Yerevan will be ready to recognize independence of Nagorno-Karabakh when it becomes clear that Baku dodges dialogue on that matter, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian said in an interview with the Kommersant daily published on Sunday.
"Armenia is not recognizing independence only because it wants to resolve the problem through peace talks. It is a kind of a tunnel. If there is light at the end of this tunnel, then we can go on. And if there is no light, if it is clear that Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey, is reluctant to follow the path of talks, the, naturally, Armenia will recognize Karabakh’s independence," he said, adding that he will spare no effort to launch the reconciliation process, TASS reports.
"When the Azerbaijani side says it is ready for truce and is ready for further talks, then we will have a hope. Otherwise, God save us all because this war may grow into something that is going on in Syria. And it will be a much bigger and much more tragic war," he warned.
Sarkissian recalled that Armenia’s Supreme Council had voted for recognizing the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic when the issue had been raised at a referendum shortly before the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The recognition was later suspended. "The logic was simple. A truce was signed in 1994 and the Minsk process began. The Armenian side said: ‘We suspend our recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh not to complicate the process. We will hold talks to agree Nagorno-Karabakh’s status in the long run," he explained.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the highland region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory that had been part of Azerbaijan before the Soviet Union break-up, but primarily populated by ethnic Armenians, broke out in February 1988 after the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region announced its withdrawal from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1992-1994, tensions boiled over and exploded into large-scale military action for control over the enclave and seven adjacent territories after Azerbaijan lost control of them. Talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement have been ongoing since 1992 under the OSCE Minsk Group, led by its three co-chairs - Russia, France and the United States.
Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27, with intense battles raging in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The area experienced flare-ups of violence in the summer of 2014, in April 2016 and this past July. Azerbaijan and Armenia have imposed martial law and launched mobilization efforts. Both parties to the conflict have reported casualties, among them civilians.
Following Russia-initiated consultations in Moscow, Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed on a humanitarian ceasefire from 11:00 Moscow time on October 10 to exchange prisoners and the bodies of those killed.