Thursday, 20 December 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... 8 editorials

RFE/RL Report
Armenian, Karabakh Leaders Meet After Spat
December 13, 2018
Ruzanna Stepanian
Tatevik Lazarian

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian met with Bako Sahakian, the Nagorno-Karabakh president, in Yerevan on Thursday two weeks after accusing senior officials in Stepanakert of “meddling” in Armenia’s parliamentary race.

One of Pashinian’s close associates, Sasun Mikaelian, caused uproar when he stated during the election campaign that this spring’s protest movement that brought Pashinian to power was more important than the Armenian victory in the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan.

Mikaelian’s remark was condemned by Armenian opposition politicians as well as some Karabakh Armenian government and military officials. Pashinian portrayed it a slip of the tongue, accusing the critics of misinterpreting what Mikaelian meant to say.

The premier also hit out at the Karabakh leadership. “Sober up and mind your business,” he said at a November 29 campaign rally. “I will certainly discuss this with you, but only after the elections.”

Sahakian’s press office said the Karabakh leader discussed with Pashinian 
“Armenia’s and Nagorno-Karabakh’s internal and foreign policies” as well as security issues. It did not elaborate.

The Armenian government issued no statements on the meeting.

The meeting came the day after several Armenian media outlets reported that the commander of Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army, Levon Mnatsakanian, as well as Sahakian’s two national security aides will be relieved of their duties. The reports linked the impending sackings to the unprecedented spat between Yerevan and Stepanakert.

The Karabakh leadership did not confirm or refute those reports on Thursday.“ If there are such personnel changes, we will announce them,” Sahakian’s spokesman, Davit Babayan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (

“I have no such official information,” the Karabakh army spokesman, Senor  Hasratian, said, for his part.

RFE/RL Report
Court Annuls Arrest Warrant Over 2008 Crackdown
December 13, 2018
Naira Bulghadarian

Armenia’s Court of Appeals has annulled an arrest warrant against a senior law-enforcement official who led a criminal investigation into the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan during former President Serzh Sarkisian’s rule.

The official, Vahagn Harutiunian, was charged in late October with forging factual evidence to cover up the Armenian army’s involvement in the deadly break of opposition protests staged in the wake of a disputed presidential election.

The Special Investigative Service (SIS) started alleging such involvement following this spring’s mass protests that toppled Sarkisian. It now says that Sarkisian’s outgoing predecessor, Robert Kocharian, illegally ordered army units into the streets of Yerevan before declaring a state of emergency on March 1, 2008.

Last week, Kocharian was arrested on charges of overthrowing Armenia’s constitutional order. He strongly denies them.

On November 2, a district court in Yerevan allowed the SIS to arrest Harutiunian pending investigation. The latter left Armenia for Russia in July, ostensibly to undergo medical treatment.

The Court of Appeals overturned the district court ruling late on Wednesday. It did not immediately publicize reasons for the decision.

Harutiunian rejected the charges leveled against him as “unfounded, illegal and fabricated” when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service by phone on November 1. He insisted that his team of investigators never found any evidence of illegal actions taken by the Armenian military during the 2008 unrest.

Harutiunian’s lawyer, Mihran Poghosian, said that the SIS has failed to substantiate the accusations. Poghosian also claimed that Armenian courts are under “unprecedented pressure” to rubber-stamp decisions made by the SIS.

Harutiunian’s team failed to identify anyone responsible for the deaths of eight protesters and two police servicemen in vicious clashes that broke out in central Yerevan on March 1, 2008. Instead, its inquiry led to the arrest and imprisonment of dozens of opposition figures involved in those protests. They included Nikol Pashinian, who became Armenia’s prime minister after launching another protest movement that forced Sarkisian to resign in April.
14 Dec 18
Russia expects resumption of negotiations for NK conflict settlement after formation of Cabinet in Armenia

Russia expects that Armenia and Azerbaijan will resume the negotiations for the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict after the formation of the new Cabinet in Armenia based on the results of the recent snap parliamentary elections, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said during the session of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) foreign ministerial council in Baku, TASS reported.

“Yesterday I had a lengthy and detailed conversation with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. We have felt his sincere inclination to resume the negotiations and find a constructive solution. Russia, as the friendly partner of Armenia and Azerbaijan and an OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair country, will do everything to create necessary conditions for reaching mutual concession”, Lavrov said.

The Russian FM reminded that earlier talks were held between the leaders and foreign ministers of the two countries, but they took place before the elections in Armenia. “And now, when this stage is already in the past, the formation of the Cabinet is expected, and I think after that the Armenian side will be ready to resume the negotiation process with the Azerbaijani side and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs”, the Russian FM said.
Edited and translated by Aneta Harutyunyan

RFE/RL Report
Aliyev Upbeat On Karabakh Talks In 2019
December 14, 2018

Long-running efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will gain new momentum next year, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Friday.

“The year 2019 will give a new impetus to the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement process,” Aliyev wrote on his Twitter page. He did not elaborate.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian tweeted about two hours later that a Karabakh settlement “remains a top priority” for Armenia. “We will continue with the peace process for the benefit of regional peace & security,” he said. “Resolution requires genuine efforts of all parties.”

Pashinian and Aliyev spoke to each other on December 6 at a summit of ex-Soviet states held in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg. A senior aide to Aliyev said they discussed “the continuation of active negotiations” on a Karabakh peace.

The conversation came the day after the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers held fresh negotiations in Milan in the presence of the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group. Both ministers described the talks as “useful.”

In a joint statement issued after the Milan talks, the co-chairs expressed hope that “an intensive results-oriented high-level dialogue between the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia” will resume “in the near future.”

Pashinian, who came to power in May, also briefly talked to Aliyev at the previous CIS summit held in Tajikistan in September. There has been a significant decrease in ceasefire violations along “the line of contact” around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border since then, according to the conflicting parties.

Speaking in Baku on Thursday, Aliyev said that there are now “more favorable” conditions for ending the bitter conflict.

PanArmenian, Armenia
Dec 15 2018
Russian-Armenian businessman donates $2.8 mln to Hayastan Fund 

Hayastan All-Armenian Fund summed up the results of the fundraising telethon held in late November, revealing that the owner of the Tashir group of companies, Samvel Karapetyan, has donated $2.8 million in addition to the more than $11 million raised with the help of Armenians around the world.

“Karapetyan donated $2.8 million, the major part of which will be sent to Karabakh," the director of the Foundation, Haykak Arshamyan, told a press conference in Yerevan.

"Approximately $1 million of all the funds will go to families who have a fourth child ($4000 for each family). A youth center is also being built there, the construction of which will be completed by the HayastanFund with the remaining funds."

Arshamyan also said that the total amount of donations at the moment stands at $14.11million dollars.
On the eve of Telethon 2018, Artur Vanetsyan, Head of the National Security Service, visited Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s Yerevan office with his son.

The National Security Service made a contribution of some AMD 9,5 million (approx. $20,000) to the Fund, while Vanetsyan donated his monthly salary.

President of Armenia, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Fund Armen Sarkissian too visited the office of the Fund on the eve of the event and signed a donation ticket for more than AMD 5.7 million (approx. $12,000) which makes his salary for six months.The President will also donate his salary for the next six months to the Fund.

Acting PM Nikol Pashinyan, meanwhile, donated AMD1 million from the Prime Minister’s fund and AMD 500,000 from his own funds ($3000 in total).

The biggest donations came from an anonymous benefactor ($2.5 million), Iranian-Armenian philanthropists Henrik and Adrine Ter-Ghukasyan ($1.34 million) for the renovation of a key road in Artsakh, Grand Holding owners Karen and Mikayel Vardanyan (AMD 60 million or approx. $123,000) for the renovation of the road connecting the Armenian towns of Dilijan and Ijevan, while U.S.-based Armenians Andranik Baghdasarian and Albert A. Boyajian have donated $1 million each. Alex Holding donated $200,000.
13 Dec.18
Promotion of investments, development of Army, poverty reduction: Pashinyan outlines government’s upcoming actions

During today’s Cabinet meeting acting Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan touched upon the results of the recent snap parliamentary elections and stated that the citizens gave a serious mandate to the My Step alliance to govern the country in the next five years, reports Armenpress. Pashinyan said this speaks about the fact that the government’s actions are still ahead, which means that the executive has managed to do certain things which served a base to give a mandate to continue the activities of the current government.

The acting PM outlined several key actions of the government for the future. “The first one, of course, is the promotion of investments in the context of economic revolution. We should record that there is a great investment interest towards Armenia which will continue growing in the future. I want to draw the attention of all public officials in Armenia and task them to create all conditions and not to create any barrier for investments. I hope I will not receive any signal that there are some obstacles for any program”, Pashinyan said, adding that the procedures must be simplified as much as possible in order to avoid any artificial obstacle.

“Among the upcoming actions, the important is the promotion of investments and creation of favorable environment for all potential investors so that investment plans turn into investments. The second one is the development of the military-industrial complex, and I link the solution of this issue with our vision to make Armenia a technological country and the imperative to develop the engineering, technical mind. The next key task is to raise the combat readiness of the Armed Forces, and I have stated that we must be able to invest nearly 2.5 billion AMD for the development of the Armed Forces in the next five years. In order to find these funds, additional actions are needed, the talk is about the additional funds, some of which must be directed for improving the social condition of the servicemen”, Nikol Pashinyan said.

The acting PM said the next key direction is the field of education, to bring the high educational system to a qualitatively new level and strengthen its ties with the economic needs. “We have talked about the necessity to unite the higher education system, there is a great misbalance between the university and departmental systems.

Our next important task is to carry out major reforms in healthcare sector with the goal to ensure the access of services to the broad layers of the public. These services must be really and completely implemented.

We also attach importance to the issue of upgrading the public administration system and raising its effectiveness. As a solution to this we must perceive the recording of the significant changes in the citizens’ social condition and welfare level. Our task is to eliminate extreme poverty in Armenia and significantly reduce poverty rate. We have the mandate of the citizens and must be able to solve these issues first of all by the promotion of work and creation of necessary conditions for this work”, Nikol Pashinyan said.

Edited and translated by Aneta Harutyunyan

Public Radio of Armenia
Dec 14 2018
Sen. Menendez to work towards “honest acknowledgment of Armenian Genocide” 
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Democrat Robert Menendez (D-NJ) committed to continue working with U.S. Ambassador to Armenia-designate Lynne Tracy and U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan-designate Earle Litzenberger on a range of concerns raised during their confirmation hearings, including honest U.S. affirmation of the Armenian Genocide and countering Azerbaijani threats to peace, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

In statements during the Committee’s December 13th business meeting, which approved both nominees and set the stage for full Senate votes, Sen. Menendez noted his support for both candidates, but also shared his clear expectations.

 “Throughout my time in the Senate, I have advocated for an honest accounting of the Armenian genocide.  I believe we have a moral imperative to recognize the atrocities that were committed against the Armenian people,” stated Sen. Menendez.  He went on to note, “I support this nomination, but expect to work closely with Ms. Tracy on how she will encourage an honest acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide, support Armenia’s ongoing efforts to ensure accountable, citizen-responsive governance, and support efforts to reach a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

During Ms. Tracy’s December 4th confirmation hearing, Sen. Menendez offered a rapid-fire series of questions regarding the Armenian Genocide, and commenting on by Ms. Tracy’s reticence to properly reference crime, stated: “This is the problem with nominees who come before us, and it’s not you particularly. In fact, we have a historical reality: 1.5 million people were massacred.  
That’s Genocide.  And yet, we send an Ambassador to a country and have them go to a memorial of a holocaust of the Armenian people and they won’t be able to call it genocide.  It’s pretty ironic.  If we are not able to acknowledge the past, we are destined to relive it.”

During the December 13th Committee vote, Senator Menendez also commended Armenia on its recent parliamentary elections. “Armenia and the Caucasus region will continue to be vital to regional and global security,” stated Senator Menendez.  “According to the OSCE, Armenia’s elections over the weekend met international standards. I look forward to supporting the government’s efforts to build strong democratic institutions, a vibrant Armenian economy, and oppose any efforts to violate Armenia’s sovereignty.”

With regard to the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan nominee, Sen. Menendez stated, “I support Mr. Litzenberger’s nomination and expect to have close and continuing dialogue with him on how he will urge the Azeris to step back from any threatening behavior that could disrupt the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh, support respect for human rights, and support efforts to reach a peaceful settlement of the N-K [Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh] conflict.”

The Mirror, UK
Dec 13 2018
 Why Arsenal pitch invader infuriated Qarabag players in Europa League clash
The intruder interrupted the Gunners' win late in proceedings - and some visiting players were clearly angered
By James Whaling, Sports Journalist
A pitch invader interrupted Arsenal's win over Qarabag late in the Europa League clash at the Emirates.

Visiting players were clearly furious by the pitch invader and the flag he was holding - due to its political significance.

The flag was of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which has been central to conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

It prevented Henrikh Mkhitaryan from travelling to Baku earlier this season when the Gunners played Qarabag in Azerbaijan.

Mkhitaryan was left at home due to the tensions between his native Armenia and Azerbaijan, even though special exceptions have been made for Armenian athletes to visit the country.

When the draw for the Europa League was made, Arsenal said: "Safety and security of all our players and staff is always a top priority."

The pitch invader also appeared to point to the Arsenal bench, where Mkhitaryan was sitting. The former Manchester United man was an unused substitute.

An Alexandre Lacazette strike extended the Gunners' unbeaten run to 22 games in front of a sparse Emirates crowd.

Unai Emery's side would have topped their group regardless of the result, but Lacazette's early goal ensured they claimed their fifth win in Europe this term.

Arsenal will discover their last-32 opponents in Monday's draw.

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