimir Yevseyev

14:05 • 14.07.16

It is wrong that Azerbaijan is rejecting a proposal for Nagorno-Karabakh’s involvement in the negotiations, Russian military expert Vladimir Yevseyev said in an interview with Tert.am.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a signatory to the ceasefire agreement of 1994-1995, he added.

The situation surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh suggests that events similar to the four-day war may recur because the causes remain, while the agreements have not been implemented.

Mr Yevseyev, the International Crisis Group released a report warning that events similar to the four-day war will cause ground-to-ground missile (GGM) to be used. What is the reason for this conclusion?

I think this concern is justified, but it is not the Armenian side that is the cause. There was a threat of Smerch missiles shelling Stepanakert during the four-day war. And it is Azerbaijan, not Armenia, that is issuing such threats.

The Armenian side has to retaliate against Azerbaijan’s aggression. This is the reason why missile launchers have been installed in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Armenian side has an advantage: it can shell any of Azerbaijan’s oil fields in retaliation for shelling of Stepanakert. Azerbaijan considered the fact and did not take such a step.

The cause of the threat is not Armenia issuing threats. Rather, it is Azerbaijan that is threatening Armenia. And the conflicting parties must realize the unacceptability of using heavy weapon in the conflict zone, ballistic missiles, which Azerbaijan tried to use. Their use can cause serious damage to civilians.

Are Armenian civilians alone going to face the aftermath or should global consequences be expected?

Consequences differ in scope. It may be loss of civilians residing on the Line of Contact. But should Stepanakert be attacked and Armenia retaliate, much graver consequences will be the result, with a conflict developing along the Russian and Turkish borders, that is between NATO and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).

The four-day war was followed by relative calm. In any case, no large-scale hostilities have taken place since. Azerbaijan is now carrying out training flights along the border. Do you think it is a ‘de-escalation-escalation’ policy?

I think the situation is going to be more calm than strained. No one should bear responsibility for Azerbaijan’s provocations. Azerbaijan is seeking negotiations, while rejecting proposals for Nagorno-Karabakh’s involvement in the negotiations. But it is grossly erroneous as Nagorno-Karabakh is a signatory to the ceasefire agreement of 1994-1995. So Azerbaijan must be openly told to invite Nagorno-Karabakh t the negotiating table if it wants to resume the negotiations.

On the other hand, a need for investigative mechanisms must be realized, which is of importance for Armenia. Long-lasting peace is difficult to establish without such mechanisms. We know which of the conflicting parties commits ceasefire violations, but we lack the evidence to “catch them red-handed.” Introduction of mechanisms requires technical equipment and supervision as no one believes anyone’s words. There is a need for intermediary supervision mechanisms, radar equipment.

Mr Yevseyev, an agreement on investigative mechanisms was reached at the Vienna meeting and upheld in Saint Petersburg. However, it has never been implemented. A meeting in France is expected to take place. Is there a need for another meeting while the previously reached agreements have not been implemented?

No doubt, there is a need for a meeting. Meeting is better that warring. But I do not like Azerbaijan opening fire along the Line of Contact prior to each meeting. It is a bad beginning.

This situation suggests that events similar to the four-day are likely to recur. Regrettably, the causes that led to the April strategy have not been eliminated. So I have serious doubts about a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Russia keeps on thinking of making Armenia surrender five regions to Azerbaijan. But we cannot take such a step while the Nagorno-Karabakh population’s security has not been ensued. I d not know how I could be done with mutual understanding lacking.

Therefore, negotiations are necessary, with specific actions to follow them to reduce tension and prevent it escalating into a large-scale war, which may break out.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are more than ever closer to success. What agreement do you think the sides have reached given that Russia, as you say, urges for the five regions’ return?

You know, probably, of the so-called Lavrov plan which is attributed to Lavorv and which does really imply the five regions’ return in exchange for security guarantees. But I don’t understand who that guarantor might be. Will the people in Nagorno-Karabakh be satisfied should [Azerbaijani President Ilham] Aliyev promise security guarantees to [Armenian President Serzh] Sargsyan. I am sure not.

To accept mutual concessions, you need to reduce the tension, strengthen the confidence-building measures and withdraw troops or at least the heavy equipment. But nothing is being done, practically. So I do not see any option for resolving the conflict. For me, a commonly agreed deal between the parties to avoid using dangerous armament and lethal weapons would be a step towards reaching an accord. I don’t see any reason or pretext ruling out the possibility of a war. This is the biggest issue. Agree with me that there are endless ways of approaching a success. It is necessary to undertake steps, which should be tangible and substantial.  

Tigranuhi Martirosyan


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