Armenia and Azerbaijan should work together on the text of the peace treaty and adopt it. Louis Bono



 12:40, 8 March 2023

YEREVAN, MARCH 8, ARMENPRESS. The role of the US in the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement process is not mediation, no text will be imposed on the parties. ARMENPRESS reports Louis Bono, the American co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the senior adviser of the US State Department on negotiations in the South Caucasus, told "Azatutyun" radio station.

"Our role in this process is not mediation. We are not here to impose a text, to wrap conditions around the neck of either side. What we are trying to do is facilitate peace. I mean, we want the parties themselves to work out the text and the terms and agree on them together. They must work on it together, because any lasting, sustainable and balanced peace must come from both sides. It cannot come from a third party, from outside," said Bono.

Azerbaijani press: Initial discussions held on reintegration of Armenian residents of Karabakh region to Azerbaijan

Politics Materials 1 March 2023 12:58 (UTC +04:00)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 1. Initial discussions were held regarding the reintegration to the Republic of Azerbaijan of the Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region under the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and its legislature, Trend reports.

Contacts with Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan will continue. Additional information will be made available.

Ramin Mammadov, Member of Parliament, has been designated as a point person for the contacts with the Armenian residents of the Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

To that end, on 1 March 2023, in the city of Khojaly, at the headquarters of the Russian Federation’s peacekeeping contingent temporarily deployed in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ramin Mammadov held a meeting with the representatives of the Armenian residents living in the Karabakh region of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Also present at the meeting was Masim Mammadov, head of the monitoring group inspecting illicit exploitation of our natural resources comprised of experts with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, State Service on Property Issues under the Ministry of the Economy and AzerGold Closed Joined-Stock Company.

Dealing With Disappointment and Chronic Frustration

Photo: Facebook/NKR InfoCenter

We have often commented in this column that building an Armenian identity in the diaspora is a choice. There are many faces in that identity that are available. There are those who align with our faith, our culture or our human rights. Whenever I speak with young people about engaging in our communities, I suggest that they stay focused on the mission and not the personalities. The other piece of advice is to prepare for the long term when attempting to make a difference. Too often in this age of instant gratification, we lose interest when the results are not significant or immediate. When an Armenian school teacher has inspired one student to pursue fluency, they have made a difference. If a mentor can motivate a few young people to participate in the human rights struggle, they have left a footprint. This is particularly true in the diaspora where participation can fluctuate based on burn out, distractions or frustration. Our history is extensive, and our struggle is of equal length. We are merely the current gatekeepers and should view our contributions in that content. We must protect our personal sustainability if we are to optimize our collective contributions.

In most global nations, the major grouping is separated by information and authority. Ironically, in a democratic society, the people delegate that difference to elected officials. The origin of those relationships is often forgotten leading to a separation. This is especially pertinent to the current Artsakh struggle and its relationship to Armenia and the diaspora. The two groupings are separated by power, access to information and ability to impact the outcome (authority). 

In one group, we find the government, career political elite and political intellectuals. This grouping accounts for a very small percentage of our nation (perhaps less than one percent) but also possesses most of the ability to make or influence decision making. The other grouping is populated by the vast majority and is often referred to as the “rank and file,” general public” or  “common citizens.” Whether they reside in the diaspora or in the homeland, “citizen” refers to status as a part of the global Armenian nation. Often in the former group, they confront the most difficult situations with political rhetoric or rationalizations. The rank and file seek the truth through the veneer of political dialogue. Because the authority group operates in a different reality, they are somewhat shielded from the frustration factor. It may be a job to them or perhaps they have different objectives, but for the common citizens, who are unable to impact the outcome, they are vulnerable to a loss of empowerment. Left untreated, frustration can evolve into ambivalence, which is a threat to democracy. 

In the past week, the Minister of State in Artsakh Ruben Vardanyan was relieved of his duties by Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan after only 112 days in office. Ironically, the dismissal occurred at nearly the same time as the International Court of Justice ruling in favor of the immediate opening of the Lachin Corridor. Opinions are flooding the internet as to whether Harutyunyan caved to pressure from Azerbaijan and perhaps Armenia that direct dialogue between Azerbaijan and Artsakh would not take place with Vardanyan. Aliyev has made several public comments criticizing Vardanyan’s presence as a “Russian oligarch” and representing Russia’s interest. Armenia’s aloofness to Artsakh began after the 2020 war when they delegated their longtime role as “security guarantor” to Russian peacekeepers per the November 2020 trilateral agreement. Aliyev’s response clearly indicated that he felt threatened by Vardanyan’s leadership. Russia’s interest is much more fundamental. The instability in the region is in their interest as it affords them the opportunity to manipulate both sides. When Armenia criticized the CSTO and peacekeepers for their lack of support, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his ministry lashed out at Armenia. Lavrov sounded like a parent scolding a child for daring to speak. Yet, this week, Lavrov sounded more conciliatory as he updated the press on the “negotiations” to open the Lachin Corridor. He stated that he did not envision checkpoints in the open corridor. This is in direct contrast to Aliyev’s demand that Azeri checkpoints be installed.

Vardanyan has spoken publicly this week about his ouster in the context of his enduring commitment to the people of Artsakh. Armenian politicians have sounded a bit defensive on the Artsakh situation this week. When commenting about proposals for an Armenia/Azerbaijan peace treaty, National Assembly president Alen Simonyan stated, “Don’t get the impression that we are somehow trying to abandon Artsakh’s interests.” He then went on to state that the November 9 treaty governs the process. Other politicians have suggested that Vardanyan’s presence caused tension with Armenia. When politicians seek to clarify a perception, it usually means that they are feeling some resistance to their policy. Even casual observers can agree that Armenia’s position has become more aloof. Armenia has been active in pursuing a response to the humanitarian aspects of the struggle, but the political landscape has changed. The response of the general public is simply a reflection of what they see.

The rank and file may not completely understand these confusing dynamics, and they probably don’t care. Their concern for some time has been an end to political instability and the need for leadership. In the view of a significant portion of the global Armenian nation, Vardanyan is a breath of fresh air with a vision for Artsakh that the people holding the land can connect with. He gives people hope that their leaders understand the fundamental issues. How can one not be inspired by an individual who leaves his comfort zone to be with his people in their time of need? His mere presence and influence raised Artsakh’s profile in an unprecedented way. Naturally, this is a threat to Aliyev and to the political establishment in Armenia. In this odd alignment of short term interests, political forces led to Vardanyan’s dismissal. In the eyes of many, he is a hero victimized by those fearful of his vision. 

As for Azerbaijan’s willingness to “talk” with Artsakh, was it Vardanyan’s dismissal or the ICJ decision? It is unclear, but to those who have chosen to defend their rights to the land, he is admired and respected. They understand after Sumgait, Baku and 30 years of terror, that there is no “security” agreement with Azerbaijan that will prevent another Nakhichevan.

The diaspora has always been assertive in its support for Artsakh. One factor to consider beyond patriotism is the kinship of being dispossessed. The diaspora was founded by the survivors of the Genocide and their descendants. The expulsion and recovery are major elements of the psyche of this community. In the last 30 years, those victimized by Azeri crimes have a tragic common experience with the diaspora. Many in the diaspora stand with Artsakh to prevent the expulsion and destruction experienced by their ancestors. When we visit Artsakh and witness the remarkable courage of its people, we often think of Western Armenia. The threat of survival has inspired miraculous ability in Artsakh. Despite the controversy of the previous two administrations, as natives of Artsakh they brought that spirit and understanding of Artsakh to Armenia. After the 2020 war, Armenia became more concerned with the sovereign state of Armenia. While it is the right of the government to formulate such a policy, it is essential that Armenia be concerned about its role as the center of the Armenian global nation. Regardless of their reasoning, Armenia’s policy toward Artsakh and the commitment of the diaspora have created a bit of an estrangement between these two very important players. 

We should also note that Armenia’s enthusiasm for approaching “normalization” talks with Turkey is at best confusing for many in the diaspora. Turkey is a nation that denies the murder and dispossession of Armenians; contributed significantly to the killing of Armenians in the 2020 war; has labeled Armenians as “remnants of the sword;” and unapologetically defines criminal Azerbaijan as “one nation two states.” Details on the terms of the border opening and “normalization” are unclear, but only the naive would not expect the predictable Turkish pre-conditions to soon emerge. With “normalization,” Turkey would be free to damage Armenia economically by flooding Armenian markets with cheaper goods, crippling agriculture and other industries. Will there be pricing protection and import restrictions? Turkey is not Armenia’s friend. Cordial relations between neighbors are important, but they will not change Turkey’s strategic objective to weaken or destroy Armenia with Azerbaijan. These are important issues that need more public dialogue with the government of Armenia. The absence of such allows the void to be filled with speculation, discontent and frustration. Civil discourse is essential.

The general public in Artsakh, Armenia and the diaspora are united in one sense that they are not privy to insider information and certainly not empowered with the authority to make strategic decisions. In a victim state, this can easily lead to mentally exiting the struggle and general ambivalence. There is another option. Our citizens possess remarkable filters and sensors to know when the nation is drifting because those filters are based on the core values of the Armenian people. The recent example of Vardanyan illustrates this point. He was well received by the rank and file generally in our global nation, particularly in Artsakh, because he fulfilled a needleadership and hope in a sea of chaos. It was not politics. He simply aligned what he had to offer with a void the people are feeling. Can you blame them? They feel politically isolated having to negotiate with a government that seeks their destruction. The resistance to Vardanyan was sadly political. He was disrupting the careful alignment. Some will even have the audacity to take credit for dialogue with Azerbaijan as a result of forcing him out. Politics can be entertaining in a stable environment. When survival is the headline, it can be tragic. The people are the core check and balance in a democratic society. They are the base of the pyramid and for that reason their presence and participation must be self protected. The sleepless nights of concern and constant anxiety must be regulated to ensure sustainability. We all need ways to manage our human emotions. For those on the periphery, stepping into the circle of participating and contributing can also be therapeutic. For those immersed already, protect the time with your family and other casual outlets to keep your commitment intact. Your nation needs you.

Stepan was raised in the Armenian community of Indian Orchard, MA at the St. Gregory Parish. A former member of the AYF Central Executive and the Eastern Prelacy Executive Council, he also served many years as a delegate to the Eastern Diocesan Assembly. Currently , he serves as a member of the board and executive committee of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). He also serves on the board of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. Stepan is a retired executive in the computer storage industry and resides in the Boston area with his wife Susan. He has spent many years as a volunteer teacher of Armenian history and contemporary issues to the young generation and adults at schools, camps and churches. His interests include the Armenian diaspora, Armenia, sports and reading.

The active phase of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Who will mediate?

March 7 2023

  • JAMnews
  • Yerevan

Who will mediate?

The incident in the zone of responsibility of Russian peacekeepers involving the death of policemen from the unrecognized NKR and Azerbaijani soldiers has aggravated the already tense situation. The United States and Russia announced their readiness to act as mediators for a resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict. But how will it be decided?

  • Shootout in Karabakh; casualties reported
  • Two video stories about the life of people in NK after the blockade of the Lachin corridor
  • “Baku is trying to change the status quo”: opinion from Yerevan

Political scientist Gurgen Simonyan says that at present the military-political interests of the United States, the collective West and Armenia coincide, and these relations should be deepened, becoming part of the developed and civilized world.

“We need to get rid of this post-Soviet swamp as soon as possible, the forces that continue to drag us into it,” he told JAMnews.

Commenting on a statement by State Department spokesman Ned Price [reproduced below] that the United States is not a mediator, but a partner of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Simonyan maintained that this is not a retreat at all. In his view, despite the fact that Armenia is “hostage to the Russian military bloc CSTO”, the US policy towards it is “friendly and allied”:

“The United States is doing more than, formally, Armenia means to the United States. We do not have any document or allied agreement. No political format of relations has been developed.”

At the same time, the political scientist believes that the status of an intermediary is much lower than that of a partner. Emphasizes that mediation implies absolute neutrality, while partnership implies synchronization of political interests.

According to Simonyan, the United States can take on the “arbiter role” in the region, but Russia cannot, since “the Russian Federation has created military-political problems for itself and has not yet got out of this swamp.”

The statement of the Russian Ministry of Defense that the Azerbaijani military opened fire on the NK police, according to Simonyan, does not play any role. He believes that in order to counter the dangers and risks, one can rely only on one’s own strength:

“Appeals and statements are just facilitating circumstances, they do not play a warning role. Only the presence of an appropriate hard force in the form of armed forces can prevent the impact of force. Azerbaijan can be brought into a constructive field only by a balance of forces, and it can only be achieved by modernizing the Armed Forces, establishing its own security system.”

Yesterday NK and Azerbaijan representatives once again met at the HQ of the Russian peacekeeping forces

“The actions of the Azerbaijani sabotage group cannot be qualified otherwise than as terrorism. In parallel with the blockade of the Lachin corridor for almost three months and the actions aimed at creating a humanitarian catastrophe in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan continues to terrorize the Armenian population of Artsakh with the ultimate goal of ethnic cleansing,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a meeting with the French co-chair in Yerevan OSCE Minsk Group by Brice Roquefay.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry invited ambassadors and representatives of international structures to a meeting to discuss the March 5 incident. Deputy Foreign Minister Vahe Gevorgyan told diplomats that “On March 5, the armed forces of Azerbaijan carried out a sabotage attack in Nagorno-Karabakh,” and gave details of what happened.

During the same meeting, the representative of Armenia on international legal issues, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, stressed that for more than two weeks, the Azerbaijani authorities have been ignoring the decision of the International Court of Justice to open the Lachin corridor, despite the fact that it is binding:

“The fact that this terrorist attack took place in the context of an unfulfilled decision indicates that Azerbaijan has become a malicious violator of international law.”

Despite calls by the international community and the Hague, the Lachin corridor is still blocked

During a meeting of the Security Council, President Arayik Harutyunyan spoke on the latest negotiations with representatives of Azerbaijan and the warning received from Baku:

“The representative of Azerbaijan tried to discuss political topics using the word “integration”, but Mr. Shahramanyan [the negotiator from Karabakh] stated that if they have to discuss political issues, then this can only be the topic of recognition of the independence of Artsakh by Azerbaijan. He added that they are not authorized to discuss political issues and cannot discuss at this meeting either.

After that, Azerbaijan told us through its channels that either we adopt an integration policy, or there will be no solution to existing problems, on the contrary, there will be tougher and more drastic actions.

We did not accept, do not accept, and today I want to reiterate that this is not only the decision of the Security Council, but also the overwhelming majority of our people, deviation from our right to independence, to self-determination. And this means that in the near future we will have different problems to confront.

We choose either to continue the struggle that we are waging, or if there is a sentiment in society that we should accept Azerbaijan’s proposal, then they have the opportunity to speak out within the framework of their civil rights and say that the path we are following is chosen incorrectly, to form a new government in the country.

The Hague International Court of Justice decision has decided to oblige Azerbaijan to enact interim measures to unblock the Lachin corridor

The command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent published information about the March 5 incident only the next day in the evening. However, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in its newsletter confirmed the fact that Azerbaijan had violated the ceasefire regime:

“At 10:00 on March 5, 2023, in the area of the settlement of Dyukyanlar, soldiers of the armed forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan fired at a car with law enforcement officers of Nagorno-Karabakh. As a result of the clash, three men were killed and one who was in the car was injured. On the Azerbaijani side, the losses were two dead, one wounded.”

The official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that in recent days there have been repeated violations of the ceasefire, and after the “armed incident on March 5” there are casualties on both sides:

“The incident once again confirms the imperativeness of the speedy return of Baku and Yerevan to negotiations on fulfillment of the tripartite statements of the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia, including those relating to the unblocking of roads, the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the preparation of a peace treaty.”

The Armenian expert community says that in this way Moscow is openly promoting itself as “the only platform for resolving the emerging humanitarian crisis and the looming security crisis around NK.”

Lachin corridor, accusations, prospects for peace, the fate of Saakashvili – Aliyev, Pashinyan and Gharibashvili in Munich

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said there could be no military solution to the conflict:

“The only way to keep the peace is to sit down at the negotiating table, and the use of force undermines negotiations. […] The clearest conclusion for us is the need to continue direct dialogue and discussion between the parties themselves. This is an imperative for both sides.

We have played the role of a partner for both countries, facilitating tripartite interaction between foreign ministers as well as at the leadership level. We are ready – whether on a bilateral, trilateral or multilateral basis – to continue to be a partner in efforts to build a lasting peace. […]

We are not going to oppose any other proposal for mediation, and in fact we are not a mediator. We are a partner of these two countries.

I think that we have demonstrated, both in words and in deeds, the nature of our relations with the two countries, our ability to unite the two countries. […]

We are not doing this to compete with Moscow. We are doing this to bring about a solution to a long-standing conflict between these two countries, a conflict that, unfortunately, has consistently claimed lives, as happened on 5 March. We are interested in peace and security here.”

The French Foreign Ministry, in a statement expressed not only regret, but also presented its version of what happened:

“We regret the casualties as a result of a serious incident that took place on March 5, during which a car with police officers passing near the Lachin corridor was fired upon by Azerbaijani troops in the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping forces. It is important that the facts are fully disclosed. We also call for strict adherence to the ceasefire.”

The press secretary of the EU Foreign Service reports:

“The EU deplores the outbreak of violence along the line of contact in Karabakh, which has resulted in at least five deaths. The circumstances surrounding this incident must be fully investigated. We urge the parties to exercise restraint to prevent any further actions that could further undermine regional stability and jeopardize the peace process.”

Armenian MFA presents details of the sabotage attack by Azerbaijani forces in NK to Ambassadors accredited in Armenia



 20:26, 6 March 2023

YEREVAN, MARCH 6, ARMENPRESS. On March 6, Deputy Foreign Minister Vahe Gevorgyan and Representative of Armenia on international legal issues Yeghisheh Kirakosyan held a meeting with the heads of diplomatic missions accredited in Armenia and the representatives of international organizations, ARMENPRESS was informed from the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Deputy Minister briefed foreign diplomats on the details of the ambush by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces in Nagorno-Karabakh March 5, as a result of which three servicemen of the Passport and Visa Department of the Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Nagorno-Karabakh were killed, and one was injured.

Vahe Gevorgyan stressed that the aforementioned ambush, which is a gross violation of the cease-fire regime established by the November 9 Trilateral Statement, was pre-planned by Azerbaijan. The video published by the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities was brought to the attention of the participants, which proves the invalidity of the version put forward by Azerbaijan. He also emphasized that the ambush was carried out against a non-military target.

The attention of foreign diplomats has been drawn to the fact that for more than two weeks, the legally binding decision made by the International Court of Justice regarding the opening of the Lachin corridor has been flagrantly disregarded by the Azerbaijani authorities. The fact that this terrorist act is taking place even under the conditions of ignoring the decision proves that Azerbaijan has become a malicious violator of international law.

Vahe Gevorgyan emphasized that Azerbaijan resorts to the use of force on various occasions in order to terrorize and impose one-sided maximalist solutions, and that such repeated incidents prove that dialogue between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh can succeed only in the presence and involvement of a clear international mechanism.

Yeghisheh Kirakosyan, the Representative of Armenia on international legal issues, in turn added that the decision of the International Court of Justice ordered Azerbaijan to take all necessary measures to ensure unimpeded movement along the Lachin corridor in both directions, as well as the cessation of illegal activities in the Lachin corridor and the restoration of gas and electricity supply to Nagorno-Karabakh.

It was noted that only targeted assessments and clear actions by the international community can help restrain Azerbaijan's aggressive policy and support efforts to establish stability and lasting peace in the region.


ICRC facilitates transfer of 9 patients from blockaded Nagorno Karabakh



 11:24, 7 March 2023

YEREVAN, MARCH 7, ARMENPRESS. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) facilitated the transfer of 9 patients from blockaded Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) to Armenia for treatment on March 7, the healthcare ministry of Nagorno Karabakh reported.

“Due to the blocking by Azerbaijan of the only road connecting Artsakh with Armenia, 9 patients from the Republican Medical Center the Republic of Artsakh with serious diseases of the oncology and pathologies requiring emergency surgical interventions have been transported today, on March 7, to specialized medical institutions of the Republic of Armenia with the mediation and escort of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” the ministry said in a statement posted on social media.

“9 patients, who had been transferred to Armenia for medical treatment, returned to Artsakh together with their accompanying persons. Scheduled surgeries continue to be suspended in the medical centers of the Republic of Artsakh. 6 children remain in the neonatal and intensive care unit of the Arevik medical centre. 6 patients remain in the intensive care unit of the Republican Medical Centre, 1 of them in critical condition.A total of 153 patients have been transported so far from Artsakh to Armenia with the mediation and support of the International Committee of the Red Cross,” the ministry added.

Pashinyan: Armenia has agreed to separate settlement of Karabakh issue from Armenian-Azerbaijani process
Armenia – March 3 2023

Azerbaijan's growing aggressiveness towards Nagorno-Karabakh makes clear Azerbaijan's intentions to carry out ethnic cleansing of Armenians. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated this at the discussion, entitled "Security and Stability in the South Caucasus: The Prospect of Armenia," at the German Council on Foreign Relations , according to First Channel News.

Recently, president of Azerbaijan Aliyev announced that the Lachin corridor is open for those Armenians who want to leave Karabakh. It means that the Lachin corridor is closed for those Armenians who live in Nagorno-Karabakh, Pashinyan said.

Despite this, the government of Armenia has shown political will and is taking decisive steps to open a new era of peace and stability in the South Caucasus and is constructively engaged in the Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiations, he added.

The Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiation process is proceeding in the following three main directions: agreement on the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, unblocking transport communications and economic ties in the region, and border delimitation and security he noted.

Armenia has agreed to separate the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue from the Armenian-Azerbaijani process, with the logic that an international discussion mechanism be formed between Karabakh and Azerbaijan, he said.

It is important for Armenia to create a guarantee mechanism aimed at solving the security and rights issues of the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians, which will have international visibility and engagement, he noted.

Humanitarian issues, such as the return of all Armenian POWs and the entry of international organizations into Nagorno-Karabakh, remain unresolved and are issues of primary concern for Armenia, the PM said.

Armenia strongly condemns Azerbaijan's continuous violations of the Geneva Convention on POWs, as at least 33 Armenian POWs have been sentenced to various terms of imprisonment on completely fictitious charges, he noted.

The fact that Azerbaijan refuses to return Armenian POWs to their homeland is another violation by Azerbaijan of point 8 of the tripartite statement of November 9, 2020, the Armenian PM stated.

Deputy FM of Armenia presents to newly appointed Ambassador of Mexico the deteriorating humanitarian situation in NK




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 28, ARMENPRESS. On February 28, Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Mnatsakan Safaryan received the newly appointed Ambassador of the United States of Mexico, Eduardo Villegas Mejias (residence: Moscow), on the occasion of handing over the copy of his credentials.

As ARMENPRESS was informed from MFA Armenia, the Deputy Foreign Minister congratulated the Ambassador on his appointment and wished him fruitful activity that will contribute to the further expansion of relations in bilateral and multilateral formats. Ambassador Villegas expressed his commitment to make maximum efforts to develop the Armenian-Mexican cooperation.

From the point of view of the development of bilateral relations, the parties emphasized the activation of high-level mutual visits, inter-parliamentary relations and periodic contacts between the foreign ministries.

The Armenian side saluted the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Senate of Mexico on February 8. It reaffirms Mexico's reputation as a defender and advocate of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

It is noted that Mnatsakan Safaryan presented to his Mexican counterpart the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh that is worsening day by day as a result of the blocking of the Lachin Corridor by Azerbaijan and the latest developments. The importance of the decisions made by the International Court of Justice on February 22 was emphasized, by which, among others, Azerbaijan was obliged to take all necessary measures to ensure the uninterrupted movement of people, vehicles and goods in both directions through the Lachin Corridor.

Iran highlights Armenia’s role in accessing EEU market




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 28, ARMENPRESS. Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Gnel Sanosyan held a meeting with the delegation led by Iran’s Minister of Cooperatives, Labour and Social Welfare Sowlat Mortazavi.

The Iranian Ambassador to Armenia Abbas Badakhshan Zohouri, the Iranian Consul General in Kapan Abedin Varami, representative of the Armenian Embassy in Iran Vardan Kostanyan and other officials were present at the meeting, the ministry said in a press release.

Minister Sanosyan welcomed the officials and appreciated the multi-sector cooperation with friendly Iran.

The Iranian minister attached importance to the existing high level relations between Armenia and Iran. “But we shouldn’t stop here. We must work to further increase the trade-economic relations between the two countries,” Minister Mortazavi said, adding that Armenia is an important actor for Iran in terms of accessing the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) market.

A number of issues of bilateral interest were discussed.

Utilizing the potential of Iranian companies for the development of Armenian infrastructures was highlighted.

“We’ve increased road construction volumes several times, the construction volume of other infrastructure has also increased, which means that we need additional construction companies and workforce and we will be happy to see Iranian companies in this sector,” the Armenian minister said.

Mortazavi said that Iranian private companies have big potential and are ready to contribute to the construction of Armenian infrastructures, including roads, railway and tunnels.

Minister Sanosyan welcomed the readiness and an agreement was reached to convey the needs of the Armenian side to Iran.

Hopelessness grows as Azerbaijan’s blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh enters third month

Feb 20 2023

Goris, as the last major settlement in Armenia before the border and the road to Karabakh, has become a base for Nagorno-Karabakh residents who cannot return to their homes. / Neil Hauer/bne IntelliNews
By Neil Hauer in Goris February 20, 2023

The sleepy southern Armenian city of Goris rarely finds itself at the centre of events. Nestled amid high mountains in Armenia’s southernmost province of Syunik, its elegant stone houses and broad central square have the relaxed air of a place where there is rarely much of importance taking place.

But these days, the town attracts a menagerie of foreign visitors: EU and UN cars drive by in small convoys, flags waving in the wind; Russian peacekeepers in their camouflage uniforms and enormous Kamaz trucks are omnipresent; alongside them are several hundred other civilians whose lilting, accented Armenian sets them slightly apart from the locals – Karabakh Armenians, trapped here for more than two months as Azerbaijan’s blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh grinds on.

Following its victory in the 2020 Second Karabakh War, in which it recaptured three-quarters of the territory held by the unrecognised Republic of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh), Azerbaijan has continued to seek control over the rump remainder of Karabakh.

These efforts have only intensified since Russia, whose peacekeepers in Karabakh guarantee the 2020 ceasefire agreement, invaded Ukraine a year ago, a move which has sapped Moscow’s strength and influence. 

While most of Azerbaijan’s moves have come in the form of military offensives, Baku hit upon a new tactic in December, one less brazen and less likely to draw international ire. On December 11, a group of Azerbaijani ‘eco-activists’ set up a protest camp outside Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital Stepanakert, blocking the one road connecting the enclave with Armenia and the outside world.

The protesters, who have been linked to the Azerbaijani government, have stopped all traffic into and out of Karabakh, save for a handful of Russian peacekeeping and Red Cross vehicles. The result has been food shortages, power cuts and mass unemployment in Karabakh, as life comes to a halt for the 100,000 residents of the territory. Despite growing international pressure to reopen the road, Azerbaijan and its leader, Ilham Aliyev, have shown little sign they will end the blockade soon.

Goris, as the last major settlement in Armenia before the border and the road to Karabakh, has become the primary witness to this drama. Numerous hotels in the city are filled with Karabakh Armenians who were in Armenia at the time of the road closure and have been unable to get home ever since. The local government, supported by Yerevan, is putting them up as best they can.

“We have more than 300 people from Karabakh in Goris right now,” says Karen Zhabagiryan, an advisor to the city’s mayor. “Of these people, 60 are children. They are attending school [in Goris] now, because no one knows how long they will have to be here for,” he says.

The government has paid for the stranded Karabakhtsis to stay in local hotels for as long as they need, Zhabagiryan says. But while they are surviving, the psychological pressure of their situation is getting worse all the time.

“There are new problems arising constantly,” Zhabagiryan says. “People get sick, they miss their loved ones. They can’t even contact them [in Karabakh] very often, because of the power and communications cuts there. They can’t live like this forever,” he says.

Scenes at the blockade itself border on farce. While bne IntelliNews’ correspondent, like all others in Armenia, was unable to visit the protest camp itself, the photos and videos of the so-called protesters make it look more like a party than any sort of grassroots action.

The ‘demonstrators’ revel in comfortable conditions, with plentiful hot food and supplies brought from nearby Shusha, under Azerbaijan’s control; during the recent football World Cup, enormous viewing screens were erected for the Azerbaijani activists to enjoy the matches. All the while, tens of thousands of Karabakh Armenian civilians are shivering in the darkened streets of Stepanakert, just a few kilometres away.

Centre of displacement

The present situation as a displaced persons centre is a sadly familiar one for Goris. During the 2020 war, the city was overrun with Karabakh civilians fleeing the fighting there – “at least 10,000 people [from Karabakh],” according to Zhabagiryan, a startling figure given that Goris’s population is only 20,000. “We have already become professionals [at hosting them] as a result,” he says with a sad smile.

Venera and Oksana are two of them. Both in their mid-40s, they are now indefinite tenants at the Mina hotel, which has become a mini-Stepanakert at the northern end of Goris. Both were caught in Armenia when the blockade began. 

“I came to Yerevan for a thyroid operation on December 12,” says Oksana, pointing to a recent scar on her neck. “By the time it was finished, the road was already closed. We drove down to see if it would clear, but it became obvious once we got near [the border] that we wouldn’t get to Stepanakert,” she says.

Venera had a similar experience, having gone to the Armenian capital to visit relatives. She now spends her days idling away at the hotel, waiting for the rare moments of steady internet and electricity in Karabakh to speak with her family there.

“We speak almost every day,” Venera says. “My nine-year old son is in our village, Berdashen [east of Stepanakert], and my daughter is in Stepanakert – she studies at university there. The stress is already unimaginable – the shops are empty, they have no fruit or vegetables for almost two months now. My son says to me, ‘mom, I’m tired of eating just grechka [buckwheat].’ What can I say to him?” she says.

There is another factor on everyone’s mind as well: Russia. While it is Azerbaijani protesters that have set up camp on the road itself, Russia’s 2,000 peacekeepers have made no attempt to remove them. Despite being obligated by the 2020 ceasefire agreement to ensure free passage of people and cargo along the road, Moscow’s servicemen have instead served as tacit enforcers of the blockade, establishing barriers separating the Azerbaijanis from any possible contact with the besieged inhabitants of Karabakh on the other side.

“We all understand that Russia is not fulfilling its mandate [as a guarantor of the road staying open],” says Zhabagiryan, the advisor to Goris’s mayor. “The road is supposed to be open, but it stays closed,” he says.

The two women are similarly torn over Russia’s role.

“Without Russia, I would not be here right now,” Oksana says. “[The Azerbaijanis] would have come into Stepanakert [in 2020] and killed us all. So we have to be grateful for that, but at the same time, there is a feeling now that the situation is different than what it was before,” she says.

“I have a question: why can’t the Russians just reopen the road?” Venera asks. “Why can’t they push these miserable people [protesters] out of the way? There are only 40 or 50 of them – it would be very easy for [the Russians] to do it, but this is some dirty political business,” she says.

The psychological terror of the situation is the hardest. No one knows when the road will reopen – and how long it would be until Azerbaijan simply closes it again. Venera admits that this has affected her thoughts on her family’s future in her homeland.

“My husband works in construction,” Venera says. “Because of the blockade, he has been out of work for weeks now. Even if I somehow get there [to Karabakh], how can I find a job and feed my family? Azerbaijan is subjecting us to pure terrorism: blocking our food and gas, shooting at our villages. It’s one thing for me to experience hardship – I am used to it by now. But how can I raise my children in these conditions?” she asks.

Oksana, by contrast, is unwavering.

“[Azerbaijan] does this so that we, the people of Artsakh, will leave Artsakh,” she says. “But we will not! I am an Armenian from Artsakh. My grandparents, great-grandparents lived there. This is our land! Our roots are deep. I lived there, I live there now, and I’ll keep living there. Azerbaijan doesn’t have a history, so they don’t understand this,” Oksana says.

“They just have oil,” Venera says. “That’s enough for the whole world to be silent while they choke us. Because the strong are always right, and money closes the mouths of others.”