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Nagorno-Karabakh - Demand for recognizing the Republic of Artsakh

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The historic conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan is one that is consistently overlooked by the world. The reality is there are 3 not 2 countries in conflict – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh). The dispute is - should Artsakh be independent or should Azerbaijan rule them? The dictatorial pan Ottoman regime of Azerbaijan wants the land and ignores the plea for democratic self-determination – writes Martin Dailerian  and Lilit Baghdasaryan.

Artsakh people who oppose this are met with their deaths each day while the world is turning a blind eye. For this reason, it is important toraise awareness and we are asking for acknowledgement to be made on this global geopolitical conflict, so that increased humanitarian aid can intervene.

Aggression on Artsakh

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The current aggression has been planned and well timed. The World is preoccupied with COVID and the US is focused on a major election.

Azerbaijan has significantly upgraded its military capacity with help from Israel and Turkey equipment and munitions. Azerbaijan is using ISIS killers to combat Armenian soldiers protecting the border.

Civilian settlements are bombed and forced to evacuate before the incoming army. Massive information warfare which is successfully keeping the world media confused and silent. We urge you to act in the interest of stopping the war and bringing in a peaceful process.

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Call for Action

The war needs to be stopped and the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) have the right to self-identify. Azerbaijani dictatorship should not be allowed to take over Artsakh without civilian consent. Our demand is to preserve democracy as well as the historic heritage and many of the first Christian churches. Azerbaijan has a history of aggressively destroying Armenian heritage sites.

Lack of American Mediation

The current American President, Donald Trump, has tried to avoid involvement in the conflict which enables Turkey to give its full support to Azerbaijan. President Trump is also known for having personal interests in Turkey (hotels in Istanbul) which may be a reason for his reluctance to stop the humanitarian crisis unfolding at the present. Although Donald Trump does not have much of an interest in the war, his opponent for the upcoming elections, Joe Biden, has strong opinions on the conflict as he believes that it is important to halt the siding with Turkey and for Turkey to stay out of the conflict, as Turkey borders Armenia and Azerbaijan. U.S. officials in general wanted to stop the trade of weapons and the transfer of mercenaries within the battle zone, but there is no diplomatic plan in place. A diplomatic plan needs to be put in place to achieve peace and stability. It is imperative that the United States involve itself in activities to create peace in the Armenian-Azeri conflict. Israel is providing weapons and aid to Azerbaijan throughout the conflict.

Refugee Crisis

History seems to repeat itself for Armenians. This is a humanitarian crisis as many Artsakh families are leaving their homes to escape the bombs and the advancing Azerbaijan army.

Another Armenian genocide is unfolding before your eyes. Hospitals and social systems in Armenia are struggling due to COVID and the onslaught of wounded soldiers from the front lines. There is no refugee plan and many families have lost the fathers on the front lines which creates further strain on refugee families and the social system.

Invisible Human Crisis in Artsakh

A war has been raging on for a month between the Defense Army of Artsakh backed by Armenia and the Azerbaijan army backed by Turkey. Artsakh is also known as Nagorno Karabakh. Azerbaijan has a history of human rights violations and using heavy propaganda to maintain an image of control and being victimized by a small nation.

Cluster Bombs on Civilians

During an on-site investigation in Nagorno-Karabakh in October 2020, Human Rights Watch documented 4 incidents in which Azerbaijan used cluster munitions. The report says that HRW researchers have identified the “remnants of Israeli-produced LAR-160 series cluster munition rockets” in the capital Stepanakert and the town of Hadrut and examined damage caused by them. HRW researchers say that “Azerbaijan received these surface-to-surface rockets and launchers from Israel in 2008–2009".

Premeditated War

Clearly, there has been preparation by bringing in ultra-modern technology from Turkey and Israel and staffing up with Syrian fighters. International news organizations like Reuters and the BBC already reported about Syrian militants being sent to help Azerbaijan emerged in late September. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan are ruled by dictators and they face little opposition internally. The fear is that due to the slump in oil prices and the desire to unite their territories they are counting on the world being preoccupied with COVID to be able to execute their aggression on the land.

“Thanks to advanced Turkish drones owned by the Azerbaijan military, our casualties on the front shrunk,” said Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev in a televised interview with the Turkish news channel TRT Haber. Their Armed Forces destroyed a number of Armenian positions and vehicles with the aerial assaults conducted by Bayraktar TB2 Armed UAVs. These are Turkish drones capable of remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations manufactured by Turkey′s Baykar company.

However, time is running out as more world leaders are begging to notice the rising human death toll and suffering. The advancing army is not even stopping to collect the dead bodies. The battlefield is filled with a putrid stench and sometimes Armenians would bury those soldiers in fear of an outbreak and wild boars or other animals eating them. However, according to this Washington Post article, the bodies of the mercenaries seem to be removed and sent back to Syria.

Decapitations

Several news sources reported another inhuman incident by Azerbaijan - the decapitation of a soldier. On 16th October, at around 1 pm a member of the Azerbaijani armed forces called the brother of an Armenian soldier and said that his brother is with them; they beheaded him and were going to post his photo on the Internet. Afterward, several hours later, the brother found that horrible photo showing his beheaded brother on his brother’s social media page. Those pictures are archived as they are too gruesome. Unfortunately, people who decapitate Armenians are awarded medals and it is a common practice during wartime.

Azerbaijani military forces beheaded an Armenian soldier and posted this photo on his own social media.

Prisoner Executions

There is a viral video of two prisoners of war, who were violently killed by Azerbaijani soldiers. In the video, the prisoners appear to have their hands bound behind them and are draped in the flags of Armenia and Artsakh sitting on a small wall. In the next 4 seconds an Azerbaijani soldier orders in Azerbaijani: "Aim at their heads!", then hundreds of shots are heard which kill the prisoners of war in no time.

Strained Medical System

Artsakh and Armenian hospitals are strained by the rise of COVID-19 cases. Additionally, there is a growing shortage of staff and beds to tend to the wounded who are getting rushed from the front line. Many refugees have escaped the bombing in Artsakh by Azeri forces and have fled to Armenia to seek shelter. Many families have lost the father to the war and are also on the run during this extremely dangerous time.

Turkey has blocked hundreds of tons of international humanitarian aid to Armenia traveling from the US. They banned it from flying through Turkey's air space which has impacted getting much-needed medical supplies donated from abroad.

We call the attention of the international community all around the world to the seriousness of the situation.

We call on the leading countries of the world to use all the leverages of influence they have to prevent any possible interference on the part of Turkey and Azerbaijan, which have already destabilized the situation in the region.

Today we are facing a serious challenge. The situation is being aggravated by COVID-19. We ask you to exert all the possible efforts to end the war and resume the political settlement process in the Azerbaijani-Karabagh conflict zone.

The seriousness of this moment calls for everyone's vigilance in every country. Peace depends on our individual and collective efforts.

We urge you to act in stopping the war in the interest of preserving human lives on both Armenian and Azerbaijani sides. The people of Armenia are hurting but so are the people of Azerbaijan who are ruled by a dictator who is careless with human life on both sides and enjoys international support. Israel, USA, Germany and Russia: you created this and you can stop this while you still can!

The authors are Martin Dailerian, a Citizen of the U.S.A, and Lilit Baghdasaryan , a Citizen of the Republic of Armenia.

The opinions expressed in the above article are those of the authors, and do not reflect any support or opinions on the part of EU Reporter.

Armenia

Youth Population Preparing for War in Armenia

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The end of military operations in Karabakh with the signing of a trilateral statement caused different reactions in Armenia. The awakening of Armenian society, which was deceived by misinformation during the war, with the news of defeat at night, led to chaos. Different political groups taking an opportunity tried to overthrow the current government and seize power, writes Louis Auge.

The political crisis was available for the interests of opposition. Calling the current government a "disloyal" and "traitor", they gathered radical nationalists around them and tried to seize power with their support. Historically, anti-Turkish political movements such as Dashnaktsutyun have been at the forefront in this direction.

Those who cannot accept the new reality in the region are already preparing for the new wars. While Azerbaijan is talking about the opening of communications in the region, the establishment of new economic relations, based on the requirements of the trilateral statement, the approach in Armenia is different. In particular, anti-Turkish propaganda among young people and their call to fight for Karabakh can lead to dangerous consequences.

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FREE MILITARY TRAINING FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

Recently, a military-patriotic school called "POGA" has started its activity in Armenia. It has gathered people of different age groups around the school, which started classes on March 29, 2021. The main focus is on youth. Along with men, women were involved in the trainings. They are taught to work with military equipment, shooting, mountaineering, first aid, military tactics, etc. classes are held in the following directions. Those who join the staff are also involved in psychological training.

The Activities of "POGA" comprise radical nationalism and anti-Turkish propaganda. The Facebook Page of Organization regularly quotes "heroes" such as Garegin Njde and Monte Melkonyan. Almost in every post, users call for war: slogans such as "The enemy is the same enemy," "We have no right to weaken," "Let's be a great force and prove to the whole world that we will not fall," "We must be stronger and be a people's army.", “The Motherland needs you more than you always” keep young people away from common sense.

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The fact that the trainings are free raises some questions. It is known that military training requires large expenditures: the supply of weapons and other equipment for the staff, travel expenses, food, etc. need funds. Although there is not enough information about the  financial sources of "POGA", it is known that the organization receives support from the Armenian diaspora. In one of the information posted on Facebook the organizers express their gratitude for the support of the American Armenian Vrej Grigoryan.

Although the exercises are mainly organized in Yerevan, military classes are also held in other areas. A total of about 300 people took part in the trainings in Tavush and Lori provinces in May. The next training is planned to be held in Dilijan National Park.

WHAT CAN BE PROBLEMS OF “POGA” IN LONG-TERM?

Bringing up young people with radical nationalist thinking and poisoning them with anti-Turkish propaganda is dangerous for the future of the region. The new political reality in the South Caucasus after the war has created great opportunities for all countries in the region. Armenia and Azerbaijan must take the main steps to use these opportunities to establish sustainable peace in the South Caucasus. After the signing of the trilateral statement, Azerbaijan expressed its approach to the issue and expressed interest in new regional projects. In Armenia, however, the approach to reality is different: although some forces consider it necessary to regulate relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan, nationalist political forces such as Dashnaktsutyun, political figures such as Robert Kocharyan who formed an alliance with them, and initiatives such as "POGA" which have emerged against the background of all these processes, strongly do not accept the restoration of relations with Azerbaijan.

Young people who are brought up with the ideology of "POGA" will not allow the establishment of dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan and, as a result, the normalization of relations between the peoples.

“POGA” IS A THREAT TO ARMENIA

Involvement of young people in military training by organizations such as "POGA" is dangerous, first of all, for Armenia. At a time when the political crisis in the country continues, when there is disagreement among citizens, educating young people with a radical nationalist mentality, teaching them to use weapons can lead to problems in Armenian society in the near future. Young people who are brought up with the ideology of "POGA" will face Armenians who think differently then them and want peace, not war. The Youth of "POGA" will consider these Armenians as their enemies.

There have been many similar incidents in history. Even during World War I, the Armenians, who began the "freedom struggle" in the Ottoman Empire, with the order of Armenian Church carried out massacres not only against Muslims, but also against Armenians who did not join them. Another example is the recent actions of radical movements such as "Sasna Tsrer": in 2016, members of this group that attacked a police regiment in Yerevan killing law enforcement officers. This shows that Armenians, who were brought up and organized in a radical way, pose a threat to Armenia.

Women who involved in military trainings are even more dangerous. Under the influence of nationalist ideology, these women later began to bring up their children in the same direction. This prevents society from developing a healthy mindset.

WAR OR PEACE?

The Armenian government must carefully ponder the current situation. War or peace? Which option promises a better future for Armenia? How can young people who have been brought up in a radical nationalist mentality and are preparing for the next war contribute to Armenia? What will Armenia gain in the next war?

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South Caucasus: Commissioner Várhelyi visits Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia

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Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi (pictured) will travel to the South Caucasus from today (6 July) to 9 July, visiting Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. This will be Commissioner's first mission to countries of the region. It follows the adoption of the Economic and Investment Plan, underpinning a renewed agenda for recovery, resilience and reform for the Eastern Partnership countries. During his meetings with political authorities, business and civil society actors, Commissioner Várhelyi will present the Economic and Investment Plan for the region and its flagship initiatives per country. He will also discuss key issues of bilateral relations with each of the three countries. The Commissioner will confirm the EU's solidarity with partner countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Georgia, Commissioner Várhelyi will meet with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Foreign Minister David Zakaliani, Chairman of the Parliament Kakhaber Kuchava and representatives of political parties as well as with Patriarch Ilia II among others. In Azerbaijan, he will have meetings with Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, Head of the Presidential Administration Samir Nuriyev, Minister of Economy Mikayil Jabbarov and Minister of Energy Parviz Shahbazov among others. In Armenia, Commissioner Várhelyi will meet with President Armen Sarkissian, Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Acting Deputy Prime Minister Grigoryan, and Patriarch Karekin II among others. Audiovisual coverage of the visit will be available on EbS.

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Armenia's acting PM keeps power, bolsters authority despite military defeat

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Armenia's acting Prime Minister and leader of Civil Contract party Nikol Pashinyan receives a ballot at a polling station during the snap parliamentary election in Yerevan, Armenia June 20, 2021. Lusi Sargsyan/Photolure via REUTERS
Armenia's acting Prime Minister and leader of Civil Contract party Nikol Pashinyan visits a polling station to cast his vote during the snap parliamentary election in Yerevan, Armenia June 20, 2021. Lusi Sargsyan/Photolure via REUTERS

Armenia's acting Prime Minister and leader of Civil Contract party Nikol Pashinyan visits a polling station to cast his vote during the snap parliamentary election in Yerevan, Armenia June 20, 2021. Lusi Sargsyan/Photolure via REUTERS

Armenia's acting prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan (pictured), kept power in a parliamentary election that boosted his authority despite being widely blamed for a military defeat last year in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, results showed on Monday (21 June), writes Alexander Marrow.

Pashinyan's Civil Contract party won 53.92% of votes cast in Sunday's snap election, according to preliminary results on Monday. Former President Robert Kocharyan's Armenia Alliance trailed on 21.04%, and questioned the credibility of the result, the Interfax news agency reported.

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The government called the election to try to end a political crisis that began when ethnic Armenian forces ceded territory to Azerbaijan in and around Nagorno-Karabakh in six weeks of fighting last year.

The hostilities caused international concern because the wider South Caucasus region is a corridor for pipelines carrying natural oil and gas to world markets. It is also a geopolitical arena with Russia, the United States, the European Union and Turkey all jostling for influence.

Pashinyan, 46, faced street protests after the defeat and demands for his resignation over the terms of a peace agreement under which Azerbaijan regained control of territory it had lost during a war in the early 1990s.

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Pashinyan described the agreement as a disaster but said he had been compelled to sign it in order to prevent greater human and territorial losses.

He wrote on Twitter on Monday that his party would have a constitutional majority - at least 71 deputies out of 105 - and "will form a government led by me."

Pashinyan said Armenia would strengthen ties with Russia-led regional groups, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

"We are determined to work on improving, deepening and developing relations (with CSTO and EAEU countries), and we will definitely move in this direction," Russia's RIA news agency quoted Pashinyan as saying in an address broadcast on Facebook.

Armenia, which hosts a Russian military base, is an ally of Moscow though relations have been cooler under Pashinyan, who came to power on the back of street protests and on an anti-corruption agenda in 2018.

Another regional power, Turkey, supported Azerbaijan in last year's conflict and watches developments in Armenia closely.

Pashinyan on Monday visited a cemetery to lay flowers on the grave of soldiers killed in last year's conflict.

Final results of the election will be announced in a week, Interfax cited Central Election Commission (CEC) head Tigran Mukuchyan as saying on Monday. He said the results gave Pashinyan the right to form a government on his own.

Opinion polls had put Pashinyan's party and Kocharyan's Armenia Alliance neck and neck.

"These (election) results contradict the processes of public life which we have observed in the past eight months," the alliance said in a statement, carried by Interfax.

It said it did not recognise the results and had started consultations with other parties to organise a collective appeal to Armenia's constitutional court, RIA reported.

Kocharyan is a native of Nagorno-Karabakh. The enclave is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan but much of the population is ethnic Armenian.

Kocharyan was Armenia's president from 1998 to 2008 and was accused of acting unlawfully when he introduced a state of emergency in March 2008 after a disputed election. At least 10 people were killed in clashes that followed between police and protesters.

International observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the elections were competitive and generally well-managed.

"However, they were characterized by intense polarization and marred by increasingly inflammatory rhetoric among key contestants," it said in a statement.

There were 319 reports of voting irregularities, RIA reported. The CEC said the elections were largely in line with legal norms and observers from a CIS monitoring mission said the vote was open and fair, Interfax reported on Monday.

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