Arayik Harutyunyan, president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh (the Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh), has accused Israel of being partly responsible for the “genocide” taking place against Armenians in the breakaway republic.
“During the April War [of 2016] Israeli authorities not only knew that the weapons they sold Azerbaijan were being used for offensive, rather than defensive purposes, but these weapons were being used by specialists who had arrived from Israel,” Harutyunyan said, speaking at a press conference on Sunday.
According to Harutyunyan, the suggestion that Israeli officials did not know that the drones would be used by Azerbaijan for offensive purposes, including for attacks against civilians, was “a mockery.”
“Of course they know, and they are continuing to deliver the weapons. And the authorities of Israel, which itself has survived a genocide, are also responsible for this genocide [in Karabakh],” he alleged.
“Not only Israeli authorities, but also those of other countries know what’s going on and they continue to supply weapons to Azerbaijan,” Harutyunyan added.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the official accused Baku of “pursuing a policy of genocide against people who have been fighting for their freedom since 1988,” and alleged that “Turkey and international terrorism” were helping the Azeri side.
Reporting that civilian objects in Karabakh have been attacked by rocket artillery and drones, Harutyunyan stressed that “universal human values are being violated, the civilian population is being annihilated, and after this they expect Artsakh to agree to their demands. This will not happen. Artsakh enjoys the right to self-defence, and will not be part of Azerbaijan.”
Also on Sunday, Armenian Defence Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan reported that strike drones were being delivered to Azerbaijan from Turkey and Israel under the guise of humanitarian aid.
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to halt fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh starting Saturday at 12:00 local time after 10 hours of negotiations between the two countries’ foreign ministers in Moscow on Friday.
Both sides have since accused one another of violating the truce.
Armenia has repeatedly accused Turkey and Israel of involvement in the conflict, and has alleged that Ankara has deployed Syrian mercenaries in Karabakh. Baku has rejected these allegations, with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev saying last week that the country’s army of 100,000 was sufficient for Azerbaijan's operations in the region.
The conflict between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over Nagorno-Karabakh began in 1988, when nationalist sentiments unleased by Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika reforms prompted ethnic Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region of the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic to accuse Baku of discrimination and to try to break off from the republic and join the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. Baku tried to stop this from happening, and in late 1991 its parliament formally abolished Karabakh’s autonomous status. Between 1992 and 1994, the two sides waged a brutal, full-scale war for control, with the conflict killing tens of thousands of troops and civilians, and leading to the displacement of more than 1.1 million Armenians and Azerbaijanis, both within the breakaway and from across both republics. In the decades since, Azerbaijan has repeatedly expressed its intention to regain its lost territories. Armenia, meanwhile, has suggested that ethnic Armenians would be ethnically cleansed if this happened.