Sunday, 26 February 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Azerbaijan to Arrest EU Lawmakers...

RFE/RL Report
Azerbaijan Moves To Arrest EU Lawmakers Over Karabakh Vote
February 23, 2017
Sargis Harutyunyan
Authorities in Azerbaijan have issued international arrest warrants
for three pro-Armenian members of the European Parliament who visited
Nagorno-Karabakh and monitored a constitutional referendum held there
this week.

The APA news agency reported late on Wednesday that Frank Engel of
Luxembourg, Eleni Theocharous of Cyprus and the Czech Republic's
Jaromir Stetina are accused of illegally visiting "occupied lands of

The three politicians representing their countries in the European
Union's legislative body are also facing charges stemming from their
monitoring of Monday's Karabakh referendum strongly condemned by
Baku. They all described the vote as democratic on Tuesday.

The Azerbaijani authorities have asked Interpol, an international
police organization, to help them arrest Engel, Theocharous and
Stetina. A court in Baku has formally authorized their pre-trial
detention, according to APA.

The three European Parliament members, who stand for international
recognition of Karabakh's independence, had already been declared
personae non grata in Azerbaijan because of their previous trips to
the Armenian-populated territory. The Azerbaijani government has also
blacklisted more than 500 other non-Armenian foreigners for the same

Armenia's Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian dismissed Baku's
attempt to arrest Engel, Theocharous and Stetina as "ridiculous."
"This will certainly not affect further visits to Artsakh (Karabakh)
in any way," Kocharian told RFE/RL's Armenian service (
on Thursday.

The arrest warrants came two weeks after Belarus controversially
handed over to Azerbaijan Alexander Lapshin, a Russian-Israeli blogger
detained in Minsk in December. Lapshin visited Karabakh in 2011 and
2012 and gave detailed accounts of those trips on his Russian-language
travel blog.

Armenia strongly condemned Lapshin's extradition. The Belarusian
authorities were also criticized by the Russian Foreign Ministry as
well as the London-based human rights group Amnesty International. 
Zurabyan: 50-60% people in Armenia are ready to sell their votes
February 24, 2017 

 MP from Armenian National Congress (ANC) Levon Zurabyan said today that their alliance with the People’s Party of Armenia will be guided by "calls for peace and neighbourliness”.

According to Levon Zurabyan, other alliances in Armenia have been created to push interests of their candidates, while theirs “is a continuation of years-long cooperation”.

He also shared his opinion on electoral fraud, stating that “50-60% of Armenian citizens are ready to sell their voices”.

According to Levon Zurabyan, installation of technical means in voting stations decreases the volume of fraud that could be witnessed in previous years, but leads to intensification of attempts to buy votes.

“In democratic countries people register progress, while we head towards underdevelopment, corruption, and growth of poverty,” he said.

RFE/RL Report 
Ruling Party MP Admits `Aid' To Voters
February 23, 2017
Tatevik Lazarian
Nane Sahakian

A pro-government lawmaker acknowledged on Thursday that some
candidates of the governing Republican Party (HHK) provide material
assistance to voters in the run-up to Armenia's parliamentary

Lernik Aleksanian insisted, however, that foodstuffs and other types
of aid handed out to impoverished residents do not constitute vote
bribes. He also claimed that election candidates of other parties
running for parliament are also engaged in such "benevolence."

"If a person gives someone something as [an act of] benevolence, it's
very hard to subject him to criminal liability," Aleksanian told
RFE/RL's Armenian service ( "It's very hard to call it a
bribe, if you don't call it a bribe at that point. A person helps
another person. Let's prove that it's a bribe on the legal plane."

"It's not just our candidates," who deliver such aid, said the member
of Armenia's outgoing parliament affiliated with the HHK. "The
electoral lists of all parties contain individuals who have helped and
are helping people to a certain extent, whether it's before elections
or after them," added Aleksanian.

Armenian law explicitly bans election candidates from providing any
material aid or services to citizens in return for their votes. The
HHK and its former and current coalition partners have long been
accused by the Armenian opposition and independent media of heavily
relying on vote buying. They have denied these allegations.

Opposition representatives claimed on Thursday that vote buying will
again be widespread in the parliamentary elections slated for April
2. Aram Manukian of the Armenian National Congress (HAK) suggested
that voters should consider accepting cash from pro-government
candidates but still voting for an opposition party or bloc.

But other opposition figures disagreed, saying that selling votes is
wrong in principle. "If you take a vote bribe, then do not demand a
better country from us," said Stepan Safarian, a leading candidate of
the Free Democrats party.

Arayik Harutiunian, a senior member of the opposition Yelk bloc,
claimed that the Armenian authorities remain reluctant to clamp down
on vote buying because it is essential for retaining their control
over the National Assembly.

The chief of the Armenian police, Vladimir Gasparian, promised tougher
action against the illegal practice on Wednesday when he visited the
Armavir province and met with senior officials from the regional
police department to discuss preparations for the upcoming polls.

"I don't think that it's impossible to tackle [vote buying,]" said
Gasparian. "If a police officer in a particular community has good
contacts with his fellow citizens I believe that there will be people
who will report [vote buying] so that we can do our job."

Daniel Ioannisian of the Union of Informed Citizens, a civic group
that has monitored Armenian elections, was skeptical about Gasparian's
assurances. He said that individuals bribing voters have never feared
prosecution."They are sure that law-enforcement bodies won't take any
measures against them," Ioannisian told RFE/RL's Armenian service. 

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Civic Groups Gear Up For Election Monitoring
February 22, 2017
Artak Hambardzumian
A coalition of Armenian civil society groups said on Wednesday that it
plans to deploy about 3,500 monitors, among them prominent Diaspora
Armenians, in polling stations across the country during the upcoming
parliamentary elections.

"As of now, we have already registered 2,800 monitors, and I think
that this number will rise to 3,500," Armen Grigorian, one of the
leaders of the Citizen Observer initiative, told reporters.

Grigorian said they will watch voting in around 1,750 of Armenia's
2,000 polling stations where an estimated 95 percent of all eligible
voters will be able to cast ballots.

According to Citizen Observer, the monitoring mission will include
nearly 250 ethnic Armenian foreign nationals, among them U.S. rock
musician Serj Tankian, Canadian actress Arsinee Khanjian and her
husband and filmmaker Atom Egoyan.

Tankian, Khanjian, Egoyan and several other Diaspora Armenian artists
launched last year a joint campaign called "Justice Within Armenia"
with an online petition that was signed by thousands of people. It
demanded that Armenia's government end widespread corruption, respect
laws and hold democratic elections.

Vartan Marashlian, the director of the non-governmental RepatArmenia
Foundation helping Diaspora Armenians relocate to Armenia, is also
involved in the Citizen Observer mission.

"This is a very important format through which we can connect the
Diaspora to Armenia. This must become a part of our culture,"
Marashlian told a joint news conference with Grigorian and Vahe
Keushguerian, a Lebanese-born businessman based in Yerevan.

Keushguerian emphasized the non-partisan character of what will be the
largest monitoring mission for the April 2 elections. "The most
important thing for us is that every vote is counted correctly," he
said. "The question of who will get elected is secondary."

The elections will pit the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK)
against four other parties and as many alliances. They will also be
monitored by around 300 observers to be deployed by the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The OSCE officially launched
its monitoring mission on Tuesday. 
Archbishop Aram Atesyan to resign by March 15
24 Feb 2017 

An agreement on the elections of the Patriarch of Istanbul has been reached after two days of discussions at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.

Bishop Sahak Masalyan, General Vicar of the Patriarch of Istanbul Aram Atesyan and Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Germany Karekin Bekdjian came together in Yerevan for a meeting chaired by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

Thus, the Locum Tenens will be elected by the Clerical Assembly by March 15. The elections will terminate the powers of the General Vicar of the Patriarch Aram Atesyan. The Bishops will have equal rights to participate in the elections of the Locum Tenens.

After the elections, the Clerical Assembly will form a commission comprising clergymen and secular figures to organize the transfer of power from the General Vicar to the Locum Tenens.

The elections of the initiative group will be organized within 10 days after the election of the Locum Tenens. The group will, in turn, organize the elections of the Patriarch of Istanbul within a six-month period.
Specialized company to invest AMD 315 million in production of 
solar trackers in Armenia 
YEREVAN, February 24. /ARKA/. The first solar trackers in the region are expected to be produced in Armenia soon, the press office of the Armenian ministry of energy infrastructures and natural resources reported on Friday.

According to the ministry’s news release, a unique in the region industrial enterprise will be established in the country for that.

Hayk Harutyunyan, deputy minister, is quoted in the press release as saying that the production process will begin already in the second quarter of this year.

The specialized company Profpanel will invest about AMD 315 million (around $649,000) in the project at the first stage and more than 50 jobs will be created here.

The company intends to sell the solar trackers initially inside Armenia, and later to export them to other countries.

On February 23, the Armenian government decided to exempt Profpanel OJSC, which is engaged in producing solar trackers as part of an investment program and which imports technical equipment and raw materials for that, from paying customs duties.

In summer 2015, a 58-million investment program aimed at development of renewable energy, was launched in Armenia. The program is intended for five or six years and is being implemented by the Armenia Renewable Resources and Energy Efficiency Fund under support from Climate Investment Funds, the Armenian ministry of energy infrastructures and natural resources, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

It is planned to build a 40-to-50-megawatt solar station under this program by 2020.  

No comments: