RFE/RL Armenian Service – 02/22/2024


Major Differences Remain On Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Deal

Armenia- Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanian speaks to jounalists, July 28, 

Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to disagree on some key terms of a bilateral 
peace treaty discussed by them, a senior Armenian official said on Thursday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanian did not disclose them in comments to 
RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan spoke last month of a “significant regression” 
in Azerbaijan’s position on the treaty. In particular, he indicated that Baku is 
reluctant to explicitly recognize Armenia’s borders through such an accord.

Senior Azerbaijani officials have said in recent months that the two sides 
should sign the treaty before agreeing on the delimitation of the 
Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Armenian analysts and opposition figures suggested 
that Baku wants to leave the door open for territorial claims to Armenia.

The Armenian government accused Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev of making 
such claims after he renewed in early January his demands for Armenia to 
withdraw from “eight Azerbaijani villages” and open an extraterritorial corridor 
to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. Aliyev also rejected Yerevan’s insistence 
on using the most recent Soviet military maps to delimit the long border between 
the two South Caucasus countries.

Armen Grigorian, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, said on Wednesday 
that the “regression” remained in the latest Azerbaijani proposals received by 
Yerevan this month. It applies to key provisions of the would-be treaty, he said 
without elaborating.

Grigorian insisted at the same time that the two sides could narrow their 
differences during Mirzoyan’s upcoming talks with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister 
Jeyhun Bayramov.

Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian reached an agreement on the 
talks when they met in Munich last Saturday. No date has been set for them yet.

Azeri Man Wanted By Armenia Allowed To Leave Russia

        • Naira Bulghadarian

Azerbaijan - Azerbaijani fitness coach Kamil Zeinali wanted by Armenia is 
greeted at Baku airport, .,

Russia allowed an Azerbaijani man accused by Armenia of beheading a 
Nagorno-Karabakh civilian during the 2020 war to return to Azerbaijan on 
Thursday one day after briefly detaining him at a Moscow airport.

The man, Kamil Zeynalli, was apprehended at the Domodedovo international airport 
on an Armenian arrest warrant and freed a few hours later. A Russian court was 
reportedly due to start on Thursday hearings on his possible extradition to 

Russian authorities did not immediately explain why Zeynalli was allowed to fly 
back to Baku. Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu, was reported 
to say that his mission held “intensive negotiations” with the authorities and 
managed to convince them that the accusations brought against him are baseless.

A spokesman for the Armenian Interior Ministry, Narek Sargsian, said that 
shortly after Zeynalli’s detention it was contacted by Moscow and confirmed that 
the Azerbaijani national known as a fitness coach is wanted for the war crime 
allegedly committed by him. Sargsian again gave no details of the accusation 
which stems from the beheading of an elderly resident of Karabakh’s southern 
Hadrut district captured by Azerbaijani forces during the six-week war.

Sargsian also told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that his ministry has put together 
a “package of documents” required for the suspect’s potential extradition and 
will send them to Russian law-enforcement authorities. Ara Ghazarian, an 
Armenian expert on international law, dismissed the move as overdue and useless.

“If that person is not in Russia, Russia can no longer initiate an extradition 
process,” argued Ghazarian. “It is Azerbaijan that must initiate it, but 
Azerbaijan, of course, will not do that.”

He said Moscow’s decision to let the suspect return home is politically 
motivated and reflects mounting tensions in Russian-Armenian relations.

Lawmaker Contradicts Armenian Official’s Claim On Russian Troops

        • Ruzanna Stepanian

Armenian - Russian border guards stationed in Syunik province are inspected by 
Russian Ambassador Sergei Kopyrkin, May 24, 2022.

Russian troops are not deployed in or around a border village where four 
Armenian soldiers were killed last week, a pro-government lawmaker said on 
Thursday, contradicting a senior Armenian official’s claim about Russia’s 
responsibility for the Azerbaijani ceasefire violation.

The remote village, Nerkin Hand, is located in Armenia’s southeastern Syunik 
province bordering Azerbaijan and Iran. It is half-surrounded by Azerbaijani 
army posts.

Armen Grigorian, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, blamed the 
Russians for the deadly incident there as he defended on Wednesday the European 
Union’s monitoring mission along the Armenian-Azerbaijan regularly criticized by 

“The EU monitoring mission has no access [to the border village] and only Russia 
does,” he told journalists. “Russia is present there and it failed to prevent 
the incident.”

Narek Ghahramanian, a Syunik-based parliamentarian representing Armenia’s ruling 
Civil Contract party, insisted, however, that “there is no Russian presence in 
the village or in the positions” around it held by Armenian forces. He said 
Russian troops only have a checkpoint on a road leading to Nerkin Hand.

“Honestly, they are not present in our positions and could not have prevented or 
failed to prevent [the cross-border Azerbaijani fire,]” Ghahramanian told 
RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Armenia - A convoy of European Union monitors is seen in Syunik province, 
October 20, 2022.

The head of the EU mission, Markus Ritter, said on Wednesday that the Russian 
side has not allowed his monitors to visit Nerkin Hand and patrol that section 
of the border. Grigorian echoed the claim, saying that the Armenian authorities 
“will try to address the problem.”

Ghahramanian said in this regard that while he has heard complaints about the 
Russian checkpoint he personally has never encountered any problems during his 
visits to Nerkin Hand.

“I have gone there, guests from Yerevan have gone there, and villagers enter and 
leave [the village.] They [the Russians] don’t check anyone,” he said.

At the same time, the lawmaker questioned the effectiveness of Russian military 
presence in Syunik, saying that Russian soldiers and border guards have not used 
force to prevent or stop Azerbaijani truce violations.

“What’s the point of their staying there if [the Azerbaijanis] are going to 
continue to shoot?” said the lawmaker.

Russia deployed troops to Syunik during and shortly after the 2020 war in 
Nagorno-Karabakh to help the Armenian military defend the strategic region 
against possible Azerbaijani attacks. Russian-Armenian relations have 
significantly deteriorated since then, with Yerevan accusing Moscow of not 
honoring its security commitments to Armenia.

France Reportedly Ships More Military Equipment To Armenia

        • Astghik Bedevian

France - French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu (right) and his Armenian 
counterpart Suren Papikian sign an agreement in Paris, October 23, 2023.

France’s Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu flew to Yerevan on Thursday as 
Armenia reportedly received French military hardware acquired by it last October.

A deal signed by the Armenian Defense Ministry and the French defense group 
Thales at the time called for the sale of three sophisticated radar systems to 
the South Caucasus nation. Lecornu and his Armenian counterpart Suren Papikian 
attended the signing ceremony in Paris.

The GM200 radars can simultaneously detect and track multiple warplanes, drones 
and even rockets within a 250-kilometer radius, allowing air-defense units to 
hit such targets. France supplied two such systems to Ukraine a year ago.

France’s Le Figaro daily and AFP news agency reported that the three radars as 
well as French night-vision equipment will be shipped to Armenia on Thursday. 
The Armenian Defense Ministry declined to comment on those reports.

Lecornu stressed on Wednesday the “purely defensive” character of these and 
other French arms supplies. Armenia is facing “major security challenges,” he 
told the French broadcaster RTL in a clear reference to the risk of an 
Azerbaijani attack on the country.

Lecornu headed to Armenia the day after French President Emmanuel Macron and 
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian met in Paris ahead of an official 
ceremony to inter Missak Manouchian, an ethnic Armenian hero of the French 
Resistance to Nazi occupation, at the national Pantheon.

“We will continue our defense cooperation with Armenia,” Macron said at the 
start of the meeting. He urged Azerbaijan to explicitly recognize Armenia’s 
borders and enable Nagorno-Karabakh’s displaced population to return to its 
homeland “freely and rapidly.”

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry condemned Macron’s statement, saying that it 
could only create “new tensions” in the region.

UAE - A French ACMAT Bastion armoured personnel carrier at a defense exhibition 
in Abu Dhabi, February 25, 2015.

Lecornu and Papikian are scheduled to meet on Friday. Andranik Kocharian, the 
chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on defense and security, did not 
rule out that more French-Armenian agreements could be signed as a result of 
their talks.

“Armenia seeks to acquire weapons of very high quality from multiple sources,” 
Kocharian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

The two ministers signed in October a “letter of intent” on the future delivery 
of French short-range surface-to-air missiles to Armenia. It emerged afterwards 
that France will also supply a total of 50 armored personnel carriers. The first 
batch of 24 Bastion vehicles apparently bound for Armenia was spotted in the 
Georgian port of Poti in December.

Kocharian also stressed the importance of France’s pledge to train Armenian 
military personnel. According to Le Figaro and AFP, the French military will 
hold three “mountain combat training courses” for them this year.

Russia has long been Armenia’s principal supplier of weapons and ammunition. But 
with Russian-Armenian relations worsening and Russia embroiled in the 
large-scale war with Ukraine, Yerevan is increasingly looking for other arms 
suppliers. Since September 2022, it has also signed a number of defense 
contracts with India reportedly worth at least $400 million.

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
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