RFE/RL Armenian Service – 02/26/2024


Aliyev Insists On Azeri Terms Of Peace With Armenia

        • Ruzanna Stepanian

Turkey -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets his Azerbaijani 
counterpart Ilham Aliyev in Ankara, February 19, 2024.

Armenia has no choice but to accept Azerbaijan’s terms of a peace deal, 
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Monday ahead of fresh talks between 
the two nations.

“Armenia, which is trying to find a new master and is throwing itself into 
others’ arms, should realize that its only option is to accept all the 
conditions of Azerbaijan and give up its territorial claims to Azerbaijan,” he 
said during a visit to Nagorno-Karabakh recaptured by Baku last September.

The warning came just over a week after Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol 
Pashinian met in Munich for talks hosted by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The 
two leaders agreed that their foreign ministers will meet soon for further 
discussions on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the ministers 
will meet in Berlin on Wednesday and Thursday. It did not say whether German 
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock will attend the talks.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said earlier in the day that 
Armenian and Azerbaijani officials will negotiate “in the coming days.” He noted 
that despite a lack of face-to-face contacts between them, the two sides have 
continued to exchange written proposals on the peace treaty in recent months.

Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanian said last week that they still 
disagree on some key terms of the treaty. Pashinian complained, meanwhile, that 
the Azerbaijani leadership remains reluctant to recognize Armenia’s borders 
“without ambiguity.”

Pashinian went on to accuse Azerbaijan of planning military aggression against 
Armenia. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry rejected the claim as “absolutely 

“The last five months have been the calmest period along the presumptive border 
between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Bayramov said on Monday. He accused the 
European Union and France in particular of seeking to whip up tensions there.

Bayramov specifically reiterated Baku’s discontent with an EU monitoring mission 
deployed on the Armenian side of the border and denounced France for continuing 
to support Armenia in the conflict.

Meeting with Pashinian in Paris last Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron 
said Azerbaijan should explicitly recognize Armenia’s territorial integrity. His 
defense minister, Sebastien Lecornu, delivered a new batch of French military 
equipment acquired by Armenia during an ensuing visit to Yerevan. Lecornu 
stressed that Armenia will use that hardware only if it is attacked by one of 
its neighbors.

Armenian Church Also Opposes New Constitution

        • Robert Zargarian

Armenia - The Supreme Spiritual Council of the Armenian Apsotolic Church starts 
a meeting in Echmiadzin, February 20, 2024.

The Armenian Apostolic Church has added its voice to opposition criticism of 
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s plans to try to enact a new constitution 
demanded by Azerbaijan.

The issue was on the agenda of a five-day session of the church’s Supreme 
Spiritual Council that drew to a close in Echmiadzin at the weekend.

“The Supreme Spiritual Council found the initiative to adopt a new Constitution 
very bewildering, especially given that it is widely perceived in public circles 
also as a consequence of external coercion,” read an official statement on the 
session chaired by Catholicos Garegin II.

“It was noted that the discourse of various high-ranking Armenian officials as 
well as the president of Azerbaijan regarding the adoption of the new 
Constitution only deepens existing suspicions,” it said.

Pashinian declared last month that Armenia needs a new constitution reflecting 
the “new geopolitical environment” in the region. Analysts believe that he first 
and foremost wants to get rid of a preamble to the current constitution that 
makes reference to a 1990 declaration of independence adopted by the republic’s 
first post-Communist parliament. The declaration in turn cites a 1989 
unification act adopted by the legislative bodies of Soviet Armenia and the then 
Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on February 1 that Armenia should remove 
that reference if it wants to cut a peace deal with his country. Armenian 
opposition leaders portrayed Aliyev’s statement as further proof that Pashinian 
is planning to change the constitution at the behest of Baku. Pashinian has 
denied the opposition claims while saying that Armenia “will never have peace” 
as long as it sticks to the 1990 declaration.

The church council defended the country’s existing constitution, saying that it 
is anchored in “the cherished past of our people” and their “national 
aspirations.” It also condemned Azerbaijan’s “expansionist ambitions” and 
“continuing encroachments” on Armenian territory.

Armenia - Catholicos Garegin II leads Christmass mass at the St. Gregory the 
Illuminator Cathedral in Yerevan, January 6, 2024.

Pashinian’s relationship with the ancient church, to which the vast majority of 
Armenians belong, has increasingly deteriorated since the 2020 war in 
Nagorno-Karabakh. Garegin and other senior clergymen joined the Armenian 
opposition in calling for Pashinian’s resignation following Armenia’s defeat in 
the six-week war.

Pashinian and other senior Armenian officials have boycotted Christmas and 
Easter liturgies led by Garegin for the past three years. In May 2023, the 
premier accused the church of meddling in politics, prompting a scathing 
response from Garegin’s office.

Tensions between the government and the church rose further last October when 
Garegin blamed Pashinian for Azerbaijan’s recapture of Karabakh and the 
resulting mass exodus of the region’s ethnic Armenian population. The church had 
repeatedly condemned Pashinian for recognizing Azerbaijani sovereignty over 
Karabakh before Baku’s September 19-20 military offensive.

The Supreme Spiritual Council concluded its session as over 200 supporters of 
Garegin gathered at the church’s Mother See following reports that an obscure 
group of Armenians planned to hold the same day a rally in Echmiadzin to demand 
his resignation.

The town’s municipal administration sanctioned the rally, slated for February 
24, late last month but revoked the permission shortly afterwards amid an uproar 
from vocal critics of the Armenian government. They claimed that Pashinian is 
behind the attempted rally.

The crowd that gathered on Saturday to show support for the church’s supreme 
head included several opposition figures, notably Levon Kocharian, a parliament 
deputy from the opposition Hayastan alliance led by his father and former 
Armenian President Robert Kocharian.

Another senior Hayastan member, Ishkhan Saghatelian, last week warned Pashinian 
against pressing ahead with his plans for the new constitution. He said that the 
Armenian opposition would “do everything” to turn a possible constitutional 
referendum on into a popular vote of no confidence in the premier.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy Said To Visit Armenia

        • Artak Khulian
        • Shoghik Galstian

Spain - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian talks to Ukraine's President 
Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a European summit in Granada, October 5, 2023.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is planning to visit Armenia next week 
amid the South Caucasus country’s mounting tensions with Russia, a diplomatic 
source told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

The visit will likely take place on March 4, the source said, adding that 
Zelenskiy will also travel to Azerbaijan in that case.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry pointedly declined to confirm or deny the 
information, saying only that it informs the public about the visits of foreign 
leaders “in due course.”

Ukraine’s charge d‘affaires in Yerevan, Valeri Lobach, was also coy about the 
possibility of such a trip. “The spring will bring positive events to Armenia,” 
he told reporters on Friday.

News of Zelenskiy’s possible trip followed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s 
recent visits to Germany and France during which he stepped up his criticism of 
Russia. In particular, Pashinian for the first time denounced the Russian 
invasion of Ukraine, saying that it violated a December 1991 declaration in 
which newly independent Soviet republics recognized each other’s Soviet-era 

Lawmakers representing Pashinian’s ruling Civil Contract party on Monday gave 
more indications that the Ukrainian president, who has not visited any 
non-Baltic ex-Soviet state since the outbreak of the war with Russia, is due in 

“After all, the president of Ukraine is the elected leader of his country, and 
just like other heads of state, can visit Armenia unless there are some special 
hurdles,” one of them, Babken Tunian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks during 'Ukraine. Year 2024' 
conference, in Kyiv, .

“We don’t care about how Russia will or will not react [to Zelenskiy’s visit,]” 
said another pro-government lawmaker, Gagik Melkonian.

There has been no such reaction from Moscow yet. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov 
said on February 19 that Russia and Armenia now have “diametrically opposite 
views” on the war in Ukraine.

Relations between the two longtime allies have further deteriorated in recent 
months, with the Russian Foreign Ministry accusing Pashinian of “destroying” 

Dmitry Suslov, a senior analyst with Russia’s Kremlin-linked Council on Foreign 
and Defense Policy, told the Sputnik news agency on Monday that Zelenskiy’s 
visit to Armenia could mark “the point of no return” in the erosion of bilateral 
ties. Suslov claimed that it would be part of the West’s efforts to reorient 
Armenia towards the United States and the European Union.

Armenian opposition leaders have expressed serious concern about the 
far-reaching change in Armenia’s traditional foreign policy, saying that it is 
reckless in the absence of security guarantees or military aid offered by 
Western powers.

Pashinian embarked on the apparent rapprochement with Ukraine last year despite 
Kyiv’s strong support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2024 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.


Entering eternity

“My dear Mélinée, my beloved little orphan, 

In a few hours I will no longer be of this world. We are going to be executed today at 3:00. This is happening to me like an accident in my life; I don’t believe it, but I nevertheless know that I will never see you again.

Mélinée Manouchian

What can I write to you? Everything inside me is confused, yet clear at the same time. I joined the army of liberation as a volunteer, and I die within inches of victory and the final goal. I wish for happiness for all those who will survive and taste the sweetness of the freedom and peace of tomorrow. I’m sure that the French people, and all those who fight for freedom, will know how to honor our memory with dignity. At the moment of death, I proclaim that I have no hatred for the German people, or for anyone at all; everyone will receive what he is due, as punishment and as reward. The German people, and all other people, will live in peace and brotherhood after the war, which will not last much longer. Happiness for all…I have one profound regret, and that’s of not having made you happy; I would so much have liked to have a child with you, as you always wished. So I’d absolutely like you to marry after the war, and, for my happiness, to have a child and, to fulfill my last wish, marry someone who will make you happy. All my goods and all my affairs, I leave them to you and to my nephews. After the war you can request your right to a war pension as my wife, for I die as a regular soldier in the French army of liberation.

With the help of friends who’d like to honor me, you should publish my poems and writings that are worth being read. If possible, you should take my memories to my parents in Armenia. I will soon die with 23 of my comrades, with the courage and the serenity of a man with a peaceful conscience; for, personally, I’ve done no one ill, and if I have, it was without hatred. Today is sunny. It’s in looking at the sun and the beauties of nature that I loved so much that I will say farewell to life and to all of you, my beloved wife, and my beloved friends. I forgive all those who did me evil, or who wanted to do so, with the exception of he who betrayed us to redeem his skin, and those who sold us out. I ardently kiss you, as well as your sister and all those who know me, near and far; I hold you all against my heart.

Farewell. Your friend, your comrade, your husband.

Ps: I have 15,000 francs in the valise at the Rue de Plaisance. If you can get it, pay off all my debts and give the rest to Armène.”

This beautiful letter is the last letter written by Missak Manouchian, on February 21, 1944. It was addressed to his beloved wife Mélinée Manouchian. Sadly, shortly after writing these words, the Armenian hero who defied the Nazis was executed by a German firing squad at Fort Mont-Valérien in the western suburbs of Paris.

Missak Manouchian

Exactly 80 years after his death, on , Missak Manouchian is entering the Panthéon mausoleum in Paris, where he will join France’s most revered historical figures. Located in the fifth arrondissement of Paris, in the Quartier Latin, the Panthéon is an architectural marvel and one of Paris’ most prestigious monuments. The edifice was commissioned by King Louis XV of France in 1755 and built as a church dedicated to Saint Geneviève. In 1791, the church was transformed into a mausoleum (Panthéon in Greek means “Every God”) and destined to house the remains of France’s greatest men. Interment in the crypt of the Panthéon is severely restricted and is only reserved for individuals who have played a major role in France’s history. Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Marie Curie, Émile Zola and French Resistance heroes like Jean Moulin are among the French figures who were reinterred in the Panthéon. Known as being “pantheonized,” entering the Panthéon is the greatest honor that can be bestowed on anyone in France, and God knows Missak Manouchian deserves this eternal recognition. Missak Manouchian is not entering the Panthéon alone. This true Armenian hero is entering the Parisian mausoleum with his beloved wife Mélinée, who passed away in 1989 and was buried by his side at the Ivry Cemetery.

The first time I heard the name Missak Manouchian was in 1994, at my school in the west of Paris. Back then, I was already interested in World War II, so when a teacher mentioned that the Manouchian group was the most active French Resistance group, I was captivated and had so many questions. On that day, I discovered the incredible story of Missak Manouchian, an Armenian Genocide survivor who went on to become a French Resistance hero. Born in 1906, Missak arrived in France in 1925 and worked at a Citroën car factory. Despite seeing the true face of evil during the Armenian Genocide, Missak never lost faith in humanity and always believed that a better world was possible. This ideal led him to get involved in politics and join the Communist Party in 1934. When the Nazis occupied France, Missak led a small group of foreign Resistance fighters, who carried out attacks against German forces and risked their lives to liberate the country they loved.

I couldn’t possibly write an article about Missak and Mélinée Manouchian without visiting their home in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Located at the N°11 Rue de Plaisance, this little building is where they lived from 1941 until November 16, 1943, when Missak and his group were arrested. Standing there, I couldn’t help but think about all the memories that they shared in their home, and how this extraordinary couple sacrificed everything they had, for everything we have. They knew that German forces and their local collaborators on any day could storm into their building and arrest, torture and execute them, but this terrifying thought never discouraged them. It gave them strength. 

In 1934, Missak Manouchian met Mélinée, the love of his life. Born in 1913 in Constantinople, she lost her parents during the Armenian Genocide and ended up in Marseille, where she learned French and studied accounting. During the Nazi occupation of France, Mélinée became a heroic companion to her husband. Whenever the Manouchian group attacked a German target, she observed the movements of each actor and noted the results of the operation. Month after month, Mélinée demonstrated remarkable courage. In June 1941, when Missak was arrested for the first time and sent to a camp in Compiègne, she asked someone to take her to the camp on his bicycle and succeeded in passing some food to her husband. Thanks to her efforts, Missak was released after a few weeks.

Missak and Mélinée Manouchian’s grave at the Ivry Cemetery

I couldn’t honor Missak and Mélinée Manouchian without visiting them (just before their remains were transferred) at the Ivry Cemetery, which is located in the southeastern suburbs of Paris. As I approached their grave, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I spent a long moment with them and thought about the profound love that they had for each other. Mélinée never fulfilled Missak’s “last wish,” which was to marry someone who would make her happy. Missak was the only man she loved, so following his death, Mélinée never remarried, remained a widow all her life and had no children. 

I also thought about the members of the Manouchian group who are buried next to Missak and Mélinée at the Ivry Cemetery. These true heroes are: Celestino Alfonso, Joseph Boczov, Georges Cloarec, Rino Della Negra, Thomas Elek, Maurice Fingercwajg, Spartaco Fontanot, Jonas Geduldig, Emeric Glasz, Léon Goldberg, Szlama Grzywacz, Stanislas Kubacki, Cesare Luccarini, Armenak Arpen Manoukian, Marcel Rajman, Roger Rouxel, Antoine Salvadori, Willy Schapiro, Amedeo Usseglio, Wolf Wajsbrot and Robert Witchitz. Olga Bancic, the only woman of the Manouchian group, was taken to Stuttgart, Germany, and beheaded on May 10, 1944. These heroic Resistance fighters all sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and it is our duty to honor and remember every single one of them.

Today, on , Missak Manouchian is making history by becoming the first foreign Resistance fighter and the first Communist resistance fighter to enter the Panthéon. French President Emmanuel Macron recently paid tribute to Missak Manouchian’s “bravery” and “quiet heroism,” adding that Manouchian “embodies the universal values of France” and “carries a part of our greatness.” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also commented on this historical day by saying: “This is just and long-awaited recognition by the Republic of the role of foreigners who, at the cost of their lives, fought for the liberation of our country and our freedom. They are the face of France.” 

Exactly 80 years ago, at Fort Mont-Valérien, Missak Manouchian and his brave comrades lined up in front of the German firing squad and faced death with honor, dignity and pride. Seconds before being shot, these heroic freedom fighters all shouted “Vive la France!” (Long Live France). 80 years later, a large and grateful crowd gathered along the Rue Soufflot (road leading to the Panthéon) to shout “Vive Missak Manouchian!”

John Dekhane grew up in Paris before moving to the South of France. He works for a sport organization in Monaco. Since he was a child, he has always been interested in World War II with particular emphasis on American soldiers. In order to honor them, over the past years, he has located and purchased WWII U.S. artifacts in Europe and donated these items to more than a hundred museums in the United States.

Pashinyan refuses to guarantee Putin’s non-arrest if he visits Armenia

feb 13 2024

By bne IntelliNews February 13, 2024

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has refused to give any assurances regarding the possible arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin during a possible visit to Armenia, following the country's recent accession to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a recent interview with the British Daily Telegraph, Pashinyan was asked about the possibility of Putin's arrest during such a visit. His vague response, citing legal complexities and the responsibility of Armenian law enforcement and courts, has fueled speculation and heightened tensions. Pashinyan's government claims that joining the ICC is aimed at taking legal action against Azerbaijan and preventing further attacks on Armenia. Opposition politicians, however, argue that the move is a strategic effort to drive a wedge between Russia and Armenia.

"As for the legal intricacies, I can't make a legal analysis at the moment, because that's more the job of the lawyers," he replied vaguely. "As I said, Armenia … must remain committed to all its international obligations, including the obligations it has in relations with the Russian Federation and in international relations."

The ratification of the ICC's Rome Statute by Armenia's Constitutional Court in March, just a week after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes during Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has exacerbated already strained relations between Yerevan and Moscow. Although Russian officials denounced the move as "unfriendly" and predicted serious damage to Russian-Armenian relations, Putin appeared to downplay the situation and expressed his intention to visit Armenia again in the future.

As Pashinyan's comments continue to echo, Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, stressed the need for "certain assurances" before the Russian leader would consider travelling to Armenia. The situation remains unresolved and requires bilateral dialogue to address the complex legal and diplomatic implications of Armenia's accession to the ICC in the context of the delicate Armenia-Russia relationship.

Armenian, Hungarian Presidents hold meeting in Budapest

 14:12, 6 February 2024

BUDAPEST, FEBRUARY 6, ARMENPRESS. President of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan has met with his Hungarian counterpart Katalin Novák in Budapest.

The one-on-one meeting was followed by an enlarged-format meeting with members of the delegations.

Armenian Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Artur Martirosyan and Hungarian State Secretary for Innovation and Higher Education Balázs Hankó will sign a memorandum of cooperation.

As part of the official visit to Hungary, the Armenian President will also meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Speaker of Parliament László Kövér.

Photos by Hayk Manukyan

Azerbaijani president threatens to exit top European bodies

MSN News
Jan 2 2024

Azerbaijan's president has said that his country may consider leaving top European bodies, such as the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Court of Human Rights.

The warning came soon after the country's delegation quit the CoE's parliamentary assembly (PACE) as the body was about to reject its credentials, and amid general crises with the West.

On February 1, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev received Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Martin Chungong. The IPU is a union of national parliaments of countries around the world.

In remarks at the meeting quoted by the presidential website, Aliyev reacted for the first time to PACE's move to push out the Azerbaijani delegation. He called the move "anti-Azerbaijani" and said that it was initiated by a minority group "which does not serve dialogue and is overall in opposition to the traditions of a parliamentary platform."

The idea to vote the Azerbaijani delegation out was raised by German MP Frank Schwabe and supported by thirty members of the Assembly.

Aliyev said that if the rights of the Azerbaijani delegation at PACE are not restored, Baku will consider pulling out altogether from the CoE and the European Court of Human Rights, according to the website.

In voting out the Azerbaijani delegation on January 24, PACE concluded that the country has "not fulfilled major commitments" stemming from its joining the Council of Europe in 2001.

"Very serious concerns remain as to [Azerbaijan's] ability to conduct free and fairelections, the separation of powers, the weakness of its legislature vis-à-vis the executive, the independence of the judiciary and respect for human rights, as illustrated by numerous judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and opinions of the Venice Commission," PACE said in its resolution.

The decision only concerns Azerbaijan's parliamentary delegation and the country remains a member of the CoE – for now.

Aliyev's threat to quit the CoE and human rights court comes amid deteriorating relations with Western countries and institutions.

In late December, the French ambassador to Azerbaijan was summoned to the foreign ministry, and two embassy employees were declared persona non grata and expelled "for actions incompatible with their diplomatic status and which contradicted the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations." France rejected the allegation and retaliated the following day by expelling two Azerbaijani diplomats.

While Azerbaijani officials did not specify what the French diplomats had supposedly done wrong, pro-government media earlier asserted that the country's law enforcement had exposed a spy network working for France.

Similar allegations were also recently made against the U.S. amid deteriorating relations after which Azerbaijani police went on a spree of arresting independent journalists, media directors, and opposition activists.

"Azerbaijan's assault on journalists, illegal detention of opposition & alleged use of transnational repression are anti-democratic tactics," Chair of U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin wrote on X on January 29. "Baku must release political prisoners & halt harassment to be part of the international community, ahead of COP29."

The criticism from the West against Azerbaijan isn't limited to the latter's internal affairs. It has also targeted Baku's military offensive on Nagorno-Karabakh in September, which prompted the entire 100,000-some Armenian population to flee.

On January 22, the European Union's foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell expressed his concerns over what he called "territorial claims" against Armenia by Aliyev. "Any violation of Armenia's territorial integrity would be unacceptable and will have severe consequences for our relations with Azerbaijan," he told a news briefing in Brussels. Borrell also said the EU foreign ministers "expressed solidarity" with France over the expulsion of its diplomats from Baku.

(Earlier that month, Aliyev revived his demand that Armenia allow an extraterritorial corridor through its territory between Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave and return eight ex-Soviet-Azerbaijani villages still under Armenian control)

Azerbaijan's foreign ministry in an English-language statement called Borrell's comment a "misinterpretation" and "open disregard of Azerbaijan's legitimate interests."

"Furthermore, EU Representative's expressed solidarity with France about the expulsion of diplomats is tantamount to justifying illegal actions of expelled French diplomats in Azerbaijan, while being a clear intervention into the continuing legal investigation process," it read.

"Such a biased statement, while ignoring baseless measures against Azerbaijan's diplomats in France, demonstrates how this institution is negatively affected by certain countries, which openly neglect all the rules and guidelines of diplomatic conduct, and refuse to investigate the case."

Even before Aliyev's statement, Azerbaijan's civil society was concerned that the country's insistence on not cooperating with the Council of Europe's obligations would ultimately result in Baku exiting the council.

"In fact, the refusal to cooperate started years ago. For years, PACE resolutions have not been implemented, political prisoners have not been released, media, civil society and political parties have not been given opportunities to operate. I think PACE is too late for sanctions," Baku-based analyst Anar Mammadli wrote on Facebook on January 23.

Ex-mayor Hayk Marutyan, others could lose Yerevan city council seats

 10:51, 2 February 2024

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 2, ARMENPRESS. A group of Yerevan City councillors representing the ruling Civil Contract faction have introduced a bill seeking to oust several councillors for what they describe as 'unexcused absences' from the body’s sittings.

The bill will be debated at an extraordinary session of City Council that will be convened by Mayor Tigran Avinyan on February 5. The bill seeks the ousting of former Mayor, head of the National Progress faction Hayk Marutyan and Mother Armenia faction councillors Narine Hayrapetyan, Sona Aghekyan, Gevorg Stepanyan and Zaruhi Postanjyan.

Turkish Press: Azerbaijan says ‘de facto peace’ with Armenia needs treaty for finalization

Daily Sabah
Turkey – Feb 2 2024

Azerbaijan on Thursday said a “de facto peace” exists with archrival Armenia but a formal treaty is needed to finalize the normalization of bilateral ties.

"In order to bring this process to a logical end, a peace treaty must be signed and Armenia's territorial claims against Azerbaijan must end," Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev told those attending a meeting with Inter-Parliamentary Union Secretary-General Martin Chungong in Baku.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.

Azerbaijan liberated most of the region during a 44-day war in the fall of 2020, which ended with a Russian-brokered peace agreement, opening the door to normalization.

Last September, the Azerbaijani army initiated a counterterrorism operation in Karabakh to establish constitutional order, after which illegal separatist forces in the region surrendered.

Last month, the sides swapped prisoners of war, a first step toward normalizing relations.

The European Union, the United States and regional powers Türkiye and Russia praised the move as a "breakthrough." The pair also discussed the withdrawal of troops from their shared border, but no concrete decision followed.

The prisoner exchange raised hopes for reviving face-to-face talks between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Aliyev.

The pair have met several times for normalization talks mediated by EU chief Charles Michel. But the process has been on hold since October.

Traditional regional power broker Russia bogged down with its dragging Ukraine offensive, has seen its influence wane in the Caucasus.

Aliyev said Armenia still claims Azerbaijani territory in official documents such as its constitution, adding that peace could be achieved if Yerevan stops making the claims and makes changes to its legal documents.

"Stating the importance of this to be implemented in Armenia as soon as possible, the head of state emphasized that the initiation of internal discussions on this issue in Armenia is considered a positive step and it can create a good opportunity for the peace process to be concluded soon," the statement read.

Similarly, on Thursday, Pashinyan also argued his country’s decades-old claims on Karabakh hinder the establishment of peace in the Caucasus region.

"I wonder, does our state policy have to be based on the decision by the National Council of Nagorno-Karabakh and the (Soviet era) Supreme Council of Armenia, according to which Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh should be united, as stipulated in the (1990 Armenian) Declaration of Independence? If so, it means that we are going to have a war now, we will not achieve peace," Pashinyan told Armenian Public Radio in an interview.

At the same time, he said that Armenia must have a combat-ready army to defend its territory "within the borders of the former Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic."

Pashinyan also criticized the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Russia-led military bloc, for not helping in the issue of Karabakh; however, he did not mention how the organization was established to defend its member countries in case of aggression and that Karabakh is an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Armenia criticized Russia's refusal to fight for Armenia, and said that after the events in Karabakh "for a number of reasons, the Russian Federation cannot be Armenia's main partner in the defense and military-technical spheres."

Pashinyan has also angered the Kremlin by questioning the foundations of the alliance, saying “Because Moscow has repeatedly let Armenia down so, Yerevan must think about forging closer ties with the United States and France.”