A1+ has interviewed Armenia's ex-Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General Vagharshak Harutyuntyan in connection with Azerbaijan's recent subversive acts on Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the possible resumption of hostilities.
Mr. Harutyunyan, do the recent ceasefire violations and subversive actions on the frontline imply that there is a serious threat of war?
No, they don't. To answer the question, we should first of all understand the aim of the subversive acts and under which conditions a war can restart. Azerbaijan will not unleash war unless it is confident of its victory and feels its advantage, that is, if it knows that the military balance is in its favour. Today the military equilibrium between the sides is maintained, and Azerbaijan knows that once it starts war it will sustain serious and great losses not only on the frontline but also in its territory.
What do you mean to say?
Armenia today has such weapons which can cause irreversible damage to Azerbaijan's military and industrial centers. Besides, war is not in the interests of the countries that pursue economic interests in the region. In the given situation I exclude the possibility of war.
The main purpose of subversive actions is to create an atmosphere of fear in Armenia and in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Azerbaijan pursues several objectives at a time. First, it wants to blackmail the international community and Armenia to accelerate the conflict settlement under the threat of resuming war and force Armenia to agree to concessions. Second, it wants to keep high the military spirit in its army and among its people. Azerbaijan leadership fully understands that the Karabakh issue cannot be settled in the nearest future for Armenia will never agree to see Karabakh in the territory of Azerbaijan and the latter will never agree to Karabakh's independence. Considering the fact that Azerbaijani oil saw its peak in 2012, with experts predicting decline in its volumes in the coming 20 years, we can understand Azerbaijan's eagerness to speed up the regulation of the Karabakh issue.
We are all aware of the huge sums that Azerbaijan spends on arming its troops. Doesn't it change the military balance in favour of Azerbaijan?
Not, it doesn't. Arms-building is among the key points in maintenance of military-political balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with the Armenian side ensuring this balance by signing military-political agreements with Russia and its membership to Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Within the framework of this cooperation, Armenia is able to obtain weapons at lower prices while Azerbaijan does not have such an opportunity. Besides, unlike Armenia which only uses ammunition to ensure security on its border with Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan uses weapons for different aims. The latter is to keep safe the sea and land borders with Iran and the sea border with Turkmenistan. So, the sums Azerbaijan spends for ensuring its security seem huge only at the first glance.
Since you have mentioned about the CSTO, don't you think that the CSTO forces should respond to the subversive acts of Azerbaijan?
Duration of subversive acts is a matter of hours and subversive acts are usually carried out by a group of 10-20 people. Armenian forces stationed at the frontline are able to give adequate response Azerbaijan's sabotage and there is no need to involve CSTO or any other force in it. CSTO's involvement will be felt once the attacks become large-scale and long-term. Political reaction is a different thing; its aim is to prevent similar attacks in the future. The incidents at the border should remind everyone that our army is always on alert and our soldiers and officers who guard our borders in the trenches, heroically fulfill their military duty and prevent war.
While speaking about the army one should take into consideration all the aforesaid things. All those who allege that hostilities might resume, either bring grist to the mill of Azerbaijan or spread panic, increasing the likelihood of a war and the settlement of the Karabakh issue to our detriment.