International powers should step up pressure on Azerbaijan to avoid all-out war in Nagorno-Karabakh, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan told AFP in an interview ahead of his visit to France.
“The danger of a new war is constant and will persist until Azerbaijan is persuaded that there is no military solution to the conflict,” Sargsyan said.
The Armenian President—who will meet French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Wednesday— noted that his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev hinders the diplomatic progress by threatening to start fighting unless he gets his way.
“He said Azerbaijan will not start a war if Armenia fulfils its demands. I said that this is blackmail, not a compromise,” the Armenian leader said.
He urged Paris, Moscow, and Washington to “show what price one of the sides will pay if it initiates an attack.”
“Public opinion in Armenia is that the resumption of hostilities is a matter of time — maybe weeks or months — and the commander-in-chief and defence minister must be prepared that a war could start tomorrow. I don’t think a fresh war is an immediate threat, but nothing is ruled out when one deals with an unpredictable neighbour,” Sargsyan stressed.
Referring to the relations with Turkey, the President noted that at this point, the process of normalization is in an impasse.
Stressing that international pressure and military balance between Yerevan and Baku have so far helped avoid a new war, Sargsyan also expressed concern over Russia supplying sophisticated weapons to Azerbaijan.
“We take it painfully because Russia is our strategic partner,” he noted.