Private of the Artsakh Defense Army Sipan Melkonyan (born in 2000) was killed by Azerbaijani fire at about 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Artsakh Defense Ministry reported.
The incident took place in the southeastern border of Artsakh-Azerbaijan in Martuni.
The defense ministry has launched an official investigation.
Artsakh President Bako Sahakian posthumously awarded Melkonyan the Medal for Service in Battle in recognition of his bravery during the defense of the Artsakh’s state border.
Melkonyan’s killing, once again, brought the long dormant issue of the need for mechanisms to monitor and control ceasefire violation, a topic that was widely discussed following the April 2016 War.
The Artsakh foreign ministry issued a statement condemning Melkonyan’s killing and also warning about Azerbaijan’s disinformation campaign whereby on May 30 Baku falsely claimed that Artsakh forces had killed an Azerbaijani soldier. Azerbaijan’s claim was immediately refuted by the Artsakh defense ministry.
“On June 1, the Azerbaijan blatantly violated the cease-fire regime, as a result of which a serviceman of the Artsakh Defence Army was killed. This premeditated killing was preceded by a disinformation campaign with fabricated accusations against Artsakh of alleged shooting of positions of the Azerbaijani army, which allegedly resulted in the death of an Azerbaijani serviceman,” said the Artsakh foreign ministry statement.
“It is evident that this disinformation campaign by Azerbaijan aimed to create the necessary background for the subsequent violation of the cease-fire. Both episodes are links in the same chain and may indicate Azerbaijan’s unwillingness to comply with its obligations to strengthen the cease-fire,” observed the Artsakh foreign ministry.
“The attempt by the Azerbaijan to initiate an escalation of tension serves as yet another example of the urgency to introduce an international mechanism to control the cease-fire in the Karabakh conflict zone. As part of these efforts, it is necessary to finally start the implementation of the agreements reached in Vienna and St. Petersburg in 2016 on investigating possible cease-fire violations, as well as on expansion of the office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office with a view to increasing their monitoring capacities,” said the Artsakh foreign ministry, which added that such a mechanism will allow a prompt response to violations, curtail mutual accusation of ceasefire violations and prevent the escalation of tension under false pretenses.
Armenia’s foreign ministry echoed the need for the monitoring mechanism and reiterated Yerevan’s commitment to the Karabakh peace process.
“The proposal to establish an atmosphere conducive to peace came from Armenia. Therefore, the Armenian side cannot turn down its own offer. Armenia and Artsakh are loyal to their commitments,” said Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan.
She said it would be impossible to disseminate disinformation had an investigation mechanism been in place. She reminded that the mechanism has not been implemented because of Azerbaijan.
“By disseminating fake news, Baku is trying to lay the burden of its non-constructive policy on Armenia and Artsakh,” said Naghdalyan referring to Azerbaijan’s false claim of an attack by Artsakh forces.