Op-ed: possible implications of recent escalation at Armenian border

JAM News
    JAMnews, Yerevan

The situation on the southern border of Armenia has not changed, acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan reported during a government meeting on May 13. Pashinyan stated that Azerbaijani armed forces had crossed the border of Armenia in the Syunik region, near lake Sev Lich, advancing 3,5 kilometers into the country. Armenian prime minister believes that Azerbaijan is attempting to establish control over the lake.

On May 12, Armenian media reported clashes with the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan which advanced their positions towards the Ishkhanasar community in the Syunik region.

The Armenian Defense Ministry denied the information about the clashes but confirmed that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, under the pretext of “clarifying the borders, tried to carry out certain activities, but they were halted after the steps taken by the Armenian forces”.

On the eve of May 12, a meeting of the Security Council was held in Yerevan, during which the acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the incident in Syunik a “sabotage campaign”:

“The current situation is unacceptable, Armenia cannot come to terms with it, our primary task is to resolve it through negotiations. […] But this is just one of our options”.

On the morning of May 13, Nikol Pashinyan said that the situation in the area of Lake Sevlich remains extremely serious:

“There are Azerbaijani soldiers in the lake area, there are also large numbers of our soldiers. I would like to note that the situation has not reached a military escalation and there were no skirmishes or clashes. Work is underway to have Azerbaijani soldiers withdraw from the territory.

What happened in Sev Lich was a pre-planned provocation, because the maps that Azerbaijanis brought with them to prove that they were allegedly on the territory of Azerbaijan were clearly fake.

Our task is to keep the sovereign territory of Armenia inviolable. The armed forces of Azerbaijan must return to their initial positions”.

Pashinyan added that in order to resolve the crisis, it is necessary to act “prudently, decisively, and in principle”.


  • Reported Azerbaijani troop movements, clashes raise security concern in Armenia
  • Two reinforced Russian military points created in southern Armenia

Chairman of the Yerevan Press Club Boris Navasardyan provided his own view of the ongoing situation:

“Regardless of whether the Azerbaijani military violated the border of the Armenian SSR and the Azerbaijan SSR in the vicinity of Sev Lich (Black Lake) or not, their actions contradict the November 9 agreement [document on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh], which clearly stated that the troops deployed to the territories adjacent to Syunik had to remain in their positions.

It is logically assumed that any changes could only have occurred as a result of a formal process of demarcation and delimitation, or at least as a result of a new formal agreement.

Only a few months ago, Armenia obediently and with the tacit consent of Russia allowed the Azerbaijanis to advance, arbitrarily carry out work to “clarify the borders” in the southeast of the country, and did not even raise the problem at the government level. Therefore, there is no use speaking of the November 9 agreement as a solid basis for conflict resolution.

This, in turn, means that new security guarantees need to be found and the Security Council is obliged to address this issue, not just the latest incident”.

Political observer Hakob Badalyan believes that what is happening in Syunik and the region as a whole “is not and cannot be one-dimensional”:

“Consequently, the questions and the search for answers should be as diverse as possible and include the role of Moscow. […]

Can Aliyev afford to encroach on the border in Syunik without Moscow? Of course, opinions in our society vary. There are people who are convinced that he cannot. But why can’t he? What should Russia do if Azerbaijan does this […]? Aliyev cannot attack Russia, he will not attack territory which falls under Russia’s security commitments. But what should Moscow do if Aliyev proceeds with such a border provocation? […]

Obviously, Russia’s security guarantees are ineffective and cannot be maintained if Moscow finds itself in confrontation with the United States. The question here is how can Armenia find alternative [security] mechanisms, without waiting for the Russians to agree with the West on their agenda, because this may not happen, or it may happen, but in a way that does not correspond with Armenian interests and safety”.

Turkologist, journalist Nairi Okhikyan posted on his Facebook page:

“The enemy advanced in the Ishkhanasar sector, taking advantage of the fact that Armenia did not guard the position because of the snow. […] What justification does the country’s political power have? Maybe this too was the fault of the previous [authorities]?

In order to give a little context, I will say that the Sisian section – […] is the narrowest part of the country’s territory and the enemy decided to further narrow in order to split Armenia into two parts with one blow and seize Syunik.

[…] Due to the stupid and frivolous steps of our government, Syunik and Artsakh can be completely separated from the Republic of Armenia”.

Armenian leader accuses Azerbaijan of fresh ‘infiltration’

Yahoo! News – Source: Agence France Presse

, 4:30 pm
Armenian leader accuses Azerbaijan of fresh 'infiltration'

Armenia's leader on Thursday accused Azerbaijani troops of crossing the southern border and trying to stake claim to territory in a new escalation of tensions between the arch foes.

Last year Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The six-week conflict claimed some 6,000 lives and ended after Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades.

In the early hours of Thursday, Armenia's acting prime minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Azerbaijan of new transgressions as he convened an emergency meeting of his security council.

Pashinyan said Azerbaijan's troops had advanced more than three kilometres (two miles) into southern Armenia and were trying to "lay siege" to Lake Sev Lich that is shared by the two countries.

"It is an encroachment on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia," Pashinyan said. "This is an act of subversive infiltration."

He said Armenian soldiers had responded with "appropriate tactical manoeuvres" but stressed that the latest tensions should be settled through negotiations.

Approached by AFP, Azerbaijan's defence and foreign ministries refused to comment on the claims.

The United States — one of the three nations in the so-called Minsk Group that leads diplomacy on Nagorno-Karabakh — said it was "closely following" the rising tensions.

"We understand communication between the parties is ongoing and urge restraint in de-escalating the situation peacefully," State Department spokesman Ned Price wrote on Twitter.

Pashinyan has been under huge pressure over his handling of the conflict. He resigned in April while staying on in a caretaker capacity, setting the stage for a June 20 parliamentary election aimed at defusing the political crisis at home.

Moscow brokered a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan but tensions persist.

Last month, Yerevan and Baku traded accusations of opening fire in Karabakh and along their shared border.

Ethnic Armenian separatists declared independence for Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh region and seized control of the mountainous enclave in a brutal war in the 1990s that left tens of thousands dead and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

mkh-im/as-sct/bp

Armenia’s PM says 250 Azeri soldiers are in the territory of Armenia’s Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces now actical c

Aysor, Armenia

For already the second day the situation over Lake Sev of Armenia’s Syunik Province and over it is explosive, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated at the Security Council session today, noting that some groups of Azerbaijani armed forces trespassed Armenia’s state border and attempted to take Lake Sev.

“Armenia’s Armed Forces have undertaken different tactical counteractions. Azerbaijanis positions in some nearby territories left the positions as a result of tactical counteractions of our armed forces. No cases of usage of weapon both by Armenian and Azerbaijani armed forces representatives have been recorded by now. Nevertheless, over 250 representatives of Azerbaijani armed forces at this moment continue to be inside our state border – in some sectors of Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces,” Pashinyan stated.

Azerbaijan’s encroachment on sovereign territory of CSTO member Armenia a threat to regional stability and security

Public Radio of Armenia




Azerbaijan’s encroachment on sovereign territory of CSTO member
Armenia a threat to regional stability and security



During the May 13 sitting of the CSTO Permanent Council, the Permanent
Representative of the Republic of Armenia to the CSTO Viktor Biyagov
presented in detail the provocative actions of the Azerbaijani side in
the territory of Syunik region of the Republic of Armenia.

Biyagov noted that the provocation carried out by Azerbaijan is a
direct encroachment on the sovereign territory of CSTO member Armenia,
a serious threat to regional security and stability.

He stressed that in case of non-withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from
the territory of the Republic of Armenia as soon as possible, the
entire responsibility for further escalation of the situation will lie
with the Azerbaijani side.



 

CSTO reacts to Azerbaijan’s actions on Armenia’s border, says measures will be taken if necessary

Public Radio of Armenia



CSTO reacts to Azerbaijan’s actions on Armenia’s border, says measures
will be taken if necessary


The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is closely
following the development of the situation in Armenia’s Syunik
province, the CSTO said in a statement.

“As the situation develops, if necessary, actions will be taken under
the provisions of the Collective Security Treaty and the CSTO
Charter,” the Organization said.

Earlier today Armenia’s Permanent Representative Viktor Biyagov
briefed the CSTO on the provocative actions of the Azerbaijani side in
the territory of Syunik region of the Republic of Armenia.

“According to the Armenian side, the Azerbaijani armed Forces violates
the border and went deep into the Armenian territory for several
kilometers,” the CSTO said.

CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas discissed the situation with
Armenia’s acting Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutyunyan and acting
Foreign Minister Ara Aivazian.



 

Armenia reports fresh provocation from Azerbaijani side in the directions of Vardenis and Sisian

Public Radio of Armenia



Armenia reports fresh provocation from Azerbaijani side in the
directions of Vardenis and Sisian



The Armenian Defense Ministry reports fresh provocation by the
Azerbaijani side in the border areas of Vardenis and Sisian under the
pretext of “border adjustments.”

The Azerbaijani troops undertook an an encroachment on the sovereign
territory of the Republic of Armenia, trying to improve their
positions.

In both cases, the advancement was stopped as a result of the actions
taken by the Armenian Armed Forces, Azerbaijanis were required to
leave the territory immediately and return to their initial positions.

The Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia describes the
actions Azerbaijan has been taking since May 12 as an open
provocation.

In order to avoid unpredictable developments, it demands from the
armed forces of that country to return to their starting positions
immediately, to refrain from encroachments on the sovereign territory
of the Republic of Armenia.


 

Security of the country and inviolability of its borders not subject to negotiation, Armenian President says

Public Radio of Armenia




Security of the country and inviolability of its borders not subject
to negotiation, Armenian President says


President Armen Sarkissian says the situation in Syunik is extremely
worrying and attaches importance to finding a soonest solution.

According to the President, it is urgent to take all necessary
measures to unconditionally protect the interests of the Republic of
Armenia, the security of the citizen of the Republic of Armenia.

The President and the President’s Office is in constant contact with
the relevant state bodies and receive information directly from Syunik
region.

The President’s position is that the security of the country and the
inviolability of the borders are not negotiable, any encroachment is
condemnable and must be met with a clear and sharp reaction, as well
as an international response.

“The Azerbaijani side bears all the responsibility for further
aggravation of the situation, disruption of the already sensitive
situation in the region,” the President says.


 

Security of the country and inviolability of its borders not subject to negotiation, Armenian President says

Public Radio of Armenia




Security of the country and inviolability of its borders not subject
to negotiation, Armenian President says


President Armen Sarkissian says the situation in Syunik is extremely
worrying and attaches importance to finding a soonest solution.

According to the President, it is urgent to take all necessary
measures to unconditionally protect the interests of the Republic of
Armenia, the security of the citizen of the Republic of Armenia.

The President and the President’s Office is in constant contact with
the relevant state bodies and receive information directly from Syunik
region.

The President’s position is that the security of the country and the
inviolability of the borders are not negotiable, any encroachment is
condemnable and must be met with a clear and sharp reaction, as well
as an international response.

“The Azerbaijani side bears all the responsibility for further
aggravation of the situation, disruption of the already sensitive
situation in the region,” the President says.


 

UN would like to have unhindered access to Nagorno‑Karabakh

Public Radio of Armenia








The UN would like to have unhindered humanitarian access in
Nagorno‑Karabakh, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary
General, told a daily briefing.

“To date, this has not been possible because we’ve not received the
necessary authorization from the Azerbaijani authorities.  However, we
are hopeful that we’ll see progress on this soon,”   Dujarric said.


 

UN would like to have unhindered access to Nagorno‑Karabakh

Public Radio of Armenia








The UN would like to have unhindered humanitarian access in
Nagorno‑Karabakh, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the UN Secretary
General, told a daily briefing.

“To date, this has not been possible because we’ve not received the
necessary authorization from the Azerbaijani authorities.  However, we
are hopeful that we’ll see progress on this soon,”   Dujarric said.