The speakers of the discussion were Stepan Grigoryan, Director of the Center for Globalization and Regional Cooperation, Arman Navasardyan, RA Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and Tigran Grigoryan, Member of the Executive Body of “ National Renaissance" Party, Political Scientist, who joined the discussion via video call.
One of the Western famous research centers, International Crisis Group (ICG), released a 40-page report, entitled “Nagorno-Karabakh’s Gathering War Clouds”. International Crisis Group experts predict that there is a very high probability of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict escalation in Artsakh.
“A year after Nagorno-Karabakh’s April 2016 violent flare-up, Armenia and Azerbaijan are closer to war than at any point since the 1994 ceasefire,” the report says.
Stepan Grigoryan agrees that a war can break at any moment in Artsakh but traces of Azerbaijani lobbying can be observed in the report. In his opinion, not the content of the report but the conclusion is interesting which the political scientist considers problematic.
“For example, the report clearly says that internally displaced persons should be returned, but they do not mention about the refugees and internally displaced persons, as defined in the regulation document the Azerbaijani position is used. The subtlety here is that when we talk about refugees, it is the people moving from state to state, and the internally displaced reference means that the Azerbaijanis should be returned to Karabakh who lived in Karabakh before the conflict. That is Karabakh is considered to be the territory of Azerbaijan,” Grigoryan says.
Arman Navasardyan agreed with Stepan Grigoryan and added: “When such a report is published, we should consider who benefits it. We do not benefit it, our antagonist benefits it. Why now was it published? The point is that Azerbaijan started front-ordinated actions with the Turks and conducts military, political, diplomatic and campaign activities on the front. Besides, Azerbaijan uses the war propaganda to hide or solve the problems caused by economic and political tensions in the country,” Navasardyan said.
He adds that the publication of such a report aims at creating a tense situation in psychological terms, reaching to “psychosis”.
“I am not a military expert but I can say for sure that no large-scale war will start now, a sudden escalation is possible but I exclude a planned attack on Armenia by Azerbaijan,” the speaker said.
Tigran Grigoryan does not agree with the above-mentioned opinions and considers that the report by the International Crisis Group is very objective and well-balanced.
“The report is even too well-balanced. For example, the Crisis Group uses the term occupied territories in quotation marks. They also mention that though Azerbaijan considers them to be occupied territories but the Armenian side has its own opinion and bring the example of Shahumyan saying that the Armenian side considers it to be an occupied territory. I consider it to be positive that they presented the approaches of Armenia and Artsakh about the territorial concessions very close to the reality,” Grigoryan said.
He also draws attention to the fact that the report emphasized for the first time that Artsakh authorities are ready not only to defend passively or actively but also to counter-attack.
“The report notes that Artsakh can go deep for 15 kilometers into the territory of Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijan may have 300 000 to 600 000 refugees. This means that if another war starts, Artsakh Defense Army will be able to implement these plans,” Tigran Grigoryan said.