RFE/RL Armenian Report – 10/21/2020

                                        Wednesday, 


U.S. Insists On ‘De-Escalation’ In Karabakh


U.S. - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at 
the State Department, in Washington, October 14, 2020.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that he will reiterate U.S. 
calls for a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone when he separately 
meets with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Washington on 
Friday.

“Our view remains -- as does the view of nearly every European country -- that 
the right path forward is to cease the conflict, tell them to de-escalate, that 
every country should stay out, provide no fuel for this conflict, no weapon 
systems, no support,” Pompeo told reporters.

“And it is at that point that a diplomatic solution that would be acceptable to 
all can potentially be achieved,” he said. “That’s what I will talk to them 
about on Friday. And I’m anxious to hear from them what they are seeing on the 
ground and how we might get closer to what it is that we think is not only in 
the U.S. best interests but in each of their countries’ interests as well.”

Pompeo would not say whether he will try to broker a ceasefire agreement during 
his talks with Foreign Ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanian of Armenia and Jeyhun 
Bayramov of Azerbaijan. He noted only that such agreements brokered by Russia 
and France earlier this month did not stop the hostilities in and around 
Karabakh.

It also remained unclear whether Mnatsakanian and Bayramov could also with each 
other or hold a trilateral meeting with Pompeo in Washington.

The United States, Russia and France have long been leading international 
efforts to end the Karabakh conflict in their capacity as co-chairs of the Minsk 
Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. They have 
repeatedly issued joint statements calling for an immediate halt to the war that 
broke out on September 27.



Former Armenian Presidents Meet On Karabakh

        • Astghik Bedevian

Armenia -- Former Presidents Levon Ter-Petrosian (L) and Robert Kocharian.

Armenia’s former Presidents Levon Ter-Petrosian, Serzh Sarkisian and Robert 
Kocharian have met for the first time in many years to discuss the 
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it was announced on Wednesday.

Ter-Petrosian’s spokesman, Arman Musinian, said the meeting was necessitated by 
the “current worrying situation” in the conflict zone.

Musinian said Ter-Petrosian, Sarkisian and Kocharian were joined by two former 
Karabakh presidents, Arkady Ghukasian and Bako Sahakian. He gave no other 
details of the meeting. Kocharian’s and Sarkisian’s offices released no 
statements on it.

Ghukasian and Sahakian held on Tuesday separate meetings with Ter-Petrosian and 
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian.

On Monday Pashinian discussed the hostilities in and around Karabakh with 
leaders of Armenia’s main opposition parties. Newspaper reports said that they 
talked about not only the situation on the ground but also possible solutions to 
the Karabakh conflict that could be proposed by international mediators and 
Russia in particular.

Edmon Marukian, the leader of the opposition Bright Armenia Party, claimed on 
Wednesday that Pashinian has also held a meeting with at least some of the 
former Armenian presidents.

Pashinian’s press secretary, Mane Gevorgian, did not confirm the claim. “If such 
a meeting takes place there will definitely be an official statement on it,” she 
told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

The ex-presidents’ trilateral meeting is noteworthy given the long history of 
mutual antagonism between Ter-Petrosian on one side and Kocharian and Sarkisian 
on the other.

Ter-Petrosian, who ruled Armenia from 1991-1998, ran in a disputed 2008 
presidential election in an unsuccessful bid to prevent the handover of power 
from Kocharian to Sarkisian. His Armenian National Congress party harshly 
criticized and challenged Sarkisian during the latter’s decade-long rule.



Armenian Leader Sees No ‘Diplomatic Solution’ To Karabakh War


ARMENIA -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian gives an interview to TASS 
Russian news agency, in Yerevan, October 19, 2020

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian urged more Armenians to join their armed forces 
on Wednesday, saying that Azerbaijan is rejecting any compromise solution to the 
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and continuing the war in the conflict zone.

“We have repeatedly stated that we are ready to resolve the issue through mutual 
concessions,” Pashinian said in a live address to the nation aired on Facebook. 
“But what we agree to or would agree to is now not acceptable to Azerbaijan, and 
this shows that it is meaningless to speak of any diplomatic solution at least 
at this stage.”

He said that Azerbaijan is continuing offensive military operations in and 
around Karabakh and “throwing its last reserves into the battle” in a bid to 
defeat the Armenian side. In these circumstances, he said, Armenians have no 
choice but to keep fighting “until it will be possible to diplomatically achieve 
some acceptable variant.”

Pashinian went on to urge the heads of Armenian local government bodies, 
political parties and other groups to form volunteer units that will join troops 
fighting against the Azerbaijani army on the Karabakh frontlines.

“If this process is organized effectively, we will eventually manage to achieve 
a diplomatic solution acceptable to us because in essence Azerbaijan is saying 
today that it will not agree to anything but Karabakh’s capitulation,” added 
Pashinian.


NAGORNO-KARABAKH -- An Ethnic Armenian soldier is seen at fighting positions on 
the front line in Nagorno-Karabakh, 

A senior aide to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev denounced Pashinian’s 
remarks, saying they show that Yerevan is not committed to a peaceful resolution 
of the Karabakh conflict.

“With this statement the leadership of Armenia admits that Armenia’s aim is to 
maintain the occupation of Azerbaijani territory,” Hikmet Hajiyev told the RIA 
Novosti news agency.

Hajiyev insisted that Azerbaijan's position on a Karabakh settlement is 
“constructive.” But he did not clarify whether Baku supports an unconditional 
halt to the fighting sought by the Russian, U.S., and French mediators.

Pashinian’s appeal came hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov held 
separate talks with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts in Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the talks focused on the implementation of 
Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreements that were reached earlier this month. 
A ministry statement described the talks as a follow-up to Russian President 
Vladimir Putin’s “telephone contacts” with Pashinian and Aliyev. It reported no 
concrete understandings reached by the ministers.

Hostilities along the Karabakh “line of contact” have continued despite the 
truce agreements brokered by Russia and France. The conflicting parties accuse 
each other of violating them.

In his remarks, Pashinian praised Russia for “doing its best” to halt the 
hostilities and revive the Karabakh peace process. Moscow is also fulfilling its 
role as a “strategic ally of Armenia and the Armenian people,” he stressed.



Iran Starts Air Defense Drills As Karabakh Fighting Goes On


IRAN -- A Sayyad 2 missile is fired by the Talash air defense system during 
drills in an undisclosed location in Iran, November 5, 2018

The Iranian military began on Wednesday large-scale air defense exercises amid 
continuing heavy fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces along Iran’s 
northwestern border.

Iranian media reported that the exercises will cover half of the country and 
take place as if it is a “real battle.”

The Mehr news agency quoted General Abbas Farajpour as saying that Iranian air 
defense units will practice “protecting the country's strategic sites with the 
help of homegrown missile, radar and reconnaissance systems as well as 
electronic warfare, communication and monitoring equipment.”

"The first stage of the drill involves the expansion and deployment of defense 
systems, including missile and radar systems, with a focus on the mobility and 
rapid response of operational forces,” said Farajpour.

An area south of Nagorno-Karabakh and north of Iran is currently the epicenter 
of the continuing hostilities in the Karabakh conflict zone. The warring sides 
are using large numbers of soldiers, tanks, artillery and other military 
hardware there.


Missiles fired by opposing sides in the Nagorno-Karabakh war hit a district in 
Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

Tehran says that dozens of rockets and other projected have mistakenly landed 
near Iranian border villages since the start of the war on September 27. It has 
threatened to take “tough measures” if Armenian or Azerbaijani forces continue 
to accidentally shell Iranian territory.

Iranian news agencies reported that a “foreign drone” crashed on Tuesday in 
Iran’s Khoda Afarin district adjacent to the southern sections of the 
Armenian-Azerbaijani “line of contact.” The district governor said that Iranian 
military experts are examining its wreckage.

Another unmanned aerial vehicle was reportedly shot down or crashed last week in 
Iran’s Ardabil province east of Khoda Afarin.

Like other foreign powers, Iran has repeatedly called for an immediate end to 
the war. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has spoken by phone with the leaders 
of Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2020 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
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