Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian,...Armenian Youth protect the Armenian Embassy in London

Video of Armenian Youth called at short notice putting a 

protective shield around the Armenian Embassy in London 
against an Azeri demonstration just visible at the end of the clip


Senior Labour MP Stephen Pound calls on the UK government 
to prove that it is a friend of Armenia. 
LONDON - APRIL 4th 2016 - Senior Labour MP Stephen Pound calls 
on the UK government to prove that it is a friend of Armenia. 

"The current intensity of cross border attacks on Nagorno Karabakh 
by Azerbaijan is risking a fatal conflagration in the South Caucusus 
and represents the greatest threat yet to the ceasefire agreement 
in 1994. 

President Aliyev is rightly criticised throughout the world for his 
dictatorial and wholly undemocratic administration but to distract 
from his internal problems by attacking Nagorno Karabakh, 
including civilian population, is potentially lethal and the UK 
Government must make it clear that we do not support or condone 
Azeri aggression and that the death of a child in Nagorno Karabakh
 this weekend would be the first of many if we cannot rein in the 
military aggression launched by Baku. 

The UK has often stated that it is a friend of Armenia. We must now 
prove that friendship before it is too late." 

April 4 2016
Armenia warns Nagorno-Karabakh clashes could turn into 
all-out war
BAKU/YEREVAN | By Nailia Bagirova and Hasmik Mkrtchyan

Armenia's president warned on Monday that an outbreak of violence in
breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh risked spiralling into all-out war, after a
third day of fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian-backed

Ex-Soviet states Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a war over the
territory in the early 1990s in which thousands were killed on both
sides and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The war ended with a fragile truce in 1994 marked by only sporadic
violence over the years. But that ceasefire was shattered over the
weekend with the fiercest fighting in years, killing dozens of people
on both sides.

Despite calls from international mediators for an immediate halt to
the fighting, the two sides exchanged artillery fire and reported
clashes at several locations on the fringes of the mountainous enclave
on Monday.

Azerbaijan's defence ministry said three of its soldiers were killed
on Monday, while a representative of Nagorno-Karabakh's separatist
leadership said four of its military personnel had died.

"A further escalation of military action could lead to unpredictable
and irreversible consequences, right up to a full-scale war,"
President Serzh Sarksyan said at a meeting with foreign ambassadors in
the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

A return to war would destabilise a region that is a crossroads for
strategically-important oil and gas pipelines. It could also drag in
the big regional powers, Russia and Turkey. Moscow has a defence
alliance with Armenia, while Ankara backs Azerbaijan.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a statement by Ankara
strongly supporting Azerbaijan was one-sided.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous enclave with a large ethnic Armenian
population that lies inside the territory of Azerbaijan. The violence
was a re-awakening of a long-festering ethnic conflict between the
mainly Muslim Azeris and their Christian Armenian neighbours.

Tensions flared as the Soviet Union started to disintegrate. With help
from Armenia, the region's ethnic Armenians took up arms to try to
throw off rule from Azerbaijan.

By the time of the 1994 ceasefire, they had pushed Azeri forces out of
almost all of Nagorno-Karabakh and taken control of surrounding


Armenian television cited the Nagorno-Karabakh military as saying 20
of its troops had been killed and 72 wounded in the three days of
fighting to date.

Armenia's Defence Ministry said an Azeri drone had attacked a bus
carrying Armenian volunteers to Nagorno-Karabakh, killing five people.

Each side blamed the other for starting it the weekend outbreak of violence.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday held phone calls with
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier and stressed the need for an urgent ceasefire.

Envoys from France, Russia and the United States, joint mediators in
the conflict, are to meet in Vienna on April 5 for talks on the latest

The clashes were around the "contact line," a heavily-mined
no-man's-land that, since the 1994 ceasefire, has separated the
Armenian-backed forces, in the foothills of the Karabakh mountains,
from Azeri troops dug into defensive positions in the plains below.

Azerbaijan's military and the Armenian-backed forces attacked each
other with tanks, helicopters, missile systems and artillery. Each
said they had captured small chunks of territory from the other side.

On Monday, the fighting was slightly less intense than in previous
days. The two sides exchanged fire but there was no sign of any
concerted offensives, accounts from Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh
officials indicated.

The Armenian-backed military said it had destroyed an Azeri army unit,
while Azerbaijan said it had struck a separatist command point.
Nagorno-Karabakh said that if Azerbaijan attacked Karabakh's largest
city Stepanakert it would be met with a "very painful" response.

In Paris, Hovhannes Guevorkian, a Karabakh representative, said
Azerbaijan had ceased attacking with helicopters and armed vehicles,
but was now firing heavy artillery "non-stop" at towns in the southern
and northern parts of the territory.

"There is an accumulation of Azeri forces all along the front line
especially in the north and south of the country," he said.

Reuters was not able independently to verify these assertions.

Azerbaijan's defence ministry said it wanted to stop the fighting but
that Armenian-backed forces were still "aggravating the situation",
attacking Azeri positions and shelling nearby settlements, forcing
Azeri troops to defend themselves.

The separatists, and their backers in the Armenian government, said
Azerbaijan was the aggressor.

Underscoring the economic risks of a return to war, Azerbaijan's manat
currency, which has already slumped in value because of low world oil
prices, on Monday suffered its biggest fall against the dollar since

Azerbaijan has always vowed to restore its control over
Nagorno-Karabakh but in 1994, poor and riven by political infighting,
it had to accept the truce. Since then though, it has grown wealthy
from exporting oil, and spent heavily on rebuilding its military.

(Additional reporting by Margarita Antidze in TBILISI, John Irish in
PARIS and Caroline Copley in BERLIN; Writing by Christian Lowe and
Alexander Winning; Editing by Richard Balmforth) 

Information War Rages over Karabakh
April 4, 2016
by Giorgi Lomsadze

Disturbing reports of atrocities, and official claims and
counterclaims continue to stream from the Armenian-Azerbaijani
conflict zone as fighting enters its third day. With no international
media or conflict-monitoring mission apparently yet on the ground in
the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, it is next to impossible to
glean frontline facts from the ongoing information war.

That lack of objective information could become even more critical in
the coming days. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, a Karabakh native,
pledged on April 4 that escalation of the fighting, the worst since
the signing of a 1994 ceasefire, would prompt Yerevan to recognize
Nagorno Karabakh as an independent state.

An Armenian investigative news service, Hetq.am, on April 4 published
photos of two elderly residents they claim were killed and maimed by
Azerbaijani troops when they overran the village of Talish in
northeastern Karabakh on April 2. (Warning: graphic image) The
Armenian government and the Karabakhi separatist forces it supports
claimed they swiftly recaptured the village and nearby heights.
Hetq.am said that their photographer, Hakob Poghosian, had then gained
access to the village.

Azerbaijan, however, claimed early on April 4 that it is still in
control of the area. One pro-government news website that published
the information, APA, was not working later in the day. A group of
Armenian hackers, Monte Melkonian Cyber Army, took credit for downing
the site on April 2. A group of Turkish hackers appears to be
responding for Azerbaijan, the site HackRead reported.

The causes for contention are growing. Baku published the names of
civilians allegedly killed by the Armenian shelling of
Azerbaijani-controlled territories bordering on the conflict-zone. The
reported casualties include two men whose cars were hit by an
Armenia-launched mortar. Azerbaijan’s defense ministry said one of the
men was displaced from Karabakh along with the region’s entire ethnic
Azeri population during the 1988-1994 war between Baku, Armenia and
Armenia-backed Karabakhi separatists.

Military losses and tactical moves, though, are also difficult to
track amid conflicting claims. Baku declared on April 4 that the
Azerbaijani army “smashed into bits” an Armenian military command
center in Nagorno-Karabakh. It said that three Azerbaijani soldiers
had been killed, for an official military casualty list of 15. The
same day, the Armenian side claimed they have crashed an advancing
Azerbaijani unit, destroying three tanks and mortar-launchers.
Yerevan's official tally of military deaths stands at 18.

The Russian, American and French co-chairs of the OSCE’s Minsk Group,
the body overseeing Karabakh talks, are meeting today and tomorrow in
Vienna to discuss ways to lesson the tensions, but, as yet, mum’s the

Watching the ongoing violence, Tbilisi, which has its own long
experience with separatist conflicts, has presented itself as a
possible mediator between Armenia and Azerbaijan. No sign yet that the
offer has been accepted. Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli, however,
took to Twitter to announce that she had spoken with the Armenian and
Azerbaijani defense ministers. “Hope for immediate ceasefire and
talks,” she tweeted in English. “Stability in Caucasus is of
existential importance.”

Twitter has been the setting for a verbal barrage between the warring
sides, complete with hashtags; among them, the more pro-Azerbaijani
#KarabakhNow and # KarabakhPeace for more pro-Armenian/Karabakhi

The Twitter fight is largely between the Karabakh separatists and
Baku, with the Armenian government taking a back seat.

The de facto Karabakhi authorities have used the outlet to disseminate
what they claim is drone footage of supposedly 21 slain Azerbaijani
soldiers – a number used to challenge Baku’s initial official report
of 12 casualties. At the same time, Karabakh has attempted to dispel
reports of growing violence by posting photos of local children
playing soccer or smilingly attending class.

Baku's foreign ministry, meanwhile, has avoided videos and photos, but
runs a steady stream of retweets and statements as well as reports
from the official news agency AzerTag that blame the bloodshed on
Armenia's decades-long occupation of Azerbaijani territory.

In his own last tweet, on March 31, President Ilham Aliyev advised
that "The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan must be resolved
based on United Nations Security Council resolutions and the principle
of territorial integrity." His reported words now focus more on
supplying Armenia with an "adequate response."

For all its attempts to style itself as peacemaker, Russia on social
media has avoided talk of Karabakh altogether.

Mainstream Russian media has not been so reserved, repeating Armenian
accusations that link the fighting to Azerbaijani ally Turkey, now
Moscow’s foe.

At an April 4 press-conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov, however, shot that theory down, saying that Moscow does not
blame Ankara for the fighting in Karabakh.

“I won’t undertake to judge what role Ankara played or didn’t play or
continues to play related to Nagorno Karabakh,” he said. 

RFE/RL Report 
Heavy Fighting Continues In Karabakh

Heavy fighting continued in and around Nagorno-Karabakh on Sunday,
with Karabakh Armenian forces saying that they went on the
counteroffensive and regained territory seized by the Azerbaijani army
the previous day.

Karabakh's Defense Army reported "fierce" clashes in the northeast of
Karabakh and the southernmost section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani
"line of contact," which is adjacent to Iran.

In a statement issued on Sunday morning, the army said its troops won
back a "tactically important" position near the northern village of
Talish. "The enemy was pushed back, suffering considerable losses," it
claimed. "Two soldiers from the Karabakh side were wounded during the

"Karabakh forces are also conducting successful operations at the
southern section of the frontline," the statement said, adding that
they destroyed three Azerbaijani tanks and one armored personnel
carrier there.

The Azerbaijani military confirmed later in the day that "Armenia
tried to regain positions lost by it" but claimed to have thwarted
those attempts. "The enemy also subjected settlements and other
civilian facilities near the line of contact to intensive shelling,"
it said.

It claimed to have destroyed as many as 10 Armenian tanks in the
process. The spokesman for the Karabakh army, Senor Hasratian, denied
that claim, saying that the Armenian side has lost only one tank and
destroyed 14 Azerbaijani tanks since the Azerbaijani army began its
offensive on Saturday morning.

Eighteen Armenian soldiers were reportedly killed and 35 others
wounded on Saturday. The Azerbaijani side has acknowledged 12 combat
deaths so far.

In another statement released early in the afternoon, the Defense
Ministry in Baku said the Azerbaijani army has decided to
"unilaterally suspend its counteroffensive and retaliatory measures
against the enemy." "If the Armed Forces of Armenia do not end their
provocative actions # the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan will resume
offensive operations using all weapons at their disposal," it said,
according to Haqqin.az.

Armenia's Defense Ministry swiftly dismissed the announcement as an
"information trick," while the Karabakh army called in
"disinformation" and "an imitation of ceasefire."

The army said that even after Baku's statement Azerbaijani troops
continued to shell not only Karabakh Armenian positions but also
civilians. In particular, it said, they fired on the northeastern
Karabakh town of Martakert from Grad multiple-launch rocket systems
and 152-milimeter howitzers.

Karabakh's Armenian-backed military made clear at the same time that
it is ready to "discuss" the proposed truce "in the context of the
restoration of the previous positions" of the two warring sides.

The military authorities in Stepanakert began reinforcing their
frontline troops on Saturday night by deploying heavy artillery and
calling up hundreds of reservists. Hundreds of other Armenians, most
of them veterans of the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan, reportedly
headed to the frontline from Armenia overnight.

RFE/RL Report
Erdogan Backs Baku, Blames Mediators For Karabakh Fighting

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to back Azerbaijan
"to the end" and held U.S., Russian and French mediators responsible
for the worst escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in over two

"We pray our Azerbaijani brothers will prevail in these clashes with
the least casualties," Erdogan's office quoted him on Sunday as
telling an Azerbaijani reporter during a visit to the United States.

"We will support Azerbaijan to the end," he said, according to the AFP
news agency.

Erdogan also hit out at the OSCE Minsk Group led by the U.S., Russia
and France. "If the Minsk Group had taken fair and decisive steps over
this, such incidents would not have happened," he charged. "However,
the weaknesses of the Minsk Group unfortunately led the situation to
this point."

Erdogan phoned Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev shortly after fierce
fighting broke out in and around Karabakh on Saturday morning. The
Turkish leader voiced solidarity with Baku and offered his condolences
in connection with Azerbaijani soldiers killed in action.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Defense Minister Ismet
Yilmaz had separate phone conversations with their Azerbaijani

The Turkish Foreign Ministry blamed Armenia when it officially reacted
to the hostilities along the "line of contact" around Karabakh. "For
about a quarter century, Armenia has been occupying one-fifth of
Azerbaijan's territory," it said in a statement. "Unless this
occupation comes to an end and Armenia abandons its aggressive stance,
unfortunately, the risk of experiencing similar clashes will

Official Yerevan angrily rejected the Turkish statements on
Sunday. "With such racist statements, Turkey is encouraging the
continuation of the [Azerbaijani] aggressor's actions against the
self-determined Nagorno-Karabakh Republic," Armenian Deputy Foreign
Minister Shavarsh Kocharian said.

"This fits into the logic of the current Turkish leadership's
policies, which have spread a wave of instability, terrorism and
bloodshed both inside and outside Turkey," Kocharian added in written

Successive Turkish governments have unconditionally and fully backed
Azerbaijan, a country with which Turkey shares close ethnic affinity,
throughout the Karabakh conflict. They have refused to establish
diplomatic relations with Armenia and open the Turkish-Armenian border
out of solidarity with their Turkic ally.

Turkey seemed ready to delink normalization of Turkish-Armenian
relations from the Karabakh conflict when it signed U.S.-brokered
agreements with Armenia in 2009. However, Erdogan subsequently made
Turkish ratification of the two protocols conditional on a Karabakh
settlement acceptable to Azerbaijan. The U.S. has repeatedly urged the
Turkish government to drop this precondition.

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