BY HRANT APOVIAN
Aggression (noun): Hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another, readiness to attack or confront.
On October 16, at 20 30 hours another Armenian defense force officer, senior commander of strategic planning, Captain Kevork Mnatzaganian was killed as a result of Azeri machine gun fire. Seriously injured were senior corporal Karoush Hampartsoumian, privates Nareg Hagopian and Edgar Haroutiounian. Over the last several years, over one hundred members of the Armenian Defense Forces were either killed or injured by Azeri border attacks or sniper fire.
The border attacks on Nagorno Karabakh and Armenia are not accidental incidents. They are part of a long standing political–military strategy of Azerbaijan, to keep the line of demarcation volatile, to test Armenian defense positions, and as a ploy to challenge and derail peace efforts by the O.S.C.E.
It is significant, that the attack occurred on the eve of an O.S.C.E. Mission scheduled to observe the line of contact on the two sides of the border in Hatrut. O.S.C.E representative Andrzej Kasprezyk suspended the monitoring for security considerations.
What is glaringly obvious, is that Azerbaijan’s aggressive behavior is revved up, whenever there is monitoring or prior to negotiating sessions. One was during then Secretary State Hillary Clinton’s visit to the region.
It is a fact that Azerbaijan is never held accountable and exposed for its violations. O.S.C.E. Representatives never accuse the aggressor. They resort to a non-committal call for restraint to the parties involved. This emboldens Azerbaijan even more. Its challenges to peace efforts remain unpunished.
Publicly, Armenian Defense Force communiqués – while mourning the loss of young conscripts- are satisfied with a laconic and vague pronouncement of a proper response repelling and punishing the aggressors.
Politically we are still waiting for world condemnation of Azerbaijan’s aggressive behavior. Rather, there is an effort to appease Azerbaijan, and to woo it back to the negotiating table. There is a stark effort not to alienate Azerbaijan.
Politically Armenia is reluctant to stop negotiations, while the killing of Armenian soldiers at the line of contact goes on unabated. With each loss of human life, one expects a response from the Armenian government that never materializes.
Negotiations were not suspended when Ramil Safarov, “The Ax Murderer”, was extradited to Azerbaijan and was welcomed as a hero.
They were not broken off while President Aliyev repeatedly threatened to attack Nagorno Karabakh with his mighty military arsenal. Finally they were kept alive when Azerbaijan tried to present Armenia as the aggressor in Muslim nation forums or at the United Nations, succeeding in passing anti-Armenia resolutions.
It seems that time is not in favor of a just resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh quest for independence.
Azerbaijan is amassing a formidable arsenal, outspending Armenia by two billion dollars a year.
Azerbaijan has no intention of coming to terms with Nagorno Karabakh independence.
The West is pampering Azerbaijan and overlooks its rigged presidential elections, turns a blind eye to human rights abuses, arrests of journalists, and opposition figures.
Azerbaijan is violating the terms of a cease fire that it is a signatory to.
What is unacceptable is the killing of young soldiers. It is a war crime to post snipers on the Azerbaijan – Nagorno Karabakh border, as if it were a shooting gallery.
Azerbaijan’s transgressions are extensive; they need to be exposed one by one:
1. There has to be worldwide condemnation of Azerbaijan’s aggressive posture and war crimes.
2. Azerbaijan needs to pull its snipers away from the contact line and stop the killing.
3. Azerbaijan has to adhere to its pledge made in Moscow of not resorting to a military solution.
4. Azerbaijan has to adhere to a pact of limiting military expenditures in the Caucasus.
5. Azerbaijan has to adhere to the Geneva Convention and give access to the International Red Cross to visit Armenian war prisoners and repatriate Armenian soldiers that are still being held.
6. Azerbaijan has to stop its anti-Armenian hateful rhetoric.
7. Azerbaijan has to stop presenting the Nagorno Karabakh conflict as a religious war to the Muslim world.
8. Azerbaijan has to stop its multimillion dollar lobbying effort in the United States to buy influence.
9. Azerbaijan has to stop blacklisting foreign officials that visit Nagorno Karabakh, or maybe it should continue to do so.
10. Finally, Azerbaijan must come to terms with the concept of self determination for a people that has lived there for centuries and was subjected to massacres and persecution by the Azeri Government.
The West should not remain silent; it has to force Azerbaijan to stop the killing.
The cease fire is a sham. The killing has to stop. We will not stand for this.
Azerbaijan is accountable for each Armenian soldier killed.
Armenia: neutralize the snipers or stop all negotiations…