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If we take into consideration the pace at which Azerbaijan is increasing its arsenal and the increasing quantity of arsenal, it becomes clear that Azerbaijan is purchasing weapons with the intention to use them someday, not keep them in a storage room. This is what Minister of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) Masis Mayilyan told Nationalia.

“Azerbaijan will take advantage of every opportunity to test and check to see if it is the right time to launch new aggression. We saw how Azerbaijan did this in April 2016 and just recently, on July 12, on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border (in Tavush Province of Armenia). In both cases, the defense troops of Artsakh and Armenia gave an adequate response. There are no grounds to believe that Azerbaijan won’t make another similar attempt, and it will launch another military operation when it feels that it has become rather powerful. Of course, we realize this, and the Defense Army of Artsakh is ready to retaliate, as it has done in the past,” the foreign minister declared.

Asked if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the government of Artsakh in general have taken actions to strengthen Artsakh’s positions in international diplomacy, taking into consideration the fact that Artsakh remains unrecognized, Mayilyan said the following: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, in general, the authorities of Artsakh are doing their best to present the real picture to the world. Our republic’s position has remained unchanged since the declaration of independence. We have always supported an exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict. This position has been expressed on several occasions, publicly and during the meetings with the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also issued several statements for international organizations, including the OSCE, the United Nations, etc. We don’t conceal the fact that we want peace, but at the same time, we realize what the Latin philosopher meant with the following phrase: “Si vis pacem, para bellum”, meaning if you want war, be ready for war, and Artsakh has already gone through that.

Sometimes just taking a look at the region is enough to understand the reality underlying the developments unfolding in the conflict zone. As you stated in the first question, thousands of demonstrators in Baku were demanding that the Azerbaijani government launch a large-scale war. To be fair, it is necessary to mention that the demonstrators who barged into the parliament also had an anti-government agenda. This simply goes to show what role the conflict plays in the lives of Azerbaijanis and how ready the Azerbaijani society and government are for peace and a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

All sides need to aspire for peace. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian moods have become a part of the country’s state policy, and Azerbaijan has prepared its population for war, not peace. This is the reality we face every day, and it is the reality that the international community needs to deal with. Artsakh needs to think about its people, whether the country is recognized or not, and we are doing our part to not only ensure our people’s security, but also play a constructive role in contributing to peace and stability in the region.”

As for the view that Nikol Pashinyan’s coming to power in Armenia in 2018 paved the way for new prospects for the signing of bilateral agreements with Azerbaijan which can eventually lead to some progress in the peace talks, the minister said the following: “As I already mentioned, all sides need to aspire for peace. Azerbaijan also has to work for peace and create an atmosphere of confidence which will allow for advancing the peace process. The most important thing is that Azerbaijan must understand once and for all that it is naïve expect any tangible progress without restoration of the trilateral format of negotiations, that is, the direct participation of the Republic of Artsakh. Allow me to remind that, to this day, the only significant achievement in the peace process is the signing of the termless ceasefire agreement signed on May 12, 1994 when Artsakh was participating in the negotiations. Since the ceasefire agreement was signed by Artsakh, one of the two main sides of the conflict, it is logical that the peace agreement also needs to be negotiated and signed by Artsakh. Azerbaijan and the relevant international organizations need to work on improving the state of human rights protection in Azerbaijan, promote the country’s democratic development and inform the Azerbaijani society about the advantages of peace, not war.”

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