As Armenians in Europe shut down interstate highways across the continent, Armenians in Yerevan staged a protest in front of the United Nations building condemning the international community’s failure to stop Azerbaijan’s war against Artsakh.
Meanwhile, Nikos Dendias, Foreign Affairs Minister of Greece was in Armenia for an official visit. He said Greece is following the situation very closely and that they are very concerned about the violation of the October 10 ceasefire agreement that was reached in Moscow. Dendias noted that it is important that the international community makes a distinction between those who have sparked the tension and those who keep a constructive approach and are committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Armenia’s government has decided to place a temporary ban on imports of Turkish goods in protest of Turkey openly supporting Azerbaijan in its war and “terroristic acts unleashed against the people of Artsakh.” The government justified its position because “Turkish authorities transfer mercenaries to the region and supply arms to Azerbaijan, undermining the stability in the region, the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.”
Tonight, Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh came under heavy missile attacks as air raid sirens were heard in the southern city of Kapan, in the Republic of Armenia. A resident of the village of Shosh in Artsakh was killed by Azerbaijani shelling today, bringing the total number of civilian deaths to 32. Armenia’s Defense Ministry says intense battles are continuing.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
9 a.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that, after about an hour of intensive shelling early in the morning, Azerbaijani forces launched a large-scale offensive in the northern direction. They have tried to take control of a number of Armenian positions but were pushed back.
9:05 a.m.: According to MoD spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan, the situation in the Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict zone remained tense but stable overnight. Artillery battles with varying intensity continued in different areas. She said that Azerbaijani forces resumed their offensive in the northern direction in the early morning, in violation of the ceasefire agreement.
11:44 a.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry has released the names of 29 servicemen killed in battle.
Vardanyan, Hovik [Armeni], b. 1996
Grigoryan, Hakob [Alberti], b. 2000
Grigoryan, Mher [Teliki], b. 1969
Hayrapetyan, Vardan [Khachiki], b. 1987
Martirosyan, Karen [Dzoniki], b. 1997
Karapetyan, Gor [Haykazi], b. 1994
Galstyan, Arman [Armeni], b. 2000
Zakaryan, Tigran [Vahani], b. 1988
Afrikyan, Vahagn [Vaniki], b. 1984
Balbabyan, Sergey [Paveli], b. 1982
Isakhanyan, Gor [Artushi], b. 1985
Ohanyan, Sasun [Seryozhayi], b. 1974
Kirakosyan Ruben [Rafayeli], b. 1982
Petrosyan, Gevorg [Ashiki], b. 1992
Yeranosyan, Karen [Joniki], b. 1991
Igityan, Hovhannes [Varazdati], b. 1987
Mkrtchyan, Ara [Makari], b. 1992
Khechoyan, Davit [Ediki], b.1993
Arzumanyan, Aren [Hoviki], b. 2000
Harutyunyan, Gnel [Rubiki], b. 1977 (reserve)
Babakhanyan, Mikayel [Kamoyi], b. 1997 (reserve)
Abrahamyan, Aram [Hrachyayi], b. 1981
Saghumyan, Varuzhan [Armani], b. 2002
Iskandaryan, Sergey [Vardani], b. 2001
Baghdasaryan, Edgar [Shaheni], b. 2001
Gabrielyan, Gnel [Karapeti], b. 2001
Sardaryan, Hovik [Hrayri], b. 2001
Harutyunyan, Tigran [Norayri], b. 2000
Otaryan, Gevorg [Vardani], b. 1999
Armenians in Europe Shut Down Interstate Highways
Early this morning, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, Armenians in Europe launched a protest of unprecedented scale. For several hours, they kept interstate highways in the following directions closed: From France to Spain, from France to Belgium, from Belgium to the Netherlands, from France to Switzerland, from the Netherlands to Germany, from Luxembourg to Belgium and France, from France to Italy and from Germany to Denmark․ Armenians are demanding the international recognition of Artsakh and calling for the condemnation and cessation of the Turkish-Azerbaijani-terrorist aggression against Artsakh and Armenia.
Protest in Front of the UN Office in Armenia
12 p.m.: On October 16, a group of citizens organized a rally in front of the United Nations (UN) office in Yerevan, condemning the international community’s failure to stop Azerbaijan’s war against Artsakh. Armine Melkonyan, the organizer of the protest, noted that Azerbaijani media shared evidence which shows the desecration of corpses of Armenian soldiers and the torture of POWs but the UN has remained silent. The protestors brought posters showing the terrifying war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani side, noting that they want the world to see the atrocities by the adversary.
Anahit Bakhshyan, a former MP who also previously worked with UNICEF, was also present. She condemned UNICEF’s silence, stressing that many children from Artsakh are denied their right to education while the organization remains silent.
One of the representatives from the UN Office in Armenia approached the protesters but noted that he cannot answer their questions and the coordinator is not there to properly respond.
Armenian and Greek Foreign Ministers Hold Joint Press Conference in Yerevan
1 p.m.: Nikos Dendias, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Greece is in Armenia on a working visit and had a joint press conference with Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Armenia.
Foreign Affairs Minister of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan:
Armenia, as a pioneer in genocide prevention, prioritizes the consistent efforts of Greece on this issue. Mnatsakanyan stressed that the meeting with his Greek counterpart is happening at a time when there is an existential threat to the people of Artsakh. “I want to thank my colleague for coming to Armenia at such a difficult time and showing his solidarity with the Armenian people,” added Mnatsakanyan. The Eastern Mediterranean and the South Caucasus regions face the same threat, which is based on Turkey’s expansionist policy. Turkey provoked the Azerbaijani aggression against the civilian population of Artsakh since September 27 and is actively involved in the operations. Turkey is not only militarily involved in the conflict but also coordinates the transfer of mercenaries to Nagorno Karabakh. Despite the October 10 ceasefire agreement, Azerbaijan did not cease its military operations and targeted a military object in the territory of the Republic of Armenia. Yesterday, the capital Stepanakert was being shelled by the Azerbaijani forces. Azerbaijan’s actions show that it is not only unwilling to comply with the October 10 ceasefire agreement but also, provoked by Turkey, by attacking the territory of the sovereign Republic of Armenia, wants to expand the geography of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan continues targeting the civilian population of Artsakh and this genocidal policy does not make a distinction between military objects and civilian settlements. As a result of the Azerbaijani aggression, over 32 civilians were killed and 106 were wounded (86 sustained serious injuries). Following the October 10 ceasefire agreement, six civilians were killed, four were executed by Azerbaijan subversive reconnaissance groups.
Azerbaijani war crimes are documented by the same people who are committing those crimes and then disseminating videos on the internet.
The number of internally displaced persons has significantly grown following this aggression. It is difficult to assess the damage caused to the civilian and urban infrastructure of Artsakh. The irreversible decision of the Azerbaijani authorities to allow their country to become subject to Turkish influence and a hub for international terrorists so that they can continue to remain in power poses a significant threat to the security of the region. In this respect I would like to express my unconditional support to Greece and Cyprus and once again call on Turkey to respect international law and cease operations in the Greek and Cyprot economic zones.
Foreign Affairs Minister of Greece, Nikos Dendias:
The Greek Foreign Minister noted that he had thoroughly discussed the recent development in the region and that they have been following the situation very closely from Athens. Dendias said that they are very concerned about the violation of the October 10 ceasefire agreement that was reached in Moscow. “The ceasefire must be strictly respected,” Dendias added. He went on to say that Greece firmly believes that a lasting solution can be achieved through diplomatic means and negotiations within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the solid basis of international law.
It is important that the international community makes a distinction between those who have sparked the tension and those who keep a constructive approach and are committed to the peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Dendias stressed that Ankara’s intervention in yet another conflict is very worrisome and has raised serious concerns internationally. Greece has been vocal on this issue and was the first to raise it in the international community. Greece also suggested the EU call for a stop to the involvement of external parties in the conflict. Greece has been equally vocal in condemning the unsubstantiated claims by Azerbaijan regarding Greece’s alleged involvement in the conflict. “These claims were categorically denied and Greece has even recalled its ambassador from Baku for consultations,” said the Minister. Lies, insults and fake news will not be tolerated.
Tensions and illegal action in Syria, Iraq, Cyprus, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean have a known, common denominator. The common denominator is Turkey. It is Turkey’s defiance of the European Union’s call for respect of international legitimacy. “Turkey should be judged by its deeds and not by its words.”
1:14 p.m.: Artak Beglaryan, Artsakh’s Government Ombudsman tweeted that Azerbaijani forces continued targeting Artsakh’s civilian populated areas with heavy missiles. He said that Azerbaijani forces were using Smerch rocket system in the death of a civilian and another wounded. According to Beglaryan, 32 civilians and two prisoners of war have died.
2 p.m.: MoD spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan: We declare that no missile was fired in the direction of the Ordubad region of Nakhichevan. This is another lie of the Azerbaijani military-political leadership, which aims to expand the geography of the conflict.
3:20 p.m.: MoD spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan announced that the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia reaffirms that the units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia and the Artsakh Defense Army are ready to observe the terms of the humanitarian ceasefire signed in Moscow on October 10, as well as to apply the agreed ceasefire monitoring regulations. According to Stepanyan, the Ministry of Defense urges the international community, in particular the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, to address their statements and appeals to the side of the conflict that breaches the ceasefire regime and hinders the installation of the necessary verification mechanisms for maintaining the ceasefire.
3:50 p.m.: According to Armenian Unified Infocenter, Marine Pilosyan, a resident of Karavan village in Artsakh’s Karvachar region who was wounded as a result of shelling by Azerbaijani Armed Forces on October 15, is in stable condition.
President of Artsakh Meets With Russian State Duma MP
4:14 p.m.: President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan had a meeting with Vitali Milonov, Russian State Duma MP from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia political party. According to the official statement, Harutyunyan and Milonov discussed the situation that has resulted due to Azerbaijani-Turkish-terrorist aggression. The two stressed the inadmissibility of actions that undermine the stability of the region, including the involvement of foreign and terrorist forces. Harutyunyan thanked Milonov for his visit and interest, and stressed Russia’s important role in the settlement of the conflict and establishment of a lasting peace.
5 p.m.: Artak Beglaryan, the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh tweeted that all Azerbaijani soldiers who have been detained as prisoners of war by Artsakh’s Defense Army are being provided with the necessary medical treatment. Beglaryan said that an Azerbaijani POW underwent surgery as stipulated by humanitarian rules, international law and Artsakh’s national legislation.
“All #Azerbaijan|i soldiers who have been detained as prisoners of war by #Artsakh/#Karabakh military are being provided with necessary medical treatment.”
“#Terrorists cannot even imagine that those hospitals treat even their military servicemen …”https://t.co/zOL72Jkcjh
— Artak Beglaryan (@Artak_Beglaryan) October 16, 2020
5 p.m.: Hugh Williamson, Director, Europe & Central Asia division, Human Rights Watch tweeted that it’s vital to investigate violations of International Humanitarian Law in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Vital to investigate violations of Int’l Humanitarian Law in Nagorno #Karabakh conflict. Alarming reports of growing civilian casualties. @hrw on Oct 6 asked #Azerbaijan for access to the country and still waiting for an answer @bayramov_jeyhun @HikmetHajiyev @AzerbaijanMFA
— Hugh Williamson (@HughAWilliamson) October 16, 2020
Former U.S. Co-Chair of OSCE Minsk Group Weighs In
6 p.m.: Former U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group tweeted that while Turkey has denied support for Syrian mercenaries in Nagorno-Karabakh [Artsakh], the use of foreign fighters would be a dangerous turn risking escalation and a wider war. He said that Armenia and Azerbaijan need to support high-level sustained negotiations. An hour later, he tweeted that the people of Armenia and Azerbaijan should accept that peace is possible only if the “occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh are returned and there is a status for Nagorno-Karabakh – two key elements of the Basic Principles.”
Stepanakert Comes Under Shelling
9:30 p.m.: Artsakh Ombudsman Artak Beglaryan tweets that Stepanakert is being hit by Azerbaijani missiles.
Ministry of Defense Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense said that today, both in the north as well as in the south, after an elongated period of shelling, during which artillery, UAVs, rockets were used, Azerbaijan initiated a large scale attack. Following at least two offensives, Armenian forces were able to push back Azerbaijani forces, who retreated without being able to take over any positions. Intense battles continued in the north the entire day. Armenian forces have regrouped in certain positions and battles are continuing. The Azerbaijani air force was also active during the day.
Hovhanissyan introduced Harutyun Dokhoyan, a soldier who destroyed five Azerbaijani tanks, one infantry combat vehicle and one TOS multiple rocket launcher.
“When we are standing on the frontline, we know we have to protect our homeland, our people, our families. But when they help us in return, it means a great deal to us. When we open the packages [sent by Armenians] and see that everyone has made their contribution and you find what you need, it makes you feel great joy. When the car arrives bringing warm blankets, we know we won’t be cold that day. The support of the Armenian nation, brotherhood among the soldiers standing on the front line gives us strength and once you experience it you will never be afraid of the enemy and will always move forward.
“During the battles, I destroyed seven pieces of military equipment and will not limit myself with that. Once I recover, I will return to the battlefield and will increase the number of destroyed equipment.”
Restrictions of Free Movement Come Into Force in Artsakh
10 p.m.: New restrictions have come into place in Artsakh under martial law.
According to a decree signed by the President of the Republic of Artsakh, certain restrictions were introduced in the Artsakh Republic regarding the right of free movement, as well as a special exit regime for citizens of the Republic of Artsakh.
According to the announcement, a warden was set up headed by Karen Sargsyan, the director of the State Emergency Service of Artsakh. According to the decree, while in public spaces, everyone must have an identification document (military record book) with them, which, if necessary, must be presented to the patrols who are on round-the-clock service throughout the country.
Everyone is urged to follow the instructions of the warden and to move only when absolutely necessary.
10:30 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, a resident of the village of Shosh in Artsakh has died as a result of Azerbaijani shelling.
Armenian Government Temporarily Bans Import of Turkish Goods
Based on the Government decision, the import of Turkish goods to Armenia will be temporarily banned.
The official communication reads:
Turkey openly supports Azerbaijan in its war and terroristic acts unleashed against the people of Artsakh. Turkish authorities transfer mercenaries to the region and supply arms to Azerbaijan, undermining the stability in the region, the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
The ban on imports of Turkish goods not only imposes an economic sanction on Turkey, but also suspends the flow of financial resources to the Turkish state treasury from Armenian sources, which, in turn, have allowed the Turkish authorities to support Azerbaijan. Some Armenian businesses and people have already voluntarily restricted the sale of Turkish products and refrain from purchasing such products.
At the same time, the decision says that there will be no shortage of these goods in the Armenian market, as they can easily be imported from other markets or produced locally.
Nikol Pashinyan Speaks With Canadian PM Justin Trudeau
According to an official communique, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan continues to hold phone talks with his foreign counterparts. Today, the Prime Minister had a telephone conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan provided details of the ongoing hostilities in Artsakh and briefed his counterpart on the overall situation in the region. He called Prime Minister Trudeau’s attention to Turkey’s destructive involvement in the hostilities and the unacceptable aspiration to impose its influence in the South Caucasus.
“Nikol Pashinyan thanked Canada for suspending the export of military goods to Turkey. The fundamental importance of ensuring free exercise of the right of nations to self-determination in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was emphasized during the talks.
“Deeply concerned about the recent developments in the conflict zone, the Prime Minister of Canada stressed the need for an exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict.”
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan Speaks With CSTO Secretary-General Stanislav Zas
Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry announced that, on October 15, Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan had a telephone conversation with CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas. According to the announcement, the main topic of the conversation was the situation created as a result of large-scale aggression by Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone. During the discussion, Mnatsakanyan reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to the implementation of the October 10 joint statement of the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia on a humanitarian ceasefire. According to the statement, Mnatsakanyan expressed deep concern over Azerbaijan’s non-fulfillment of its obligations, which includes targeting civilian settlements in different areas of Artsakh. As Mnatsakanyan noted, those aggressive actions of Azerbaijan are accompanied by numerous violations of international humanitarian and customary law, once again emphasizing the priority of ensuring the existential security of the people of Artsakh through the full realization and recognition of the right to live freely and safely in their historical homeland.
As the statement notes, Mnatsakayan also expressed his deep concern over Turkey’s expansionist policy of unconditionally supporting Azerbaijan by deploying international armed terrorists to the conflict zone, emphasizing that Azerbaijan’s irreversible condoning of international terrorism is a threat to the region. Mnatsakayan also emphasized the inadmissibility of provocative encroachments of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia.
The Armenian Foreign Affairs Minister stressed that the Armenian political leadership is continuously assessing the military situation, the steps arising from it, taking into account the possibility of initiating CSTO regulatory processes.
Mnatsakanyan closed by informing Secretary General Zas that Armenia will continue to constantly inform the Collective Security Treaty Organization and its member states about the current situation, and the consequences of Azerbaijan’s aggression.
Milan City Council Unanimously Recognized Artsakh’s Independence
Milan City Council Member Matteo Forte announced on Facebook that the City Council of Milan, Italy has unanimously recognized the independence of Artsakh and condemned the Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression against it.
The Council urged the Mayor of Milan and the executive authorities of the city to ask the Italian national authorities to recognize the Republic of Artsakh in order to break the silence that has exacerbated the crime.
Forte recalled that, in 1997, the Milan City Council (Palazzo Marino) became the first municipality to recognize the Armenian Genocide of the twentieth century, and that, now with its recognition of Artsakh, it was once again breaking new ground.