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Terror threat in South Caucasus can spread to Europe

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During the whole period of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia the escalation has never reached to such critical point. Even in April 2016 when the Armenian side started massive operations against Azerbaijan, the two sides have never openly talked about a war so confidently. The army mobilization of both sides is an alarming fact that should be taken seriously by the international community.

International organization such as OSCE are failing to solve the problem by peaceful means which causes a decline in public trust in them. The Azerbaijani side openly claims that OCSE’s efforts are useless and highly non-effective -  writes Galib Mammadov, an independent expert and MA in International Relations from Washington University in St. Louis.

Even Azerbaijani government officials refer to photos of OCSE Minsk Group co-chairs having a party in Nagorno Karabakh instead of conducting conflict resolution and peacekeeping activities.1 This serves to public anger in Azerbaijani side and makes a war inevitable. On the other hand, any probability of war creates security issues for Armenia and as a last resort their government is aiming to use their relations with regional terror organizations such as ASALA (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia) and PKK as a guarantee for their security. When going back to 70s, 80s and 90s, it becomes evident that Armenia has a tendency of collaborating with terror organizations and using them as a hard power for achieving their goals. Involvement of such organizations in the region is a huge threat for the whole World. Thus if they get reinforced in the region, they may get aligned with other terroristic agencies in the Middle East which would boost a global terror.

Brief Background of Nagorno Karabakh Conflict

Relations between two countries worsened after ethnic Armenia forces occupied Azerbaijani territories between the years of 1988 and 1994. Since the 1994 ceasefire, the Karabakh conflict has remained frozen despite international mediation. Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories as a result of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, displacing approximately 800,000 Azerbaijanis from their territories. Additionally, the United Nations recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan Republic and has four resolutions that call on withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied districts of Azerbaijan.2

Background of ASALA’s Terror

Terrorist organizations like the ASALA and the armed wing of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) were one of the most dangerous terrorist movements in Europe during the early 1970s. ASALA launched in Lebanon Beirut in 1975 for the purpose of Approximately 90 individuals were killed and hundreds were wounded through a terrorist attack by these organizations. Such attacks covered North America, Europe, the Middle East and the south Pacific regions targeting ethnic Turks (mostly diplomats).3 But they also took lives of American, French, Italian and Yugoslav people. Taking into account the fact that, 1981 Armenian terrorists accounted for the highest number of documented international terrorist attacks, the U.S. government defined Armenian terrorists as the most dangerous group in the World at that time. 4

Major terror operations of ASALA were explosion at the Consulates General of the Republic of Turkey in the cities of Frankfurt, Cologne and Essen, Germany, explosion at Yeşilköy Airport in Istanbul, killing 5 and injuring 42, hostage crisis at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, killing 10 and injuring 82, explosion at an international trade fair in Marseilles, France, killing one and injuring 26, Explosion at the Turkish Airlines office at Orly airport in Paris, killing 8, and injuring 55. 5

Armenian political violence peaked between the fall of 1979 and the summer of 1983. By the end of July 1983, assassinations, armed assaults and bomb attacks took the lives of many Turkish Foreign Ministry officials, dependents and employees, as well as French, American, Italian, Yugoslav, Swiss and German nationals. The period was marked by the particularly brutal automatic weapon assaults at the Esenboğa Airport, the Istanbul Covered Bazaar, and Turkish Embassy and Ambassadorial Residence in Lisbon in the summers of 1982 and 1983, and the premature detonation of a bomb designed to explode in mid-air at the Orly Airport in Paris in July 1983. Eight people were killed, including four French citizens, two Turks, an American, and a Swedish, and close to sixty others were wounded.6 Former CIA director of counterterrorism commented the situation as following: “They [Armenians]’re brutal… They don’t take hostages to negotiate. It’s just out-and-out murder.” 7 Armenian terror was a nightmare for both Europeans and Americans and ASALA was a unique case that shall not be forgotten as a lesson by International community.

Armenia – ASALA relations

Armenia’s prior president Ter-Petrosyan attended ASALA member’s Monte Melkonian's funeral in 1993. It clearly means ASALA regarded as a legitimate entity in Armenia. Armenia showed their support to terrorist organization which took lives of many people all around the World. In addition, Members of ASALA are officially regarded as national heroes. Thus, after death Monte Melkonian was awarded with the highest military honors of Nagorno Karabagh and the Republic of Armenia, including the Military Cross, First Degree and the Golden Eagle medal.8 Armenia openly promotes terror activities and gives legitimacy to such actions. That shall be an alarm not just for the region, also for the whole World. Thus, terror operations of ASALA affected not just Turks and Azerbaijani people in the region, also affected Europe and the United States of America taking lives of many people.

In addition, according to legitimate Armenian media sources Armenian government started a program on settlement of Lebanese Armenians to occupied territories of Azerbaijan. In august 2020 Armenian media declared two Lebanese-Armenian families move to Nagorno-Karabakh.9 In September 2020 the number reached to one hundred people.10 Armenian sources describe such settlement as humanitarian help to Lebanese Armenians regarding the catastrophe happened in Beirut. On the contrary Azerbaijani sources recall it as an intentional provocation aiming settle terrorist to Karabakh and revive so-called ASALA terror organization which was a nightmare for Europe. According to Azerbaijani sources director of Russia’s Political Researches Institute, philologist Sergey Markov in his interview with APA’s Moscow correspondent called Armenia’s actions as an attempt to a terror by saying “Through Pashinyan’s deeds, terror experience in Middle East may spread to the South Caucasus”. 11 Another Russian expert Andrey Petrov in his statement to APA’s Moscow correspondent alarmed Russian government about danger of terror: “By deploying terrorists to Azerbaijan’s occupied territories, Armenia creates great problem for Russia”. 12Armenia’s policies for achieving of its goals by means of terror and war would jeopardize peace not just in the region also in Europe.

Conclusion

Both Armenia’s respect to country’s terrorist leaders in government level and its settlement plan regarding Armenians of Lebanon gives a basis to build a hypothesis that Armenia is aiming to revive its historical terror organizations like ASALA. International community shall use its all means (sanctions, notes and etc.) to prevent Armenia using a terrorism as a tool for their political goals, like they did in 70s, 80s, and 90s. Deployment of terrorist groups like PKK and ASALA to Nagorno Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan, will take lives not just Azerbaijani or Turkish people, also, European, American, Russian and even Armenian people may be victims of their operations like it happened in the near history. The message shall be clear that any goal shall not be achieved by assault, terror, assassinations and massacres. If Such organizations succeed, it will motivate many other terror organizations to act which will jeopardize global peace and security. Sanctions and relevant measures by international community shall be imposed to any government that supports act of terror.

The opinions contained in this article are personal to the author.

2 http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/ga10693.doc.htm

3 Gunter M.M. (2011) Armenian Terrorism in the Twentieth Century. In: Armenian History and the Question of Genocide. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230118874_3

4 “Armenian Terrorists,” January 10, 1983, CIA, CIA-RDP88-01070R000100520004-4; “Patterns of International Terrorism: 1981,” in Department of State Bulletin Vol. 82, No. 2065 (August 1982): 16; and Gunter, “Pursuing the Just Cause of their People”

5 Christopher Gunn (2014) Secret Armies and Revolutionary Federations: The Rise and Fall of Armenian Political Violence, 1973-1993

6 ABC News, July 15, 1983; Greg MacArthur, AP, Paris, July 15, 1983; “5 Killed, 60 Hurt by Paris Bomb; Armenian Extremists Take Blame,” Los Angeles Times, July 15, 1983; Peggy Turbett, UPI, Paris, July 15, 1983; Brigid Phillips, UPI, Paris, July 15, 1983; “5 Killed in Orly Airport Bombing; Armenians Claim Responsibility,” New York Times, July 16, 1983; “A Long History of Vengeance,” NYT, July 16, 1983; “Armenian Blast Kills 5m Hurts 56 at Paris Airport,” LAT, July 16, 1983; Claire Rosemberg, “American student killed in bomb explosion,” UPI, Paris, July 16, 1983; UPI, Paris, July 16, 1983; Greg MacArthur, AP, Paris, July 16, 1983; “Armenians Claim More Victims,” NYT, July 17, 1983; “Death Toll Climbs to 6 in Orly Bombing,” NYT, July 17, 1983; “American Among Dead in Orly Blast,” Washington Post, July 17, 1983; “Turkish Press Review: July 16-18, 1983,” ANKARA 06192, July 18, 1983, DOS; “Orly Blast Claims Seventh Victim, New Threats,” Associated Press, July 21, 1983; Death Toll Rises to 7 After Terror at Orly,” NYT, July 22, 1983; “ASALA Bombing of Orly Airport Takes Heavy Toll; Paris Police, in Major Sweep, Detain Over 50 Suspects,” Armenian Reporter, July 21, 1983; and “ASALA-planned blast at France’s Orly Airport,” Armenian Weekly, July 23, 1983

7 “Terrorist Group Baffles Experts in Armenian Tactics,” Washington Post, July 26, 1983

Armenia

EU and Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement enters into force

EU Reporter Correspondent

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On 1 March, the European Union-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) entered into force. It has now been ratified by the Republic of Armenia, all EU member states and the European Parliament. This represents an important milestone for EU-Armenia relations.

This Agreement provides a framework for the EU and Armenia to work together in a wide range of areas: strengthening democracy, the rule of law and human rights; creating more jobs and business opportunities, improving legislation, public safety, a cleaner environment, as well as better education and opportunities for research. This bilateral agenda also contributes to overall aim of the EU to deepen and strengthen its relations with the countries of its Eastern neighbourhood through the Eastern Partnership framework.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Commission Vice President Josep Borrell said: “The entry into force of our Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement comes at a moment when Armenia faces significant challenges. It sends a strong signal that the EU and Armenia are committed to democratic principles and the rule of law, as well as to a wider reform agenda. Across political, economic, trade, and other sectoral areas, our Agreement aims to bring positive change to people's lives, to overcome challenges to Armenia's reforms agenda.”

Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi underlined that: “While these are trying times for Armenia, the European Union continues to stand by the Armenian people. The entry into force of the bilateral EU-Armenia agreement on 1 March will allow us to strengthen our work on the economy, connectivity, digitalisation and the green transformation as priority areas. These will have concrete benefits for the people and are key for socio-economic recovery and the longer-term resilience of the country. In the current turbulent days, maintaining calm and respect for democracy and constitutional order are key.”

The Agreement was signed in November 2017 and substantial parts of have been provisionally applied since 1 June 2018. Since then, the breadth and depth of the bilateral cooperation between Armenia and the European Union have advanced steadily. At the 3rd EU-Armenia Partnership Council held on 17 December 2020, the European Union and Armenia reiterated their full commitment to implementing the CEPA.

The Agreement plays an important role for the modernization of Armenia, in particular through legislative approximation to EU norms in many sectors. This includes reforms in the rule of law and respect of human rights, particularly an independent, efficient and accountable justice system, as well as reforms aimed at enhancing the responsiveness and effectiveness of public institutions and at favouring the conditions for sustainable and inclusive development.

From the entry into force of the Agreement on 1 March, cooperation will be strengthened in those areas which to date were not subject to the provisional application of the Agreement. The European Union stands ready and looks forward to working even more closely with Armenia on the full and effective implementation of the Agreement, in our mutual interest and to the benefit of our societies and citizens.

More information

EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement text

EU Delegation to Armenia website

EU-Armenia relations factsheet

EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement factsheet

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Armenia

Armenian PM warns of coup attempt after army demands he quit

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Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan (pictured) warned of an attempted military coup against him on Thursday (25 February) and called on his supporters to rally in the capital after the army demanded he and his government resign, writes Nvard Hovhannisyan.

The Kremlin, an ally of Armenia, said it was alarmed by events in the former Soviet republic, where Russia has a military base, and urged the sides to resolve the situation peacefully and within the framework of the constitution.

Pashinyan has faced calls to quit since November after what critics said was his disastrous handling of a six-week conflict between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and surrounding areas.

Ethnic Armenian forces ceded swathes of territory to Azerbaijan in the fighting, and Russian peacekeepers have been deployed to the enclave, which is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but populated by ethnic Armenians.

Pashinyan, 45, has repeatedly rejected calls to step down despite opposition protests. He says he takes responsibility for what happened but now needs to ensure his country’s security.

On Thursday, the army added its voice to those calling for him to resign.

“The ineffective management of the current government and the serious mistakes in foreign policy have put the country on the brink of collapse,” the army said in a statement.

It was unclear whether the army was willing to use force to back the statement, in which it called for Pashinyan to resign, or whether its call for him to step down was just verbal.

Pashinyan responded by calling on his followers to rally in the centre of the capital, Yerevan, to support him and took to Facebook to address the nation in a livestream.

“The most important problem now is to keep the power in the hands of the people, because I consider what is happening to be a military coup,” he said.

In the livestream, he said he had dismissed the head of the general staff of the armed forces, a move that still needs to be signed off by the president.

Pashinyan said a replacement would be announced later and that the crisis would be overcome constitutionally. Some of his opponents said they also planned to rally in the centre of Yerevan later on Thursday.

Arayik Harutyunyan, president of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, offered to act as a mediator between Pashinyan and the general staff.

“We have already shed enough blood. It’s time to overcome the crises and move on. I’m in Yerevan and I’m ready to become a mediator to overcome this political crisis,” he said.

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Armenia

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict flares despite ceasefire

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Four soldiers from Azerbaijan have been killed in clashes in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Azerbaijan's defence ministry says.

The reports come only weeks after a six-week war over the territory which ended when Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire.

Armenia meanwhile said six of its own troops were wounded in what it called an Azerbaijani military offensive.

Nagorno-Karabakh has long been a trigger for violence between the two.

The region is recognised as part of Azerbaijan but has been run by ethnic Armenians since 1994 after the two countries fought a war over the territory which left thousands dead.

A Russian-brokered truce failed to bring about lasting peace and the area, claimed by both sides, has been prone to intermittent clashes.

What does the peace deal say?

  • Signed on 9 November, it locked in the territorial gains Azerbaijan made during the war, including the region's second-largest city Shusha
  • Armenia promised to withdraw troops from three areas
  • 2,000 Russian peacekeepers deployed to the region
  • Azerbaijan also gained a overland route to Turkey, its ally, by gaining access to a road link to an Azeri conflict on the Iran-Turkey border called Nakhchivan
  • The BBC's Orla Guerin said that, overall, the deal was regarded as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia.

The latest conflict began at the end of September, killing around 5,000 soldiers on both sides.

At least 143 civilians died and thousands were displaced when their homes were damaged or soldiers entered their communities.

Both countries have accused the other of violating the terms of the November peace deal and the latest hostilities flout the ceasefire.

The agreement was described by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan as "incredibly painful both for me and both for our people".

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