Saturday, 23 December 2017


Vestnik Kavkaza
Dec 18 2017
NATO’s deputy chief hails Armenia’s role in peacekeeping operations 

Armenian Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan received today NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, Public Radio of Armenia reported. 

Mrs. Gottemoeller hailed the participation of Armenian peacekeeping brigades in the NATO-led operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo, attached importance to the development of new capacities, the joint efforts targeted at improving cooperation, collaboration in military education and other directions. 

The parties exchanged views on the Armenia-NATO Individual Partnership Action Plan, NATO’s support for defense reforms in Armenia. 

The Defense Minister briefed Rose Gottemoeller on amendments to defense legislation connected with the changes of the situation at the border, improvement of military service, modernization of military education, improvement of the system of civilian and public oversight over the armed forces. 

Sputnik News Service, Russia
December 16, 2017 Saturday 9:31 PM UTC
Armenian Foreign Ministry Slams Ankara for Distorting 2009 Zurich Protocols

The Armenian Foreign Ministry made a statement on Saturday 

criticizing the Turkish Foreign Ministry for distorting the letter and 
spirit of the 2009 Zurich Protocols on normalization of relations 
between the two countries.

On Wednesday, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian confirmed
Yerevan’s intentions not to ratify the accords, saying that Armenia
would “welcome the spring of 2018 without them.” He accused Turkey of
imposing “unfounded preconditions” that violated the letter and spirit
of the agreements. On Thursday, Ankara responded by accusing the
Armenian minister of "misleading the world public opinion," and
stressed that the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was
necessary for ensuring peace and stability in the South Caucasus, the
key objective of the agreements.

“The December 14th comments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Turkey regarding the Armenian-Turkish relations is yet another
flagrant example of distortion of the letter and spirit of the Zurich
Protocols of 2009. Our position on President [Serzh] Sargsyan’s
initiative to normalize relations with Turkey was expressed in the
well-known approach to normalize relations without preconditions.
Based on this common understanding with the Turkish side we launched
the negotiation process and reached agreements,” the statement,
released on the ministry’s website, read.

The ministry stressed that soon after signing the Protocols Turkey had
“backtracked” from the agreements, rejecting to ratify the protocols
and reverting to “the language of preconditions” that it had used
before the beginning of settlement process.

“Ankara doesn’t shy away to voice once again its preconditions,
linking the Armenian-Turkish relations to the the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict settlement in favor of Azerbaijan, at the same time making
redundant reference to the UN Security Council resolutions, which have
nothing to do with the negotiation process of the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict resolution. It is well known, that there is no single word on
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict or any precondition in the Protocols,”
the statement read.

The ministry noted that the Turkish side had rejected to ratify the
Protocols and had deliberately brought the entire process to a dead
end, prompting Yerevan to suspend the ratification procedure.

The Armenian-Turkish relations are negatively influenced by what is
recognized as genocide of Armenians by Armenia and some other
countries. Around 1.2 million Armenians were killed or starved to
death by the Ottoman Empire during and after World War I. Turkey has
repeatedly denied accusations of committing mass murder of Armenians,
claiming that the victims of the tragedy were both Turks and

In 2008, despite tensions in the Armenian-Turkish relations, Armenia
initiated negotiations with Turkey to normalize the diplomatic ties.
In 2009, the foreign ministers of the two countries signed the
protocols in Zurich, which were pending ratification by the countries’
parliaments. However, in December 2009, then Turkish Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Ankara would not ratify the accords
until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was resolved. In April 2010,
Sargsyan suspended ratification process accusing Ankara of showing no
will to continue the settlement process. In September 2017, the
Armenian president said at the UN General Assembly that Yerevan would
declare the Protocols null and void in the spring of 2008, if no
progress was made.

RFE/RL Report
Turkey Sticks To Linkage Between Karabakh, Ties With Armenia
December 15, 2017
Emil Danielyan

Turkey has again made clear that it will not implement Western-backed
agreements to normalize its relations with Armenia without a
resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to Azerbaijan.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry at the same time denounced Yerevan's
plans to formally annul the two protocols that were signed in Zurich
in 2009.

"These Protocols are still on the agenda of the Turkish Grand National
Assembly's Foreign Affairs Commission and for their ratification it is
essential that a favorable political atmosphere and peace in the South
Caucasus is secured," the ministry said in a statement issued late on

"In this vein, it is necessary that in the settlement of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict progress is achieved, based on Azerbaijan's
territorial integrity and in light of the relevant resolutions of the
UN Security Council," it said. "In any case, Armenia must put an end
to its invasion of Azerbaijan's territories."

The statement came in response to Armenian Foreign Minister Edward
Nalbandian's statement on Wednesday reaffirming Yerevan's intention to
withdraw its signature from the protocols because of Ankara's
"groundless preconditions" for their parliamentary ratification. "We
will enter the spring of 2018 without those futile protocols,"
President Serzh Sarkisian declared earlier.

The protocols committed Turkey and Armenia to establishing diplomatic
relations and opening their border which Ankara has long kept closed
in a show of support for Azerbaijan. Shortly after the high-profile
signing ceremony in Zurich, Ankara said that Turkey's parliament will
ratify the deal only if there is decisive progress towards a Karabakh

The Armenian government rejected that precondition, arguing that the
protocols make no reference to the conflict. The United States, the
European Union and Russia have also repeatedly called for their
unconditional implementation by both sides.

While reaffirming the Karabakh linkage, the Turkish Foreign Ministry
insisted that Ankara is not responsible for the effective collapse of
the 2009 accords. It claimed that Armenia itself introduced
"preconditions and restrictive clauses" through a January 2010 ruling
handed down by the country's Constitutional Court.

The court upheld the legality of the protocols. But it also indicated
that they cannot have any bearing on the Karabakh conflict or inhibit
Armenia's pursuit of greater international recognition of the 1915
Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

Unlike Turkey, the U.S. welcomed that ruling. Philip Gordon, a
U.S. assistant secretary of state at the time, called it a "positive
step forward in the ratification process of the normalization

Then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Ankara to drop the
Karabakh linkage when she visited Yerevan later in 2010. "Now the ball
is in the other court," Clinton said.

Panorama, Armenia
Dec 16 2017
Armenian MFA: Turkey tries to justify the genocide denialism on the grounds of freedom of _expression_ 

The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement in response to the statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry regarding the Armenia-Turkey Protocols.

The full statement runs as follows:

“The December 14th comments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey regarding the Armenian-Turkish relations is yet another flagrant example of distortion of the letter and spirit of the Zürich Protocols of 2009.

Our position on President Sargsyan’s initiative to normalize relations with Turkey was expressed in the well-known approach to normalize relations without preconditions. Based on this common understanding with the Turkish side we launched the negotiation process and reached agreements.

It is well known that right after the signing of the Protocols Ankara backtracked from the agreements. Turkey not only has rejected to ratify those Protocols, but also has returned to the same language of preconditions that it had used before the launch of the process. The last statement of the Turkish MFA goes in the same direction.

Ankara doesn’t shy away to voice once again its preconditions, linking the Armenian-Turkish relations to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement in favor of Azerbaijan, at the same time making redundant reference to the UN Security Council resolutions, which have nothing to do with the negotiation process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. It is well known, that there is no single word on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict or any precondition in the Protocols. By returning once again to the language of preconditions following the signing of Protocols, Turkey has opposed to the international community, which has always supported the normalization of the Armenian Turkish relations without preconditions and continues to do so now.

The Turkish side refused to ratify the Protocols and intentionally moved the whole process to the stalemate. This was the very reason that compelled Armenia to suspend the ratification procedure while staying in the normalization process, and this was duly acknowledged and welcomed by the leaders of different countries.

It is obvious that even today, years after signing of the Protocols, Ankara is not ready yet to normalize the Armenian-Turkish relations.

It does not come as a surprise that the Turkish authorities stick to stereotyped approaches and are trying to voice fabricated allegations. For more than a century, the leadership of that country denies the Armenian Genocide. Is it easier to take the sin for the century-old great crime committed in the Ottoman Empire by continuously denying it, instead of recognizing it and thus rendering an important service to its own people, to the future of the region and to the prevention of future genocides?

Ankara goes the opposite direction. The statement of the MFA of Turkey claims that allegedly the efforts to recognize the Armenian Genocide are morally and legally incorrect and ill-intentioned. It turns out that Turkey preaches morality to France, Germany, Austria, Russia, Uruguay, Belgium, Greece and to dozens of other countries, which have recognized the Armenian Genocide.

It is ironic that Turkey, one of the most notorious countries of the world in restricting freedom of _expression_, tries to justify the genocide denialism on the grounds of freedom of _expression_. 
It has always been clear for different world capitals both after the signing of the Protocols and today that the ball is on the Turkish court, that Armenia has done everything possible for the normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations. Ankara’s inability to accept this and other realities consolidates the sense throughout the world that Turkey and the international community speak in different languages.

We would like to reiterate that this is the very reason why the President of Armenia declared at the UN General Assembly that since the Protocols continuously lack any positive progress towards their implementation, in the spring of 2018 Armenia will declare them null and void.”

RFE/RL Report
U.S. Mission Cooperating With Armenian Terror Probe
December 15, 2017
Naira Bulghadarian

The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan said on Friday that it is cooperating with
Armenian law-enforcement authorities in their criminal proceedings
against a U.S. national accused of calling for and plotting terrorist
attacks in Armenia.

"We are working with Armenian law-enforcers on that case. In the
interests of the investigation we cannot give further details at this
point," the embassy told RFE/RL's Armenian service (

Armenia's National Security Service (NSS) said on Thursday that the
U.S. citizen of Armenian descent opened recently a Facebook account to
promote a radical group campaigning for a violent overthrow of the
Armenian government. It said the account user posing as "Martin
Avagyan" posted messages calling for violent attacks on government and
law-enforcement officials. The group called Fighters for Justice (MHA)
has also sought to recruit disgruntled Armenians willing to carry out
such attacks, according to the NSS.

The security agency claimed that the Armenian American, whom it
identified as R.K., also "prepared for terrorist acts" through
"accomplices" in Armenia. It said it has asked U.S. law-enforcement
bodies for assistance in the probe "in order to prevent the planned

The Yerevan newspaper "Haykakan Zhamanak" revealed afterwards that the
suspect facing arrest in Armenia is Robert Koorkian, a resident of
California. Koorkian told the paper that he has already been
questioned by U.S. law-enforcement officers.

Koorkian did not deny opening the "Martin Avagyan" account but
insisted that he never plotted any violence.

The Facebook page contains statements attributed to the Fighters for
Justice (MHA) group. One of them says that the nationalist group will
use "guerilla methods" to "punish the pillars of the ruling regime."
Another Facebook status calls for the murder of a police officer who
allegedly ill-treated one of the opposition activists currently
standing trial in connection with their July 2016 attack on a police
base in Yerevan.

"Martin Avagyan" claimed on December 6 that MHA has embarked on "the
second phase of the armed struggle" launched by the jailed gunmen.

Vartan Harutiunian, a human rights activist, questioned the
credibility of the NSS allegations, saying that the case may well turn
out to be a "bubble." He argued that individuals plotting terrorist
acts would hardly use social media to announce their plans.

Harutiunian told RFE/RL's Armenian service ( that a
growing number of Armenians express "extreme" views on the Internet
because they think it is impossible to change the government by
peaceful means. He also said that the authorities have failed to learn
lessons from the July 2016 standoff in Yerevan and its underlying

Incidentally, "the fight against terrorism" was on the agenda of a
meeting of President Serzh Sarkisian's National Security Council held
on Friday. The presidential press service reported that the council
approved a new plan of actions designed to prevent such violence in
view of the "high degree of terror threats in the region" and the
changing nature of contemporary terrorism. It gave no details of that

MediaMax, Armenia
Dec 19 2017
Only 23% of people surveyed in Armenia are happy with their jobs 

Yerevan /Mediamax/.According to the study conducted by the Caucasus Barometer project, the employment rate has grown in Armenia in recent years, reaching 38%, but only 23% of the surveyed people are happy with their jobs.

According to Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)-Armenia CEO Heghine Manasyan, the Caucasus Barometer, held in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan since 2004, allows comparing the situation in neighboring countries. However, Azerbaijan refrained from participating in the last two studies.

The 2017 study has been conducted in 4027 randomly selected households (1648 in Armenia and 2379 in Georgia).

30% of the surveyed in Armenia remarked on the importance of having good ties for getting a good job, 21% stressed the factor of education, 10% focused on age and 8% - on professional skills.

Around 49% of the households have a monthly income of USD 250 or lower. The households with USD 800-1200 or more are in the minority. However, 74% of the surveyed indicated the monthly income necessary for leading a normal life at over USD 400.

The results of the study show that unemployment and poverty remain the most important issues in the public’s eye both in Armenia and Georgia: 36% of the surveyed in Armenia named unemployment as the biggest issue and so did 56% of the surveyed in Georgia, while the percentage of people who pointed out poverty made 17% and 14% respectively.

In Armenia, 21% of the surveyed believe that the country is moving in a wrong direction and 41% think that the latest elections to the National Assembly weren’t “entirely fair”.

Army and church stand out in terms of the trust in public institutions: 77% of those surveyed in Armenia trust the army fully or more than other institutions, and so do 75% of the surveyed in Georgia.

54% of the surveyed in Armenia and 36% of the study participants in Georgia link political and economic development of the country with equally close cooperation with both the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union.

On the scale of 1 to 10, the happiness rate made 6.8 for Armenia and 7.1 for Georgia.

Armenian brides lose their fiances
December 18,2017 

December 18 is international migration day. According to sociologist Aharon Adibekyan, there are 1.5 million Armenians who have been granted citizenship in the Russian Federation, and about 500,000 emigrants are formulated as employed or illegal migrants.

“In Russia only 1/3 of Armenian men marry Armenian women, about 60-65% marry mostly Russian women. And so, our brides lose their fiances, this is one of the negative consequences. The worst outcome is that we have a high level of education, but we are preparing a specialist for Russia,” said Aharon Adibekyan.

The sociologist also noted that about 300,000 of these 500,000 people are meant to stay in Russia, about 100,000 of which are migrants who are coming to Armenia in the summer or winter and then returning to Russia for work.

The same problem is in the field of education: students are delighted to study in Russian-speaking universities, which will provide them opportunity to work in Russia or in countries where Russian is used.

Students continue hunger strike, the negotiations with the authorities are ineffective
December 18,2017 

Students fighting against the limitation of the right to deferment are resuming the hunger strike. “There is a need to reconsider the right to deferment, and the only way of recalculating it is the elimination of the corruption. The strike will be stopped only when there will be exhaustive answers, “said David Petrosyan, member of the For Science Development Initiative, adding that their negotiations with the authorities were ineffective, so they started a hunger strike at one of YSU auditoriums.

According to Davit Petrosyan, the Ministry of Defense, does not accept the ideas about the bad impact of the limitation on the right to deferment on the science, and its importance for young people who have chosen the path of science.

“They are ready to use only the skills of students in the field of natural sciences, by ignoring the students who continue their studies in humanitarian sciences. Even in the case of the academics, so far there is no indication of how many students will have the opportunity to use the deferment, “said David Petrosyan.

RFE/RL Report
U.S.-Based Firm Gears Up For Gold Mining In Armenia
December 18, 2017
Anush Mkrtchian

A U.S.-British company said on Monday that it expects to finish next
year the ongoing construction of a massive gold mine in Armenia that
will sharply increase the country's gold exports.

The company, Lydian International, started building its gold mining
and smelting facilities at the Amulsar deposit in the southeastern
Vayots Dzor province in August 2016 after years of preparation and a
licensing process administered by the Armenian government. It has
since hired more than 1,000 Armenian workers for the construction
which it says will cost $370 million in investments.

"We are constructing the mine and we are about half way through the
construction," Howard Stevenson, Lydian's chairman and chief
executive, told RFE/RL's Armenian service ( in an

Stevenson said the company has already become Armenia's 19th largest
corporate taxpayer. "Amulsar's success will also be a success for
Armenia because our positive economic impact on this country will be
significant," he said.

Hayk Aloyan, the executive director of Lydian's Armenian subsidiary,
said last month that the company plans to produce 210,000 ounces of
gold annually, which will be worth over $260 million at current
international prices.

According to government statistics, Armenia exported around $100
million worth of gold in 2015. The bulk of that export revenue,
equivalent to 6.5 percent of overall Armenian exports, was generated
by a Russian company operating big gold mines at Sotk, eastern
Armenia. The company, GeoProMining, also owns a gold processing plant
in Ararat, a small town 50 kilometers southeast of Yerevan.

The Armenian government gave the green light for the Amulsar project
despite strong opposition from local environment protection groups
which say that it poses a serious threat to the local ecosystem and
livelihoods of farmers living in nearby villages. They also point to
the gold deposit's proximity to Jermuk, the country's most famous spa

Stevenson, whose company is registered in a British tax haven but
headquartered in the U.S. state of Colorado, sought to allay those
fears. He insisted that the forthcoming mining operation is a "zero
emissions project" that will use advanced technology and meet
environmental standards. "Our project will have no impact on water
resources in the area and on Jermuk as well," he said.

Stevenson also ruled out any potential impact on Armenia's
ecologically vital Lake Sevan which is fed by one of the rivers
flowing through Vayots Dzor. "There is no risk that even if we have an
industrial accident we would impact Lake Sevan," he said.

Levon Galstian, one of the environmentalists fiercely resisting the
project, dismissed these assurances. He insisted that with the kind of
technology that it is planning to use Lydian cannot guard against
contamination of soil and water with toxic waste from the Amulsar
mine. That will put Jermuk's famed resorts and mineral water industry
at serious risk, Galstian told RFE/RL's Armenian service

The U.S. and British governments strongly support the Amulsar
project. The U.S. ambassador to Armenia, Richard Mills, said earlier
this year that it has been deemed "fully compliant" with environment
protection standards set by the World Bank and the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

A senior EBRD executive said in August 2016 that that Lydian has
committed itself to meeting "the strictest environmental conditions"
set by the London-based lending institution.

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