BREAKING: Reports of explosion at gas station in Stepanakert


YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 25, ARMENPRESS. Several media outlets and social media users are reporting an explosion at a gas station in Stepanakert. Multiple injuries are reported.

Member of Parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh Metakse Hakobyan told ARMENPRESS correspondent that the gas station where the explosion happened is outside Stepanakert but close to the city. “A gasoline warehouse exploded. The warehouse was used to give out fuel to those who wanted to leave Artsakh by their cars. Hundreds of people were gathered there when the explosion took place. I can’t say whether there are fatalities or not, or how many, but there definitely will be victims. We can’t clarify it quickly,” Hakobyan said, adding that there will definitely be many injuries.

The fuel depot was about 2 kilometers away from the city.  “The explosion was very powerful.”

The Nagorno-Karabakh State Service of Emergency Situations said the explosion took place at a fuel depot near the Stepanakert-Askeran road. The powerful blast resulted in deaths and injuries. The authorities did not specify the number of victims.

Multiple people with burns have been hospitalized.

This story has been updated with comments from Metakse Hakobyan and the State Service of Emergency Situations. 


Turkish Press: UN affirms respect to Azerbaijan’s sovereignty amid illegal Karabakh vote

Daily Sabah, Turkey
Sept 13 2023

The United Nations reaffirmed that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan should be respected as Armenians in Karabakh, recaptured from Armenia in a 2020 war, recently went to polls to install their own leaders, to the chagrin of Baku.

Answering questions at a news conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York on Tuesday, the U.N. Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric reminded of U.N. Security Council resolutions on the issue affirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and urged “full respect” to both. "The Secretary-General urges Armenia and Azerbaijan to intensify efforts towards the long-term normalization of relations for the benefit of peace and security in the region,” he added.

On Saturday, separatist Armenians in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan held self-proclaimed elections to choose a new separatist president. This move was not recognized by many countries, including Azerbaijan, Türkiye, the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as the European Union.

Relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions. In the fall of 2020, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages, and settlements from Armenian occupation during 44 days of clashes. The war ended with a Russia-brokered peace agreement.

Despite ongoing talks over a long-term peace agreement, tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia rose in recent months over the Lachin road, the only land route giving Armenia access to the Karabakh region, where Azerbaijan established a border checkpoint in April on the grounds of preventing the illegal transport of military arms and equipment to the region.

Turkish Press: Armenia’s axis shift: Will it spark a new US-Russia showdown?

Daily Sabah, Turkey
Sept 13 2023

The United States and Armenia are currently carrying out high-stakes military maneuvers near Yerevan, a joint military drill aptly named "Eagle Partner." Scheduled from Sept. 11 to Sept. 20, this exercise is not just a routine display of military prowess; it is a strategic gambit by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to court Western support or, as some speculate, to ruffle Russia's feathers.

In a recent interview with Italy's La Repubblica, Pashinian boldly labeled Armenia's historical dependence on Russia for security as a colossal "strategic mistake."

"Armenia's security architecture was 99.999% linked to Russia, including when it came to the procurement of arms and ammunition," Pashinian told La Repubblica.

"But today we see that Russia itself is in need of weapons, arms and ammunition (for the war in Ukraine) and in this situation, it's understandable that even if it wishes so, the Russian Federation cannot meet Armenia's security needs.

"This example should demonstrate to us that dependence on just one partner in security matters is a strategic mistake," the Armenian premier said.

Russia, meanwhile, is watching Armenia's pivot with a mixture of irritation and vigilance. With Ukraine still a battleground, Moscow seems wary of diverting significant resources and attention to a new geopolitical theater. In response to Armenia's strategic drift, Russia's Foreign Ministry summoned the Armenian envoy, registering its displeasure at what it termed a series of "unfriendly steps" by Armenian leadership. These included the U.S. military drills on Armenian soil, a visit to Kyiv by the Armenian prime minister's wife and Armenia's surprising decision to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Adding fuel to the fire, Gunther Fehlinger, chair of the European committee for NATO, tweeted that Armenia should explore NATO membership.

Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in on Armenia's realignment during a recent address. He didn't mince words, emphasizing that the Karabakh issue is a closed chapter, with Armenia officially acknowledging Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory. Putin's remarks read like a subtle admonishment of Armenia's actions in an already precarious region.

Armenia's post-Karabakh defeat has made its leadership vulnerable, presenting it as a pawn in the broader West-Russia geopolitical rivalry. Despite ongoing peace initiatives and efforts at regional reconciliation, Yerevan continues to provoke its neighbors. This stance seems out of step with the reality that regional stability and cooperation, coupled with constructive contributions to negotiations with Azerbaijan, would serve Armenia's best interests.

Armenia's evolving alignment and paradigm shift could further stoke existing tensions in the South Caucasus, an area of immense strategic significance.

Situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, the region, a unique location with natural resources, historical significance and ongoing regional conflicts, includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. It is a critical energy transit hub for oil and natural gas, which is also crucial for Europe’s energy security. In addition, it is a critical transportation corridor that connects Asia to Europe with roads and railroads enabling the movement of people and goods from Central Asia to Europe. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) also goes through this region.

Since the Soviet Union's collapse and the demise of bipolarity in the post-Cold War era, the world has been in flux, seeking a new global order. Though multipolarity has emerged with rising Chinese and Indian economies and others, remnants of Cold War-era great power rivalries linger, especially in regions once under Soviet sway, like the South Caucasus. Russia's Ukraine invasion epitomizes this struggle, while the South Caucasus exemplifies the enduring great power contest from the bygone bipolar era.

Previously tethered to Russia's orbit, Armenia now questions this alignment, viewing it as a "strategic mistake." However, turning further toward Western allies could potentially entangle Armenia in a dangerous tug-of-war between the U.S./NATO and Russia.

Armenia's best path forward lies in prioritizing regional stability and peace. This route is the surest path to a secure and prosperous future for its citizens. A promising normalization process with Türkiye is already underway, underpinned by a constructive agenda led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Additionally, Yerevan must factor in the robust strategic partnership between Türkiye and Azerbaijan, founded on the principle of "One Nation, Two States," and realize that the future of normalization with Türkiye cannot be detached from escalating tensions with Azerbaijan.

Ph.D. holder in Political Science and International Relations, editorial coordinator at Daily Sabah

Protocol N. 13 Concerning the Abolition of Death Penalty in All Circumstances presented to parliament for ratification


YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 11, ARMENPRESS. The Armenian Justice Ministry has presented to parliament the Protocol N. 13 to the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Concerning the Abolition of the Death Penalty in All Circumstances, for ratification.

Deputy Minister of Justice Karen Karapetyan told lawmakers that the protocol was signed by Armenia in 2006 but hasn’t been ratified. “Whereas, this protocol is one of the unique international documents for which every year, as part of the universal campaign for abolition of death penalty, the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers is making written inquiries to Council of Europe member countries who haven’t ratified it, to clarify the reasons for delay,” he said.

“The ratification of the protocol is in line with Armenia’s policy as a country that is in favor of full abolition of death penalty. Moreover, death penalty is already prohibited by the Armenian constitution. The number 13 protocol is in line with the international obligations already assumed by Armenia,” Karapetyan added.

Death by starvation: Residents of disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region face genocide

The Indian Express
Sept 6 2023

The blockade set by Azerbaijan has created a shortage of food, water, medicine and other essential items in the region with 1,20,000 inhabitants.

Published: 06th September 2023

By Rahna Mariyam
Online Desk

"People are standing in queues for hours to get minimal food rations. People are fainting in the bread queues"… these were the words of a local journalist from the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in one of her recorded voice messages sent to the BBC last week.

In June 2023, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian accused Azerbaijan of "ethnic cleansing" with its continued blockade of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Azerbaijan's blockade of the only road linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh has created a shortage of food, water, medicine and other essential items in the region which has 1,20,000 inhabitants.

Baku's installation of an illegal checkpoint in the Lachin Corridor and its ongoing blockade are "actions that once again substantiate our fear that Azerbaijan is conducting a policy of ethnic cleansing", PM Pashinian said in Parliament in June.

For almost two years, the focus of the entire world and its leaders has been on the Russia-Ukraine war. Almost at the same time, another country on the same continent took advantage of the situation to ethnically cleanse a community. 

Azerbaijan however has claimed that it had created conditions for the safe and efficient transit of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh through the Lachin checkpoint.

Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked region, is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but most of it is governed by the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) since the first Nagorno-Karabakh War.

The region has been at the centre of a decades-long conflict between the two countries which have fought two wars for control of the region — in the 1990s and in 2020 — that have claimed thousands of lives from both sides.

The conflict started after the fall of the Soviet Union in the '90s when both Muslim-majority Azerbaijan and Christian-majority Armenia wanted Nagorno-Karabakh whose population largely comprises ethnic-majority Armenians to be part of both republics. 

The second Nagorno-Karabakh war started in 2020 after Azerbaijan launched an offensive that recaptured territory around Karabakh. Some 3,000 Azerbaijani soldiers and 4,000 Armenian soldiers were killed in six weeks of fighting.

A Russian-mediated ceasefire agreement in 2020 saw Armenia cede swathes of territories it had controlled for some three decades to Azerbaijan. As per the deal, Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey and its military, would hold on to areas of Nagorno-Karabakh that it had taken during the conflict. 

Moscow also deployed peacekeepers to the Lachin corridor to ensure free passage between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Recently, Azerbaijan has been using this corridor to control and starve the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to death. 

Former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo recently quoted an observation of the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court of Justice: "The 1,20,000 ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh are now entirely encircled by Azerbaijan, completely cut off from the access to the outside world."

"They are effectively under siege," he said.

CNN reported that shortages of food, fuel, and medicines caused by the months-long blockade have taken an increasing toll on the region’s population. 

Gegham Stepanyan, the ombudsman of the NKR, on August 15 confirmed that officials reported the first death from malnutrition in the region.

Is it a genocide?

In a conservative sense, we describe genocide as the slaughtering of people belonging to a particular community. But according to the UN Genocide Convention, "Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

And genocide is exactly what has been happening in Nagorno-Karabakh as found in investigations by the International Court of Justice.

The top court found the occurrence of several elements of Genocide as per the UN Genocide Convention including "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction." 

They reached the conclusion that the rights of ethnic Armenians in the Nagorno-Karabakh region are affected by the blockade of the Lachin Corridor which was put in force in December 2022.

In his report, Ocampo said, "As has happened in previous cases, Genocide, in particular, when committed by starvation, is neglected."

Lachin corridor, the only road connecting the Armenian-majority Nagorno Karabakh to the outside world, has been blockaded by Azerbaijan since December 2022 for "environmental reasons."

The corridor is important for the supply of goods like food and medicines to the breakaway region in Azerbaijan. 

In February this year, the International Criminal Court of Justice ordered the Azerbaijan government to lift the blockade and allow free passage of goods and services through the corridor. 

The top UN court said, "Baku (Azerbaijan) must take all measures at its disposal to ensure the unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles, and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions,".

However, the Azerbaijan government responded to the order by establishing a checkpoint and blocking humanitarian aid carried by various human rights bodies including the Red Cross. 

Who is responsible?

When it is established that the people of Nagorno-Karabakh are facing genocide, the next question is who is responsible? One of the most obvious reasons pointed out by multiple political analysts and lawyers like Ocampo is the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, the supreme commander of these security forces in Azerbaijan.

It was under his command the Lachin Corridor was blockaded by the security border personnel of the country. 

Aliyev, who accepted the Russian peacemakers after the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 and agreed to keep the Lachin corridor open for free passage of goods and services, went back on the agreement the moment Russia invaded Ukraine.

According to Ocampo, "Instead of negotiating the autonomy of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, he systematically took steps through a series of decisions to eliminate the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh."

For starters, Aliyev allowed a civilian group to block the Lachin Corridor, which he was supposed to keep open, according to the pact after 2020.

Second, following the order from the International Court of Justice to lift the blockade, he put checkpoints in place on the border with Armenia, stopping humanitarian aid from getting to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Following global criticism of the blockade, in one of his interviews with Euronews, Azerbaijan President Aliyev justified his move, saying the blockade was to avoid the alleged smuggling of arms, gasoline and other illegal substances from Armenia as well as the alleged illegal excavation of natural resources in the region.

He further said that the checkpoint was established to implement the International Court of Justice's decision.

“Actually the International Court of Justice actually addressed its message to us to communicate with civil society activists and not to disrupt any kind of movement. And we did it. And as soon as we established a border checkpoint on our border with Armenia, which is our legitimate right…We communicated through my representative here in Shusha (a city in the disputed region) with NGOs’ representatives for them (civil society groups) to stop, and they stopped. They left. So now, freedom of movement is not blocked.” 

The President also said that his motive is to put an end to separatism. Besides, he claims that "he is not organizing ethnic cleansing."

The Assembly’s D.C. Summit "Advocate for Artsakh" Sept. 25-26

Washington, D.C. – The dire conditions in Artsakh, wherein Azerbaijan's immoral and illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor continues into its tenth month causing a man-made humanitarian crisis, will take centerstage during the 2023 Advocacy Summit, "Advocate for Artsakh," sponsored by the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly), and co-sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), Armenia Tree Project (ATP), Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), Armenian Catholic Eparchy, Armenian Evangelical Union, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern), Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Western), Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, with more to join, in Washington, D.C. from September 25-26, 2023.

Advocates from across the country will once again work together to hold important meetings with Members of Congress and continue to sound the alarm on the deepening crisis in Artsakh, the ongoing attacks against the Armenian people, and the specter of a second Armenian Genocide.

In addition to the meetings on Capitol Hill, panel discussions will take place, along with an evening Tribute honoring former U.S. Secretary of the Navy Paul Ignatius at the Willard Hotel.

"The Assembly's upcoming Advocacy Summit will build on the recent hearing on Artsakh by the Congressional Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission where Co-Chair Chris Smith, former International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Ocampo, and human rights scholar David Phillips demanded Aliyev be held accountable for his genocidal intent by illegally blockading the Lachin Corridor," stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. "This blockade continues to deprive the Armenian people of essential supplies, from medication to food and more. The Advocacy Summit will bring this man-made humanitarian crisis into further focus with advocates expecting and demanding action from their elected officials," Ardouny added.

Register now to participate in the Assembly's 2023 Advocacy Summit. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Mary Jo Bazarian Murray, Director of Development and Membership.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.


NR# 2023-28

United States tells Azerbaijan to reopen Lachin Corridor

 20:20, 6 September 2023

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 6, ARMENPRESS. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has again called on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to reopen the Lachin Corridor, the U.S. State Department announced Wednesday in a readout of the call which took place on September 1.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on September 1 to express the United States’ concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.  He reiterated our call to reopen the Lachin Corridor to humanitarian, commercial, and passenger traffic, while recognizing the importance of additional routes from Azerbaijan.  The Secretary underscored the need for a dialogue and compromise and the importance of building confidence between the parties.  He pledged continued U.S. support to the peace process,” the U.S. State Department said in the readout.

Tehran backs Armenian territorial integrity, sovereignty: Iran envoy

Aug 26 2023
  1. Politics
– 22:52

TEHRAN – Armenian media has quoted the Iranian ambassador to Yerevan who on Friday emphasized Tehran's support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Armenia.

“Our fundamental policy is to develop relations with the Republic of Armenia. Iran always defends the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Armenia. The two countries have never had any problems in any field or level, especially since Armenia regained its independence,” said Mehdi Sobhani while visiting an economic exhibition in Yerevan.

Tensions have been rising between Armenia and its neighbor, the Republic of Azerbaijan as Baku has set up a checkpoint on the only land route connecting Armenia to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Baku is seeking to create a corridor in the region to gain unimpeded access to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic without Armenian checkpoints via Armenia's Syunik Province. If implemented, the corridor would violate the 2020 ceasefire deal between Baku and Yerevan and also change the borders of Iran and Armenia. 

The ambassador also pointed to trade deals between Iran and Armenia, saying, “As for economic interactions, our annual trade is $700 million, but the two nations have set themselves the goal of increasing it to up to $3 billion”.

The diplomat had previously called Armenia the gateway for Iran to enter a lucrative market of a 200-million population due to its membership in the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). 

He had called on Iranian producers to take advantage of opportunities created for them and try not to miss the boat.

PM Pashinyan, French Ambassador discuss humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh


YEREVAN, AUGUST 25, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has met with the new Ambassador of France to Armenia Olivier Decottignies.

The Prime Minister congratulated Mr. Decottignies on assuming office and expressed belief that his activities will contribute to the further development and strengthening of the Armenian-French cooperation, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a readout.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan emphasized the fact of special relations between the two countries, adding that the Armenian government is interested in the expansion of cooperation in various fields.

Ambassador Olivier Decottignies stated that he will make every effort to contribute to the deepening of the strong Armenian-French ties.

Issues related to economic cooperation between Armenia and France, the involvement of French companies in the Armenian market and current investment programs were discussed during the meeting.

The sides also discussed the deepening humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh resulting from Azerbaijan's illegal blocking of the Lachin Corridor. The targeted response of international partners to Azerbaijan's steps was highlighted.

The Prime Minister and the French Ambassador also exchanged views on other issues of mutual interest.

Armenpress: Azerbaijan falsely accuses Armenia of border shooting


YEREVAN, AUGUST 24, ARMENPRESS. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense has once again falsely accused the Armenian Armed Forces of firing at its outposts across the border, the Armenian Ministry of Defense warned Thursday.

In a statement, the Armenian Ministry of Defense said the Azeri accusation ‘does not correspond to reality.’

“The statement disseminated by the MoD of Azerbaijan that allegedly on August 23, at around 11:30 p.m., units of the Armenian Armed Forces discharged fire against the Azerbaijani combat positions located in the eastern part of the border, does not correspond to reality,” the Armenian Ministry of Defense said in a statement on social media.