There is an impression that by triggering clashes along the Line of Contact in Karabakh and on the border with Armenia, Ilham Aliyev deliberately tries to create a new agenda of talks with Serzh Sargsyan. In other words, at their upcoming meeting in Bern, will the two leaders be discussing new ceasefire terms instead of peace process?
Triggering clashes on the Line of Contact with Armenia and NKR Armed Forces has been an integral of part of Azerbaijan's policy during the entire period of Ilham Aliyev's presidency. The incidents on the front line have intensified recently and the adversary started using heavy artillery and even tanks, which means that the changing geopolitical realities make Azerbaijan intensify its military blackmail to exert pressure on both the mediators and the Armenian sides. The chill in relations Russia and the West and the strain in Russia-Turkey relations do not leave Azerbaijan's leadership enough place to maneuver between Moscow, Washington and Ankara. In addition to the shrinking oil price and recovery in Azerbaijan, little time is left for Aliyev to find an acceptable solution to the Karabakh-Azerbaijan conflict. Otherwise, he will have to either go on concessions or really fight. Apparently, Aliyev is not ready to either of the options and will be buying time as long as the decision is adopted instead of him and without him.
Many link Baku's provocations on the line of contact with the deterioration of the Russian-Turkish relations. Unlike Yerevan, Baku supported Ankara in that incident with downed Russian warplane over Syria, which brushed away the illusions about the Russian-Azerbaijani alliance, doesn’t it?
I do not share this viewpoint. The tension on the line of contact of the Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijani troops had obviously escalated long before Turks shot down the Russian jet. Meanwhile, Baku's official stand on the downing of the Russian warplane is really quite illustrative, as Baku unreservedly supports Ankara's stand. At the same time, the Russian leadership's attitude to the Azerbaijani leader, who supports Ankara, has not changed yet. This means that the Kremlin badly needs Azerbaijan - with Aliyev or without him
Several dozens of soldiers of the Armenian and NKR armed forces have been killed in Azerbaijan's sabotage attacks this year, with seven being killed in December alone. Do you think the army command of Armenia and Artsakh take enough measures to prevent deaths and develop measures of retaliation?
The death of the Armenian servicemen is on the conscience of the Armenian political rather than military command. I think the problem is rooted here. Our servicemen cope with the task of defending the borders of the country well enough, but the official political and diplomatic approaches of the incumbent Armenian officials are flawed. These approaches not only fail to reduce the aggressive actions of Azerbaijan, but also encourage the adversary to escalate the tension.
On December 8, Russia deployed 7 advanced attack helicopters at the Erebuni Airbase in Armenia. A new lot of helicopters will be supplied by the end of the year. Is the latest strain in Russia-Turkey relations behind Russia’s military buildup? Will these tensions continue for long?
The Russian-Turkish relations will keep deteriorating at least as long as Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan remain presidents. But even one of them steps down as president, only the interpersonal component will be removed from the conflict, whereas the further escalation of the Russian-Turkish conflict is due to the core and fundamental parameters of the global geopolitical process.
There are views that the West is behind the Constitutional amendments in Armenia along with the Republican Party’s efforts to retain power. What do you think about it?
I do not rule out that these “reform” was an external order, as thanks to the amended Constitution our country will easily fall under external management and no one will be responsible for it. Furthermore, we have lost even the theoretical chance to bring to power anyone not cooperating with the ruling or officially oppositionist partocracy. Yet, I would not say for sure that the “constitutional mess” in our country was ordered by the west.
Terror attacks in Paris and over Sinai proved that the geography of the “Islamic State’s” terror threats has expanded. Is it possible that Armenia involves in the global confrontation between the West and Russia amid the expanding geography of the Islamic State terrorists' threats?
In the light of the Russian-Turkish crisis Armenia faces the threat of conventional warfare with Azerbaijan and to a lesser extent with Turkey rather than the risk to become a target for permanent and large-scale attacks by terrorist groups. Anyway, we should be prepared to prevent and/or repel any types of threats and I think it will be good if we rapidly draft and implement a reasonable concept of arming and training the civilians.