2021 May 20

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Daily news wrap-up

May/20/2021: (1) What we know so far about events preceding Syunik border intrusion (2) Russia drafts a document to begin border demarcation: a gun without a smoke (3) Pashinyan speech: demarcation process, "Azerbaijan's propagandists in Armenia" and misinformation, long-term peace (4) Europe vs AZ
by ar_david_hh

Your 17-minute Thursday report in 4069 words.

Syunik border analysis: what we know so far about events before the encroachment

Long before the May 12th events began unfolding, Armenian and Azeri troops began stationing around the lake. Armenia owns ~80% of the lake. It was reported that neither side had permanent positions in this area due to harsh weather conditions, which has only recently begun warming.

Individual Azeri infiltrators were first observed near the Armenian side of the lake in late April. By May 5th, several Armenian outlets reported that Azeris had "full control" of the lake.

The same day on May 5th, Syunik governor denied that Azeris had "full control" of the lake, saying that Maj.Gen. Jirayr Poghosyan, the commander of 1st Army Corps, was observing this area, that he spent the past two days in this area, and that he denies that Azeris have "full control".

The general's presence and prior reports lead us to believe that Armenians did have some quantities of troops in this area prior to Azeri intrusion, that it wasn't completely abandoned, and that sometime in the early May, small groups of Azeris may have begun penetrating through cracks by taking advantage of the fact that there was no traditional trenching system yet.

Regarding conspiracy theories that the government intentionally "gave" the area, this is unlikely as it should be noted that Maj.Gen. Jirayr Poghosyan, the general who was observing this area, is an anti-government "opposition" general who recently co-signed army chief Onik Gasparyan's letter that called Pashinyan incompetent and called for his resignation.

Whether it was general Poghosyan's incompetent deployment decisions that lead to Armenia not having border trenchers or enough soldiers in this area, or someone else's incompetent orders, or it was truly because of poor weather conditions combined with difficult terrain as it was officially reported, remains to be seen and warrants an investigation.

Commander of an army corps Samvel Minasyan later briefed that Armenians and Azeris stationed troops near the lake area back in December of 2020 and that Azeris were first spotted in large quantities (250) on May 12th; that's when they advanced 3.5km.

By May 12th, Azeris had accumulated 250 troops in various parts of Armenian territories (Syunik and Gegharkunik). Negotiations began for their withdrawal and Armenia officially contacted the CSTO military bloc.

The U.S. and France, later joined by India and Greece, urged Azeris to immediately withdraw, while Russia offered Armenia and Azerbaijan its mediation to conduct border demarcation.

In the following days, Armenia reported that Azerbaijan partially withdrew and that Armenians increased their presence. Armenia reported that Azeris withdrew more troops days later.

Deputy Premier Tigran Avinyan and reporters paid a visit to the lake's south-western shores.

The Azeri intrusion was not just in Syunik. They also entered Gegharkunik province, near Vardenis borders. On May 18, the MOD reported that a confrontation took place between Armenian and Azeri troops on May 17th in Gegharkunik [Vardenis], in which Armenians [unofficially] reportedly unsuccessfully tried to push Azeris out.

On May 19, the video of the Vardenis scuffle was circulated, leading to confusion that it was a new incident in Syunik. MOD denied reports about a new scuffle. A fact-checker later found that it was the old Vardenis incident from May 17.

On May 19, the MOD reported that they brought additional reinforcements to increase the Armenian presence and to prevent Azeris from "conducting provocations". MOD reports that Armenians have control over the roads used by Azeri groups that are deep within Armenian territory (up to 3.5km). Azerbaijan also increased the number of its troops in various parts, bringing it to 600 by May 20th.

Several groups of Azeri troops continue to remain in Armenian territories. The MOD said they reserve the right to apply military force if Azeris do not withdraw peacefully. Armenia said it will not negotiate the giveaway of Armenian territories in exchange for their withdrawal.

Russia and the U.S. urged for an official border demarcation process. The first discussions about demarcation began last year, after the war. It was reported that Armenia and Azerbaijan will create expert groups, likely mediated by Russia.

Earlier on Monday, Pashinyan announced that Armenia and Azerbaijan would both benefit from the official demarcation process and that Azerbaijan is intentionally sabotaging the demarcation efforts by demanding that it be done only between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Armenia, on the other hand, wants Russia to act as a mediator.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1051372.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTsQOWzRdtg

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052900.html https://factor.am/371761.html https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/nepovm/may172021_1_syunik_gegharkunik_borders_2_more/? Other sources from previous threads

Pashinyan discusses border demarcation and a document to establish a demarcation commission

Armenia and Azerbaijan are yet to formally clarify their borders after the independence. For this, the two must create a commission tasked with examining old maps and documents for the official delimitation and demarcation.

Former president Serj Sargsyan's fugitive son-in-law Mikael "Mishik" Minasyan shared a copy of the demarcation document drafted by Russia and attempted to portray that as something nefarious and secret done by the Armenian government behind people's back. Others noted that it had been officially announced last year that a commission would be formed for demarcation.

It is not known whether this is a final document [update: it's not the final form, can be amended, and has not even been discussed yet]. It should be noted that Minasyan has a record of misleading the public while sharing various pieces of documents in the past.

Last year they shared Azerbaijan's version of a document and claimed that's what Pashinyan planned to sign. What the three countries ended up signing turned out to be different and did not include anything about Armenia unilaterally giving away enclaves to Azerbaijan, as the leaked document had suggested.

During today's speech, Pashinyan accused the former regime of "once again" acting as Azerbaijan's propagandists within Armenia.

Pashinyan about the border demarcation: the overall situation has not changed on the border. In various locations, Azerbaijan has 500-600 troops in areas belonging to Armenia. Our army's task is to limit their potential actions. The political task is not to allow armed clashes so the situation won't get out of control, and for Azeri forces to leave Armenia.

Enormous diplomatic work has been done and is being done. That's why MFA Ayvazyan is not present here today [government session]. He is working with our colleagues right now. Our MOD and Deputy Ministers are also tasked with diplomatic work.

I consider their work to be effective because our international colleagues share our views regarding borders: Azeri forces must leave. Azerbaijan is taking steps to remain in the territories, it has an obvious ally [referring to Turkey].

Azerbaijan's "agents" in Armenia

As I've said earlier, in the modern world, information warfare is sometimes more important than what is actually happening. I will not hesitate to say that Azerbaijan has its information agents among the Armenian political elites. Their activities are nothing new.

In 2020, these internal Azeri agents were inviting Azerbaijan to attack Armenia [Hrant Bagratyan in June 2020]. While in Parliament and elsewhere, they displayed border paths through which the border could be crossed without detection.

Today, these agents are aiding Azerbaijan to counter our diplomatic efforts while presenting the Armenian government as being the pro-Azeri conspirators.

Mishik's redacted document

We have a very disrespectful situation towards society. They circulated a document 90% of which is redacted with black ink. And they present this document as "proof" that the government is signing an anti-Armenian document.

If you're going to share the document, then share the full text so the public can see it all. Why are you hiding it? Once again, they can only be described as Azerbaijan's information warfare agents within Armenia.

How do they obtain these documents? Likely from Azerbaijan because it's part of a trilateral discussion between Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan.

the demarcation

The solution that we have achieved with our international partners is 100% in line with Armenia's interests. Not 99.9%, but 100%.

If Azerbaijan agrees to the conditions as they are described, I will certainly sign that document. I cannot publish that document because we are still in the negotiation process and that would not be ethical to do so.

Azeri propaganda

The Azerbaijani propaganda cuts 4 minutes from a 2-hour-long of story and presents it. Its Armenian propagandists within Armenia then share the material, while hiding from the public that the source is Azerbaijan.

This is nothing more than a destructive activity in the rear. If the 21st-century laws do not provide us with mechanisms, then it should be the public to respond to this, because first and foremost, this is a disrespect towards the Armenian public.

how did Azeris enter Armenia?

Let's discuss how Azeris were able to enter our territories. After the war, the borders became a few hundred kilometers longer. The areas in question are mountainous with difficult relief. It is covered in snow for most of the year and no engineering activity is possible here. It's similar on both sides of the border.

The Azeri actions are in direct violation of the November 9 statement, too. Diplomacy will work on this.

the decision to contact CSTO military bloc

There is criticism on why we contacted CSTO without firing shots first. Anyone who has ever read a few paragraphs from the CSTO agreement will know that that's the purpose of CSTO, to resolve a crisis without firing shots.

CSTO is not for firing at someone then asking CSTO to come to join and fire, too. It's for de-escalation and diplomatic solutions.

what is the reason behind Azeri provocations?

One option that we've discussed is Azerbaijan's attempt to incite a war. If you pay attention to the part of Syunik where the events are unfolding, it's the narrowest 26km belt in Armenia [between Azerbaijan and Nakhijevan]. We could have had uncontrollable events in this place if things escalated.

Our decision to contact CSTO was the right one. At the moment, at least, it is justifying itself. We have not reached our goal yet, however.

influencing the elections

By observing these internal processes, we cannot rule out the possibility that Azerbaijan wanted to influence the election process, and perhaps to aid their propagandists and agents within Armenia.

demarcation and delimitation

There is a lot of talk about demarcation and delimitation. Now they want to scare and terrorize the public by using this topic. Armenia needs border clarification just as much as Azerbaijan does. It is the strongest security guarantee.

This isn't a simple process. I'm not aware of any former USSR states in our region that have finished this process. Let me clarify what demarcation and delimitation are:

Delimitation is when you draw the borders on maps, while demarcation is when you fix the corresponding area on the ground. There has been much talk about "GPS" and so on. In other words, they use "GPS" to verify whether the corresponding position is the correct one or not.

regional trade routes

One of our primary goals is to unblock the regional trade routes. It's important for Armenia as much as it's important for Azerbaijan. Armenia was placed under blockade in 1992. Once again, we aren't talking about giving away any "corridors".

long-term peace

We have the political will to resolve the conflict. We need to address these difficult issues to have centuries-long peace. It is a difficult process that requires political will and the ability to receive blows. We need to be open about this.

future of border protection

The ideal solution is for the Armenian and Azeri [regular] armies to pull back from the entire border and allow Border Guards to take over.

final words

Once again, I call upon our society not to succumb to the provocations of the Azerbaijani propaganda network within Armenia. We work and will work tirelessly to protect the national and state interests of Armenia and Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052889.html https://youtu.be/7toKBi5EonQ

Tags: #demarcation #delimitation #PashinyanSpeech

calls are made to make the demarcation process more transparent and to fight misinformation

Human Rights Ombudsman Tatoyan urged the government to fight the misinformation by taking the initiative in its own hands during times of crisis, by providing faster and more detailed information.

He spoke about the dangers of an "information vacuum that can be filled with misinformation and then used against the state." He believes the unredacted document should be posted.

President Sarkissian and other officials said it would be best if the full document is published.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052876.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052885.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052910.html

content of the document shared by an opposition outlet:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia declare that for the sake of strengthening peace and staying true to the November 9 and January 11 statement, the three sides agree to form a joint expert commission for demarcation.

AM and AZ will form their commissions by May 31. Russia will form a similar commission to act as an adviser.

The commissions will be lead by people selected according to each country's laws.

The commission will hold its first session by June 30 to agree on the direction and will confirm the appointment of other members of the commission.

More meetings will be held within the next few months.

All the steps underlined in the final document will be resolved only politically-diplomatically.


Pashinyan answers questions about demarcation process / Parliamennt session / enclaves in Armenia and Azerbaijan / demarcation

Pashinyan about the Vardenis border incident: as I announced days earlier, the tension was growing on the borders. What happened was mass brawls between Armenian and Azeri soldiers on the borders. Then the situation calmed down. No guns were used but there were mass fights across the borders.

Now the opposition claims the MOD denied it before confirming it. [Note: MOD reported the incident but denied claims that others incident took place.]

The way reporting works is the army briefs the MOD about the outcome of an event in general. "This event happened, and this was the result."

Azerbaijan cut 3 minutes from the incident that lasted 2 hours and gave it to its information agents within Armenia. [another portion of the incident was later published reportedly showing Armenians expelling Azeris from an area.]

Pashinyan about borders: our stance remains the same: Azer troops must leave Armenia without conditions. Since we still don't have demarcation and delimitation, these conflicts can arise in the future again. Should this turn into an international crisis every time?

This is why an offer was made to create a demarcation commission. The discussions are still ongoing so it would be inappropriate for me to publish the document right now.

What is the important part of it? It says the two sides will be required to use diplomacy instead of moving troops to resolve border disputes. This is nothing new.

Earlier I announced that a demarcation commission will be formed only after Azeris leave. We can add this in the document, for example, Azeris have 3-4 days to leave. This is the whole story. There is nothing secret going on.

Pashinyan about enclaves and Artsvashen: opposition only talks about giving away lands. Why don't they also remember that we have Artsvashen? Why are they always siding with foreign propaganda theses?

After the first Artsakh war, Armenia continues to have 70 km2 of Republic of Armenia lands under Azeri control. Today, we have border villages that do not have arable lands as a result. It's true that we also hold lands that were part of Soviet Azerbaijan. These issues need to be resolved. One option is to leave things the way they are.

Opposition MPs: foreign Minister (ministry) said they weren't aware of the demarcation document.

Pashinyan: the demarcation commission, which was formed in November 2020, is lead by the Deputy Foreign Minister. Russia sent the documents to the Russian embassy, the embassy sent it to the Deputy Minister, the Deputy Minister sent it to me. Perhaps Foreign Ministry officials tried to distance themselves after learning that the leak was related to Mishik [sarcastic].

Now they spread misinformation that "Pashinyan isolated all diplomats, nobody knows about details." Everyone relevant knows about everything.

The Security Council held a discussion about the document and a statement was made. Why did we not give details at the time that we were discussing that document? Because that would not be diplomatically serious. It's still in progress. Are we supposed to share the document that we have just received?

This document may never be signed at all. It's possible we will amend this document during discussions. Why upload it while it's still being discussed? Do you understand what we are talking about?

Mishik should have leaked his father's [Serj Sargsyan] documents about giving away Artsakh's 7 regions to Azerbaijan.

LHK leader Marukyan: any signature by the Premier about borders would need to be approved by the Parliament.

Pashinyan: statements do not require Parliamentary approval, but the official certification of delimitation/demarcation results is another topic. Now you know the parts [of the document] that were blacked out. Tell me where the "treason" is.

Security Council Chief Grigoryan: Russia presented the document and we confirmed yesterday that we received it, but we will only discuss it after Azeris withdraw from Armenia. We acted maximally transparently.

We haven't even begun negotiations over this document because we want Azeris to withdraw first. This is why there was no official statement about negotiations earlier.

We launched an international process and secured a clear consensus [about Azeri withdrawal]. Some Armenian circles did not like our success. They don't like seeing us being able to resolve things diplomatically.

These events are attempts to meddle with the election process. The more we get closer to a peaceful resolution, the more attempts are made to derail the process.

But if we can't resolve this diplomatically, we reserve the right to apply force.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052937.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052949.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052951.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052952.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052956.html https://factor.am/372843.html https://factor.am/372786.html https://factor.am/372812.html

Tags: #PashinyanSpeech #demarcation #NoNegotiationsYet

Defense Ministers of Armenia and Russia held a phone conversation


MOD reports a border incidennt on Gegharkunik borders:

Several dozen shots were fired by Azeris, reportedly in the air. Armenian soldiers responded by firing warning shots.

Azeri commander then called the Armenian commander and issued an apology, saying the Azeri soldiers fired by an accident.

We are warning that similar incidents in the future will be viewed as an intentional attempt of confrontation and will be met with a response.


Russian Premier says unblocking regional trade routes is best for everyone in the region

I am confident that unblocking economic and transport routes, creating new infrastructural routes, is in the interests of all the states of the South Caucasus, said Miguel Mishustin.


ambassadors of several European states visit Syunik borders

11 ambassadors and 3 other EU representatives visited Goris, Syunik and were briefed about Sev Lake.


EU's ambassador to Armenia Wiktorini:

The map shows clearly that the majority of Sev Lake is in the Armenian territory.


European Parliament MP wants Artsakh population to have a say in Artsakh's final status

MP Jordi Sole: The final status of Artsakh cannot be imposed by the use of force. There must be a political solution that will take into account the democratic will of the people living there.

Azerbaijan is refusing to follow its international obligations, by illegally keeping POWs and civilians.


European EPP party about POWs

European EPP party deputy president has urged Azerbaijan to follow the ECHR ruling and provide full information about Armenian POWs. All detainees must be freed immediately and unconditionally, said the report.


EU MP urged EU to force Azerbaijan to release Armenian POWs

European Parliament MP Fourlas said "we are all Armenians" and criticized Azerbaijan and Turkey for killing the civilian population with drones then celebrating it. "Let's not wait for Aliyev to release POWs. He won't do that. We must force him."


European MP accused Azerbaijan of violating Geneva Conventions

The presence of Armenian POWs in Azerbaijan today is unacceptable, said Socialist & Democrats MP Isabel Santos while speaking about reports about torture.


European Parliament adopts a resolution demanding immediate and unconditional release of Armenian POWs

607 voted in favor. It cites UN conventions, EU's previous statements, OSCE's reports, and the November 10th trilateral statement.

Applies to POWs captured before and after the 2020 war. It calls for Azeri authorities to refrain from torturing POWs.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052946.html Barcelona city council has officially recognized the Armenian Genocide



Greece urged Azerbaijan to respect Armenia's territorial integrity

It is necessary to avoid any unilateral action that would endanger regional peace and stability, added Greek MFA.


ECHR orders Azerbaijan to pay €30k in compensation to Israeli blogger Alexander Lapshin

The blogger was imprisoned by the Belorussian regime and handed over to Azerbaijan years ago, for criticizing the Azeri regime. An incident happened while he was in Azeri jail. The court found that his rights were violated.


anti-corruption: Kocharyan's aide Armen Gevorgyan is charged with $9m laundering

Gevorgyan and Kocharyan are going through a multi-million dollar bribery trial involving a mining businesswoman who testified. This is a separate story.

Investigators said: between 2004-2018, the former deputy Premier Armen Gevorgyan laundered and legalized ֏4.9b ($9.4m).

Between 2002-2018, Gevorgyan and his associates had ֏743m in legal income but Gevorgyan's 39 properties were registered under different names and laundered.

Gevorgyan also abused his powers to pressure mayors of various settlements to organize fake auctions to give away lands to his friends. As a result, the lands were sold at a 6x lower price than the actual price.

Gevorgyan's associates also registered 10 properties in Czechia, worth $920k. It was revealed that Gevorgyan and friends founded several companies in Czechia to register the properties under their names. The funds circulated by them greatly exceeded their income. //

Gevorgyan maintains innocence. His lawyer said this case was launched on Apr/16/2020 regarding properties owned by Gevorgyan's family members, but Gevorgyan denies connection with the properties.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052877.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052914.html

Tags: #ArmenGevorgyan

another prominent BHK MP will quit the party

Controversial MP Naira Zohrabyan is leaving as BHK's Secretary-General and will not run for re-election. It was revealed recently that the party listed another female MP as their top-female candidate on the ballot for upcoming elections.


solar energy investment project

Today the government gave a tax waiver to BARI AREV company to finish its ֏4.7b renewable energy investments. The imported tech will be used for 5MW solar farms in Gegharkunik and Aragatsotn.


156,000 trees are planted as part of a massive forest campaign

The "10 million trees" project began last year and continues across Armenia. Nature Ministry agencies plan to plant 200,000 more this Autumn.


government supports an amendment to property tax code

The property tax code was recently reformed. To address some VAT-related issues that it caused for home builders, the amendment will make the taxable base 80% of the property's value, instead of the 100%.


modular kindergartens will be built in 10 more villages

The government allocated ֏51m funds to prepare the construction of 10 kindergartens in provinces. It's part of their plan to ensure 75% of Armenian kids attend preschools by 2023.


IRS to refund overpayments automatically by eliminating a step

The government approved amendments to how IRS repays over-collected funds.

Right now you have to file two applications to transfer funds from one account to another. The reforms will save time by eliminating one of the steps.

There are 36k taxpayers who overpaid ֏4.5b. 89% of them are expecting under ֏100km in refunds.

Pashinyan: We consider one of our most important successes the fact that the state has repaid the debts of taxpayers by taking huge steps. In our effort to bring the government's debt to taxpayers to zero, we attempted to learn what the remaining balances are and found that 4.5 billion was left hanging.

With today's decision, 35k businesses will receive refunds applied to their accounts. The refunds can be used either to cover their existing debt or to get a physical cheque.


government plans to tackle illegal migration and protect migrant rights (EU visa)

Today the government approved migration reforms. It will help better understand who comes and goes, border entry stats, tourism info, immigrant rights protection, crisis management, repatriation incentives, etc.

It will help Armenia to ease the visa regime with Europe, and to cooperate with the EAEU bloc to make things easier for [Armenian] migrant workers [traveling to Russia].


healthy lifestyle

Today the government approved plans to adopt a broad policy towards promoting a healthy lifestyle in Armenia.

The report says 25% of illnesses around the world are associated with poor lifestyle choices. As of 2017 stats in Armenia, 80% of deaths were from non-communicable disease (cardiovascular, etc.)

The policy aims to discourage unhealthy food consumption legislatively, raising awareness about the non-communicable disease, healthy programs for youths, creating conditions for a healthy lifestyle to be possible.

It's expected to lower the number of smokers and heavy drinkers and increase physical activity.


COVID stats

3663 tested. 191 infected. 42 healed. 7 deaths.


yesterday's news


Все Новости за 19 мая 2021


end of report

The accused are innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "appear" guilty.

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Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/nh9mhf/may202021_1_what_we_know_so_far_about_events/

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