Nalbandian: Armenia Wants to Put Mechanism in Place for Studying Border Incidents

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YEREVAN (Public Radio of Armenia) — Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian said this week his country is ready to have the international community look at the border incident with Azerbaijan last week.

“Armenia has always stood for the creation of mechanisms of investigation of border incidents, and, unlike Azerbaijan, when we agree on something, we do not backtrack the following day,” Nalbandian said at a joint press conference with the Organization for  ecurity and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) chair-in-office, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore.

“Elements of the establishment of mechanisms were included in the statements by the presidents of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan in March 2011 and January 2012 in Sochi. We respect those agreements and we are for the creation of the mechanisms,” Nalbandian added.

Recently the Turkish foreign minister expressed his concerns about the loss of Azeri soldiers, and added also that despite the efforts exerted by the OSCE Minsk Group, the Armenian side is not yet reacting.

Asked to comment, Nalbandian said: “The statement of the Turkish foreign minister, according to which as if he mourns the loss of only the Azeri servicemen as a result of the latest incidents, sounds racist.”

“We have never heard him being concerned about the killings of Armenian soldiers as a result of subversive acts from the Azeri side. While the international community condems the bloody incidents and urges the sides to refrain from the use of force, these sort of Turkish statements in fact encourage Azerbaijanis’ new subversive acts,” Nalbandian stated.

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“While Azerbaijan is not only not reacting, but is continuously rejecting the Minsk Group Co-Chairs’ proposals on the withdrawal of snipers from the line of contact, the consolidation of ceasefire, the creation of investigation mechanisms of the violations of ceasefire, the Turkish side is attempting to shift this responsibility of the Azerbaijani side on to others. The Turkish side is pretending it is unaware of whose fault it is that a progress was not made in Kazan on reaching an agreement of the basic principles. Twenty years ago Armenia did not oppose Turkey’s inclusion as a member of the Minsk Group, because some countries expected that Turkey would be unbiased and would have its input in the peaceful settlement of the conflict. The past 20 years showed that Turkey is not only biased, but through its stance harms the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process. A question arises: is Turkey’s such behavior compatible with its being a member of the Minsk Group?” Nalbandian concluded.

President Serge Sargisian last week blamed Azerbaijan for the latest swell in deadly violence in the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict zone and warned that the Armenian military will continue to take “tough” action against Azerbaijani “provocations.”

“I have always said that provocations along the line of contact are extremely dangerous. I have also always said that they will get a tough response. The incidents of recent days also testify to that,” he said, referring to fierce fighting that left at least five Azerbaijani and four Armenian soldiers dead.

“We do not want an escalation of the situation but will not leave any action against our citizens, state borders and Nagorno-Karabagh without a response,” Sargisian said, in written remarks to the Panorama.am news service. “The Armenian Armed Forces have received a strict order to display restraint and vigilance and at the same time prevent and punish any provocation by the enemy.”

Sargisian has warned previously that the Azerbaijani military will suffer a “final and devastating” blow if it attempts to forcibly regain control of Karabagh and other Armenian-controlled territories surrounding the disputed enclave.

Razmik Zohrabian, a deputy chairman of Sargisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), echoed that warning on Thursday. “We do not favor war, we favor political solutions by means of negotiations,” Zohrabian said. “But if, God forbid, there is war, we will ensure a final solution … and they will suffer great losses in terms of both military and economic potential.”

(RFE/RL contributed to this report.)