Georgian Foreign Minister’s statements and killing of Armenian captive in Baku dominate Armenia’s domestic agenda

Review of October 2-8 internal political events.

The political week in Armenia started with appointment of Vladimir Gasparyan as Deputy Defense Minister of Armenia.

PanARMENIAN.Net - Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze said he never commented on Armenia’s security and is not going to do so. “However, as a sovereign state, Georgia can voice opinion on Russian bases in South Caucasus,” Vashadze said. “Tbilisi comprehends the danger of the Russian military bases. We have the bitter experience of hosting 3 of them once. But I repeat that I’m not entitled to speak of Armenia’s security,” he said when replying to a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter’s question. As to Javakhk problems, Vashadze said there is no region called Javakhk on Georgia’s geographic map. “There is the region of Samtskhe Javakheti, whose population has equal rights irrespective of nationality,” he noted.

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Vahe Sargsyan, an expert at Mitq analytical center, said that the visit of Georgian Foreign Minister to Armenia once again proved that official Tbilisi denies existence of the Armenian factor in Georgia. “Closing of Upper Lars checkpoint was designed to distract the Armenian leadership’s attention from the problems of Javakhk Armenians and wrest concessions from Yerevan,” Sargsyan said. He also offered to prohibit anti-Armenian Georgian politicians from entering Armenia. For her part, expert an Noravank scientific research center Tamara Vardanyan said that in relations with Georgia, Armenia prioritizes communication issues and neglects the problems of the Armenian population. “Armenia allows itself to be run by Tbilisi due to Georgia’s geographic location,” she said.

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Students of Yerevan State University gathered at the premises of the OSCE Office on Yerevan to urge the Organization to send a mission to Azerbaijani-occupied Nakhijevan and Shahumyan region of NKR. “Yielding to Azerbaijan’s demands, the OSCE will hold a field assessment mission in Nagorno Karabakh. Can it really be true that the OSCE and other international institutions are totally disinterested in the fate of Armenian cultural monuments, specifically the Djulfa khachkars,” chairman of the YSU Student Union Tsolak Hakobyan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. “Azerbaijan’s chauvinistic authorities spare no effort to destroy the Armenian heritage in the occupied territories,” he said. The students handed over a letter calling on the OSCE Secretary General and Chairman-in-Office to take action.

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Heritage party didn’t mind withdrawal of its bill “On Recognition of Independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic” from the agenda of the current four-day parliament session. “However, no political force approved this proposal on postponement and we decided that the bill can be discussed today,” head of Heritage parliamentary group Stepan Safaryan told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter on October 5.

Chairman of ARF Dashnaktsutyun group Vahan Hovhannisyan said, for his part, that such a bill can drive Armenia into a deadlock. “A political consensus is needed to take this decision. However, the situation is different at the moment,” he said. National Assembly vice speaker Samvel Nikoyan noted that Republican Party of Armenia is not against the idea of NKR recognition. “However, we believe that discussion of this bill is inexpedient now. Adopting this bill, we will bid defiance to the international community,” he said.

According to Prosperous Armenia group secretary Aram Safaryan, recognition of NKR may undermine the process going on in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.

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Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian expressed his condolences to relatives of Armenian captive Manvel Saribekyan, who was killed in Baku. “The fact that the young shepherd was abducted and forced to voice absurd things on-camera and his murder are outrageous. It is also a display of cynicism,” Nalbandian said. According to Nalbandian, similar behavior is peculiar only to terrorists, who first humiliate a captive on-camera and then kill him. “People, who incite to murders and make heroes of criminals and murderers of captives, speak about the humanitarian law in the UN. Maybe this term has another meaning for them,” said Nalbandian, adding that problems cannot be resolved through such medieval methods. He added that violence is an evidence of weakness.

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All parliamentary groups of Armenia sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek, PACE President Mevlut Cavusoglu and OSCE PA President Petros Efthymiou with respect to Armenian captive Manvel Saribekyan’s death in Baku. The letter reads that the Armenian parliamentary groups strictly condemn the Azerbaijani leadership and demand to bring to justice those who are guilty of the Armenian captive’s death. Besides, the parliamentary groups condemned the inertness of Yerevan and Baku offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross. According to Armenian parliamentarians, Azerbaijan’s official version of suicide is an attempt to avoid responsibility, as marks of violence were found on Saribekyan’s body.

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The Armenian Ombudsman’s Office sent a written inquiry to Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg as well as to the International Committee of the Red Cross with regard to the killing of Armenian shepherd Manvel Saribekyan in Baku. “We would like to discuss the issue with the Azerbaijani Ombudsman’s office but they reject any possibility of cooperation,” RA Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan said. “Azerbaijan presented a civilian as a subversive to announce him a POW. Representatives of the ICRC were not allowed to visit him. Saribekyan “gave an interview” in an bad psychological condition. After this, Saribekyan allegedly hung himself. So, there are a great number of questions to be addressed,” he stated.

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