Azerbaijan Shoots down Armenian Helicopter



President Sargisian Vows Response


HelicopterSohtserzh-sargsyan-KarabakhSTEPANAKERT (Combined Sources) — The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to honor their 20-year-old truce on Thursday, after Azeri forces shot down a military helicopter on Wednesday, November 12.

The OSCE, which has led talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia since the war, said it should not lead to new violence.

“The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter … appeals to the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia to do their utmost to prevent such incidents and to honor the ceasefire regime,” the OSCE said in a statement.

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Footage from the Azeri side showed the helicopter explode in the air over the neutral zone between the two sides and officials said the three crew were believed to have been killed.

Armenia promised “painful” consequences for Azerbaijan after it downed the helicopter, which Nagorno-Karabagh said had been carrying out training exercises.

Azerbaijan said the aircraft was Armenian and had been trying to attack Azeri positions near the mined and heavily guarded line of contact around Nagorno-Karabagh.

The Azeri Defense Ministry said an army officer had been honored for shooting down the aircraft.

Azerbaijan’s military says it has shot down an Mi-24 combat helicopter near Nagorno-Karabagh and reports said three people were killed, in what Armenia’s Defense Ministry called an “unprecedented provocation.”

A November 12 statement from the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said earlier that day, “Two military helicopters, performing combat maneuvers over the Azerbaijani positions, attempted to open fire at the positions of the Azerbaijani armed forces after coming into combat course at 1,700 meters northeast from Kangarli village of Aghdam region.” It said

Nagorno-Karabagh military spokesman David Babaian said the helicopter was shot down while on a training mission and was not involved in a combat operation.

On his Facebook page, Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovannisyan called the downing of the helicopter an “unprecedented provocation that leads to an escalation in the situation.”

Hovannisyan said Azerbaijani troops were firing on the location where the helicopter crashed.

Hovannisyan called Azerbaijani claims the helicopter attacked Azerbaijani troops “absurd.”

“The consequences for the Azerbaijani side will be very painful, and all responsibility will rest with the Azeri political leadership,” Hovannisyan wrote.

Hovannisyan said an investigation of the helicopter wreckage will prove the gunship was not carrying ammunition.

In Brussels, EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement that “it is essential that all sides show restraint and avoid any actions or statements which could escalate the situation.” Mogherini also called for an inquiry into the incident.

Baku and Yerevan have been locked in a conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabagh for years.

Last month, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited both countries to facilitate a negotiated solution to the conflict.

French President Francois Hollande also hosted the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan for talks but the meeting ended without a breakthrough.

Sargisian Addresses Troops

President Serge Sargisian visited Nagorno Karabagh and met with President Bako Sahakian and held combined military exercises in the wake of the attack.

He said, “The biggest, the most large-scale and useful military exercises that have been ever conducted with the cooperation of the NKR Defense Army and the RA Armed Forces are coming to their end, and despite the deplorable occurrence, I think that the military exercises have succeeded. Of course, corresponding experts and executives are yet to sum up, analyze and draw conclusions about them but we are happy for what we saw in the imitated battle. You demonstrated high fighting abilities, will and devotion to the Motherland. Well done, thank you.

“Throughout these days, not only your proud parents, but also the entire population of the Nagorno-Karabagh Republic and the Republic of Armenia have focused their attention on you, because your are our hope and belief, our sword and shield, and as you know, the shield is stronger and the sword is sharper when they are used for just purposes. You serve the ends of justice

“Of course, you have been followed by foreigners and, first of all, the ones who consider us their enemies, who use indiscriminate methods and are able to chop a sleeper, who are able to destroy a non-dangerous helicopter that has got into a difficult situation. It is their business. You do your work well. We all remember everything, and the day of retribution will come. Your task is very clear: continue in the same spirit. I have said numerous times and I am reiterating that the war instigated by the Republic of Azerbaijan at the beginning of the ’90s was also the result of underestimation, and if, God forbid, they instigate war once again, we too will be guilty of giving them the chance to underestimate us.

Your behavior demonstrated in the imitated battle and the contact line, as well as your fighting trim deserves not underestimation, but appreciation. Your mastery already makes very many Azeri simpletons change their opinion about war. They thought that fighting against Nagorno-Karabagh and Armenia was a short and pleasant hobby, something like a flash mob — to assemble, perform an act, be photographed and disperse. No, there will be no flash mob and pleasant walk. I am confident that war will not occur either, because you are strong and are standing here.

“Remember, there has been written a lot on papers, including rights of humans and nations, but those rights need to be protected, and you are the guarantors of those rights. A lot of peoples of the world truly take pride in their armies, but you are responsible for our life and the security of our people. We believe in you and resting on that belief, we will do everything to reach a fair solution to the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict and ensure Armenia’s and Artsakh’s security.

“We are grateful to you. You are our sons, we secure your rear and you are our defenders. Remember it. I wish all of you success. Military exercises are not the end, but the beginning of your fighting trim, diligence, sufferings, because both war and military exercises are emergency situations. And an emergency situation requires emergency actions that are full of difficulties and sufferings. But remember: there is not holier thing than serving the Motherland’s security. You do it very well.

“I would like to thank you on behalf of our people.”

Talks are continuing between Armenian and Karabagh officials with European and American officials.

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