BAKU: Azeri paper reports Armenia-organized media trip to front

Azeri paper reports Armenia-organized media trip to front

Ekho, Baku
8 Jul 04

Text of R. Orucov’s report by Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho on 8 July
headlined “Media landing force was deployed to Armenian-Azerbaijani
border by Armenian Defence Ministry to expose ‘insinuations’ by Azeri

The Armenian Ministry of Defence has organized a trip for a group of
70 journalists to the northwestern section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani
border, which separates the Tavushkaya Area of Armenia from Qazax
District of Azerbaijan. This report was disseminated yesterday [7
July] by the Regnum news agency. It is noted in the report that
precisely in this area, near the villages of Berkaber (Armenia) and
Mizamlu (Azerbaijan), local exchanges of fire took place in early June
this year in which, according to the Armenian side, one officer and
one warrant officer of the Armenian Armed Forces and seven Azeri
military personnel died. The Armenian side claims that the Azeris were
trying to seize a water-pumping facility and a water reservoir, which
would pose a threat to the security of the nearby villages.

Representatives of the Armenian defence department also noted that the
“Azeri forces have failed to seize even one centimetre of land, and
reports that the Armenians side presumably left six border villages
are totally groundless.”

Commenting on these reports, Head of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry
Information Department Ramiz Malikov underscored that the Azeri side
had never distributed the information that the Armenian side had left
six border villages. “If this had happened, I, as the head of the
press service, would have been the first person to report on
this. There have never been such reports.”

“Throughout June, the Armenians have been breaking the cease-fire and
then invented the pretext that, presumably, the Azeris were trying to
seize some water pumping facility,” Ramiz Malikov said. “Nothing of
this sort has happened on our part; it was actually the Armenians who
violated our borders, tried to move ahead, but were repelled by us.”

According to Malikov, neither the Armenian nor Azeri troops have moved
an inch from the positions they held. “The Armenians moved only along
the border,” Malikov said. He thinks that the Armenian Ministry of
Defence intends to “mislead public opinion and distract the attention
of the Armenians from the internal political situation and pressing
issues” by spreading this kind of disinformation.

Ekho’s informed source in military circles who wishes to remain
unidentified said, in turn, that it was no secret to anyone that both
sides launch active operations on the frontline by late May of every
year. “The fact that there are losses on both sides precisely at this
time only proves this pattern.” According to the source, both sides
indeed make attempts at this time of year to take more advantageous
positions on the terrain at the expense of the enemy.

“According to the information I possess, in reality none of the sides
were able to carry out successful offensive operations,” the source
said. “In other words, the positions that they hold have not changed.”
There were no advances of either side’s troops. “This is for
certain. Simply, there is always so-called “no man’s land” between the
positions, which each of the sides tries to bring under its
control. There are places where there are only a few tens of metres
between the sides, and there are other places where the distance
between them is more than 500 metres. There are incidents when the
Armenians or Azeris try to ‘advance’ their trenches deeper into that
territory. And it is natural that this always causes the irritation of
the opposite side.”

As for casualties, he said that they can be accounted for by the fact
that, during the advancement of troops, “armed skirmishes simply
cannot be avoided – automatic weapons are usually fired, although
heavy hardware is not used.” These incidents became more frequent
this year, the officer said. “Perhaps everyone noticed that far too
many inspections of the frontline situation by the OSCE monitoring
service have taken place over the last six months. What does this
mean? It means that, to our great regret, both sides carry out
nuisance operations,” the military expert concluded.