Sargsyan explains why Armenia desires a solution to the Karabakh problem; admits conflict impedes economic development.
21 January 2013

The Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan gave a wide-ranging interview on the political and economic situation in his country to the Yerevan Bureau Chief of Radio Liberty. The interview also covered issues connected with current Armenian thinking about Nagorno-Karabakh. The following is what the President had to say on this issue.:

I strongly believe that in the long term it does not suit anybody to leave the issue unsettled. First of all, it is not suitable for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, then the Republic of Armenia, and I am also sure for Azerbaijan. Because living in conditions of a constant threat of war is not that pleasant. And since 1988, already for 25 years, the population of Nagorno-Karabakh has been living in conditions of this threat. Consider that there is such a threat for children, for young people, for everyone.

​​Therefore, I am absolutely convinced that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh want the problem to be settled as soon as possible. And Armenia has additional problems. Unfortunately, we are not rich in natural resources and naturally have no easy inflow of investments. We have no other means to be able to develop our economy. That is, the more open our economy is, the more developed our communications are, the easier it will be for us to do. And the situation of the unsettled conflict is a constant impediment to these circumstances.

There is also another problem. From its scarce resources Armenia has to allocate a large share for security and defense. We simply have to do it. We have to have the army that is disproportionate by its size to the size of our state. I will tell you more. It does not correspond to the dimensions of our state also in terms of its combat readiness and armaments. But we have to have a combat-ready army with modern armaments in the amount that will enable it to fulfill the tasks set to it.

Why should we be interested in having the problem linger on? I have repeatedly said -- and was frequently criticized for that - but today, too, I consider that a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh problem achieved as soon as possible will be only positive for the development of Armenia. But as they say, it takes two hands to clap. Azerbaijan's agreement is also needed for the problem to be resolved.

But in my opinion, the leadership of Azerbaijan has lost a sense of reality. In my view, easy money, the petrodollars, do not have a positive effect on the leadership of this country and their appetites increasingly grow to the degree that they no longer limit themselves to regarding only Nagorno-Karabakh as theirs. They already think that Armenia, too, was created on Azerbaijani lands and that Yerevan is a historically Azerbaijani land. And this is said by the president of a country which got its name only about 100 years ago. Soon we will mark the 2,800th anniversary of the foundation of Yerevan.

It is simply unrealistic to expect in these conditions that tomorrow or the day after tomorrow we will achieve a result, create a document by some miracle, and ensure a peaceful coexistence of the two peoples. But on the other hand, I think that the leadership of Azerbaijan cannot be as shortsighted as to attempt a new gamble. After all, only 20 years separate us from the blunder of Azerbaijan when it seemed to that country that very easily it could capture Nagorno-Karabakh and thus ultimately solve that problem.

There is also another circumstance: It is clear that today's means [in Azerbaijan] are the result of the sales of fuel resources, and these fuel resources are sold to the international community. And lately the international community on more than one occasion has proved that the presence of fuel resources does not always play a crucial role in making different decisions.

But since we, as I already said, have to deal with a country that has lost the sense of reality, or, as they say, with an irrational country, we should always be prepared to defend our people -- first of all the population of Nagorno-Karabakh, then the population of the border regions of Armenia, and Armenia in general. Therefore, we will continue to strengthen our armed forces. We will continue to be constructive. We will always be ready to continue the negotiations because the alternative is war. And as I said we do not want a war. But if we are forced to wage a war, then I think we will never fail the work of our companions, our perished heroes.

The full interview of President Sargsian with Radio Liberty is available here

source: with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

photo: President Sargsian during a visit to nagorno Karabakh in 2012.