President Sarkisian Meets with Catholicoi in Yerevan, Discusses NKR
STEPANAKERT, NKR (A.W.)—The Azerbaijani Armed Forces fired shots from various caliber weapons, including three 82-mm shells, four 60-mm mortars, and 17 grenades, in the northeastern (Martakert) and southeastern (Hadrut) directions of the Line of Contact (LoC) on the night of April 11-12. Azerbaijani forces also used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for intelligence missions in the eastern and southern directions, according to a press statement released by the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic (NKR/Artsakh) Ministry of Defense.
The ministry announced that while the overall situation remains calm, the NKR Defense Army “attentively followed the developments and undertook respective measures when necessary.” The ministry also released an updated list of the 38 deceased NKR servicemen who were killed as a result of the large-scale military aggression carried out by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces on April 2-5. Several NKR Defense Army servicemen who were injured on April 2-5 are currently receiving medical treatment at the main military hospital in Stepanakert; others have been transported to hospitals in Armenia.
The fate of one Armenian serviceman, 23-year-old Captain Argishti Gaboyan of Medz Mantash village, remains unknown. Medz Mantash Mayor Styopa Chobanyan told Armenia’s Yerkir news service that Gaboyan is a graduate of the Vazken Sargsyan Military Institute, and that his father, a contract serviceman in the military, participated in the Karabagh War in 1988.
NKR MFA: ‘There can be no justification for acts committed by Azerbaijan’
The NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) published comments by MFA spokesperson Ani Sargsyan on April 12, which stated that the country is taking steps to provide the international community—including specialized agencies—with facts of the inhuman acts committed by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces during these latest incidents of aggression.
In her comments, Sargsyan said that the Azerbaijani forces had committed war crimes and flagrant violations of the laws and customs of war, as well as the norms of international humanitarian law. “Grossly violating the norms of international humanitarian law, Azerbaijan positions itself against the entire civilized world by openly challenging it,” read the statement.
The NKR will consistently seek not only to ensure the “strongest condemnation of these crimes,” but to hold Azerbaijan accountable, read the statement. “There can be no justification for such acts committed by Azerbaijan.”
President Sarkisian Discusses Situation in NKR with Catholicoi in Yerevan
Armenian President Serge Sarkisian held a meeting with His Holiness Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and His Holiness Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I at Armenia’s Presidential Palace on April 12.
The three discussed the situation on the NKR LoC and the importance of uniting state-church relations for the benefit of national issues and overcoming existing challenges. The Catholicoi also discussed their upcoming visit to NKR, which is scheduled to take place in the coming days.
The announcement of the visit to NKR was made in a short press statement published by the official website of the Catholicosate of the Holy See of Cilicia on April 6. The statement announced that the Catholicoi would visit the NKR to “give their support to the Armenian Armed Forces and to the people of Artsakh.”
Catholicos Aram I expressed his solidarity with the people of Karabagh during a phone conversation with NKR President Bako Sahakyan on April 6, according to the Catholicosate’s website. The Catholicos extended his solidarity to Karabagh, its army, people, and the government. He also said it was the duty of all Armenians to ensure the strengthening of the republic and the protection of its independence.
Bodies of 18 NKR Servicemen Returned with Signs of Torture, Mutilation
On April 10, the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the bodies of 18 servicemen of the NKR Defense Army, killed on April 2-5, were transferred to the NKR side in an exchange of bodies. All bodies exhibited signs of torture and mutilation.
The exchange took place between NKR and Azerbaijan near the Bash Karvend settlement, and was done through the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Office of the Personal Representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman in Office, according to a statement published by the press service of the NKR MFA.
Following the exchange, the NKR State Commission on Prisoners of War, Hostages, and Missing Persons registered that all of the bodies of the deceased servicemen transferred by Azerbaijan had visible signs of torture and mutilation. The statement condemned the acts as running counter to the laws and customs of war as well as international humanitarian law.
“The Karabagh side will seek to ensure that such behavior of the Azerbaijani side is condemned in the strongest terms by the international community and the specialized agencies, and those responsible are brought into account,” read the statement.
MoD Seyran Ohanyan Visits NKR
On April 8, Armenia’s Minister of Defense Seyran Ohanyan visited President Sahakyan in Stepanakert, according to a press statement released by the Armenian Ministry of Defense. During the meeting, which was also attended by NKR Defense Minister Levon Mnatsakanyan, discussions were held on the recent large-scale offensive operations initiated by Azerbaijan, and on the importance of expanding and deepening the close cooperation between Armenia and NKR.
Ohanyan also met with the NKR Defense Army command staff, and discussed the operative situation on the border between Azerbaijan and Artsakh.