Archive for the 'Nagorno Karabakh' Category

Azerbaijan: Dick Cheney on Nagorno-Karabakh

According to the official White House website, America’s Vice President Dick Cheney has underlined Azerbaijan’s “territorial integrity” while discussing the Armenian-Azeri conflict during a meeting with Azerbaijan’s authoritarian president Ilham Aliyev in Baku:


America strongly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. We are committed to achieving a negotiated solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict — a solution that starts with the principle of territorial integrity, and takes into account other international principles. Achieving a solution is more important now than ever before; that outcome will enhance peace and stability in the region, and Azerbaijan’s security, as well.


Azerbaijan: Wanna Fight?

The revival of the bloodiest war in the former Soviet Union may start sooner than expected, as Azerbaijan seemingly tries to inflame tensions with neighboring Armenia. Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave, known to its residents and outsiders alike as “a region without rights,” is making clear its refusal to return four captured soldiers that Armenia says erroneously entered Azeri territory.


Additionally, local media in Azerbaijan report the authorities are preparing to “punish” the Armenian soldiers who crossed the border two months ago. According to Trend News, an Azerbaijani Military of Defense spokesperson has said that “Armenians who attempted to commit sabotage in Azerbaijan will be punished in line with the legislation.”


While not specifying what the “punishment” will be, Azerbaijan’s new tough message interestingly accompanied ultra-nationalist president Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Nakhichevan, the region he hails from. Aliyev, who has threatened to restart the war against Armenia over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh, made several stops in Nakhichevan including overseeing the opening of a hospital in the district of Djulfa – the same area where local soldiers reduced the world’s largest Armenian cemetery to dust in December 2005.


Djulfa’s destruction, which was condemned by the European Parliament, is part of a number of recent failures by the Aliyev regime which seem to have made Azerbaijan’s authoritarian establishment even more militant. A few months ago, France, Russia and the United States – the three countries involved in negotiating the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process – loudly rejected a resolution on Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijan in the United Nations.

With the enormous oil boom and an almost omnipresent hatred against Armenia, Azerbaijan’s regime seems to think it can afford a war against Armenia. Or maybe they are trying to scare the world?

Azerbaijan: Linguistic Exercise of Genocide

Ara Sanjian has an interesting summary analysis of Azerbaijan’s growing denial of the Armenian Genocide and the misuse of the word “genocide” in many aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

While the continuing struggle between Armenian and Turkish officials and activists for or against the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 shows no sign of abating, and while its dynamics are becoming largely predictable, a new actor is increasingly attracting attention for its willingness to join this “game.” It is Azerbaijan, which has—since 1988—been engaged in at times lethal conflict with Armenians over Mountainous Karabagh.

In modern times, Armenians have often found it difficult to decide whether they should view the Turks (of Turkey) and the Azerbaijanis as two separate ethnic groups—and thus apply two mutually independent policies towards them—or whether they should approach them as only two of the many branches of a single, pan-Turkic entity, pursuing a common, long-term political objective, which would—if successful—end up with the annihilation of Armenians in their historical homeland.

Indeed, almost at the same time that the Armenian Question in the Ottoman Empire was attracting worldwide attention, extensive clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis first occurred in Transcaucasia in 1905. Clashes—accompanied, on this occasion, with attempts at ethnic cleansing—resumed with heightened intensity after the collapse of tsarism in 1917. They were suppressed only in 1921, by the Russian-dominated communist regime, which reasserted control over Transaucasia, forced Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to join the Soviet Union, and imposed itself as the judge in the territorial disputes that had plagued these nations. The communists eventually endorsed Zangezur as part of Armenia, while allocating Nakhichevan and Mountainous Karabagh to Azerbaijan. This arrangement satisfied neither side. A low-intensity Armenian-Azerbaijani struggle persisted during the next decades within the limits permitted by the Soviet system. Repeated Armenian attempts to detach Mountainous Karabagh from Azerbaijan were its most visible manifestation.


Hence, it is still difficult to know what Soviet Azerbaijani historians thought about the Armenian Genocide of 1915: Were they more sympathetic to arguments produced by Soviet Armenian historians or those who had the blessing of the authorities in Ankara? The polemic between Soviet Armenian and Soviet Azerbaijani historians centered from the mid-1960’s on the legacy of Caucasian Albania. A theory developed in Soviet Azerbaijan assumed that the once Christian Caucasian Albanians were the ancestors of the modern-day Muslim Azerbaijanis. Thereafter, all Christian monuments in Soviet Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan (including all medieval Armenian churches, monasteries and cross-stones, which constituted the vast majority of these monuments) were declared to be Caucasian Albanian and, hence, Azerbaijani. Medieval Armenians were openly accused of forcibly assimilating the Caucasian Albanians and laying claim to their architectural monuments and works of literature. This was probably the closest that Soviet Azerbaijanis came—in print—to formally accusing the Armenians of committing genocide against their (Caucasian Albanian) ancestors.

Since 1988, however, as the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Mountainous Karabagh has gotten bloodier and increasingly intractable, the Azerbaijani positions on both negating the Armenian Genocide of 1915 and accusing Armenians of having themselves committed a genocide against the Azerbaijanis have become more pronounced and now receive full backing from all state institutions, including the country’s last two presidents, Heydar and Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijani officials, politicians, and wide sections of civil society, including the head of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of the Caucasus, Sheikh ul-Islam Haji Allahshukur Pashazada, as well as numerous associations in the Azerbaijani diaspora, now fully identify themselves with Turkey’s official position that the Armenian Genocide is simply a lie, intentionally fabricated in pursuit of sinister political goals. Even representatives of the Georgian, Jewish, and Udi ethnic communities in Azerbaijan have joined the effort. Unlike in Turkey, there is not yet a visible minority in Azerbaijan that openly disagrees with their government’s stand on this issue. This probably explains the absence of the Azerbaijani judiciary in the campaign to deny the 1915 genocide. If there are officials or intellectuals who remain unconvinced with this theory propagated by their government, it seems that they still prefer to keep a very low profile.


Turkish-Azerbaijani cooperation against the Armenian Genocide recognition campaign is also evident among the Turkish and Azerbaijani expatriate communities in Europe and the United States. Indeed, some of the demonstrations mentioned above as the activities of the Azerbaijani diaspora were organized in conjunction with local Turkish organizations. Within Turkey, among the Igdir, Kars, and Erzerum residents, who consider themselves victims of an Armenian-perpetrated genocide, and who filed a lawsuit against the novelist Orhan Pamuk in June 2006, were also ethnic Azerbaijanis; their ancestors had moved from territories now part of Armenia.

Azerbaijanis, like Turks, are very interested in having the Jews as allies in their struggle against the Armenian Genocide recognition campaign. Like Turks, Azerbaijanis do not question the Holocaust. However, they liken the Armenians to its perpetrators—the Nazis—and not its victims—the Jews—as is the case among Holocaust and genocide scholars. The Azerbaijanis argue that Jews should join their efforts to foil Armenian attempts at genocide recognition because there was also a genocide perpetrated by Armenians against Jews in Azerbaijan, at the time of the genocide against Azerbaijanis in the early 20th century. They repeatedly state that several thousand Jews died then because of Armenian cruelty. The support of Jewish residents of Ujun (Germany) to public events organized by the local Azerbaijanis was attributed to their being provided with documents that listed 87 Jews murdered by Armenians in Guba (Azerbaijan) in 1918.(7)

Yevda Abramov, currently the only Jewish member of the Azerbaijani parliament, is prominent in pushing for such joint Azerbaijani-Jewish efforts. He consistently seeks to show to his ethnic Azerbaijani compatriots that Israel and Jews worldwide share their viewpoint regarding the Armenian Genocide claims. In August 2007, he commented that “one or two Jews can recognize [the] Armenian genocide. That will be the result of Armenian lobby’s impact. However, that does not mean that Jews residing in the United States and the organizations functioning there also recognize the genocide.” He explained that because expenditures for election to the U.S. Congress are high, some Jewish candidates receive contributions from the Armenian lobby and, in return, have to meet the interests of this lobby. According to Abramov, “except [for the] Holocaust, Jews do not recognize any [other] event as genocide.”(8)

Azerbaijani arguments that Armenians perpetrated a genocide against Azerbaijanis and Jews in the early 20th century have received little attention outside Azerbaijani circles. However, when the issue was touched upon in a contribution to the Jerusalem Post by Lenny Ben-David, a former Israeli adviser to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 4, 2007, his article was also quickly distributed by the Azeri Press Agency. Ben-David called on Israel and Jewish-Americans to be careful regarding Armenian claims against Turkey. He listed a number of instances when—he believed—Armenians had massacred hundreds of thousands of Turkish Muslims and thousands of Jews. “Recently, Mountain Jews in Azerbaijan requested assistance in building a monument to 3,000 Azeri Jews killed by Armenians in 1918 in a pogrom about which little is known,” he wrote.(9)


However, mutual accusations of the destruction of monuments are just the tip of the iceberg in a larger interpretation of demographic processes in Transcaucasia in the last 200 years as one, continual process of ethnic cleansing. Within this context, the term “genocide” is often used as shorthand to indicate slow, but continuing ethnic cleansing, punctuated with moments of heightened violence also serving the same purpose. Indeed, where the contemporary Azerbaijani attitude toward Armenia departs from Turkey’s is now the official standpoint in Baku that the Armenians have pursued a policy of genocide against the Azerbaijanis during the past two centuries.

While the Turkish state and dominant Turkish elites vehemently object to the use of the term “genocide” to describe the Armenian deportations of 1915, and while some Turkish historians, politicians, and a few municipal authorities have accused the Armenians themselves of having committed genocide against the Ottoman Muslims/Turks—in their replies to what they say are Armenian “allegations”—this line of accusation has never been officially adopted, to date at least, by the highest authorities. It has not become a part of state-sponsored lobbying in foreign countries.


Armenia: Ex-Presidential Candidate on Djulfa Destruction

Video snapshot: An Azerbaijani truck dumps ancient Armenian gravestones, khachkars, into the River Arax in December 2005. The destruction ammounted to the complete annihilation of the world’s largest medieval Armenian cemetery, Djulfa. For more photos see

Armenia’s ex-presidential candidate Vahan Hovhannisian from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) has said that the December 2005 destruction of Djulfa (Jugha) cemetery by Azerbaijan should have been the point for Armenia to pull out of negotiations with Azerbaijan over the conflict of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh).

Hovhannisian is quoted in ArmeniaNow as saying: “The day Azerbaijan began to barbarically destroy the monuments in Jugha, we had to leave the negotiation process. You would see what would happen: they would try to keep us, would seek our forgiveness.”

I am not sure whether I agree with Hovhannisyan or not. Although I have devoted the last two years working for Djulfa awareness (and today received my University’s Outstanding Undergraduate Award largely for my work on Djulfa) and am currently writing my honors thesis on its legal implications, Azerbaijan might be looking for an excuse to militarily attack Armenia. 

The deputy is correct in the sense that the destruction and its aftermath should be in the top list of Armenia’s ongoing talks with Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan: Singer ‘Banned’ After Performing in Israel on Massacre Anniversary

A popular singer in Azerbaijan is no longer aired on radio or television in the ex-Soviet republic after returning from Israel where he performed on the day of a national Azerbaijani commemoration.

Image from singer Nadir Gafardzadeh, de facto banned in his homeland for performing on a day of massacre commemoration

According to the Russian-language from Azerbaijan, singer Nadir Gafarzadeh “has been officially ‘prohibited’ [from appearing] in government events while citizens, shocked with the singer’s heartlessness and unprincipled [character], have stopped inviting him to [perform in] weddings.”

Gafarzadeh, on a February 2008 visit to Israel, had performed at a restaurant on the day when official Azerbaijan commemorates the 1990s killing of several hundred Azerbaijani civilians during the Armenian takeover of the town of Khojalu, Nagorno Karabakh.

Regarded as the “Khojalu Genocide” by official Azerbaijan, any challenge of the official account of the massacre has been violently suppressed in Azerbaijan. An independent Azerbaijani journalist who has suggested that Armenian forces left a humanitarian corridor for the civilians of Khojalu to leave, for example, is currently in jail with at least 10 more years to go.

Singer Nadir Gafarzadeh  has attempted to win back his audience amid the uproar. His effort to show good will by giving financial support to some Azerbaijani refugees from Khojalu, as reported by another Russian-language Azeri source, has apparently failed. Earlier, he was interviewed on a TV program in Azerbaijan in early March 2008 on his previous month’s performance in Israel, as seen in a YouTube video. During the short interview, the female host asks the singer about his performance on the anniversary of the “Khojalu genocide” to which Gafarzadeh passionately defends himself. After the host and the guest interrupt each other several times, the Azerbaijani journalist stands up and starts hysterically yelling at the singer.

At this time there are no criminal charges filed against Gafarzadeh.

I am from Nagorno Karabakh


Archuk’s Blog suggests fellow Armenians to post a banner that reads “I am Karabakhi” amid some anti-Nagorno Karabakh sentiments among opposition activists in Armenia. The latter often overemphasize the current administration’s roots in the indigenous Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh that has been a de facto independent country after breaking away from Soviet Azerbaijan followed by a war in the early 1990s.

While I have largely protested the current administration’s handling of the March 1, 2008 post-election unrest, I do join Archuk’s call because it hits the real problem that Armenia is facing – intolerance, polarization and disrespect within the society.

In short, I am from Nagorno Karabakh.

United Nations: Azerbaijan and 38 Others Pass Anti-Armenian Resolution

It is rare when France, the Russian Federation and the United States are part of a small group that vote the same way in the United Nations.

But today they joined the states of Angola, Armenia, India, and Vanuatu in voting against a General Assembly resolution by the Republic of Azerbaijan that calls on Armenian forces to withdraw from the Armenian indigenous region of Nagorno Karabakh – a de facto but internationally unrecognized republic in the ex-Soviet world.

According to Reuters:

The U.N. General Assembly on Friday demanded [on March 14, 2008] that Armenian forces withdraw from all occupied territories in Azerbaijan, but key mediators in the Azeri-Armenia dispute rejected the non-binding resolution.

There were 100 abstentions and many other countries chose not to participate in the vote, which Western diplomats said was a reflection of the fact that most people felt the Azeri resolution was not a balanced picture of the problem.

“This resolution was not helpful,” said a diplomat from one of the three co-chairs of the Minsk Group — Russia, the United States and France.

The Minsk Group is a committee of countries working to bring about a peaceful resolution of the disagreement over Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed Caucasus mountain enclave. The group was established by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1992.

A U.S. statement on the resolution said the three Minsk Group co-chairs all voted against the resolution because they agreed it represented a “unilateral” view of the dispute.


Last week Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said Kosovo’s newly declared independence from Serbia had emboldened Armenian separatists in Azerbaijan’s mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have accused each other of stoking the recent violence there.

The resolution passed by 39 countries voting in favor of Azerbaijan’s ‘territorial integrity,’ while 100 states chose to abstain or not show up at all. The Azerbaijani resolution, which calls for “the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” was largely voted for by Muslim countries including Armenia’s historic enemy Turkey (where the indigenous Armenian population was eliminated during WWI), Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Iraq, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and others. Among others, the ex-Soviet states of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – all in somewhat similar situation like Azerbaijan with breakaway regions – supported the resolution. From other former Soviet “Turkic” countries only Uzbekistan supported the resolution while the rest of Central Asian countries voted abstain or were not present. Serbia, which is still protesting the U.S.-backed breakaway of Kosovo, joined Azerbaijan in defending the latter’s “territorial integrity.”

Announcing support for the resolution on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Pakistan’s representative quoted Azerbaijani allegations of “destruction of Azerbaijan’s cultural and historical heritage, including Islamic monuments.” Ironically, Azerbaijan has continuously denied the European Parliament investigation of material heritage destruction in the South Caucasus – raising questions of its sincerity in protecting heritage. And needless to say, Azerbaijan’s rhetoric of “Armenian vandalism” only started in late December of 2005 – after an eyewitness videotape from the Iranian-Azerbaijani border showed servicemen of Azerbaijan’s army reducing the world’s largest Armenian medieval cemetery to dust.

According to the official United Nations website, Armenia’s representative argued that the Azeri-drafted resolution would undermine the peace process and contribute to Azerbaijan’s militant position in dealing with the indigenous population of Nagorno Karabakh:

The representative of Armenia said it was unprecedented for a draft resolution to be put to the vote without there having been any consultations on it, in cynical disregard of the foundation of the United Nations and every other organization.  The purpose of the drafters had never been to encourage or facilitate discussion.  It was simply a way for Azerbaijan to list its wishes on a piece of paper.  If the intention had truly been to contribute to the success of ongoing negotiations, Azerbaijan would have put its energy into the existing Minsk Group negotiation format.

He said that, after Azerbaijan had militarized the conflict 20 years ago, there had been a full-scale war between Armenians of Nagorno Karabagh and Azerbaijan.  The result was thousands dead, nearly 1 million refugees and lost territories on both sides.  Today, there was a self-maintained ceasefire and negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group.  Despite that and attempts by Azerbaijan to divert from the peace process, the talks were indeed moving forward.  There was now a negotiating document on the table that addressed all fundamental issues, security being foremost among them.  The Minsk Group co-chairs had presented the latest version to the two sides at the OSCE Ministerial Meeting in Madrid.

Yet, Azerbaijan risked sabotaging that process by presenting a draft that ignored fundamental international norms and the real issues, which must be addressed, he continued.  In short, the draft was counterproductive.  It called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of armed forces, while ignoring the security vacuum that would result.  Who would be responsible for the security of the population of Nagorno Karabagh, which was already vulnerable, in the absence of “international cover” safeguarded by those very armed forces?

The draft also called for self-governance within Azerbaijan, he noted.  That had become impossible 20 years ago and was not possible today, when the security of the Armenian minority was clearly endangered.  The international community had demonstrated that it understood that, in various conflicts around the world.  The Government of Azerbaijan had forfeited its right to govern people it considered its own citizens when it had unleashed a war against them 20 years ago.  Armenians would not return to such a situation.  Just as victims of domestic violence were not forced back into the custody of the abuser, the people of Nagorno Karabagh would not be forced back into the custody of a Government that sanctioned pogroms against them, and later sent its army against them.

Noting that the draft also asked for commitment by the parties to humanitarian law, he questioned their commitment to the non-use of force, the peaceful resolution of disputes and all the other provisions of the Helsinki Final Act.  The draft talked about territories and refugees, but not how the consequences of the conflict would be resolved if the original cause was not addressed.  Refugees and territories had been created by an Azerbaijan that had “unleashed a savage war against people it claims to be its own citizens”.  Only when the initial cause was resolved would the fate of all the territories and refugees in question be put right.

The draft was a “wasted attempt” to predetermine the outcome of the peace talks, he said.  That was not how responsible members of the international community conducted the difficult but rewarding mission of bringing peace and stability to peoples and regions.  The co-chairs had found that today’s text did not help the peace talks.  Armenia also knew it would undermine the peace process and asked other delegations not to support it.

Nagorno Karabakh: Armenian-Azeri Skirmish

The BBC reports on a skirmish in the indigenous Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, a de jureregion of Azerbaijan, that has left at least two Azeri soldiers dead after the latter, according to the Armenian side as reported by the Associated Press, captured an Armenian post and were soon kicked out.

Unfortunately, there is only one side of the story for the BBC which reports that “Azeri authorities told the BBC Armenia had provoked the clashes to divert attention from its domestic problems. ”

Whatever the case, there is no independent Azeri sources to read about the news – one of them, being terminated and its editor sentenced to over ten years in jail, and most Armenian news websites still limited to providing official government information due to the temporary state of emergency.

Nonetheless, from Azerbaijan reports in Russian in its latest updateon the fight that Azeri authorities state they have “eliminated” 12 Armenian soldiers while only three Azeri soldiers became “martyrs.” The website of Armenia’s Foreign Ministry quotes Cabinet Minister Vartan Oskanyan as saying, “There are casualties. As of this moment, there is one injured from the Armenian side, and as the Azerbaijani press reported, two deaths from their side, and injuries too. These we can obviously not confirm.” Some Azeri users of a’s Russian-language Forum have suggested that Armenians may in fact have more casualties. Oskanyan, they suggest, may not release the information given the recent violent protests in the country.

Azerbaijan, Amid Fears of Karabakh Recognition, to Leave Kosovo

Azerbaijan’s regime is pulling its NATO troops from newly-independent Kosovo in apparent fears that the west’s recognition of the tiny state might serve as precedent for Nagorno-Karabakh independence.

Reuters reports:

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has asked parliament to vote to withdraw the ex-Soviet country’s peacekeepers from Kosovo, an Azeri official said on Thursday.

Aliyev submitted the initiative to a parliamentary committee this week, and the vote is expected on March 4. The proposal is expected to pass into law with little opposition.

Azerbaijan has had 33 soldiers serving in Kosovo since 1999 with a Turkish battalion under NATO command.

Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said Kosovo’s recent declaration of independence from Serbia had “sharply changed the political scene”.

“Azerbaijan, as well as a host of other NATO partner-countries, is now re-examining the position of its peacekeeping platoon,” Azimov told reporters.


Karabakh, an indigenous Armenian enclave that Stalin annexed to Soviet Azerbaijan in the 1920s, is de facto independent from Azerbaijan after a war in the 1990s that killed thousands of people on both sides. Azerbaijan’s regime has said it will do everything to return its Soviet territory.

Since Turkey has hailed Kosovo’s independence, it will be interesting to see how fiercely Azerbaijan will deny Kosovo’s independence given Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s close relationship.

Azeri War Rhetoric Concerns Observers

Eurasianet has a story on Azerbaijan’s arrogant war rhetoric and Armenia’s response.

EU officials touring the South Caucasus this week were confronted by heated words from President Ilham Aliyev, who told them Azerbaijan is ready to “wage war” with neighboring Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan’s recent windfall of oil and gas revenues appears to have persuaded Aliyev that he could turn the tables on Armenia, which has long held the military upper hand in the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic-Armenian territory located within Azerbaijan.

In talks on February 4 with Slovenian Foreign Minister Dmitrij Rupel, who was representing the current EU Presidency, Aliyev indicated Baku was contemplating waging war for control of the disputed territory, which together with a strip of adjacent Azerbaijani territory has been under Yerevan’s control since a 1988-94 war between the two countries.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU’s external relations commissioner, tells RFE/RL that Brussels firmly rejected Baku’s “inflammatory” rhetoric. “I clearly said, not only to the authorities, but also at the press conference, that I think it is highly important that they avoid any inflammatory speech at the moment of presidential elections,” she says.

Both countries are holding a presidential vote this year — Armenia on February 19, and Azerbaijan in October. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has spent more than 15 years mediating talks between the two sides, has indicated an election year is not likely to see major progress on the issue.

Baku, however, appears impatient. The Azerbaijani leadership, Rupel said, appears to feel that “time is not on Armenia’s side.” Nor is money. Azerbaijan’s defense budget this year will exceed $1 billion; Armenia’s is just one-third of that figure.

Azerbaijan has enjoyed spectacular economic growth over the past few years. The country’s GDP grew by 25 percent in 2007, almost exclusively on the strength of oil and gas exports.

Azerbaijan’s minister for economic development, Heydar Babayev, says he expects his government to generate upward of $150 billion in oil and gas revenues by 2015.

Armenia, meanwhile, has no lucrative natural resources. It is landlocked, blockaded by neighbors Turkey and Azerbaijan, and — at Baku’s behest — bypassed by oil and gas pipelines, as well as rail and road projects, which originate in Azerbaijan.

’Winning The Peace’

But, as Rupel notes, Armenia has “alliances that speak for it.” This is a reference to Russian backing. Throughout the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Russia is rumored to have given Armenia military equipment worth $1 billion. Russia provides for most of Armenia’s energy needs and has bought up most of its energy infrastructure.

The Armenian government did not appeared cowed by Baku’s fighting words. Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian tells RFE/RL that Armenia is confident of its military capability. “No matter how strong the Azeris will be in the next 15 years, even with this kind of spending, even [if it] doubled every year, to catch up with Armenia’s commitment to defend itself and Karabakh, that will require [as a] minimum 15-20 years,” he says.

Oskanian says that Armenia would not be intimidated in any event. More importantly, he adds, he does not believe there can be a military solution to Nagorno-Karabakh. “We fought twice with the Azeris, we prevailed, but we never claimed that we won the war,” he says. “Unless we win the peace, we will never claim that we won the war.”


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