There are no Serbian weapons in Armenia and Azerbaijan
Concerning their conflict, in the last 48 hours, I have heard abominable stuff how Serbia is somewhat to blame because they are killing each other there with Serbian weapons. There are no Serbian weapons there.
President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia and Armenian and Azerbaijani nations were friends and brothers. In the war which is flaming over Nagorno-Karabakh there are no Serbian weapons, said Vucic, adding that we have been selling them – the ammunition, “in fact, more to Azerbaijan, than to Armenia”.
“Those were allowed “end-user” destinations, but cannons and tanks, unmanned aerial vehicles and planes used there, these are not Serbian products. Does this mean that Americans, Russians, Turks, French and the other are to be blamed for the conflict? What was that supposed to mean?… We want peace, and those are two brotherly nations of ours, friends. What we want for them is for that to stop as soon as possible. Peace is more important than anything”, said the President.
Diplomatic theatrical performance is going on since the public learned the information about Serbia trading in weapons with Armenia and Azerbaijan. In their arms race, Serbia has taken a role which had been justified by representatives of the government for the last months. Taking into consideration the previous statement by President Vucic, this has been done relatively inconsistently.
Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan, but its population is majority Armenian. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Nagorno-Karabakh voted to become part of Armenia. However, war had sparked which was stopped with a ceasefire in 1994. Armenia is majority Christian while oil-rich Azerbaijan is majority Muslim. Turkey has close ties to Azerbaijan, while Russia is allied with Armenia – although it also has good relations with Azerbaijan. (BBC)
Summer Affair –Serbia was selling what to whom and who were the officials who reacted?
In July this year, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan expressed “deep disappointment and confusion” due to information that Serbia had transported huge amount of mortars and other weapons of various calibre to Armenia, which had used those guns in the attack on Azerbaijani police officers.
As N1 has informed, Azerbaijan Deputy Foreign Minister Kalaf Kalafov has notified Serbian ambassador Danica Veinovic on this and underlined that this case “casts doubt on friendly relations and cooperation between two countries at the highest level”.
In the series of explanations given by the local politicians, Rasim Ljajic, Minister of Trade, has said that this sort of export had to be authorised by three ministries and that SIA has given a “green light” too.
“In 2020, the weapons were exported to Armenia by one private company, and the state-owned companies had not participated in that. I cannot say which company it was, but it has been known that they had mostly exported shotguns and handguns, in value of less than EUR one million and that the goods were delivered in two batches, in May and June“, Ljajic said for portal Nova.rs.
A few days later, Ljajic has given a more detailed explanation.
“In 2020, in May and June, Serbia has approved two contracts for exporting weapons to Armenia, which referred to ammunition for shotguns and handguns. In the earlier period, in 2015, I think that such type of weapons Azerbaijan mentioned had been exported”, he said for Radio Free Europe (RFE).
Cooperation in the area of military industry is not public, stated Ambassador of Armenia to the Czech Republic Ashot Hovakimian, whose competences also include diplomatic relations with Serbia, for Radio Free Europe (RFE) by the end of July, when he answered the question if that country had bought weapons from Serbia and if so – when and from which company.
In the end, the final seal on this diplomatic affair was given by Vucic himself. By the end of July, he said that “both have been sold the weapons produced in Serbia since this is the only way to secure the success of the domestic military industry”.
“We are friends with both Azerbaijan and Armenia. We have sold ten times more weapons to Azerbaijan in the last couple of years”, Vucic said at the press conference in the premises of his Serbian Progressive Party. (Free Europe, 31.7.2020.)
The Government in Belgrade kept to their position that friendship of Serbia with Azerbaijan was not disturbed. Minister of Interior Nebojsa Stefanovic flew to visit Baku shortly after, but the public was not informed on the aim of that visit. With few details, the topic of the meeting was determined to be cooperation in the area of security.
Slobodan Tesic controversial merchant and bringing up of former government
In the affairs of arms dealing an old name appeared promptly. On 29 July, Weekly NIN published that company under control of Slobodan Tesic had exported a large amount of weapons to Armenia from factory “Kursik” from Valjevo, “Prva Petoletka” from Trstenik and “Zastava Oruzje” from Kragujevac.
NIN has published, based on documentation that journalists of this weekly had examined, that weapons from Serbian factories were transported from Nis Airport on 14 and 15 July to the airport close to Yerevan, only a few days after the most recent conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia had flared up.
As expected, the politicians have accused the former government for the disturbed relations with Azerbaijan. Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin said that the Government of Mirko Cvetkovic had adopted a conclusion stipulating that weapons might be exported to Armenia too.
“All legal requirements had to be met so that weapons would not go just to any country, it is required, first of all, that the country is not under the UN sanctions. I will tell you that significantly larger amount of equipment and weapons, including technology, was exported to Azerbaijan than Armenia”, said Vulin.
As the media reported, it came to light that since that Government conclusion from 2012 until the first export of weapons to Armenia five years had gone by. Since then, Serbia had exported almost thousands of tons of weapons to Armenia.
“Since 2017, 19 permits for exporting weapons to Armenia were issued, and export was allowed to companies “Vectura Trans”, “Partizan Tech” and “Zastava Oružje”, said Minister Ljajic.
According to documents that NIN had a chance to examine, 142,000 mines of different calibre and ten 120mm Grad shells were to be delivered from factory “Krusik”. Also, minimum 100 mortars with 120mm shells from “Prva Petoletka” and three 20mm anti-aircraft guns with designation M55A4 from “Zastava Oruzje” were contracted and transported. These weapons had been the subject of the contract which Tesic’s company “Vectura Trans” had signed with the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Armenia in 2018.
Not only that President Aleksandar Vucic himself mentioned how much weapons we are selling to both countries, but it had also been the main topic this summer when the top of Azerbaijani government had reacted because Serbian weapons were used in the conflicts between their police officers and Armenian forces. Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin and Minister of Trade Rasim Ljajic had numerous statements on the weapons Serbia had been selling, and Vucic himself said that we had sold ten times more weapons to Azerbaijan than Armenia. Among other, NIN journalists had disclosed that weapons had been transported from Nis Airport to Yerevan only a few days after the escalation of conflict with Azerbaijan.
Therefore, although President Vucic has claimed that “there are no Serbian weapons there” and that Serbia was only selling the ammunition to the Caucasus countries at war, that is false.