World Bulletin/News Desk
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan accused Azerbaijan on Friday of threatening a new war over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh disputed by the south Caucasus neighbours.
Azerbaijan is accumulating a "horrendous quantity" of arms in preparation for a resumption of fighting, Sarksyan, 58, told Reuters in an interview. He said Armenia wanted a negotiated settlement to the conflict and that he would spare no effort to achieve it.
Armenia have controlled Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous enclave within Azerbaijan, since a war in the early 1990s that killed about 30,000 people and ended in a ceasefire in 1994.
"Now 18 years after the signing of this ceasefire agreement, Azerbaijan threatens us with a new war," Sarksyan said in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.
Sporadic fighting has intensified on what is known as the line of conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh, highlighting the risk of a war in a region where Turkey, Russia and Iran all have interests.
"When I say that there is hatred towards Armenians, a general xenophobia in Azerbaijan; when I say there is a dangerous accumulation of armaments in Azerbaijan; when I say Azerbaijan is getting prepared for resuming military hostilities and settling the conflict by military means, that doesn't mean at all that there is no need to continue with negotiations," Sarksyan said, speaking through an interpreter.
Tension between the two countries has risen since Hungary sent home to Azerbaijan an Azeri officer convicted of killing an Armenian officer on a NATO language training course in Budapest.
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev pardoned the killer on his return to a hero's welcome in August. He was also promoted.
Azerbaijan says Aliyev acted in line with the law and rejected international criticism over the affair.
Sarksyan said the pardon of the Azeri officer, Ramil Safarov, showed Nagorno-Karabakh - a region of about 160,000 people which is linked to Armenia by a narrow corridor through Azerbaijan's territory - could not be part of Azerbaijan.
"It again reconfirms our view that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh have no future in the framework of Azerbaijan."
"We have no doubt that Azerbaijan's aim is to change the situation by the application of its military means and the only preventative mechanism for their desires is the combat-readiness of the Armenian armed forces," Sarksyan said.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have more powerful weapons than 20 years ago and war could spread if pipelines carrying Azeri oil and gas to Europe via Turkey, or Armenia's nuclear power station, were hit.
Armenia has a collective security agreement with Russia while Azerbaijan has one with Turkey.
Russia, France and the United States have led years of mediation under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe but direct contacts between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the issue have stopped since the Azeri officer's pardon.
Sarksyan called on the international community to take "concrete steps" in the search for a settlement.
He said Azerbaijan was in violation of a European treaty limiting holdings of weaponry. Inspectors were aware of the situation "and there is zero action on this".
Sarksyan, elected in 2008, said he would stand for re-election next year. Asked if he was confident he would see a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, he said: "I'm confident.
"At least I hope that I will never see Nagorno-Karabakh incorporated in the Azerbaijani framework again and that in itself is a huge success," he said.
Russian parliament approves Internet privacy bill that would require Internet search engines to remove users' personal information from their results.
Greek referendum Grexit poll results shows 'No' vote at 43 pct, 'Yes' vote at 42.5 pct
Human Rights Council denounces Israel’s refusal to cooperate with Gaza commission
The head of Greece's banking association says Greek banks have 1 bln euro liquidity cushion
More than 70 percent of Kenya's electricity comes from green and other renewable energy sources
Administration stands down after prime minister defeated in party poll
Before the first anniversary of Israel launching "Operation Protective Edge" UN calls to prosecute Gaza war crimes.
Worshippers from Jerusalem and the West Bank started flocking to Al-Aqsa Mosque from dawn. Hundreds of Israeli police officers were spread out across the entrances and exits.
Greek PM says the report on Greek economy published by IMF, is a great vindication for the Greek government
The Srebrenica genocide of 1995 resulted in the death of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. 136 have been identified and will be laid to rest on July 11.
A cache of weapons suspected of belonging to the Boko Haram has been found in a house in the capital
The United Nations and the Council of Europe say Hungary's new asylum bill is a blow to refugee protection
A minimum of 100,000 people is required before a national debate must be called, and having passed the threshold the debate must now be held in the held Austrian parliament.
BP Plc has reached a settlement with U.S. authorities and will pay about $18.7 billion in damages for water pollution caused by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill
Jean-Marie Le Pen's suspension from the National Front has been overturned; his daughter and current party leader says she will appeal the court verdict
The Palestinian Authority forces arrested 108 Hamas members in the West Bank in one of the biggest raids in years.