RFE/RL Armenian Service – 10/04/2023

                                        Wednesday, September 4, 2023

Aliyev Cancels Planned Talks With Pashinian (UPDATED)

Moldova - The leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, France, Germany and the European 
Union meet in Chisinau, June 1, 2023.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has cancelled a fresh meeting with Armenian 
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian which was due to take place on Thursday on the 
sidelines of a European Union summit in the Spanish city of Granada.

Aliyev and Pashinian were expected to be joined there by European Council 
President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor 
Olaf Scholz. The five leaders already met in this format in Moldova on June 1.

The Azerbaijani APA news agency reported on Wednesday that Aliyev accused the 
European leaders of pro-Armenian bias and demanded that Turkish President Recep 
Tayyip Erdogan also join the talks. France, Germany and other parties rejected 
the demand, it said, citing official Baku. Diplomatic sources confirmed to 
RFE/RL that Aliyev and Erdogan will not fly to Granada.

The last-minute cancellation follows upbeat statements made by Armenian and 
Azerbaijani officials on prospects for an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty in 
the wake of Baku’s September 19-20 military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh. 
Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonian said on September 24 that the two 
sides are now “very close” to signing the deal.

Pashinian confirmed that and expressed regret at Aliyev’s decision when he spoke 
in the Armenian parliament later in the day.

“We were very constructive and optimistic because we thought there is a chance 
to sign a landmark document,” he said. “Basically, up until this morning we 
assessed that probability as being very high.”

“Of course, we regret that the meeting will not take place, but we hope that the 
framework document, which is on the table, will be signed at an opportune time. 
I am ready to sign that agreement,” added Pashinian.

The secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, Armen Grigorian, and Aliyev’s top 
foreign policy aide, Hikmet Hajiyev, as well as diplomatic advisers to Michel, 
Macron and Scholz met in Brussels on September 26 to prepare for the Granada 
summit. Haiyev said afterwards that the “quite constructive” meeting increased 
chances of the peace accord.

Pashinian on Wednesday also denounced Armenia’s “puppet opposition” for trying 
to scuttle the deal. Opposition leaders have speculated that he is ready to make 
more concessions to Azerbaijan now that Baku is regaining full control over 

Yerevan Eyes ‘Defensive’ Weapons From France

        • Astghik Bedevian

Armenia - Parliament deputy Armen Khachatrian, November 14, 2022.

A senior Armenian lawmaker suggested on Wednesday that Armenia will seek to 
acquire air-defense systems and other “defensive” weapons from France after 
Paris gave the green light for first-ever defense contracts between the two 

Visiting Yerevan on Tuesday, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said her 
government has approved “future contracts with Armenia which will allow the 
delivery of military equipment to Armenia.” She cited threats to the country’s 
territorial integrity emanating from Azerbaijan which “has continuously armed 
itself to take action.” Colonna did not specify the types of French weapons that 
could be supplied to Armenia.

“We may be talking about defensive weapons, training of military officers in 
French academies,” said Armen Khachatrian, the deputy chairman of the Armenian 
parliament committee on defense.

“Air defense is one of our main problems now, especially after the 2020 war [in 
Nagorno-Karabakh] and the events of September 2022,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian 

Khachatrian cautioned that it would take a while before the Armenian military 
receives such weapons.

“Arms acquisitions are a quite complicated process all over the world,” he 
explained. “A number of processes must happen before they materialize, perhaps 
within one year.”

Tigran Abrahamian, an Armenian opposition lawmaker, said that while we would 
only welcome French arms supplies to Armenia he is highly skeptical about the 
current government’s ability to boost the country’s defense potential.

“An army is not just weapons and military personnel,” said Abrahamian. “It also 
requires good management, correct tactical and strategic objectives and their 
achievement, something which I find impossible under the current authorities.”

Colonna signaled the arms supplies amid Armenia’s mounting tensions with Russia, 
its longtime ally and until recently principal supplier of military hardware and 
ammunition. Khachatrian said Moscow cannot frown upon the deepening 
French-Armenian military cooperation because it has stopped providing weapons to 
its South Caucasus ally.

In an apparent reference to Russia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian complained in 
September 2022 that “our allies” have failed to deliver weapons to Armenia 
despite contracts signed with them since 2020. At around the same time, Armenia 
reportedly signed contracts for the purchase of $400 million worth of Indian 
artillery systems, anti-tank rockets and ammunition.

Armenia Condemns Arrests Of Karabakh Leaders

Armenia -- Karabakh President Bako Sahakian (C) and his predecessor Arkadi 
Ghukasian (R) shake hands with prosecutors during former Armenian President 
Robert Kocharian's trial in Yerevan, May 16, 2019.

Armenia on Wednesday strongly condemned Azerbaijan for arresting about a dozen 
current and former leaders and military commanders of Nagorno-Karabakh and urged 
the international community to help it secure their release.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said the “arbitrary arrests” run counter to Baku’s 
pledges to respect the rights of Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population and 
embark on dialogue with its representatives.

“The Republic of Armenia will take all possible steps to protect the rights of 
illegally arrested representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh, including in 
international courts,” it said in a statement.

It noted that the Armenian government already asked the International Court of 
Justice on September 28 to issue an injunction banning such “punitive actions” 
against Karabakh leaders.

“We also call on international partners to … address the issue both on a 
bilateral level with Azerbaijan and on various international platforms,” added 
the statement.

Karabakh’s three former presidents -- Arayik Harutiunian, Bako Sahakian and 
Arkadi Ghukasian -- as well as current parliament speaker Davit Ishkhanian were 
taken to Baku to face grave criminal charges on Tuesday. Their detentions 
followed the mass exodus of Karabakh’s residents that left the enclave almost 
fully depopulated less than two weeks after Azerbaijan launched a military 
offensive in the region.

Karabakh’s former premier Ruben Vardanyan, former Foreign Minister Davit 
Babayan, former army commander Levon Mnatsakanian and his ex-deputy Davit 
Manukian were arrested by Azerbaijani security forces last week while trying to 
enter Armenia through the Lachin corridor.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry rejected the Armenian criticism and defended 
the arrests, saying they “serve to restore justice.” It said the jailed Karabakh 
leaders promoted separatism, organized “terrorist acts” and participated in 
“aggression against Azerbaijan.”

The arrests also raised more question about Russia’s peacekeeping mission in 
Karabakh which many in Armenia now regard as a gross failure. Karabakh’s 
political and military leadership has long been known for its pro-Russian views.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, indicated on 
Wednesday that the Armenian government did not ask Moscow to help free the 
jailed Karabakh leaders. “Nobody has appealed to us officially or unofficially,” 
Zakharova told reporters.

“One should first of all remember that Karabakh’s former leaders are citizens of 
Armenia and one of them had renounced Russian citizenship,” she said, referring 
to Vardanyan, a billionaire businessman who relocated to Karabakh a year ago.

Iran Offers To Send Observers To Armenian-Azeri Border

IRAN -- Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri 
speaks during an international conference in Tehran, February 23, 2021.

Iran has offered to deploy military observers to the Armenian-Azerbaijani border 
amid the lingering risk of renewed fighting there.

The Iranian army chief of staff, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, made the offer 
at a meeting with the visiting secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, Armen 
Grigorian, held late on Tuesday. Grigorian flew to Tehran on Sunday to discuss 
the aftermath of Azerbaijan’s military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh with top 
Iranian officials, including President Ebrahim Raisi.

Iranian media cited Bagheri as urging Armenia and Azerbaijan to deescalate 
tensions and resolve their disputes peacefully.

“Expressing Iran's readiness to dispatch observers to the Armenia-Azerbaijan 
border, the Iranian military official emphasized that there should not be any 
aggressive goal or intention behind the improvement of the defense capabilities 
of any country,” reported the Mehr news agency. It gave no details of the 
proposed deployment.

Grigorian’s office did not mention Bagheri’s offer in its readout of the 
meeting. It said the Armenian official praised “Iran’s position on the 
inviolability of borders in the region.”

The European Union deployed about a hundred monitors along Armenia’s border with 
Azerbaijan early this year after the Armenian government refused a similar 
mission proposed by the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization 
(CSTO). Moscow has criticized Yerevan and said the EU monitors cannot prevent 
deadly fighting that periodically breaks out along the border.

Armenia - The foreign ministers of Armenia and Iran inaugurate the Iranian 
consulate in Syunik's capital Kapan, October 21, 2022.

The Azerbaijani takeover of Karabakh raised more fears in Yerevan that Baku will 
also attack Armenia to open an exterritorial land corridor to Azerbaijan’s 
Nakhichevan exclave passing through Syunik, the sole Armenian province bordering 
Iran. President Ilham Aliyev and other Azerbaijani leaders regularly demand such 
a corridor.

Iran has repeatedly warned against attempts to strip it of the common border and 
transport links with Armenia. Meeting with Grigorian on Monday, Ali-Akbar 
Ahmadian, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, reaffirmed 
Tehran’s strong opposition to “any changes in the geopolitics of the region.”

For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told Grigorian 
that regional problems should be addressed “without external intervention” and 
in a “3+3 format” involving the three South Caucasus states as well as Iran, 
Turkey and Russia.

Bagheri similarly objected to the “presence of extra-regional forces” in the 
region. In that context, he repeated Tehran’s criticism of a U.S.-Armenian 
military exercise hosted by Armenia last month.

France Signals Arms Supplies To Armenia

        • Nane Sahakian

Armenia - French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna arrives for a news 
conference in Yerevan, October 3, 2023.

France is ready to deliver weapons to Armenia to help the South Caucasus state 
counter threats to its territorial integrity, French Foreign Minister Catherine 
Colonna said during a visit to Yerevan late on Tuesday.

"France has given its agreement to the conclusion of future contracts with 
Armenia which will allow the delivery of military equipment to Armenia so that 
it can ensure its defense," Colonna told a joint news conference with her 
Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan.

She declined to shed light on those contracts, saying only “there are things 
that were already agreed between Armenia and France and that are in progress.”

The French government has condemned Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military 
offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh that paved the way for the restoration of 
Azerbaijani control over the region and displaced its virtually entire ethnic 
Armenian population. President Emmanuel Macron suggested last week that Baku 
might now attack Armenia as well.

French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu said afterwards that the sovereignty 
and territorial integrity of Armenia are an “absolute objective for us.” Lecornu 
did not rule out arms supplies or other military aid to Armenia, saying that 
Paris is already examining Yerevan’s defense “needs.”

Speaking after talks with Mirzoyan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, Colonna 
noted that Azerbaijan has “continuously armed itself to take action,” using its 
oil revenues and Turkey’s military assistance.

She said Paris has also proposed that the European Union expand its monitoring 
mission along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan and help Yerevan from a special 
fund designed to boost EU partners’ defense capacity.

Armenian parliament speaker Alen Simonian revealed in July that the Armenian 
government requested “technical assistance” from the European Peace Facility 
(EPF) but was rebuffed by Brussels.

Colonna signaled French arms supplies amid Armenia’s mounting tensions with 
Russia, its longtime ally, which are calling into question its membership in the 
Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Mirzoyan insisted 
that Paris is not pressing Yerevan to leave the CSTO in return for such aid.

Russia has long been Armenia’s principal supplier of military hardware and 

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