Zohrab Mnatsakanyan’s interview to the “Al Arabiya” news agencyVideo
Al Alabiya: Why does this old conflict within these two countries get renewed?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: This is not now, this is just the practical display of the continued consistent Azerbaijani intention to seek a military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, to use force. They have been threatening force very consistently over these years, and especially these past months. After July there has been a very aggressive rhetoric combined with aggressive actions, which were indicating military escalation and today they dared to go in that direction, use force, and seek military solution, which is totally rejected by Armenia and by Nagorno-Karabakh. Both Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh have been very consistent in that there is no alternative to the peaceful settlement. We are absolutely ready and absolutely resolute to repel this aggression once again. There was one aggression in 2016, there was one aggression in July 2020, and now this is their third attempt to find a military solution, to bring a military solution to this conflict. This will be repelled again, and the resolve of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and the people of Armenia has been and remains very strong.
Al Arabiya: Armenia is saying that Turkey is intervening, mainly in a hostile manner. Do you think that there are some other countries involved?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Turkey is acting in an extremely destabilizing manner, extremely hostile. It is a new development in this conflict, where they have positioned themselves in a very aggressive way against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh: they have been supplying military equipment to Azerbaijan; they have been holding military exercises in these past months; they have transferred equipment there. We are observing Turkish military aircrafts in the air, in the vicinity of the line of contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. We have been receiving very disturbing reports about the recruitment of terrorists from areas, which are controlled by Turkey in Syria. We have been observing the strengthening of the military presence in Azerbaijan and this was all also laced in one-sided unilateral support to Azerbaijan and very aggressive rhetoric to Armenia.
Al Arabiya: Do you think Armenia is prepared for military confrontation with Azerbaijan now?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have full capacity to defend, to protect the freedom of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, the security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and the security of Armenia. Our resolve is very strong. There is a very strong sense of unity and capacity to defend. In Nagorno-Karabakh earlier in the day they have declared a martial law and mobilization. The same is happening in Armenia. The people are united. And our capacities, military capacities, and the spirit are very strong to repel this aggression against our people and against the freedom and the security of our people. We are totally prepared. But we have been rejecting the military solution, we have been rejecting it with the absolute resolve all these years. It is on the basis of our confidence that we know that the military solution will bring destabilization of the region and catastrophe for many people in Azerbaijan and elsewhere in the region. The military solution is not an option. We have been very insistent on that. This needs to be resolved strictly through peaceful means. And our position remains very firm and consistent on that. There is no alternative to the peaceful settlement, which is done through negotiations with the mediation of three important countries - France, Russia and the United States, the so-called OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship - and which needs to be based on a balanced, measurable compromise on which the solution will be based. And this has been a very consistent position of Armenia.
Al Arabiya: Some Armenian News agencies stated that some Syrian mercenaries have been killed, specifically those fighting with Azerbaijan. So, I just said a military vehicle loaded with Syrian mercenaries has been bombarded. Back to your Excellency, minister of Foreign Affairs. So, Mr. Zohrab, apparently Turkey announced that there is a party to this aggression and to this hostility. What does this mean for Armenia, especially when we talk about some mercenaries from Syria coming to fight side by side with the Azerbaijanis, especially that Turkey is bringing them.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: We have been receiving such reports. Such reports have been appearing in various sources. We have been very careful to treat this, because we are also caring about credibility of this, but the intensity and the volume of such reports had been indicating that this is, in fact, there is credibility to this. So this is very concerning. We have been raising this. It is exactly the projection and export of instability to the South Caucasus that Turkey has chosen to do and this is not welcome.
Al Arabiya: I would just also like to ask, Mr. Zohrab, my final question maybe. You said that Armenia is ready to repel but at the same time you stand for peaceful political resolution. So, at this point, is everything under control or is full scale military escalation visible?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: There is the escalation started early in the morning when the Azerbaijani forces have lashed out a massive attack across the entire line of contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. The battles have been on-going. Our civilian settlements have been under attack. We have casualties among the civilians. We have also attacks on the defence positions across the line of contact. We are giving them a resolute response. And at the moment we are in a phase of continuing battles and the size of the escalation has not been visible. This is what we have for the moment.