Belarusian president denies Armenia’s withdrawal from CSTO

 Prensa Latina
Feb 25 2024
Minsk, Feb 25 (Prensa Latina) Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko affirmed on Sunday that his Government has not received any statement on Armenia's withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).





“The foremost issue is that as we have not received any official notification that Armenia is going to leave the CSTO, that country remains a member of the organization,” Lukashenko told reporters at a polling station on Sunday, after having cast his vote in the Belarusian parliamentary and local council elections.

The head of State noted that the CSTO countries will react “absolutely calmly” to the corresponding statement. “If they do not want to be in the CSTO, it will not collapse, it will not be destroyed.”

Lukashenko added that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian cannot make a decision on the country’s withdrawal from the CSTO.

“The system of power in Armenia is not the same as in Belarus. Pashinian cannot make the decision to join or leave. There, the parliament makes the decision.”


Russia Presses Neighbor Over Exit From Putin’s ‘Mini-NATO’

Feb 25 2024

The Kremlin is asking for clarification from Armenia that it had frozen its participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a group of post-Soviet states considered to be Moscow's answer to NATO.

A military alliance formed in 2022, the CSTO also consists of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and, akin to Article 5 of NATO's North Atlantic Treaty, an act of aggression against one signatory is considered an attack on all members.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Thursday that the pact had failed the country, after months of expressing discontent over its longstanding ties with Moscow, which he said Armenia can no longer rely on for its defense needs.

He told France 24 television that the CSTO bloc "has not fulfilled its objectives as far as Armenia is concerned, particularly in 2021 and 2022, and we could not let that happen without taking notice."

This was reiterated by Andranik Kocharyan, an MP from the ruling Civil Contract Faction and chair of the government's defense and security committee, who told reporters on Monday, "the word 'frozen' means that it is frozen," Armenian outlet News AM reported.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that there has been no "clarity" about Armenia's position on leaving the bloc, according to state media. "We have frequent contacts with our Armenian partners in this area. Of course, we will clarify," Peskov said, "we will find out."

Speaking to Newsweek from Yerevan, Olesya Vartanyan, the International Crisis Group's (ICG) senior analyst for the South Caucasus region, said as yet there is no formal procedure under way for Armenia to exit the bloc.

"It's clear that they have been discussing it for quite some time, including with their western partners," she said. "The list of grievances on the Armenian side has been growing over the last couple of years.

"Since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine, Armenia stopped profiting from the CSTO because before they used to get discounts for weaponry that they were receiving from Russia, and Russia doesn't have any weapons to sell anymore.

"Russia was not able to prevent continuous attacks from the Azerbaijani side of the border and Russia basically telling everyone that it's busy in Ukraine."

Despite the region being an area of Russian influence, Moscow has been unable to defuse tensions between Armenia and its neighbor Azerbaijan.

Last September, Baku launched an offensive in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan which was home to a majority ethnic Armenian population.

A swift Azerbaijani victory was followed by the exodus of almost all the Armenian population and the dissolution of what was known in Armenian as the Republic of Artsakh. Armenia has raised concerns about Russia not intervening in the conflict and Baku was accused of ethnic cleansing

But Vartanyan said this was not among the main grievances that Yerevan had with Moscow. "Armenia is still having enormous security issues with Azerbaijan," said Vartanyan, which could see it "attack and cut the country into two."

Even with ever-dwindling military benefits from its membership of the alliance, leaving the CSTO would be a big wrench for Armenia politically and economically.

"If Armenia leaves or freezes its membership with CSTO, it will not automatically affect the economic alliances," Vartanyan said, because Yerevan has a separate deal with Moscow through the Customs Union of the Eurasian Economic Union.

"Armenia's economy is very much dependent on Russia and it will take the country a lot of time to diversify its markets," she said.

Newsweek has contacted the Armenian and Russian foreign ministries for comment.

Update 02/26/24, 7 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with further information and comment from Olesya Vartanyan.

Jerusalem: Armenians in court over disputed property in the Old City

Italy – Feb 26 2024

The community is appealing to the courts to assert its rights over the 'Garden of Cows' at the centre of an opaque real estate transaction that threatens to distort their historic neighbourhood. The land is held in trust with a waqf fund established 400 years ago. The objective is the annulment of the sale agreement. Pro Terra Sancta" collection: the Custodian calls for "prayer, pilgrimages and sharing of resources" from Christians around the world.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Armenian community in Jerusalem is appealing to the court to assert its rights over a disputed property in the holy city, officially filing a lawsuit on February 18 aimed at "invalidating" the lease agreement between the patriarchate and Xana Capital.

The lawsuit is based on the assumption that the land is held in trust for the benefit of the Armenian community itself, with a waqf fund – generally real estate alienated as a donation with a restriction on use for certain beneficiaries – established over 400 years ago.

Under its terms, the property could not be rented or sold by the patriarchate unless the transaction directly benefits the Armenian community and is approved by the community, which has expressed its opposition.

The Armenian community in the Holy Land has long been at the centre of a dispute over the sale of land in a disputed area in the Old City, Jerusalem, which has created a deep internal rift. The clash was sparked by the 99-year lease – a de facto transfer – of real estate to an Australian Jewish entrepreneur with an opaque business empire, who operates from behind the scenes.

The 'traitor' priest who mediated and signed the deed is Baret Yeretzian, former administrator of the real estate of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, now in 'exile'. With him were Armenian Orthodox Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, Archbishop Sevan Gharibian and businessman Daniel Rubenstein (known as Danny Rothman), who intends to build a luxury hotel.

The affair has also touched the patriarchal office, with the Armenian primate 'challenged' by the community, some of the faithful calling for his resignation, while Jordan and Palestine have de facto 'frozen' the authority.

The affair exploded last May, but the contract was signed in great secrecy in July 2021 and envisages the lease for almost a century of the land known as the "Garden of the Cows" (Goveroun Bardez), today a car park used to drive to the Wailing Wall. Its use – along with other properties mentioned in the contract – by Jews has provoked the wrath of the Armenians, who have been fighting since 2021 to regain full possession of it.

The dispute also touches on the 'Abrahamic Agreements' themselves, because one of the companies involved is One&Only, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

By taking the matter to court, the Armenian community is seeking the annulment of the alleged agreement and the protection of the land, with a unity of purpose between the community, patriarchate and Diaspora Armenians. In a statement, the Jerusalem Armenians emphasise their "firm conviction" about the "lack of transparency and cooperation" behind the affair, which aims to effectively expropriate the area.

"The community continues the statement – we will fight to the end to ensure that the Armenian quarter remains intact, Armenian and for the benefit of the people. These are precisely the principles that have united the global Armenian world – and our allies who understand the value of the unique mosaic that is the ancient city of Jerusalem – to save the Armenian Quarter'.

The Custos of the Holy Land, Fr Francesco Patton, speaks of the need for "closeness" and "solidarity" on the part of "Christians from all over the world" in his message on the Good Friday "Pro Terra Sancta" Collection, sent to AsiaNews for information. After more than two years of "uncertainty" for the Covid and the illusion of a return to "normality", there was the sudden outbreak of the new conflict following the attack on 7 October that took one by "surprise".

In addition to the thousands of dead, Fr Patton also recalls the new blockade to the flow of pilgrims, the closure of schools and the loss of work "for many Christians in the Holy Land, especially in Bethlehem and Palestine, but also in the old city of Jerusalem and in Israel". Hence the renewed call for closeness not only through prayer, but also through pilgrimages and the "sharing of economic resources".

"The Good Friday Collection serves to cover part of these costs, thanks to the generosity of the faithful around the world, thanks to your generosity. On this occasion, we friars of the Custody of the Holy Land make ourselves beggars and we turn to you so that Good Friday may be a day of universal solidarity, a day in which Christians from all over the world concretely take care of the Mother Church of Jerusalem, which at this moment – the Custos concludes – is in extreme need".

Lukashenko Cautions Armenia: A Critical Look at Western Promises Amidst Regional Tensions

Feb 26 2024
Hadeel Hashem

In a recent dialogue, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko offered a word of caution to Armenia regarding its burgeoning military and economic relations with France. The advice comes at a pivotal moment for Armenia as it navigates the complex geopolitical landscape of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus region. Lukashenko's counsel underscores a broader skepticism towards Western support, urging Armenia to tread carefully and consider the reliability of such promises, as illustrated by the experiences of countries like Georgia.

Armenia's strategic shift towards the West, particularly France, has been marked by significant military and economic support. This move, while aimed at bolstering Armenia's defense capabilities, has raised eyebrows among traditional allies within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), led by Russia. The expansive defense cooperation between Armenia and France spans various military sectors, signaling a deepening of ties that extends beyond mere diplomatic engagement. However, this pivot is not without its challenges. Lukashenko's warning draws attention to the potential fickleness of Western support, citing the case of Georgia, which has faced its own set of challenges in balancing Western aspirations with regional dynamics.

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) plays a crucial role in the geopolitics of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Lukashenko's advice to Armenia to not hastily distance itself from this bloc underscores the importance of established regional relationships. The Belarusian leader points to the fluctuating nature of international relations and the potential for changes in the stance of major Western players, including the United States, towards countries like Armenia and Ukraine. This cautionary stance highlights the complexities of navigating alliances and support in a region where geopolitical interests often intersect and collide.

As Armenia considers its future direction, the implications of Lukashenko's advice are far-reaching. While the allure of Western support, particularly in the realm of defense and economic aid, is undeniable, the historical and geopolitical context within which these relationships unfold cannot be ignored. Armenia's strategic choices will inevitably shape its position within the broader regional and international landscape. The balancing act between embracing Western support and maintaining traditional regional alliances is fraught with challenges but also opens up potential avenues for diplomatic and military strategy.

In conclusion, Lukashenko's cautionary advice to Armenia serves as a reminder of the intricacies of international politics. As Armenia navigates its path forward, the lessons of history and the realities of present geopolitical dynamics will be critical in shaping its decisions and alliances.

Azerbaijani Press: Escalation of the arms race between Azerbaijan and Armenia

Turan, Azerbaijan
Feb 26 2024

In the shadow of the South Caucasus, a region marred by historical tensions and recent conflicts, the arms race between Azerbaijan and Armenia continues to escalate, fueled by geopolitical maneuvers and military acquisitions. Against the background of Armenia's strategic shift towards France and the acquisition of advanced weapons, Azerbaijan responds with its own rearmament, creating conditions for an unstable military balance in the region.

Armenia's recent moves towards France, a NATO member, signal a significant geopolitical recalibration. The visit of French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecorgne to Yerevan in February 2024 was an important milestone, underlining Armenia's desire for closer ties with Western partners. This diplomatic approach is reflected in Armenia's strategic decision to freeze its participation in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a move that underscores Yerevan's willingness to diversify its security partnerships beyond traditional alliances.

In tandem with its diplomatic maneuvers, Armenia participates in an active process of military modernization, conducted mainly by French and partly by Indian suppliers.

Armenian Defense Minister Suren Papikyan stated that "The Republic of Armenia purchases weapons and ammunition in order to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty. The weapons and ammunition purchased by the Republic of Armenia are not aimed at aggression against any country," Papikyan said.

However, it is known that any defensive weapon can be used to attack, since at least it protects its troops on the defensive and ensures the safety of the attackers.

Let us compare the potential combat capabilities of the two opposing armies as of February 2024.

According to the French financing bill for 2024, Armenia has already received 24 Bastion armored personnel carriers and is waiting for another 26 armored vehicles, which are currently in production. The draft law specifies the need for the delivery of defensive weapons as soon as possible at the request of Armenia in order ”not to repeat the mistakes made in the situation with Ukraine.”

French Bastion armored vehicles are capable of protecting the crew and military personnel from small arms, machine guns and fragments of artillery shells. The car is equipped with ballistic armor (protecting against bullets and shrapnel), as well as similar ballistic glass. The level of protection, according to the NATO classification, is from the first to the third, that is, the armor of the car can save from bullets, hand grenades, shrapnel and mines. There are no grenades launched from an infantry shoulder-mounted grenade launcher in this list, that is, the Bastion crew will burn from the first shot of an Azerbaijani grenade launcher.

Judging by the photos distributed from Armenia, the French armored personnel carriers are supplied without proper machine-gun weapons.

In October 2023, France and Armenia signed a Memorandum of Intent in the field of air defense. The document was accompanied by contracts for the purchase of three Ground Master radars (GM200), as well as night vision devices. Radar manufactured by Thalès Corporation can detect aerial objects within a radius of 250 km, and night optics are manufactured by Safran Corporation. On February 22, Armenia received a batch of radars and night vision devices, the Figaro newspaper reported.

It is reported that France may supply Yerevan with Mistral short-, medium- and long-range anti-aircraft missile systems. These installations are mounted on a light vehicle (Bastion can be used). They are capable of hitting targets with low thermal visibility, an interception range of up to 8 km, and a target height of 500 m to 6 km. Installations with Mistral are easily hit by any drone. 

The French Armed Forces will conduct courses in mountain warfare for the Armenian Armed Forces in three stages.

However, the effectiveness of these acquisitions in deterring potential adversaries remains the subject of close attention, especially in light of the military buildup of Azerbaijan itself.

In response to Armenia's rearmament efforts, Azerbaijan has embarked on its own ambitious military expansion, characterized by a variety of acquisitions and strategic partnerships. After the 44-day war in 2020, Azerbaijan has prioritized strengthening its armed forces, using partnerships with regional allies such as Turkiye and Pakistan to purchase modern weapons and strengthen its defense capabilities.

Expert Fikret Mammadov assessed the new weapons of the two countries. In an interview with Turan, he began with the rearmament of the Azerbaijani army. Immediately after the war, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan increased the number of army-wide special forces, created on the model of the Turkish commando.   To begin with, 3 brigades (about 10,000 military) have been formed and further expansion is now underway.

The Israeli “Hetz-3” missile defense system was purchased, which can intercept ballistic missiles in the exosphere at an altitude of up to 100 kilometers and at a distance of 400 to 2.4 thousand kilometers. They were created as an antidote specifically against Iranian ballistic missiles.

“Akinci” UAVs have been purchased from Turkiye. The main purpose of the purchase is the system's ability to launch SOM missiles with a range of up to 250 km. Turkiye had restrictions on their sale, since the engines were not Turkish, and the manufacturer put a ban on sales to Azerbaijan. Now there is no such barrier, the Turks make the engines themselves.

Recently, it was reported about the purchase of Pakistani JF-17 Block III aircraft (most likely in the amount of 25 units). The planes are quite suitable for war in our region and are certainly better than what we have in service today. A slightly weak radar "sees" targets with an effective scattering area (ESA) of 3 meters at a distance of 115 km, and what is lower, for example, an ESA of 1 square meter at a distance of 85 km.

And American fifth-generation ESA fighters have only 0.0001 square meters, that is, our pilot will see it at a distance of no more than 25 km, and he will see ours at a distance of 225 km. By the time the JF-17 pilot starts rubbing his eyes, he will be shot down by launching a rocket from a distance of 150 km.

But Azerbaijan is unlikely to have to fight with the United States and NATO. The JF-17 Block III will be opposed by Russian fighters (Armenia, Russia and Iran have them). These aircraft will fight with them at a very decent level, experiencing difficulties only with the Su-35. Pakistani aircraft can also be used as missile defense systems to neutralize enemy missiles.

According to their characteristics, the Pakistani fighters fully comply with the latest modifications of the F-16, which Turkey and all other NATO countries are armed with, F.Mammadov noted.

As both Azerbaijan and Armenia continue to strengthen their military capabilities through strategic partnerships and acquisitions, the fragile balance of power in the South Caucasus faces unprecedented challenges. The proliferation of modern weapons and the possibility of miscalculations raise concerns about the stability and security of the region, the consequences of which go beyond the borders of these two countries.

Of particular concern is the risk of unintended escalation caused by the deployment of modern weapons and the potential for increased tensions along disputed border areas. The introduction of modern missile defense systems and unmanned aerial vehicles complicates an already unstable security situation, increasing the likelihood of destabilizing incidents.

In this context, diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and promote confidence-building measures are of paramount importance. International shareholders, including regional Powers and global players such as the European Union and the United Nations, should actively participate in promoting dialogue and reducing the risk of conflict escalation.

Armenia Asserts Its Sovereignty: A Shift in Foreign Policy and Defense Alliances

Feb 26 2024

In a bold assertion of national self-determination, Gagik Melkonyan, a deputy of Armenia's 'Civil Contract' faction, recently articulated the country's stance on navigating its foreign policy and defense alliances, signaling a potential shift in its long-standing relationship with Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). This comes amid discussions of Ukraine's President Zelensky's possible visit to Armenia and broader considerations of the country's international affiliations and defense strategies.

Central to Armenia's recalibrated foreign policy is the assertion of its sovereignty and the prerogative to make independent decisions that best serve its national interests. Melkonyan's statements underscore a growing sentiment within Armenia that, despite its historical and strategic ties with Russia, the nation must evaluate and potentially reorient its alliances in response to the evolving geopolitical landscape. This reevaluation is particularly poignant in the context of President Zelensky's anticipated visit, which symbolizes Armenia's openness to strengthening ties with other nations, even those in conflict with traditional allies.

Furthermore, Melkonyan criticized the dependency of certain CSTO members, such as Belarus, advocating for Armenia's independence in making military-technical contracts and decisions. This stance is indicative of a broader desire to diversify Armenia's defense and diplomatic relationships, moving beyond the sphere of Russian influence. Such a shift is not without its complexities, given Armenia's reliance on Russia for security and economic support, especially in the face of ongoing tensions with Azerbaijan.

The discussion of Armenia's CSTO membership, or lack thereof, reveals the country's dissatisfaction with the alliance, particularly in light of a year of non-participation in CSTO meetings. Melkonyan's remarks resonate with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's earlier expressions of disillusionment with the CSTO, especially regarding the lack of support Armenia received during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. This discontent has prompted Armenia to seek alternative defense partnerships, notably with France, as evidenced by recent military-technical cooperation agreements aimed at bolstering Armenia's defensive capabilities.

Armenia's pivot towards enhancing its defense ties with France and other Western countries reflects a strategic attempt to modernize its armed forces and restore military balance with Azerbaijan. This move, while potentially estranging Russia, signifies Armenia's commitment to its sovereignty and security, free from the constraints of traditional alliances that have failed to adequately protect its interests.

Armenia's potential departure from the CSTO and its efforts to forge new defense alliances could have significant implications for the region's security dynamics. While seeking to assert its sovereignty and diversify its partnerships, Armenia faces the challenge of navigating its relationship with Russia, a key ally and economic partner. The country's strategic realignment underscores the delicate balance between maintaining historical ties and pursuing a foreign policy that reflects its current needs and aspirations.

Moreover, Armenia's stance invites a reevaluation of regional alliances and the role of major powers in shaping the geopolitical landscape of the South Caucasus. As Armenia explores new avenues for cooperation, it also contends with the reality of regional conflicts, particularly with Azerbaijan. The assertion of independence in foreign policy and defense strategy is a testament to Armenia's evolving identity on the international stage, striving for autonomy in a complex and often contentious regional context.

As Armenia charts its course through these turbulent waters, the international community watches closely, recognizing the broader implications of Armenia's strategic decisions for regional stability and the intricate web of global alliances. In this era of shifting loyalties and emerging partnerships, Armenia's journey underscores the enduring importance of sovereignty and the pursuit of national interests in the ever-evolving tapestry of international relations.

Montreal Honors Renowned Armenian Musician Raffi Armenian in a Stellar Tribute

Feb 26 2024

In the heart of Montreal, an evening dedicated to the legacy of Raffi Armenian, a titan in the realms of music and education, promises to fill Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with melodies that transcend time and borders. Set for February 19, 2024, the event not only celebrates Armenian's illustrious career but also underscores the indelible mark he has left on the cultural fabric of Quebec and Canada. Born to Armenian parents in Egypt, Armenian's journey through music has been one of passion, dedication, and unparalleled achievement.

The tribute evening is poised to be a constellation of performances by some of the most distinguished names in the classical music scene, including Armenian-Canadian soprano Aline Kutan, violinist Van Armenian, and conductors like Jean-Marie Zeitouni. Pianists André Laplante and Olivier Godin will also grace the stage, bringing to life a repertoire that spans the emotional depth and technical brilliance of Mozart, Schubert, and Schumann, alongside the poignant beauty of Armenian melodies. This diverse program not only showcases the breadth of Armenian's influence but also serves as a bridge connecting different musical traditions and communities.

Armenian's career has been a beacon of excellence in music performance and education. As the director of the Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal and a revered conductor of leading Canadian orchestras, he has shaped the soundscape of the nation. However, his most profound impact may be in his role as a mentor at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, where he nurtured the talents of aspiring conductors, instilling in them a love for music that mirrors his own. His contributions have earned him numerous accolades, including an honorary doctorate and the esteemed Order of Canada. The tribute event, therefore, is not just a celebration of Armenian's musical achievements but a recognition of his role as a cultural ambassador and educator.

The tribute to Raffi Armenian is more than an evening of exquisite music; it is a testament to the power of art in uniting people across different backgrounds and experiences. It reflects the mosaic of Montreal's cultural scene, a place where diverse traditions flourish and intertwine. Through the language of music, the event honors not only a single musician's legacy but also the broader human story of migration, adaptation, and artistic _expression_. As the melodies of Mozart and Armenian folk tunes fill Bourgie Hall, attendees will be reminded of the enduring beauty that emerges when cultures converge and creativity knows no bounds.

Breaking Barriers: Armenia’s ‘Accessible Dilijan’ Project Opens Doors to Deaf Tourists

Feb 26 2024

Imagine a world where the beauty and history of a place are accessible to all, regardless of physical abilities. This is the vision behind the groundbreaking 'Accessible Dilijan' tourism project in Armenia, a pioneering initiative designed to welcome individuals with hearing impairments to the picturesque city of Dilijan. Launched with the collaborative efforts of the Destination Management Organization GoToDili, the Tourism Committee of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia, and AR-trails, this project is not just a testament to technological innovation but a bold step towards an inclusive future in tourism.

The core of the 'Accessible Dilijan' project lies in its use of augmented reality (AR) to create immersive tours guided by virtual sign language interpreters. Available in Armenian, Russian, and English, these tours are designed to cater to the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, providing a rich, autonomous travel experience. Visitors can explore Dilijan's historic landmarks, traverse the lush paths leading to hidden waterfalls in the National Park, and virtually visit the tourist information center, all through the AR-Trails app. With a total of 15 locations covered, the initiative promises a comprehensive and engaging exploration of Dilijan's cultural and natural treasures.

The introduction of 'Accessible Dilijan' marks a significant milestone in Armenia's journey towards inclusive tourism. This effort not only showcases the country's commitment to providing equal travel opportunities for all but also emphasizes the potential of technology to bridge gaps in accessibility. By integrating AR with sign language interpretation, the project ensures that the beauty, history, and culture of Dilijan are shared with a wider audience, including those who have previously been marginalized in travel experiences due to their hearing impairments.

The 'Accessible Dilijan' project is more than just an innovation in tourism; it is a celebration of diversity and a call to action for other destinations worldwide. It serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of inclusivity in all aspects of society, encouraging other cities and countries to explore how technology can be harnessed to make travel experiences more accessible for everyone. This initiative not only enriches the travel experience for individuals with hearing impairments but also contributes to the broader goal of creating a world where everyone can explore and enjoy the beauty of our planet without barriers.

In embracing the 'Accessible Dilijan' project, Armenia paves the way for a future where tourism transcends physical limitations, inviting travelers from all walks of life to discover the wonders of its landscape and culture. As this project continues to gain recognition, it holds the promise of inspiring similar initiatives around the globe, ultimately leading to a more inclusive and accessible world of travel.

Armenia, Azerbaijan To Hold Peace Talks In Germany From Wednesday

Feb 26 2024

Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers are set to hold peace talks in Berlin this week, both ministries said Monday, in a bid to resolve a decades-long conflict between the Caucasus countries.

The two states have struggled for the control of Azerbaijan's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Baku recaptured in September from Armenian separatists who had controlled it for decades.

"A meeting of the delegations of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan will take place on February 28-29 in Berlin," Armenian foreign ministry spokeswoman Ani Badalyan said Monday on social media.

The meeting was planned "in line with the agreement reached at the Munich trilateral talks" during which Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev had spoken.

Their meeting had been mediated by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov confirmed he would be meeting Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan "over the coming days."

Tensions between the two countries have remained high since Baku re-captured Karabakh during a one-day offensive in September.

The operation triggered the exodus of most of the enclave's entire ethnic-Armenian population -– more than 100,000 people –- flee to Armenia.

Yerevan is concerned that Azerbaijan, emboldened by its success in Karabakh, could invade Armenian territory in order to create a land bridge to its Nakhichevan enclave.

Pashinyan and Aliyev previously said a peace agreement could have been signed by the end of last year, but internationally mediated peace talks have failed to yield a breakthrough.


Armenian Foreign Minister’s Historic Visit to Türkiye Marks a New Chapter in Diplomacy

Feb 26 2024
Momen Zellmi

As the sun rises over the picturesque city of Antalya, a historic moment unfolds, signifying a potential thaw in the frosty relations between neighboring nations. Ararat Mirzoyan, Armenia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, is set to grace the Antalya Diplomacy Forum from March 1-3, marking a significant gesture of diplomacy towards Türkiye. This visit not only underscores a commitment to dialogue but also sends a powerful message of hope for a future where mutual understanding and cooperation can flourish.

In the labyrinth of international relations, the path towards reconciliation is often fraught with challenges and setbacks. However, Mirzoyan's decision to attend the Antalya Diplomacy Forum is a testament to the resilience of diplomatic efforts. This isn't the first time the Armenian Foreign Minister has participated in the forum, which speaks volumes about the ongoing commitment to engage in meaningful dialogue. The forum provides a unique platform for leaders from various countries to come together, discuss pressing global issues, and explore avenues for cooperation.

The significance of Mirzoyan's visit extends beyond the bilateral relations between Armenia and Türkiye. It unfolds against a backdrop of complex geopolitical dynamics, including recent remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin on US relations and Russia's actions concerning Estonia's Prime Minister over Soviet monuments. These developments highlight the intricate web of international relations and the importance of diplomatic engagement in navigating these challenges. As countries grapple with their histories and seek to forge a path forward, the role of diplomacy in bridging divides and fostering peace becomes increasingly paramount.

While Mirzoyan's visit is a hopeful sign, it also underscores the myriad challenges that lie ahead. The journey towards normalizing relations between Armenia and Türkiye will require not only political will but also a deep commitment to addressing longstanding grievances and building mutual trust. The Antalya Diplomacy Forum offers a rare opportunity for open dialogue, which could pave the way for more substantive discussions in the future. However, the success of these diplomatic endeavors will ultimately depend on the willingness of both parties to engage in a process of genuine reconciliation and cooperation.

As the Antalya Diplomacy Forum draws near, the eyes of the world are on Antalya, watching as history is made. Mirzoyan's visit signifies a beacon of hope for a region long marred by conflict and division. In the intricate dance of diplomacy, every step forward is a victory, and this visit may very well mark the beginning of a new chapter in the relations between Armenia and Türkiye. The path forward is fraught with challenges, but the promise of peace and cooperation offers a compelling reason to persevere. As nations come together in the spirit of dialogue, the possibility of a brighter, more harmonious future emerges, reminding us all of the transformative power of diplomacy.