Fictional Truce: Azerbaijan again violates ceasefire regime, while presidents are away for Olympics

Tensions are again escalating on the Armenian-Azeri border – over the past few days Azeri snipers opened fire at border regions in what seems to be a rule rather than exception lately; one Azeri soldier was wounded as a result, another one surrendered to the Armenian troops.

Neither the mediators nor the authorities have offered any comments in this connection, which likely has to do with the potential meeting of the Armenian and Azeri presidents in London. Both Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev are there for the Olympic Games. Experts do not rule out a meeting. And, as the “tradition” goes, prior to any such meetings the situation on the border deteriorates, and incidents happen.

It should be noted that as of July 25 there were no captives on either side.

During the seven months of this year the ceasefire has been violated almost 11,000 times, as reported by Colonel Andranik Mkrtumyan, representative of the Armenian Armed Forces' General Staff, during his meeting with OSCE Chairman-in-Office’s Personal Representative Andrzej Kasprzyk’s field assistants Antal Herdic and Irji Aberle after the July 25 monitoring of the Armenian-Azeri border.

“During last year the number of registered violations was 12,700, which means the tension is not decreasing. This, among other things, is the consequence of Azerbaijan’s refusal to remove the snipers from the line of contact,” Mkrtumyan stressed.

Ceasefire violations have led to 13 wounded, 12 of them in June. “The majority of those cases are the result of Azeri soldiers’ guerilla raids,” he said. There were also two civilians among the wounded during June-July. Over the past three months the enemy has violated the ceasefire 278 times shooting at border villages Aygepar, Movses and Nerkin Karmraghbyur.

Constant gunfire makes working the land a challenge in Armenian border villages, reported heads of the three villages during their meetings with the field assistants. Nerkin Karmraghbyur village head Manvel Kamendatyan pointed out: “We are not afraid of war. We have a functional kindergarten and a school in our village. But we are peaceful residents, Christians, we don’t want war.”

The world community and mediating Russia, France and the USA are trying to achieve removal of snipers from the frontline, but Azerbaijan is categorically against it, putting forward a condition – Armenian troops must be withdrawn from Karabakh. It also keeps turning down the OSCE’s offer to create an effective mechanism to look into the border incidents. OSCE called upon Armenia for unilateral withdrawal of snipers from the frontline, but Yerevan and Stepanakert refused. Moreover, the Armenian side said it would respond to all attacks with greater force.