Interview with General Samvel Babayan about Sochi meeting, demarcation & trade, the need to delay Artsakh status discussions, UN mandate, army reforms & weapons.

2021.11.30 03:01 ar_david_hh Interview with General Samvel Babayan about Sochi meeting, demarcation & trade, the need to delay Artsakh status discussions, UN mandate, army reforms & weapons.

For context, read this for Pashinyan's recent speech about the need to lift Armenia's blockade. And this, for details about the Sochi meeting.
Reporter: the leaders agreed for deputy premiers to meet and discuss the agreement reached regarding unblocking communication. The parties have a general understanding. These positive developments look strange while Aliyev makes militaristic threats about a corridor. What's your take on this?
Babayan: as I've said many times, you should not take Aliyev's militaristic threats too seriously. Armenia has a great stance that makes it possible to resolve the blockade while benefitting both parties. Armenia can have leverage.
Do you want Armenia to exit the "buffer" state of the past 300-years or not?
Can we sign an agreement with our neighbors that respects our interests? The answer is yes. We are going in that direction.
Reporter:: the key is the ability to live peacefully with Turks and Azeris in the region?
Babayan: yes, that's where the key is. We must choose that direction confidently and resolve our problems. This is the route. There are those who do not understand or comprehend this very well.
My party submitted our opinion about trade routes to the government. We will meet on December 4 to find out which parts of the advice were accepted. I can already tell based on the Sochi statements that it's close to what we proposed.
Azerbaijan still uses the "corridor" term, which doesn't exist, it's a lie. There is no corridor.
Reporter: Aliyev promised his nation we would get a corridor. Is he trying to save his face by claiming he has achieved it?
Babayan: you can word it however you want. It's a road. It's a corridor for them that connects Azerbaijan to Nakhijevan. We understand different things under "corridor". The only important part is we preserve sovereignty over the "corridor". We should have customs checkpoints and tax the transfers.
One reason why Azerbaijan is so hellbent on the "corridor" term is that they want assurances that Armenia won't open and close it shortly after. Georgia is wrapped on Turkey's and Azerbaijan's necks economically. Georgia will lose a lot of transit power. Azerbaijan wants assurances from Armenia. Armenia can give assurances by other means to let Azerbaijan know that everything will be fine.
Reporter: the concerns in Armenia stem from militaristic rhetoric coming from Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey. Armenia did not receive specific aid during military crashes from Russia despite a written letter in May. Aliyev recently said he's optimistic because Armenia is willing to cooperate. Should we expect more military confrontations after these pro-peace remarks?
Babayan: I've already said regarding the communication unblocking part. If we agree with that, and we agree on the border delimitation process, I don't see a reason for Azerbaijan to make militaristic threats because that would be pointless, no one would take them seriously anymore. We just need to clarify what maps will be used for delimitation. Then there won't be problems.
Reporter: Azerbaijan praised the role of Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh in the Sochi message. Do you believe other international peacekeepers could join Russians in Artsakh after the December Brussels meeting? Do you think we should make any changes to the current mission?
Babayan: we should not allow changes to the peacekeeping mission. Russia must have the mandate, but it has to be done through the UN Security Council. Russia having a Karabakh mandate means Karabakh entering the international arena. Azerbaijan can no longer claim it is its internal problem.
While speaking about peacekeepers, Aliyev recently said wherever there are Russian troops, there are no emergency incidents, no shots are fired. This was a message that Azerbaijan will not cause problems once the borders and roads are clarified.
Russia wants to permanently stay in Karabakh. Azerbaijan wants them to leave. This will be addressed during the next phase of the resolution of the conflict. We need to create the right preconditions now, ahead of the next phase.
Reporter: could other countries' soldiers join Russian peacekeepers?
Babayan: that would lead to more conflicts. The steps Armenia is taking today about unblocking and delimitation, once they are complete, Azerbaijan must take additional steps to prove they want peace in the region.
There are Armenians who believe we have already lost Karabakh. There are mentally sick people who think we should accept Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan. I'm telling you officially that we have all the chances, and Azerbaijan must understand this, that Azerbaijan must go for serious mutual concessions in the Karabakh conflict so there won't be another conflict. Very serious steps are necessary from Azerbaijan.
Let's have patience. We will reach the second phase after finishing this one.
Reporter: you're suggesting a phased resolution. There are people who say everything must be resolved all at once. Are you suggesting this conflict won't be resolved in 1, 5, or even 20 years? Should we wait a while and one day find a favorable solution? What's the calculation?
Babayan: that's why I said there are mandate territories. The international mandate allows two people to live peacefully under the mandate until they build trust, before returning to the status discussions. Give it some time. Do not try to resolve that issue now. We will ensure independence, have two roads between Armenia and Artsakh, and time will tell the rest. There are those who understand what I'm talking about.
If we sit and discuss Artsakh's status right now, no matter what we discuss, it will be under de jure part of Azerbaijan.
Reporter:... because for 26 years, as a winning country, we were unable to achieve anything more than that?
Babayan: Yes. That's why I talk about mandate territory. Those who do not understand what I mean should think one more time.
Armenia and Artsakh have all the conditions to develop. Forget about Artsakh's status for now. Do not even talk about it.
Azerbaijan has occupied 30% of NKAO territories and wants to return Azeri residents [presumably to all of NKAO territories]. Listen. What percentage was the Azeri population in NKAO? 25%. So what residents are you "returning"? You've already stolen 30% of the land. Until you return us that 30%, not one Azeri will not return. Forget about it.
Russian peacekeeper stops Artsakh resident's car to check the car and the passport. Have you seen any Azeri being stopped? Are you here to protect us or to surveil us? Whenever I mention this they cry "Babayan is anti-Russian". It's a simple question. Several Armenian cars must be stopped for a single Azeri car to pass. We ask them about the second safe road because it can't continue like this, but they are hesitant.
Report: you said that Armenia lost the war not because Azerbaijan is powerful but because Armenia slept for decades. You warned before the 2016 clashes that future wars won't be like the 1990s with men hiding and shooting from behind the hills. What steps should we take now?
Babayan: we know what weapons and troops we need. It's not difficult to organize this. The problem is every expert has their opinion. The thing is, we're a mountainous state and need to use specific weapons. We need to patrol on 40-50c freezing temperatures in the winter. We need to build our front lines in a way to be protected.
What weapons, why, against what. We must be able to suppress enemy weapons. Blind them, deafen them, and strike them wherever you can reach. We can't discuss everything publicly.
Azeris surveilled us with satellites and drones and sent the coordinates to their long-range missiles. They wiretapped us. Now I'm saying we need to blind their eye and deafen them. Do we have the tools? I'm telling you yes. Our hands can be very long and hit them in the head. They will be straightened up very quickly. I presented the list of weapons. It's all written. We can meet and discuss it.
Report: Do we have the necessary experts, specialists, professors?
Babayan: No. That's why we are in the current state. If we were smart, why did we allow them to see and hear us? Useless generals with heavy medals dismissed us when we made these suggestions earlier. Now they blame everything on the political leadership.
Report: you told us that Azerbaijan destroyed a large % of our air defense within the first few hours of the war. How was this possible if we knew about the impending attack since September 25? Why weren't the units concealed or relocated?
Babayan: when I returned in 2016 and said the April clashes weren't a war but rather a diversionary attack, everyone misunderstood and mocked me. I explained that if it was a real war, the enemy's first attack would be against our air defense and military bases with a large number of soldiers, communication, etc.
The army learned about the planned attack on September 25, 2020, but did they have the tools to blind and deafen the enemy? Could they reach the enemy rear?
You can move your air defense units but the enemy can monitor it from the satellite. We should have used dummy units to confuse the enemy [they did, in a few instances]. Dummies also require money and boys didn't have time to buy them (sarcasm?). We had a disgraceful situation in the army. We can't publicize everything because the enemy also hears us.
But you should know that the enemy isn't as powerful as it seems, either. Look at the Azeri army size and compare it to the border we have we Azerbaijan. Are they really that powerful with the army they have? I don't want to open all parentheses. We will sit down and prove it.
We have a 1,007km border with Azerbaijan and 500+ with Karabakh. Azeris have an 80,000 army, 22,000 of which must be in Nakhijevan. Deduct the Navy and you come to the realization that it's not that powerful.
The positions they captured very recently, it was done by their special forces. It's the same people. They take photos everywhere. Same people.
Army command must analyze carefully and understand who is standing in front of them. Break the enemy's spine once and they become quiet quickly.
We need a good army. We need to continue with ongoing political efforts to unblock communication routes, delimitate borders, develop Artsakh, without any shocks.
We need to try to reason with Azeris around our problems. We should not allow other countries to use us against each other. We must not be anyone's buffer zone anymore. This will be easier to do after the ongoing phase of communication/delimitation.
Reporter: Will the planned war investigation commission grant you, non-parliamentary forces, access to classified information?
Babayan: Yes. We will help MPs. There are ongoing investigations in multiple directions. The goal is to be objective and not make an example of someone, so we can learn from mistakes.
I won't even use the word "traitor". I think 90% of the problem stemmed from illiteracy in officer ranks, from top to bottom. The other 10% were probably over personal conflicts. The investigation will reveal.
Reporter: there is concern about blame-game. The opposition already gives opinions, so they are accused of having the intent to politicize the war commission so they can blame it all on Pashinyan. The govt is criticized that they might try to prove that the former regime was responsible for neglecting the army and trenches for so long. Non-Parliamentary forces (you) are accused of being used as a tool to "tip the balance" in favor of Pashinyan.
Babayan: what is a Parliamentary opposition? The vast majority were government. Pashinyan served 3 years, and they served 17 years. There is no opposition. Both are "government". Both share responsibility.
As for us, the non-parliamentary forces, I'm the biggest critic of Pashinyan. I regularly send him the list of errors. The difference is I use a different lexicon than the parliamentary opposition. My goal is to help Armenia. The [Parliamentary opposition] is busy spreading fear. "The Turks have come", "they are slaughtering us", "the government is giving away everything". What is the goal of this rhetoric?
Isn't it better to sit down with the Premier and present your opinion? If your goal is sensationalist headlines, sure, we can wake up every morning and cuss someone to make headlines.
Reporter: why was this atmosphere of willingness to sit down and talk missing in the past? I remember when in 2017 you attempted to support the [Ohanyan-Oskanyan] political bloc, they [Serj] arrested you. Why didn't they have the desire to sit down and talk about the issues?
Babayan: after the first war, many selfish people exaggerated their contribution to victory and later tried to appropriate the victories. That's what the team was busy with. Some people who were tasked with minor functions were presented as heroes.
The one who was observing the events from a basement believed that these were the real players, and attempted to use them to play the game. It led to today's situation. Certain questions cannot be asked publicly. We will ask this to politicians and those in general's uniforms. The generals will answer why they were afraid of submitting reports to their political leaders. Were they afraid, or were they too stupid to evaluate the situation? We will learn soon.
During Serj's administration, I wrote a letter about my willingness to hold talks with generals. They disagreed. They treated me as a nobody. "We don't need you, we already have top-class field marshals".
Reporter: can Suren Papikyan be a good MOD if he doesn't have a record as a military man?
Babayan: Suren Papikyan's job is to deal with foreign affairs and deliver supplies to the military. The general staff (army command) must give him a report about the needed weapons and reforms strategy. Papikyan, as a govt member, should confirm it during a govt meeting and implement the programs. Papikyan's job is policies and deliveries. The rest is on the army command's shoulders: quality of weapons, types of weapons, etc.
Our army command must have the ability to formulate why we need what we need. For example, explain why we need 100,000 soldiers and not 50,000. Papikyan's job is to ask army command why we need what has been requested.
People came from Russia to help with army reforms. Okay, they are helping. I know that army command recently asked for a specific number of soldiers. Did they justify it? No. Rip that document and throw it in the trash. If the army command doesn't listen, we will have the same problems again.
Reporter: you were ignored during Serj administration but today at least you can express your views during meetings with the Premier, yet they haven't given you a political position. Why?
Babayan: the problem is our public listens to a few demagogues who claim Babayan supports Pashinyan. After I didn't get a position from him, they claimed it's because Russia prevented it. We don't "support" Pashinyan. We have good relations with everyone, including Pashinyan. We ran as opposition but we can sit down and talk.
I don't have personal problems with anyone. Serj administration did not want to accept my advice, thinking they had the best of the best generals who graduated best military schools. The same best of the best generals led to today's situation.
All the weapons we need to buy are present in Russia, but alternatives are present in South Korea, Germany, Czechia, etc. If Russia cannot sell it to us because it's "too new" blah blah, we will buy it from someone else. They can't be offended because we offered to buy it. We have this problem right now. We're talking about defense weapons, to be clear. //
Full interview:
Tags: #SamvelBabayan
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2021.11.30 03:01 autotldr A Myanmar junta court on Tuesday postponed giving a verdict in the incitement trial of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The court, which had been due to rule on her trial for incitement against the military, adjourned the verdict "until December 6"

This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 26%. (I'm a bot)

Naypyidaw - A Myanmar junta court on Tuesday postponed giving a verdict in the incitement trial of ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a source close to the case told AFP. Advertising.
The court, which had been due to rule on her trial for incitement against the military, adjourned the verdict "Until December 6," said the source.
The 76-year-old Suu Kyi has been detained since the generals ousted her government in the early hours of February 1, ending Myanmar's brief democratic interlude.
Journalists have been barred from proceedings in the special court in the military-built capital Naypyidaw and Suu Kyi's lawyers were recently banned from speaking to the media.
In recent weeks, the trials of other ranking members of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy have wrapped up, with the junta doling out harsh sentences.
A former chief minister was sentenced to 75 years in jail earlier this month, while a close Suu Kyi aide was jailed for 20.
Summary Source | FAQ | Feedback | Top keywords: Kyi#1 Suu#2 court#3 trial#4 incitement#5
Post found in /worldnews.
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