BELGRADE — Serbia’s government on Wednesday acknowledged that Serbian defense companies have supplied weapons to Armenia. Deputy prime minister Rasim Ljajic said the weapons were sent to Armenia earlier this year.
“I can’t say the name of the company. Two shipments of guns and rifles were made in May and June. Its value is less than a million euros [$1.1 million].” said Ljajic.
“National companies were not included in the submission,” he said.
Ljajic pointed out that there are no sanctions imposed on Armenia by international institutions. “It is extremely difficult to reject the request unless there is an official sanction,” he said.
A government-linked Azerbaijani news website, Haqqin.az, claimed on July 19 that Serbian-made mortars as well as ammunition for them were delivered to Armenia via Georgia.
Serbia’s ambassador in Baku, Danica Veinovic, was summoned to the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry in connection with the report. Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov was reported to tell her that the alleged arms supplies called into question Azerbaijan’s “friendly relations” with the Balkan state.
In a statement by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Foreign Minister Halef Halefov said Azerbaijan had reliable and verified information that a large amount of ammunition consisting of mortar and various caliber shells was sent from Serbia to Armenia and Azerbaijan expected an explanation from Serbia.
Meanwhile, Georgia’s Foreign Ministry denied the alleged transit of Armenia-bound weapons through Georgian territory. It denounced the Haqqin.az claim as “disinformation” aimed at undermining “Georgian-Azerbaijani strategic partnership.”
Azerbaijan itself has purchased billions of dollars worth of heavy weapons from Russia, Israel, Turkey and other countries over the past decade in a bid to gain a military superiority over Armenia.