Armenia and Azerbaijan have agreed to yet another humanitarian ceasefire in Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh that will come into effect at 8 a.m. local time on October 26, 2020. The joint statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America, the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan late this evening.
Following an intensive round of talks in Washington D.C. with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in Geneva on October 29 “to discuss, reach agreement on, and begin implementation, in accordance with a timeline to be agreed upon, of all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with the basic principles accepted by the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
Here is a chronology of official updates.
1 a.m.: Artsakh Foreign Ministry appeals to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in connection with the publication of videos of soldiers of the Artsakh Defense Army and a civilian:
On October 23, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh appealed to the Stepanakert Office of the Mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in connection with the publication in Azerbaijani mass media of videos of soldiers of the Artsakh Defense Army and a civilian held captive by the Azerbaijani side.
They underlined the need for the ICRC representatives to visit the prisoners of war and the hostage held captive in Azerbaijan and to ensure compliance by official Baku with its obligations under international humanitarian law regarding the captives’ treatment and conditions of their detention.
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9 a.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations: Azerbaijani forces continued shelling peaceful settlements in Artsakh overnight. Artillery was used in the villages of Karmir Shuka, Taghavard, Gishi and Spitakashen in the Martuni region and the village of Avetaranots in the Askeran region.
Azerbaijani forces targeted not only peaceful settlements, but also the areas adjacent to those communities, including forests and agricultural lands. There are no military installations in or near these settlements. No casualties have been reported.
10:15 a.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan: Presently, localized battles are taking place along the entire length of the front line. Units of the Artsakh Defense Army are continuing to undertake operations to find and neutralize Azerbaijani subversive-reconnaissance groups.
2:50 p.m.: The Artsakh Defense Ministry published the names of another 11 Armenian servicemen killed in battle.
Petrosyan, Khachatur [Sergeyi], b. 2001
Harutyunyan, Artyom [Spartaki], b. 2001
Martirosyan, Artur [Levoni], b. 1985 (reservist)
Sayadyan, Garik [Meruzhani], b. 1984
Tovmasyan, Hamlet [Janibeki], b. 1980
Mkhitaryan, Lernik [Leviki], b. 1972
Sargsyan, Suren [Beniki], b. 1985
Mayilyan, Arsen [Arturi], b. 1982
Manukyan, Davit [Manveli], b. 1987
Topchyan, Arman [Leviki], b. 1993
Yeganyan, Hrayr [Armeni], b. 1990 (reservist)
Continuing War Crimes
3:15 p.m.: Early this morning, a video began circulating on social media networks of an Azerbaijani soldier yelling obscenities in Russian at an injured Artsakh soldier and then executing him. The video was uploaded to Telegram. Artak Beglaryan, Artsakh’s Government Ombudsman tweeted that, according to their analysis, the video is authentic [we will not share the graphic footage]. Since the beginning of the war, there have been numerous acts of war crimes committed by Azerbaijani troops, including summary executions of civilians, beheadings, targeting civilian settlements and infrastructure vital to the civilian population.
In fact, there has been a pattern of Azerbaijani war crimes since the end of the First Karabakh War in 1994. There were also countless examples of war crimes committed during the 2016 Four Day April War – including beheadings, mutilation of dead bodies of soldiers, executions of civilians, etc.
Prosecutor General’s Office Has Evidence on Turkey’s Involvement in the War
The Prosecutor General’s Office issued a statement saying that, during the investigation of a criminal case launched after the Azerbaijani aggression against Armenia and Artsakh, they uncovered evidence proving that, since the beginning of August, Turkish Special Forces were present in Azerbaijan and conducted military training for the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, specifically on combat skills necessary for military operations in mountainous conditions. During the exercises, the servicemen of the Turkish Armed Forces informed the
Azerbaijani servicemen that an attack on the military positions of Artsakh is expected in near future.
Since September 3, Azerbaijani reservists have been called up for a general mobilization, but the public was misinformed and was told that the conscription is for a week-long military exercise. Reservists were trained in various units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. Starting from September 21, regular army units as well as reservists were stationed in the military positions of the Line of Contact. On the night of September 26-27, they were ordered to attack the military bases of the Artsakh Defense Army in all directions, using all military equipment at the Azerbaijani Armed Forces’ disposal.
Also, since mid-September, artillery systems were placed in densely-populated Azerbaijani settlements located near the border with Artsakh. Although people were told that the artillery systems are for the military exercises, they were actively used in military operations since the beginning of the war.
According to the statement, the servicemen of the Turkish Special Forces were directly involved in the military operations. The investigation is ongoing.
We recorded this case at the first phase of publication yesterday.
Our analysis shows that it is a real video from the recent clashes, where an #Azerbaijan|i soldier executes an Armenia|n heavily wounded soldier.
So, intl community keeps be blind, Az continues #WarCrimes. https://t.co/guIRVJJmxm
— Artak Beglaryan (@Artak_Beglaryan) October 25, 2020
Aliyev: We Want a Ceasefire and We Want Our Territories Back
2:30 p.m.: When asked if Azerbaijan is ready to give the ceasefire another try in an interview with Fox News, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said, “Yes, we are ready. I’ve said it many times publically. We are ready to agree on a ceasefire today. But at the same time, Armenia, its Prime Minister, should say that they are committed to the basic principles elaborated by the United States, Russia and France. Two days ago, the Armenian Prime Minister said that there is no diplomatic solution to the conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh. We want a ceasefire and we want our territories back, Armenians should commit to liberate our territories, according to the UN resolution and according to the peace plan presented by the United States, Russia and France.”
In an interview with Armenpress, spokesperson to the Armenian Prime Minister, Mane Gevorgyan, said that President Aliyev’s statement is surprising since the PM has not only confirmed readiness but also emphasized the importance of reaching a peaceful resolution based on mutual compromise and within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group chairmanship. Gevorgyan also cited Pashinyan’s statement that it is Azerbaijan, with its maximalist approach, that rejects the reached agreements: “Any concession to a compromise from the Armenian side regarding points that prior were also agreeable to Azerbaijan is instantly rejected by the Azerbaijani side. The moment Armenia shows readiness for a compromise, Azerbaijan instantly demands more.”
6:10 p.m.: According to Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry: “Intelligence data has revealed that the terrorists are complaining about Azerbaijanis taking away not only their passports but also their phones. We all understand why this is being done.”
Armenia’s Ombudsman: Artists and Intellectuals in Azerbaijan Are Publicly Encouraging, Spreading Hatred and Calling for Violence Against Ethnic Armenians
6:20 p.m.: Arman Tatoyan, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender says:
In Azerbaijan, cultural figures, artists and intellectuals are publicly encouraging and spreading hatred and calls for violence against ethnic Armenians, for which they receive public praise.
The style and the vocabulary they use are almost identical to the Armenophobic speeches and words used by government bodies and politicians.
The Office of the Human Rights Defender (Government Ombudsman) of Armenia has collected credible facts confirming this.
The targeted attacks of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces against peaceful residential communities and the subsequent mass destruction, atrocities and inhuman treatment caused are the result of years of entrenched and systemic hatred toward Armenians.
Armenophobia and killings of Armenians have been encouraged in Azerbaijan for years and the perpetrators of these kinds of actions have been rewarded by the state.
The Office of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia regularly submits evidence of hatred toward ethnic Armenians to international organizations. This time the submission is about cultural figures and intellectuals.
The Armenophobic speeches and words of cultural representatives, artists and intellectuals, as well as government representatives and politicians, show that the spread of hatred is in a closed circle and is encouraged by all parties in Azerbaijan.
“Entire Territory of Artsakh Is Now a Battlefield”
7 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry cited Colonel Senor Hasratyan as saying:
“The entire territory of the Republic of Artsakh is now a battlefield. All the settlements, from north to south, from west to east, are under air strikes. And this is so almost every day. However, it is already clear that all the plans of the adversary, including its plan to suppress the people of Artsakh through long-range artillery and incursion units, are destined to fail. Studying the adversary’s tactics, the Armenian soldier day-by-day is becoming a master of the situation. This is visible in ongoing combat operations along defensive positions and confrontations in neutralizing subversive units. I write these lines based not on what I have heard, but what I just witnessed at the Karmir Shuka gorge. We have no other path, this is a fight for survival and we are fated to win.”
U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, in an interview with CBS’ Face The Nation, said the Trump administration has spent the entire weekend trying to broker peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. “Armenia has accepted the ceasefire, Azerbaijan has not yet. We are pushing them to do so,” he said.
8:40 p.m.: Armenian Unified Infocenter update: In the afternoon of October 25, Azerbaijani forces shelled the villages of Avetaranots, Sghnakh and Moshkhmhat in the Askeran region. No civilians were injured; the extent of material damage is being verified. The situation has been relatively calm in the remaining settlements of Artsakh.
Ilham Aliyev: No One Can Stop Azerbaijan
9 p.m.: While meeting with the Central Command Post of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev spoke about the ongoing battles in Artsakh. He said that, if the international community wants a truce in Karabakh, then pressure should be put on Armenia to remove its troops from the region. He said that PM Nikol Pashinyan should declare that Armenia will withdraw from the occupied territories. “We have not heard such a statement. On the contrary, he speaks of the self-determination of peoples…” Aliyev said, adding that there can be no ceasefire without conditions. The Azerbaijani leader said that the patience of his people has run out and they are not willing to wait for another 30 years of negotiations.
Aliyev stated that they are tracking the modern weapons that Armenia is receiving daily. He noted that Azerbaijani forces had destroyed 300 tanks and other military hardware: “Where did they get so much money? They are a poor country. They have neither money nor opportunities. They receive these weapons for free. We have destroyed six of their S-300 air defense systems. Their price is known. Where does all this come from?” He also said that no one can stop Azerbaijan and that, moving forward, they will try to move faster with no delays.
9:35 p.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations: The upper districts of the Askeran region continue to be targeted by Azerbaijani forces. Despite the fact that the Azerbaijani side claims that it is not firing on peaceful settlements, a little while ago, the village of Madatashen in Askeran was shelled, damaging a number of homes and businesses. There are no reported casualties.
Defense Ministry Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that tense military operations continued along the entire length of the front line, from north to south. Early in the morning, Azerbaijani forces started shelling in the northern direction. Although military operations took place, Hovhannisyan said that they were not as tense as the ones in the south. During the day, subversive groups were noticed in the north from Hadrut, in the south from Martuni, as well as in a number of villages, including in the forests surrounding Avetaranots village. Armenian forces continued searching and destroying more subversive groups in the surrounding areas of other villages. These operations continue now as well. Hovhannisyan explained that, as a rule, subversive groups do not engage in military operations and try to escape when noticed by Armenian forces.
In the south, Azerbaijani forces launched more than a dozen attacks in various directions. Tense and heavy battles continued during the day.
Asked about the motto “We Will Win,” Artsrun Hovhannisyan said: I have spoken about the intensity of the war, we know what aim the Azerbaijani Armed Forces have set for themselves in partnership with Turkey. If this is the war that determines the future of our statehood, our nation’s existence, then we all know what victory will mean. It will mean our security, it will mean not allowing a second genocide to take place. We can all ask ourselves this [same] question.
There were several announcements made recently, probably chief among them was Erdogan’s announcement referencing his brother Aliyev and the pressure put upon him [During a meeting of his Justice and Development Party in Malatya, Erdogan was quoted as saying, “Some Americans are calling my brother IIham Aliyev and telling him – We know who stands besides you, you are counting on Turkey but we will sanction Turkey.”] Yesterday and today, the Azerbaijani President announced that he is ready to cease fire. These kinds of evasive announcements show that Azerbaijan has no intentions to cease fire and will continue military operations and therefore our fight for existence will also continue.
10 p.m.: US President Donald Trump speaks about Armenia during a rally in New Hampshire: “Armenians, they are incredible people, they are fighting like hell. And you know what? We are going to get something done, because the Armenians have had a tough go. Yesterday in Ohio, we had a tremendous group of Armenians with the flags and the spirit. And the problems that they have, with the deaths and the fighting and everything else. We’ll get that sorted out. I call that an easy one. If you know what you are doing, it’s easy,” Trump said.
Armenia and Azerbaijan Agree to a Third Humanitarian Ceasefire
11:45 p.m.: The text of the following joint statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America, the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan on October 25, 2020.
Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov met with Deputy Secretary of State Stephen E. Biegun on October 24, 2020 and reaffirmed their countries’ commitment to implement and abide by the humanitarian ceasefire agreed in Moscow on October 10, which were reaffirmed in the statement issued from Paris on October 17, in accordance with the October 1, 2020 joint statement of United States President Donald J. Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The humanitarian ceasefire will take effect at 08:00 a.m. local time (12:00 a.m. EDT) on October 26, 2020. The United States facilitated intensive negotiations among the Foreign Ministers and the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to move Armenia and Azerbaijan closer to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted about the ceasefire agreement:
Today, the U.S. facilitated an intensive negotiation with the FMs of Armenia, Azerbaijan, & @OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to move closer to a peaceful resolution of the N-K conflict. @ZMnatsakanyan & @bayramov_jeyhun have committed to implement & abide by the ceasefire at midnight.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 25, 2020
Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers to Meet in Geneva
11:55 p.m.: The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, Stephane Visconti of France, and Andrew Schofer of the United States of America) released the following statement today:
The Co-Chairs met in Washington D.C. on October 24 with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov, and also participated in a joint meeting with the Foreign Ministers and U.S. Deputy Foreign Minister Stephen Biegun. The Personal Representative of the OSCE’s Chairman in Office, Andrzej Kasprzyk, also participated in the meetings.
The Co-Chairs urged the sides to take immediate steps to implement all aspects of the October 10 Moscow Joint Statement in accordance with their commitments, noting that they had reaffirmed these commitments with Paris on October 18. The Co-Chairs also reminded the sides of the October 1, 2020 joint statement of United States President Donald J. Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as the October 5 joint statement of Secretary of State of the United States of America Michael R. Pompeo, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France Jean-Yves Le Drian, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, calling on the sides to cease hostilities immediately and to resume substantive negotiations to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.
During their intensive discussions, the Co-Chairs and Foreign Ministers discussed implementing an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, possible parameters for monitoring the ceasefire, and initiating discussion of core substantive elements of a comprehensive solution, in accordance with the October 10 Joint Statement. The Co-Chairs and Foreign Ministers agreed to meet again in Geneva on October 29 to discuss, reach agreement on, and begin implementation, in accordance with a timeline to be agreed upon, of all steps necessary to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in accordance with the basic principles accepted by the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
French Parliamentarians in Armenia
On October 25, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan received a delegation of French parliamentarians. The Prime Minister thanked them for their visit during this difficult time for the country and for standing by the Armenian people. Pashinyan expressed his appreciation to French President Emmanuel Macron for his efforts. “He was the first international leader to speak about this situation in the language of truth, clearly stating that Syrian mercenaries are involved in the war against Karabakh, and that Turkey is the main instigator behind the war,” he said.
When referring to the situation in Artsakh, Pashinyan noted that it remains tense on the front line. He noted that Azerbaijan has declined international efforts aimed at achieving a ceasefire noting that any compromise acceptable to Armenia turns out to be unacceptable for Azerbaijan. The entire international community is looking to a compromise-based negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, Pashinyan said, adding that Turkey has a decisive role when establishing a ceasefire, because every time when there are discussions about it, announcements at the level of foreign minister or president of Turkey are made, that Azerbaijan should not stop military operations.
The Prime Minister also said that Armenia’s views on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remain the same: “We think that there is no military solution to the issue. We must find a compromise. Armenia is ready for compromise just as it was before, but the main impediment is that any situation that is acceptable to Armenia in the logic of compromise becomes unacceptable for Azerbaijan which, bolstered by Turkey’s support, demands more and more.” He noted that Armenia’s primary task is to ensure the self-defense of Nagorno-Karabakh and its people, which can lead to a truly diplomatic solution of the conflict.
During the meeting, Nikol Pashiyan answered a number of questions of the French parliamentarians referring to the discussions held with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, Turkey’s destructive policy, its regional aspirations and more. The members of the French parliamentary delegation will be heading to Nagorno-Karabakh to get a first-hand view of the situation from the ground.