Russian aid reaches beleaguered enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh

Sept 13 2023

Nine months into Azerbaijan's effective blockade of a road linking its breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, a Russian truck has arrived in the enclave carrying humanitarian aid.

The aid did not travel through the single route linking it to Armenia, blocked since December, but via a road in Azerbaijan.

Nagorno-Karabakh's 120,000 citizens have faced severe shortages for months.

However, some residents initially tried to stop the aid getting through.

Armenian reports said they eventually allowed the consignment of food and toiletries through on condition that Azerbaijan would re-open the so-called Lachin Corridor route into Armenia.

Azerbaijan said it had agreed to the "simultaneous use" of the two routes through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

For months, residents have complained of bread queues and empty shelves in shops because of shortages of medicines and basic toiletries, after Azerbaijan blocked the Lachin Corridor, accusing Armenia of using it to smuggle weapons.

The two South Caucasus states have fought two wars since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Karabakh is inside Azerbaijan's recognised borders but has been under Armenian control since 1994. After the most recent war in 2020, all the territory surrounding the enclave was recaptured by Azerbaijani forces.

That has made security for ethnic Armenians there increasingly precarious.

Three thousand Russian peacekeepers were deployed to guarantee their safety but last week Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan complained that Russia was either "does not want or cannot have control" of the Lachin Corridor.

"We are seeing that Russia is spontaneously leaving the region, and we don't know why," he told La Repubblica newspaper.

Pointing to Russia's war in Ukraine, he said Russia needed weapons for itself and Armenia's reliance on a single source for security was a "strategic error".

Armenia then announced it was hosting joint exercises this week with US forces which were criticised by Moscow as "unfriendly steps". Russia still maintains a permanent military base in Armenia.

A picture of Mr Pashinyan's wife shaking hands with Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kyiv last week added to the tensions. Anna Hakobyan's visit to deliver humanitarian aid and meet the local Armenian community was seen as an outward display of support for a country facing a full-scale Russian war.

Armenia remains a member of Russia's military alliance – the Collective Security Treaty Organisation – but Mr Pashinyan said earlier this year that if the CSTO pulled out of his country, he could not rule out freezing its membership of the alliance.

President Vladimir Putin denied that Armenia had broken off its alliance with Russia, but declared on Tuesday that Yerevan had "essentially recognised" Azerbaijan's sovereignty over the enclave.

"If Armenia itself recognised that Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, what should we do?" he said during an economic forum in Vladivostok.

"I hope that the Azerbaijani leadership, as they told us earlier and tell us now, is not interested in any kind of ethnic cleansing."

Film: ‘Cup of Salvation’ Trailer Traces Father-Daughter Journey to Reclaim Armenian Winemaking (Exclusive)

Sept 13 2023

Jason Wise directs the film about WineWorks founder and CEO Vahe Keushguerian and his daughter Aimee's wrought journey to revive a 6,000-year-old winemaking tradition, which will begin its theatrical release on Oct. 6.

Vahe Keushguerian and Aimee in 'Cup of Salvation' COURTESY OF SOMM TV

A father and daughter reclaim a 6,000-year-old winemaking tradition in the face of war, religion and geopolitics in the trailer for SOMM TV’s Cup of Salvation.

The two-minute look at the film from director Jason Wise follows WineWorks founder and CEO Vahe Keushguerian and his daughter Aimee as they set out on a wrought journey to revive the ancient grapes of their Armenian homeland.

“The story of an ancient land, with such an ancient wine culture,” says one voice in the trailer before Keushguerian adds, “For a winemaker, it’s the holy grail.”

In this tail of religion, war, family and survival, a family sets out through the demanding, battle-scarred landscape of the Caucus Mountains, past military bases and to clandestine vineyards deep in the Iranian countryside — all the while, the threat of arrest looms.

“My father wants to build a bunker cellar,” says Aimee. “I’m like, will we need it?”

“Wines have to struggle. So do people,” adds an expert featured in the trailer.

At the crossroads of Armenia and Iran is where this family breathes life into the post-Soviet infrastructure of their country while harvesting grapes during war and marketing their wine globally.

But this story of a family reviving the ancient grapes of their homeland is not just a harrowing tail of navigating culture, power and land in the name of wine. It is also a look at wine’s origins and how it continues to shape the fabric of human existence.

Alongside the Keushguerians, Cup of Salvation also stars, Dustin Wilson, Carole Meredith, Armen Sarkissian, Paul Hobbs, Boris Gasparyan, Armen Khachaturian, Jonathan Alpeyrie, Steve Matthiasson, Moe Momtazi, Naseem Momtazi, Steven Spurrier, Andres Roseberg, DLynn Proctor, and Sabato Sagaria.

The film features a story by director Wise and his partner Christina, and music by Alex Mansour. The film’s producers include the Wise’s, Jackson Myers, and Eric Esrailian, with Diane Carpenter serving as an executive producer.

Cup of Salvation will have a limited release in theaters beginning Oct. 6.

Sports: Darón Iskenderian Called up to Armenia U-21 National Team

Sept 6 2023

September 5, 2023 - MLS NEXT Pro (MLS NEXT Pro) - Real Monarchs News Release

HERRIMAN, Utah Real Monarchs midfielder Darón Iskenderian has been selected by Head Coach Rafayel Nazaryan to represent Armenia's U-21 National Team as they begin preparations for the qualifying round of UEFA European Championships in 2025.

Iskenderian was brought in midway through the MLS NEXT Pro campaign and has played in 12 matches, starting 11 of them, immediately bringing a creative spark to the Real Monarchs attack, recording two goals and an assist.

The Armenian U-21 team will begin training camp on Monday, September 4 and will play two matches as they look to qualify for Euro 2025. The two matches will be played in Armenia at Abovyan Sports Complex against Albania on Friday, September 8 and Montenegro on Tuesday, September 12.

Real Monarchs have three more matches remaining in MLS NEXT Pro as they attempt to climb above the playoff line. The team will travel to Colorado Rapids 2 on September 10 before hosting the final home match of the season against Tacoma Defiance on September 15. Meanwhile, Decision Day for MLS NEXT Pro falls on September 24th when Real Monarchs take on Portland Timbers 2 at Providence Park.

Armenian Ambassador to United States meets with former Türkiye MP Garo Paylan

 12:20, 9 September 2023

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 9, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Ambassador to the United States Lilit Makunts on September 8 held a meeting with former Member of Parliament of Türkiye Garo Paylan.

Ambassador Makunts and Paylan “exchanged views on the security situation around Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian-Turkish relations, as well as regional developments,” the Armenian embassy in the U.S. said in a readout.

U.S. bishops’ international committee chairman calls for end to Nagorno-Karabakh blockade

Detroit Catholic
Sept 8 2023

(OSV News) — Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, called for a peaceful end to the months-long blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh that has left some 120,000 ethnic Armenian Christians at risk of what experts are calling "genocide by starvation."

"We continue to pray for an end to the conflict and this growing humanitarian crisis," Bishop Malloy said in a Sept. 7 statement. "The Holy Father's two apostolic visits to the South Caucasus in 2016 and his more recent appeal earlier this year for 'the serious humanitarian situation in the Lachin Corridor' reflects our strong hope for a resolution."

For the past nine months, Azerbaijan has closed the only road leading from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh (known in Armenian by its ancient name, Artsakh), a historic Armenian enclave located in southwestern Azerbaijan and internationally recognized as part of that nation.

The blockade of the three-mile (five-kilometer) Lachin Corridor, which connects the roughly 1,970 square mile enclave to Armenia, has deprived residents of food, baby formula, oil, medication, hygienic products and fuel — even as a convoy of trucks with an estimated 400 tons of aid is stalled at the single Azerbaijani checkpoint. Attempts by the International Red Cross to deliver aid have been rebuffed.

Bishop Malloy said that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin's visit to both Armenia and Azerbaijan in July "serves as witness to the Holy See's efforts in seeking peace.

"With the continued impasse of this conflict and the mounting consequences of this blockade, let us all be of one mind and one accord in our prayers for those suffering from this conflict — to see this impending humanitarian catastrophe averted and to see this conflict ultimately resolved through peaceful means," said Bishop Malloy.

The bishop's comments follow a Sept. 6 emergency hearing of the bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in Congress.

"It's now a three-alarm fire that's getting worse by the moment," said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who chaired the meeting and is a longstanding Catholic human rights champion.

David L. Phillips, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and director of Columbia University's Artsakh Atrocities Project testified before the commission that his project has collected "information on Azerbaijan's systematic effort to drive Armenians from their homeland through killings, ethnic cleansing and deportations," thereby constituting "crimes against humanity."

In 2020, Azerbaijan went to war with Armenia over the enclave in which 3,000 Azerbaijani and 4,000 Armenian soldiers were killed. The conflict had been preceded by a 1992-1994 struggle between Armenia and Azerbaijan for control of the region, which had declared its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. Some 30,000 were killed and more than 1 million displaced in that conflict. Russia brokered a 1994 ceasefire, and in a 2017 referendum, voters approved a new constitution and a change in name to the Republic of Artsakh (although "Nagorno Karabakh Republic" also remains an official name).

Philips said Azerbaijan's blockade of the Lachin Corridor ultimately "constitutes a second Armenian genocide," referencing the 1915-1916 slaughter and starvation of up to 1.2 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. He also noted Azerbaijan's refusal to comply with a February 2022 order by the International Court of Justice to ensure "unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions," as well as calls from "international leaders such as the U.N. Secretary General, the U.S. Secretary of State, and the President of France" to abide by the order.

Bishop Mikael A. Mouradian of the California-based Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg told OSV News Sept. 6 that Congress "should without any delay put up a bipartisan human rights act."

The bishop said that without a law in place he feared another Armenian genocide "is inevitable if things continue like they are now."

Smith, who criticized U.S. inaction on the Azerbaijani blockade, plans to introduce a new bill, the "Nagorno-Karabakh Human Rights Act", for Congress to take action.

Yerevan to host World Tourism Investment Forum

 14:46, 4 September 2023

YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 4, ARMENPRESS. Yerevan will host the World Tourism Investment Forum, organized by the Tourism Committee of Armenia in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), on September 6-8.

The event will be attended by representatives from United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) member states, tourism officials from other countries, foreign and local investors, delegates from international organizations and the private sector.

Participants will explore emerging travel tendencies and evolving consumer behavior in this geopolitically and economically sensitive era. The event will offer valuable insights into the global investment climate. The Forum will feature high-level dialogues, panel discussions, keynotes, and fireside chats, bringing together industry leaders and experts. The focal point will be critical investment trends and challenges facing the tourism sector today. Attendees can expect engaging discussions that shape the future of tourism investment.

“Of course, global trends will be presented, but Armenia will be presented separately. This is a good chance for presenting Armenia’s investment opportunities and projects. We will emphasize a number of directions, such as cultural tourism, gastro-tourism, wine tourism and adventure tourism,” said Sisian Boghossian, the Head of the Tourism Committee of Armenia.  She added that a forthcoming major project in collaboration with the World Bank will also be unveiled during the event, and it could interest investors.

Belarus to deliver over 800 elevators to Armenia in 2023

Belarus – Sept 4 2023

MINSK, 4 September (BelTA) – Belarus will deliver more than 800 elevators to Armenia this year, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of Armenia Aleksandr Konyuk told the Belarus 1 TV channel, BelTA informs.

Speaking about the export potential, the diplomat noted that Armenia is interested in Belarus' construction services. “We are ready to provide them, our developers are eager to work in the Armenian market. Belarusians have high-level competencies. The most important project that has already kicked off is cooperation with Mogilevliftmash. This year we are set to supply more than 800 elevators to Armenia. This is in line with an official contract, we have won tenders and now we are already supplying these elevators in stages. Most of elevators in Yerevan were made in Belarus, we have a very strong dealer there,” Aleksandr Konyuk said.

At first the parties discussed provision of maintenance services, but later a joint venture was set up in Yerevan to produce Belarusian elevators. According to the ambassador, Armenia's demand for elevators is about 4,000. “Another branch will open in Vayots Dzor Province, not far from the town of Jermuk. We also plan to open an assembly production of the tractor plant. It is a very challenging task, but we are working on it,” he noted.

To President Herzog: We turn to you over the Azerbaijan-Lachin Corridor dispute

Israel National News
Aug 30 2023

From the pro-Azerbaijan representative:

To the Honorable President of the State of Israel Mr. Isaac Herzog

Dear Mr. President,

It recently came to my attention that a group of pro-Armenian activists published a petition (see below, ed.), calling upon you to demand that Azerbaijan remove its “blockade of the Lachin Corridor.” It should be noted that more than one of the signatories is a member of the Rabbis for Human Rights organization, which NGO Monitor claims “is listed as a partner by the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI promotes BDS campaigns and utilizes demonizing rhetoric accusing Israel of apartheid, collective punishment, and war crimes.”

Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that the same individuals who oppose the continued existence of Israel’s Security Barrier also oppose Azerbaijan’s “blockade of the Lachin Corridor.”

As a journalist who attended your historic speech at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku and who has visited Azerbaijan five times, including four visits to the Karabakh region, I strongly advocate that you ignore this petition. Azerbaijan finds itself in a very similar position to the State of Israel. Just as pro-Armenian activists call upon Imagine Dragons not to perform in Baku and urge action against Azerbaijan, both at the UN Security Council and in the US Congress, among other places, BDS activists behave similarly toward the State of Israel.

Indeed, if you examine the petition, one can see the resemblance to many of the anti-Israel petitions put out by the BDS Movement. During the Second Intifada, we were accused of starting a massacre in Jenin, when we wanted to stop the suicide bombings. Whenever Israel defends itself against qassam rocket attacks and incendiary balloons fired from Gaza, we are accused of creating anti-Semitism in America and Europe. In some circles, there are even those who accuse the Jewish people of slaughtering an innocent Palestinian Arab named Jesus Christ, even though the history books all note he was killed by the Romans and that Jesus was a Jew, not a Palestinian Arab, as the Palestinian Arabs did not exist at that time.

For this reason, we can relate to what the state of Azerbaijan is dealing with and have sympathy for them, as both countries are facing a biased West, who sides with the perpetrators rather than the victims and fabricates false accusations against Azerbaijan, such as the existence of a fictional humanitarian crisis and starvation. I can attest that these claims have about as much merit as those which claim the people of Gaza are starving and facing a humanitarian crisis. As someone who has visited Karabakh four times, I can say that there is a humanitarian crisis in Karabakh, but the victims of this humanitarian crisis are Azerbaijanis, not Armenians. I was in Shusha twice. It is located very close to the Lachin Corridor. Everything that I witnessed shows that the Armenians were anything but victims.

I personally witnessed how the Armenians during their thirty-year occupation of Karabakh destroyed the entire city, from mosques to local government offices, to newspaper offices, to banks, schools, etc. They did not even spare the nature and cultural heritage sites. Along the road to Shusha, we saw numerous uprooted trees, polluted rivers, and agricultural fields that were set ablaze. We traveled along zig-zagged roads, which were surrounded by landmines. Together with former Israeli Communication Minister Ayoob Kara, we were stranded in such landmine infested areas, fearing for our lives, after our bus broke down. We passed by many vehicles who broke down and did not survive the journey. This was six months after Karabakh was liberated.

After that, I returned to Karabakh three more times. Each time, Karabakh looked better, but it was thanks to Azerbaijani and not Armenian efforts. While the Armenians engaged in weapons smuggling and the planting of landmines, the Azerbaijanis built the Fizouli Airport, the five-star Karabakh Hotel, the Aghdam Convention Center and restored many historical sites, such as the Shusha Fort. They are also working around the clock to remove landmines, which indiscriminately target all civilians in the area. Yet, there is still much more work to be done. I am proud of the fact that Israeli companies are helping Azerbaijan to rebuild Karabakh as a green zone. It is just more proof of how Israel helps other nations around the globe in their hour of need. This should be applauded, not condemned.

Sadly, like in the Ukraine, Russia’s influence over Karabakh has been damaging. After Azerbaijan liberated its territories, the Russian authorities didn’t permit Azerbaijani ecological monitors to examine how Armenia committed ecological crime in the areas that they control due to Armenian objections. This is because they are using their mandate as peacekeepers in order to continue to seize Azerbaijan’s natural resources and to sell them in Yerevan and Moscow. Many people in Azerbaijan protested against this along the Lachin Corridor, until the blockade was imposed in order to stop Armenia from planting landmines in the area and smuggling weapons.

However, just because the road had a checkpoint does not mean that there is a humanitarian crisis. After all, Russian peace keepers still control the roads and are delivering humanitarian aid to the Armenians who remain there.

In fact, between December 12, 2022 and January 5, 2023, a total of 370 vehicles passed in both directions along the Lachin Corridor. 330 of these vehicles belonged to the Russian Peace Keepers, 31 were ambulances from the International Red Cross and another three belonged to local Armenian residents. During this period, Russian Peace Keepers provided the local Armenian population with transports of food that included rice, canned meat, pasta, flour, potatoes, onion, chicken, vegetables, cabbage, sugar, coffee and other types of food. And the humanitarian aid has not stopped.

The only thing that the blockade stops is the continued exploitation of Azerbaijan’s natural resources and weapons smuggling, which has led to Armenians planting fresh landmines to undermine Azerbaijan’s demining efforts and the handing over of heavy arms to separatist rebels in the region in order to take actions that sabotage the potential for peace between both peoples. To tell Azerbaijan to put a halt to such a checkpoint to stop weapons smuggling is like telling Israel to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip, where similar weapons smuggling occurs. The Armenians put forward arguments that are very similar to those of the Palestinian Arab terror groups.

In fact, the Palestinian Arabs and Armenians have a long history of cooperating with one another. As Michael Gunter noted about the Armenian terror organization ASALA, which targeted Turkish diplomats in the 1970’s and 1980’s: “A Spanish journalist Jose Antanio Gurriarian who came to know the terrorists after being maimed by one of their bombs wrote that Hagop Hapopian, the leader of ASALA, was a 24-year-old of Lebanese descent in 1973. Black September chief Abu Iyad had helped him form ASALA in 1975. Soon after joining the Palestinians, Hagopian found himself within the ranks of Wadi Haddad’s splinter PFLP which was George Habbash’s faction in the PLO. It was during his activity with Wadi Haddad that he gained most of his experience, developed many personal friendships with Palestinian leaders and began to mimic the organizational and military tactics of Wadi Haddad, which intentionally caused innocent victims harm and thus served to discredit the Palestinian cause as terrorist.”

Sadly, not much has changed since then. In fact, Armenian author Varsen Aghabekian in two of his books even tied the Armenian national struggle to the Palestinian Nakba. When I did an undercover assignment for the Jewish Press in the Old City of Jerusalem, I spoke to many Armenians, who voiced rhetoric that had an uncanny resemblance to Palestinian Arab rhetoric. In fact, the Armenians do not believe that Jews have a right to purchase a hotel inside the Armenian Quarter, as this land “belongs to the Armenians for generations.” It does not matter if we legitimately purchased the land or not. Jews are not welcome to buy in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, just as Jews are not welcome to buy in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem.

Israel should continue to stand beside its ally Azerbaijan, one of the few nations on the planet with almost no history of anti-Semitism, and ignore pleas put forward by a nation that is noted for its anti-Semitism. Indeed, outside of the world of Armenian propaganda, there are no shared values between the Jewish and Armenian people, as the Armenians have a long history of supporting the Palestinian Arabs.

Let’s not let them be successful in their efforts, and ignore uninformed and brainwashed useful leftist idiots who are trying to harm a nation that is Israel’s eyes and ears on the Islamic Republic of Iran, our number one foe, and who supplies Israel with 40 percent of its natural gas. Therefore, Mr. President, I urge you to keep up the great work you are doing to promote the Azerbaijani-Israeli friendship and treat the petition below just as you would treat any petition put forward by the BDS Movement by throwing it in the dustbins of history. Thank you.


Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is also the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”

Petition sent to President Herzog by pro-Armenian activists::

To the Honorable President of the State of Israel Mr. Isaac Herzog

Dear Mr. President,

Requesting your assistance to end a severe humanitarian crisis and prevent a humanitarian disaster

We, the undersigned, academics, and spiritual and cultural leaders from a variety of fields, turn to you out of our grave concern regarding the severe humanitarian crisis that poses a clear and present danger to 120,000 men, women and children in Nagorno Karabakh (referred to by residents as the Republic of Artsakh). The State of Israel enjoys close ties with Azerbaijan, the state which is responsible for this crisis, and has the ability to resolve it. These ties obligate the State of Israel to take a clear stand, and not to stand idly by.

Eight months ago (on December 12, 2022), government-supported Azerbaijani activists laid siege to the only road that connects Armenia to the Armenian enclave of Nagorno Karabakh. In April, the Azerbaijani army itself established a military checkpoint on the road, despite the fact that according to the terms of the cease-fire they had signed, the responsibility to maintain access to this area was entrusted to the Russian forces. The ongoing siege has prevented critical supplies to residents for months, and last week, many organizations and international bodies, including a number of UN experts, as well as Anthony Blinken, the United States Secretary of State, warned of the real danger to the lives of residents of the area should the siege continue, and expressed the urgent need that Azerbaijan allow humanitarian assistance to enter.

Azerbaijan’s blockade of the road is a violation of the Russian-brokered November 2020 ceasefire that it signed with Armenia, ending fighting that placed most of the surrounding territory under Azerbaijani control. This agreement had left a single road, the Lachin corridor, that connected Armenia with the Armenian enclave in Nagorno Karabakh, and its closing caused the residents of the area tremendous suffering. Should the siege continue, masses of people are likely to die of starvation and disease.

Israel’s relationship with Azerbaijan has significantly improved in recent times, as expressed by the opening of an Azerbaijani embassy in Tel Aviv, and the stream of visits by many Israeli dignitaries, including by the President himself. This warming of the relationship is thanks in no small part to the significant defense support that Israel provides to Azerbaijan, which was a deciding factor in the hostilities in the fall of 2020.

While Azerbaijan acts in defiance of the ceasefire agreement that it signed at the end of those hostilities, thus creating a severe humanitarian crisis, the aid that we provided means that we have a special responsibility not to be a bystander, and also gives us an important opportunity to have a positive impact. We cannot remain silent, especially in light of our historic and multilayered connection to the Armenian people. Both Jewish history and Armenian history can attest to the political excuses that come to justify inaction and apathy in the face of lives that hang in the balance.

Has Israel achieved what it has just so that it can provide the same excuses as we heard from other nations, Mr. President?

Our history and our identity as a nation committed to the Jewish value of humanity created in the image of God obligates you, as it obligates all of us, to act.

Therefore, we implore you, Mr. President, to make a personal appeal to your counterparts in Azerbaijan and demand their immediate removal of the blockade of the Lachin corridor. This is not a request to take a side in the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, but simply a humanitarian plea to save lives that are in danger, and to allow basic freedom of movement and the provision of sufficient supplies in order to live. We would be happy, if you are willing, to meet with you to present the dire situation in Nagorno Karabakh in greater detail.

Respectfully yours,

Ora Ahimeir, author

Yaakov Ahimeir, journalist

Prof. Reuven Amitai ,Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew University Atty.

Nadav Argov, Combat Genocide Association

Prof. em. Yair Auron ,expert on genocide, The Open University of Israel

Dr. Rina Avner, Archaeologist

Rabbi Ruth Baidach, Rabbis for Human Rights

Avi Buskila, entrepreneur, and social activist

Prof. em. Israel W. Charny, Hebrew University, executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem and editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide

Avi Dabush, executive director, Rabbis for Human Rights Nathan Daniel, Faculty of Humanities, Hebrew University Ruth Doron, ‘We Cannot Stand Silent’

Dr. Shlomi Efrati ,Researcher at Hebrew University and at KU Leuven

Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum ,founder of ZION: An Eretz Israeli Congregation in Jerusalem; and Vice President of the Masorti Rabbinical Assembly

Rabbi Avidan Freedman ,co-founder ,Yanshoof organization

Yisca Harani, lecturer, consultant and expert on Christianity

Pesach Hauspeter, Combat Genocide Association

Prof. Benjamin Z. Kedar, recipient of the Israel Prize in History; former vice-
president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Motke Keshet, Classical and Armenian Studies

Yoav Loeff, lecturer in Armenian History, Hebrew University

Rabbi Michael Melchior, former Minister and Member of Knesset, founder and president of Meitarim educational network, founder and chair, Mosaica

Tanyah Murkes, CEO, Society for International Development, SID-Israel

Suzanna Papian, actress

Dr .Yakir Paz, The departments of Talmud and Classics, The Hebrew University

Yana Pevzner, journalist

Sari Raz-Biron, journalist

Prof. em. Elihu Richter ,School of Public Health, Hebrew University

Naama Ringel, architect and activist

Rabbi David Rosen, International Director, Interreligious Affairs, AJC

Leah Shakdiel ,educator and activist

Prof. Donna Shalev, Classical Studies, Hebrew University

Rabbi Dana Sharon ,Rabbis for Human Rights

Dr. Yoav Shemer-Kunz, Political Science

Dr. Oded Steinberg ,International Relations and European Studies, Hebrew University

Prof. em. Michael E. Stone, Armenian Studies and Comparative Religion, Hebrew University

Aurit Stone-Yaacov, biologist

Yaron Weiss, expert on the countries of the Caucasus

Roi Ziv, PhD Student, Hebrew University

How to prevent the hunger in Artsakh

Since December 2022, Artsakh, or the self-proclaimed Nagorno Karabakh Republic, has faced a blockade imposed by Azerbaijan. It started with protests by so-called “eco-activists.” Then, on April 23, 2023, Azerbaijan established a checkpoint at the entrance of the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor. Since mid-June 2023, it has effectively prevented supplies of any goods from reaching Artsakh via the corridor. These actions have brought the region to the brink of actual starvation, as local resources have been almost completely depleted by the absence of deliveries of food and other necessities.

Given the deteriorating humanitarian situation, the Armenian government has launched a campaign calling on the international community to intervene and accusing the Azerbaijani government of committing genocide against the Armenians of Artsakh. Simultaneously, Armenia continues negotiations with Azerbaijan to sign a peace treaty, with multiple talks taking place in Washington, Brussels and Moscow. The Armenian government has reiterated its willingness to recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity under the 1991 Alma-Ata declaration, including Artsakh, and has dropped any demands for the autonomy of Artsakh within Azerbaijan. Instead, it has called for Stepanakert-Baku negotiations under an international mechanism to address the issue of the rights and security of the Armenian population living in Artsakh. Azerbaijan rejects any international mediation between its government and Artsakh, claiming that the rights and security of the Armenian population are the internal affairs of Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, Baku calls for the usage of the Aghdam-Stepanakert road to supply goods to Artsakh, arguing that as every state, including Armenia, recognizes Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, no one should reject the idea of supplying goods from Azerbaijan, as is the case with other regions of the country. Artsakh authorities reject this possibility, arguing that it will validate the use of blockade as a negotiation tactic. They also raise concerns that once the road via Aghdam is functional, Azerbaijan will have another argument not to open the Berdzor Corridor, thus entirely cutting off the connection between Armenia and Artsakh.

Amidst these ongoing debates and mutual accusations, the humanitarian situation in Artsakh worsens daily. As a part of its diplomatic pressure on Azerbaijan, Armenia called on the U.N. Security Council to convene an extraordinary meeting to discuss the situation around the Berdzor Corridor. During the meeting, almost all members of the Security Council raised concerns about the humanitarian situation in Artsakh. They demanded the opening of the corridor, while some also accepted the possibility of using other routes to deliver supplies to Artsakh. However, the discussion at the Security Council ended without any statement or resolution adopted. Statements and concerns from states and international organizations are insufficient to force Azerbaijan to restore the supplies of goods to Artsakh via the Berdzor Corridor. 

Currently, there are only a few options to prevent the looming hunger crisis in Artsakh, and only Armenia can take steps to end the stalemate. All calls to the international community, U.N. Security Council members, and international and regional organizations will only bring results if Armenia takes tangible actions to solve the conundrum. 

There are several scenarios through which Armenia can restore supplies via the Berdzor Corridor. First, Armenia should clearly state that as Azerbaijan pursues a policy of genocide against Artsakh’s Armenians, Armenia cannot recognize Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan. Armenia may say it was willing to recognize Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan to contribute to long-term regional peace and stability, while knowing that Armenians will face multiple hardships living in Azerbaijan as Azerbaijan citizens. Armenia was ready to make this sacrifice, but it cannot do so while the Azerbaijani government commits genocide against Armenians. Armenia may return to its policy of recognizing Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan only after Azerbaijan ends its genocidal policy. By withdrawing its former declaration, Armenia can provide legitimacy to its demands that no supplies should be provided from Azerbaijan via Aghdam, and the supplies of goods via the Berdzor Corridor should be restored. However, this will not bring any change on the ground. Azerbaijan will continue to prevent the supply of any goods via the Berdzor Corridor.

A Flirtey drone delivering an AED (Wikimedia Commons)

If it withdraws its recognition of Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, Armenia has two options. One is to threaten the use of force to open the corridor. This is quite challenging, as it may open the way for another large-scale war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with unclear implications. Given the dynamic changes in regional and global geopolitics, it is almost impossible to assess the reaction and steps of external actors – Russia, Iran, Turkey, the EU and the U.S. – if Armenia launches a military operation to end the blockade. Given the gap between Armenian and Azerbaijani military power, this option is risky, even if international reactions are neutral or favorable toward Armenia. The second option is the launch of an airlift to Stepanakert using drones. Azerbaijan may use its air defense systems to shoot down the drones bringing food to Stepanakert. However, it will be challenging to shoot all drones, and it will significantly harm Azerbaijan’s global image, simultaneously bringing additional international attention to the situation around Artsakh.

Suppose Armenia does not withdraw its recognition of Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan. In that case, it will be highly challenging to demand the reopening of the Berdzor Corridor and reject the option to use the Aghdam-Stepanakert route. In this scenario, to prevent hunger in Artsakh, Armenia should start negotiations with Azerbaijan and international actors, including Russia, the EU and the U.S., on the modalities of the use of the Aghdam-Stepanakert road and the possibilities of simultaneous supplies to Artsakh from Armenia via the Berdzor Corridor and from Azerbaijan via Aghdam. 

Not taking steps toward any of these scenarios will only exacerbate the situation and increase the suffering of the Armenians living in Artsakh, making the deadlock even more dangerous.

Dr. Benyamin Poghosyan is the founder and chairman of the Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies and a senior research fellow at APRI – Armenia. He was the former vice president for research – head of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense Research University in Armenia. In March 2009, he joined the Institute for National Strategic Studies as a research Fellow and was appointed as INSS Deputy Director for research in November 2010. Dr. Poghosyan has prepared and managed the elaboration of more than 100 policy papers which were presented to the political-military leadership of Armenia, including the president, the prime minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Poghosyan has participated in more than 50 international conferences and workshops on regional and international security dynamics. His research focuses on the geopolitics of the South Caucasus and the Middle East, US – Russian relations and their implications for the region, as well as the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. He is the author of more than 200 academic papers and articles in different leading Armenian and international journals. In 2013, Dr. Poghosyan was a Distinguished Research Fellow at the US National Defense University College of International Security Affairs. He is a graduate from the US State Department Study of the US Institutes for Scholars 2012 Program on US National Security Policy Making. He holds a PhD in history and is a graduate from the 2006 Tavitian Program on International Relations at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Armenian Foreign Minister responds to media reports claiming US obstructed UNSC resolution on NK


YEREVAN, AUGUST 22, ARMENPRESS. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan has responded to the media reports which claimed that the United States obstructed the adoption of a resolution during the UN Security Council emergency meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“I have to note that the UN Security Council emergency meeting, which was convened at the request of Armenia, was open, and not only the Armenian people but the whole world had the opportunity to hear the positions of participating countries, including the United States. In conditions when the world sees the Azerbaijani policy of ethnic cleansing against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, I don’t think the United States would anyhow want to or plans to be part or contribute to a policy of ethnic cleansing. It would be difficult to imagine. I think and I hope that the US very well realizes the extent and alarming pace of the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, and also realizes that a possible resolution in the UNSC would come to resolve this situation and return the parties to the negotiations agenda,” Mirzoyan said when asked to comment on the unconfirmed media reports claiming that the US has obstructed the passage of a resolution.