Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... Assault on free expression

Reminder: Tigran Hamasyan concerts on 2 and 3 June 2018
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17 May 2018
Armenian-Turkish lawmaker targeted as Erdogan courts far-right

Turkish prosecutors are seeking to lift the parliamentary immunity of an ethnic Armenian lawmaker in order to prosecute and potentially jail him, marking a further escalation of the government’s assault on free expression.

Prosecutors in Ankara have invoked Article 301, which criminalizes insulting the Turkish nation, and Article 299, which penalizes insulting the Turkish president, against Garo Paylan of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), the largest pro-Kurdish bloc in the Turkish parliament.

They were said to be acting on a criminal complaint filed in May 2017 by Turkish academic Aygun Attar and approved for further action by the Justice Ministry in December. Attar was reportedly protesting Paylan’s depiction of the mass slaughter of more than a million Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as a genocide in separate comments to the parliament and in an interview with the Armenian-Canadian publication Horizon Weekly, among others. Paylan’s critical remarks concerning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent alliance with far-right leader Devlet Bahceli and the ensuing crackdown on the media and civil society were likewise deemed to be insulting to the office of the president.

Nine HDP lawmakers, including the party’s presidential candidate Selahattin Demirtas, are currently in jail facing a cocktail of terror charges together with hundreds of other party officials. But the accusations against Paylan stand out. The government has prosecuted tens of thousands of alleged operatives of the religious cult led by Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based Sunni preacher who is accused of masterminding the failed July 2016 coup. 

Countless others said to be associated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, including HDP officials, have been rounded up in the thousands on similar terror charges. But prosecutors had largely steered clear of Article 301, which was commonly used in the past against those who dared to call the orgy of bloodletting in 1915 a genocide.

Article 301's targets include renowned Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk and ethnic Armenian news editor Hrant Dink, who was gunned down outside  the office of his AGOS newspaper in January 2007 by an ultranationalist youth said to be acting under the orders of rogue security officials. His murder proved a turning point, opening up nationwide debate on the genocide at a time when Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was still in reformist gear and ready to sign a now frozen peace deal with neighboring Armenia. On the centennial of the genocide in 2015, Erdogan sent a message to the tiny Armenian community: “We share the Armenians’ pain with sincerity. The doors of our hearts are open to the deceased Ottoman Armenians’ grandchildren.” This year’s message was not quite as magnanimous, with Erdogan warning some 70,000 Armenian-Turks to spurn those “who are trying to ignite hatred and hostility by distorting [our] shared past,” presumably by labeling the 1915 tragedy a genocide.

So what has changed? Yetvart Danzikiyan, the managing editor of AGOS, believes that Erdogan’s partnership with Bahceli, struck in the run-up to the April 2017 referendum on swapping the existing parliamentary system for an executive presidency, is a big factor. "Ever since the AKP established its coalition [with Bahceli] and a suitably nationalist stance, it has reverted to the state's old reflexes and habits on the Armenian question," he told Al-Monitor. Erdogan banked on nationalist support to push through the constitutional changes that will formalize his sweeping powers. The new rules are set to kick in after snap presidential and parliamentary polls that are due to be held on June 24.

Paylan agrees with this assessment. “The charges against me are not a surprise; the climate has changed and there were several clear signs of this,” Paylan told Al-Monitor. “I spoke about the genocide many times in the past, but AKP members in the parliament didn’t blink. It was only Bahceli’s people who protested,” he recalled. Then in January 2017, Paylan, who has been a deputy since 2015, was temporarily banned from parliamentary sessions for broaching the subject of the wholesale killings not only of ethnic Armenians but of Assyrians, Greeks and Jews who were “lost” and “driven from these lands in large massacres [and] genocides."

Undettered, Paylan pressed for formal recognition of the genocide and the establishment of a commission to investigate the events leading up to it in a bill he submitted last month. It was rejected.

The government’s waning tolerance was on full display April 24, the day Armenians worldwide mark the anniversary of the deaths of their forefathers. Turkish police detained activists gathered in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet for unfurling banners that read “genocide.”
The move against Paylan has sparked rebukes from the European Union. Kati Piri, the Turkey rapporteur of the European Parliament called the case "unacceptable." She told Al-Monitor, "This latest incident is a new front in the attack against fundamental rights in Turkey. If even elected parliamentarians cannot express their opinions, where does this leave ordinary citizens?"

Paylan believes the arrest of prominent businessman and philanthropistOsman Kavala are linked to his long-running support for a broad range of civil society initiatives aimed at promoting peace between Turkey and Armenia. Kavala, who commands global respect for his commitment to human rights, conflict resolution and promotion of the arts, has been behind bars for 198 days. A staunch secularist who spoke up against Gulenist infiltration of the justice system, Kavala has yet to be indicted amid farcical claims that he was involved in the coup.

All of this is unfolding as neighboring Armenia embarks on a new path of reform pledged by its new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, who swept to power in the mass demonstrations that engulfed the former Soviet republic last month. Pashinian said he was ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without any preconditions while pushing for recognition of the Armenian genocide at a global level. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said he was willing to consider the offer but suggested Turkey would only do so if Armenia shelved the genocide recognition campaign.

The two countries were on the brink of reopening their sealed borders and establishing diplomatic ties under a 2009 deal brokered by Switzerland and backed by the United States. But it fell apart when Erdogan, who was then prime minister, insisted that Armenia withdraw from the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave it wrested from Turkey’s close ally Azerbaijan in a short and nasty war in the early 1990s. The HDP has pledged to revive the Zurich protocols without any preconditions as part of its campaign manifesto.

Khatchig Mouradian, a lecturer at Columbia University who has done extensive research on the Ottoman Armenians, rues another missed moment. “Following the transformations ushered in by the Velvet Revolution in Armenia, Ankara had a golden opportunity to reciprocate positive signals from Yerevan regarding the normalization of relations,” Mouradian told Al-Monitor. “Instead it invokes Article 301, which bears the stains of Hrant Dink’s blood, to go after Garo Paylan.”

Paylan insisted none of this will stop him from his quest for justice. “They are trying to silence me. They will fail,” he said.

Amberin Zaman is a columnist for Al-Monitor's Turkey Pulse who has covered Turkey, the Kurds and Armenia for The Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph, The Los Angeles Times and the Voice of America. She served as The Economist's Turkey correspondent between 1999 and 2016. She was a columnist for the liberal daily Taraf and the mainstream daily Haberturk before switching to the independent Turkish online news portal Diken in 2015. On Twitter: @amberinzaman

[there is no conviction or satisfaction with this initiative]
The Times of Israel
May 16 2018
Taking aim at Turkey, lawmakers propose recognizing Armenian genocide
By Stuart Winer  

Two MKs submit bills calling on Israel to acknowledge massacres carried by Ottoman forces and hold annual memorials
Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Armenians marched long distances and were said to have been massacred in Turkey, in 1915. (AP Photo, File)
Two Israeli lawmakers said Wednesday they would propose bills to officially recognize the Armenian genocide, as relations between Israel and Turkey plunged amid a diplomatic scuffle over deadly clashes at the Gaza border. 

Likud party MK Amir Ohana said he would file initial paperwork for a bill calling on Israel to formally recognize as a genocide the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenian people by Ottoman forces during World War I. MK Itzik Shmuli, of the opposition Zionist Union faction, said he would propose a bill urging the country to officially mark the massacre each year as well.

Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said he would back recognizing the genocide, as did Education Minister Naftali Bennett and senior Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni on Tuesday.

Israel — along with other countries, including the United States and Germany — has refrained from formally recognizing the Armenian genocide over fears of angering Turkey.

Jerusalem and Ankara on Tuesday expelled each other’s ambassadors and consuls as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exchanged scathing snipes in a public row sparked by the Gaza violence the day before.

Shmuli’s bill calls for the Knesset to officially recognize the genocide and to mark it on a special day each year. The lawmaker also wants Israel to acknowledge the less internationally recognized slaying of some 300,000 Assyrian people, also at the hands of the Ottoman regime, the predecessor to modern Turkey.

“Beyond the fact that many countries already recognize the murder of the Armenian people, there is also the fact that there is no longer any reason to be especially sensitive when dealing with the Turks in light of the inciting comments against Israel by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Shmuli said, according to the Kan national broadcaster.

Katz, a senior minister and member of the ruling Likud party, told Kan that there was nothing preventing recognition of the genocide, also drawing attention to an ongoing Turkish military operation inside Syrian territory against Kurdish communities.

“There is no moral reason to not recognize the Armenian holocaust,” he said. “Erdogan is carrying out a transfer of Kurds and it is appropriate to respond to him. If he returns ambassadors, then we also do it.”

Livni gave her support, telling Kan that “recognition of the Armenian genocide is a moral matter. Erdogan is an extremist and a partner with Hamas.”

Ohana said his bill would call for an annual commemoration of the Armenian genocide.

“It is time to recognize the terrible injustice that was done to the Armenians,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Can it be that the Jewish nation state, after everything we have been through, won’t recognize it?”

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 60 Palestinians were killed and more than 2,700 more injured in Monday’s clashes.

The IDF said Tuesday that at least 24 of the dead were members of terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel claims that the Hamas terror group is spurring the violence and using it as cover for attacks.

The protests appeared to be thinning out Tuesday with only some 4,000 said to have joined the border clashes, according to the IDF. That was compared to some 40,000 Palestinians who participated in violent riots along the security fence on Monday.

Ankara reacted with fury to the clashes, which came on the same day the United States formally moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in defiance of international criticism.

The flareup between Netanyahu and Erdogan was the latest in a string of altercations to threaten the already-shaky relations between the countries, which were reestablished only recently after being broken off for several years.

In 2016 Israel and Turkey formally ended a five-year dispute over the storming of a Gaza-bound ship by Israeli commandos in which ten Turks were killed.
On January 20, Ankara launched an air and ground offensive in the enclave of Afrin in Syria to root out the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) there, which Turkey brands a terrorist group, but which is seen by the United States as a key player in the fight against Islamic State jihadists.

Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian PM Expects Fresh Elections In 2018
May 15, 2018
Hovannes Movsisian

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian suggested on Tuesday that fresh parliamentary elections sought by his political team will be held in Armenia later this year.

Pashinian demanded the conduct of such elections immediately after tens of thousands of his supporters demonstrating in the streets of Yerevan forced his 
predecessor Serzh Sarkisian to resign on April 23. Observers believe that he and his political allies would win them by landslide.

Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) holds the majority of seats in the current parliament. It is therefore in a position to block key bills drafted by Pashinian’s government.

The premier was asked by reporters about fresh elections as he walked from one ministry building to another to present newly appointed members of his cabinet to their staffs. “We will discuss that,” he said.

“I think this year,” he replied when asked about possible election dates.

The idea of snap polls is supported in principle not only by Pashinian’s Yelk alliance but also the two other parliamentary minority factions: the Tsarukian 
Bloc and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Both groups have received ministerial posts in the new government.

The HHK’s position on the issue remains unclear. Senior representatives of the formerly ruling party have only signaled that it will likely approve the Pashinian government’s policy program which will be submitted to the National Assembly by the end of this month.

Pashinian seemed confident about the program’s approval by lawmakers. But he at the same time warned: “I also think that nobody should succumb to a temptation to wrongly interpret the political situation.”

Under the Armenian constitution, pre-term general elections will have to be called if the prime minister resigns and the parliament twice fails to elect a new premier.

Washington Times
May 14 2018
How Armenia’s revolution can succeed
By Stephen Blank 

Normally politics is the art of the possible. However, during a revolution like the current one in Armenia, the space of the possible expands dramatically.
Thus, on May 8 Nikol Pashinian, the leader of the revolution became prime minister of Armenia, thwarting the plans of the old guard who hoped to retain power under a new constitution they engineered only to have their naked power grab blow up in their face. Yet, even during revolutionary times political space is not unlimited and must be creatively exploited for the new leadership to succeed.
In Armenia’s case the main obstacle is not the internal obstruction of the corrupt old guard, but of the force that stands behind it — Russia. Indeed, Karen Karapetyan, who succeeded Serzh Sargsyan, the engineer of the constitutional changes and ensuing power grab, is a former executive of Gazprom, i.e. Moscow’s man.
It was clear to everyone that if Armenia sought to emulate Ukraine in 2014, eject the entire old regime and repudiate Armenia’s membership in Russia’s organizations for military-economic control — the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) — that Moscow would come down hard on the new regime. Indeed, Vladimir Putin stated as much.
Thus, Mr. Pashinian and his colleagues displayed their understanding of what was possible to come to power. But as long as Armenia is shackled by its membership in those Russian organizations it cannot realize the dreams of its people for a better, more prosperous, and more secure life.

BNE Intellinews
May 15 2018
COMMENT: The uncertain colour of Armenia’s revolution
By Michael Cecire 

The hard part of the Velvet revolution starts now the battle is won for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian 

Nikol Pashinian is now Armenia’s new prime minister.
It was a long slog against well-entrenched Republican Party (HHK) domination, but the raw popular discontent that propelled the Velvet Revolution’s explosive success will not simply dissipate with the old guard’s retreat and the HHK’s momentary decline. Now begins the hard work.

Pashinian may indeed be uniquely positioned to staff and lead a government capable of navigating the tumult that contributed to his elevation, but the sheer complexity of the landscape means putting his anti-corruption, pro-democracy agenda upon inherently unforgiving terrain.

Colour and the Shape
Did Armenia just have a colour revolution? The answer depends on who is asking—and who is answering. In the dominant Russian narrative, colour revolutions are a metonym for anti-Moscow putsches driven by Western democracy promotion organizations, intelligence agencies, and local rabble-rousers, with the inevitably rumoured or invented involvement of US philanthropist George Soros. It is even described as a form of Western hybrid warfare.

Sensitive to that narrative, Armenia’s protesters have been careful to avoid the “colour revolution” moniker, and have taken great pains to communicate the domestic orientation of the Armenian political crisis, as well as the new government’s intended continued partnership with Russia. If anything, the new government has been keen to demonstrate that its activities were not directed against Moscow and reportedly kept in close contact with Russian authorities as events unfolded. Russia’s official agnosticism during the protests, followed by quick congratulations following Pashinian’s elevation, suggests its strategy has been working.

It is also likely that the Russian leadership has learned to be more flexible amid such situations, mindful of its complicated perception in Armenia and the limits its hard-line policies imposed elsewhere, such as in Georgia and Ukraine. Either way, Russia’s official reaction has been notably quiescent.

Yet, in reality, colour revolutions describe extreme public and civil society discontentment as expressed in mass protests, vented in the public arena due to uncompetitive and/or anti-democratic restrictions on political institutions. More akin to a seismic event or eruption than an operationalized political phenomenon, colour revolutions can be shaped, guided, and influenced, but they can only be so contained and managed. Revolutions, after all, have a distinctly historiographical reputation for autocannibalism.

The record is not encouraging. Even among the most “successful” of colour revolutions, their success in totality is decidedly suspect, if not downright worrisome. Ukraine’s Orange Revolution government fell from self-inflicted wounds, only to be replaced in a democratic election by Viktor Yanukovych’s kleptocratic regime, whom had to be removed in yet another revolution in 2014. The ideals espoused in Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution soon gave way a starker authoritarianism under the new government, with semi-democracy only re-established after another popular uprising in 2010—notably with Russian help. Even Georgia, arguably the most successful of the non-Baltic post-Soviet states, failed to appreciably democratize until the Rose Revolution government was pushed from power in 2012, with the present government increasingly mired in its own moment of stagnation

Whose Side
From that perspective, it’s no wonder that Armenia’s protest leaders have avoided colour revolution nomenclature, but that does not make the Velvet Revolution any less susceptible to the colour revolution blues. As recent history has shown, the euphoria that tends to accompany successful colour revolution events rarely translates into major, lasting policy accomplishments—at least not without significant additional disruption—and the afterglow of societal unity, and commensurate political capital for the new government, is typically ephemeral.

This may be particularly true in Armenia, which, despite longstanding single party domination, is comprised of a fractious landscape of oligarchic interests, ideologies, and groupings of varying degrees of radicalism. Pashinian and his confederates managed to pull together an impressive alliance to dislodge the ancien regime, built with not just a few defections from the HHK’s own sprawling coalition. 

But these are organizations with their own demands and agendas; can Pashinian’ satisfy them all? What happens if he does not?

As if on cue, the ultranationalists responsible for storming and occupying a Yerevan police station in 2016 are now hitting the streets to demand their comrades be released from prison. While it is true that the 2016 protests were, in many respects, an important step in the opposition’s journey that culminated in Pashinian’s rise, it is also true that Erebuni gunmen’s use of radical violence caused the deaths of two police officers and triggered protests amid calls for territorial maximalism—an untenable strategic option for Armenia.

Another obvious point of contention relates to how Pashinian’s anticorruption drive might be interpreted in Moscow. While Pashinian’s artful handling of the Russia question has managed to keep relations with Moscow stable, his policy agenda may inherently conflict with Russia’s perceived interests in the country, which often interact and overlap with the same oligarchic interests that have throttled Armenia’s progress for so long. More broadly, many of the major preceding mass protests that contributed to Armenia’s Velvet Revolution—Electric Yerevan, the Gyumri massacre, and even the Erebuni police hostage incident—had more than a twinge of Russia-sceptic overtones.

Pashinian’s cautious embrace of Russia in Sochi, where the two leaders met for the first time during a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union (which Pashinian has previously called for Armenia to leave), seemed to telegraph amity, but also recalled another notable past post-revolution meeting.

Mikheil Saakashvili, freshly minted as Georgia’s president following the 2003 Rose Revolution, began his administration with a program of outreach to Russia, even famously announcing in his inauguration speech that he was “not pro-American or pro-Russian,” but “pro-Georgian”—a near-exact formulation that Pashinian himself used during the April protests. Like Saakashvili, Pashinian’s first trip abroad was to Russia, where hope for positive relations, and not mutual acrimony, was the dominant theme. Of course, Pashinian is hardly doomed to repeat Saakashvili’s many mistakes, but it is hard to ignore the comparable slate of structural conflicts that plagued Georgia-Russia ties are also a factor in the new Armenia currently under construction.

All of this looms beneath the long shadow of Azerbaijan and Armenia’s tense standoff over Nagorno Karabakh—and the complex strategic variables it implies. While Armenia has accomplished what weeks ago may have widely been seen as the unbelievable, the long road only gets rockier from here. In an era of declining Western engagement in that region and worldwide, Armenia’s revolutionaries will have to rely on their wits and savvy to succeed. But Armenia has faced off bigger adversities before, and persisted.

Business Monitor Online
May 14, 2018 Monday
Quick View: Market Outlook Unchanged After Velvet Revolution

HIGHLIGHT: Armenia's so-called Velvet Revolution is unlikely to have any major impact on opportunities for multinational drugmakers. Despite a change in leadership, the new prime minister will be unable to effect any significant change and as such we anticipate the status quo to remain. The country's pharmaceuticals and healthcare markets will remain constrained by restricted public funds, leading to a lack of access to all-but basic services. 

BMI View: Armenia's so-called Velvet Revolution is unlikely to have any major impact on opportunities for multinational drugmakers. Despite a change in leadership, the new prime minister will be unable to effect any significant change and as such we anticipate the status quo to remain. The country's pharmaceuticals and healthcare markets will remain constrained by restricted public funds, leading to a lack of access to all-but basic services.The Latest Armenia's so-called 'Velvet Revolution' (in reference to Czechoslovakia's non-violent transition of power from the communists to a democratic government in 1989) culminated in the election of opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister on May 8 2018. Protests began in Armenia in mid-April when it was announced that Serzh Sargsayan, who had been president since 2008, would take over as prime minister, essentially seeking to retain power. Sargsyan subsequently resigned under the severe weight of public pressure and Pashinyan was confirmed as prime minister after members of Sargsayan's Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) voted in favour in a second parliamentary vote. 

What Next? According to BMI's Country Risk team, the Armenian economy is in need of several structural reforms. However, we note that while this transition of power away from a quasi-dictatorship towards democracy is hoped to bring sweeping reforms and liberalisation, Pashinyan is unlikely to pass any major legislative changes. By supporting Pashinyan, the RPA maintained its majority in the National Assembly and, as a result, despite not holding office of prime minister, the party will maintain control over the legislature.The 'Velvet Revolution' also raises uncertainty over Armenia's ongoing relationship with Russia given previous anti-Russia comments from Pashinyan. The countries, as part of the Eurasian Economic Union, have strong ties and Russia is also seen as a security guarantee given Armenia's historically violent relationships with neighbours Turkey and Azerbaijan. Both Putin and Pashinyan have stated the importance of their relationship since the election. Implications For The Pharmaceutical Industry Despite this shift in Armenia's political landscape, we maintain our forecasts for both the country's pharmaceuticals and healthcare markets. As highlighted above, the continued parliamentary majority of the RPA will prevent widescale changes, and as such opportunities for multinational drugmakers are unlikely to be significantly affected.Over the short-to-medium term, opportunities for drugmakers will continue to be restricted by a lack of public funding within the healthcare sector. Private healthcare accounts for 56% to total expenditure, of which almost all is attributable to out-of-pocket payments. This financial burden placed onto patients severely restricts purchasing power, as highlighted by the country's low per capita expenditure on pharmaceuticals. At USD48.7 in 2017, per capita expenditure on medicines in Armenia is among the lowest in the Europe region, behind Ukraine (USD57.5) and ahead of Kyrgyzstan (USD40.7). Opportunities for drugmakers are further restricted by the country's small population size which, at under 3mn limits total market size.In 2017, we calculate that Armenia's pharmaceutical  market was valued at AMD68.8bn (USD143mn). This is expected to rise to AMD99.3bn (USD190mn) by 2022 and to AMD170.8bn (USD300mn) by 2027.

Arminfo, Armenia
May 14 2018
Edward Nalbandian sums up results of 10 years of being head of Armenian Foreign Ministry
Marianna Mkrtchyan. 

Edward Nalbandian summed up the results of 10 years of being on the post of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia.

In his "last" address to the Armenian society, Nalbandian assured that over the past years a number of important achievements were recorded and expressed confidence that in the future it will be possible to realize what has not yet been realized. He also assured that over the years of independence it was possible to form a viable structure that honorably fulfills the tasks set for it. "One of the most important priorities of Armenia's foreign policy - in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement over the past 10 years - has been to achieve conceptual changes, our positions have been significantly strengthened." The realization of the people's right to self-determination is one of the cornerstones of our position, the main recipe for resolving the issue is clearly enshrined in 5 statements at the level of the Heads of State of the OSCE Minsk Group member countries: This is the position promoted by the general public.If over the years, 

Azerbaijan has argued that the settlement of the conflict should be based on the principle of territorial integrity, today we have come to the point that the international community emphasizes that the conflict must be resolved on the basis of three known principles in a complex, and attempts to prefer one principle to another will lead to the failure of negotiations, "he said, and in this context, added that Armenia repeatedly stressed that without the participation of Artsakh it is impossible to achieve a comprehensive and long-term settlement of the conflict.

According to Nalbandian, today the co-chairs share this position and this is fixed in the working documents of the negotiation process, moreover, the Minsk mediators have recently begun to address the statements addressed to Azerbaijan. At the same time, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia is convinced that Azerbaijan's large-scale military aggression against Artsakh in April 2016 was due to Baku's failure in the negotiation process, which thus tried to impose its approaches to the settlement of problems. "Baku lost again, as evidenced by the results of the summits in Vienna, St. Petersburg and Geneva, as well as the statement of the co-chairing countries." Today we can definitely state that the international community and Armenia speak practically the same language, namely, that alternatives to a peaceful settlement of the conflict based on the realization of the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination, as well as international recognition and guarantees of security, Armenia, as a negotiating party, has repeatedly stressed that, together with the mediators, The processes that have taken place substantiate our tactics, as well as the correctness and justification of the steps, the achievements achieved are the result of many years of consistent work, the preservation and strengthening of which requires serious efforts, "Nalbandian said.

At the same time he stressed that another important priority of Armenia's foreign policy was international recognition and condemnation of the genocide, and over the past 10 years the number of countries that recognized the Armenian Genocide increased by almost one dozen, and administrative units of different countries and international organizations - by several dozen. He recalled Armenia's efforts to prevent further crimes against humanity, as well as various initiatives taken at the UN level.

According to Nalbandian, in recent years the attention of the foreign policy department has also been aimed at protecting the rights and solving the problems of our compatriots abroad. As a vivid example, he cited the assistance provided to the Syrian Armenians.

"The Armenian-Russian allied relations have deepened and widened over the past ten years and are at a peak, political dialogue, economic cooperation, military-technical, decentralized, scientific, educational and humanitarian cooperation gained new impetus." In 2010, Armenia and Russia signed the 5th annex to the agreement on the deployment of Russian troops in 1995, according to which Russia is the guarantor of Armenia's security, and also provides the Armenian side with modern weapons Thanks to joint efforts, a partnership with the United States was raised to a qualitatively new level, interaction was expanded in various fields, a framework agreement on trade and investment was signed, the visa regime was simplified, the United States implemented the largest investment in recent years with our immediate neighbors Georgia and Iran, "Nalbandian said.

At the same time, he added that among the foreign policy priorities of Armenia was the deepening of cooperation in international structures, as well as participation in various regional integration projects, since 2015 Armenia became a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, which is based on Yerevan's military- political and economic interests, and opens wide opportunities for the development of our country. According to Nalbandian, Armenia is an active member of the EAEU, and, through its realistic steps, has proved that it can develop effective cooperation with other integration projects.

According to the former minister, in the Armenia-EU relations an important achievement was the signing of a framework agreement on a comprehensive and expanded partnership. "We have deepened the traditional friendly partnership with France, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, the Vatican, Italy, Eastern and Central Europe, Scandinavian and other European countries." Serious progress has been recorded in relations with China, contacts with India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, business cooperation has developed with the Asian countries, with the countries of Latin America and Africa. With our efforts to normalize the Armenian-Turkish relations, international support for the settlement has increased relations between Yerevan and Ankara without preconditions, and the destructive position of Turkey on this issue was strongly criticized by the international community ", Nalbandian said.

At the same time, he noted that one of the most important directions of Armenia's foreign policy was the deepening of involvement in international organizations, including the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), the CSTO, NATO, the International Federation of Trade Unions.

"Moreover, Armenia has expanded its participation in international peacekeeping operations and strengthened the economic component of the Armenian foreign policy. Over the last ten years, about two dozen Armenian diplomatic missions have been opened in different countries of the world, 15 foreign diplomatic missions , recognized Armenia, reached 175, we are members of 100 international organizations, over 900 international agreements have been signed over these years. On the background of recent events in Armenia, it is worth noting that the external The policy of our country, not only did not become the subject of criticism, but its main principles have been confirmed by various political forces ", - concluded Nalbandian.

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