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FIE steps in with a plan to support fencers amid the COVID-19 crisis

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A new initiative is confirming a trend to help sportsmen overcome the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

                 The International Fencing Federation (FIE), headed by Alisher Usmanov, has announced a global support plan aimed at national federations amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"Our world has been facing the coronavirus pandemic, which entails huge consequences for physical and mental health, as well as the economy," Usmanov said in a statement released last Friday by the FIE. "Fencers and their federations have had to abruptly halt their activities. In the spirit of solidarity and unity, and to help our fencing family overcome this difficult period, we came up with an unprecedented plan of support, allocating 1 million Swiss francs for this purpose."

Alisher Usmanov, photo by TASS

Alisher Usmanov, photo by TASS

According to the plan adopted by its executive committee, the FIE will provide financial aid for its organisations, athletes, and referees, and will freeze membership and organisational fees. It also secures grants for fencers to take part in upcoming championships.

This announcement comes at a crucial moment when the sporting world is stalled by the ongoing suspension of most activities and the rescheduling of events.

Back in May, World Athletics and the International Athletics Foundation (IAF) established a USD $500,000 welfare fund to support professional athletes who have lost a substantial part of their income due to the suspension of international competitions.

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe noted that the “resources must be focused on athletes who are likely to be competing at the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year and are now struggling to pay for basic necessities due to a loss of income during the pandemic’’.

The FIE, which comprises a total of 157 federations, is currently planning to resume its competitions by next November. The fencers’ senior Olympic qualification rankings remain frozen as of March 2020, it said.

The FIE was one of the first international federations to release its global support plan, which may now be followed by others.

Given the uncertainty over the end of the coronavirus pandemic, sports organizations need to think about how to provide additional moral and financial support to their athletes. More initiatives should be expected from donors and federations in the near future.

Meanwhile, according to Usmanov, the FIE “is working tirelessly to protect our athletes and entire organisation to ensure future competitions take place safely. As fencers, we face the future together, our heads up and our masks on”.

Usmanov, a former professional fencer, has headed the FIE since 2008 and has put a remarkable CHF80 million (USD $82 million) into the FIE’s balance sheet over three previous Olympic cycles, according to the Inside the Games news website.

Twice re-elected to this post, the Russian spared no effort to help promote fencing and to assist the growing national federations in Asia, Africa, and other parts of the world.

He also convinced the IOC, which is headed by the former fencing champion Thomas Bach, to assign the full medal count to fencing during the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

As the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, Usmanov and his businesses have been helping to fight its impact with large donations in various countries, notably in Russia and in Uzbekistan.

Sports and sports industries may have been severely hit by COVID-19, but sport is also believed to be the best medicine for diseases. Aristotle used to say that “nothing is as draining and destroying to the human body, as prolonged physical inactivity”.

Hopefully, the FIE's initiative to support fencers in this time of continued turbulence will move us closer to ending the current pause in the world’s sporting life.

 

 

 

EU

#Nagorno-Karabakh - Presidents of the US, France and Russia call for an immediate cessation of violence

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In a joint statement on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh the Presidents of the United States, France and Russia condemned in the strongest terms the escalation of violence along the line of contact in the conflict zone. The leaders have called for an immediate cessation of violence. 

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group was established in 1992 to encourage a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The statement comes as a special European Council meets in Brussels to discuss taking a more strategic approach to relations with Turkey. Turkey has been accused of intervening in the conflict by the French President Emmanuel Macron.

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EU

NATO brokers' de-confliction mechanism between Greece and Turkey

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Following a deterioration of relations in the Eastern Mediterranean, particularly between Greece and Cyprus, NATO has just announced the creation of a bilateral military de-confliction mechanism.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has led a series of technical meetings between the military representatives of Greece and Turkey at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. The mechanism is designed to reduce the risk of incidents and accidents in the Eastern Mediterranean. It includes the creation of a hotline between Greece and Turkey, to facilitate de-confliction at sea or in the air.

Stoltenberg said, “I welcome the establishment of a military de-confliction mechanism, achieved through the constructive engagement of Greece and Turkey, both valued NATO Allies. This safety mechanism can help to create the space for diplomatic efforts to address the underlying dispute and we stand ready to develop it further. I will remain in close contact with both Allies.”

Military de-confliction between Allies is a role NATO has played before. In the 1990’s, NATO helped establish a similar mechanism in the region, which was effective in helping to reduce tensions and provide the space for broader diplomatic talks. 

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Armenia

Terror threat in South Caucasus can spread to Europe

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During the whole period of conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia the escalation has never reached to such critical point. Even in April 2016 when the Armenian side started massive operations against Azerbaijan, the two sides have never openly talked about a war so confidently. The army mobilization of both sides is an alarming fact that should be taken seriously by the international community.

International organization such as OSCE are failing to solve the problem by peaceful means which causes a decline in public trust in them. The Azerbaijani side openly claims that OCSE’s efforts are useless and highly non-effective -  writes Galib Mammadov, an independent expert and MA in International Relations from Washington University in St. Louis.

Even Azerbaijani government officials refer to photos of OCSE Minsk Group co-chairs having a party in Nagorno Karabakh instead of conducting conflict resolution and peacekeeping activities.1 This serves to public anger in Azerbaijani side and makes a war inevitable. On the other hand, any probability of war creates security issues for Armenia and as a last resort their government is aiming to use their relations with regional terror organizations such as ASALA (Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia) and PKK as a guarantee for their security. When going back to 70s, 80s and 90s, it becomes evident that Armenia has a tendency of collaborating with terror organizations and using them as a hard power for achieving their goals. Involvement of such organizations in the region is a huge threat for the whole World. Thus if they get reinforced in the region, they may get aligned with other terroristic agencies in the Middle East which would boost a global terror.

Brief Background of Nagorno Karabakh Conflict

Relations between two countries worsened after ethnic Armenia forces occupied Azerbaijani territories between the years of 1988 and 1994. Since the 1994 ceasefire, the Karabakh conflict has remained frozen despite international mediation. Armenia occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijani territories as a result of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, displacing approximately 800,000 Azerbaijanis from their territories. Additionally, the United Nations recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan Republic and has four resolutions that call on withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied districts of Azerbaijan.2

Background of ASALA’s Terror

Terrorist organizations like the ASALA and the armed wing of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) were one of the most dangerous terrorist movements in Europe during the early 1970s. ASALA launched in Lebanon Beirut in 1975 for the purpose of Approximately 90 individuals were killed and hundreds were wounded through a terrorist attack by these organizations. Such attacks covered North America, Europe, the Middle East and the south Pacific regions targeting ethnic Turks (mostly diplomats).3 But they also took lives of American, French, Italian and Yugoslav people. Taking into account the fact that, 1981 Armenian terrorists accounted for the highest number of documented international terrorist attacks, the U.S. government defined Armenian terrorists as the most dangerous group in the World at that time. 4

Major terror operations of ASALA were explosion at the Consulates General of the Republic of Turkey in the cities of Frankfurt, Cologne and Essen, Germany, explosion at Yeşilköy Airport in Istanbul, killing 5 and injuring 42, hostage crisis at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, killing 10 and injuring 82, explosion at an international trade fair in Marseilles, France, killing one and injuring 26, Explosion at the Turkish Airlines office at Orly airport in Paris, killing 8, and injuring 55. 5

Armenian political violence peaked between the fall of 1979 and the summer of 1983. By the end of July 1983, assassinations, armed assaults and bomb attacks took the lives of many Turkish Foreign Ministry officials, dependents and employees, as well as French, American, Italian, Yugoslav, Swiss and German nationals. The period was marked by the particularly brutal automatic weapon assaults at the Esenboğa Airport, the Istanbul Covered Bazaar, and Turkish Embassy and Ambassadorial Residence in Lisbon in the summers of 1982 and 1983, and the premature detonation of a bomb designed to explode in mid-air at the Orly Airport in Paris in July 1983. Eight people were killed, including four French citizens, two Turks, an American, and a Swedish, and close to sixty others were wounded.6 Former CIA director of counterterrorism commented the situation as following: “They [Armenians]’re brutal… They don’t take hostages to negotiate. It’s just out-and-out murder.” 7 Armenian terror was a nightmare for both Europeans and Americans and ASALA was a unique case that shall not be forgotten as a lesson by International community.

Armenia – ASALA relations

Armenia’s prior president Ter-Petrosyan attended ASALA member’s Monte Melkonian's funeral in 1993. It clearly means ASALA regarded as a legitimate entity in Armenia. Armenia showed their support to terrorist organization which took lives of many people all around the World. In addition, Members of ASALA are officially regarded as national heroes. Thus, after death Monte Melkonian was awarded with the highest military honors of Nagorno Karabagh and the Republic of Armenia, including the Military Cross, First Degree and the Golden Eagle medal.8 Armenia openly promotes terror activities and gives legitimacy to such actions. That shall be an alarm not just for the region, also for the whole World. Thus, terror operations of ASALA affected not just Turks and Azerbaijani people in the region, also affected Europe and the United States of America taking lives of many people.

In addition, according to legitimate Armenian media sources Armenian government started a program on settlement of Lebanese Armenians to occupied territories of Azerbaijan. In august 2020 Armenian media declared two Lebanese-Armenian families move to Nagorno-Karabakh.9 In September 2020 the number reached to one hundred people.10 Armenian sources describe such settlement as humanitarian help to Lebanese Armenians regarding the catastrophe happened in Beirut. On the contrary Azerbaijani sources recall it as an intentional provocation aiming settle terrorist to Karabakh and revive so-called ASALA terror organization which was a nightmare for Europe. According to Azerbaijani sources director of Russia’s Political Researches Institute, philologist Sergey Markov in his interview with APA’s Moscow correspondent called Armenia’s actions as an attempt to a terror by saying “Through Pashinyan’s deeds, terror experience in Middle East may spread to the South Caucasus”. 11 Another Russian expert Andrey Petrov in his statement to APA’s Moscow correspondent alarmed Russian government about danger of terror: “By deploying terrorists to Azerbaijan’s occupied territories, Armenia creates great problem for Russia”. 12Armenia’s policies for achieving of its goals by means of terror and war would jeopardize peace not just in the region also in Europe.

Conclusion

Both Armenia’s respect to country’s terrorist leaders in government level and its settlement plan regarding Armenians of Lebanon gives a basis to build a hypothesis that Armenia is aiming to revive its historical terror organizations like ASALA. International community shall use its all means (sanctions, notes and etc.) to prevent Armenia using a terrorism as a tool for their political goals, like they did in 70s, 80s, and 90s. Deployment of terrorist groups like PKK and ASALA to Nagorno Karabakh and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan, will take lives not just Azerbaijani or Turkish people, also, European, American, Russian and even Armenian people may be victims of their operations like it happened in the near history. The message shall be clear that any goal shall not be achieved by assault, terror, assassinations and massacres. If Such organizations succeed, it will motivate many other terror organizations to act which will jeopardize global peace and security. Sanctions and relevant measures by international community shall be imposed to any government that supports act of terror.

The opinions contained in this article are personal to the author.

2 http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/ga10693.doc.htm

3 Gunter M.M. (2011) Armenian Terrorism in the Twentieth Century. In: Armenian History and the Question of Genocide. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230118874_3

4 “Armenian Terrorists,” January 10, 1983, CIA, CIA-RDP88-01070R000100520004-4; “Patterns of International Terrorism: 1981,” in Department of State Bulletin Vol. 82, No. 2065 (August 1982): 16; and Gunter, “Pursuing the Just Cause of their People”

5 Christopher Gunn (2014) Secret Armies and Revolutionary Federations: The Rise and Fall of Armenian Political Violence, 1973-1993

6 ABC News, July 15, 1983; Greg MacArthur, AP, Paris, July 15, 1983; “5 Killed, 60 Hurt by Paris Bomb; Armenian Extremists Take Blame,” Los Angeles Times, July 15, 1983; Peggy Turbett, UPI, Paris, July 15, 1983; Brigid Phillips, UPI, Paris, July 15, 1983; “5 Killed in Orly Airport Bombing; Armenians Claim Responsibility,” New York Times, July 16, 1983; “A Long History of Vengeance,” NYT, July 16, 1983; “Armenian Blast Kills 5m Hurts 56 at Paris Airport,” LAT, July 16, 1983; Claire Rosemberg, “American student killed in bomb explosion,” UPI, Paris, July 16, 1983; UPI, Paris, July 16, 1983; Greg MacArthur, AP, Paris, July 16, 1983; “Armenians Claim More Victims,” NYT, July 17, 1983; “Death Toll Climbs to 6 in Orly Bombing,” NYT, July 17, 1983; “American Among Dead in Orly Blast,” Washington Post, July 17, 1983; “Turkish Press Review: July 16-18, 1983,” ANKARA 06192, July 18, 1983, DOS; “Orly Blast Claims Seventh Victim, New Threats,” Associated Press, July 21, 1983; Death Toll Rises to 7 After Terror at Orly,” NYT, July 22, 1983; “ASALA Bombing of Orly Airport Takes Heavy Toll; Paris Police, in Major Sweep, Detain Over 50 Suspects,” Armenian Reporter, July 21, 1983; and “ASALA-planned blast at France’s Orly Airport,” Armenian Weekly, July 23, 1983

7 “Terrorist Group Baffles Experts in Armenian Tactics,” Washington Post, July 26, 1983

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