Disturbing news of an attack on Armenia’s border led His Holiness Karekin II to convene a special meeting of bishops at Holy Etchmiadzin.
The Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians led the July 13 meeting to receive updates and issue a statement on the previous day’s attempt to penetrate Armenia’s northeastern border region, in the province of Tavush, by the armed forces of Azerbaijan.
“We are deeply concerned to be informed of this latest violation committed by Azerbaijan against the northern border of Armenia, which has resulted in injury to Armenian soldiers,” read the statement. “Azerbaijan’s excuse for the military incursion is uncomprehensible.”
(The English translations herein are unofficial, with editorial additions enclosed in brackets.)
The bishops’ statement continued: “We condemn this aggression towards our country, and invite the international community to prevent further potential recurrances of such military actions.
“While praying for the rapid recovery of our children afflicted by the Azerbaijanis, we affirm our support for Armenia’s authorities, our soldiers, and our brave children residing near the border. We wish them courage in the face of enemy attacks.”
The message concludes: “We pray for the steady progress of peace in the region, so that our people can resume their normal lives.”
Aid to Affected Families
The border attacks are especially pernicious as they come while Armenia is waging battle on a medical front, against an increase in COVID-19 cases.
The first public report of the Azeri incusrion came on July 12, via a Facebook post by Armenian military spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan. She wrote: “An Azerbaijani jeep, for reasons unknown to us, attempted to violate the state border of Armenia in the area of Tavush [the impoverished region in northeastern Armenia]. “After a warning by the Armenian side, the enemy soldiers left the vehicle and returned to their position. [A little more than an hour later] Azerbaijani soldiers, using artillery fire, attempted to seize our outpost but were pushed back, taking casualties. There were no casualties on the Armenian side.”
Subsequent news reports quote government officials in Tavush and Armenia’s parliament stating that the Armenian military has the situation in control.
During the July 13 bishops’ meeting, it was agreed that the Mother See would take steps to support the families affected as a result of the incursion. Catholicos Karekin II noted that relevant response measures would be part of the training currently being received by Armenian Church military chaplains, in addition to special protocols to ameliorate the spread of COVID-19.
UPDATE: Tragically, midweek brought the sad news that four Armenian servicemen had lost their lives in the cruel attacks of this week. Press reports identified them as Junior Sergeants Grisha Matevosyan and Smbat Gabrielyan, Major Garush Hambardzumyan, and Captain Sos Elbakyan.
In this tense time, please take a moment to pray to our Lord for the repose of these brave young men; for the consolation of their loved ones; for the safety of their fellow members of the Armenian Armed Forces defending our homeland’s borders; and for the protection of the citizens of Tavush. Pray, too, for peace, health, and justice for our homeland and its people.
Above: Armenian soldiers stationed at the border (Photolure).