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
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
EU and Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement enters into force
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.
Armenian PM warns of coup attempt after army demands he quit
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.
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict flares despite ceasefire
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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