Sarkisian and U.S. VP Biden Discuss NKR; Situation on LoC Remains Relatively Calm

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Aliyev Accuses Armenia of ‘War Crimes’ in Latest Conflict in NKR

YEREVAN (A.W.)—Armenia’s President Serge Sarkisian and United States Vice President Joe Biden discussed the current situation of the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh Republic/NKR) conflict in a phone conversation on May 20.

According to a press statement released by Sarkisian’s office, the phone meeting, which was initiated by the U.S. side, focused on the “full and efficient implementation of the agreements reached in Vienna on May 16,” during Sarkisian’s meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) representatives to discuss a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Biden and Sarkisian in Washington, DC on March 31

During the phone conversation, the two agreed that the conflict can be solved exclusively through peaceful means with the mediating efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group. According to the White House press office, Biden also held a telephone conversation with President Aliyev on the same day.

An Armenian serviceman was killed on the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh Republic/NKR) Line of Contact (LoC) overnight on May 16-17, hours after the Sarkisian-Aliyev meeting with Secretary of State of the United States John Kerry, Foreign Affairs Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov, and State Secretary for European Affairs of France Harlem Desir, in Vienna.

According to a joint statement released by the representatives of the three Minsk Group co-chair countries following the May 16 meeting, the two presidents agreed on a next round of talks, to be held at a mutually agreed place next month, with an aim to “resuming negotiations on a comprehensive settlement.” The statement also said that Sarkisian and Aliyev “reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire and the peaceful settlement of the conflict” during the gathering.

“To reduce the risk of further violence, they [Sarkisian and Aliyev] agreed to finalize in the shortest possible time an OSCE investigative mechanism. The Presidents also agreed to the expansion of the existing Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office,” read a part of the statement.
Situation on the NKR LoC Remains Relatively Calm

The situation on the NKR Line of Contact (LoC) has remained calm in recent days, according to the NKR Defense Ministry.

Though Azerbaijani forces continue to violate the ceasefire agreement using firearms of different calibers, the ministry said in a May 23 statement that the NKR Defense Army’s advanced detachments remain committed to the ceasefire arrangement and continue to “confidently implement their combat duties.”

Speaking to reporters on May 23, Armenia’s Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan said there are very few shots being fired compared to weeks prior.  Ohanyan said that he had visited the NKR frontline two days earlier and that the Armenian soldiers were in high spirits.


Aliyev Addresses World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul; Blames Armenian Aggression for Latest Violence

Azerbaijani President Aliyev addressed the first United Nations (UN) World Humanitarian Summit, which convened on May 23 in Istanbul. During his speech, Aliyev said that the Azerbaijani people were suffering as a result of “Armenian aggression” and “ethnic cleansing and genocide.”

Azerbaijani President Aliyev addressing the first UN World Humanitarian Summit

“We Azerbaijanis know very good what it is like to be refugees and internally displaced persons,” Aliyev said during his address to the summit, which was attended by delegates, including the heads of state and government of several UN member states and representatives of international organizations. During his speech, Aliyev also said that the “Khojaly genocide committed by Armenia in 1992” was recognized by more than ten countries and that “Armenia continues its policy of aggression against Azerbaijan.”

Speaking about the latest conflict in NKR, Aliyev alleged that Armenia launched the attack on “peaceful Azerbaijani citizens” in early April, and that the “war crimes committed by Armenia” have been documented and presented to “international monitors.”

“Armenia ignores four United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from the territory of Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabagh and seven other districts of Azerbaijan are occupied. In some cases United Nations Security Council resolutions are implemented within days if not hours. But in our case they remained on paper for more than twenty years. This is a policy of double standards towards Azerbaijan. Armenia must implement these resolutions or be sanctioned. Territorial integrity of Azerbaijan must be restored,” he said.

Aliyev also claimed that the “outdated Armenian nuclear power plant in Metsamor” is a “serious threat” to the region. “There is information that Armenia is illegally using the radioactive waste. Former prime minister, member of parliament, and other officials of Armenia declared this April that Armenia has a nuclear weapon, so-called dirty bomb. This statement must be thoroughly examined by corresponding international organizations. Armenian nuclear threat and blackmail must be stopped. Azerbaijan does its best to overcome the consequences of humanitarian catastrophe caused by Armenia,” Aliyev said in his speech.


On April 10, the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs had announced that the bodies of 18 servicemen of the NKR Defense Army, killed as a result of the large-scale military aggression carried out by Azerbaijani Armed Forces on April 2-5, were transferred to the NKR side in an exchange of bodies, and that all of the bodies transferred to the NKR side exhibited signs of torture and mutilation.

On April 22, the NKR human rights defender (ombudsman) published an interim public report detailing the various human rights abuses Azerbaijani forces carried out on both NKR civilians and Defense Army servicemen. The 28-page report is titled, “Atrocities Committed by Azerbaijani Military Forces against the Civilian Population of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic and Servicemen of the Nagorno-Karabagh Defense Army on 2-5 April, 2016.”

“The most horrifying facts are the killings of peaceful civilians of Nagorno-Karabagh through cruel and inhuman methods of execution and mutilation. Similar practices of humiliation were applied in relation to members of the NKR Defense Army. Moreover, some of the NKR soldiers were, along with other forms of dismemberment, also subjected to beheading,” read the report. Several graphic images of the abuses were also published in the report.

Source: Armenian Weekly
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