GLENDALE — Ambassador Armen Baibourtian, Consul General of Armenia in Los Angeles, held a press conference on September 29, to address concerns from Armenian Diaspora media outlets regarding Azerbaijan’s recent unprovoked attacks on Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and Armenia.
Baibourtian stressed that Armenia Fund (Himnadram), is the official organization accepting donations on behalf of the governments of Armenia and Artsakh. He urged the public to refrain from donating to any other organizations who claim that funds will be diverted to Armenia Fund. “Please do not give to any other organization who will not ultimately be directing funds to Armenia Fund. This continues to be the only source that the governments of Armenia and Artsakh can jointly use for efforts related to the current conflict,” he said.
When asked whether Armenians are currently able to travel to Armenia, he stated that Armenian citizens have the free will and ability to return home and American citizens may also visit Armenia during this time. Baibourtian added that American citizens may request extensions following the 90-day Visa granted to foreign tourists. Air France is the only airline that had cancelled a flight due to the military escalations, but has now resumed regularly scheduled flights to Armenia. Qatar Airlines, Aeroflot and Austrian Airlines continue to operate.
Regarding the Armenian Diaspora’s willingness to help the Homeland, Baibourtian reiterated the importance of American citizens to contact their representatives at the state and federal level and urge them to call for the de-escalation of the attacks from Azerbaijan and an end to the current conflict. He added that the only way the Diaspora can help right now is to assist financially. “There has been a dramatic increase in the donations to the Armenia Fund, but quite frankly, it is not enough,” he said.
When asked about Turkey’s role in NATO amid provocations against Armenia and Artsakh, Baibourtian stated: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia is constantly working with all countries, international organizations, foundations regarding these issues. Turkey and Azerbaijan have prepared for this for a while and we have seen that through actions both over the years and leading up to these events over the past couple of weeks – the spreading of lies about who began the conflict, while at the same time showing aggression. [British journalist] Thomas De Waal stated recently, that it was highly unlikely that the hostilities were initiated by the Armenian side.”
In terms of Armenian diplomats having expressed their willingness to return to the negotiating table, Baibourtian stated that according to the May 12, 1994 ceasefire, there was an official format for negotiation in different ways to secure permanent peace. The negotiations could or could not involve concessions, but just like Prime Minister Pashinyan has said, the Armenian side is dedicated to reaching a solution that is favorable to the people of Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan.
Baibourtian was asked how the international community can penalize Azerbaijan for ceasefire violations. “There are certain formats to establishing the terms of the ceasefire regime, but Azerbaijan time and time again refuses to comply,” he said. “Just last week on September 25, the OSCE Minsk Group Chair applied for monitoring along the lines of contact and Azerbaijani authorities rejected once again. Through actions like this, it becomes evident who the aggressor state really is.”
The Ambassador was asked whether Armenia has applied to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for assistance during the conflict. Baibourtian emphasized that the CSTO is of grave importance to Armenia, which Armenia is an active member of. “When and if Armenia decides there needs to be help from the CSTO, have no doubt that this is a powerful union of military powers and will come to Armenia’s aid,” said Baibourtian. “At the moment, despite the attack on Vardenis in Armenia proper earlier today, the main confrontation continues to be in Nagorno Karabakh.”