Azeris Protest Alleged Chinese Arms to Armenia
BAKU (Reuters)–Azerbaijan on Tuesday accused China of supplying sophisticated weaponry and training to its arch-foe Armenia–and demanded Beijing recall the alleged arms shipments.
Vafa Guluzade–top foreign affairs adviser to President Haydar Aliyev–said China had supplied Typhoon rocket systems to Armenia–which has been locked in conflict with Azerbaijan for more than a decade over the disputed Karabakh region.
"In violation of international norms and agreements–China has given Armenia eight Typhoon rocket systems. Right now–Chinese instructors are in Armenia teaching the Armenians how to use them," Guluzade told Reuters.
"We demand that China immediately recall the Typhoon systems," he said.
A Defense Ministry spokesman said the surface-to-surface rockets had a range of 37 to 50 miles.
A source in Azerbaijan's foreign ministry said the Chinese ambassador in Baku had been handed an official protest regarding the arms shipments.
A Chinese embassy spokesman told Reuters it would answer the note in several days–but declined to comment on whether there had been an arms shipment.
Armenia's Foreign Ministry said it had no information on the matter and that it would release a statement later.
Azerbaijan has often complained of Russian arms shipments to Armenia.
"Now there is an alliance between Russia and China against the West–Russia is trying to pull China into the Caucasus conflict," Guluzade told Reuters by telephone.
According to Guluzade–Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan procured the Typhoon installations last summer during a visit to China with the Russian defense minister.
He said this was a sign that the supplying of the Typhoons was arranged with the help of the Russians.
Guluzade said the Chinese ambassador had earlier told the Azeri Foreign Ministry that Sargsyan bought the Typhoons from a private company and that the government was not involved.
Tuesday, May 18, 1999
New Military Attache Of China Begins Mission
YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Chinese Military Attache Colonel Jui Xaojui began his Armenia mission recently. During a reception held on the occasion–Chinese Ambassador to Armenia Tju Tjaoshun said–"Armenia and China can be said to be cooperating in all areas today." The ambassador hoped for cooperation in the sphere of defense to be as effective as it is in others.
China Announces Extra Aid To Armenia
China said on Tuesday that will provide Armenia with around $16 million in additional economic assistance this year, encourage Chinese businesspeople to invest in the Armenian economy and facilitate imports from the South Caucasus state.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang reportedly made the announcement during talks with Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian held on the sidelines of an international economic forum in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian. The talks were followed by the signing of several Chinese-Armenian agreements. One of them is aimed at boosting commercial ties between the two nations, according to an Armenian government statement.
“We are ready to encourage our citizens to visit Armenia and familiarize themselves with your country as tourists,” the statement quoted Li as telling Sarkisian. “Efforts will be made to increase Chinese investments in Armenia.”
“We are also ready to import various goods from Armenia. As well as making investments, we want to see Armenian cognac, jewelry items and precious stones in the Chinese market,” he said.
Li added that the Chinese government has decided to allocate the extra aid to Armenia in recognition of “friendly relations” existing between the two nations.
An explanatory note released by the Armenian government said it will come in addition to a $11 million grant that was allocated by Beijing earlier this year for the construction of a Chinese school in Yerevan and the purchase of equipment for the Armenian customs service. It did not clarify what the extra sum will be spent on.
China has also donated hundreds of public buses and ambulance vehicles to Armenia in recent years. Sarkisian was reported to thank Li for this assistance. He also said that the Armenian government would like to deepen ties with Beijing.
“I am glad that our relations have been deepening in all areas in recent years,” the Armenian premier added, according to his press office.
Defense and security appears to be one of those areas. A military source in Yerevan told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) last month that Armenia has acquired Chinese multiple-launch rocket systems with a firing range of up to 130 kilometers.