Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Armenian News...A Topalian... Relative Calm
Update: Relative Calm Established in NKR as Fighting Halts
Posted By Weekly Staff 

On April 5, 2016
STEPANAKERT, NKR—The Nagorno-Karabagh Defense Army and the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan reportedly agreed at around noon on April 5 to halt the fighting along the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) Line of Contact (LoC), in light of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group negotiations that will take place in Vienna this afternoon, according to CivilNet.

Chief of the Operations Division of the NKR Defense Army Viktor Arustamyan told reporters on April 5 in Stepanakert that during the 4 days of fighting, the Armenian side suffered 29 casualties and 101 wounded, reported Civilnet. He also noted that the NKR forces lost 14 tanks, while Azerbaijan lost 24.

The Minsk Group issued a statement on April 5 strongly condemning the violence, expressing condolences to the families of all casualties, reiterating that “there is no military solution to the conflict,” and stressing the need to immediately begin negotiations.

“We, the representatives of the OSCE Minsk Group countries (Russian Federation, the United States of America, France, Belarus, Finland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey), as well as the incoming Austrian OSCE chair (2017) and the Serbian OSCE chair (2015), strongly condemn the outbreak of unprecedented violence along the Line of Contact. We extend our condolences to all affected families. We urge the sides to cease using force immediately. There is no military solution to the conflict,” read the statement. “The deterioration of the situation on the ground demonstrates the need for an immediate negotiation, under the auspices of the co-chairs, on a comprehensive settlement.”

Earlier in the day, the NKR Defense Ministry stated that the fighting along the LoC had continued overnight. It also accused Azerbaijan of “increasing the caliber of the weapons used” with each passing day, noting that the Azerbaijani forces had used Heavy Multiple Rocket Launcher Smerch towards the Karabagh forces.

In another statement on April 5, the NKR Defense Ministry said that, as part of its military policy, it was not engaging in the targeting of civilian dwellings. In contrast, the Azerbaijani Army targeted civilian dwellings in Martuni on April 4, just as it had targeted Martakert and its surrounding villages a day earlier. 
Sarkisian Threatens to Recognize NKR; Criticizes International Community’s Silence
April 4, 2016 

YEREVAN (A.W.)—“Should [Azerbaijani] military actions continue and escalate into larger scales, the Republic of Armenia will recognize the independence of Nagorno-Karabagh,” Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian told ambassadors of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member states summoned for a meeting on April 4.

“Further escalation of [Azerbaijani] military actions may result in unpredictable and irreversible consequences, including an all-out war. It will obviously affect the security and stability not only of the South Caucasus but also the entire European area,” said Sarkisian.

Sarkisian Criticizes International ‘Silence’ 

Sarkisian said that Armenia’s concerns over Azerbaijan’s “Armenophobic rhetoric” and the potential for a “new military adventurism” had gone unheeded. He went on to criticize the silence of the international community in the face of Baku’s “bragging about the acquisition of arms and weaponry in profound quantities.”

“When statements about seeking military solution to the problem were being made at the highest levels, the international community remained almost silent. When Azerbaijan was derailing the work of the OSCE Minsk Group and turning down the proposals to create confidence building mechanisms, the international community again kept silence. And today, the international community is again silent as we see how Azerbaijan uses heavy artillery and bombards the peaceful population,” said Sarkisian, adding, “By the way, literally minutes ago the Azeri Armed Forces for the first time used a heavy flame-thrower system.”

Sarkisian drew attention to Aliyev’s false rhetoric of “tolerance” and juxtaposed it with the brutal murder of civilians over the weekend. “Hostilities of this magnitude have not been registered since the establishment of the ceasefire in 1994,” he said. “Provocative attacks of the Azeri side…continue as we speak. Azerbaijan continues to target civilians, using multiple rocket launchers and mortars.”

Sarkisian stressed that as a party to the 1994 ceasefire agreement, Armenia would uphold its obligation to “ensure the security of the people of Nagorno-Karabagh.” He said he has instructed the Armenian Foreign Affairs Ministry to “work with Nagorno-Karabagh to elaborate an agreement on mutual military assistance.”

Sarkisian also criticized calls for “restraint” when it comes to counter-measures taken by Karabagh.

Sarkisian Blasts Turkey’s Role in Baku Aggression

Sarkisian also condemned Turkey’s role in the recent violence. “[Turkey] is acting from a position of inciting a great war in the region and is explicitly encouraging the adventuristic policy of the Azerbaijani leadership,” he said. “Azerbaijan is bragging about its alleged victory, and Turkey congratulates it on that occasion, while the international community condemns the use of force in Nagorno-Karabagh, although only in words.”

Sarkisian stressed that Turkey should have no place in the Karabagh peace process, as evidenced by its recent rhetoric supporting Baku’s aggression. “Turkey is the only country to provide unwavering support to the Azerbaijani adventurism. The statements made by Ankara before and after this situation—through which this country seems to compete with Azerbaijan with its anti-Armenian stance—can form a new hotbed of tension in the region, something in which Turkey has experience in the Near East,” said Sarkisian. “All those who wished to see Turkey among the mediators now understand that the country, having adopted the approach of the so-called ‘blood-kinship security,’ should be completely kept away from the process of the Karabagh conflict resolution.”

Sarkisian’s Three Points 

The president went on to list three points that the ambassadors should relay to their capitals—that the concerned parties must (1) “clearly demand an explanation” from Baku about the instigation of military operations; (2) “address the cause of the conflict”; and (3) note that Azerbaijan has not “liberated territories.”

“I can assure you that Azerbaijan hasn’t liberated any territory. At this moment along the whole line of contact there is only a tiny segment in the south and another tiny segment in the north (which hopefully will no longer exist by the end of this meeting). This means that Azerbaijan has made an advance of merely 200-300 meters. For every meter, they have lost more than one person,” said Sarkisian, who stressed that reports of Azeri territorial gains are aimed at spreading misinformation.

The president spoke about the need for the OSCE to put in place ceasefire violation investigation mechanisms and to increase the number of OSCE personnel on the ground.

Sarkisian also said that “whether they like it or not” Baku has to speak directly with the Karabagh authorities, as they are a party to the ceasefire agreement.

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