Friday, 26 February 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... SWITCHING TO DETERRENCE 


Armenian experts believe that the statement made by a senior Defense
Ministry official about a new deterrence doctrine against the backdrop
of the recent tensions at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and in the
Karabakh conflict zone as well as the revelation by Russia of a list
of weapons that Armenia can buy from it shows that Armenia relies on
its own military potential in ensuring its security.

At last week's Military Doctrinal Approaches workshop of the OSCE
in Vienna, Austria, Armenia's Deputy Defense Minister David Tonoyan
said that in order to achieve its security goals and create favorable
conditions for the negotiation process conducted under the auspices
of the OSCE Minsk Group Armenia plans to use a number of measures,
gradually replacing the "Static Defense" concept, which can be viewed
by the adversary as insufficient strength, with the "Deterrence" one.

Tonoyan said that the deterrence system will be realized both in
responsive and proactive manner.

Political analyst Hrant Melik-Shahnazaryan thinks that the Armenian
side, continuing to work with the OSCE Minsk Group, is trying to
establish the fact that it is Azerbaijan that hinders the negotiation

According to the politician, the types of weapons to be obtained from
Russia show that Armenia is going to primarily restrain the activity
of Azerbaijan through military force.

In 2015, Armenia's authorities got a loan of $200 million from the
Russian government for the purpose of buying Russian weapons. Last
week, Russia's Interfax news agency presented a report detailing the
list of weapons subject to sale to Armenia.

Deputy Director of the Yerevan-based Caucasus Institute Sergey
Minasyan regular technical upgrade of the Armenian army gives the
Armenian side the opportunity to talk about its strategy more clearly.

According to the expert, although in recent years the strategy of
containment has actually been implemented by the Armenian side in
the form of the ceasefire regime, it has required some time for the
Armenian military and political leadership to make it public as a
conceptual approach.

"The deterrent military-technical component has been fairly
strengthened in recent years. Concepts are certainly important, but
some form of deterrence are impossible to implement effectively if
there are no appropriate technical means, which can be used for the
purpose of general deterrence, in other words, to stop the enemy from
making provocations to start military or other undesirable actions,
a response in the event of some danger," Minasyan told ArmeniaNow.

According to military authorities in Yerevan and Stepanakert, in
recent days Azerbaijan has again been escalating the situation in the
conflict zone. In particular, the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Ministry
says that Azeri forces fired 1,200 shots at Armenian positions using
firearms of different calibers over last weekend.

"The advanced units of the Defense Army mostly refrained from
retaliatory action and continued to confidently carry out military
duty," the Ministry's press department said.

Analyst Melik-Shahnazaryan notes that the current Armenian-Azerbaijani
tensions do not particularly preoccupy the leaders of other countries
at the moment, as everyone's attention is now focused on developments
in the Middle East and the crisis in Ukraine. 
23 February, 2016

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 23. The aim of the founders of the
Goris-based company engaged in production of 3-d printers is to level
up the IT sector of the city. The team comprised of 5 people in 2012
has grown up to a staff of 30 people. "Immediately after the creation
of the company in September, 2015 we launched the production of 3-d
printers used in engineering laboratories", Artur Khojabaghyan told

In his words, the printers are made in Armenia but they are not the
authors of the project: Reprap Prusa Mendel serves as the ground of
their activity. "We also strive to modify and develop some provisions.

Gaining this experience, we also plan to produce our own models",
he informed.

"The main direction of our activity at this point is the production
of 3-d printers, but we also want to diversify our activity, as our
priority aim is to foster the development of IT sector in Goris.

Particularly, we are gathering a team of web programmers", he added.

"Development and reinforcement of IT sector is the shortest path for
Armenia to great achievements", Artur Khojabaghyan noted, adding that
the salary of employers engaged in IT sector is the highest in Goris,
exceeding 100 thousand drams. 

The plan to restore the old city of Yerevan is unrealistic and
unfeasible, according to architects.

Speaking to, Chief Architect Mkrtich Minasyan enumerated the
changes Armenia's capital has seen after Alexander Tamanyan (the first
architect of Yerevan who drew up the city's first general plan). He
said he doesn't expect the project to be successful enough to reveal
old Yerevan's true character or image.

"It is going to be a conglomerate of all the dilapidated buildings that
existed before. They used to be in different streets, so if you bring
them all in one place together, they will lose their one-time value,
ceasing to exist as historical and cultural monuments," Minasyan said,
stressing instead the need of having green zones in the central avenue.

"The city needs green zone; so my attitude to the Old Yerevan [plan]
is negative," he added.

Sashur Kalashyan, another architect whom we contacted for comments,
said the government- approved monuments' list, which requires proper
care and control, does not receive the necessary attention by the
Ministry of Culture (which is the responsible body).

"If the list isn't respected, why then have they approved [the plan].

That's a question, first of all, for the Ministry of Culture which
doesn't seem to care at all of our monuments," he added.

Speaking to, Mikael Poghosyan, a merited actor who is also
famed as a loyal and devoted native of Yerevan, said he regrets
that the city has lost its one-time image in "the tasteless art
of creators".

"We all are responsible for this. First, we never struggle through
to demonstrate a principled resistance. Urban development has turned
into bloc building, and most importantly, love is missing. Those who
distort this city never think about the future. They may be lucky in
part but will have to be called to account in future. My attitude
to this is a strong objection, so I want to once again urge those
people to remember a little bit their fathers and grandfathers,"
Poghosyan said, adding that he nonetheless hopes that the project
will help at least to rehabilitate several valuable monuments. 
23 Feb 2016
Siranush Ghazanchyan

Vienna is the world's best city to live in; Baghdad is the worst,
and London, Paris and New York do not even make it into the top 35,
according to international research into quality of life.

German-speaking cities dominate the rankings in the 18th Mercer Quality
of Life study, with Vienna joined by Zurich, Munich, Dusseldorf and
Frankfurt in the top seven.

Paris has tumbled down the league, falling 10 places to 37th, just
ahead of London at 39th, almost entirely because of the city's
vulnerability to terrorist attacks.

US cities perform relatively poorly in the study, largely because of
issues around personal safety and crime. The highest ranking city in
the US is San Francisco, at 28th; Boston is 34th. Canadian cities,
led by Toronto, far outrank their US rivals in the table.

Armenia's capital Yerevan is ranked 182nd among 230 cities. The list
includes two Russian cities -Moscow and Saint Petersburg, ranked
167th and 174th respectively. Georgia's capital Tbilisi is 188th,
Azerbaijan's Baku is placed 197th. Istanbul (122nd) is the only
Turkish city included in the ranking.

The capital cities of Armenia's partners in the Eurasian Economic Union
are placed as follows: Minsk - 190th, Almaty - 176th, Bishkek - 210th.

The study examined social and economic conditions, health, education,
housing and the environment, and is used by big companies to assess
where they should locate and how much they should pay staff. 

RFE/RL Report 
Sarkisian, Dashnaktsutyun Seal Power-Sharing Deal Armenia 
Ruzanna Stepanian

President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party (HHK) and the Armenian
Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) pledged to jointly confront
"internal and external challenges" facing Armenia as they formalized a
controversial power-sharing deal on Wednesday.

Sarkisian attended the signing of an "agreement on political
cooperation" between the two parties before announcing presidential
decrees that gave Dashnaktsutyun three ministerial posts almost seven
years it pulled out of his former coalition government.

Artsvik Minasian was appointed as minister of economy, while two other
prominent Dashnaktsutyun members, Davit Lokian and Levon Mkrtchian,
will take over as ministers of local government and education
respectively. Dashnaktsutyun representatives will also run the
northwestern Aragatsotn and Shirak provinces.

Mkrtchian, who has already as served as education minister in the
past, replaced Armen Ashotian, an HHK deputy chairman who signed the
agreement on behalf of the ruling party.

"This agreement marks the beginning of long-term political cooperation
based on common values and joint goals and action plans," Ashotian
told the press after the signing ceremony held at the presidential
palace in Yerevan and attended by Sarkisian.

The 5-page agreement commits the two parties to democratizing Armenia,
strengthening the rule of law, speeding up the country's economic
development, tackling corruption and improving broader governance. It
makes clear that Dashnaktsutyun, which holds 5 seats in the 131-member
Armenian parliament, will share responsibility for all government

Dashnaktsutyun and Sarkisian's party specifically pledged to ensure
the conduct of democratic elections "credible to the public," boosting
legal safeguards for judicial independence, and setting up an
"effective mechanism for combating corruption." They also pledged to
"separate business from government" and pursue an "active ant-trust
policy" on the economic front.

Under the framework accord, they will form a "cooperation council"
that will serve as a forum for "regular inter-party contacts" and
"exchange of views." The council will meet on a regular basis.

"We believe that through this cooperation we can bring about the kind
of change that our society will see and have positive expectations and
more faith in the future," said Aghvan Vartanian, a Dashnaktsutyun
leader who signed the deal.

He repeated Dashnaktsutyun's main declared rationale for rejoining
Sarkisian's government: proper implementation of recently enacted
constitutional changes envisaging Armenia's transition to the
parliamentary system of government. The party has strongly supported
those changes, saying that they will help to address many of the
country's problems.

Political groups remaining in opposition to Sarkisian dismiss such
statements. One of them, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), claims
that Dashnaktsutyun is only anxious to retain its modest presence in
the parliament by benefiting from fraud and government resources in
next year's parliamentary elections.

HAK leaders also have also accused Dashnaktsutyun of turning a blind
eye to serious fraud reported during the December 6 referendum on the
constitutional amendments.

Speaking to journalists, Vartanian insisted that the power-sharing
deal with Sarkisian will not make his party less popular. He also
denied media claims that Dashnaktsutyun chapters in Armenian Diaspora
communities abroad disapprove of the political strategy adopted by the
party leadership in Armenia. 

Institute for War and Peace Reporting, UK
Feb 22 2016

Yerevan accuses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
of taking a pro-Baku stance.
By Christine.Poghosyan, Nurgul Novruz, Oksana Musaelyan

Armenia has reacted angrily to accusations by a European body that
it is "deliberately" depriving border regions of Azerbaijan of water.

The January 26 resolution issued by the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe (PACE) said that more than 20 years of neglect of
the key Sarsang reservoir posed "a danger to the whole border region."

The state of disrepair of the reservoir, which lies inside Nagorny
Karabakh and is controlled by Armenia, could lead to a "major disaster
with great loss of human life and possibly a fresh humanitarian
crisis," PACE said.

However, critics in Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh accused PACE of
supporting Azerbaijan's viewpoint rather than looking at the situation

"We should no longer allow that PACE regulations are used to
confirm such one-sided reports," said Tevan Poghosyan, a member
of the Heritage faction of Armenia´s parliament and part of the
parliamentary committee on foreign relations. "In reality, Azerbaijan
wanted to receive an official document, which can then be used in
other institutions, quoting the language of the report."

Nagorny Karabakh´s deputy foreign minister Armine Alexanyan also
expressed regret "that PACE did not demonstrate political maturity"
over the resolution.

PACE had called for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces
from the region as well as an independent survey and international
supervision of the reservoir.

Its report was prepared by Bosnian lawmaker Milica Markovic , who
came under fire from Yerevan for failing to visit Nagorny Karabakh
and Armenia during the preparation of the report, despite having been
invited. However, she visited Azerbaijan twice.

In her report, Markovic said that she had been unable to visit Armenia
due to "the lack of co-operation of the Armenian delegation".

Built in 1976 on the Tartar River at an altitude of 726 metres above
sea level, the Sarsang reservoir used to provide water for drinking
and irrigation to the territory of Nagorny Karabakh as well as six
adjoining regions of Azerbaijan. It had the capacity to hold 560
million cubic metres of water.

After the 1994 ceasefire following the Nagorny Karabakh war, Azerbaijan
could not longer use the reservoir.

The co-chairs of the Minsk Group, the tripartite body set up by
the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to support
peace talks in Karabakh, had advised PACE against steps that might
harm negotiations.

But Markovic told the Assembly that she had not been concerned with
the political context.

"My task was to deal with social questions and humanitarian, social
and environmental issues," she said.

Although the Sarsang declaration passed, a second PACE resolution on
the "escalation of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied
territories of Azerbaijan," raised on the same day was not adopted.

Nonetheless, Elkhan Suleymanov, the author of both resolutions and
a member of Azerbaijan´s parliament and PACE delegation, welcomed
the outcome.

"This was a historical victory for the people of Azerbaijan,"Suleymanov
told the news agency APA. "Although one of the reports was rejected,
the main goal was to put Armenia´s aggressive policy on the agenda,
and we have achieved that."

The chairman of Azerbaijan´s opposition party Musavat, Isa Gambar,
also said that the PACE resolution on Sarsang was a small but important
move forward.

"I assess this PACE resolution as positive," he told IWPR. "It reflects
reality. Humanitarian and environmental issues have always been a
priority for PACE. But the conflict has so deepened and involves
so many external forces that the adoption of some new document can
hardly affect the promotion of a peaceful solution. But it is after
all a small step in a positive direction," said Gambar.


The Sarsang water supplies affect about 138,000 people living in
Nagorny Karabakh and 400,000 people in other areas of the Lower
Karabakh region in Azerbaijan, according to the PACE report.

Nagorny Karabakh´s prime minister Arayik Harutyunyan said Karabakh
had offered to come to an agreement with Azerbaijan over sharing the
reservoir in 2013.

"We sent messages saying we agree to cooperate in terms of using the
water of the Sarsang reservoir on one condition, that we have access
to the water, since the reservoir junction and some pipelines are
under their control," Harutyunyan said.

However, Baku rejects even negotiations over any such move. It
regards Nagorny Karabakh as a separatist regime and will therefore
not cooperate while what they deem to be an occupation is ongoing.

Currently, the Karabakh authorities use the reservoir only for energy
purposes. The Sarsang hydroelectric power plant produces about 140
million kW per hour of electricity annually, according to Slava
Gabrielyan, managing director of the Karabakh power distribution
company Artsakhenergo.

Since the reservoir junction of the main canal of the Terter River
is located on Azerbaijani territory, the Azeris can get water from
the reservoir throughout the year, apart from the summer months.

Karabakh residents cannot access irrigation water at all, according
to its deputy agriculture minister Gevorg Veranyan.

"While the Azerbaijanis may complain that they do not have the water,
our residents are not only partially but fully left without water.

This stems from the lack of cooperation on the part of Azerbaijan,"
Veranyan told IWPR.

In turn, Azerbaijan claims that the Armenian side frequently stops
the water in the summer when it is most needed.

Then in winter, the water from the Sarsang reservoir is released,
flooding roads and agricultural lands and damaging Azerbaijani

Farmers on both sides continue to suffer the consequences.

Artur Ghukasyan, a resident of the Martakert region in Nagorny
Karabakh, 15 km from Sarsang, has been a farmer for 40 years. He
told IWPR that before the war, water for irrigation came from the
Tartar River.

"I basically grew grapes and produced a high quality crop. Today, due
to the fact that Azerbaijan has blocked the water spout that pumps
the water coming to the territory, drought and desolation prevail
in my once great vineyards. Without irrigation in these areas, it is
impossible to engage in agriculture," said the farmer.

Ghukasyan said that local residents still hope that it will be
possible to reach an agreement that will allow them to use the Tartar
river waters.

For now, he can only cultivate a small vegetable garden in his

On the Azerbaijani side, farmers are no better off.

Muraz Djafarov, a resident of the border village of Qizilhacili in
Goranboi district, cannot irrigate his three hectare plot. In the past,
water did reach his land from the Sarsang reservoir, but not any more.

"About five years ago, the water came from there, though with
interruptions," he said. "Now, the water flows only in winter when farm
work is not carried out, and in the summer it is blocked... Our only
[other] source is the Goranboi River, and the level of water in it
decreases every year. We earn our living only from the land, which has
to be irrigated. Now our situation is critical," Djafarov concluded.

Vernayan said that PACE should have taken a different approach if it
really wanted to improve the environmental and humanitarian situation.

"It would be more correct if PACE helped Nagorny Karabakh, for example,
join the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) to attract
high-calibre European specialists to re-evaluate the safety of the
dam, re-simulate breaking waves, calculate the area prone to flooding,
develop recommendations for a joint response and so on," Veranyan said.

"It would be better if international credits and other assistance
were granted for the modernisation of the dam and the training of
specialists and for the restoration of the canals which have not been
operated for more than 25 years. That would be real help, both for
Azerbaijan and for the people of Nagorny Karabakh."

Veranyan said that sharing the resources of the reservoir could be
advantageous for both sides. At the moment, 44,000 hectares of the
territory adjoining Sarsang belong to Nagorny Karabakh and 100,000
hectares to Azerbaijan.

"We are better off having 44,000 hectares of irrigated land than a
hydroelectric power station with a capacity of 50 MWt [the capacity
of the Sarsang hydroelectric power plant]," he said.

The dam reservoir is expensive both to use and maintain, so the income
generated by the hydroelectric power station is mainly dedicated to
its upkeep.

Veranyan said that Karabakh cannot simply wait for the day when
Azerbaijan may agree to a joint use of the reservoir.

The Karabakh government is now planning to divert the Terter River
so as to supply water to the 40,000 hectares of land left without
irrigation, at a cost of more than 10 million US dollars.

"Construction will start in the near future because it makes no sense
to wait," Veranyan said.


Richard Giragosian, director of the Regional Studies Centre (RSC)
in Yerevan said that Markovic's resolution represented a "missed
opportunity" for PACE.

"At the same time, the adoption of this resolution is also a strategic
mistake, for two reasons," he continued. "First, given the complete
absence of any gestures of goodwill or confidence-building mechanisms,
this resolution dismisses and denies the chance for building an
environment more conducive to restoring communication and regaining
confidence on all sides.

"Second, the strategic mistake was also demonstrated by the willful
disrespect and disdain for the OSCE Minsk Group mediators, who legally
hold the sole diplomatic jurisdiction for the Karabakh peace process,"
Giragosian continued.

The PACE decision underscored the need to establish new ways of
building confidence, he added, suggesting that one priority would be
to again offer Azerbaijan the opportunity to share Sarsang's resources.

Political scientist Stepan Grigoryan, head of the Analytical Centre
on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation (ACGRC) in Yerevan, also
suggested that the Armenians take the initiative to institute its
own resolution aimed at a joint, peaceful solution to the Sarsang

"This will obviously be a positive step that will unite and not divide
the parties. You can unite Armenian, Karabakh and Azerbaijani engineers
and conduct a rehabilitation programme," he said.

Christine Poghosyan is an independent journalist in Armenia and Nurgul
Novruz is a freelance journalist in Azerbaijan. Oksana Musaelyan is
a freelance reporter from Armenia, who contributed from Strasbourg,

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