Armenian Ambassadorial assembly chaired by Foreign Minister held in Vienna


YEREVAN, JUNE 22, ARMENPRESS. Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan has met with the country’s ambassadors to a number of states to discuss foreign policy issues and the situation in South Caucasus. The gathering was held in Vienna, Austria. 

“On January 20-21 in Vienna with participation of Armenian FM Ararat Mirzoyan, meeting of #Armenia’s Ambassadors accredited in European countries, USA & Canada as well as representatives in int’l organizations took place,” the Foreign Ministry said in a post on X. “FM’s remarks were followed by discussion on current situation in South Caucasus, efforts aimed at establishing stability, peace agenda, challenges as well as prospects for enhancement of ARM bilateral & multilateral agenda. Views were exchanged on int’l & regional topics.”

Pashinyan proposes Azerbaijan to sign an arms control agreement

 00:21, 14 January 2024

YEREVAN, JANUARY 14, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, stated on Saturday that when he reviews Azerbaijan's proposals regarding the peace treaty, he sometimes gets the impression that the country is attempting to create a document that legitimizes future wars. PM Pashinyan noted that such an approach is beyond logic.

He noted that Armenia offered to withdraw the troops from the border defined by the Alma Ata Declaration, but Azerbaijan refused. Azerbaijan also rejected Armenia's proposal to demilitarize the border zones.

"I can make another offer: let's sign an arms control agreement so that Armenia and Azerbaijan reach a concrete  agreement regarding arms and have the opportunity to monitor each other in terms of fulfilling these agreements. Of course, this is a new proposal, but if we sincerely want to move towards peace, all these issues can be addressed," Pashinyan noted.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece will pay an official visit to Armenia

 17:58, 9 January 2024

YEREVAN, JANUARY 9, ARMENPRESS. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece George Gerapetritis on January 10 will pay an official visit to Armenia, the foreign ministry said.

According to the source, on January 10, the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Greece will take place at the MFA of Armenia, followed by a joint press conference.

Armenia looks forward to working jointly with Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU – FM Mirzoyan

 10:35, 4 January 2024

YEREVAN, JANUARY 4, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan has lauded Spain for its activities during its Presidency of the Council of the EU and welcomed Belgium’s presidency in 2024.

“My congratulations to José Manuel Albares and outgoing Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU for activities during exceptionally challenging times,” Mirzoyan said in a statement on X. “Appreciated that EU Council Spanish Presidency advanced our common agenda, aimed at further strengthening EU’s partnership with Armenia based on shared vision.”

“Warmly welcoming Belgium’s Presidency of EU Council, I wish every success to my counterpart Hadja Lahbib. Armenia looks forward to working jointly with Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU to further deepen & strengthen our partnership with EU to effectively meet aspirations of our citizens,” he added.

‘Armenian Melodies’ Float Wins Grand Marshal Award at 135th Tournament of Roses

Jan 3 2024

In a resplendent display of cultural heritage and creativity, the ‘Armenian Melodies’ float, presented by the American Armenian Rose Float Association (AARFA), clinched the ‘Grand Marshal’ award at the 135th Tournament of Roses. The float’s theme, harmonizing with the Tournament’s emphasis on celebrating the world of music, was a tribute to the unyielding resilience and strength of Armenian matriarchs.

Dressed in traditional ‘taraz’, figures of Armenian mothers and daughters stood as the float’s centerpiece, encircled by symbols integral to Armenian heritage. These symbols included indigenous birds from the Armenian Highlands such as the crane, chukar, and little ringed plover, further enhancing the float’s cultural authenticity.

The float also showcased a range of traditional Armenian musical instruments like the duduk, shvi, blul, parkapzuk, dhol, and nagara. This resonated deeply with the Tournament’s theme of ‘Celebrating a World of Music: The Universal Language’, adding a unique Armenian melody to the global symphony.

Further enriching the float’s cultural portrayal were elements like the AARFA’s tricolor logo, pomegranates, apricots, and an ‘arevakhatch’ or sun cross, symbolizing eternal life. Participation from the Lilia Margaryan Dance Studio from Glendale, with 10 students performing alongside the float during the parade, added vibrancy to the event.

AARFA, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to spotlighting the American Armenian community’s contributions and achievements. The association also seeks donations to perpetuate this tradition, allowing for the continued sharing and celebration of Armenian culture on such a grand platform.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic: The life and death of an unrecognized state

Jan 2 2023
by Laurence Broers Jan 2, 2024

On January 1, 2024, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), the entity at the heart of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, ceased – officially – to exist. The self-proclaimed republic's last leader, Samvel Shahramanyan, mandated its dissolution in a decree of September 28, 2023 that was a condition of the ceasefire ending Azerbaijan's lightning military operation to crush the NKR on September 19-20.  

The existence of a second Armenian republic in Karabakh, which to the end remained unrecognized by any United Nations member state including Armenia, had been the single most divisive issue between Armenians and Azerbaijanis since it first appeared. Its very existence went straight to the heart of the "meta-conflict": the conflict over what the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is really about. 

In ways that echo Zionism's subsuming of conflict in Palestine into a wider conflict with Arabs, Azerbaijan has consistently sought to fold its conflict with the Armenian population in Karabakh into a wider irredentist framework with Armenia. In this reading there is, and has never been, a real conflict in Karabakh, only external interference. In Azerbaijani perspectives, the NKR was nothing more than a puppet regime, a stalking horse for annexation and no different from the Russian-created "people's republics" in eastern Ukraine. 

Conversely, Armenia consistently sought to downplay its role in the conflict and to depict the NKR as one of its principals. For years visitors to the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be shown a facsimile of the May 12, 1994 ceasefire agreement featuring three signatories – Armenia, Azerbaijan and the NKR – thereby asserting the latter's agency. Armenian sources frequently referred to the "Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict," evoking an Armenian name for the area dating back to antiquity that underlined the longevity of the Armenian claim independent of modern state-territorial arrangements.     

Between these opposed visions, a tradition of scholarship sought to understand the NKR as an example of a "de facto state": a secessionist entity with a permanent population and fixed borders that is nevertheless not recognized as a state by other states. De facto states can be understood as a product of the very system that excludes the possibility of their existence: the post-Second World War and post-colonial system of sovereign and equal states covering every centimeter of the globe. 

The hegemony of this system, at least until recent years, is what created the possibility of a de facto state as an anomaly existing outside of it – or in Alexander Iskandaryan's memorable phrase, as "temporary technical errors within the system of international law." The Soviet and Yugoslav collapses resulted in the emergence of numerous such entities, several of which, including Abkhazia, Transdniester, South Ossetia and the NKR, survived in the margins of international relations for decades despite non-recognition.  

A historical tradition

The independence of the NKR was proclaimed by a joint meeting of the regional soviets (councils) from the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) and Shahumyan region to its north on September 2, 1991. It followed Azerbaijan's declaration of independence two days earlier, itself a response to the failed putsch in Moscow and the now universal realization that the Soviet Union would soon be no more. 

Sovereignty as a separate entity, however, was never the goal of the Karabakh movement, whose aim was instead unification with Armenia - miatsum in Armenian. This was not a new phenomenon in the late 1980s, but a long-standing aspiration going back to the First World War era and the formation of new Armenian and Azerbaijani republics in the aftermath of the collapse of the Russian Empire. 

Following large-scale violence in 1920 contesting Azerbaijani control over Karabakh, the incoming Bolsheviks established the NKAO in 1923 within Soviet Azerbaijan essentially as a conflict resolution mechanism. The NKAO recognized the state of play (Azerbaijani control) but sought to balance that with a compensatory autonomy for the Karabakh Armenian population. 

It did not work out that way in practice. Azerbaijan came to see the autonomous region as a Soviet intrusion on its body politic and consequently as recent, colonial and illegitimate. A few months after the NKR's proclamation of independence, Azerbaijan abolished the NKAO on November 26, 1991. In Azerbaijan today the very notion of a separate highland space – a mountainous Karabakh – is rejected as geopolitical artifice fragmenting a wider, pre-twentieth-century understanding of Karabakh encompassing mountains and lowlands between the Kura and Aras rivers. 

Apparent hesitation in the Soviet territorial delimitation process in July 1921 meanwhile left Karabakh Armenians with the perception that incorporation into Armenia had been a real possibility. Whenever the Soviet Union subsequently went through more liberal phases, letter-writing campaigns calling for unification with Armenia followed, citing concerns over discrimination, Azerbaijani migration into the NKAO and cultural rights in Soviet Azerbaijan. Days before the Soviet Union formally dissolved, local Armenian authorities ran a referendum in the territory on 10 December 1991, in which the former NKAO's ethnic Azerbaijani minority did not take part, and which returned a 99 percent vote in favor of independence.  

The ambiguity of unification

The Soviet collapse, however, transformed the meaning of unification, for miatsum implied the unification of two geopolitical bodies – the Republic of Armenia and the NKR – that were not territorially contiguous. Although the NKAO was never an enclave strictly understood, it did have an enclave geography being entirely surrounded by undisputed Azerbaijani territory.

This geography may not have been as insurmountable as it might seem in the context of the Soviet Union, where the state's hyper-centralization of power meant that linkages to the center mattered more than horizontal ties between units in the periphery (Crimea had existed non-contiguously as an oblast of Russia until 1954).

The Soviet collapse meant, however, that the Soviet framework for the organization of borders and sovereignty was replaced by the international system that was (even) less tolerant of changes in borders and the formation of new states outside of narrowly defined parameters (decolonization of European colonies).

In the context of independent Armenian and Azerbaijani republics, territorial non-contiguity implicated the Karabakh Armenians, like no other post-Soviet de facto state, in a long-term struggle against geography and in particular to strategies of encirclement, blockade and siege. Breaking out of an Azerbaijani siege constituted an initial war goal of the Karabakh Armenian leadership in the First Karabakh War that immediately followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

Consequently, the NKR was confronted at its birth with a geo-strategic conundrum that made it in many ways an impossible republic. In the face of international disapproval of irredentism, Karabakh Armenians opted for a second-best outcome: sovereignty as an entity separate from Armenia, rather than unification. Yet unification in the direct spatial sense was the only way to address the problem of non-contiguousness, which could only be overcome by the unlikely outcome of Azerbaijani acquiescence or an ethically corrosive strategy of military conquest of interceding areas. 

It was through the latter pathway that the problem of territorial non-contiguity was "resolved." Armenian forces conquered the seven regions of Lachin, Kelbajar, Qubatly, Zangilan, Jebrayil, Agdam and Fizuli, in whole or in part, between May 1992 and May 1994, carving out a wide belt of territories surrounding, and in area exceeding, the former NKAO. 

These regions had been almost entirely populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis prior to the conflict; more than half a million were ethnically cleansed during the conquest. This reflected a reality still true today: territorial control in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is synonymous with ethnic cleansing. Azerbaijani advances into northern Karabakh in summer 1992 had similarly resulted in the mass forced displacement of ethnic Armenians, while Armenians ethnically cleansed from other parts of Azerbaijan in 1988-90 and from Shahumyan in 1991-92 also made new homes in the NKR. The NKR was thereby doubly constituted by the ethnic cleansing of both nationalities.

The extent of territorial overspill beyond the boundaries of the original dispute made the NKR a stark exception amongst its cohort of de facto states, and implicated the NKR – and by extension, Armenia – in the politically fraught imperative of justifying its control over the territories.

If strategic framing of the territories as a buffer zone prevailed in the early years, this was subsequently overtaken by the term "liberated territories," a description that was a gift to arguments that the conflict was driven by Armenian land hunger, not the human rights of Karabakh Armenians. Maps increasingly depicted a unified ethno-territorial entity, which in my work I have described as "augmented Armenia," submerging the differences between the Republic of Armenia, the NKAO and the occupied territories, and consequently the differences between recognized statehood, a self-determination claim and a military-occupational regime. 

Governance and survival

The ambiguity of unification as a strategic necessity but political impracticality resulted in an associated ambiguity between the NKR’s tactical performance of a sovereignty separate from Armenia, combined with strategic integration with it at other levels. The NKR featured all of the symbolic and bureaucratic architecture of a state: flag, anthem, executive, legislative and judicial branches of power, a full set of line ministries and political parties that, with the exception of the Dashnaktsutyun (a pan-Armenian nationalist party that had led the First Republic in Armenia in 1918-20), did not operate in Armenia.

At the strategic level, however, the NKR's dependence on Armenia was evident in financial subsidies, military transfers and deep intersection between ostensibly separate armies. Deep integration was underlined by the fact that from 1998 until Armenia's Velvet Revolution in 2018, Armenia and the NKR were governed by a single networked elite originating in Karabakh. Armenia's second and third presidents, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan, were Karabakh natives and comprised the NKR's wartime leadership during the First Karabakh War. Lacking democratic legitimacy in an increasingly corrupt and oligarchic Armenia, preserving the NKR in the expansive form inherited from the 1992-4 war became this elite's talisman and claim to legitimacy.    

In the NKR, tactical sovereignty underpinned a carefully choreographed politics of democratization that both acknowledged the Karabakh movement's self-perception as a popular, participatory movement (the NKR was originally established as a parliamentary republic) and was designed to appeal to Euro-Atlantic understandings of the "freedom agenda" through the 2000s. 

What emerged was a variety of performative pluralism that would substantiate the NKR's claims to be a democracy but which would not risk destabilization or internal unrest. Through much of its existence, elections in the NKR were characterized by multiple candidates, sometimes high vote shares for alternative candidates (such as Vitaly Balasanyan's 31.5 percent in the 2012 presidential election) and relatively free campaigns although the end result was rarely in doubt. The high point of oppositional electoral success was a mayoral election in Stepanakert (Khankendi) in 2004, won by Eduard Agabekyan. 

Pluralistic and relatively free elections nevertheless secured the republic's coveted rating as "partly free" in Freedom House's "Freedom in the World Index," serving as the critical comparison with Azerbaijan's consistently "unfree" rating. This strategy reflected calculations that in the light of many states' recognition of Kosovo after 2008, "standards before status" was the best front on which to campaign for recognition. 

But while the internal politics of the NKR continued to matter for its legitimacy amongst its own population, it would be overtaken by international developments from 2014. The first was the decline in the security situation along the Line of Contact with Azerbaijan, which from the summer of 2014 was characterized by increasingly frequent and large-scale skirmishes and escalations. These included April 2016's "four-day war" that saw Azerbaijani forces retake small pockets of territory along the Line of Contact for the first time.  

The second was Russia's support of new de facto states – the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics – in eastern Ukraine to widespread international condemnation. Russia's actions recast the de facto state phenomenon as the installation of puppet regimes with no previous history of popular mobilization in support of sovereignty. This implicated the NKR and other surviving de facto states in a constant justification of why their case was different.  

The NKR's democratization trajectory unsurprisingly declined in parallel with these developments. Opposition representation was limited to a few seats in parliament. Civil society, isolated from international programming, remained marginal and declined over time as key individuals migrated to Yerevan. In 2017 the NKR introduced a new constitution with a fully presidential system that also enabled former security service chief Bako Sahakyan to stay in office for a total of 13 years.  

A European Court of Human Rights judgment (Chiragov and Others v. Armenia, Application no. 13216/05) in 2015 acknowledged the ambivalence of the NKR's claim to a separate sovereignty. The Court found that Armenia effectively exercised extra-territorial jurisdiction sustaining the situation in Karabakh, overturning Armenia's arguments to the contrary and effectively affirming Azerbaijan's narrative of Armenia as an occupying power.          

Multipolarity and eclipse

The post-Cold War unipolar moment may likely be seen as a high tide for unrecognized entities in Eurasia. It was a particular conjuncture defined by imperial collapse, territorial re-ordering and the weakness of newly independent states, combined with the hegemony of liberal-democratic values that – if inconsistently and hypocritically – imposed higher costs on state violence. 

Multipolarity instead bodes a context of strategic competition among major powers in a context of declining restraints on the use of force. This emerging environment presented specific threats to the NKR as a de facto state supported not by a regional hegemon (those that were faced a different threat – annexation) but by Armenia, a small state with limited resources and capacity to sustain a strategic rivalry with Azerbaijan that was bigger, wealthier, better armed and could count on allies supportive of a military resolution in its favor.  

The Second Karabakh War in 2020 was a partial Azerbaijani victory resulting in the partition, rather than total destruction, of the NKR. Alongside the recovery of occupied territories, the war successfully eliminated Armenia's capacity to act as a patron state. The war outcomes presented a stark reckoning with geography as the two Armenian geopolitical bodies were once again separated and the only connecting link – the Lachin Corridor – placed under Russian control. 

The new status quo appeared to present a convergence with other post-Soviet de facto states as the NKR effectively became a Russian protectorate surviving solely on account of Russian commitments to a military presence in the territory. Only a Russian approach – freezing the conflict and postponing status decisions to a distant future – offered a future trajectory for the NKR, as compared to the Euro-Atlantic approach that sought a negotiated re-incorporation into the Azerbaijani state with guarantees for the rights and security of the Armenian population. Demonstrations of loyalty to Russia included the NKR leadership's welcoming of Russia's recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and the dispatch of aid to the Donbas. 

Ultimately, however, the NKR's fate was sealed by Russia's decision to invade Ukraine and the subsequent course of the war in that country. Russia's invasion forced a re-evaluation of the Kremlin's relationships and interests in ways that favored Azerbaijan, as a critical node in new connectivity schemes that acquired a new importance for a sanctioned Russia, as a partner in a wider axis of cooperation with Turkey and Iran, and as an ideologically like-minded power skeptical of the liberal international order. 

As a result, many Armenians' worst fears were realized: as one former Armenian official puts it, the NKR became small change in a larger geopolitical transaction. Russia acquiesced in the blocking of the Lachin Corridor for 10 months from December 2022 and stood down in the face of Azerbaijan's military operation on September 19. The NKR ended in days of disarray, despair and tragedy as some 220 Armenians were killed and hundreds more injured in a fuel depot explosion amid chaotic preparations for the mass exodus of the population. Over the week following September 24, with the exception of a few dozen infirm and elderly, the entire population of more than 102,000 fled the territory to become refugees in Armenia. 

The mass displacement has resulted in new tensions in the ambiguities of unification between the two Armenian communities. At one level, despite holding Armenian passports, Karabakh Armenians displaced to Armenia have discovered that they are less than Armenian citizens with a full set of rights. They must apply for citizenship, with uncertain implications for their right of return – an unlikely prospect today – or to restitution. 

At another level, debates have revolved around the question of leadership. Should the NKR be succeeded by a government-in-exile? Such an entity would be less than welcome in Yerevan and doubtless seen as a provocation in Baku. It would, presumably, still be a de facto government with no greater hope of recognition than when it was based in the homeland. Beyond these considerations, any such project must confront the visceral anger of its presumed constituents. Many Karabakh Armenians feel that despite the decades-long performance of statehood, their leadership failed them in the anarchy following the September 20 ceasefire leaving the community to flee in chaos.  

As a project in aspirant statehood, the NKR is no more. Key figures of its leadership – former presidents and prominent ministers – await trial in Baku, framed as prisoners of war in Armenia and war criminals in Azerbaijan. The echoes of its violent dissolution will reverberate across other majority-minority conflicts around the globe for years to come. What remains doubtful, however, is whether a cause that anchored Armenian nationalism for so long, that overturned received narratives of historical Armenian victimhood to capture the imaginations of millions living in Armenia and in diaspora for decades, and whose own narrative of existential threat was vindicated by its violent dissolution in a new crucible of collective trauma, will simply disappear. Reports that Shahramanyan subsequently annulled the decree dissolving the NKR are an early indication that the republic will not go quietly. 

What seems certain is that as it was in life, the NKR's legacy will be contested. 

Laurence Broers is an associate fellow with the Russia & Eurasia Programme at Chatham House and the author of Armenia and Azerbaijan: Anatomy of a Rivalry.

Ambassador of India to Armenia congratulates Armenpress on 105th anniversary


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 28, ARMENPRESS.  Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India to the Republic of Armenia Nilakshi Saha Sinha has extended her congratulations to Narine Nazaryan, the director of the "Armenpress" news agency, on the occasion of the 105th anniversary of the agency's foundation.

"I want to commend Armenpress for its excellent work in  covering real-time news and information. I extend my best wishes to Armenpress for the continued success.

Taking this opportunity I wish you, your family, the team of Armenpress a very happy, successful and prosperous New Year. May 2024 be filled with good health and energy," the message reads.

On December 18, “Armenpress” news agency celebrated the 105th anniversary of its founding.

Washington Must End Its Support for Azerbaijan’s War Crimes

Dec 18 2023

The US has long offered unconditional military assistance to Azerbaijan even as it carries out ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh. It’s consistent with Washington’s support for brutal human rights violators from Saudia Arabia to Israel.

The other week, Azerbaijan’s president scolded US secretary of state Antony Blinken over efforts to curtail military assistance to the Caspian dictatorship in the wake of its assault on the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. While US arms and assistance to Azerbaijan have largely been overlooked, they are representative of how Washington’s security assistance has facilitated war crimes and perpetuated a global system built on the selective application of human rights and international law. In the case of Azerbaijan, US assistance enabled ethnic cleansing on a shocking scale.

However, amid public outcry over the nonenforcement and rollback of human rights conditions on military assistance to US allies from Turkey to Saudi Arabia to Israel — a recent decision by the Senate to suspend military assistance to Azerbaijan marks an unprecedented step toward the enforcement of human rights standards and congressional oversight long absent from US foreign policy.

Last month, Azerbaijan invaded Nagorno-Karabakh (also known as Artsakh), forcibly expelling its entire indigenous Armenian population, aided by US security assistance. As a direct consequence of the impunity Washington has granted Baku, Azerbaijan, is now threatening further military action against Armenia — a risk recently acknowledged by Secretary Blinken.

Azerbaijan hasn’t always enjoyed the kind of impunity other recipients of US military assistance do. In the early 1990s, Azerbaijan was prohibited from receiving US aid pursuant to Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, which suspended all forms of aid to Azerbaijan in light of its aggression against Armenian civilians during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.

While this prohibition is still in effect, following the September 11 attacks it has been subject to a national security waiver — an all-too-familiar tool that has granted the US president far-reaching discretion over military assistance, unbeholden to congressional oversight and the long-ignored human rights conditions mandated under the Leahy Laws and Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act.

In an attempt to garner Azerbaijan’s support for the United States’ 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, the waiver of Section 907 saw hundreds of millions of dollars funneled to the government through lucrative defense contracts and security assistance. This has only escalated in recent years as Washington now justifies its uncritical support for Azerbaijan as necessary to secure its role as an alternative energy supplier for Europe and a regional bulwark against Russia and Iran.

Despite President Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to cut military aid to Azerbaijan after its assault on Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, his administration has twice reauthorized assistance to Baku, even in the face of strong congressional opposition. These waivers have continued despite the Azerbaijani government’s torture and execution of Armenian prisoners of war, human rights abuses, and war crimes against civilians, and a humanitarian blockade that precipitated the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh. Washington had every opportunity to prevent this unfolding humanitarian and security crisis but instead chose to embolden Azerbaijan by rewarding its behavior with security assistance.

Azerbaijan is an instructive case in the abject failure of current US policy. Not only did unconditional assistance to Azerbaijan grant the United States little-to-no ability to influence or constrain Baku’s behavior — the lack of conditions on assistance to Azerbaijan sent a green light to its government that it would face no material repercussions for its human rights abuses, emboldening its behavior. US arms sales haven’t even deterred Azerbaijan from engaging with US rivals, as Baku continues to expand its energy partnerships with Russia and Iran.

Washington’s support of Azerbaijan will signal to other recipients of US military assistance that they will continue to face zero accountability for their actions, despite Biden’s pledge to ensure autocrats “pay the price” for their aggression. Furthermore, Washington’s reckless policy threatens to destabilize the region further by encouraging war profiteers to take a page from Washington’s playbook, with Turkey closing a major arms deal with Saudi Arabia in July, and Israel selling weapons to Azerbaijan used to perpetrate horrific human rights abuses against Armenians in Artsakh at the same time it perpetrates unconscionable war crimes of its own in Gaza.

Immediately before Azerbaijan’s assault on Nagorno-Karabakh, US officials affirmed that they “would not countenance any attempt at ethnic cleansing” by Azerbaijan. Washington’s failure to hold Azerbaijan accountable after it breached this red line will only embolden further aggression as Baku eyes Armenia’s sovereign territory. It will also undermine whatever confidence anyone might still have had in Washington’s willingness to uphold human rights. It sends a clear signal to other recipients of US military assistance engaged in human rights abuses, from Turkey’s relentless assault on Kurdish communities in Northern Syria and Iraq, to Saudi Arabia’s crackdowns at home and its mass murder of refugees and destruction of Yemen, to Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza — heightening the risk of conflicts that could engulf the entire region.

Facing considerable congressional and public pressure, the Biden administration has now publicly stated that it does not intend to waive restrictions on military assistance to Azerbaijan. But the unanimous passage of the Armenian Protection Act by the Senate last month takes that one step further, prohibiting the executive from exercising its waiver authority for a two-year window. If enacted by the House of Representatives, this would mark an unprecedented step toward enforcing human rights standards and congressional oversight of US security assistance in a rare rebuke of US foreign policy, driven by grassroots action.

Washington’s Faustian bargain with some of the world’s most abusive governments has produced the very outcomes it purportedly seeks to avoid and recklessly enables the ethnic cleansing of Artsakh’s Armenians. The unanimous Senate vote to enforce human rights conditions on assistance to Azerbaijan is not just a step toward justice for the victims of Azerbaijan’s genocidal aggression — it marks an important victory in the effort to curb executive overreach, end the practice of fueling raging regional fires, and stop material US support for war crimes.

Ces Arméniennes qui se battent pour sauver leur pays

Marie Claire, France
14 Dec 2023
Menacée par l'expansionnisme du puissant Azerbaïdjan, l'Arménie voit ressurgir, à travers le conflit de l'Artsakh (Haut-Karabakh), le spectre du génocide et de l'exode. À Erevan, nos reporters ont recueilli les témoignages de ces femmes qui s'organisent pour aider les milliers de déplacés. Et luttent pour que les exactions ne soient pas passées sous silence.

Dans ce joli café d'Erevan, sur la place Cascade, Siranouch Sargsian a commandé un expresso. "Être privée de café, c'est terrible. Ici, dès que j'entre dans un magasin, je revois les enfants affamés et ça me bouleverse", dit-elle les larmes aux yeux. Comme les 120 000 Arménien·nes d'Artsakh, Siranouch a subi le blocus de dix mois, puis l'exode sans retour de cette terre où ils et elles vivaient sans interruption depuis 3000 ans. Une épuration ethnique opérée dans le silence assourdissant de la communauté internationale.

Il faut connaître ses prémices pour comprendre cette tragédie : l'Artsakh, berceau historique de la Grande Arménie, a été rattachée à l'Azerbaïdjan par Staline en 1921. À la chute de l'Union soviétique en 1991, cette enclave chrétienne peuplée à 95 % d'Arménien·nes proclame son indépendance. Plusieurs guerres s'ensuivent avec l'Azerbaïdjan : victorieuse d'un premier conflit en 1994, l'Artsakh perd ensuite les trois quarts de son territoire à l'issue de la "Guerre des 44 jours" en 2020. Le corridor de Latchine, véritable ligne de vie pour les habitant·es de l'enclave, est alors placé sous la garde d'une force d'interposition envoyée par Moscou.

"Je n'étais plus un être humain"

"Des milliers de personnes ont été déplacées, mon immeuble à Stepanakert était peuplé de réfugiés, raconte Siranouch. À partir de 2021, plus aucun étranger ne passait la frontière, l'information était bloquée, on vivait dans un ghetto. Professeure d'histoire, j'ai décidé de devenir journaliste pour témoigner et oublier mon chagrin [elle a tenu son journal de guerre sur X (ex-Twitter), ndlr]".

La victoire ayant un goût d'inachevé, Ilham Aliev, le président azerbaïdjanais, envoie son armée verrouiller progressivement l'accès au corridor de Latchine en décembre 2022. "Ils ont coupé le gaz et l'électricité, poursuit Siranouch. On a survécu avec des bons alimentaires, sans essence, les gens se déplaçaient à cheval. Dès le premier jour, les Azéris nous ont terrorisés. Peu à peu privée de tout, je n'étais plus un être humain. Et puis le 19 septembre, le silence imposé par le blocus a été brisé par les explosions. Quand les soldats azéris sont entrés dans Stepanakert, j'ai dû partir, j'étais une cible."

Elle quitte à jamais son appartement et sa vie confortable, un sac sous le bras. "J'ai pris mon ordi, mes boucles d'oreilles, mes beaux vêtements, et des livres. Après trente heures d'enfer jusqu'à la frontière, je suis enfin arrivée en Arménie. Je n'avais rien avalé depuis trois jours, j'ai compris que j'étais devenue une réfugiée quand un humanitaire m'a tendu un repas." Elle ne le sait pas mais ce premier repas chaud a été préparé par la célèbre cheffe libano-arménienne Aline Kamakian.

"Dès qu'ils ont ouvert le corridor de Goris après les bombardements, je m'y suis précipitée, raconte cette dernière. Avec le World Central Kitchen (WCK) et l'Union générale arménienne de bienfaisance (UGAB), nous avons mis en place tout un système pour offrir plusieurs milliers de repas chauds par jour, des repas goûteux avec 150g de protéines minimum. J'ai craqué plusieurs fois en voyant des femmes enceintes maigres comme des cure-dents, des enfants affamés, déshydratés, dont certains pleuraient leur mère morte dans l'exode. Ces gens ont tout perdu : leur terre, leur histoire, leurs biens, même la tombe de leur fils mort au combat. Aujourd'hui, nous ne sommes plus dans l'urgence mais nous devons les aider jusqu'à ce qu'ils puissent s'intégrer."

Personne ne bouge, ni le Pape, ni l'Union européenne.

C'est désormais à Erevan, dans de vastes locaux, que s'organisent la préparation et la distribution à la fois de repas chauds et de boîtes alimentaires dans les villes où ont été relocalisé·es les réfugié·es de l'Artsakh. Petite-fille de rescapé·es du génocide de 1915, au cours duquel un 1 200 000 Arménien·nes de Turquie furent exterminé·es, Aline Kamakian ne décolère pas : "J'ai grandi avec ce bagage d'histoires atroces pensant que sans télévision ni Internet, on avait pu ignorer ce qu'il se passait. Mais aujourd'hui, tout est en 'live' et personne ne bouge, ni le Pape, ni l'Union européenne dont la présidente Ursula von der Leyen achète du gaz aux Azéris, en fait le gaz russe bloqué par les sanctions économiques. Elle donne ainsi carte blanche à ce dictateur fou d'Aliev !".