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ARMENIAN DEFENCE MINISTER ON AZERBAIJANI ARMY’S ADVANCE

The Azeri Times

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Armenian Defence Minister David Tonoyan commented for the first time on the progress of the Azerbaijani Army in Nakhchivan.

Recall that earlier Azeri Daily wrote that the special forces of the Independent Combined-Arms Army in Nakhchivan advanced along the neutral zone and liberated new heights, including the height of the Gizilgaya in the Sharur region. As a result, the village Gunnut, which since 1992 was controlled by the Armenian army, was withdrawn from the enemy shelling range. In addition, the Azerbaijani Army was given the opportunity to control the Yerevan-Goris-Lachin road.

‘The Ministry of Defence has no concern, since the situation is completely under control, we are neutralising any movement by our effective activity,’ David Tonoyan said.

He stressed that everyone should realise that the Azerbaijani Armed Forces carry out certain movements on their territory.

‘It’s about Nakhchivan, this is the territory of Azerbaijan,’ he said.

In response to a question as to whether the CSTO was informed of the situation at the border, David Tonoyan replied that the question of involving the CSTO is not at all on the agenda.

‘Now there is no need for any intervention. I believe that we should assess the situation soberly. The Armenian Defence Ministry does not see any problems at the moment. The question of involving the CSTO is not at all on the agenda,’ said David Tonoyan.

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Armenia

Foreign Minister’s statement on Karabakh conflict resonates in Armenia

The Azeri Times

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What specifically did Mammadyarov say?

Elmar Mammadyarov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said at a meeting with the Acting Foreign Minister of Armenia, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, which was held in Milan on 5 December, that an understanding on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict had been reached:

“I think that at the last meeting in Milan with my Armenian counterpart, we reached an understanding for the first time in a long time.”

Elmar Mammadyarov also stated that the next meeting would take place in January 2019.

“Most of the time we are devoted to finding ways to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This will be the main task next year. The main goal is to achieve tangible results.”

What was agreed upon

Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Naghdalyan said a joint statement had been made by the heads of the foreign ministries of Armenia and Azerbaijan and the heads of the delegations of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries.

The most important aspects of the statement include:

  • All parties involved in the negotiations agree to continue to work in order to ensure long-term peace.
  • The co-chair countries welcomed the fact that after the talks of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in September at the CIS summit in Dushanbe, the number of ceasefire violations and reports of victims has decreased.
  • The co-chairs called on the parties to take concrete measures in order to prepare the population of their countries for peace.
  • The co-chair countries are hoping for the resumption in the near future of an intensive dialogue on a high-level settlement between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
  • The next meeting of the foreign ministers will be held in early 2019 under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in order to prepare the ground for future summit talks.

Reaction of social media in Armenia

Some social media users suggested that Yerevan and Baku had reached an agreement on the Karabakh settlement issue itself.

One Armenian Facebook user wrote:

“We cannot possibly give away any of our territories. Not a centimetre.”

Another added:

“Perhaps Azerbaijan will recognize the independence of Karabakh and in return demand that the areas around Karabakh be given away. What will our answer be? I am sure that Pashinyan has nothing to hide from his people.”

An Armenian pundit’s take

The chairman of the Yerevan Press Club, Boris Navasardyan, says that the aim of Mammadyarov’s statement was to put pressure on the Armenian side:

“I don’t think that Azerbaijan can expect drastic changes in the Karabakh issue from the Armenian authorities because our position is clear: we will talk about the problem when Azerbaijan is ready for it, but they are not ready yet. The only sharp change in this matter would be the resumption of military conflict. But there are no prerequisites for the solution nor are there mutual concessions.”

The view from Baku

JAMnews’ political analyst in Baku, Shahin Rzayev, says that in Azerbaijan, Mammadyarov’s statement would not have garnered attention had it not been for the resonance it had in the Armenian media:

“This was just another meeting, another statement – there have been more than 100 of them in the last 25 years. Where is the news? The news is that, perhaps for the first time, the Azerbaijani side threw something of a curve ball by reporting first on the achieved results, even if these results are only ‘mutual understanding’. The Azerbaijani media learned the details of the talks from the press secretary of the Armenian Foreign Ministry, and our foreign ministry reacted to the already published news at best the next day.

“However, our minister was the first to announce the information. This is of course very commendable, but it remains unknown what happened there. I do not think that in such a short time something serious could have happened. Societies in Azerbaijan and Armenia are not ready to make any compromises or decisions. So, let’s not exaggerate the meaning of Mammadyarov’s words.”

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Armenia

Armenia’s “revolution” faces its biggest test yet

The Azeri Times

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After winning local elections, Pashinyan is seeking to push his advantage. And the old guard may feel it has nothing left to lose.
Armenians poured into the streets of Yerevan on October 2, summoned by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who said that the country was at risk of a “counter-revolution” fomented by remnants of the regime he toppled in the spring. A day later, the situation remained in a standoff between Pashinyan and his opposition, and the crisis has posed the most dramatic challenge to Pashinyan’s “Velvet Revolution” in the five months he’s been in power.

So how did it come to this?

When Pashinyan was leading protests against the former administration in the spring, he made a four-part series of demands: the resignation of then-leader Serzh Sargsyan; the election of a new prime minister; a new election law; and new elections.

The first two were quickly implemented, with Pashinyan himself elected prime minister. The third is a work in progress, with some election reforms having already passed and others in the works. But it is the final step, the new parliamentary elections, that are supposed to cement the “revolution,” as Pashinyan calls it.

Until recently, Pashinyan and his team had suggested a wide range of times for the elections – from this fall to next spring – without setting a firm date. There were two primary, but contradictory, considerations, at play.

He wanted the elections as soon as possible, because his bloc in parliament held only nine out of 105 seats, and he was working with a tenuous coalition of allies of the old regime, including the Prosperous Armenia party, run by oligarch Gagik Tsarukyan, and the national stalwarts Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF).

But he also needed time: His party was still small, and in the last parliamentary elections it got only seven percent of the vote. While Pashinyan is himself wildly popular in Armenia, and that representation would certainly multiply manifold, elections still represented a risk.

Yerevan municipal elections in late September, however, resulted in a landslide victoryfor Pashinyan’s “My Step” slate, which took 81 percent of the vote. Encouraged by the result, Pashinyan moved to push ahead the election date; the day after the Yerevan elections he said that the parliamentary vote should take place “very quickly.”

This apparently triggered the “counter-revolution.” Led by the formerly ruling Republican Party of Armenia, lawmakers pushed ahead a vote to change the law on what would happen if parliament were to be prevented from meeting. Under the old rules, that would trigger new elections; the new law would remove that provision. The goal seemed to be to neutralize the threat of street protests, which could conceivably be deployed to block parliament, and which remain the most potent weapon in Pashinyan’s arsenal.

Most remarkably, the Republicans were joined by the MPs from Prosperous Armenia and the ARF. Pashinyan responded by firing all the ministers from those two parties, but it remains unclear why those parties chose this moment to turn against Pashinyan and again throw their lots in with the Republicans.

One factor could have been the prospect of their looming political death: Prosperous Armenia, which had been mooted as a potential spoiler for Pashinyan due to Tsarukyan’s popularity among many poor, rural Armenians, got only 7 percent in the Yerevan elections. The ARF did even worse, garnering less than 2 percent.

Whatever the case, Pashinyan now must rely again on mass people power. Pashinyan estimated that 10,000 people came out to parliament to support him on October 2, and if there is a genuine prospect of a “counter-revolution” it is not difficult to imagine crowds far greater than that taking to the streets again. While hints of cynicism are beginning to creep into Armenian political conversations, and there is some chance of protest fatigue, Pashinyan still remains very popular. Maybe more importantly, the old regime remains deeply hated, and any prospect of their return will certainly be vigorously opposed.

Pashinyan has promised to resign, which would force new elections in the parliament for a prime minister. If those fail, they would trigger new elections. Pashinyan appears to be playing a sort of political chicken, gambling that his opponents will be unable to muster support for an opposition candidate. The smart money would seem to favor him. But members of the old regime, along with their once and again allies, may see no need to back down, no matter the degree of public pressure. And they still retain many levers of power, including large swaths of the bureaucracy and at least tacit support from Moscow.

This may be the old regime’s last, desperate attempt to reverse their losses. Their odds may be slim, but they may feel they have nothing left to lose.

Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit.

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Armenia

Armenia provocation: Villages in Tovuz shelled

The Azeri Times

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Armenia committed provocation against civilians on the front line, informs the press-service of the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry.

Starting from the evening of September 14 until the morning of September 15, the units of the Armenian armed forces, using weapons of different calibre, including artillery mount, committed provocation on Tovuz, Terter and Aghdam directions.

The enemy, in particular, subjected to fire the positions of the Azerbaijan Army, stationed in the direction of the villages of Munjuglu, Kokhanebi, Asrik Jirdakhan and Garalar of Tovuz region, as well as civilians living in these villages.

There are no casualties among servicemen and the population of Azerbaijan. Damage has been caused to several houses, property of the population and civil infrastructure.

The implementation of such provocative actions by Armenian side on the eve of the significant events and holidays celebrated in Azerbaijan is purposeful.

The Ministry of Defence reports that as a result of urgent retaliatory actions undertaken by the units of the Azerbaijan Army, the enemy’s activity was suppressed. The military-political leadership of Armenia bears all responsibility for the destruction and losses of the enemy.

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