Armenian priests are in Dadivank and continue service

Public Radio of Armenia

Nov 29 2020

Our clergymen are in Dadivank, continuing their eternal prayer for our homeland and people, Fr. Vahram Melikyan, Director of Information Services of the mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, said in a Facebook post.

“Today they were visited by Bishop Vrtanes Abrahamyan. The security of the monastery is provided by the Russian peacekeepers,” Fr. Vahram Melikyan said.

The Catholicos of All Armenians is in constant contact with our clergy living in the church.




Armenian PM explains “what could have been different” and calls for unity to solve urgent issues

Public Radio of Armenia

Nov 29 2020

In a lengthy post on Facebook, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has explained what could be an alternative to the current situation and outlined the urgent issues to be solved now:

Of course, it makes a lot of sense to go back and answer the question, what would have been different if it had not been this way.

So, the Armenian side stated at the highest level and publicly that in 2011 in Kazan Armenia was ready to hand over the 7 regions in exchange for an interim status and a further referendum on the status of Karabakh, but Azerbaijan did not agree and put forward new demands.

There is a video proving this, it is available on the Internet. In other words, back in 2011 Armenia undertook to hand over the 7 regions and was ready to sign an agreement on that, but Azerbaijan put forward new demands.

What demand scould have been put forward by Azerbaijan? For example, to remove the status of Karabakh from the agenda altogether, not to grant the Lachin corridor a special status. The issue of Shushi, by the way, is not in not among these new demands, because it is also resolved by the Madrid principles, which the Armenian side accepted in 2007 as a basis for negotiations. It clearly states that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh must have the same proportion as in 1988. In other words, there should be 90% and more of Azeri population in Shushi.

So, we have had this situation since 2011, and since 2013 Azerbaijan has been going to military escalation. In 2013-2015, the escalation with the logic of subversive actions reached its peak, leading to the four-day war in April 2016.

Azerbaijan formulated its above-mentioned demands, regardless of the document put on the table by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. The demands of Azerbaijan and their fulfillment by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs became a priority because the alternative was war.

Assuming the post of the Prime Minister of Armenia in 2018, I have naturally took note of this. And in this situation, let’s understand what was the alternative to what happened?

The alternative was to address the people and say we either have to hand over the 7 regions without the status of Karabakh, or there will be а war. What вould people say? They вould have said ‘no, we will stand up and fight for our homeland.’ And the war would start and it would turn out that Armenia started a war.

Had I said no, we have to surrender, people would have said “Nikol is traitor” and another war would have started.

At any stage, including during the Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises, I could go to the Turks and say, “Let’s solve the issue without war.” They would have said “give a specific schedule when you hand over the territories.” If I signed, people would have said “Nicole the traitor”, if I didn’t signed, war would have started.

As of 2018, the Karabakh issue was a deadlock, from which there was only one way out – unconditional handover of territories, without guaranteeing that Azerbaijan would not make new demands. And in the context of these new demands, increasing the likelihood of war again.

Many now say that we needed to work more closely with our friends. But who said that the friends had a different vision of resolving the issue? Isn’t it obvious now that that vision completely coincides with the one described above?

What have we done? We have prepared for war as much as possible. Now it turned out that we were badly prepared. But what are we badly prepared for? The July battles showed that we were not poorly prepared to fight against Azerbaijan. But Turkey, mercenaries, this is another story that will still be talked about.

They say we had to stop the war sooner. The price to stop the war sooner was the same. Handover of 7 districts. If handing over 3 districts in the conditions of a deadly threat to the loss of Shushi and Stepanakert is a betrayal, how could the handing over of 7 districts in relatively better conditions not be a betrayal?

Well, what should we do now? We must stabilize the situation and not make it worse. The most important issue now is the issue of captives, missing persons and those who have possibly sheltered somewhere, which must be resolved very quickly.

But let’s look at this issue through the eyes of the opposite side. He sees that the delay in this issue allows the conflict to deepen inside Armenia, even to start clashes inside, the mini-manifestations of which have already taken place.

Relatives of our soldiers, dear ones, will they accelerate the solution of the issue of prisoners and missing people in these conditions? Of course not: On the contrary, they will prolong it as long as possible, rubbing their hands and waiting for what new disasters this will lead to inside us.

You will ask a very right question: what should we do, not fight? Definitely fight, fight stronger, but not against each other, but together. For the solution of the issue. The solution of the issue will accelerate only in one case. if everyone understands that there will be no internal conflicts over this issue.

Who is guilty of what and what responsibility he will have to bear will definitely be established. But now we need to focus on solving the problem together, not fighting each other. I am convinced of this.

https://en.armradio.am/2020/11/29/armenian-pm-explains-what-could-have-been-different-and-calls-for-unity-to-solve-urgent-issues/

Russian military doctors arrive in Karabakh to help civilians

TASS, Russia
Nov 29 2020
The first group of doctors lists more than 60 medical specialists, including military surgeons, intensive care specialists, physicians and epidemiologists

MOSCOW, November 29. /TASS/. First groups of the Eastern Military District’s special-purpose medical unit arrived in Stepanakert, the capital of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh republic, to provide medical assistance to the local population, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

Earlier, a group of doctors was flown by Il-76 aircraft from the Far Eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk to Armenia’s capital Yerevan.

‘Teams of the special-purpose medical united carried out a 300-km one-day journey in a vehicle convoy travelling from Yerevan to Stepanakert. <…> The convoy was accompanied by patrols of the Russian peacekeeping force and military police," the ministry said.

"The first group of doctors lists more than 60 medical specialists, including military surgeons, intensive care specialists, physicians and epidemiologists," it said.

Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone in line with agreements reached by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan On November 9. In line with the joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting from November 10, the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides are to maintain the positions that they held and Russian peacekeepers are to be deployed to the region.

Units of Russia’s 15th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade comprise the bulk of the peacekeeping contingent in the region. The Russian peacekeepers have set up observation posts along the engagement line in Nagorno-Karabakh and along the Lachinsky corridor that connects Armenia with the enclave to exercise control of the ceasefire observance. The peacekeeping mission’s command is stationed in the area of Stepanakert in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian president calls for amending constitution, forming new government

TASS, Russia
Nov 29 2020
Armen Sarkissian stressed that neither the president nor the prime minister should not be allowed to take decisions on vital matters at their own discretion

YEREVAN, November 29. /TASS/. Armenian President Armen Sarkissian has called for forming a government of national accord, new elections and a constitutional referendum, the presidential website reported on Sunday.

"After such a bog tragedy, any country decides that the government that has let it happen must resign," he said at a meeting with delegates from the Armenian diaspora during his private visit to Russia, commenting on the outcome of the outbreak of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. "If a politician is strong enough he may be back again later. The previous elections took place two and a half years ago, when the country was absolutely different. Now we are living in a different country."

"There is a civilized way – early elections, an interim government of national accord. It doesn’t mean that each party is not have a minister, it means that a politician who enjoys general respect forms a government, preferably, a technocratic one," he said, adding that a government of national accord should work for six to twelve months, until new elections, after which a new cabinet will be formed by the winning political force.

The Armenian president said also that it would be necessary to organize a constitutional referendum before the new elections. "Any constitution, both in a presidential and in a parliamentary system, must have checks and balances, mechanisms of containment," he said.

He stressed that neither the president nor the prime minister should not be allowed to take decisions on vital matters at their own discretion. "These things should be balanced. Our constitution is not. There should be balance between the parliament, the government and the presidential authority," Sarkissian said, adding that the president should be elected in a nationwide vote, not by the parliament, as it is practiced in Armenia now.


First school restored by Russian rescuers in Nagorno-Karabakh prepares to open doors

TASS, Russia
Nov 29 2020
According to the Emergencies Ministry, the school assembly for pupils is scheduled for December 1

MOSCOW, November 29. /TASS/. The first school restored in Nagorno-Karabakh with the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s assistance is preparing for the beginning of the school year and classes are due to start on December 1, the ministry’s press service told TASS.

"On November 29, as part of the humanitarian mission in Nagorno-Karabakh the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s task force provided assistance in restoring Onik Grigoryan school for 200 pupils in the Ivanyan village in the Askeransky district. Rescuers jointly with the representatives of the city’s administration helped to rebuild windows and the heating system at the school," the press service said.

According to the Emergencies Ministry, some decorating works are to be carried out at the school. "The school assembly for pupils is scheduled for December 1," it noted.

Earlier, two convoys of the Russian Emergencies Ministry delivered to Stepanakert more than 300 tons of construction materials as humanitarian aid. The cargo included wood and glass, which are needed there in the first place. On November 26, an additional task force of Russian rescuers arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is expanded depending on the tasks that need to be fulfilled as part of the humanitarian mission.

https://tass.com/world/1229127?

Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27 with intense battles in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On November 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting from November 10. The Russian leader said the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides would maintain the positions that they had held and Russian peacekeepers would be deployed to the region. Putin signed a decree on November 13 on creating an inter-agency humanitarian response center for Nagorno-Karabakh.


First school restored by Russian rescuers in Nagorno-Karabakh prepares to open doors

TASS, Russia
Nov 29 2020
According to the Emergencies Ministry, the school assembly for pupils is scheduled for December 1

MOSCOW, November 29. /TASS/. The first school restored in Nagorno-Karabakh with the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s assistance is preparing for the beginning of the school year and classes are due to start on December 1, the ministry’s press service told TASS.

"On November 29, as part of the humanitarian mission in Nagorno-Karabakh the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s task force provided assistance in restoring Onik Grigoryan school for 200 pupils in the Ivanyan village in the Askeransky district. Rescuers jointly with the representatives of the city’s administration helped to rebuild windows and the heating system at the school," the press service said.

According to the Emergencies Ministry, some decorating works are to be carried out at the school. "The school assembly for pupils is scheduled for December 1," it noted.

Earlier, two convoys of the Russian Emergencies Ministry delivered to Stepanakert more than 300 tons of construction materials as humanitarian aid. The cargo included wood and glass, which are needed there in the first place. On November 26, an additional task force of Russian rescuers arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is expanded depending on the tasks that need to be fulfilled as part of the humanitarian mission.

https://tass.com/world/1229127?

Renewed clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia erupted on September 27 with intense battles in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On November 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a joint statement on a complete ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh starting from November 10. The Russian leader said the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides would maintain the positions that they had held and Russian peacekeepers would be deployed to the region. Putin signed a decree on November 13 on creating an inter-agency humanitarian response center for Nagorno-Karabakh.


Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenian villagers and soldiers adjust to new border

Yahoo! News
Nov 29 2020
, 9:51 am

In Berdashen, eastern Nagorno-Karabakh, the ceasefire line between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces has come to a standstill 50 metres from a pomegranate field. The new border was fixed by the end of hostilities agreement signed on 9 November. With no apparent problems on this long empty plain, agricultural work continues.


WATCH the video at

Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenian villagers and soldiers adjust to new border

Yahoo! News
Nov 29 2020
, 9:51 am

In Berdashen, eastern Nagorno-Karabakh, the ceasefire line between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces has come to a standstill 50 metres from a pomegranate field. The new border was fixed by the end of hostilities agreement signed on 9 November. With no apparent problems on this long empty plain, agricultural work continues.


WATCH the video at

Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenian villagers and soldiers adjust to new border

Yahoo! News
Nov 29 2020
, 9:51 am

In Berdashen, eastern Nagorno-Karabakh, the ceasefire line between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces has come to a standstill 50 metres from a pomegranate field. The new border was fixed by the end of hostilities agreement signed on 9 November. With no apparent problems on this long empty plain, agricultural work continues.


WATCH the video at

Hope amid Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Telangana Today, India
Nov 29 2020
By Author TelanganaToday KC Reddy   |   Published: 29th Nov 2020   11:46 pm

The Russia brokered peace deal on November 10 has provided the much-needed respite in Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area. A few weeks earlier, the US also brokered truce but it was too short-lived as it was widely believed that the US efforts were more aimed at garnering the support of the sizeable Armenian population in the US, for the US elections, rather than for a lasting solution. Such occasional cosmetic approach may not bring lasting peace in the region unless sustained efforts are made to address the root cause of the problem by bringing all three parties to the negotiating table.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh area has been dominated by sporadic border skirmishes, occasional flare-ups and full-scale war for the last three decades. Recently, the role played by external actors like Turkey, Russia, Israel and Pakistan, acquiring of sophisticated weaponry including Israeli drones and Turkish drones by Azerbaijan, internal pressures within the States, pushed the conflict to a large-scale battle, necessitating appeals from United Nations and other countries, to end hostilities and maintain peace.

However, these appeals did not yield any tangible results as both Armenia and Azerbaijan pledged to continue fighting and further escalated tensions by switching from cross border shelling to using long-range artillery.

Is the conflict due to ethnic, religious and cultural reasons? With its 97% Christian population and Christianity as the state religion, Armenia is considered a Christian state, whereas even with more than 90% Muslim population, mainly Shias, Azerbaijan is considered a secular state in the Muslim world.

Principles of territorial integrity and self-determination have dominated the conflict for the last three decades. But what pushed the dormant dispute to such a serious level? A brief history of the conflict and the changed geopolitical scenario in the region would provide some answers.

When the Red Army conquered the Caucasus in the early 1920s, former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin placed the Nagorno-Karabakh area into Azerbaijan but 90% of the population in that area were Armenians. Since then, the area remained a bone of contention between the Christian majority Armenia and Muslim majority Azerbaijan.

The Armenians living in 4,400 sq km area of Nagorno-Karabakh had declared independence in 1991 and some of them even turned to guerilla warfare. The Azerbaijan government sent security forces to suppress Armenian militants without much success. Nagorno-Karabakh soon declared that it was joining Armenia by its own will but Azerbaijan objected. The Azerbaijan government insists that Nagorno-Karabakh cannot be independent and is part of Azerbaijan province as recognised by the international community.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, popularly known as Karabakhi fighters, aided and abetted by Armenian regular troops and Russian advisers, fought fierce battles with Azerbaijan for four years from 1991 to 1994. Karabakhis not only retained control over the 4,400 sq km area of Nagorno-Karabakh but also seized adjoining seven districts territory comprising 7,000 sq km.
The international community is concerned as the breaking of large scale fight will trigger civil unrest, leading to a humanitarian crisis, internally displaced persons, outflows of refugees, etc, which will also affect neighbouring States besides adversely affecting their economies. Azerbaijan is the main supplier of energy resources to neighbouring States and Europe, and intense fighting could disrupt energy transportation network. Moreover, Azerbaijan falls in the international North-South transport corridor route connecting India with Russia through Central Asia.

The fluctuation in oil prices, coupled with the Covid pandemic, adversely affected economies of both States. It was suspected that Azerbaijan authorities were trying to divert public attention from a declining economy and other governance issues by escalating conflict with Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia authorities by arousing nationalism. Similarly, the economy of Armenia is no better, and yet massive protests were organised in Armenia on the soft handling of the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh. These internal pressures prompted both States to maintain a tough public stand.

With revenues from rich oil resources, Azerbaijan has acquired air defence systems, drones from Israel and Turkey, Russian surface-to-air missiles and other advanced weaponry. In spite of its limited spending power, Armenia has also acquired heavy weapons and sophisticated missile systems from Russia. Russia is committed to defending Armenia, Turkey is committed to protecting Azerbaijan, Iran has a border with both countries and has a sizeable Azeri population.

In November, Azerbaijan, with its newly acquired sophisticated weaponry, particularly Israeli and Turkish drones and support from external actors, finally took control of the land surrounding villages of Nagorno-Karabakh, previously occupied by Armenian forces. It is widely believed that fielding of armed Israeli and Turkey drones by Azerbaijan in the latest fighting tilted the scales of victory in its favour.

The November 10 peace deal differed from the three previous ceasefire agreements, as it provided for the deployment of peacekeepers from Russia and Turkey. The deployment of peacekeepers in the conflict zone will not only keep the warring factions at bay but also have a sobering effect as it will prevent further escalation. In general, the peace deal has been interpreted as a sort of victory to Azerbaijan and defeat to Armenia. This is evident from the victory celebrations in Azerbaijan and internal turmoil in Armenia that erupted after signing of the peace deal. However, the deal has provided new hope for de-escalation of tensions in the region.

India, rightly, maintains a balanced approach by maintaining relations with both States. Due to the support extended by Armenia to India’s stand on Kashmir issue and other historical reasons, India maintains strong relations with Armenia. In fact, India signed a friendship and cooperation treaty with Armenia in 1995. So far as Azerbaijan is concerned, the ONGC made small investments in Azeri oil project and GAIL is exploring the possible cooperation in LNG. Ultimately, it is diplomacy and not military, which can pave the way for a lasting solution to the conflict.

(The author is IPS (Retd) and former Chief Security Adviser, United Nations)