Nagorno-Karabakh residents ‘tricked’ into passing Azerbaijani checkpoint

May 1 2023
 1 May 2023

An Azerbaijani border guard inspects a vehicle at the checkpoint on the Hakiri Bridge. Image via ITV.

The authorities in Stepanakert have accused the Russian peacekeepers of tricking residents of Nagorno-Karabakh into passing through the Azerbaijani checkpoint on the Lachin corridor, falsely promising that they would not have to undergo checks by Azerbaijani border troops.

The accusation comes after footage appeared to show Armenian vehicles passing through the checkpoint, with Azerbaijani border control officers inspecting their vehicles and documents. 

‘As can be seen from the presented footage, people’s border crossing is organised in a neat and polite manner’, Azerbaijan’s ITV reported from the scene. 

‘Thus, the claims of the Armenian officials regarding the “ethnic cleansing” of the Karabakh Armenians and the “blocking” of the Lachin road are nothing more than false propaganda’, the pro-government media went on. 

Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh have largely been blocked from entering or exiting the region since mid-December, when Azerbaijani-government-supported ‘eco-activists’ blocked the Lachin Corridor near Shusha (Shushi).

The Azerbaijani government and the protesters themselves insisted they were independent and demonstrating against environmental damage in Nagorno-Karabakh. Photo: Trend.

Despite the 2020 ceasefire agreement stipulating that the corridor be controlled by the Russian peacekeeping force, on 23 April, Azerbaijani border troops moved in to set up a checkpoint on the corridor at the Armenian border.

Soon after, the eco-activists announced they were ending their action. However, on 29 April, the authorities in Stepanakert said the protesters had been replaced by Azerbaijani police near Shusha as well.

Mounting criticism of Russia

Shortly after the video of the inspection appeared online, Nagorno-Karabakh officials dismissed it as a ‘cheap show’. 

‘The people are from villages near the checkpoint under double blockade and were travelling with the support of peacekeepers, with guarantees of not being bothered’, Artak Beglaryan, an adviser to the State Minister, wrote on Twitter late on Sunday. 

Beglaryan referred to the villages of Mets Shen, Hin Shen, Lisagor, and Yeghtsahogh in the Shusha region of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The villages were cut off from the rest of Nagorno-Karabakh after the blockade near Shusha began, and are now separated from Armenia by the new customs checkpoint.

[Read on OC Media: The villages of the Lachin Corridor face ‘double blockade’]

Nagorno-Karabakh’s State Minister Gurgen Nersisyan also issued a statement on Sunday, stating that residents stuck in Goris ‘turned to Russian peacekeepers’, who assured them in advance that ‘there will be no control interference by Azerbaijanis’. 

Nersisyan said the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh were waiting for the Lachin Corridor to again be ‘controlled exclusively by Russian peacekeepers’.

Yerevan has also criticised Azerbaijani control over the corridor, calling on Russia to ‘finally fulfil its obligation’ under the 2020 ceasefire agreement and to lift the blockade of the Lachin Corridor. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzyan stated last week that Armenia would not take part in the negotiations over the status of the Lachin Corridor, placing responsibility on Russia. 

Moscow has remained mild in their criticism of the checkpoint and the blockade of the Lachin Corridor since 12 December.

Russia’s failure to regain control of the corridor has led to growing criticism in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The authorities in Stepanakert have avoided directly criticising Russia. 

But an apparent shift on 30 April, the Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Ministry mentioned the support and participation of Soviet forces in the 1991 Operation Ring, which saw the forcible displacement of Armenian residents of several villages in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The authorities in Stepanakert declined to issue a statement on the anniversary of the start of the operation last year, and their statement in 2021 mentioned only the Azerbaijani authorities as responsible. A statement by the Armenian Parliament in 2021 also did not mention Russia, triggering criticism from some in Armenia, and accusations of ‘falsifying’ history. 

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

Azerbaijani, Armenian FMs Continue Negotiations in US

Egypt – May 3 2023
By Ahmad El-Assasy

Aykhan Hajizada, a spokesperson for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Trend that talks between Jeyhun Bayramov of Azerbaijan and Ararat Mirzoyan of Armenia are still ongoing in the US.

Today's meetings have already started. The discussions will go on tomorrow. Unknown is the precise period when the negotiations will end, he continued.

A peace pact is the primary subject of negotiations, according to prior statements by Hajizada.

Jeyhun Bayramov, the foreign minister of Azerbaijan, met with Ararat Mirzoyan, the foreign minister of Armenia, and Anthony Blinken, the secretary of state of the US, on May 1 in the US.

The two countries' foreign ministers then met bilaterally at the NFATC (Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Centre).

Armenia–Azerbaijan peace deal ‘within reach’, Blinken says

May 5 2023
 5 May 2023

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that a peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan is ‘within reach’, following the conclusion of four days of negotiations in Washington.

Blinken, who mediated talks, stated on Friday that ‘progress’ had been made despite ‘differences on key issues’, a sentiment echoed by official statements from both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

On Thursday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that they had yet to agree on an international mechanism to guarantee the security of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenians or the format of dialogue between Stepanakert and Baku.

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov kickstarted this round of negotiations with a meeting with Blinken on Monday.

The negotiations were the biggest talks aimed at normalising relations between the two countries since the blockade of the Lachin Corridor began in mid-December. They included meetings with Blinken and Jake Sullivan, US President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser.

The two countries discussed the delimitation and demarcation of their shared borders and the rights and security of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenian population.

Late last year, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on clarifying their borders based on the 1991 Almaty Declaration. No progress had been made since then. 

The United States has repeatedly called on Azerbaijan to restore regular traffic through the Lachin Corridor, as Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh appear to remain almost entirely cut off from the outside world.

In late April, Azerbaijan installed a checkpoint at the entrance of the corridor in violation of the November 2020 ceasefire agreement, which stipulates that the Lachin Corridor should fall under the control of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Yerevan appeared somewhat dissatisfied with the outcome of the negotiations, with Yerevan-based political analyst Tigran Grigoryan describing the talks as a ‘setback’ with no joint statement signed, ‘as there probably was an expectation that at least something would be signed’.

In an interview with RFE/RL, Grigoryan said that a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan would only be possible if Armenia ‘abandons’ its position on key issues, such as the establishment of direct communication channels between Baku and Stepanakert.

Natig Jafarli, an economist and one of the leaders of Azerbaijan’s ReAl Party, appeared more optimistic, saying that peace could be achieved.

‘The final stage of such negotiations is always very difficult’, wrote Jafarli on Facebook.

He speculated that President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan would likely come up with a framework agreement on the sidelines of the upcoming European Political Community Summit in Moldova.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova announced that Moscow planned to host its own tripartite meeting with Yerevan and Baku.

Zakharova stated that it was important for Moscow to ‘inquire about the process of [the Washington] negotiations from the direct participants’.

She said that Yerevan and Baku had already agreed to the meeting and that the dates would be announced later. 

On Thursday, Pashinyan confirmed that he would visit Moscow next week to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia, which has long spearheaded mediation efforts between Azerbaijan and Armenia, has been dismissive of Western mediation in the Armenia–Azerbaijan conflict.

Earlier this year, Moscow also denounced the establishment of a European civilian monitoring mission in Armenia, instead offering a CSTO alternative to the mission, which Yerevan appeared to brush aside.

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

Warlick: Final Armenia-Azerbaijan deal unrealistic without Karabakh settlement

Armenia – May 5 2023

PanARMENIAN.Net - Former American co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick believes a final agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan is unrealistic at the current stage.

According to him, there are a number of outstanding issues, including communication, refugees, borders, natural resource management and other issues.

In a conversation with the Armenian service of the Voice of America, Warlick emphasized the issue of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, stressing that without a determination of the status that will satisfy all the parties, it is impossible to achieve lasting peace.

Warlick clarified that he wasn’t talking about independence for Nagorno-Karabakh, as he did not think the issue was on the negotiating table, especially from Azerbaijan's point of view,

He added, however, that there might be a certain degree of self-determination that would be acceptable to Baku.

According to him, the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan by Armenia has been a very difficult issue until now. Today, he said, Armenia is moving in that direction, but it is still unclear how the whole thing will be formulated.

France asks Baku to restore ‘unhindered’ movement on vital corridor

France’s foreign minister on Friday (28 April) urged Azerbaijan to restore “unhindered movement on the Lachin corridor”, the only land link between Armenia and the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.

Azerbaijan established a checkpoint at the entry of the corridor on Sunday, a move that Armenia denounced as a breach of the latest ceasefire between the two arch-foes.

France’s Catherine Colonna said during a press conference in Yerevan that Armenia’s territorial integrity must be respected.

Her Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan meanwhile said free movement “should be restored”.

Colonna was visiting Armenia after first meeting with officials in Baku, where she was hosted by Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

“The purpose of the visit is to reaffirm France’s support for the Armenian government and people,” Colonna said.

She said it was important for Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume negotiations to secure a resolution to their decades-long standoff.

“We encourage you to resolutely take this path.” Colonna said, adding this was “the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace”.

She acknowledged this was a “difficult path”.

She said Paris was ready to back Armenia in the process, “alongside the European Union and the United States, in coordination with the OSCE and the United Nations”.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over the mountainous enclave of Karabakh that have left tens of thousands dead.

Moscow brokered a ceasefire after the latest bout of fighting in 2020 and posted peacekeepers along the Lachin corridor.

With Moscow bogged down in Ukraine and unwilling to strain ties with Azerbaijan’s key ally Turkey, the United States and European Union have sought to steer a thaw in ties.

Asked whether he wanted negotiations hosted by Europe and Washington or Russia, Mirzoyan said there was “no difference between the platforms”.

“We are grateful to all the platforms,” he added, as he is due to travel to Washington for a trilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The EU must prevent a human rights emergency in Nagorno-Karabakh


New checkpoint installed by Azerbaijan on the only road linking Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia shows the EU must act

Naira Sultanyan

Around 120,000 ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh have been under blockade for the past four months.

The Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and the world, has been blocked by self-proclaimed and Baku-supported activists. This is despite a ruling by the International Court of Justice this year ordering Azerbaijan to “ensure unimpeded movement”. Similar calls have been made by states and international institutions, including the latest resolution by the EU Parliament.

Currently, only a very limited amount of food and medication is arriving in Nagorno-Karabakh through Russian peacekeepers, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross – the only international organisation in the region. Food rationing has been introduced, with prices for basic supplies and food skyrocketing. Troubling reports also indicate children are having to take adult medication due to a lack of supplies. More than 860 businesses have suspended their activities and more than 50% of private sector employees have lost their jobs. Educational institutions are working with interruptions or have had to close. There are electricity blackouts as Azerbaijan disrupts the supply of natural gas and electricity.

The situation leaves little doubt that Baku is determined to create impossible living conditions for the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians.

And now Baku has effectively taken control of the road from Russian peacekeepers by installing a checkpoint on the corridor earlier this week. Baku has been calling for it for months, alleging – among other things – that Armenia is using the road to illegally transfer military forces to Nagorno-Karabakh. In contrast, a recent report by the International Crisis Group found Armenia withdrew all its forces after the 2020 war. This latest development once again demonstrates Russia's inability to fulfill its peacekeeping mandate under the 9 November 2020 trilateral statement.

“There is one condition for them to live comfortably on an area of 29,000 square kilometers – they must accept our conditions,” Azerbaijan’s president Aliyev stated in his recent speech talking about Armenia.

In November, Aliyev made explicit threats to use force against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, stating if they did not meet his country’s demands “they will see our fist again”. As stated in a March 2022 European Parliament resolution, Azerbaijani officials are continuing their “systematic, state-level policy of Armenophobia, historical revisionism and hatred towards Armenians.” This creates risks for ethnic Armenians residing in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Encouraged by impunity, Azerbaijan has also resorted to provocations against Armenia itself. Azerbaijan’s tactics of gradually pushing into Armenian territory have already resulted in the occupation of 215 square kilometres near the border, threatening local populations’ security. At the inauguration of the “Great Return to Western Azerbaijan” initiative, which is an irredentist concept mostly to refer to the territory of Armenia, president Aliyev declared: “Present-day Armenia is our land.”

Azerbaijan uses these attacks to pressure Armenia to provide a land connection to Nakhichevan, an Azerbaijani exclave west of Armenia, at the expense of Armenia’s sovereign territory. Meanwhile, Armenia has agreed on many occasions to provide overland safe connection between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan across its territory.

In a welcome development and to help stabilise the situation on the border, in January 2023 the European Union deployed the EU Mission in Armenia (EUMA), a monitoring mission tasked with observing the situation at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The mission operates on the Armenian side of the border, given that Baku refuses to collaborate. EUMA was welcomed by Armenians, however its mere presence does not prevent a new large-scale military attack by Azerbaijan.

Experts warn of a growing risk of a significant military escalation, leading to possible crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The power vacuum associated with Russia’s war in Ukraine creates an additional layer of vulnerability risking Armenia’s fragile democracy, while sending a message that the use of force can go unpunished. This would certainly benefit Russia, which is trying to undermine Armenia’s democracy.

In the light of considerable power imbalance between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the EU must use its leverage against both and step into more active mediation. The crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh requires direct talks between Baku and Stepanakert under an international mechanism to ensure Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians’ rights and security. In the face of ongoing threats, it is obvious the population there cannot live under the rule of Azerbaijan’s regime. It is critical the newly set-up checkpoint is withdrawn.

The UN has done little to date. In a recent letter to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a group of Armenian NGOs have requested an urgent mission to Nagorno-Karabakh – to the Lachin corridor as well as to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. In contrast to the EUMA, such a mission would have an explicit human rights mandate and provide independent reporting.

Without proper and urgent international attention and intervention, we will be witnessing a major human rights emergency that can be prevented.

Turkey unexpectedly closes its airspace for the Armenian airline




YEREVAN, APRIL 29, ARMENPRESS. The aviation authorities of Turkey, without prior notification, canceled the permission previously granted to the Flyone Armenia airline to operate flights to Europe through the Turkish airspace, Aram Ananyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Flyone Armenia airline, told ARMENPRESS.

"For reasons incomprehensible to us and without any visible grounds, the Turkish aviation authorities canceled the permission previously granted to the Flyone Armenia airline to operate flights to Europe through the Turkish airspace. Turkish aviation authorities implemented the cancellation without prior notification, putting our airline and our passengers in an uncomfortable situation.

Flyone Armenia company is working with the passengers of the canceled flights and will inform about the upcoming developments. We kindly ask for the understanding of our passengers for the inconvenience caused by reasons beyond our control," Ananyan said.

Community commemorates Armenian genocide at Fresno State memorial

Tuesday, 9:26AM

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) – People all around the world on Monday marked a dark day in World history.

The Armenian genocide started 108 years ago.

Community members gathered at Fresno State to commemorate the lives lost.

On this day in 1915, the Ottoman Empire started arresting Armenians.

One and a half million lost their lives during World War I.

Those who attended the event laid out flowers around the Armenian Genocide Monument.

A religious service followed the event.

Calls to Australia’s political leaders to recognise Armenian Genocide

NEOS KOSMOS, Australia
April 21 2023

Armenian-Australians calling on Australia’s political leaders to recognise Armenian Genocide

With the support of sections of the Greek community, a series of events have been planned nationwide by the Armenian Genocide Commemorative Committee as they call for both the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton to recognise the genocide of 1915.

This year marks the genocide’s 108th anniversary and Australia’s Armenian community, with Assyrians and Greeks in support, have organised a series of initiatives to commemorate the occasion.

The ultimate goal they are striving for is to have the leaders of Australia’s major political parties to formally recognise it as genocide.

This weekend’s events open with a “March for Justice” in Sydney on Sunday 23 April, with various members of Australia’s Armenian, Assyrian and Greek communities meeting at Hyde Park before marching towards Sydney’s Customs House near Circular Quay.

On behalf of the Greek community, representations will include people of Pontian and Asia Minor descent, those with direct personal and family connections to the Genocides of the Hellenes and the indigenous peoples of eastern Thrace and Anatolia said Dr Panayiotis Diamadis, Director at the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, to Neos Kosmos.

“This is the annual opportunity for our community, many of whom are descendants of survivors of the Genocides, to show that we will continue to honour the memory of our ancestors,” Dr Diamadis told Neos Kosmos.

As for the collaboration between the three communities, he stressed “it is the result of the gradual development of cooperation and coordination of the three communities that we have more awareness of the just cause of political recognition of the Genocides in Australia than at any time since the 1920s”.

“We have now moved to the field of political cooperation in pursuit of the justice of recognition for our ancestors, so unjustly lost,” the research said.

Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of Australia, Michael Kolokossian, urged all people to participate in the march.

“We call on our broader community, and our Assyrian and Greek compatriots, to turn up and make their voices heard as the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition prepare statements which will be delivered on the 24th of April,” said Mr Kolokossian.

Concurrently with the march, Western Australia will hold a memorial service at the Subiaco Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial, this being the first time the state has organised a commemorative event.

On Monday 24 April, the day of the anniversary, a national commemoration will be held at the Concourse Concert Hall in Chatswood NSW, with a keynote from Dr Umit Kurt at 7pm while a candlelight vigil is planned in Melbourne at the State Library.

On the same day, an Adelaide commemoration has been organised for 6 pm at the Migration Museum.

Two other commemorations have also been set in NSW to conclude the events: at the Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church in Western Sydney, on Wednesday 26 April at 7.30 pm and at Memorial Park, organised by Ryde City Council on Saturday 29 April 2.30 pm.

Armenian PM congratulates Iranian Leader and president on Eid al-Fitr

Iran –

TEHRAN – Armenian Prime Minister Vikol Pashinyan has sent separate messages to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi congratulating them on Eid al-Fitr and called for deepening ties between Yerevan and Tehran, ISNA reported.

“I sincerely congratulate the arrival of Eid al-Fitr that symbolizes self-purification and end of fasting to you and the friendly people of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pashinyan stated.

Elsewhere in his message, the prime minister said “the government of the Republic of Armenia and the nation of Armenia highly value” the centuries-old “warm relationship between Armenia and Iran”.

Pashinyan went on to say that the manifestations of these centuries-old interactions are clearly evident in “effective dialogue between Christianity and Islam and this will open new horizons in favor of our nations and regional stability in the near future.” 

In his message to the Iranian president, Prime Minister Pashinyan also said, “I sincerely congratulate the auspicious Eid al-Fitr.”

He also wished the “neighboring and friendly nation of Iran” would benefit from the blessings of this holy month.

The Armenian prime minister also said there exist all the prerequisites to strengthen bilateral ties and “I sincerely hope that through the political and durable partnership we will witness expansion of cooperation” between Armenia and Iran.