Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian...Turkish military base project in Nakhichevan
Armenian diplomat warns of Turkish military base project in Nakhichevan - diplomat

Turkey is planning to launch a military base in Nakhichevan in an effort to establish a deeper cooperation with the Azerbaijani state, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Arman Navasardyan said today, commenting on the developments in the region. 

The diplomat addressed particularly the Turkish-Azerbaijani military drills, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s upcoming trip to Moscow (scheduled for May). 

“The Turkish political thought is sending a specific kind of message to the Republic of Armenia in the first place, and also to its sponsor, the Russian Federation. Given the close cooperation between Armenia and Russia - which is developing symmetrically with that between Turkey and Azerbaijan - Turkey is offering a plan for a deeper cooperation, expressing an intention to launch a military base in Nakhicevan,” he added. 

Navasardyan cited the Kurdish issue as a possible reason encouraging country to embark on the military base project in an attempt to block Kurdish movements in that part of its border. Meantime he warned of possible Kurdish attempts to move closer towards the Armenian border. “What the Turkish hypothesis says is that they can create a buffer zone, relocating Turks in those territories of Azerbaijan which are on the border between the country and [Nagorno-]Karabakh,” he added. 

RFE/RL Report
Azeri, Turkish Troops Hold Joint Drills
May 01, 2017

Turkish and Azerbaijani troops began on Monday joint military
exercises in Azerbaijan highlighting close military ties between their

The Turkish military's General Staff said late last week that the
five-day drills are aimed at boosting "friendship" between Turkey and
Azerbaijan and improving the interoperability and coordination of
their armed forces. They will take place near Baku, it said in a

There was no word on the number of Turkish soldiers participating in
the drills. Official Azerbaijani photographs of their arrival at an
airbase near Baku on April 22 suggest that there are roughly a hundred
of them.

The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry, for its part, said the "tactical"
war games will also involve armored vehicles, artillery and
anti-aircraft systems and military helicopters. It did not specify how
many Azerbaijani soldiers are participating in them. According to
Azerbaijani news agencies, the ministry also said drills stem from a
Turkish-Azerbaijani agreement on military cooperation.

Ankara and Baku signed a treaty on "strategic partnership and mutual
assistance" in 2010. It is not clear whether the treaty commits the
Turkish military to fighting on the Azerbaijani side in case Baku
attempts to forcibly regain control over Nagorno-Karabakh.

A senior Karabakh official, Davit Babayan, said the authorities in
Stepanakert will be closely monitoring the Turkish-Azerbaijani
exercises. "We consider it a regular exercise and are pursuing our
policy accordingly," he told "If there is any provocation,
there will be a response."

Babayan also accused Ankara of playing a "destructive" role in the
region. "Turkey has always prodded Azerbaijan to take military
action," he claimed.

Armenia has sought to preclude direct Turkish military intervention in
the Karabakh conflict with close defense links with Russia and, in
particular, Russian military presence on its soil. A Russian-Armenian
agreement signed in 2010 upgraded the security mission of a Russian
army base headquartered in Gyumri, an Armenian city close to the
Turkish border. 

RFE/RL Report
Armenia Slams Azerbaijan After Fresh Peace Talks
April 28, 2017

Armenia accused Azerbaijan of obstructing the Nagorno-Karabakh peace
process after the foreign ministers of the two states met in Moscow on
Friday for fresh talks hosted by their Russian counterpart, Sergey

Lavrov initiated the trilateral meeting in an attempt to get the
conflicting parties to narrow their differences on a peace plan
drafted by Russia, the United States and France.

In a statement on the meeting, the Russian Foreign Ministry said its
participants "stressed the need to fulfill" confidence-building
agreements that were reached by Armenia's and Azerbaijan's president
at their last meetings held in Vienna and Saint Petersburg last year.

"The ministers agreed to continue contacts on all discussed issues,"
said the statement.

It added that after their trilateral session Lavrov, Edward Nalbandian
and Elmar Mammadyarov were joined by the American, Russian and French
diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group. It gave no details of the
ensuing "exchange of views on the state of affairs in the
Nagorno-Karabakh settlement."

The Minsk Group's U.S. co-chair, Richard Hoagland, expressed hope late
last month that Mammadyarov and Nalbandian will "prepare the ground"
for a fresh meeting of their presidents. The Russian statement said
nothing about the possibility of such a summit.

Nalbandian's press office released a virtually identical statement on
the meeting, while a spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
said only that the foreign ministers will brief the presidents on its

In separate written comments made later in the day, the Armenian
Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tigran Balayan, condemned Baku for a fresh
ceasefire violation in Karabakh that left an Armenian soldier dead on
Friday morning.

"Baku is again demonstrating that the negotiation process is not
important to it," Balayan told the official Armenpress news
agency. "Otherwise, it would not have endangered the process on the
day of the foreign ministers' meeting by blatantly violating the
ceasefire again."

"By resorting to such a provocation at a time when everyone awaits the
results of the Moscow meeting, Baku is making it clear that it does
not care about those results," he charged.
Russian citizen of Armenian descent sentenced to 8 years in prison in Baku

Russian citizen of Armenian descent, Marat Ueldanov-Galustyan, was sentenced to 8 years in prison in Baku on Friday.

Judge Samir Aliyev presided over the closed trial during which the sentence was read out.

Ueldanov-Galustyan is the worker of Austrian catering company Do&Co. He was in on a business trip in Baku within the framework of Formula 1 racing. However, Ueldanov-Galustyan didn’t get in touch upon arriving there.

He is charged with illegal preparation, production, acquisition, keeping, transporting, import or sale of large amounts of narcotic or psychotropic substances or precursors

According to Russian media outlets, the Russian Embassy in Azerbaijan proposed the relatives of the arrestee to treat with understanding the peculiarities of that country, where “the Armenian descent makes it extremely difficult to defend him.”

The charge on drug trafficking is used by Azerbaijan in respect of political prisoners or personae non grata.
April 27 2017
Armenia Rebuffs Invasion by Azerbaijani Apples
by Giorgi Lomsadze 

A search-and-destroy operation is underway in Armenia. The targets are enemy Azerbaijani apples, which had the audacity to cross over into Armenian territory and place themselves covertly on Armenian store shelves. But, rest assured, the Armenian authorities say they have mounted a “massive” security action in response.

Ordinary citizens first detected these desperado apples’ infiltration of Armenia. Concerned grocery shoppers posted on social media photos of apple cartons, brashly emblazoned with the word “Azerbaijan,” the country against which Armenia has been at war over breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh for decades.

Against that backdrop, debates online and in the press asked whether Azerbaijan intended the apples to poison Armenians.

Wising up to the homeland security breach, Armenia’s Food Safety Service began inspecting stores nationwide on April 23. After three days of search, the problem appeared larger than originally thought. The enemy apples were found in the capital, Yerevan, and throughout its vicinity.

The Food Safety Service called on citizens to stay clear of the forbidden fruit and set up a hotline for shoppers to alert the authorities about any encounter with the Azerbaijani applies.

Photos and a description of the offenders were released. They are large, round and green. Come in black cartons. Priced at up to 1,200 drams ($2.48) a kilo (negotiable).

The apples bear labels from DAD , Azerbaijan’s largest wholesale fruit exporter.

Food safety inspectors are under order to destroy the apples on sight. That said, the apples could be presumed innocent. Armenia currently has no formal ban on imports from either Azerbaijan or Turkey, which both closed their borders with Armenia over Karabakh.

Given that situation, Armenian government agencies, including the National Revenue Service, say they are at a loss as to how the apples managed to breach Armenia’s border. They claim they have no record of any Azerbaijani fruit crossing their borders.

This is not, however, the first time that Azerbaijani produce has managed to enter Armenia. In 2011, Azerbaijani garlic turned up in Yerevan’s stores, causing similar outrage.

Quantity may provide a clue as to how the apples managed to slip into Armenia. Fifty kilograms of fruit and vegetables can enter duty-free – a provision that led the Food Safety Service’s director, Ishkhan Karapetian , to deduce that an “individual” rather than commercial importers brought the apples in.

Geography might provide another clue about the apples' handlers.

DAD’s green apples happen to be very popular in Georgia, with whom both Armenia and Azerbaijan have cordial or warm relations and an open border. So far, though, Georgia remains suspiciously silent about the whole scandal.

Whoever were the importers, they are lucky that angry crowds did not come chasing after them with pitchforks and torches, as some particularly outraged citizens reportedly have suggested.

As for Azerbaijan, one of its pro-government outlets simply wished those Armenians who had bought the apples “bon appétit,” and advised Armenian officials to busy themselves with “more serious matters.”

So far, there has been no mention of plans to retaliate for the Azerbaijani apple-invasion. But if Armenia ever decides to strike back, it’s got the apricots to do it.
Armenia Number of child beggars, street kids increases in Armenia
According to the report of the Armenian Police, 13 child beggars and homeless children were registered in Armenian as of the end of 2016.

The data released by the National Statistical Service (NSS) of Armenia shows that there are no girls among the child beggars and street kids. 6 of the children were 14-15 years old, 4 of them were under 14 and 3 aged 16-18.

7 of the homeless and beggar children were recorded in Yerevan, 3 – in Lori, 2 – in Shirak and 1 – in Kotayk.

The number of beggar and street juveniles has increased to compare with 2015, when 8 such cases were registered.
Armenia to build 100 wind power plants
April 28

Over 100 windmills will be built in Armenia, worth $350 million, Deputy Minister of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources Hayk Harutyunyan told journalists on Friday. He said the government has already approved an investment program of an UAE-registered company Access Infra Central Asia Limited, which plans to build a wind farm in Armenia.

He said the company will conduct a research of potential in Gegharkunik and Kotayk regions of Armenia within this year, where a wind farm with a capacity of about 236 MW is to be built. He added that depending on the chosen project, the cost of the project can reach up to $350 million.

At the first stage, which is planned for the second half of 2019, the company is supposed to launch an 80 MW wind power plant. "This will be an exceptional program, as the wind resources in Armenia are good, but they are in very high places, making construction a little more difficult," said Harutyunyan.

He said that wind power plants will be erected from Ddmashen village to Sevan and from there to the Dilijan Mountains. "Depending on their capacity, about 100 windmills will be erected," said Harutyunyan.

Armenia has two wind farms now - Arats LLC, located near the city of Kajaran in the south of Armenia, and Lori-1 with a capacity of 2.64 MW in the northern Lori province.

Armenia’s nuclear power plant accounts currently for about 30% of the total electricity produced in the country. Thermal power plants produce about 42%, hydropower plants - 29% and 11% are produced by renewable energy sources. -0-
Armenian ministry announces tender for construction of a 55 MW solar power plant
April 28

The Armenian Ministry of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources has announced a tender for the construction of a 55 MW solar power plant in the community of Masrik in Gegharkunik province, Deputy Minister Hayk Harutyunyan told journalists on Friday.

He said the applicant companies should have experience in the construction of solar power plants with a capacity of up to 100 MW and meet minimum financial requirements. The deputy minister noted that about 40 companies expressed interest in the project, however, experience shows that after the prequalification stage, there will remain 10 companies. Speaking about the cost of the project, Harutyunyan noted that, depending on the investor company and the technologies used, it could amount to about $40-60 million.

"The tender is scheduled to be completed in the second quarter of 2018. This will ensure a competitive and even record low tariff for electricity produced by a solar photovoltaic station," said Harutyunyan. In his words, for example, the cost of a KWh of electricity produced by a solar power plant in Turkey is the equivalent of 6.99 cents. There are examples when the cost is 3 or even 2.4 cents.

"We believe that in Armenia, given the sufficient solar resource and favorable conditions for investors, the expected tariff will be record low," said Harutyunyan. The deputy minister noted that the capacity of the station can be increased, depending on the investor's interest, up to 100 MW.

A $58 million worth program designed to boost alternative energy sources in Armenia kicked off in 2015 summer. The 6 year program is being handled by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Foundation with the support of the Climate Investment Funds, the ministry of energy infrastructure and natural resources, as well as with the assistance of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

The main stage of activities will start in 2017. When it is completed Armenia is expected to have solar power plants with the total capacity of 40-50 MW, which will be ready for operation by 2020.  

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