Azerbaijan `Deemed Responsible' For Karabakh Fighting
The international community holds Azerbaijan primarily responsible for
the latest upsurge in ceasefire violations around Nagorno-Karabakh,
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian claimed on Friday.
The U.S., Russian and French mediators acting under the aegis of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European
Union deplored last week's deadly fighting in northeastern Karabakh.
Yet neither the mediators, nor the EU explicitly blamed either
conflicting for the most serious armed incident on the
Armenian-Azerbaijani Line of Contact reported in over two years. They
urged both sides to exercise restraint and seek a peaceful solution to
the Karabakh dispute.
Nalbandian insisted that these statements are `primarily addressed to
Azerbaijan.' `In contacts with us, those making such statements,
especially after the latest incident, are telling us, `You can clearly
see to whom our statements are addressed,'' he told a joint news
conference with Austria's visiting Foreign Minister Michael Spindeleger
`Because clearly it's not Armenia that makes bellicose statements, calls
for war,' said Nalbandian. `It's not Armenia that organized that
provocation on the border and inside the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's
territory. It's not Armenia that rejected a proposal to reinforce the
ceasefire regime which was made by the OSCE Minsk Group.'
Nalbandian stressed at the same time that Yerevan expects a more
`clear-cut stance' from the international community on the Karabakh
clash as well as Azerbaijan's regular threats to resolve the conflict by
force. Both he and President Serzh Sarkisian demanded an explicit
international condemnation of Baku in the immediate aftermath of the
Azerbaijan -- President Ilham Aliyev army weaponry, 24Jun2010
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev again warned on Thursday that his
troops will try to win back the disputed region and Azerbaijani
districts surrounding if the long-running peace talks with the Armenians
do not yield an agreement acceptable to Baku. `The entire people of
Azerbaijan will be mobilized,' he said in a speech reported by
Azerbaijani news agencies the next day. `All armed units will be
mobilized. A coordination work must be conducted within the Armed Forces
for that purpose.'
Aliyev reportedly spoke before Azerbaijani soldiers at the at the end of
what the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said were large-scale military
exercises held in an undisclosed location on June 21-24.
Aliyev described the war games, which were reported by the ministry on
Thursday evening, as `very successful.' `The main purpose of these
exercises is to enable us to liberate our lands from the occupiers with
our joint efforts,' he said.
Armenian Security Chief Cools War Talk
A top Armenian security official on Friday dismissed speculation that a
new war with Azerbaijan is imminent after last week's deadly fighting in
Nagorno-Karabakh that claimed the lives of four Armenian soldiers.
The clash, which Yerevan says resulted from an Azerbaijani attack on
Karabakh Armenian army positions, underlined the shaky state of a
ceasefire that has kept the Karabakh dispute essentially frozen for the
past 16 years.
`We are now prepared for any scenario, but do not support artificial
rumors circulating in our society that war is imminent,' said Artur
Baghdasarian, the secretary of President Serzh Sarkisian's National
Security Council. `On the contrary, I condemn such statements.'
`We must realize that we live in a difficult region and have an
unresolved crisis which means that as long as this period of relative
peace lasts our armed forces must be ready to repel any military
aggression,' Baghdasarian told a news conference. He insisted that the
armed forces of Armenia and Karabakh are `sufficiently combat-ready' to
fight back a possible Azerbaijani offensive.
Echoing a statement by Sarkisian, Baghdasarian said the incident will
not influence Armenia's position in peace negotiations with Azerbaijan.
`Armenia is committed to continuing peace negotiations, and we believe
that we must not succumb to various provocations or organized sabotage
actions,' he said.
Like the Armenian president, Baghdasarian also made clear that Yerevan
will not drop its insistence on a peaceful settlement that would
preclude Karabakh's return under Azerbaijani rule and give the disputed
enclave a reliable overland link with Armenia proper. The Armenian side
will also continue to seek international `security guarantees' for
Karabakh, he added.
PACE Officials Question Armenian Reform Plan
Armenia -- John Prescott (L) and Georges Colombier of the Council of
Europe Parliamentary Assembly visit Yerevan, 16Jun2009
Senior representatives of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly
(PACE) have expressed misgivings about a plan of political reforms which
the Armenian authorities say would address the lingering political
fallout from the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan.
Such reforms were recommended late last year by the PACE's Monitoring
Committee and an Armenian parliamentary body that investigated the
deadly March 2008 clashes between opposition protesters and security
The Monitoring Committee discussed a `roadmap' of relevant measures,
submitted by Armenian parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian, at its latest
meeting in Strasbourg on Tuesday. It largely envisages fresh changes in
Armenia's electoral, judicial and law-enforcement legislation.
In a joint statement issued late on Thursday, the committee's two
co-rapporteurs on Armenia, John Prescott and Georges Colombier, gave a
mixed preliminary assessment of the plan. While expressing their overall
`satisfaction' with the planned reform of the Armenian police and
judiciary, they said the authorities in Yerevan have so far failed to
cooperate with the opposition in drawing up a new electoral code.
`It is clear to us that any election code that has not been discussed
with the different political forces in the country, and that is not
based on an as wide as possible a consensus among them, will not help to
create the necessary public trust in the electoral system,' said the
Prescott and Colombier also added their voice to serious international
concerns about a recently enacted bill which Armenian media associations
say will enable the government to maintain its strong influence on
domestic television and radio stations. They stressed that `the reform
of the legal framework for the media in Armenia should not only result
in a fully transparent licensing procedure, but also in a far more
diverse and pluralistic media environment than is currently the case in
The statement came on the last day of the PACE's summer session in
Strasbourg. The assembly bringing together lawmakers from all Council of
Europe member states again avoided discussing the political situation in
Armenia and, in particular, the Yerevan government's compliance with
several PACE resolutions adopted after the 2008 unrest.
The most recent resolution adopted in June 2009 welcomed a general
amnesty that led to the release of more than 30 opposition members
arrested following the February 2008 presidential election. But it said
only the release of all Armenian oppositionists remaining in jail would
`provide the necessary basis for the start of the dialogue and
reconsolidation that is needed to overcome the political crisis.'
At least 13 individuals, who are considered `political prisoners' by the
opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), remain behind bars at
present. The authorities insist that none of them was jailed for
The HAK has repeatedly accused the Strasbourg-based assembly of doing
little to ensure Yerevan's compliance with the resolution. The
opposition bloc's representative to the Council of Europe, Arman
Grigorian, last month denounced Colombier and Prescott for repeatedly
canceling their planned fact-finding visits to Armenia this year.
The co-rapporteurs said on Thursday that they will visit Yerevan `in
IRAN AGAINST U.S. PEACEKEEPING ROLE IN KARABAKH
Armenia -- Iranian Ambassador Seyed Ali Saghaeyan at a news conference
in Yerevan, 23June 2010.
Iran is strongly opposed to U.S. involvement in a multi-national
peacekeeping force that would presumably be deployed around
Nagorno-Karabakh after the signing of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace
accord, a senior Iranian diplomat warned on Wednesday.
Such a peacekeeping operation is an important element of the current
and previous peace proposals made by the U.S., Russian and French
mediators spearheading international efforts to settle the Karabakh
Analysts in and outside the region have long speculated about the
possible composition of foreign troops that would enforce a future
peace deal. The mediators' existing "basic principles" of a peaceful
settlement apparently leave that question unanswered.
According to Iran's ambassador to Armenia, Seyed Ali Saghaeyan, the
United States is keen to have troops in Azerbaijan's Fizuli district,
which borders Iran and was mostly occupied by Karabakh Armenian forces
in 1993. He claimed that that would pose a serious threat to the
Islamic Republic given its extremely tense relations with Washington.
"Iran is the only country adjacent to the conflicting parties, and in
terms of ensuring its own security, it will not allow the deployment
of American forces," Saghayean told a news conference.
The diplomat declined to specify whether Tehran does not want to see
peacekeeping forces from other foreign powers as well. He argued that
both the conflicting parties and the OSCE Minsk Group have still a
long way to go to reach agreement on the matter.
Saghayean similarly indicated in February that Iran regards the make-up
of the would-be peacekeeping force in the conflict zone as a matter
of national security. "Iran shares a common border with Karabakh and
therefore we surely have our own considerations and views about the
composition of a peacekeeping force that might be deployed in the
conflict zone," he said.
The Iranian envoy also insisted on Wednesday that a renewed war in
Karabakh is extremely unlikely now despite the latest upsurge in
skirmishes along the Armenian-Azerbaijani Line of Contact north and
east of the disputed territory. "Iran rules that out," he said.
CATHERINE ASHTON`S STATEMENT
The spokesperson of High Representative of the Union for Foreign
Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission Catherine
Ashton issued a following statement today:
'The High Representative regrets the armed incident resulting in the
loss of human life that took place during the night between 18-19
June along the Line of Contact in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict. The High Representative calls on both sides to respect the
ceasefire, restrain from the use of force or any threat thereof, and
continue efforts for the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh
conflict. The EU reiterates its full support to the efforts of the
OSCE Minsk Group and the work of the three co-chairs.'
Saturday, 26 June 2010