Report Armenian Group `Planned Assassinations'
The ten people arrested by security forces during Wednesday's raid on
their alleged hideout in Yerevan plotted to kill senior Armenian
officials and carry out other terrorist attacks in Armenia, the
National Security Service (NSS) said on Friday.
Mikael Hambardzumian, a senior NSS official, claimed that they and 11
other individuals detained in the following days were part of a
well-organized armed group. It was neutralized by Armenian
law-enforcement authorities just days before committing
"unprecedented" crimes, he said.
"I cannot disclose at this point what crimes they had planned and
against whom," Hambardzumian told a news conference. "I can only say
that the crimes were aimed at citizens, political and state figures,
and certain branches and bodies of government."
"We could see that they had planned murders [that would have been
committed] in a way dangerous to the lives of many people," he said.
Hambardzumian, who is the deputy head of the NSS's investigative
department, compared the alleged conspiracy with the October 1999
attack on the Armenian parliament which left its speaker Karen
Demirchian, Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and six other officials
"I can even draw parallels with what was done by [jailed ringleader]
Nairi Hunanian and his gang," he said. "But while in that  case
we dealt with several persons armed with several automatic rifles, can
you imagine what would have happened if this group had succeeded in
realizing its plans with those explosives and grenades?"
Armenia - Security forces detain a woman in a raid on a house in
Yerevan's Nork district, 25Nov2015.
The NSS and the Armenian police claimed to have found a weapons cache
when their special forces jointly raided a rented house in Yerevan's
northern Nork-Marash district. They said they found, among other
things, 10 Kalashnikov rifles, 60 hand grenades, two rocket-propelled
grenade launchers and a large amount of explosive materials.
The arrested people are presumably members of an obscure nationalist
group led by Artur Vartanian, a 34-year-old Armenian national who is
said to have lived in Spain from 1997 until his return to Armenia in
April this year. The group announced its existence on social media
with a video purportedly shot in Kessab, an Armenian-populated town in
northern Syria that was overrun by Islamist rebels in March 2014.
The footage showed a uniform-clad Vartanian making a statement in
front of nine other armed men also wearing army fatigues. He declared
that they have set up the Armenian Shield Regiment to put up "armed
resistance to terrorists" threatening Armenians.
The video message fueled speculation in Armenian media that Vartanian,
who was also arrested on Wednesday, might be connected with Islamist
militants operating in Syria. According to Hambardzumian, the NSS is
now looking into such a possibility.
"We know that Artur Vartanian was in Syria," he said. "We will work in
that direction to find out what exactly he did there, what connections
he has and whether organizations known to us have anything to do with
The NSS official added that Armenian security services are also
looking for the sources of "tens of thousands of dollars" in funding
which he said was received by the militant group. "The money was paid
in Armenia but we have yet to establish its origin," he said.
Security in and around key government buildings in Yerevan was visibly
tightened following the high-profile arrests. Hambardzumian said in
this regard that the NSS does not exclude that the group has other
members remaining at large.
Turkish Support For Azerbaijan Reaffirmed
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reaffirmed Turkey's strong
support for Azerbaijan and criticized the U.S., Russian and French
mediators for failing to end the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during a
visit to Baku on Friday.
Cavusoglu held talks with the leaders of Turkey's closest regional
ally as Ankara and Moscow continued to trade bitter accusations over
this week's downing by a Turkish fighter of a Russian warplane near
the Turkish-Syrian border. It was not clear whether the trip was
connected with the sharp deterioration of Russian-Turkish relations.
News reports from Baku said Cavusoglu discussed the Syrian incident
with President Ilham Aliyev and other senior Azerbaijani
officials. Aliyev told him that he "regrets" the Russian-Turkish
tensions and expressed readiness to help defuse them.
Aliyev's office reported no other details of that discussion. It also
quoted him as saying that "Azerbaijan and Turkey are the closest
countries in the world."
The Karabakh conflict was also on the agenda of the talks. "We support
Azerbaijan on the Karabakh issue and on the issue of return of the
occupied Azerbaijani lands," Cavusoglu told a joint news conference
with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov.
According to the APA news agency, the Turkish minister said that the
U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group should come
up with "new proposals" on resolving the dispute. "We are trying to
stimulate the work of the Minsk Group through constructive criticism,"
Azerbaijani leaders regularly criticize the mediating powers for not
pressing for a peace deal that would restore Azerbaijan's control over
Karabakh and Armenian-controlled territories surrounding it.
The mediators are currently trying to arrange a meeting of Aliyev and
Armenia's President Serzh Sarkisian which they hope will kick-start
the stalled peace process. Mammadyarov said that they are still
"working" on the summit expected in December.
Cavusoglu also announced on Friday that Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu will visit Baku next week. Davutoglu reportedly said on
Wednesday that the "liberation of the occupied territories of
Azerbaijan" remains a Turkish foreign policy priority.
Blogger: Seta's Armenian Blog - Create post
The fallout from the downing of the Russian Su-24 bomber has raised
fears in Yerevan that Armenia could be drawn into the Russia-Turkey
confrontation if it escalates further. Armenia hosts a Russian
military base deployed along its closed border with Turkey.
The Armenian civil aviation authority accused Turkish military
helicopters of twice violating Armenia's airspace in early October,
just days after Russian warplanes strayed into Turkish territory from
Syria. Yerevan chose not to lodge formal protests with Ankara.
Armenian leaders believe that the Russian military presence precludes
Turkey's direct military intervention in the Karabakh conflict.
Turkish-Azerbaijani military cooperation has intensified in the last
few years, with Ankara helping Baku with weapons and personnel
training and holding joint military exercises on a regular basis. The
chief of the Turkish General Staff, General Hulusi Akar, promised
continued aid to the Azerbaijani military when he visited Baku in
Baku Again Rejects Karabakh Ceasefire Safeguard
Azerbaijan remains opposed to the idea of international investigations
of intensifying ceasefire violations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
zone, according to Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the Minsk Group have long
been urging the parties to work out a mechanism for such
investigations that would be conducted by representatives of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
They reiterated the proposal in late September following the most
recent upsurge in fighting along "the line of contact" around Karabakh
and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. "Armenia has agreed to discuss
the details of the mechanism, and we urged Azerbaijan to do the same,"
the mediators said after hosting talks in New York between Mammadyarov
and his Armenian counterpart Edward Nalbandian.
Speaking to RFE/RL's Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in Tbilisi on
Thursday, Mammadyarov made clear that Baku continues to reject the
idea. He said Armenian withdrawal from "occupied Azerbaijani
territories" would be a much better way to end bloodshed.
"One must not reinforce the status quo," Mammadyarov went on. "One
must not reinforce the situation in which soldiers from the two sides
sit and look at each other from a 30-meter distance. One must remove
the [Armenian] troops."
"If you want a mechanism for investigations, then you should pull out
your troops and [in that case] we will set up not one but several
mechanisms. We will even set up a tribunal that will determine who
shoots at whom. But as thing stand now, the presence of Armenian
troops is the biggest threat to security," he said.
Peace proposals made by the mediating powers over the past decade do
envisage the restoration of Azerbaijani control over virtually all
seven districts around Karabakh that were fully or partly occupied by
Karabakh Armenian forces during the 1991-1994 war. But that would have
to be followed by a future referendum in which Karabakh's
predominantly Armenian population would determine the territory's
Lola Uzunyan's parents made announcement for the first time
28 November, 2015
YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 28. Father of Lola Uzunyan, killed in
Paris terrorism, Erik Uzunyan published an article in Huffington Post
newspaper considering French government responsible for the incident.
`France led catastrophic policy in the Middle East for long years.
Nicolas Sarkozy, violating UN Security Council's resolutions, which
prohibits any ground actions in other country, France sent troops to
Libya contributing to the fall of Gaddafi regime,' Uzunyan mentioned
as `Armenpress' reports, emphasizing that Gaddafi was not considered
even an enemy for France.
Lola's father stated that later French government was involved in the
coalition against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the case when
Syria is not the enemy of France as well.
`Such policy became tragic for our country. Two last Presidents of
France acted shortsighted and with unparalleled ease,' Erik Uzunyan
`France is not able to secure a future for Youngsters. Europe cannot
overcome the blockade which exists in Liberalism. The officials that
we elected cannot propose us a new policy. I am frightened of my
country and over my daughter's death,' Erik Uzunyan concluded.
At least 130 people were killed in the Paris and Saint-Denis shootings
and bombings in the evening of November 13. On a night when thousands
of Paris residents and tourists were reveling and fans were enjoying a
soccer match between France and world champion Germany, horror struck
in an unprecedented manner. Terrorists-some with AK-47s, some
reportedly with bombs strapped to them -- attacked sites throughout
the French capital and at the stadium where the soccer match was
underway. The worst carnage occurred at Bataclan, with at least 112
left dead. France has declared a state of emergency and tightened
national borders. Hollande called the size of the terror
Armenian Lola Uzunyan was in the list of victims whose parents
announced about it publicly for the first time.
Armenia shows Europe how to welcome refugees
European Friends of Armenia
27 Nov 2015
Armenia, a small country that is relatively poor compared with the
rest of Europe, has welcomed the influx of refugees crossing its
borders, giving help to those who need it, writes Eduardo Lorenzo
Eduardo Lorenzo Ochoa is director of European Friends of Armenia.
Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, 17,000 Syrians have come
to Armenia. Though many of them are of Armenian descent, other
persecuted communities, such as the Yazidis and the Assyrians, have
also been able to make Armenia their home, albeit temporarily. Armenia
has the third most war refugees from Syria in Europe.
With a GDP ten times lower than the EU average, and roughly 3 million
inhabitants, the current refugee crisis has demanded many efforts from
the South Caucasus republic. Unlike Lebanon, Turkey or Jordan, Armenia
has not received any substantial financial assistance from the EU.
Nevertheless, the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora publicly insisted that
`if refugees decide to come to Armenia, our state must do its best by
means of joint efforts with international structures and different
Armenian organisations to receive them'.
>From an administrative point of view, those reaching the Armenian
borders, depending on their situation and background, can apply for
citizenship, residence permit, or else request an accelerated asylum
Having no prescribed `welcome centres' as such, Armenia has launched
several initiatives to help newcomers feel at home together with the
UN and civil society. The `adopt-a-family' project matches them with
Armenian host families who provide emotional and psychological
support. To overcome cultural and linguistic barriers free education
and language classes are also offered. Legal advice was also given to
over 6,000 newcomers as of 2014. Subsidy schemes were made available
for rent, food and healthcare.
Despite the 17% unemployment rate, most locals see this exodus as an
opportunity for their country. Migrants bring new skills to the
Armenian economy and also a different business culture. They are good
entrepreneurs and very quickly re-open their businesses. So far, 245
businesses have been opened by migrants who have arrived from Syria.
The massacres perpetrated by ISIS in Syria and Iraq have reminded
Armenians of their own history. Many Syrians who came to Armenia are
actually descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide and
numerous Armenians feel a moral obligation to provide them with a safe
haven. This also explains why the Yazidis, who are facing
extermination in their ancestral lands, are welcomed with open arms.
Back in Brussels, the refugee crisis has put the notion of `united in
diversity' under pressure. EU members states are showing anything but
unity as some are appealing to the Court of Justice to overturn a
decision made on how war refugees should be spread. As for
`diversity', we can all draw our own conclusions.
In theory, the member states agree on the defence and promotion of
European principles and values, but unfortunately they differ widely
in their understanding of what should be put into practice. This has
been evident throughout the current war refugee crisis. The level of
solidarity shown by Germany and Sweden diverges drastically with the
approach of some other countries.
On a more positive note, this humanitarian crisis has also shown that
there is a European community of values which stretches from the South
Caucasus to the Atlantic. This community is not defined by membership
to a particular customs union, but by common principles which
countries and their people hold dear.
Throughout the refugee crisis, Armenia is quietly reminding the world
what European values really are. History shows that Europe has been at
its best when it has provided shelter for those seeking safety from
persecution and destruction. The Armenian approach to the current
crisis is a direct continuation of this praiseworthy tradition, and
proves that Armenia is fully and undeniably part of the European
community of values.
The tragic events in Paris are a direct attack on these very same
European values. This explains why Armenians were quick to gather all
across the country to mourn the victims and express solidarity with
the people of France. Among them was also Armenian President Serzh
Sargsyan, who took part in a candlelight vigil held at the Embassy of
France in Yerevan.
For various reasons, it remains highly unlikely that Armenia will
participate actively in any military operation taking place in Syria.
Russia and France have already started intensifying their air raids on
ISIS targets, which will increase the flow of refugees at least in the
mid and short term. Just as it has done in the past, Armenia will
continue to be a safe haven for those fleeing war and persecution.
Charles Aznavour, whose own parents fled to Europe after the Armenian
Genocide, said he `will always take the side of those who knock on
doors, not the ones who shut them.' I believe that these words reflect
the feeling shared by countless Armenians and other Europeans when
they are confronted with images of people fleeing war in an attempt to
save their lives. These are the European values which unite us, from
the cliffs of Ireland all the way to the mountains of Armenia.
Thousands of refugees from Syria being welcomed to Canada under the
federal expedited plan will land in Montreal or Toronto.
The Globe and Mail daily of the country informed that about two
thirds of those arriving in Montreal are Syrian Armenians, and the
local Armenian community has assumed their sponsorship.
"We don't see much of them," said Stephan Reichhold, the director of
an umbrella group of 100 agencies serving newcomers to Quebec. "They
arrive, they're picked up by their sponsor group from the airport
and then they disappear from our radar."
According to the document obtained by the daily, only 311 of the
people slated to arrive in Canada by the end of this year are sponsored
solely by the Canadian government.
Armenia to modernize S-125 surface-to-air missile systems
November 27, 2015
Armenia will modernize its S-125 surface-to-airmissile systems,
As Razm.info reports citing Russia's Centre for Analysis of World Arms
Trade (CAWAT), the missile systems will be upgraded with Moscow's
assistance, with Armenia set to pay $60 million under a deal inked in
The fact that Armenia has S-125 missile systems emerged in a TV story
about a machine tools factory that accidentally revealed one of the
system's missile launchers, suggesting that he modernization will be
fully or partially implemented in Armenia.
S-125 Pechora's tactical-technical specifications surpass those of
S-125, featuring improved missile range, maximum height, target
destruction probability and interference protection.
ARMENIA'S FOREIGN TRADE IN TEN MONTHS SLASHED BY
YEREVAN, November 30. Armenia's foreign trade in the first ten
months of 2015 slashed by 20.4% from the year before to $3.900.9
billion, the National Statistical Service (NSS) said today.
According to official data, exports in January-October fell by 2.2%
to about $1.223.4 billion, while imports plunged by 26.6% to about
$2.677.5 billion. The resulting trade deficit amounted to $1.454
billion. The negative trade balance in FOB prices stood at $1.041.8
Armenia's foreign trade turnover with the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) declined by 17.3% to $1.149.8 billion (29.5% of the total
trade), while trade with Russia fell by 14.8% to $989.7 million. The
trade with Ukraine dropped by 37.1% to $106.1 million and trade with
Belarus declined by 19.5% to about $26.1 million.
The trade with EU countries in January-October 2015 amounted to
approximately $998.6 million, a decline of 24.3% from the year before
(25.6% of the total trade), and trade with other countries fell by
19.9% to $1.752.5 billion.
According to the statistics, the largest exports were represented by
mining industry products that grew by 23% to about $387.3 million,
finished food products that declined by 10.7% to $244 million and
non-precious metals and products that also declined by 24.2% to about
At the same time, imports of mining industry products dropped by
19.1% to about $ 561.3 million, imports of machinery, equipment and
mechanisms fell by 31.7% to $321.7 million, imports of f finished food
products dropped by 12.4% to $263.2 million and imports of chemical
products slashed by 16.3% to $243.6 million. ($ 1 - 481.92 drams).