2021 January 4

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Daily news wrap-up

Jan/4/2020 news: __ Pashinyan about the history of Karabakh negotiations: Russia's offer that Armenia could not refuse but still did, Madrid Principles, Kazan failure, 2016 war, 2020 war __ Syunik borders: Shurnukh & Vorotan __ Rumors & rebuttals __ Russian sappers __ Poultry import tariffs __ more
by ar_david_hh


Your 14-minute Monday report in 3520 words.

Nikol Pashinyan details the history of Karabakh negotiations / Russian offer that Armenia could not refuse but still did / Madrid Principles / Kazan meeting / 2016 war / 2020 war:

([Parenthesis and brackets are added by me. The rest is taken from Pashinyan's article)].

Most people have the following question: why did the 44-day war take place and why weren't we able to avoid it? The short answer is: the time had come for some event to take place in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. What is the basis for such an assertion?

(Armenia was ready to give 7 regions)

Several pivotal events took place in the past 10 years. The first was the Kazan process (where Serj met Aliyev in 2011), which envisioned that the territories should be handed over to Azerbaijan under the 5+2 formula. Artsakh would receive an interim status, and the final legal status was to be granted through a referendum after the return of refugees.

Ilham Aliyev refused to sign the Kazan documents on Jul/24/2011. During a TV interview on Nov/17/2016, Serj Sargsyan revealed that Armenia was ready to sign it but Azerbaijan wanted to have more.

(...but Azerbaijan wanted more)

More? Armenia was ready to give the 7 regions but Azerbaijan wanted more? And what could be that "more"? By not signing the Kazan document, Aliyev gave the answer to that question: first of all, it's the legal status of the [remaining parts of] Karabakh. Azerbaijan wouldn't agree to any form of independent Karabakh outside of Azerbaijan. And this was back in 2011.

Afterward, Azerbaijan's appetite grew and in 2013, the situation on Armenia-Azerbaijan borders escalated to unprecedented levels. The tensions rose in 2014 and 2015 as well, and this happens under the "geopolitically favorable" conditions, (it's a shot at former regime who claim their foreign policy was better than Pashinyan's)

(Russia became desperate and isolated)

Russia-West relations strained due to the events in Syria and Ukraine. Russia found itself under sanctions. And if Russia's priority was South Caucasus prior to these conflicts, then by 2015 it shifted to Crimea, Donbas, and Syria. Russia's responsibilities grew in all these areas, and despite Russia being a superpower, its abilities aren't unlimited.

Azerbaijan took advantage of this situation and ramped up its rhetoric about solving the conflict through force. Under these circumstances, Russia faced a rather difficult situation, realizing that the previous tools to keep the South Caucasus stable needed to be reconsidered.

(Russia wants Armenia to make concessions)

The well-known Russian Proposals developed between 2013-2015, which envisioned the return of 7 regions to Azerbaijan (5+2), the return of refugees, the placement of Russian peacekeepers. There was no proposal to address the legal status of Karabakh. It was ignored.

These proposals were presented to Armenia in January 2016. Armenia rejected it. Then the April 2016 war took place (just three months after the proposal). A few months after the war, Serj Sargsyan spoke about having to fight with outdated weapons from the 1980s. A year later Serj would admit that Armenia was ready to give 7 regions but Azerbaijan wanted to have more.

(negotiations after 2016 war)

Formally, the negotiations continue after 2016, based on Madrid Principles, but the Russian Proposals remain in place and they are recorded at every step. Russian Proposals were the major, if not the main, topic of discussions as of 2018 (when Pashinyan took the office).

As for the legal status of Karabakh, the OCSE Group had agreed that [discussing it would only lead to gridlock], and that the Russian Proposal (land giveaway without legal status) is essentially the official proposal of the OCSE Group.

Turkey also added fuel to the fire. Their hands had been freed and extended even further after the failure of football diplomacy (Serj's policies towards Turkey). Turkey considered the handover of 7 regions the only precondition for regional stability.

In its turn, Azerbaijan continued to announce that Nagorno-Karabakh cannot have any legal status outside of Azerbaijan, and after the introduction of Russian Proposals, it adopted an even more maximalist position and declared that no legal status can be discussed at this stage; let the future generations handle it.

This is the negotiation process we [Pashinyan administration] inherited on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.


to surrender, or not to surrender?

Getting familiarized with the essence and nuances of the negotiation process as Prime Minister, led me to a thought: after the May 12, 1994 ceasefire, the negotiations have been a major process of retreat for Armenia. It is sad to admit it, but the Armenian side did not have any success in the whole negotiation process; it is a long history of failures.

This history has a few notable moments:

First. The Lisbon Summit of 1996, which recorded that Armenia is alone in this world.

Second. The exclusion of Karabakh representatives from the negotiations process, which slowly became interpreted as a territorial conflict between the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Third. Reaching the point where the giveaway of 7 regions became the primary goal.

Fourth. Azerbaijan's refusal to discuss Karabakh's legal status.

Fifth. The Russian Proposals, the primary problem of which was the exclusion of Artsakh's legal status from the negotiations process.

(you have to make a choice)

The only success by the Armenian side in the 23-year negotiation process was "time", which, of course, would have been a significant success if that time was put to work in our favor. But after the April 2016 war, when it was recorded that we were fighting with weapons from the 1980s, the era of buying time had come to an end. Not because of the old weapons, but because Russia had gotten tired of being accused of intentionally delaying the conflict rather than solving it.

Armenia was faced with a simple choice: hand over the 7 regions or to try to change the negotiation logic.

(efforts after 2018)

Our actions since 2018 were aimed at solving this problem. The process reached its peak on March 12, 2019, at the joint sitting of the Security Councils of Armenia and Artsakh in Stepanakert, where I delivered a speech agreed with the Artsakh authorities.

The theses of that speech were as follows: we should discuss the return of Artsakh representatives to the negotiation table, the Madrid Principles need to be interpreted fully because Azerbaijan was commenting it in a one-sided way, people of Armenia and Azerbaijan should be prepared for peace, and any resolution to conflict should be acceptable to the people of Armenia, Artsakh, and also Azerbaijan.

These weren't conditions for resuming negotiations. They were our ideas for making negotiations more effective. All the aforementioned points are of fundamental importance. The expulsion of Artsakh's representatives from the negotiations process and turning it into Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict was endangering Armenia because Azerbaijan was framing Armenia as occupiers.

(the mistakes of the past)

The expulsion of Artsakh representatives was the biggest diplomatic mistake of the second half of the 1990s. It was avoidable. At the time, Armenia could afford to exclude Artsakh from the negotiation table because Azerbaijan was weak and wasn't ready for another war. By excluding Artsakh, we didn't realize that we minimized the chances of Artsakh's self-determination, because how can "occupied territories" have the right to self-determination.

This led to the concept of "land swap" negotiations in the first half of 2000. (Kocharyan was discussing the possibility of giving part of Syunik's Meghri area in exchange for Karabakh, according to some officials. Kocharyan described it as something like a road connection.)

(can the negotiations process be saved?)

Equally important was the clarification of the Madrid Principles. It is true that with the Kazan rejection, Azerbaijan aborted the Madrid Principles, but formally they still existed, and Azerbaijan commented that the Madrid Principles meant that the Armenians of Artsakh could self-determine only within Azerbaijan. Armenia claimed the opposite. This meant that the Madrid Principles were not a formula for resolving the issue, but they became something incomprehensible.

In terms of public discourse, I came up with a rather constructive formula, publicly insisting that any solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be acceptable to the people of Azerbaijan as well. The purpose of all this was to take the peace process out of the primitive logic of it being solely about handing over territories. This is where the failure was because it turns out that the train was impossible to stop after the 2016 war.

(could being more pro-Russia stop the train?)

Today, many claim that we could stop the train by adopting more pro-Russia policies, and that allegedly my administration did the opposite. The reality, however, is completely different, and those who say this do not notice such a turning point as the decision of the Armenian government in 2019 to send [military-humanitarian group to Syria as part of Russia-led initiative.]

(what else could stop the train?)

To what extent is it reasonably possible to stop the moving or speeding train (the impending war)? We could give the 7 regions in exchange for essentially nothing. Today, of course, in retrospect we can look back and say that it would be a better option than what we have today, at least we would have saved thousands of lives. But that's retrospective. In retrospect, we can say that land giveaway could have been done in 1997, 2004, 2011, 2016, and yes also in 2020. But what argument could we use to convince ourselves to give the lands? That we would lose in the event of war? There was this argument. This argument, of course, was there.

(July 2020)

The July 2020 battles had a significant impact on the assessment of the situation. It is true that the scale of this event was very small compared to the subsequent war, but the July battles involved elite Azerbaijani units, Israeli drones, and our army not only resisted but in the immediate battlefield we had zero deaths. Our victims were killed in the rear.

The July battles, of course, also played a negative role in the sense that Azerbaijan, realizing that it would not be able to achieve military success alone, decided to involve Turkey and Syrian mercenaries. This was the crucial moment when we were supposed to make unilateral concessions. The Azeri rhetoric, which had gotten worse even before the July events, left no other option.

(last efforts to return to negotiation table)

By the way, Azerbaijan's anti-Armenian propaganda has been the only unchanged factor that existed for the last 15 years. Armenophobia, unequivocally considering Karabakh to be Azerbaijan, continuous propaganda to resolve the issue by the use of force, had reached its peak.

Even under these conditions, the negotiations process continued, limited by the COVID pandemic. The MFA Mnatsakanyan constantly held discussions with OSCE Co-chairs, but Azerbaijan refused to enter negotiations, showing that it wants 7 regions without any conditions.

(why didn't you give away the lands, Nikol?)

If we agreed to give away the regions, the war would be prevented. We could also stop this war on day one, as I announced publicly in the Parliament, by giving the 7 regions on the very first day. But that was unacceptable to me, and I didn't hear any other voice urging us to give the lands in those early days.

There is a well-known counter-argument to this: others and the public did not have the information that the Prime Minister had and therefore the Prime Minister had to make a decision based on the information he knew. This is a valid argument, and the information that I possessed suggested that stopping the war in this manner would not have been possible without catastrophic consequences for Artsakh and Armenia. So I decided to fight against the catastrophic consequences. In the end, did we have even more catastrophic results? Maybe.

(Syunik borders)

But the scale of the other catastrophic consequences was known to us only in theory. We don't know how the other catastrophe (land giveaway without fighting) would turn out in real life. One thing we know for sure is that Shurnukh village (Syunik border) mayor's Live broadcasts (complaints about govt giving away lands) would take place under either option, because Artsakh's southern Qubatlu region would be given to Azerbaijan under both scenarios. The dispute of 20 houses in Shurnikh and Vorotan villages would happen either way. But today we know that we fight for every inch of land before reaching Shurnukh.

(could we negotiate better terms on Syunik borders?)

Would we have to fight in Shurnukh in the event of a peaceful surrender scenario? Had we surrendered the 7 regions, then the war would start not from Horadiz (south-east Artsakh), but at Shurnukh. With today's scenario, the war on the outskirts of Shurnukh is at least over, although today some people (likely referring to the former regime) spare no effort and do everything possible to start a conflict on the outskirts of Shurnukh.

I know that some will bring a fairly plausible argument that in the event of a peaceful, negotiated transfer of land, our negotiating position would be much stronger. Very well. We could have negotiated better terms in the past when Azerbaijan was much weaker militarily. We had the position of the winner in the past but we have never used that position in the whole history of the negotiation process to ensure any concrete result.

(my grandma could have done better?)

There are other well-known "counter-arguments". Some claim that they knew a negotiation scenario that would be victorious for us, and they were planning to implement it in 2018 and afterward (but couldn't because of the revolution). This is the peak of cynicism.

In other words, Russia and OSCE Co-chairs were going to abandon their plan (for Armenia to give away regions)? Would the OSCE Co-chairs agree to recognize Karabakh's independence? If you were capable of such a victorious plan, you would have done it in Kazan, you would have prevented Russia from forming the Russian Principles, you would have prevented the April War, you would have achieved victory before the 2018 revolution.

Was your victorious plan to give 5 regions now, keep 2 regions, gain legal status for Artsakh, then give the other 2 regions? If Azerbaijan did not agree to that in 2011 while militarily weaker, why would it agree in 2018?

(did not kiss enough a$$)

Another shocking accusation is that my statements about the conflict deprived Azerbaijan of any hope of achieving a negotiated result so it made the war inevitable. Please read this argument carefully. So, it turns out that the whole purpose of the negotiation process, which people have been conducting for 20 years, was to give hope to Azerbaijan that it can achieve through negotiations what it wants to achieve through war.

This is what I'm saying. I say that the goal of the negotiations for 20 years was to give hope to Azerbaijan, and I was the one who disappointed Azerbaijan against the background of the hopes given to it before. What and when would be the end of this strategy of giving hope to Azerbaijan? While we were giving hope to Azerbaijan, it was buying weapons and lobbying in various international instances about the need to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the logic of its territorial integrity.


epilogue

In fact, this was part of the story of why the 44-day war began and under what circumstances. Of course, it is important to talk about the course of the war, the chances of victory and the reasons for defeat, the signing of the November 9 statement, the post-war events, and, most importantly, the future of Armenia and Artsakh. If necessary, I will touch upon those topics again.

If it turns out that his "article format" is still an acceptable genre for our society, it is possible that I will touch upon the other topics in the form of articles. Time will show. I also understand that this article is disappointing for all those who are tired of discussing the past and want to see the future. But a talk about the recent and not-so-recent past is important to start a serious conversation about the future.

https://www.primeminister.am/hy/interviews-and-press-conferences/item/2021/01/04/Nikol-Pashinyan-04-01/#photos[pp_gal_1]/0/

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039530.html

Tags: #ArtsakhWar #NikolPashinyan #SerjSargsyan #RobertKocharyan #LevonTerPetrosyan #postmortem #PashinyanArticle #Karabakh #KarabakhNegotiations #negotiations

Syunik borders / Shurnukh houses / border road

Shurnukh and Vorotan are the two villages in Armenia that were built on the internationally-recognized borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Some of their houses are located on the other side.

Shurnukh village will lose 11 houses. The families will receive compensation from the government. New housing will be built after discussions. 9 of the displaced families have resettled in other areas of the same village. Three families moved to nearby Kapan and Goris.

Syunik deputy mayor: no pasture, grass, or arable land in Shurnukh has been given to Azerbaijan, but since some residents were working on lands in the Qubatlu region (southern Artsakh, now part of Azerbaijan), they will have problems there.

Near the section of the road that's under Azeri control, Azeris installed a tent and settled there. On the other side, there are the Armenian NSS troops. Russian troops are on the road. I think this section of the road is completely safe.

The library was moved to the Armenia side; there are no issues with the books despite some videos on the internet. Someone was quick to film books laying on the ground to spread a certain narrative, while in reality, it was an incident that happened while moving the books.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039540.html

daily rumors & rebuttals: MoD about Davit-Bek

Telegram channels spread rumors that an Armenian soldier was taken captive near Armenia's bordering Davit-Bek village. The MoD rebutted the claim.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039537.html

daily rumors & rebuttals: Tigranashen

Tigranashen is a village on the border between Armenia and Nakhijevan. The mayor says misinformation was circulated alleging that Pashinyan plans to give the village to Azerbaijan. The rumors were circulated by political analyst Hrant Meilk-Shanhazaryan who made assumptions.

https://news.am/arm/news/622142.html , https://www.lragir.am/2021/01/04/612443/

Artsakh is hiring

Artsakh president's aide Davit Babayan will replace Masis Mayilyan as the Foreign Minister. Mayilyan will become a Special Ambassador.

State Minister Grigori Martirosyan will become the Finance Minister.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039538.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039539.html

Artsakh police are recruiting men under the age of 30 who have served in the army.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039528.html

POWs & search operations

Search crews in Jabrayil and Hadrut regions have discovered bodies of 19 soldiers and 1 civilian today. Their identities are being verified with a medical process. 1175 bodies have been found since the November 9th ceasefire agreement.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039518.html

church safety

Artsakh's church leader Pargev went to the Martuni region today, where he visited Aramas monastery with Russian peacekeepers to discuss the security of the monastery.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039536.html

"The Grandma Sniper Of The Armenia - Azerbaijan War"

Reporter Patrick Lancaster visited a village in Lachin corridor to interview locals.

https://youtu.be/KUOrzKXxZ5g

protect your social media accounts

There is an ongoing campaign by Turkish trolls to steal Armenian WhatsApp accounts for propaganda purposes. Do not respond if you receive a message with a security code. An expert explains how to enable 2-factor authentication.

https://youtu.be/ZnV8Ji_9wTY

Russia reclassifies felony charges over helicopter shooting

Interfax says the Russian authorities will treat the shooting of the Russian helicopter by Azeri troops near the Nakhijevan border as an intentional murder rather than negligent manslaughter.

https://www.interfax.ru/russia/743995 , https://factor.am/326035.html

Russia will help Azerbaijan to remove explosives

A Russian jet flew to Azerbaijan with equipment and 20 sappers to neutralize explosives in the areas of the Aghdam region that went under Azeri control.

https://news.am/arm/news/622120.html

protectionist poultry policies

Economy Minister Qerobyan: the poultry import tariff will rise by 80% beginning in 2022. It will make poultry production in Armenia more appealing. It's a good opportunity for today's poultry businesses, importers, or any other interested party to invest in this business today.

Annually, Armenia produces 15,000 tons and imports 44,000 tons of poultry. To cover this deficit we need $120 million in investments. More investments would allow Armenia to become a poultry exporter in the EAEU trade bloc.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203945

COVID stats

+1201 tested. +193 infected. +740 healed. +14 deaths. 11834 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039517.html

COVID vaccine

An 82-year-old Briton becomes the first person outside of clinical trials to receive a vaccine made by Oxford/AstraZeneca. "I can now really look forward to celebrating my 48th wedding anniversary with my wife Shirley later this year," said the man after thanking the doctors.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039526.html , https://nypost.com/2021/01/04/british-man-is-first-to-get-astrazeneca-oxford-covid-19-vaccine/

Shirvanian Center in Gyumri Becomes a Hub for Assistance to Artsakh

https://youtu.be/r2WgcxHA1Ho

http://asbarez.com/199586/shirvanian-center-in-gyumri-becomes-a-hub-for-assistance-to-artsakh/

HimnaDram.org to renovate heating system

The All Armenia Fund will renovate the dysfunctional boiler house and heating system in Byureghavan's Child Care and Protection Boarding Institution. Many Artsakh children, who are currently housed there, will spend the winter in a warmer environment thanks to generous donations.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/203938

in case you missed Sunday report

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/kpw8vs/jan32021_news_top10_anti_corruption_charges_of/

donations for Artsakh & recovering soldiers

www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)

www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)

www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)

archive of older posts

Armeniapedia's archive of my daily news threads:

http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

disclaimer

All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "sound" guilty.


Link to original report and comments: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/kqh8vr/jan42020_news_pashinyan_about_the_history_of/


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