Azeris Increase Attacks on Karabagh, Armenia; Foreign Minister Meets with Azeri Counterpart in New York
NEW YORK and YEREVAN (Combined Sources) — During the past week, Azeri attacks have escalated. The Nagorno Karabagh Defense Army issued a statement saying that a total of nine Azerbaijani soldiers were killed in two separate attacks, by Armenian forces defending the line of contact.
Despite the losses, Azerbaijan continued the shelling, the army spokesman said, noting 110 ceasefire violations were registered on September 28-29, with more than 1600 shots fired from various caliber weapons, including 60-, 82-, and 120-mm mortars, AGS-17 grenade launchers, as well as Turkish-made TR-107 rocket launchers.
Karabagh armed forces took retaliatory measures and continue to be in control of the situation.
The artillery shelling of villages in Armenia’s Tavush province also resulted in civilian deaths, with howitzer cannons being used for the first time since the signing of a ceasefire agreement in 1994, Armenia’s First Deputy Defense Minister said.
The Armenian village of Paravakar in Tavush province was shelled by Azerbaijani armed forces on September 24. A village resident, Paytsar Aghajanyan was deadly wounded.
Other border villages were also bombarded: Sona Revazyan (born in 1974) and Shushan Asatryan (born in 1921) were killed in the border village of Berdavan.
“I am deeply convinced that such a strategy will compel Baku to sign a ceasefire agreement on new terms, instead of focusing on issues of maintaining the ceasefire and trust-building campaigns,” David Tonoyan said.
Tonoyan commented on President Serge Sargisian’s statement on Armenia’s commitment to develop appropriate skills for the country’s future participation in the UN peacekeeping operations.
Sargisian warned Azerbaijan against further escalating the situation in the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict zone .
“We will certainly force Azerbaijan’s government to give an account to its people for causing them continued suffering,” Sargisian said on Saturday addressing the deaths of at least three civilians in Armenia and four army conscripts in Nagorno-Karabagh on Thursday and Friday.
Speaking at the start of the 6th session of the State Commission on Coordination of the Events for the Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, President Sargsyan gave assurances that “the Republic of Armenia will do everything to consistently reveal, disclose and persecute each committer of such crimes.”
“They [three civilians and four soldiers] were killed because an entire world can’t make Azerbaijan understand that the path of human losses, bloodsheds, sufferings and tortures, and of drowning out the voice of its own citizens does not lead to peace, does not lead to prosperity, and does not lead to stability and security.
“As demonstrated by the modern history of human kind, the path chosen by the Azerbaijani authorities, the path of crimes against humanity either results in an international punishment or leads to the scaffold put up by own people completely run out of patience,” said Sargisian.
He added, “The law of the civilized world calls upon humanity to put an end to the impunity of crimes against humanity. The Republic of Armenia is committed to this position. We will consistently reveal, disclose and persecute each committer of such crimes, starting from the private solider executing an order to the commander issuing such an order. Lacking alternatives, we ourselves will be humanity’s retributive sword against committers of these crimes. We will do it on our own as long as the civilized world is not able to find a more effective mechanism.
“These are not mere words when we say that we are afraid of war, but are not afraid to fight. Armenia and by Armenia I also mean Nagorno-Karabagh as its inseparable part, is one of the most militarized zones on the earth. As you know, our grandfathers would say that no pilaf is given out during a battle. And throughout more than 20 years of the imposed ceasefire, which has been impossible to transform into peace on account of Baku’s authorities, we have tried our best to avoid a new confrontation. We will continue in the same vein, and that also includes retributive actions so that the opponent does not think that it can digest its impudent behavior.”
Meanwhile, the Armenian Defense Ministry today issued a statement saying that from now on the Armed Forces of Armenia will use “adequate measures to destroy the enemy artillery and rockets.”
Minister Seyran Ohanyan also reported visited the military hospital and met with the soldiers who were wounded in the September 25 shelling by Azerbaijan.
And Nagorno-Karabagh President Bako Sahakyan signed a decree recognizing the courage displayed by the four fallen soldiers and awarding them with medals “For Service in Battle”. The soldiers are: Norayr Khachatryan (born in 1995), Robert Mkrtchyan (1995), Harut Hakobyan (1997) and Karen Shahinyan (1997).
Foreign Minister Condemns Azeri Actions
Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian met with Ivica Dacic, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson in Office, as well as Serbian Foreign Minister, during his visit to New York.
The parties discussed the Karabagh conflict settlement process and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs’ efforts to resolve the issue.
Dacic expressed deep concern about the growing tension in the conflict zone and stressed the importance of maintaining the ceasefire. Nalbandian noted, in turn, that, despite the co-chairs’ numerous calls, Baku refuses to give up its destructive position and provocations.
Nalbandian also met with Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. State Department, briefing her on the situation along the contact line between Nagorno Karabagh and Azerbaijan. Nuland expressed deep concern about the escalation in the conflict zone and stressed the importance of maintaining ceasefire.
At Nuland’s request, the Minister presented the process of constitutional reforms in Armenia. The two sides also discussed cooperation within international organizations. The U.S. Undersecretary of State thanked Armenia for active participation in peacekeeping missions.
Nalbandian then held a second meeting with the co-chairs of the Minsk Group in which he condemned and characterized as unacceptable the gross violations of the ceasefire by with the heavy artillery, which claimed human losses.
He said that “to divert attention from the outrageous human rights situation in Azerbaijan and the growing criticism of the international community in towards this, Baku escalates the situation on the Line of Contact with Nagorno-Karabagh and the border with Armenia with considerable unforeseen negative consequences. With this provocations Baku demonstrates its disregard both to the human life and to its own commitments.”
Then upon the proposal of the co-chairs and in their presence, he met with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov.
Referring to the Co-chairs’ September 25 statement, Nalbandian said: “It is Azerbaijan that continuously rejects the proposals on confidence building measures and the initiatives aimed at the stabilization of the situation and therefore, it is obvious to whom the messages of the statement are addressed. But it leads to an impression that Baku deliberately doesn’t pay attention to what the international community calls upon through the mediator states. Minister Nalbandian attached importance to the reaffirmation by the co-chairs of the proposal on the creation of an investigative mechanism on the ceasefire violations to which Armenia and Nagorno-Karabagh have expressed their agreement on numerous occasions. It would allow determining with more certainty the side responsible for the ceasefire violations and incidents.
“Azerbaijan refuses this, because it wants to have its hands free, and without scrutiny of international scrutiny to continue its provocations on the Line of Contact and borders.”
Nalbandian stated that “Baku refuses not only the initiatives of the co-chairs on confidence building measures and rejects the proposals of the mediators on the conflict resolution, which have been made public in five statements of the Heads of the Minsk Group co-chair countries, but also casts aside any reference to them, which once again was vividly demonstrated during the EU eastern Partnership summit in Riga”.
The co-chairs expressed their deep concern about the rise of tension of the situation and stressed that the further escalation is unacceptable.
(Reports from Armenpress, Panaorama.am and ArmeniaNow were used to compile this story.)