Yerevan remembers the victims of Nagorno Karabakh
by Vladimir Rozanskij

A year ago a new conflict erupted between Yerevan and Baku for control of the Armenian enclave on Azerbaijani territory. At the end of the conflict there were 3,777 Armenian and 2,895 Azerbaijani dead. The opposition in Armenia accuses Prime Minister Pushinyan of being too weak towards Azerbaijan.




Moscow (AsiaNews) - Commemorative ceremonies have been held in Armenia for  victims on the first anniversary of the "44-day war" in Nagorno Karabakh. At 11 a.m. on September 27, a minute's silence was observed throughout the country. Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan visited the Erablur military range in the capital Yerevan, kneeling alone at the graves of fallen soldiers, without the accompaniment of other ministers. On Erablur Hill 889 victims of the war with Azerbaijan are buried.

According to official figures, published at the end of August, a total of 3,777 Armenians were killed during the conflict in Karabakh, including 3,000 soldiers; more than 200 people disappeared without trace. Baku, for its part, claimed 2,895 victims. The Armenian authorities extended the national mourning to the territories of Nagorno Karabakh now in Azerbaijani hands.

Opposition forces, recently defeated in the elections that re-elected Pašinyan, held their own commemorative parade on the evening of 26 September. They marched with lit lamps in memory of the victims (see photo 2), blaming the premier for their deaths. From Garegin Idže square in Yerevan, the procession reached Erablur hill, under the leadership of the leader of the Ayastan opposition bloc, former president Robert Kočaryan. No rallies were held during the demonstration.

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan has not yet found a definitive solution; Armenians do not recognise the attribution of Nagorno Karabakh to their Azerbaijani opponents. Marking the anniversary, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev gave an interview to the Russian military magazine Natsionalnaja Oborona ('National Defence') in which he warned the Armenians: 'Raising the issue of the status of Nagorno Karabakh again is harmful and dangerous for them, in the not encouraging conditions their country is currently in'.

Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan responded that "we believe that the issue should be discussed within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group, and we do not understand Aliev's threatening statements". The Azerbaijani leader has also spoken at the UN, insisting that "Yerevan must choose between regional cooperation and territorial claims against its neighbours", repeating that the Karabakh conflict is now a thing of the past.

Baku says it is willing to normalise relations with Armenians only "on the basis of strict compliance with the principles of international law, especially sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognised borders", according to a note from the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.

Armenia's internal oppositions reiterate their frustration with Pushinyan's "surrendering" policy. Ayastan spokesman Iškhan Sagatelyan says that "Azerbaijan and Turkey are trying to bring Armenia to its knees for good, and the government insists on its losing attitude. We are handing our country over to the enemy piece by piece".

According to the opponents, the continuous concessions do not lead to more stability and pacification, while 'peace is not begged for, but imposed', and a reorganisation of the army is needed, which could still assert itself against the Turkish-Azerbaijani enemy.