As Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continue to pummel one another, battle lines across Artsakh are being drawn, erased and redrawn. Diplomacy, at least for the time being, has broken down and the future remains uncertain. This war that was launched by Azerbaijan with Turkey’s full backing, is ultimately becoming a battle for survival for the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. This evening, as Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, and other towns in Artsakh came under heavy shelling, the spokesperson for the President of Artsakh said that the “Defense Army will strike back very soon. We had already issued warnings. There will be no forgiveness.”
Here is a chronology of official updates.
12 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, a resident of Medz Masrik village in Armenia’s Syunik region, Robert Yeghiazaryan, 52, who was injured following an Azerbaijani strike on his village, has died in hospital.
12 a.m.: According to the Artsakh State Emergency Service, the night of October 22-23 was tense in the regions of Martakert and Martuni. Two apartments were set ablaze following a missile attack in the city of Martakert. The firefighters of the Emergency Service of Martakert managed to quickly extinguish the fire to prevent it from spreading to other apartments.
According to preliminary data, Azerbaijani forces used a rocket launcher. No casualties have been reported.
Early in the morning, the villages of Karmir Shuka and Taghavard were targeted by Azerbaijani forces. Smerch rocket launchers were used.
The narrow geopolitical framework of the three-decade-old Karabakh conflict is now threatening to become a Eurasian nightmare: Turkey's involvement has sensationalized the war, Iran’s unease has reinforced the confusion, while Russia's perceived passiveness has created much regional anxiety.Read more
9:30 a.m.: According to Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense:
The situation in the Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict zone was relatively tense but stable overnight. In certain areas, there were artillery battles and exchange of gunfire.
However, last night, violating the humanitarian ceasefire once again, Azerbaijani forces shelled the city of Askeran and, after midnight, once again targeted the town of Martuni.
Currently, local battles are taking place along the entire front line. The units of the Artsakh Defense Army continue to detect and neutralize subversive groups of mercenaries.
1:05 p.m.: The Artsakh Defense Army published the names of 27 servicemen killed in battle.
Maranjyan, Edvard [Artushi], b. 2000
Hovhannisyan, Gevorg [Zohrabi], b. 1984
Hovhannisyan, Gor [zohrabi], b. 1986
Avagyan, Ara [Seniki], b. 1981
Harutyunyan, Narek [Seniki], b. 1988
Gabrielyan, Igor [Grigori], b. 1977
Hambardzumyan, Hambardzum [Alberti], b. 1989
Avetyan, Gegham [Zhorayi], b. 1971
Danielyan, Garik [Azati], b. 1990
Mesropyan, Hovsep [Mheri], b. 1991
Hayrapetyan, Arshak [Vanushi], b. 1977
Ayvazyan, Vladimir [Karapeti], b. 1982
Nikalyan, Armen [Samveli], b. 1981
Grigoryan, Hayk [Daviti], b. 1985
Avetisyan, Hrachya [Sahaki], b. 1993
Martirosyan, Arayik [Gachayi], b. 1989 (reservist)
Baghdasaryan, Aram [Gurgeni], b. 1969 (reservist)
Grigoryan, Karen [Gurgeni], b. 1976 (reservist)
Mirzoyan, Sashik [Ashoti], b. 1962 (reservist)
Sahinyan, Sargis [Rafayeli], b. 1984 (reservist)
Aperyan, Yurik [Levoni], b. 1961 (reservist)
Nevhayev, Aleksandr [Vasilyevich], 2001
Mkhitaryan, Nikoghos [Eduardi], b. 2000
Babajanyan, Davit [Garniki], b. 2001
Hakobyan, Nver [Azati], b. 2001
Hovsepyan, Harutyun [Arturi], b. 2001
Yeghiazaryan, Gor [Garegini], b. 2000
1:30 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense said that intense battles are taking place in the eastern direction of the front line. In some of the areas, subversive groups of Azerbaijani forces are being pushed back.
3:30 p.m.: Armenia’s Government Ombudsman Arman Tatoyan wrote the following on his Facebook Page: “Every opportunity is being used in Azerbaijan to deepen hatred towards ethnic Armenians. Our monitoring of Azerbaijani mass media and social networks has revealed widespread and highly encouraged hatred.
We are in contact with families of Armenian POWs. For our part, we are doing the utmost within the powers of the Human Rights Defender’s office to establish priority contact with international organizations.”
4:15 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Ministry of Defense wrote the following on his Facebook Page after videos of two Armenian POWs were aired by Azerbaijan: Forcing Armenian prisoners of war to talk is a clear sign of the enemy’s powerlessness.
Artsakh President Writes Open Letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin
4:20 p.m.: Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan wrote an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin where he refers to the long history between Artsakh and Russia and that in the historical memory of the people of Artsakh, Russia is perceived as a fraternal country, one which has in the most difficult situations, extended a helping hand to the Armenian people. Harutyunyan noted that, for more than a century , Karabakh was part of the Russian Empire and this period was one of peace, creativity, repatriation of compatriots expelled from their native lands and economic recovery. Thus, since the second half of the 19th century, the administrative and political center of Artsakh, the city of Shushi, has been one of the most important cultural and economic centers of Transcaucasia.
He wrote that close bilateral ties were maintained during the Soviet period and close relations between Artsakh and Russia continue to this day. “A significant part of the three million-strong Armenian diaspora in Russia are natives of Artsakh, among whom are many who were forcibly deported as a result of the policy of genocide and ethnic cleansing carried out by Azerbaijani authorities in the late 1980s and early 1990s,” he wrote. Russia has implemented a policy of non-use of force or threat of force under international law during all stages of the settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict and has been in favor of the principle of peaceful settlement of conflicts, he wrote adding that Russia plays a role in both the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and a separate role.
The Artsakh Republic highly appreciates Russia’s mediation efforts, active role and decisive mission in all stages of the conflict settlement, especially in 1994, in reaching a Tripartite Ceasefire Agreement. Russia also played a decisive role in the next stage of the escalation of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict in 2016. On April 5, 1994, an agreement was reached in Moscow with the mediation of Russia to cease hostilities and restore the ceasefire, in accordance with the ceasefire agreement. We highly appreciate your active diplomatic efforts by Russia, aimed at ending the aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh, the large-scale war.
“You are the person and the head of state who has a huge reputation in the world and in our region. With all this in mind, we ask that you make every effort to end the war in the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict zone and resume political processes,” he said.
Azerbaijani Forces Shell Kashatagh, Including Karegah-Berdzor Road
4:55 p.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations, at approximately 2:20 p.m., Azerbaijani forces shelled the Karegah community in the Kashatagh region and then the Karegah-Berdzor road using Grad rocket launchers. Besides material damage, no casualties were reported. According to the statement, there are no military objects in the area.
At the moment, Azerbaijani air forces are bombing the town of Martakert.
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Meets With U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
8 p.m.: Armenia’s Foreign Ministry Zohrab Mnatsakanyan met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington D.C.
The main topic of their discussion was the situation that has been created in Artsakh as a result of Azerbaijan’s large-scale aggression. Mnatsakanyan spoke about the war crimes committed by Azerbaijan’s Armed Forces against the civilian population and the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure during their military operations and the dehumanization of civilians and prisoners of war, including beheadings and summary executions.
Mnatsakanyan also underscored that this aggression by Azerbaijan is taking place with Turkey’s direct involvement, including direct military-technical assistance and by infiltrating the conflict and the region with armed mercenaries. According to the Armenian Foreign Minister, Azerbaijan’s decision to allow Turkey to exert its influence in the region and become a hub of international terrorism is a serious threat to the security of the region. Mnatsakanyan noted Azerbaijan’s violation of the mutually agreed-upon humanitarian ceasefires and their continuing military operations against the people of Artsakh, illustrates yet again Azerbaijan’s intention to resolve the issue solely through military means.
Both sides reaffirmed the need to implement the agreements reached on the immediate ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, as well as the need to continue the peace process within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
8:25 p.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan: “Following a successful military operation by Armenian forces in the south, a large special ops unit was destroyed, including nine pieces of military equipment and a number of other military equipment was confiscated. An Azerbaijani soldier has been taken as a prisoner of war; he is now being operated on by Armenian military doctors.
Azerbaijani Drone Shot Down in Republic of Armenia
8:47 p.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan: The Armenian air defense units downed an Azerbaijani UAV in the northeastern direction of the Republic of Armenia.
9 p.m.: During a live briefing from the Oval Office, U.S. President Donald Trump said the following: “Armenia is a great friend, there are a lot of Armenians living here in the U.S. and we are going to help them.” He then said that he is involved in the Armenia-Azerbaijan issue.
9:05 p.m.: According to Artsakh’s Government Ombudsman, Artak Beglaryan, civilian areas of Stepanakert were hit with a number of missiles. No reports on casualties. The Armenian Unified Infocenter reported that the town of Martuni is also being shelled.
According to official reports and eyewitnesses in Stepanakert, heavy missile strikes by Azerbaijani fighter jets have hit a gas pipeline, vital civilian infrastructure; there are fires in residential neighborhoods.
9:30 p.m.: Artsakh President spokesperson Vahram Poghosyan wrote the following on his Facebook Page: A little while ago, Stepanakert was bombed again by the adversary. The Artsakh Defense Army will strike back very soon. We had already issued warnings. There will be no forgiveness.
Defense Ministry Live Press Briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan and Lilit Museyan
10 p.m.: In a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that Azerbaijani forces continued their offensive in different directions of the front line. Besides the military operations taking place on the front line, a number of settlements of Artsakh were hit with missiles, including the cities of Martakert and Berdzor as well as their surrounding areas. During the day, the situation was especially tense in the central and northern directions, in Shekher, Jivanik and the surrounding villages, where Armenian forces were working to neutralize the subversive groups of Azerbaijani forces. Hovhannisyan stressed that they have registered successes in this regard and Shekher with its surrounding forest has almost completely been cleared from those groups. In some of the areas, the operations are still ongoing. In the south, Azerbaijani forces attempted to attack toward the direction of Vorotan. Several of their attempts failed and they were pushed back after sustaining significant losses. The situation remains tense and mainly localized battles are taking place. Azerbaijani forces are trying to launch attacks in areas close to roads and rivers, all of which are being neutralized by Armenian forces.
Hovhannisyan noted that the war is tense and hard but the successes of the Armenian side are stable. Armenian forces are in control of the situation and are delivering devastating attacks in a number of directions. The military operations continue day and night.
Lilit Museyan, Anesthesiologist/ICU Doctor
Dr. Lilit Museyan said that the current war has two fronts – one is for preservation of our country’s borders, our identity and the second is the fight against the coronavirus. She went on to say that the fight against coronavirus is falling behind since a part of the society has stopped taking the appropriate precautions, thus wasting the efforts of those fighting against it. Museyan noted that it is important to unite and act to fight against the epidemic. “We need to direct our potential and funding to the battlefield,” Museyan said. She stressed that coronavirus not only increases the government’s expenses but also lays siege to the healthcare infrastructure and doctors. Museyan also noted that those infected are not able to participate in activities directed toward the protection of the homeland throughout their treatment and recovery. She stressed that the virus can also spread on the frontline. “The adversary did not accidentally choose to launch an attack during the pandemic: it has chosen coronavirus as its ally. By defeating its ally, we will weaken the adversary and bring our victory closer,” Museyan said. She urged citizens to follow the anti-epidemic guidelines and be strict to others.
Starting tomorrow, the Ministry of Defense will publish its own map to reflect the situation on the front line. Initially, the concern regarding a map is that military operations are currently very localized and might not be well reflected in the form of a map but we will try our best to also map the developments on the front line.
Moments ago, we were informed that Stepanakert has again been shelled. As we have confirmed time and again, the adversary has developed a habit of taking out its anger from failures on the front line on the civilian population. And it has resorted to the same behavior a couple of times today using artillery.
The armed forces on the front line are not in need of anything currently. If a specific need for anything arises at any moment, then the issue is dealt with on the spot through the delivery system or other services of the Defense Ministry. If there is willingness to help, then address the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the corresponding divisions of the Defense Ministry who coordinate similar work. You can also donate to the Hayastan All Armenia Fund or the Soldier’s Insurance Fund.
The intensity of fire in the conflict zone has diminished. Both sides have sustained losses and the intensity cannot be compared to that of the first days. However, in specific places, when the adversary initiated an incursion, the intensity of fire naturally spikes for a short period of time.
Hovhannisyan said he wants to once again remind everyone that the conflict is dynamic and constantly changing and there is no need for euphoria or depression upon hearing any news from the front line.
11:27 p.m.: The Armenian Unified Infocenter reports that the Avetaranots community of the Askeran region has also come under shelling. There is one civilian injury and considerable material damage.
US Secretary Pompeo Meets With Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers
U.S. Secretary of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus issued the following statement:
“Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov separately today in Washington, D.C. Secretary Pompeo emphasized the need to end the violence and protect civilians. The Secretary also stressed the importance of the sides entering substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to resolve the conflict based on the Helsinki Final Act principles of the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”
Human Rights Watch: Azerbaijani Military Uses Banned Cluster Munitions Against Civilian Population of Artsakh
Human Rights Watch has documented four incidents of the Azerbaijani military using cluster munitions during on-site investigation against the civilian population of Artsakh.
The Human Rights Watch has published the results of its on-sight investigation in Nagorno-Karabakh. The report confirms that “Azerbaijan has repeatedly used widely banned cluster munitions in residential areas in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“The continued use of cluster munitions – particularly in populated areas – shows flagrant disregard for the safety of civilians,” said Stephen Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition.
In the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Human Rights Watch is investigating whether all sides of the conflict adhere to international humanitarian law, which requires armed forces to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and between military objects and civilian objects, at all times. Human Rights Watch has made repeated requests to the Azerbaijani government for access to conduct an on-site investigation, but access has not yet been granted.
Human Rights Watch examined remnants of the rockets, impacts and remnants of submunitions that exploded, as well as dud submunitions that failed to function at several locations in Stepanakert and Hadrut. Human Rights Watch also spoke to six people who witnessed the attacks. Azerbaijani officials have accused the Armenian side of using cluster munitions in this conflict, but Human Rights Watch has not independently verified those claims.
Human Rights Watch was not able to identify any military equipment or bases in the three neighborhoods where the attacks took place. Even if there had been, given the indiscriminate effects of cluster munitions, their use in a residential civilian setting is not permitted under the laws of war.
The report says that the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions comprehensively prohibits cluster munitions and requires their clearance as well as assistance to victims. Armenia and Azerbaijan are not among the treaty’s 110 state parties. Both say that they cannot accede to the treaty until the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh is resolved. Both should take the necessary steps to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions without delay, Human Rights Watch said.
Regardless of specific treaty obligations, all parties to the conflict are bound by the Geneva Conventions and customary international law, and must abide by the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, which requires armed forces to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and between military objects and civilian objects, at all times. It is also forbidden to carry out indiscriminate attacks or attacks that cause excessive civilian damage to the anticipated concrete military advantage.
“The repeated use of cluster munitions by Azerbaijan should cease immediately as their continued use serves to heighten the danger for civilians for years to come,” Goose said.
Human Rights Watch identified the remnants of Israeli-produced LAR-160 series cluster munition rockets and unexploded M095 dual-purpose submunitions in Stepanakert and Hadrut. Each rocket carries 104 submunitions and each submunition is equipped with a self-destruct mechanism. Azerbaijan received these surface-to-surface rockets and launchers from Israel in 2008–2009. Neither Armenia, nor Nagorno-Karabakh authorities, are known to stockpile cluster munitions but they possess multi-barrel rocket launchers capable of delivering these weapons.
Human Rights Watch identified the Israeli-produced M095 dual-purpose submunition in each location. Human Rights Watch observed hundreds of the distinctive impacts of M095 submunitions as well as remnants of the pink-colored nylon stabilization ribbons in three neighborhoods in Stepanakert.
Human Rights Watch observed damage to power lines, children’s playgrounds, vehicles, businesses, homes, the main post office and the Karabakh Telecom building.
Genocide Emergency: Azerbaijan in Artsakh
Genocide Watch, an alliance of more than 75 organizations from around the world, has declared a genocide emergency for Nagorno-Karabakh/Artsakh:
In September 2020, Azerbaijani troops crossed the “Line of Contact” dividing Karabakh. Turkey intervened on the side of Azerbaijan. Armenia supports Artsakh. Azerbaijan uses laser-guided drones, supplied by Turkey and Israel, to target Armenian troops, villages and civilians. Azerbaijani military offensives against civilians are war crimes under the Geneva Conventions.
The establishment of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918 began with the systematic extermination of the Armenian populations living in Azerbaijan and the provinces of Nakhichevan and Nagorno-Karabakh. Often viewed as an extension of the 1915 deportation and genocide of Ottoman Armenians, Azerbaijani forces in Baku slaughtered at least 15,000 Armenian civilians in the “September Days.” Azerbaijanis also slaughtered 1,000 Armenians in 1919-1920 in the Karabakh cities of Shusha and Khaibalikend. These historic genocidal massacres contribute to Armenian distrust of Azerbaijan today.
Soviet rule brought the massacres against Armenians to an end, but the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh during the dismantling of the Soviet Union reignited violence against the Armenian minority in Azerbaijan. From 1988 to 1990, Azerbaijani mobs robbed, beat, raped and murdered ethnic Armenians in the towns of Sumgait, Baku and Kirovabad. This campaign of terror caused the forced expulsion of nearly all Armenians living in Azerbaijan.
In 1988, Nagorno-Karabakh’s parliament voted for independence, declaring the Republic of Artsakh. Azerbaijanis boycotted the referendum and a war followed. Armenian forces defeated Azerbaijani forces and many Azerbaijanis fled from Nagorno-Karabakh. During the war, Azerbaijani forces shelled Stepanakert, killing over 100 Armenian civilians, and Azerbaijani forces destroyed Armenian villages, killed civilians, and mutilated corpses. In one significant massacre in the village of Maragha, Azerbaijani forces murdered over 100 Armenian civilians in April 1992.
The Azerbaijani government under Ilham Aliyev denies any violence against Armenians and is also a denier of the 1915 Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire.
Today, Azerbaijan denies displaced Armenians the right to return and forbids a person of Armenian ethnicity (regardless of citizenship) from entering its territory. The Azerbaijani government promotes hate speech and encourages violence against Armenians. Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani soldier murdered Armenian soldier Gurgen Margaryan with an axe in 2004 at a NATO training program in Hungary. Upon Safarov’s return home, the Azerbaijani government acquitted Safarov of murder and awarded him honors for his service to Azerbaijan. In 2016, Azerbaijani troops decapitated the Yazidi-Armenian soldier Kyaram Sloyan and posted photos of his severed head on the social media site VKontakte.
The U.N., Russia and the Red Cross have called for a ceasefire, but it has been disregarded by both sides.
Due to its denial of past genocide against Armenians, its official use of hate speech, and the current targeting of civilians in Artsakh,
Genocide Watch considers Azerbaijan to be at Stage 9: Extermination and Stage 10: Denial.
Genocide Watch recommends:
1. The U.N. Security Council should demand that Azerbaijan stop all offensive maneuvers against the Republic of Artsakh and order a Chapter 7 “ceasefire” in the current conflict.
2. The Security Council should request the “good offices” of the UN Secretary-General and the Minsk Group to resolve the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
3. The Security Council should impose an embargo on the sale of arms to Azerbaijan.
4. A UN Peacekeeping Force should be created and positioned along the Line of Contact to deter attacks by Azerbaijan against Armenians in Artsakh.
5. World leaders should condemn hate speech and genocide denial by the Aliyev regime.
Members of Congress Call For Sanctions Against Aliyev
Fifty members of Congress, led by Reps. Brad Sherman, TJ Cox, Jim Costa and Katherine Clark, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling for strong sanctions against the President and military leaders of Azerbaijan for human rights violations taking place in Artsakh.
“We write to express our concern regarding Azerbaijan’s ongoing military offensive against the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Since September 27, Azerbaijani shelling and drone strikes have decimated Stepanakert and the surrounding towns. More than 10 hours of talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani officials resulted in a ceasefire agreement on Saturday, October 10 , which Azerbaijani forces broke immediately after it went into effect. Its ongoing bombing campaign targeting large population centers throughout Artsakh is destroying critical civilian infrastructure and disrupting daily life by forcing residents to stay in their bomb shelters and basements.
“Protection of civilians caught in the escalating conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region must be prioritized. On October 5, Amnesty International confirmed the use of cluster munitions in the city of Stepanakert. They also reported an unidentified number of civilian casualties after further shelling in Stepanakert and the town of Shushi. Azerbaijan has continuously shelled civilian areas, and has targeted infrastructure of important Christian heritage, including the Holy Saviour Cathedral.
“Human rights abuses undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure and democratic societies. These abuses have devastating impacts on individuals and the rule of law, and they cause deep trauma that can last generations. Historically, the United States has sought to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuses under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Public Law 114- 328).
“Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov, Chief of the General Staff Sadikov Najmeddin Huseynoglu, Deputy Minister of Defense (Army) Mustafayev Kerem Narimanoglu, and Deputy Minister of Defense (Air Force) Tairov Ramiz Firudinoglu must be held accountable for their part in the ongoing human rights abuses taking place in Artsakh. Without a doubt, many of these individuals are responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. Thus, we call on the Trump Administration to impose significant, tangible consequences on the individuals responsible for Azerbaijan’s continuous campaign of aggression against civilians in Artsakh.
“Azerbaijan’s actions threaten strategic American priorities in the South Caucasus and the stability of international political systems in the region. Without a firm response from the United States, the return of fighting in the region stokes the possibility of a full-blown war embroiling Turkey and Russia. We have already seen Turkey’s heavy hand in this conflict, including the recent deployment of pro-Turkish fighters from Syria and Libya to bolster Azerbaijan’s army and reported use of Turkish F-16s in their ongoing bombing campaign. Any further escalation of fighting runs the risk of a much larger conflict threatening the lives not only of Artsakhians, but innocent civilians living throughout the Caucasus.”
Rep. Adam Schiff Calls for Recognition of Artsakh in US Congress
U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) addressed Congress on October 23, calling for the recognition of Artsakh’s independence if Azerbaijan and Turkey continue their attack. The full text of his statement:
Madam Speaker, I rise because for more than four weeks, Azerbaijan and Turkey have been waging war on Artsakh, bombarding civilians, churches, and committing possible war crimes. More than 800 soldiers have been killed repelling Azerbaijan’s attacks, and dozens of civilians are dead. Estimates are that more than half of the civilian population of Artsakh has been displaced, sleeping in cars or open fields away from falling bombs, as winter approaches.
For decades, through the OSCE Minsk Group, the United States has supported a peaceful, democratic and negotiated resolution to the dispute surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, or Artsakh. We have persisted in this policy even as Azerbaijan launched countless assaults and as their leadership frequently threatened war to redraw the Line of Contact by force, and as they rejected monitoring along the Line of Contact.
Today, it appears that Azerbaijan and Turkey are determined to make good on their threats. With bombs and drones and Syrian mercenaries, Turkey and Azerbaijan are pushing ahead with a war that has no end in sight. The Armenian people are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the genocide perpetrated a century ago by the Ottoman Empire, and the words and deeds of Erdogan and Aliyev today call to mind the crimes of one hundred years ago.
We cannot allow history to repeat itself. If Azerbaijan and Turkey have determined to wage war, the United States, the Minsk Group and the International Community should make clear that they will not succeed in their aims.
And that if they persist in this violence, we must recognize the Republic of Artsakh as an independent nation. Doing so would send the strongest possible message that we will not allow border disputes to be settled by the indiscriminate and devastating use of force against civilian populations.
Aliyev and Erdogan must be made to understand that if they continue with this war, there will be consequences. The United States will not stand idly by.
Armen Sarkissian Met With the French President
A meeting of the President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian and President of France Emmanuel Macron took place at the Élysée Palace. At the meeting, the two discussed the situation in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.
President Sarkissian expressed his gratitude to President Macron and noted that Armenia highly values the efforts of France, as a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, and the personal position of President Macron in the resolution of the conflict.
President Sarkissian underscored that the large-scale military aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan with the support of Turkey against Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh continues. Settlements, the civilian population and civilian infrastructure of Artsakh are being targeted which causes casualties and injuries among civilians. The President of Armenia expressed deep concern with Turkey’s military and political assistance to Azerbaijan and underlined that Turkey’s involvement makes the situation worse, endangering stability and security in the region. President Sarkissian said that Islamic terrorists brought by Turkey to Azerbaijan and enlisted in the armed forces of that country to be used in the military actions against Artsakh, pose a particular threat for the region. There is also a possibility that some time later they might appear in other countries, including in Europe.
President Macron also expressed concern with the ongoing military actions and ensuing situation.
Presidents Sarkissian and Macron concurred that there is no alternative to a peaceful resolution and stressed the importance of implementing agreements on a ceasefire.
The Presidents underlined the role of the OSCE Minsk Group in the resolution of the conflict and stressed the importance of getting back to the negotiations under the co-chairmanship of the Minsk Group.
The Presidents of Armenia and France also stated with satisfaction that privileged Armenian-French relations, based on the centuries-long ties and friendship of the two nations, continue to develop in the spirit of friendship and mutual understanding.
President Armen Sarkissian arrived in Paris from Brussels where he met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell and President of the European Council Charles Michel.
U.S. Congressman Pallone to Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Supporting Artsakh’s Right to Self-Determination
Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), joined by a bipartisan group of 30 Members of the House of Representatives, introduced a resolution supporting the Republic of Artsakh, recognizing its right to self-determination and condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey for aggression.
The resolution focuses on the ongoing conflict raging in the South Caucasus after Azerbaijani and Turkish forces broke a long-standing ceasefire and invaded Artsakh on September 27. These ruthless attacks have led to the deaths of hundreds of soldiers and dozens of civilians in Artsakh and to the displacement of roughly half of its population. This is a direct result of Azerbaijan’s confirmed use of hired mercenaries from Syria on the front lines, lethal drone strikes and indiscriminate shelling – including the confirmed use of cluster munitions – against major population centers in an effort to force a quick surrender. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan and Turkey have declared on multiple occasions that they are unwilling to come back to the negotiating table under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Minsk Group, which is co-chaired by the U.S., France and Russia.
“It is incredibly important for the House of Representatives to send a strong message of support for Artsakh and its people’s bid for independence, especially on the eve of important meetings between the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers and Secretary of State Pompeo,” said Pallone. “The international community has folded to Azerbaijani and Turkish pressure for too long, ignoring their constant bombastic rhetoric and their blatant military buildup over the years. As this bloody conflict continues, we believe now is the time to finally acknowledge Artsakh’s legitimate claims to independence on the world stage and grant formal recognition of their people’s right to self-determination.
“This resolution reflects the ongoing situation in the South Caucasus and takes a significant step in demonstrating Congressional support for the people of Artsakh during this difficult time. The United States must remain committed to immediately halting the ongoing fighting in Artsakh. In the process, we must also take bold steps toward holding Azerbaijan and Turkey accountable for their aggressions and toward producing a permanent solution that resolves Artsakh’s status and security issues. The introduction of this resolution helps us along that path.”
Current list of 30 cosponsors includes: Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Gus M. Bilirakis (FL-12), Adam B. Schiff (CA-28), Jackie Speier (CA-12) ), James P. McGovern (MA-03), Katherine Clark (MA-05), TJ Cox (CA-21), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Jim Costa (CA-20), Grace Napolitano (CA-38), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-14), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Brad Sherman (CA-27), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), John Sarbanes (MD-03), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-39), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Anna Eshoo (CA-14), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Zoe Lofgren (CA-16), Dina Titus NV-01), Grace Meng (NY-06) Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09), Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03).
Fort Lee, NJ Recognizes the Independence of Artsakh
The Borough of Fort Lee, NJ unanimously condemned Azerbaijani aggression against the Republic of Artsakh, recognized its right to self-determination and independence, and urged the U.S. President and Congress to join them in supporting Artsakh’s freedom.
U.S. Statement on the Position of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs on the Nagorno-Karabakh Settlement
As delivered by Deputy Political Counselor Lane Darnell Bahl to the Permanent Council, Vienna on October 22, 2020.
The United States fully supports the efforts of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to facilitate a ceasefire and to bring Armenia and Azerbaijan back to the negotiation table. This is the only framework accepted by all.
The United States, as a Co-Chair of the Minsk Group, condemns in the strongest terms the violence along the Line of Contact and especially any attacks on civilian populations. The Foreign Ministers committed themselves on October 10, and again on October 17, to a humanitarian ceasefire to facilitate the exchange of detainees and the return of remains.
Azerbaijan and Armenia must take immediate steps to honor this agreement in full in order to prevent catastrophic consequences for the region. We call on external parties not to contribute to the ongoing violence, but instead to use their influence to urge both sides to adhere to the humanitarian ceasefire and to return to substantive negotiations under the auspices of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
The United States deplores the increasing civilian casualties and extends our condolences to the families of those killed or injured. We call on the sides to observe fully their obligations under international humanitarian law, including their obligations related to protection of civilians and civilian objects.
We urge the sides to support the work of the Co-Chairs and the Chair-in-Office’s Personal Representative, who together with the International Committee of the Red Cross, are ready to facilitate the return of prisoners of war, captives and remains.
We call on the sides to cease inflammatory rhetoric and actions, and to urgently redouble their efforts to complete substantive settlement negotiations based on the accepted basic principles.
US Senators Introduce Legislation to Require Reviews of Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s Human Rights Abuses
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced two resolutions to require Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to detail Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s human rights abuses throughout the South Caucasus, within their own countries and, in Turkey’s case, in Syria, Iraq and Libya. The resolutions also require information on what role U.S. security assistance may be playing in these abuses to inform whether the United States should restrict or end security assistance and arms sales to those countries. Both resolutions invoke statutory authority under section 502B(c) of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA).
The Senators are introducing these resolutions in light of the ongoing violence in the South Caucasus. With full support from Turkey, Azerbaijan has attacked population centers, killing and wounding hundreds of civilians and driving more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh’s population from their homes. Turkey’s aggression in Syria, Libya and northern Iraq has also produced numerous credible reports of human rights violations. Within their own borders, the governments of both Azerbaijan and Turkey have long histories of denying their own people the human rights and fundamental freedoms they deserve.
“Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggression against the Armenian people – with Turkey’s full backing – has already exacted a painful toll on civilians in the region and resulted in appalling human rights abuses. The United States cannot continue providing security assistance and arms to Azerbaijan and Turkey as they move the region further and further away from peace,” said Ranking Member Menendez. “Turkey’s pattern of violence extends beyond the South Caucasus to Syria, Iraq and Libya, and both President Aliyev and President Erdogan have inflicted appalling abuses on their own people. This resolution pushes back against Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s human rights abuses and paves the way to stop arming two governments that so often use their security forces to harm innocent people.”
The Azerbaijan resolution requests:
- All available information concerning alleged violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Government of Azerbaijan within Azerbaijan;
- A description of the steps the U.S. has taken to promote observance of human rights in Azerbaijan;
- The Secretary’s opinion of whether extraordinary circumstances require a continuation of U.S. security assistance to Azerbaijan and all the facts suggesting such assistance is in the national interest of the U.S.;
- All available credible information concerning alleged violations of internationally-recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Government of Azerbaijan throughout the South Caucasus;
- Information on the likelihood that U.S. security assistance has been or will be used in the South Caucasus by the Government of Azerbaijan;
- A description of the steps the U.S. has taken to discourage practices inimical to human rights by the Government of Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus, and to disassociate the U.S. and U.S. security assistance from them.
The Turkey resolution requests:
- All available information concerning alleged violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Government of Turkey within Turkey;
- A description of the steps the U.S. has taken to promote observance of human rights in Turkey;
- The Secretary’s opinion of whether extraordinary circumstances require a continuation of U.S. security assistance to Turkey and all the facts suggesting such assistance is in the national interest of the U.S.;
- All available information concerning alleged violations of internationally recognized human rights by the Government of Turkey, its armed forces, and associated groups and persons in the south Caucasus, Syria, Libya, and Iraq;
- Information on whether U.S. security assistance has been or is likely to be used in the South Caucasus, Syria, Libya, or Iraq by the Government of Turkey;
- Information on whether U.S.-built F-16s have been used by the Government of Turkey in the South Caucasus;
- A description of steps the U.S. has taken to discourage practices inimical to human rights by the Government of Turkey in the south Caucasus, Syria, Libya, and Iraq, and to disassociate the U.S. and U.S. security assistance from them.
President Armen Sarkissian Meets With Josep Borrell
President Armen Sarkissian, who is in Brussels on a working visit, met with the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
President Sarkissian spoke about the large-scale military aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against the Artsakh Republic since September 27 with the military-political support of Turkey as well as the targeting of civilian settlements and infrastructures of Artsakh.
The Armenian President noted that all this is happening in the context of Turkey’s direct involvement, which imports jihadist militants to the region, which poses a serious threat to regional and international stability and security.
Josep Borrell expressed deep concern over the current state of hostilities. He stressed the need to defuse tensions, cease fire and return to the negotiating table co-chaired by the OSCE Minsk Group.
President Armen Sarkissian Meets With NATO Secretary-General
President Armen Sarkissian met with the Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. According to the official announcement, the President spoke about the situation following the Azerbaijani aggression against the borders of Artsakh and Armenia. He expressed concerns over the direct military-political assistance provided to Azerbaijan by a NATO member Turkey.
The NATO Secretary-General also said that he is concerned over the situation, especially targeting civilians, and expressed hope that the parties will respect the ceasefire agreements and return to the negotiating table co-chaired by the OSCE Minsk Group. After the meeting, the two held a press briefing.