november 12 update

Lavrov On the Recent Developments in Nagorno-Karabakh

Today, during a press appearance, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov said that there will be no peacekeepers from Turkey in Nagorno-Karabakh. He said that the mobility of Turkish observers will be limited to the Russian-Turkish Joint Monitoring Center, which will operate in Azerbaijan, not in the conflict zone. He also said that the statements from Turkey that the Turks will work on the same grounds as the Russians refer only to that center, which will be fixed in the territory of Azerbaijan.

Lavrov also referred to the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, stating that it will depend on the solution of the issue of the ethno-religious composition of the region. He also said that the Russian side is hoping that the five-year period will allow them to build a strong basis to move forward toward the resolution of the conflict.

When talking about the regions that will be handed over to Azerbaijan, Lavrov noted that there should not be illusions that the seven regions have remained in the state they were in a month or two ago. “The responsible authorities should have explained to the population that, at this stage, this settlement will be implemented on the basis of the principles proposed by the mediators, opening a way to solve the security threat without bloodshed,” Lavrov said.

Despair, Anger or Resolve

Resolve is different from blind faith that “this too shall pass.” We need the entire Armenian nation to start getting ready for the next encounter, writes Raffi Kassarjian.

Lavrov also talked about the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, noting that their role will be maintained after the agreements and that this has been confirmed by the Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers. He also noted that there are no plans to increase the number of Minsk Group Co-chairs.


Prime Minister Pashinyan Meets with My Step Caucus

Today, the members of the My Step parliamentary caucus met with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and discussed the current internal political and foreign policy challenges.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Lena Nazaryan announced that, during the meeting, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan presented the pre-war, mid-war and post-war issues and developments. According to her, internal and external political challenges were also discussed.

She also mentioned that the National Assembly will start its activities in the upcoming days and will discuss and thoroughly review its steps in this new reality to ensure security and stability in the country.


Foreign Minister Held Phone Conversations with Representatives of OSCE Co-Chair Countries

Minister of Foreign Affairs Zohrab Mnatsakanyan had telephone conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Steven Bigan.

The sides exchanged views on the situation following the November 10 trilateral statement of the PM of Armenia, the President of Azerbaijan and the President of Russia. Minister Mnatsakanyan stressed that the statement, which was aimed at establishing a ceasefire and the deployment of peacekeepers in Artsakh, cannot be considered a comprehensive solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Mnatsakanyan and the high representatives of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries also spoke about Turkey’s key role in planning, provoking and implementing of the war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh, both by being directly involved in the hostilities as well as by deploying mercenaries to the conflict zone. He also said that the international community should take immediate steps to address the humanitarian crisis in Artsakh that is the result of the Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression.

The Minister expressed deep concerns over the fate of the Armenian historical and cultural heritage of Artsakh in territories currently under Azerbaijani occupation. Mnatsakanyan stressed that the international community is well aware of the barbaric attitude of Azerbaijan towards Armenian heritage, as a result of which the monuments of the Armenian heritage were completely destroyed both in Nakhichevan, as well as in the territories occupied by Azerbaijan during the 1990s Artsakh war.

The parties stressed the need to ensure the continuity of the activities of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs as the only format with an international mediation mandate. As a priority, the Foreign Minister stressed the need to fully guarantee the status of Artsakh and the comprehensive security of the Armenians of Artsakh.


6:50 p.m.: Representatives and supporters of 17 parliamentary and extra-parliamentary forces demanding the resignation of PM Nikol Pashinyan following the November 10 agreement again held a rally today. As the rally ended, 20 participants were detained for committing an administrative offense. It is expected that the group will hold another rally on November 13.

2:50 p.m.: Residents of Hadrut, a town in Artsakh that is now under Azerbaijani control, gathered in front of the embassies of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries, France, the U.S. and Russia, to give a letter to the representatives of embassies, asking for support. While they were in front of the French embassy, the group was met by the Ambassador Jonathan Lacôte. One of the residents said that Hadrut cannot historically be an Azerbaijani territory. She noted that France was among the countries that acknowledged the presence of terrorists in the region. “We expect your support,” she added. The ambassador said that he is very happy to receive the letter and that the doors of the French embassy are always open to them.

The ambassador noted that they know that Hadrut is among the most affected areas. “Our priority is to support the people who have suffered as a result of this conflict," Lacôte said, adding that French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with the NGO representatives working in Armenia today to understand what France can do to help people affected by the conflict.


1:55 p.m.: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan Addresses the Nation 

Armenia and the Armenian people are going through extremely difficult days. There is sorrow in all our hearts, tears in all our eyes, pain in our souls. Ending the war that started on September 27 with the November 10 agreement signed by the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia has, in fact, caused public despair and many questions, the answers to which are first of all expected from me.

Why was such an unfavorable document for Armenia signed? It happened under the conditions where the General Staff of Armenia’s Armed Forces was reporting that every minute is very important and the war must be stopped as soon as possible. The President of Artsakh was warning that, if military operations do not stop, we could lose control over Stepanakert within days, even hours.

Many can, of course, say that, if we had already lost control over Hadrut and Shushi, we could also lose Stepanakert and not much would have changed. But the reality is a little different. If we had lost Stepanakert, which as the President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan has confirmed in his live address was largely defenseless, then Askeran and Martakert would inevitably be lost as well. Moreover, it was very predictable because, at the beginning of the war, these cities were the rear, quite far from the front line and did not have defensive fortifications and structures.

What would have happened after these cities were lost? The second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh buffer zones of the Artsakh Defense Army would end up under a blockade by the enemy, which means that more than 20,000 of our soldiers and officers would be surrounded by the enemy, inevitably facing the prospect of being killed or captured.

Under these conditions, the fall of Karvachar and Kashatagh regions would be understandably inevitable, leading to a complete catastrophe.

Many can ask why I was so concerned about the safety of our soldiers when I was signing the document, and why I was not so concerned before that? The problem is the following: in fact, the most important function of the commander is to set tasks before soldiers that have specific tactical or strategic goals. The commander assigns these tasks, understanding that their implementation may lead to the death of a soldier for the sake of the Homeland.

As the commander-in-chief, I have set exactly such tasks before the army and the Armed Forces since the first day of the war. But when you end up in a situation when a soldier cannot influence the future course of events, it is not the soldier that should die for the homeland, but rather the homeland should make sacrifices for the sake of the soldier. Instead of giving an order to the soldier to die, the commander should die for the sake of the soldier.

I signed the infamous document that all of you know with this in mind and while signing it, I realized that the probability of my personal death is extremely high, not only in the political sense, but also in the physical sense. But the lives of 25,000 soldiers were more important, I think, for you as well. The lives of the soldiers who rendered full service to the homeland were under threat. Moreover, those soldiers had no opportunity to influence the situation before them. There were no more fighting forces in the rear that could realistically influence the situation. And so, the time had come for the commander to risk his own life for the sake of those soldiers, both physically and politically. It was time for the homeland to make sacrifices for those soldiers who spared nothing for the sake of the homeland, and I signed that agreement with that in mind.

Moreover, in this situation, a decision could no longer be avoided for days and weeks. A decision had to be made within hours, otherwise a process could have begun as a result of which we would have ten, twenty, twenty-five thousand of our soldiers dead or captured.

Why didn't I resign to avoid signing that document? Because it would mean desertion, it would mean leaving that hellish task for the sake of our soldiers on someone else's shoulders, with the hope that they would later say “Prime Minister Pashinyan was so patriotic that he did not sign that humiliating document and the other turned to be a traitor who took such a shameful step. Decisions had to be made within hours, otherwise the dominos would start falling, and it could no longer be stopped.

Why didn't I consult with the people before signing that document? For a very simple reason. When speaking to the people, I had to publicly present the objective situation, which means I had to give detailed information about the situation to the enemy, which could blockade our 25,000 soldiers for hours, with all the ensuing consequences.

Also, I promised to discuss with the people the options for the settlement of the Karabakh issue, and this document does not envisage a substantive solution to the issue, but only a cessation of hostilities. The Karabakh issue was not resolved and is not resolved. In this regard, there is still work to be done.

And why, even in such conditions, was it not possible to reach a ceasefire in the first days of the war or a little later? There were two reasons for this. First, we had to hand over seven districts, including Shushi, without a fight, and second, the military situation was such that, by the inclusion of new resources, we would be able to break the logjam with superhuman efforts. That was the reason why the President of Artsakh and I constantly called for enlistment for the defense of the homeland. But we also tried to do it in a way so that our message would not suddenly break the will of the soldiers fighting on the front line and would not give additional information about our problems to the enemy.

We, more specifically the President of Artsakh, the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces, the Commander of the Defense Army, myself, the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the representatives of our political team and, of course, first and foremost our soldiers, volunteers, officers and generals have done everything to keep every inch with our teeth.

Our army fought heroically, fought not to surrender, but to keep, fought not to lose, but to win, and practically fought against three armies. But, as the Artsakh President said yesterday, we could not sufficiently stand next to the army. The volunteer and mobilization movements with many heroic actions were not strong enough to solve the problem and we faced a reality from which there was simply no other way out.

As for the content of the original document, it is really bad for us, but it should not be made worse than it really is. In particular, there are rumors about handing over Meghri, which is absolute nonsense. We are talking only about unblocking the transportation routes of the region, including from Azerbaijan to Nakhichevan, but this means that the transport routes from Yerevan to Nakhichevan through Syunik, including the railway between Armenia and Iran, which can be essential for the further development of our economy, should be also unblocked.

As for the part of Nagorno-Karabakh that is under the control of the Artsakh authorities, the Lachin corridor from Goris to Stepanakert, with the deployment of Russian peacekeepers, will operate smoothly, including through Shushi. The Russian peacekeepers will ensure safe passage in the whole area, and the Stepanakert-Yerevan connection must be reliable.

The peacekeepers will also ensure the security of those parts of Artsakh and the border so the residents of the settlements within the perimeter of the peacekeepers' deployment can return to their homes as soon as possible, and the governments of Armenia and Artsakh will do their best to clear the rubble as soon as possible to allow their return to a peaceful and regular life.

The issue of the final settlement of Karabakh and the status of Artsakh is of fundamental importance. In this regard, our goals and steps do not change, and the international recognition of the Artsakh Republic is becoming an absolute priority, and, in fact, there are now more weighty arguments for the international recognition of Artsakh.

In terms of our further actions in Armenia: our primary task is to restore the atmosphere of stability and security in the country, which is the only guarantee of the people's power. At this moment, we must ensure this, first of all, so that the people fully master their inalienable right to form a government, to have power.

The government will not pay attention to the provocations of the groups of vandals sponsored by the former authorities. The organizers of the riots and many of the active participants have been arrested, many are hiding, but they will definitely be found and brought to justice.

I call on all our compatriots not to give in to provocations and to unite around a government that is determined to bear its full responsibility to get the country out of this situation, while guaranteeing that no one will seize power to plunder the country and return it to the whirlpool of corruption.

Today, we are reaping the bitter fruits of this robbery and corruption, because for decades the country's property and income have flowed into the pockets of people you know, and not to the development of the army.

Dear people, our country has a future, and we must do everything to make this difficult ordeal of ours into an important cornerstone of that future, and our nation needs to learn from the mistakes we have made. Many will ask if we can talk about a good future after this brutal war: yes, because today there are even states in the world that have undergone the most brutal capitulations of the 20th century, but today are among the most powerful countries in the world.

They did it after severe defeat, putting an emphasis on the development of education, science, industry and democracy, and this should be our next task. I call on everybody to focus on this work for the sake of strengthening our country. This will be our best service in memory of our martyrs, our wounded and disabled servicemen, their relatives.

The relatives of the victims, of course, have the right to ask what their relatives died for․ The answer to this question is clear: first of all, to save the people of Artsakh from genocide, to protect the right of the Armenian people to live. We are obliged to take care of their blood, the future of their children, their unreserved devotion by reviving and developing our homeland. Our homage to them is our daily creative work, the education that should develop our country.

Glory to freedom, glory to the Republic of Armenia, glory to the Republic of Artsakh and glory to our children who will live in a free and happy Armenia. I bow before our martyrs. 


President met with PM Nikol Pashinyan

President of the Republic Armen Sarkissian and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a meeting, at which they discussed the current situation in the country.

President met with Representatives of My Step Faction

President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian met with the representatives of the My Step parliamentary caucus Deputy Speaker Lena Nazaryan, Majority Leader Lilit Makunts and Chairman of the Standing Committee on Defense and Security Andranik Kocharyan.

The sides exchanged views on the trilateral statement on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the situation in the country. They stressed the importance of maintaining stability in the current situation, as well as the need for collaborative and uninterrupted work from all state institutions.

11 a.m.: Shushan Stepanyan, the spokesperson of the Defense Ministry, said that the information about a Turkish Bayraktar in the airspace of Yerevan is false. The Defense Ministry applied to the National Security Service (NSS) to reveal the source of the disinformation and those spreading it. The Air Defense Forces of the Armenian Armed Forces, together with the Russian Air and Space Defense Forces, have shielded the airspace of Armenia and Artsakh. It is a closed flight zone with the exception of military and registered civil aviation.

Congressman Brad Sherman on the Nagorno-Karabakh Ceasefire Agreement

The terms of the Russia and Turkey-backed ceasefire ending Azerbaijan’s unprovoked violence against Artsakh and Armenia are unfair. The Trump Administration’s absence was glaring and led to disastrous results for the people of Armenia.

Who drafted this ceasefire agreement? None other than Putin and Erdoğan. This is the result of a lack of U.S. leadership. We must not stand for this disastrous deal forced on Armenia. We must not view it as a final settlement.

I ask the Department of State and the U.S. Co-Chair to the OSCE to work with our partners to achieve a fair and balanced long-term settlement. Artsakh’s right to self-determination must be preserved.


Canadian Foreign Minister on the Situation in Nagorno Karabakh

“Canada has taken note of the establishment of a ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh. We are working with our international partners to examine the terms and implications of this latest development.

“We expect the commitments made by Azerbaijan to be strictly respected and the hostilities to cease permanently without delay. As we mentioned before, Turkey must remain outside of the conflict.

“I have been in regular contact with the Armenian Foreign Minister to see how Canada can continue to support the Armenian people during this most difficult time and with whom we share strong people to people ties and values.

“All parties must negotiate to achieve a permanent and peaceful settlement, beyond the ceasefire announced yesterday and through the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs process.”


Arrests Follow the Rally Held by the Opposition

The Special Investigative Service (SIS) reported that 10 people were arrested as part of a criminal case launched for organizing and holding rallies in violation of the law. The ten include Gagik Tsarukyan, Garnik Isaghulyan, Suren Surenyants, Gegham Manukyan, Davit Hambardzumyan, Ara Sahakyan, Artur Vanetsyan (he was released later during the day), Eduard Sharmazanov, Artur Ghazinyan and Ishkhan Saghatelyan. Vahagn Chakhalyan and Hartchya Ghukasyan are also involved in the criminal case as suspects and they cannot leave the country. The investigation is ongoing.

November 11

Senator Ed Markey’s Statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh Agreement

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed his concern about the Russian-brokered agreement signed between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia to end the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding areas.

“It is a disgrace that the United States under Trump-Pompeo leadership has once again ceded an important foreign policy matter to Russia, this time to the detriment of our Armenian friends who have been targeted, attacked and exploited by Turkey and Azerbaijan,” said Senator Markey. “It is a stain on this administration that they’ve allowed President Trump’s friend Erdogan to stage a land-grab in the South Caucasus and make a mockery of the OSCE Minsk process. My thoughts are with the Armenian people who have suffered relentless attacks throughout this campaign by Turkey and Azerbaijan, including the reported use of foreign fighters imported from Syria.”

“As I’ve said before, the United States must clearly condemn this illegal military campaign and end our security assistance to Azerbaijan and Turkey. We must also be prepared to provide the humanitarian assistance that will be so desperately needed by the Armenian people. It is also vitally important that we continue to support democratic institutions in Armenia as the country navigates this challenging time.”

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