Today, marks the 70th anniversary of the signature of the European Convention on Human Rights. In his remarks at the 130th Session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Armenia's Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said that this cornerstone treaty was meant to protect the rights and freedoms of hundreds of millions of Europeans. "We share the vision of the Council of Europe that the Convention shall cover all Europeans, notwithstanding the status of the territory they live in. Sadly, it is not the case," Mnatsakanyan said. He spoke about the large-scale aggression that was launched against Nagorno-Karabakh "with the direct involvement of Turkey and foreign terrorist fighters, resorting to violations of international humanitarian law aimed at annihilating the indigenous people of Artsakh. The deployment by Turkey of terrorist fighters to Azerbaijan is in violation of at least three Council of Europe treaties, to which both states are parties."
Mnatsakanyan urged that necessary measures be taken to enable unhindered access to conflict zones. “I urge the Committee of Ministers to take bold steps and be worthy of the legacy of the founding fathers of the Council of Europe, the legacy of peace and prosperity, of greater unity in Europe,” he said. “But the inability to express a position on an ongoing war or even acknowledge the basic needs of people living in conflict zones testifies to its deep crisis. The Committee must take actions, or it is doomed to be obsolete.”
As this day marks the Convention, civilian settlements in Artsakh continue to come under Azerbaijani fire, resulting in civilian casualties and significant damage to vital civilian infrastructure.
Here is a chronology of official updates.
Civilian Settlements Continue to Be Targeted
8:40 a.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan: Operations are underway to surround and neutralize a group of Azerbaijani soldiers detected in the direction of the fortress town of Shushi.
9:50 a.m.: According to Artsakh’s State Service of Emergency Situations, after midnight, Azerbaijani forces resumed shelling the peaceful settlements of Artsakh, as the military operations continued. Heavy artillery was used in the direction of Shushi. Casualties have been reported among the civilian population with significant damage inflicted on the city.
9:20 a.m.: According to the Artsakh Defense Ministry, the situation along the entire length of the front line was relatively tense but stable overnight. Azerbaijani forces continued shelling peaceful settlements of Artsakh. Casualties have been reported among the civilian population.
After midnight, a subversive group of Azerbaijani Armed Forces tried to advance in the direction of Shushi, but was pushed back following the resistance by the Defense Army units and volunteers.
The Defense Army is in control of the operative-tactical situation along the entire length of the front line and is currently in the midst of operations to surround and neutralize an Azerbaijani group of soldiers.
2:05 p.m.: Artsrun Hovhannisyan of Armenia’s Defense Ministry said that, at around 10:30 a.m., Azerbaijani forces initiated yet another attack southeast of the city of Berdzor. Moving into defensive positions, units of Artsakh’s Defense Army repelled the attack, destroying three Azerbaijani tanks in the process.
At around 12:55 p.m., the adversary launched another attack in the same direction and, after losing two tanks and two infantry fighting vehicles, was pushed back. At the moment, battles continue in that direction. The Defense Army is in control of the operative-tactical situation, Hovhanissyan said.
Live Press Briefing, Artak Beglaryan
12:10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artak Beglaryan, the Ombudsman of Artsakh spoke about the developments of the past few days and the human rights violations by the Azerbaijani forces. He noted that the situation was tense in Shushi overnight and that casualties have been reported among the civilian population and a lot of damage was inflicted on the city. The details are still being clarified. The city of Martuni has also been targeted by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. Although the city was impacted by the shelling, no casualties have been reported. A number of other rural communities have also been targeted but the civilian population was not affected.
Beglaryan reminded that the capital Stepanakert was once again targeted by Azerbaijani forces, which left two civilians wounded (one was reported in the vicinity of the Maternity Hospital, while the other near the market located in the central part of the city). He stressed that these incidents illustrate that Azerbaijan continues to intentionally target civilian populations and settlements, in violation of the norms of international humanitarian law and the October 31 agreement with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to not deliberately target civilian populations or non-military objects. Several other settlements, including Shushi and Martuni, have also been targeted by cluster munitions, which are banned by international law and customary law. Beglaryan noted that, to date, at least 46 civilians have been killed and 144 others wounded.
Over 13,800 properties have been damaged, about 3,100 pieces of infrastructure (including electricity and communication lines, water and gas pipelines) and objects of public significance (including schools, kindergartens, hospitals, cultural centers and churches) and 2,100 vehicles. According to the Artsakh Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, 61 schools (about 28% of all schools) and 10 kindergartens were ruined as a result of Azerbaijani shelling.
PEN International’s Statement on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
1:20 p.m.: The following is a statement on behalf of the Writers for Peace Committee of PEN International on the conflict in the disputed territory of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh:
The Writers for Peace Committee notes with concern the continuing warfare between Armenia and Azerbaijan over control of the Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh territory. The current round of hostilities began with an assault by Azerbaijan on September 27. This is a deeply-rooted conflict that has shown its ability to erupt destructively over several generations, dating back to decisions made by Stalin in 1921, a time when he was deliberately complicating the ethnic tapestry of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The international community, in particular the UN and the Council Of Europe, have been calling all this century for an end to attacks on both Azeri and Armenians: their persons, property and culture. The solution is not victory for either state but a peaceful negotiated settlement that enables all those who live in the area to coexist without rancour.
The prospects for this are not helped by the picking of sides by surrounding regional powers, Turkey, Iran and Russia, a competition for influence over the territory that goes back many hundreds of years. We have particular concern about the timing and motives for the current upsurge in violence, seemingly fuelled by escalating aggression throughout the region and along its borders by Turkey in ways consciously harking back to the Ottoman Empire. Such retrograde ambitions do not serve the cause of peace nor of civilized humanity.
The freedom of expression in most of the surrounding countries is severely curtailed by censorship, intimidation and violence. Only very recently has the situation improved in Armenia itself. The lives of the people are not served well by evasions, half-truths, selective history and propaganda. The attacks by artillery and a new generation of guided missiles are barbaric and without justification, except in the warped minds of arrogant rulers.
The WfPC calls for ceasefires to be observed by all protagonists, for neighboring countries to desist from aggravating grievances, for free and accurate reporting to be facilitated, and for peace and reconstruction measures to be put in place. We also call for the writers of the Caucasus to come together in solidarity, to celebrate their writing with each other and to help heal the pain of their communities.
French Government Officially Bans Turkish “Grey Wolves”
2:15 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, Ambassador of France to Armenia Mr. Jonathan Lacote relayed the decision of the French government to officially ban the Turkish “Grey Wolves” to Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan.
Sushi-Berdzor Road Temporarily Closed
4:20 p.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanayan, certain sections of the Shushi-Berdzor road are temporarily closed to the civilian population because of the possible infiltration of Azerbaijani subversive groups. Units of the Artsakh Defense Army are currently conducting search operations in the direction of the infiltration.
Turkish nationalist “Gray Wolves" to be officially banned in #France today․ Informed about this decision from the Ambassador of France to #Armenia H.E. Jonathan Lacôte @JonathanLacote. At the meeting, presented evidence on the atrocities of the Azerbaijani AF against civilians. pic.twitter.com/Lw4kjzcTwc— Arman Tatoyan (@atatoyan) November 4, 2020
Slovak Republic Passes Resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
4:30 p.m.: The parliament of the Slovak Republic passed a resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with 110 votes in favor and two abstentions. Hamazasp Danielyan, Armenian MP from the My Step faction, wrote on his Facebook Page: “The resolution essentially reaffirms the position of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs that there is no military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, calls for a ceasefire, reaffirms the three basic principles of the conflict: the right of nations to self-determination, territorial integrity, and the use of non-force. During the preparation of the resolution, thanks to the efforts of both Armenian diplomats and friends of Armenia living in Slovakia, it was possible to neutralize the reflection of Azerbaijan's unconstructive and unbalanced approaches in this resolution.”
4:30 p.m.: Nurlan Ibrahimov, the Chief Press Officer of the Azerbaijani football club Qarabag, has been provisionally banned by UEFA while he is investigated for “violating basic rules of decent conduct” in comments he made on social media. Ibrahimov called for the killing of all Armenians, regardless of age. Armenia’s Football Federation called for Qarabag to be expelled from European football for the comments, which Ibrahimov later deleted. The Club had opened an internal disciplinary case against Ibrahimov and said that his comments “were not supported by the club.” UEFA has banned any club or national team matches in its competitions from taking place in either Armenia or Azerbaijan until further notice.
Special Operation Neutralizes Azerbaijani Subversive Group
8 p.m.: A special operation by Armenian forces neutralized an Azerbaijani subversive group preparing to launch an attack on the town of Shushi.
Three Drones Shot Down in the Republic of Armenia
8:50 p.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanayan, at approximately 8:15 p.m., an Azerbaijani drone was shot down by the Air Defense Units of Armenia’s Armed Forces near the villages of Mets Masrik and Sotk near Vardenis in the Gegharkunik region of the Republic of Armenia. Earlier, at approximately 8 p.m., Air Defense units destroyed an Azerbaijani UAV near the village of Shatjrek in the Gegharkunik region.
9 p.m.: According to Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan, a third Azerbaijani drone has been shot down near Mets Masrik/Sotk in the Republic of Armenia.
Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament Discusses the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
9 p.m.: Artak Beglaryan, the Ombudsman of Artsakh participated in a special session held by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament, dedicated to the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression against Artsakh. During his address, Beglaryan drew the participants’ attention to the deeping humanitarian crisis in Artsakh, Azerbaijan’s war crimes as well as crimes against humanity. He stressed that the international community has the necessary tools to restrain Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression. Beglaryan went on to say that it is among the responsibilities of the international community to guarantee protection of human rights in all parts of the world, including in Artsakh, regardless of its international status. The participants agreed that the perpetrators of war crimes should be held accountable and that hostilities need to immediately stop.
Disguised as Armenian troops, Azerbaijani Commandos Ambush Ambulance, Killing a Combat Medic
9:20 p.m.: Yerevan State Medical University issued a statement following the ambush and killing of Armenian combat medic Sasha Rustamyan by Azerbaijani forces. Transporting a wounded soldier from the front line, the ambulance Rustamyan was in came upon a group of soldiers in Armenian military uniforms and stopped to help. Rustamyan was the first to get out of the ambulance and immediately came under fire by the Azerbaijani unit. He was killed on the spot. The ambulance, which also came under Azerbaijani fire, rolled into a gorge. Although seriously injured, the driver and the wounded soldier that was being transported survived.
“Azerbaijani-Turkish forces, violating all humanitarian norms with the participation of mercenary terrorists, continue to target the civilian population, historical and cultural centers, hospitals, military hospitals, ambulances transporting the wounded and doctors providing assistance to the wounded,” the statement read.
Defense Ministry Live Press Briefing
10 p.m.: During a live press briefing, Artsrun Hovhannisyan of the Defense Ministry said that the Azerbaijani forces along with the mercenaries, terrorist groups and subversive units continued their offensive in different directions of the front line, including in the northeast. As a rule, such attacks are organized by platoons and subversive groups. Hovhannisyan said that battles took place in the north, along the Vorotan River. The Azerbaijani forces were pushed back after suffering significant losses, including two or three armored vehicles. The adversary continues to use artillery and air forces but on a relatively smaller scale. In places where the military operations are particularly tense, the density of shelling is higher.
Speaking about the situation on Armenia’s borders, Hovhannisyan noted that Armenia’s Air Defense units shot down three UAVs near Gegharkunik region today. Active military operations did not take place on Armenia’s borders.
Regarding the Shushi-Berdzor (Lachin) road being closed, Hovhannisyan said that, as per the official announcement made earlier by the Defense Ministry, the road has been closed for the civilian population taking into consideration their safety. He said that, although Armenian forces were able to neutralize an Azerbaijani subversive group near Berdzor, the road will remain closed for a period of time. He said that there are other roads civilians can use to get to the Republic of Armenia. Asked about the safety of the Karvajar road from Artsakh to Armenia, Hovhannisyan said it’s safe and that he had used it today.
Armenian Government Decision on Exemptions Under Martial Law
By the decision of the Armenian Government, military, humanitarian and healthcare products imported from Eurasian Economic Union member states will be exempt from taxes during martial law. The list includes food, tobacco,
pharmaceutical and chemical products, plastic and rubber products, medical instruments and their components, weapons, ammunition, etc.
Mnatsakanyan on the 70th Anniversary of the Signature of the European Convention on Human Rights
Remarks by Armenia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at the 130th Session Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe:
I join in the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the signature of the European Convention on Human Rights – a cornerstone treaty in protecting rights and freedoms of hundreds of millions of Europeans. We share the vision of the Council of Europe that the Convention shall cover all Europeans, notwithstanding the status of the territory they live in. Sadly, it is not the case.
In late September, Azerbaijan launched a large-scale aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh with the direct involvement of Turkey and foreign terrorist fighters, resorting to violations of international humanitarian law aimed at annihilating the indigenous people of Artsakh. The deployment by Turkey of terrorist fighters to Azerbaijan is in violation of at least three Council of Europe treaties, to which both states are parties.
Tens of thousands have now been displaced – children, women, elderly, people with disabilities, their houses, infrastructure, religious sites destroyed. The ill treatment and execution of prisoners of war by Azerbaijani armed forces and its terrorist allies constitute serious war crimes. This was acknowledged by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who expressed serious concerns on the summary execution of Armenian prisoners of war by Azerbaijani troops.
Furthermore, Azerbaijani armed forces set forests on fire with the use of white phosphorus, contradicting our recent efforts related to environmental and human rights. There is a humanitarian crisis in Artsakh, just as the Secretary General warned. We shared her assessments. Just as we agreed with the positions of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the PACE.
We agree that a ceasefire needs to be reached. We tried a few times, but Azerbaijan broke it. We agree that hate speech should be abandoned. But we’ve been living with anti-Armenian hate speech in two of our neighbors for decades. It is well reflected in the monitoring reports of the Council of Europe. We agree with the need to allow journalists to cover the war on the ground. We have accredited hundreds of international journalists who went and saw the destruction, the humanitarian catastrophe. Some of them were deliberately targeted by Azerbaijan.
Indeed, we agree with your assessments, with your statements. But statements are no longer enough.
The Council of Europe must show determination and protect the right to life of ordinary citizens of Nagorno-Karabakh, as demanded by the European Court upon Armenia’s request.
Measures must be imposed on Turkey so that it refrains from actions contributing to breaches of Convention rights of civilians in Artsakh, as again was indicated by the European Court. Turkey's destabilizing role in the Eastern Mediterranean, in North Africa, in the Middle East, and now in the South Caucasus should be addressed.
I urge you to take the necessary measures to enable unhindered access to conflict zones. I urge the Committee of Ministers to take bold steps and be worthy of the legacy of the founding fathers of the Council of Europe. The legacy of peace and prosperity, of greater unity in Europe. But the inability to express a position on an ongoing war or even acknowledging the sanitary needs of people living in conflict zones testifies to its deep crisis. The Committee must take actions, or it is doomed to be obsolete.
Like Armenia, Azerbaijan undertook a commitment to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict by peaceful means while acceding to the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan is now in breach of this commitment and openly admits that it intends to solve the conflict by force. The organization must address this violation.
This is a defining time for the world order. Multilateralism was invented to achieve global peace. Today, multilateralism is in crisis. Its future depends on greater unity of each individual State, and that is the aim of the Council of Europe. We all have our share of responsibility to this end and we must act soon. The opposite is a crisis, a moral crisis and a crisis of values for the Council of Europe.
Armenia Submits New Evidence to ECtHR
The Republic of Armenia has submitted additional evidence to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) substantiating Turkey’s failure to comply with the decision of October 6, 2020 on applying interim measures under Rule 39. The evidence confirms the continuous direct and indirect involvement of Turkey in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
In particular, there is undeniable proof that Turkey recruits, transfers, and deploys mercenaries and terrorists from Syria to Azerbaijan, who directly participate in the hostilities. Turkey’s involvement in the armed conflict is confirmed not only through direct official statements, but also the conduct of high-ranking state officials.
The evidence submitted to the Court is supported by statements of high-ranking officials of different countries, including Council of Europe member states.
Lombardy Recognizes the Independence of Artsakh
The Armenian embassy in Italy reported that Lombardy has become the first Italian region to recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh. “Thank you, Lombardy, always a leader, always strong, always faithful to universal values,” the Embassy said in a Facebook post.