Friday, 14 July 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... More strikes by Azerbaijan

Interfax - Russia & CIS Military Newswire
July 7, 2017 Friday 5:05 PM MSK
Azerbaijani Armed Forces strike at Armenian positions in Karabakh,
destroying 'significant amount of enemy's troops - Baku

The Azerbaijani Armed Forces have retaliated "while preventing a
provocation by the Armenian side," and the enemy suffered significant
losses of personnel and hardware as a result, the Azerbaijani Defense
Ministry said.

"According to updated information, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces
retaliated against the enemy on the Fuzuli-Khojavend section of the
frontline. As a result, a significant amount of the enemy's troops
were destroyed, a part of the enemy's military hardware was rendered
out of commission, and several military facilities were rendered
unserviceable," the ministry said.

The Azerbaijani Armed Forces were put on full combat alert as a
response to similar actions of the Armenian side, which was preparing
"another provocation," it said.

The Azerbaijani Armed Forces are controlling the situation in the
conflict zone at present, it said.

The press service for the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's
Defense Ministry, for its part, said that three servicemen were
wounded in shelling conducted by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. "The
Azerbaijan Armed Forces have been repeatedly violating the ceasefire
on the contact line using small arms, D-30 and D-44 artillery guns,
mortars, and grenade launchers of various calibers, since the morning
of July 7," the unrecognized republic's ministry said.

"The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's Defense Army is taking retaliatory
measures to suppress the enemy's offensive," it said. "The military
and political leadership of Azerbaijan is responsible for all the
consequences of destabilizing actions on the frontline," it said.

On July 4, the situation in the zone of the Karabakh conflict
exacerbated, when Azerbaijan accused the Armenian troops of shelling a
village in the Fuzuli district and killing an elderly woman and a
child. Stepanakert said that fire was opened in retaliation for the
Azerbaijani side's shelling.

A ceasefire between Armenia and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh
Republic on the one part and Azerbaijan on the other part was
established in May 1994. The OSCE, assisted by the personal
representative of the OSCE chairperson-in-office, arranges regular
monitoring trips to the frontline to verify the conflicting sides'
compliance with the truce. 

RFE/RL Report 
Armenian, Azeri FMs In Fresh Talks On Karabakh
July 11, 2017

U.S., Russian and French mediators continued to press for renewed
face-to-face negotiations between the presidents of Armenia and
Azerbaijan during a fresh meeting of the two countries' foreign
ministers held in Brussels late on Tuesday.

Foreign Ministers Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov met in the
presence of the three co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group for further
discussions on how to kick-start the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.

"The Co-Chairs asked the Ministers to convey to the Presidents their
proposal to organize a summit in the course of this year," the
Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. It said Nalbandian and
Mammadyarov agreed to meet again in September in New York on the
sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The mediators said after visiting Baku, Yerevan and Stepanakert last
month that Aliyev and Sarkisian "expressed their intention to resume
political dialogue in an attempt to find a compromise solution for the
most controversial issues of the settlement."

Official Azerbaijani sources made no public statements immediately
after the Brussels meeting which followed the latest upsurge of
ceasefire violations along the Karabakh "line of contact." The
mediating troika urged the warring sides to "cease military action"
last week.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry statement, Nalbandian
stressed at Tuesday's meeting the importance of "stabilizing the
situation on the Line of Contact." He also insisted on the
unconditional implementation of confidence-building agreements that
were reached by Aliyev and Sarkisian last year.

The two leaders specifically agreed to allow the OSCE to deploy more
field observers in the conflict zone and investigate truce violations
occurring there. The Azerbaijani government has since been reluctant
to implement these safeguards, however, saying that they would cement
the status quo in the absence of progress in Armenian-Azerbaijani
peace talks.

Nalbandian lambasted Azerbaijan at an informal meeting of foreign
ministers of OSCE member states held in Mauerbach, Austria earlier on
Tuesday. He said that Baku's failure to take the confidence-building
measures is calling into question is "ability to act as a negotiating

An Azerbaijani diplomat attending the meeting denounced Nalbandian's
remarks as "extremely provocative" and claimed that Yerevan is keen to
"perpetuate the current status quo" in Karabakh.

While in Mauerbach, Nalbandian also met with Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov. The Armenian Foreign Ministry said the two men
discussed the Karabakh dispute and agreed on the need to implement the
2016 agreements.

Aravot, Armenia
July 11 2017
Members of European Parliament call for an immediate halt to Azerbaijan’s military aggression 

The recent conflict escalation in the Line of Contact between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan, which has yet again led to the regrettable death of civilians, is a matter of great concern to all of us who believe in the values of peace and understanding. In this regard, we would like to offer our condolences and express our deepest sympathy to the relatives and friends of the victims.

Zahra Guliyeva and her grandmother Sahiba are the most recent victims of the repeated violations of the ceasefire by the Azerbaijani armed forces, and their usual practice of shelling Nagorno-Karabakh from positions located too close to civilian settlements (practice condemned by the Geneva Convention and that constitutes in itself a war crime), putting their own population at risk.

These two names join a long list of both civilians and soldiers, Armenian and Azerbaijani, who paid the ultimate price for the indifference of the international community and its failure to prevent the continued violations of the ceasefire regime by the armed forces of Azerbaijan.

Since last year’s Four Day War and the refusal of President Aliyev to implement the agreements to expand the capabilities of the OSCE ceasefire monitoring mission, Azerbaijan has not only intensified  its anti-Armenian rhetoric and war threats against Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia [1] , but also escalated hostilities. This is Baku’s response to increasing external pressure [2] caused by deteriorating situation of human rights and freedom of the media in the country, and recent accusations of Azerbaijan’s involvement in the traffic of weapons for terrorist organisations [3] .

We call for an immediate halt to Azerbaijan’s military aggression, and reaffirm our belief in that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be resolved peacefully, and in full respect of the right to self-determination of the local population. This is the only way to stop claiming the lives of civilians and young conscripts on both sides.

Further escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh risks bringing more instability to the entire region, and provoking yet another humanitarian crisis in the EU’s neighbourhood.

We therefore call on the European Union to actively contribute to the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by supporting the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, and suspending political engagement with Azerbaijan until it ceases violating the ceasefire and commits to the respect of human rights and good neighbourly relations.

Members of European Parliament:

Josep-Maria TERRICABRAS, Greens/European Free Alliance

Diogo PINTO, EuFoA Director , Armenia
July 11 2017
Swedish lawmakers file genocide complaint against Erdogan 

Five Swedish lawmakers have filed a legal complaint accusing Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, reported quoting AFP.

It is said that the suit filed by MPs from the Left and Green parties relates to the conflict in Turkey's Kurdish majority south-east.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is also mentioned in the suit. According to the Swedish law adopted in 2014, the country's courts can judge cases of alleged crimes against humanity regardless of where they have been committed or by whom.

If prosecutors decide to launch an investigation, Erdogan could risk an arrest warrant in Sweden, the lawmakers said.

The lawmakers also hope that their colleagues from other European countries would follow their lead.

Asbarez Armenian News
July 11 2017
Henry Theriault Elected President of International Association of Genocide Scholars 

Dr. Henry Theriaul addresses the IAGS conference in Brisbane, Australia

BRISBANE, Australia—Professor Henry C. Theriault was elected President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) on Tuesday during the organization’s annual conference becoming the first Armenian to assume the position.

The conference also elected the Dr. Suren Manukyan, Deputy Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum & Institute in Yerevan as a member of IAGS’s Advisory Board. 
In his nomination statement, Theriault warned of the threats facing human rights advances due to the dire political climate in the United States and Europe.

“Genocide studies has been at the forefront of recent human rights advances. Dire political climates in the US, Europe, and other areas threaten this progress. Racism, xenophobia, misogyny, etc. pervade public discourse and drive repressive legal and political regressions the world over. Genocide’s prevalence even threatens increase,” said Theriault.

“Against this, a vibrant IAGS is essential. Demagogues attack the sensibilities genocide studies engenders. Our work is a crucial challenge to their propaganda. IAGS must strive against this marginalization while innovatively expanding the field, especially creating space for emerging scholars particularly vulnerable to this backlash,” he added.

Theriault is a board member of the Armenian Legal Center for Justice and Human Rights and serves as the the Armenian Genocide Reparations Study Group (AGRSG), which was assembled in 2007 by four experts in different areas of reparations theory and practice. In September 2014, the group completed its final report, “Resolution with Justice—Reparations for the Armenian Genocide,” a wide-ranging analysis of the legal, historical, political, and ethical dimensions of the question of reparations for the genocide. It also includes specific recommendations for the components of a complete reparations package.

Theriault was most recently Professor in and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Worcester State University, where he has taught since 1998 focusing on courses on genocide, mass violence against women, and related topics. He has published and lectured widely on his research which focuses on the relationship of genocide and sexual violence, victim- perpetrator relations in the long-term aftermath of genocide, genocide prevention, genocide denial, and reparations. From 1999 to 2007, he coordinated the University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights.

He earned his B.A. in English from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, with specializations in social and political as well as continental philosophy.

He is co-editor of Genocide Studies International, a peer-reviewed journal from the University of Toronto Press and the Zoryan Institutes’ International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies and of Transaction Publishers’ Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review book series.

In 2013, Theriault served as a panelist at the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region’s Grassroots Conference , speaking on challenges facing the Western Armenia, especially with regards to Kurdish and Armenian relations.
July 11 2017
Armenia: Can the Government Reverse Demographic Decline?
by Joshua Kucera
A lone girl sits in a classroom of a renovated school in Armenia. This South Caucasus country’s population continues to decline due to sub-replacement fertility, high sex-selective abortion rate and massive out-migration.

Armenia’s government is pursuing an ambitious goal of increasing the country’s population by a third over the next two decades. It is unclear how the government intends to reach that goal, but the effort suggests the country’s leadership is trying to address growing public concern about the country’s demographic decline.

President Serzh Sargsyan announced the goal at the first meeting of Armenia’s newly elected parliament in May. The population, at just under 3 million today, should rise to 4 million by 2040, Sargsyan said. “Our major task for the coming decades should be a significant improvement in the demographic situation in Armenia,” he stressed.

Such an increase would mark a dramatic reversal of Armenia’s recent demographic trend. Since gaining independence in 1991, the country’s population has declined by about 640,000 people. According to statistics from the United Nations, it is projected to decrease further, to 2.7 million in 2050 and to 1.8 million in 2100. And those are the conservative estimates: in a worst-case scenario, the UN projects that the population could fall to 2 million by 2050. 

So far, the government has said little about how it intends to increase the population. In his speech, Sargsyan said the initiative would have three prongs: halting emigration, increasing the birthrate and longevity, and creating economic conditions that would encourage emigrants to return to Armenia. By the end of 2017, the government will come up with a long-term strategy, as well as a five-year medium-term plan with “concrete measures and their implementation timetable,” a senior Sargsyan adviser, Aram Gharibyan, told

Armenia is not alone among countries in Eurasia that are grappling with a demographic decline. According to UN projections, Georgia’s population is predicted to drop from 4 million in 2015 to under 3.5 million in 2050. Within the same timeframe, Belarus’s population is projected to drop from 9.5 million to 8.1 million; Ukraine’s from 44.8 million to 35.1 million; and Russia’s from 143.5 million to 128.6 million.

But solving Armenia’s demographic problems poses unique challenges because of its high level of migration. More Armenians are being born than dying – known as “natural increase” – but that is far outweighed by those who leave the country, mostly for better job prospects. About 1.5 million Armenians have moved abroad since 1991, about 90 percent of them to Russia. 
“You need to stop migration,” said Artak Markosian, a demographer at the Armenian Institute of International and Security Affairs (AIISA), a Yerevan think tank. “Without that, any natural increase won’t matter.”

Fertility, though, also has decreased: in 1990, the average Armenian woman bore 3.2 children; today that figure is 1.5. That is partly due to economic insecurity, and partly to changes in social norms, said Garik Hayrapetyan, the director of the Armenia office of the UN Population Fund.

He contrasted the traditional Armenian ideal of “seven sons sitting with you around the table” to a more contemporary sensibility taking hold. “Now it’s about thinking of the family well-being – that having your next child isn’t going to risk the well-being of your family. This is very important,” he said. “The issue is to create the environment where people would think about having their desired number of children, which is still three to four in Armenia” as compared to one or two in Europe, he said.

Another demographic issue for Armenia is sex-selective abortions , which has skewed the gender ratio among children being born. Armenia’s rate of 112 boys to 100 girls is the third highest in the world, behind only China and Azerbaijan. If that rate continues, there will be 93,000 “missing” women by 2060 and a corresponding drop in births, Hayrapetyan said.

Armenia has made some modest efforts to encourage families to bear more children. One program, launched in 2012, offers 1 million drams (about $2,100) to families who have a third or fourth child and 1.5 million (about $3,130) for fifth children on up. But those one-off benefits do not seem to be enough to influence most Armenians’ family planning decisions, Markosian said. “Maybe that pays for diapers for a year and not much more,” he said. “You need to pay at least 3-4 million drams for parents to think it’s worth it.”

Armenia’s population trend stands in sharp contrast to that of its neighbor and arch-nemesis, Azerbaijan. The two countries have struggled over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory for almost 30 years, and intense bouts of fighting over the past 18 months underscore that the risk of renewed all-out warfare remains uncomfortably high. UN projections show that the Azerbaijani population is expected to rise from 9.8 million in 2015 to 11 million in 2050. In Azerbaijan, women with five or more children are allowed to retire earlier and receive small government subsidies .

Whatever the chances of actually reversing Armenia’s population decline, the fact that Sargsyan is giving it such a high profile suggests the politics around the issue may be changing. Sargsyan was asked about migration in 2014 and he responded that emigration was not unique to Armenia, that it was due in part to factors out of the government’s control, and that it was decreasing anyway. Former prime minister Tigran Sargsyan said he welcomed unemployed people leaving Armenia: “Let them emigrate; should they instead stay and revolt?”

It appears that the government sees its denialist attitude as no longer tenable, said Styopa Safaryan, the director of the AIISA. “Five, 10 years ago, when people would raise this issue the Republican Party would say ‘You know guys, we’re in a globalized world, where labor migration is quite OK, it’s not exceptional for Armenia, you have this trend in all countries,’” Safaryan said. But now, he said, “Sargsyan understands that, in spite of the fact that they weren’t talking about that issue, it’s become a topic of public discussion.”

Editor's note: Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at, and author of The Bug Pit. He is based in Istanbul.

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