Saturday, 23 April 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian...Turkey calls for war in Karabakh

April 22 2016
Lavrov says Turkey's statements on Karabakh are calls for war

Earlier Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the work
of the Minsk Group (Russia, France and the US) on Nagorno-Karabakh,
accusing it of "inaction"

YEREVAN, April 22. /TASS/. The Turkish authorities’ statements on
Nagorno-Karabakh are unacceptable as these are calls for war, Russian
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Armenian
counterpart Eduard Nalbandyan on Friday.

"The statements of the Turkish leadership are absolutely unacceptable.
These were the calls not for peace but for war," Lavrov stressed.
"These were calls to resolve the conflict by military means," he said,
adding that this absolutely contradicts the position of the co-chairs
of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
Minsk Group.

"Unfortunately, we have got accustomed to such ‘twists’ of the current
Turkish leadership," he said.

Earlier Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the work
of the Minsk Group (Russia, France and the US) on Nagorno-Karabakh,
accusing it of "inaction."

The diplomat has also urged not to delay implementation of
confidence-building measures in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Lavrov offered condolences to the relatives and dear ones of those who
were killed in the recent outbreak of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh.

"These tragic events merely confirm once again that this conflict does
not have a military solution and cannot have one. It can be overcome
exclusively by political and diplomatic means," he said. "At this
point we believe it is an absolute priority to enforce the full and
strict implementation of the 1994-1995 ceasefire agreements, which are
open-ended and should be fully respected as such by all."

"Russia as an individual country and a member of the troika of the
OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chairs will be doing its utmost to provide
assistance to the parties concerned. At this point, apart from full
respect for the conditions of open-ended truce we believe it is
important to pay attention to the practical implementation of the
confidence-building measures, security measures and measures to
investigate incidents that were agreed by the presidents of Armenia
and Azerbaijan via Russia’s mediation in 2011 and that the OSCE has
sought to enforce," Lavrov said. "Further delays in translating these
decisions to life would be wrong.".

RFE/RL Report 

Russia favors strict compliance with ceasefire in Nagorno-KarabakhApril 22 2016

According to Lavrov, Moscow advocates strict observance of the
agreements on the indefinite ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh.

"We realize what period in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement we are
living through," he said. "We have made efforts - President Vladimir
Putin personally - to make sure that the outbreak of violence ends."

"Now it is fundamentally important to strictly comply with the
ceasefire agreements and prevent new violations of the 1994 and 1995
agreements, which enshrine and strengthen the indefinite ceasefire
regime," the Russian minister said.

According to Lavrov, it is necessary to carry through the agreements
with the OSCE on confidence-building measures, de-escalation of
tensions and snipers.

"As for the political settlement, we are ready to do everything
possible," he said. "We need to do our utmost to prevent violence and

RFE/RL Report 
Russia Urges Renewed Armenian-Azeri Peace Talks
Emil Danielyan, Sargis Harutyunyan ## Ruzanna Stepanian

Russia urged the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to "reduce
military risks" and resume peace talks as Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov headed to Yerevan on Thursday.

Lavrov will meet with President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister
Edward Nalbandian on Friday more than two weeks after Moscow helped to
stop the worst fighting around Karabakh since 1994. Russian Prime
Minister Dmitry Medvedev sought to cement the shaky ceasefire when he
visited Yerevan and Baku in the following days. Lavrov also met with
Azerbaijani leaders in Baku in early April.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said both
sides should now "show restraint" and strive for the "restoration of
stability" in the conflict zone. "We strongly believe that the parties
need to resume the negotiation process aimed at achieving a lasting
and peaceful settlement," the RIA Novosti news agency quoted her as
saying.  They should also step up efforts to "lower military risks,"
she added.

Reports in the Russian press claimed this week that Lavrov will
present the Armenian side with far-reaching peace proposals similar to
the Basic Principles of Karabakh peace jointly drafted by the U.S.,
Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Zakharova seemed to deny those reports. "Sergey Lavrov never arrives
anywhere empty-handed," he told a news briefing in Moscow. "But I
think it's wrong to say that it's a plan, program, draft or document."

"We are talking about certain proposals, discussions of various ideas
relating to the settlement," she added without elaborating.

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian likewise denied
the existence of a separate Russian peace plan on Karabakh. He
insisted that the framework agreement put forward by the U.S., Russian
and French mediators remains the basis for Armenian-Azerbaijani

"Lavrov is not coming here to get an answer," Kocharian told reporters
hours before the Russian minister's arrival in Yerevan.

Lavrov's visit comes amid intense Armenian media speculation that
Moscow may be seeking to force the Armenian side to make additional
concessions to Azerbaijan.

Kocharian ruled out the possibility of such concessions. He also made
clear that peace talks with Baku cannot take place amid renewed truce
violations in Karabakh. "A ceasefire must be guaranteed because it's
impossible to negotiate when they shoot," he said.

"I exclude any unilateral [Armenian] concessions," said Aghvan
Vartanian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
(Dashnaktsutyun), President Sarkisian's junior coalition partner. "I
think that the Armenian authorities would never do such a thing
regardless of where pressure on them comes from: Europe, the United
States or Russia."

Alexander Arzumanian, an opposition politician and former foreign
minister, agreed. "I don't think that any [Armenian] government would
be ready for concessions putting Karabakh's population at risk,"
Arzumanian told RFE/RL's Armenian service ( That would
be tantamount to a political "suicide," he said.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said on Thursday that
Baku remains committed to a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh
conflict that would restore "Azerbaijan's territorial integrity."

RFE/RL Report
Armenia Briefs NATO On Karabakh Escalation

NATO's Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow called for an
urgent "de-escalation" of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on Thursday
after discussing it with Armenia's First Deputy Defense Minister Davit
Tonoyan in Brussels.

According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, Tonoyan briefed Vershbow
on Azerbaijan's "preplanned offensive operations" around Karabakh on
April 2 which nearly resulted in a full-scale Armenian-Azerbaijani
war. A ministry statement said Tonoyan also presented evidence of
"violations of international humanitarian law" allegedly committed by
Azerbaijani troops during the four-day heavy fighting.

"The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict urgently requires de-escalation and
diplomatic progress under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group
co-chairs," Vershbow tweeted after the meeting.

"There can be no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,"
the former senior U.S. diplomat said in a separate tweet.

Tonoyan was reported to tell Vershbow that military action by
Azerbaijan cannot stop the Karabakh Armenians from exercising their
"right to self-determination." "Armenians of the world have been
mobilized and will defend that right by all means," he said. "The
people of Nagorno-Karabakh also have the right to defend themselves
and improve their security environment."

The ministry statement added that Tonoyan will meet other NATO
officials on Friday for an annual "planning and review process" on
Armenia's relations with the U.S.-led alliance. Those ties have
deepened considerably in the past decade, leading to increased
Armenian participation in NATO-led peacekeeping missions and exercises
and NATO assistance to defense reforms implemented by Yerevan.

As recently as on March 31, a 32-strong unit of Armenian military
medics joined U.S.-led exercises in Germany involving some 5,000
troops from 16 NATO member and partner states. The annual drills
codenamed Saber Junction will end on Sunday.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan said on Wednesday that the Armenian
participants are simulating evacuation and treatment of wounded
military personnel at a mobile field hospital that was deployed by
them outside Armenia for the first time ever. The U.S. military
donated the hospital to an Armenian peacekeeping brigade in 2007.

In another example of closer Armenia-NATO cooperation, military
instructors from NATO's Allied Joint Force Command in Brunssum, the
Netherlands completed on Thursday a four-day training course organized
in Yerevan for a group of Armenian army officers. 

RFE/RL Report
Karabakh To Bolster Defenses After `4-Day War'
Sisak Gabrielian ## Emil Danielyan

Nagorno-Karabakh's Armenian-backed leadership has embarked on the
construction of new defense fortifications along "the line of contact"
around the territory following this month's heavy fighting between
Armenian and Azerbaijani forces deployed there.

"Military engineering works on the frontlines are in progress right
now," Ara Harutiunian, the Karabakh prime minister, said on Wednesday
evening at a meeting with senior government and military officials in
Stepanakert and the top executives of local construction firms.

"This must remain a top priority for us for some time because, as have
we have once again seen, only strong borders and the bravery of
Armenian soldiers can guarantee peace for our children," he told them,
according to his press office.

Harutiunian was also quoted as saying that the government of the
unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) will promptly provide
construction firms with "appropriate resources" so that they "organize
the works in a timely and efficient manner." He told government and
military bodies to "closely cooperate with the companies."

An RFE/RL correspondent witnessed the strengthening of Armenian
fortifications earlier this week when he visited the northern Karabakh
village of Talish, one of the epicenters of bloody hostilities that
broke out on April 2.

The Azerbaijani army launched an offensive at northern and southern
sections of "the line of contact." At least 170 soldiers from both
sides died in the ensuing fierce clashes that were largely stopped by
a Russian-brokered ceasefire on April 5. The flare-up of violence, the
worst since 1994, has been unofficially dubbed a "four-day war."

Davit Babayan, the spokesman for Bako Sahakian, the NKR president,
said on Thursday that the Karabakh Armenian leadership is now making
contingency plans against another possible Azerbaijani assault. "This
situation requires us to revise some components of our defense
system," Babayan told RFE/RL's Armenian service (

"If the enemy now uses heavy artillery and other long-range weapons,
it is only natural that we reinforce our fortifications and make
corresponding changes in our tactic and strategy," he said.

Babayan said that as part of the same effort the Karabakh Armenians
will also receive more weapons for their Defense Army closely
integrated with Armenia's armed forces. He said Armenian President
Serzh Sarkisian discussed the matter with Sahakian and the Defense
Army commanders when he visited Karabakh this week.

No details of those discussions were made public. Sarkisian also
toured Karabakh army bases located close to the frontlines and handed
medals to more than 30 Armenian soldiers during the three-day visit.
Truth Is The First Casualty Of War: 
Nagorno-Karabakh And Media Misinformation
By Jirair Tutunjian
19 April, 2016 

“A foreign correspondent is someone who flies around from hotel to 
hotel and thinks the most interesting thing about any story is the fact 
 that he has arrived to cover it.” — Tom Stoppard (“Night and Day”)

T he Crimean War, in mid-19th century, introduced the world to the 
 cardigan, the raglan jersey, and the balaclava headdress. It also 
 introduced a new profession: the foreign correspondent. And almost 
 immediately after the war the axiom “truth is the first casualty of war” 
 was born because of the falsehoods spread by foreign correspondents 
 on both sides, not to mention Tennyson’s overheated and wrong
-headed  poem. 

Since then, as in any other profession, there have been capable and 
honest foreign correspondents and reporters who have been incompetent, 
ignorant or propaganda tools of their nation or their employers. Ernest 
Hemingway, a giant of American literature, didn’t hesitate to color his 
coverage of the Spanish Civil War with propaganda for the side he 
favoured. A British daily reported that the Americans had been victorious 
at Pearl Harbor. Countless American foreign correspondents beat the 
Pentagon drum during the Vietnam War. More recently, “embedded” 
American journalists reported how the US forces had “liberated” Iraq.

Foreign correspondents can be notoriously uninformed and cavalier 
about the country’s they report on: for example, the Middle East foreign 
correspondents of Western media who speak Arabic are as rare as 
atheists in Mecca. Most Western correspondents thus depend on local 
“minders” and a dubious local media to report what’s happening. The 
situation has worsened in recent years as Western media have closed 
news bureaus around the globe and lone correspondents cover whole 
continents. This has given rise to the “airport reporter”... the journalist 
who flies in to a hot spot for a few days and covers complicated conflicts 
with a few hundred words then flies away to chase another conflict.

Considering the deteriorating condition of the profession, it’s no surprise 
that many of its practitioners did a shabby job in reporting on the early 
April fighting between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). 
As usual, East vs. West friction, national and corporate interests (Azeri 
oil more precious than Armenian blood), carelessness and sheer 
ignorance played a part in their coverage. And as on other occasions, 
the conflict was often covered in Manichean terms.

Here’s how the anti-Armenian or indifferent foreign correspondents 
 and commentators reported the war between Azerbaijan and Artsakh.

Rather than point out that the fighting erupted because Azeri forces 
had attacked Armenian positions, hostile-to-the-Armenians journalists 
rote of “violence and shooting on both sides”.

They said “both the Armenians and the Azeris spent enormous sums 
of building their armed forces” without mentioning that what Armenia 
spends is a pittance of what petro-rich Azerbaijan spends. In the past 
decade Baku has invested $20 billion in its armed forces while the 
annual Azeri defense budget equals Armenia’s total national budget. 
The journalists also didn’t mention that impoverished Armenia has no 
interest in war and is forced to invest in its military in a failed attempt 
to keep up with the Azerbaijan martial profligacy. The equivalency 
was jarring.

The foreign correspondents talked vaguely of “numerous casualties 
on both sides” thus hiding the fact that the invading Azeris, who made 
the surprise attack and were better armed than Artsakh Armenians, 
suffered far greater losses in personnel and in weapons.

The foreign correspondents in many instances failed to mention that 
three Armenian soldiers were beheaded, and several unarmed and 
aged Armenian men were killed and mutilated in their homes. Perhaps 
the foreign correspondents didn’t want to suggest proximity in Azeri 
and ISIS attitude and behaviour. Such a comparison would have 
painted the Azeris in pitch black and their leadership as war criminals.

The journalists wrote that prior to the recent fight there was almost 
daily shootings across the contact line. However, they didn’t mention 
that almost in all cases the Azeris had initiated the shooting, forcing 
the Armenians to retaliate. They also didn’t mention that no month 
has passed in recent years without Azeri President Ilham Aliev or 
one of his senior military officers threatening to invade Artsakh.

While they occasionally talked about Azeri drones, many foreign 
correspondents omitted the fact that these very effective weapons, 
called Harop, were all imported from Israel. That country manufactures 
40% of the world’s drones. Mentioning Israeli complicity would have 
been a no-no in the Western media. In one instance one of these 
drones killed seven Armenian civilians in a bus. 

To hide the David and Goliath aspect of the April fighting, these 
same journalists didn’t mention that the Artsakh fighters achieved 
victory without reinforcements from Armenia.

Although Azeri forces achieved very little in their costly blitzkrieg, 
correspondents who were anti-Armenian exaggerated the importance 
of the several hillocks the Azeris managed to take from the Armenian 

The anti-Armenian media didn’t mention the heroism of young 
Armenian soldiers who downed helicopter and drone with rudimentary 

Not to offend Turkey, these same foreign correspondents failed to 
mention Erdogan’s and Davutoglu’s incitement for war against tiny 
Armenia. The correspondents also didn’t mention that the Azeri 
defense minister had threatened to bomb civilians in Stepanagerd.

To depict the Armenians as the foe, the journalists made sure to 
mention that Russia had a military base in Armenia. Of course, 
they didn’t say that Armenia was not only blockaded by the 
Turkbeijan Twins but was also threatened by 700,000-plus Turkish 
army, the second largest in NATO. In other words, the Russian 
military presence in Armenia is largely symbolic.

Some reporters even falsified the fighting in the ‘90s by claiming 
that the Azeris had fought the Armenians of Artsakh and Armenia, 
in addition to Russian soldiers. Not only did the Russian stop 
Armenians from advancing but the Azeris had hired Ukrainian 
pilots ($1,000 per bombing mission) in addition to having brought 
Pakistani, Mujahideen, Taliban and other Islamic fighters to attack 
the small Armenian army.

To portray Azerbaijan as “peace-loving” some journalists said that 
 Baku had cut its military budget by 40%. They didn’t say that Baku 
 was forced to do so because of the collapse of the oil market 
 Azerbaijan depends on to stay afloat.

Another way of hitting the Armenian side—in a subtle way—is to 
call them “armed separatists who illegally control 20% of Azerbaijan” 
and Artsakh “a “breakaway region”, “occupier” and “enclave”. The 
use of “ethnic” to describe Artsakh Armenians is another gimmick. 
An ethnic group is by definition a minority. Artsakh residents are 
not ethnics. They are a nation--a nation which has lived in Artsakh 
for nearly 3,000 years. They are the settled indigenous inhabitants. 
The Azeris are the interloping Turkic/Tatar nomads. The reason 
Artsakh Armenians wrested the region from Azerbaijan during the 
collapse of the Soviet Union was because Joseph Stalin had given 
Armenian Artsakh to Azerbaijan to please Turkey, Azerbaijan’s 
 older brother.

To divert the readers’ attention from the crux of the conflict, some 
journalists opined that President Serge Sarkissian of Armenia 
needs a victory on the battlefield to improve his chances of 
continuing his reign past 2018. The same correspondent said 
Sarkissian is prepared to follow any Moscow directives where the 
now tense Turkey-Russia relations are concerned. In other words, 
nasty and belligerent Armenia threatens NATO. Of course no 
mention of the various NATO bases in Turkey, the establishment 
 of a NATO base in Nakhichevan (another territory taken from 
Armenia by Stalin and given to Azerbaijan) and Israeli access 
to Azeri airfields across from northern Iran. 

In one instance a foreign correspondent wrote: “The number of 
incidents along the Armenian-Azeri line increased over the past 
year. On the Azeri side there is a civilian population that has 
not left its homes. They are subjected to Armenian fire, which is 
sometimes aimed at them one-hundred or more times a day.” No 
mention that the incidents were ALWAYS started by the Azeris.

The same reporter ended his misleading report with: “Now that 
Azerbaijan has proved its military superiority, there is a chance 
for real diplomatic communication that could lead to an agreement.” 
By this reporter’s estimation, war is peace, petrol is a cleaning 
agent, and corrupt, dictatorial and belligerent Baby Aliyev is a 
modern Simon Bolivar. 

Orwellianism is alive and well. 

Jirair Tutunjian is a Canadian-Armenian journalist. 

RFE/RL Report

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