Excerpts of an interview with Davit Babayan, NKR presidential spokesman.
During the past two-three weeks there has been talk, also from officials of Armenia, regarding the return of a few regions. What is your position on the matter?
First off, the philosophy of the Minsk Group regarding the settlement of the Karabakh-Azerbaijan conflict is based on the following important concept – nothing is agreed to if everything isn’t agreed to.
This is the formula. If even one comma is not agreed to, then nothing is agreed to. All decisions must be taken on a consensus basis. The so-called documents are proposals, not treaties. The negotiating process itself is skewed given that Artsakh is not a participant.
Secondly, of course we support a comprehensive settlement that must be based on mutual concessions. There was a time when some politicians propose the return of certain territories in return for Azerbaijan opening the Artsakh-Azerbaijan gas or oil pipeline. But this isn’t an equal concession because the pipeline can be shut tomorrow. We cannot return any regions.
Security guarantees or preconditions cannot work with such an aggressor, with such an abnormal state. That state doesn’t hide the fact that it wants to kill and decimate us. Thus, we have always said that there is no going back to the past, either in terms of borders or status. It is a question of fundamental security for us. How can Artsakh return to the borders of 1991 or those of the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Region (NKAR)?
Artsakh cannot survive as an independent state within those borders. This is evident to all.
How can Azerbaijan control, let’s say, Karvatchar, where 85% of the water reserves of the NAKR originate, the Arpa and Vorotan rivers, that feed Lake Sevan which comprises 80% of Armenia’s water resources.
What if it’s poisoned? During the war, they poisoned the Stepanakert water pipeline. And now they say that Armenians are burying wastes from the Metsamor nuclear plant in Karvatchar.
Of course, this isn’t the case. But tomorrow they can throw some radioactive waste there and say we did it. Do you understand that there are such problems that makes it impossible for anyone to guarantee our security? We must do this ourselves.
How vital is it for Armenia to recognize the independence of the NKR?
The recognition of NKR’s independence is a matter of time. I agree that Armenia should not be the first to do so.
Armenia will be the first if Azerbaijan declares war or renews large-scale military operations. If that happens, there will be no alternative. But before this, other countries can recognize us. In this matter, Armenia is showing a very constructive approach and isn’t politicizing a very delicate matter.
So, it’s your opinion that the recognition of Artsakh by Armenia isn’t a pressing issue.
Right now, what’s important is that peace and stability are maintained so that our security is assured. Recognition can’t be seen as the most important component of security.
How many unrecognized countries are there? Has that saved them from external invasion? Of course not.
That’s to say the number one issue is security. There are numerous other issues as well.
You say that the negotiations process is at a dead-end. Then too, we frequently hear that large-scale military operations will renew. So, what is the way out?
The way out is that we must stay strong. The stronger we are, the less the opponent will have the nerve to attack us.
Look at how many years they prepared for this. And they also underestimated us, believing that Armenians aren’t united and are fighting each other.
See how utterly wrong they were. We must be powerful and ready to defend our independence and security.