TURKISH press: Crimea only test field for Russia’s growing appetite in region, Ukraine’s Deputy FM Dzhaparova says

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova speaks during a visit to the Crimean Tatar Association in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 15, 2020. (Photo by Dilara Aslan)


The situation in Crimea is only a test field for the appetite of Russia in the region as it can be seen in both Syria and Libya, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova stated Thursday.

Speaking on Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimea Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and Moscow’s backing of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's Donbass region, Dzhaparova told Daily Sabah in an exclusive interview that Crimea should remain on the international community’s agenda until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is restored.

“We believe that Russia is a state that committed a crime against Ukraine, a country that is totally responsible for the occupation and a country that has to de-occupy Crimea,” Dzhaparova underlined.

“In order to increase the effectiveness of the international response to the ongoing occupation of Crimea and other related threats, Ukraine proposed establishing a new consultation and coordination format – the Crimean Platform,” the first deputy minister stated, elaborating that as a key event, a Crimea summit has been planned for the first half of 2021.

Accordingly, Ukraine’s goal was to consolidate under one chapeau all international activities aimed at countering Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea – starting with sanctions and nonrecognition policy, demilitarization, transport and infrastructure issues to actions in humanitarian and environmental spheres. This platform would also contribute to tracking security issues in the Black Sea region as well as the wider Mediterranean region.

After being asked about reports that Russia was also invited to the summit, Dzhaparova stated that she believed this move would put pressure on Russia.

“For the moment, an official invitation was not sent to Russia. We plan to invite Russia, but we are not expecting that the invitation will be accepted,” she stated, stressing that Russia’s participation is not a prerequisite for the functioning of the platform.

“Of course, we do not have any illusion on what the real face of Russia today is and unfortunately we have to state that the current authority of Russia is one that does not demonstrate any civilized position and that actually commits crimes against humanity,” Dzhaparova said.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine after an illegal independence referendum was held in 2014, following the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych as a result of the pro-European Union Euromaidan protests in the capital. The U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) later voted to proclaim the Russian action illegal. Along with an overwhelming majority of U.N. member states, Turkey denied recognition of Crimea as Russian territory.

As most ethnic Crimean Tatars opposed Moscow's annexation of the peninsula, Russian authorities have cracked down on the community, abrogating their right to assembly and taking a Tatar-language television channel off the air, as well as detaining and jailing dozens of activists, a situation opposed by Turkey.

“This fake referendum that they conducted in March 2014 is nothing but a tricky attempt to justify their military occupation of the sovereign territory of Ukraine – Crimea,” Dzhaparova stressed.

Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova and Daily Sabah's Dilara Aslan during an interview in Ankara, Turkey, Oct. 15, 2020. (Photo by Dilara Aslan)

Ukraine eyes further cooperation

As a staunch supporter of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Turkey has frequently voiced that Russia has to end its illegal occupation of the peninsula.

“Both of our countries are living in a very challenging neighborhood and in this modern world we believe that it is a true luxury to have a true friendship and this is exactly what we enjoying with Turkey,” Dzhaparova stated, saying that though Ukraine is satisfied with the level of the strategic partnership with Turkey, there is still potential for further enhancing relations “for the benefit of the two countries as well as for the region.”

“We expect the continuation of political and practical support from Ankara,” she said. “We look forward to cooperating with Turkey in the framework of the Crimean Platform aimed at the de-occupation of Crimea. We would appreciate Turkey’s help to create better living conditions for Crimean Tatars who were forced to leave their homeland after the Russian occupation.”

Dzhaparova stated that she briefed Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on the platform and that Ukraine expected Turkey to join this initiative. She also stressed that the declaration would fix nonrecognition and declared Turkey will never recognize the attempted annexation of Crimea.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will pay a working visit to Turkey on Friday during which he will come together with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul to discuss all aspects of bilateral relations as well as steps aimed at further enhancing cooperation.

“We believe that we will sign a couple of documents that will further intensify our bilateral cooperation in different spheres in military, defense, security as well as in cultural, humanitarian dimensions but moreover what we expect is actually an issue that is related to Crimea,” Dzhaparova pointed out. A statement by the Ukrainian government on Wednesday stated that a military cooperation agreement would be signed which would reflect a guarantee for security and peace in the Black Sea region.

Defense relations between the two countries have developed rapidly, with military-technical cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey's defense industries carrying various mutual benefits.

The two leaders held a high-level strategic council meeting previously in February in Kyiv and signed a joint declaration outlining concrete areas of cooperation.

“We have plenty of joint projects to implement. Starting from security and defense, high-tech, military-technical fields up to trade and economic, cultural and educational fields,” Dzhaparova highlighted, adding that more investment of Turkish companies in infrastructural projects is expected while negotiations on a free trade agreement are at the final stage.

The deputy minister further stated that Ukraine also expects much from the international community in tackling Russian aggression and human rights violations.

Saying that Kyiv appreciated the swift response of the international community’s vis-à-vis Russia’s attempt to annex Crimea and redraw the borders of modern Europe, Dzhaparova reminded that on March 27, 2014, the UNGA adopted a resolution calling on states and international organizations not to recognize any change of status of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

The EU imposed sanctions on Russia after it annexed the peninsula and refuses to recognize Moscow’s authority there. The bloc has separate sanctions targeting the Russian economy and other restrictive measures linked to the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol.

“We expect the international community to stick to decisions observing the nonrecognition policy,” she underlined.

Indicating that Russia attempted to enhance ties with the illegally occupied region, Dzhaparova said: "Russia is incorporating Crimea into its administrative structure, conducting militarization of Crimea and changing its demographic composition."

“There is also a need to consolidate the common resilience of the Black Sea littoral states and our main partners in the EU and NATO in the face of Russia’s ever-growing belligerent behavior in the region that poses security threats and challenges to our common interests,” she added.

Humanitarian situation worsens

Touching upon the humanitarian situation, Dzhaparova stated that Russia forced the independent media out of the peninsula and shifted pressure to citizen journalists and human rights activists. Accordingly, monitoring bodies of international organizations are also unable to exercise their mandate in Crimea.

“The situation is bad and it is deteriorating daily,” the deputy minister said. “Unjustified searches, detentions and arrests under false charges, discrimination on religious and national grounds, intimidations of activists, journalists, advocates, etc. became a fact of life in today’s Crimea.”

“To consolidate the occupational regime, Russia pursues a covert demographic change in Crimea. 45,000 Ukrainian citizens have left Crimea over intimidation, persecution and fear. Estimates of how many people were brought to Crimea from Russia vary from 150 to 500 thousand people,” she highlighted.

She further pointed out that since 2014, Russia conducted 11 conscription campaigns illegally drafting about 25,000 Crimean residents into the Russian military. “The 12th campaign is ongoing,” Dzhaparova stated, explaining that Moscow’s influence and presence in the peninsula are not voiced when Russia states its official position.

Kyiv supports Baku’s sovereignty

“Ukraine, like Turkey, consistently supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders – the same way Azerbaijan supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity. It is our principal position based on international law,” Dzhaparova said as fighting has been continuing for weeks between Baku and Yerevan over the Armenian-occupied territories.

Saying that war and casualties including civilian deaths are a tragedy, Dzhaparova stated that the situation is “just more proof that both protracted and hot conflicts remain a major factor of instability threatening security in Europe, which may lead at any moment to the resumption of armed hostilities and heavy human losses.”

She called on both sides to cease military action and resolve the conflict in accordance with international law.

“However, mediation by Russia, which itself continues aggression against Ukraine and occupation of Ukraine’s sovereign territories, does not add optimism to that turbulent situation,” she continued.

Border clashes broke out on Sept. 27 when Armenian forces targeted Azerbaijani civilian settlements and military positions, leading to casualties.

Relations between the two countries have been tense since 1991 when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan. Referencing this fact, four U.N. Security Council (UNSC) and two UNGA resolutions, as well as decisions by many international organizations, demand that Armenia's occupying forces withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other occupied regions of Azerbaijan. Yet, efforts including that of the Minsk Group, set up in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, have seen no results.

TURKISH press: Turkey’s new gas reserves and Black Sea geo-politics

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced Turkey's latest natural gas discovery in the Black Sea on Saturday. This development demonstrates that Turkey's energy drive has reached the next level – and it's not just about the economy. As the power struggle in the Eastern Mediterranean rages on, the Black Sea may possibly emerge as a new geopolitical flashpoint.

Over the weekend, international media outlets reported about an Armenian attack on Nakhchivan in the Caucasus region, east of the Black Sea. A Russia-brokered cease-fire between Azerbaijan and Armenia proved extremely fragile. Apparently, putting a stop to the fighting will not be an easy task. Armenia's Soviet-era ballistic missile arsenal, along with the influx of foreign fighters, including members of the PKK terrorist organization, deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh and the "heavy weapons" that Moscow threatens to give Armenians, are a source of concern. Attacks on energy lines and Nakhchivan, too, represent acts of provocation by an increasingly desperate Yerevan.

The Black Sea and the Caucasus emerged as the focal point of competition between the West and Russia, following a 2008 commitment by NATO to admit Ukraine and Georgia as new members. In response to the organization's eastward expansion, Moscow partitioned Ukraine and Georgia. The 2014 annexation of Crimea was possibly the zenith of that escalation.

Although the United States and the European Union attempted to alter Russia's behavior through economic sanctions under the Barack Obama administration's watch, they failed miserably. Under the Trump administration, Russian President Vladimir Putin expanded his country's sphere of influence to the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and the Gulf. A joint Russian-Egyptian naval exercise in the Black Sea alone attests to the links between ongoing power struggles in various parts of the world. Needless to say, the Black Sea occupies a central place in Moscow's strategic assessments. The region is key to Russian influence over Eastern Europe (i.e. Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova), Ukraine and the Caucasus. Moscow attaches great importance to the Black Sea for national defense, military capabilities and the power struggle in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

For the Western alliance as well, the Black Sea is too important to be surrendered to Russian control. As the U.S. think tank RAND recently stated, the power struggle between the West and Russia will determine Europe's future. Indeed, American strategists trying to redefine Washington's global role do not expect the U.S. to completely disregard Europe – even in the case of a total retreat. Even U.S. President Donald Trump has been mounting pressure on Germany over its dependence on Russian energy.

If re-elected, Trump is expected to focus on China and stick to his administration's current policy on Russia. In that case, Moscow may preserve the current balance of power in the Black Sea. The most recent developments in Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh and Kyrgyzstan, however, indicate that the status quo won't be easily maintained.

If Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden wins the race, however, Washington is expected to concentrate on Russia's containment. Attempting to empower the trans-Atlantic alliance, Biden must reduce the Russian pressure on Europe. In other words, he must stop the expansion of Russia's sphere of influence.

Regardless of the outcome of the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3, geopolitical tensions in Turkey's neighborhood are bound to escalate. Depending on the winner, there won't be just a new chapter in Turkey-U.S. relations. At the same time, Ankara and Moscow will have a new road map in light of their competition, cooperation and tensions.

As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently said, it is unlikely that Turkey and Russia will be more than "partners." The two countries compete in Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean, Syria, the Black Sea and the Caucasus. In my view, Turkey's initiatives unsettle Moscow in Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh.

As Turkey grows stronger, it must develop a new kind of relationship with not just the Western alliance but also Russia. The Black Sea may be a geopolitical space where that claim will be put to the test.

TURKISH press: Turkey’s Parliament Speaker Şentop to hold talks in Baku on Azerbaijan’s Independence Day

Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop was welcomed by Azerbaijani officials including Deputy Chairman of Baku's Parliament Ali Huseyinli upon his arrival in Azerbaijan on Oct. 18, 2020 (AA Photo)

On Sunday Turkey’s Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop along with a delegation of deputies visited Azerbaijan to hold official talks and participate in the nation’s independence day events amid a new cease-fire with neighboring Armenia.

“We came with a strong, broad committee from the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TBMM). We have friends from various parties with us,” Şentop stated upon his arrival.

“We have always stated that we support and are side-by-side with Azerbaijan in its just case while our relationship is a unique one in line with our ‘one nation, two states’ policy. However, now we will reiterate this message once more in Baku. Turkey’s 83 million people and our Parliament pray for the Azerbaijani flag to fly on these lands forever and are with Azerbaijan,” he added.

After attending a dinner organized by Azerbaijan's Parliament Speaker Sahibe Gafarova, Şentop will be received by President Ilham Aliyev late Sunday.

Şentop and his delegation will also visit the Heydar Aliyev mausoleum and the Baku Turkish Martyrs’ Memorial and hold delegation meetings.

The Turkish Parliament speaker will give a speech at the Azerbaijani parliament’s special session and meet with Prime Minister Ali Asadov on Sunday and Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on Monday.

Şentop was accompanied on his visit by the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) deputy head of the parliamentary group Cahit Özkan, deputy chairperson Engin Altay of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP), AK Party Istanbul deputy and head of the Azerbaijan parliamentary friendship group Şamil Ayrım, AK Party Bursa deputy Hakan Çavuşoğlu, Good Party (IP) Istanbul deputy Yavuz Ağıralioğlu, AK Party Erzurum deputy Ibrahim Aydemir, AK Party Şanlıurfa deputy Halil Özşavlu and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Iğdır deputy Yaşar Karadağ.

Both Azerbaijani and Armenian governments have agreed to a fresh cease-fire starting midnight Sunday.

Earlier Saturday, at least 13 civilians were killed, including four women and three minors, while nearly 50 others were injured when Armenian missiles once again struck the country’s second-largest city, Ganja.

Asbarez: Pompeo to Meet with Mnatsakanyan, Bayramov on Friday

October 19,  2020



Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a press briefing on Oct. 14

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to meet with the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Jeyhun Bayramov in Washington on Friday, POLITICO reported on Monday, adding that “the visits also offer the Trump administration a chance to showcase an attempt at global leadership just days before President Donald Trump faces reelection.”

According to U.S. government documents seen by POLITICO, Bayramov will meet first with Pompeo on Friday morning., with Mnatsakanyan scheduled for a meeting “shortly afterward.”

Ideally, he said, the two countries can resume meaningful negotiations soon. Armenia’s ambassador in Washington, Armenia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Varuzhan Nersesyan, praised Pompeo for calling out Turkey over its support for Azerbaijan during the conflict, telling POLITICO that ideally Armenia and Azerbaijan can resume “meaningful negotiations.”

“We see no alternative to the peaceful resolution of this conflict based on mutual compromises,” Nersesyan told POLITICO.

“We want a substantive conversation,” Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to the U.S. Elin Suleymonov told POLITICO. He also did not rule out the possibility of “an encounter” between Mnatsakanyan and Bayramov while they are in Washington.

Trump on Sunday visited Newport Beach where hundreds of Armenian-American called on the administration for decisive action on Artsakh. At a rally in Carson City, Nevada later in the day, Trump acknowledged what he called Armenian “supporters,” saying “we’re working on something great,” presumably referring to the Karabakh war.

Artsakh Forces Down Turkish Bayraktar Drone

October 19,  2020



[see video]

Video footage showing the wreckage of the five drones downed by Artsakh’s Defense Army proves that at least one of them was a Turkish Bayraktar TB2, the Artsakh Defense Ministry reported.

The sensor and optic gyroscope of the footage is similar to that of Bayraktar TB2 drone. Additionally, one of the power cables has an inscription in Turkish that reads,  “GÜÇ ve Haberleşme Kablosu,” which means power supply and communication cable.


An official investigation is pending.




Pashinyan Discusses Azerbaijan’s Aggression with Non-Parliamentary Parties

October 19,  2020



Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan meets with leaders of political forces not represented in parliament on Oct. 19

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Monday met with representatives of political forces that are not represented in parliament to discuss and brief them about the ongoing Azerbaijani aggression against Artsakh that is supported by Turkey, his press office reported.

This was the second such meeting with parties not represented in parliament, with the first taking place on October 12. The same forces were in attendance at the meeting on Monday.

The meeting followed a meeting with the Parliamentary Council, which includes members of parties represented in parliament, as well as the chairs of the permanent legislative committees.

Participating in the meeting were Republican Party of Armenia spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov; Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Council of Armenia chairman Ishkhan Saghatelyan; Lilit Makunts of Pashinyan’s My Step faction, as well as parliament member Arman Babajanyan; Citizen’s Choice party executive board secretary Suren Sahakyan; and Armenian National Congress vice-president Levon Zurabyan, reported news.am.

On Saturday, Saghatelyan unveiled an announcement signed by 13 political parties calling for the “creation of a special body for the operative management of military-political issues, endowing it with the powers to make decisions, plan and coordinate operative actions.”

The parties also call for the involvement of “the former and incumbent presidents, prime ministers, ministers of defense and foreign affairs, and other persons with military and political experience of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh in order to effectively organize the defense of the homeland.”

The announcement was signed by the Freedom party, National Agenda party, National Democratic Union party, National Self-Determination Union party, Yerkir Tsirani party, Heritage party, Bright Armenia Party, Democratic Party of Armenia, Republican Party of Armenia, Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Homeland party, For Social Justice party and One Armenia party.

Also on Saturday, the ARF Bureau Chairman Hagop Der Khachadourian met with Armenia’s former president Levon Ter-Petrossian as part of the party’s efforts to initiate dialogue with political forces in Armenia.

The two discussed the ongoing situation in the frontline and exchanged views on how best to ensure stability in Artsakh and Armenia.

Asbarez: Bishop Torkom Donoyan Unanimously Elected New Western Prelate

October 19,  2020



Bishop Torkom Donoyan is the new Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Western U.S.

  • “Working for Armenia and Artsakh is my highest duty.”
  • “Serving the Armenian Church and people through the Holy Sea of Cilicia, is the reason for my existence.”
  • “Instilling the Christian faith in the lives of the youth, through the Western Prelacy is the focus of my mission.”
  • “Spreading the Gospel is my heavenly purpose.”

The 48th National Representatives Assembly of the Western Prelacy took place on Friday, October 16 at the “Avedissian” Hall in Encino. During the second session of the meeting, the representatives unanimously elected Bishop Torkom Donoyan, Vicar General, as the new prelate of the Western Prelacy. Donoyan succeeds Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, who served as prelate for the past 25 years.

Immediately following the announcement of the election, the newly elected prelate was greeted with a standing ovation as he entered the hall. The clergy formed a procession, and with the singing of “Ourakh Ler” and “Hrashapar,” they guided the newly-elected prelate Bishop into Holy Marty’s Church to say the “Canonical Prayer.”

Following the “Canonical Prayer,” Donoyan received the prelate’s staff from his predecessor and delivered his first message to representatives and clergy members.

The prelate stated, “Prayer is fundamental in strengthening the spirit, enlightening the mind, having a healthy body and is a daily presence in my life. That is why, today, I pray with a deeper conviction that God will give me strength, as I am elected the prelate of the Western Prelacy by His blessing and your votes. I believe and trust the words of the psalmist; “Lord I put my trust in You, do not forsake those who seek You.” (Psalm 9:10.)

“With sincerity and a deep gratitude, I greet His Holiness Aram I. Catholicos of the Great See of Cilicia, whose educational leadership I have gained throughout my tenure at the seminary. I pray and wish that God grants H.H. Aram I, Catholicos, a healthy and long life, so that he may continue to lead his flock to greener pastures and calmer waters,” added the new prelate.

Continuing his remarks, the prelate thanked Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian for his lengthy, keen and high esteemed service to the prelacy.

“He became a good example of diligence, hard work, consistency and endurance. Through his service and experiences, he became great, and like many others, I have learned a great deal from Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. I believe that his greatness will continue in the coming years as well, and wished him a healthy and peaceful life,” added Donoyan.

He continued his message to the representatives, saying: “Thank you for your trust and by a unanimous vote, you have placed a heavy yet sweet burden of responsibility on my shoulders, which I trust that we will carry together: by the leverage of our clergy members and the unreserved partnership of the Executive Council. With the spirit of renewed faith, hope, unfaltering love, let us come together, unite and work towards a better and brighter future for our church and youth.”

Speaking about the war in Artsakh, the prelate reconfirmed that “Armenia and Artsakh remain the main focus in the lives, deeds and prayers of each Armenian. War cannot shake the faith of an Armenian, and the prime example is the current war in Artsakh. Hence, that is why I work even stronger for the Armenian and Artsakh cause.”

The prelate expressed and emphasized the importance of service to the people and the Church. “Each clergy member is a servant of God and His people. He finds greatness through his service. I have learned the importance of service at the seminary. With the spirit of service, I place my being on the altar of God, to serve Him and His people. That is the reason why serving the Armenian Church and people through the Holy Sea of Cilicia, is the reason for my existence.” stated the prelate.

Also, realizing the importance of our youth’s upbringing, the prelate stated that throughout the last decades within the prelacy, there have been many initiatives which have been implemented to foster the spiritual care of our youth, such as; Prelacy day schools, Sunday schools and Bible studies. Today, more than ever, our youth should be our utmost priority within our communities. Hence, “Instilling Christian faith in the lives of the youth, through the western prelacy is the focus of my mission.”

With regards to the importance of spreading the Christian faith throughout our lives, the prelate confirmed this thought by saying; “I am a messenger of God’s word. Before all things, I am called to be a soldier of God through my service and spreading the living word of God to His people. Also, in contrast with the prior statement, I consider one of my most important tasks is to prepare and aid in the spiritual maturity of the church’s servants and Sunday school teachers. Therefore, spreading the Gospel is my heavenly purpose.”

The newly elected prelate also wished for the end of all wars, and for peace to reign throughout the world. Also, appealing for God to heal all those who are in pain and are weary, for the production of the Corona virus vaccine and for all types of trials and tribulations to be resolved in peace.

In conclusion, Prelate Donoyan appealed that may he be allowed to put forth his youthful enthusiasm and charisma to action, for the sake of the collective “us.”
Following the singing of the “Lord’s Prayer,” the representatives delivered congratulatory remarks to the newly elected prelate and wished him success in his mission to the Prelacy and the Armenian Church.

Bishop Torkom Donoyan was born in 1986, in Beirut, Lebanon. He has received his early education at the “Souren Khanamirian” school. He was accepted to the Holy Sea of Cilicia seminary in 1997, and ordained a celibate priest in 2006. In 2010 he defended his thesis “the anathema within the Armenian Church,” and received the rank of Vartabed.

In 2016, he defended his second thesis “the Armenian Prelacy in Adana,” and received the rank of Dzayrakouyn Vartabed.

From 2006 until 2013, he has been the director of the Christian Education Department in Antelias, Lebanon. From 2010 until 2014, he has been the choir master at St. Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral in Antelias, Lebanon, and has been the choir conductor of both the Catholicosate’s “Shnorhali” and the Seminary’s “Armash” choirs. From 2013 until 2015, he has been the editor of the Catholicosate’s “Hask” monthly newsletter. Also, while conducting the tasks mentioned above, he has also been an educator at the Seminary, Antelias Armenian Studies Center and local schools.

He was the Dean of the Seminary from 2014 to 2016. He has authored many books, pamphlets, articles and has given many speeches to various parishes throughout Lebanon and abroad. He has studied music in Beirut and Yerevan, and received master classes in vocal training in England.

In 2016, he completed comprehensive theological studies, with an emphasis on the rituals and music of the Anglican Church, at St. Michael’s Anglican Seminary in Wales, United Kingdom.

In 2017, by the decision of rchbishop Moushegh Mardirossian and the joint council, he was appointed as Vicar General of the Western Prelacy.

In 2018, he was ordained as a Bishop by Catholicos Aram I.

RFE/RL Armenian Report – 10/19/2020

                                        Monday, 

Armenian, Azeri Leaders Say Ready To Meet

        • Heghine Buniatian

Germany -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (R) and Azerbaijani President 
Ilham Aliyev meet in Munich, February 15, 2020.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev 
expressed readiness on Monday to meet in Moscow for urgent talks on the 
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The two men were interviewed by the official Russian news agency TASS as heavy 
fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued in and around 
Karabakh.

“The Karabakh conflict must be resolved by exclusively peaceful means … And I’m 
ready to make every effort to achieve such a result, including to travel [to 
Moscow,] meet and talk,” said Pashinian.

He said that Armenia remains committed to a “compromise” peace deal. “If there 
is no such readiness on the opposite side we are ready to fight till the end for 
our people, our compatriots in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.

Aliyev said, for his part, that Baku is “prepared for any contacts” with 
Yerevan. “We are always ready to meet in Moscow or any other place to end the 
conflict and reach a settlement,” he told TASS.

Aliyev noted at the same time that he has received “no such invitation” from 
Russia yet.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted on October 9-10 talks between his 
Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts that resulted in an agreement to stop 
hostilities in the conflict zone. However, the fighting has continued since 
then, with each side accusing the other of violating the agreement.

Lavrov said earlier on Monday that Moscow keeps pressing the sides to stop the 
war and resume “substantive” peace talks that will center on a framework peace 
accord proposed by the Russian, French and U.S. co-chairs of the Minsk Group.

Aliyev said that unlike Armenia’s current leadership he supports the proposed 
settlement that calls, among other things, for Armenian withdrawal from 
districts around Karabakh before an agreement on the disputed territory’s 
status, the main bone of contention.

Pashinian put the emphasis on Azerbaijan’s recognition of the Karabakh 
Armenians’ right to self-determination. This issue is of “strategic importance” 
to the Armenian side, he said.



UN Chief Urges Armenia, Azerbaijan To Restore Truce

        • Heghine Buniatian

U.S. -- Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, speaking 
during the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York, September 
21, 2020

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on Armenia and 
Azerbaijan to respect their latest ceasefire agreement and resume peace talks 
mediated by France, Russia and the United States.

“The Secretary-General deeply regrets that the sides have continuously ignored 
the repeated calls of the international community to immediately stop the 
fighting,” read a statement released by a spokesman for Guterres on Sunday.

“The Secretary-General notes the latest announcement on the start of the 
humanitarian truce on 18 October and expects both parties to fully abide by this 
commitment and resume substantive negotiations without delay under the auspices 
of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs,” it said.

The truce was due to come into force early on Sunday. However, hostilities in 
the Karabakh conflict zone have continued since then, with each side accusing 
the other of violating the agreement.

Guterres also condemned shelling of civilian areas which has killed dozens of 
people from both sides.

“The tragic loss of civilian lives, including children, from the latest reported 
strike on 16 October on the [Azerbaijani] city of Ganja is totally unacceptable, 
as are indiscriminate attacks on populated areas anywhere, including in 
Stepanakert/Khankendi and other localities in and around the immediate 
Nagorno-Karabakh zone of conflict,” said the statement.

“As [Guterres] underscored again in his latest calls with the Foreign Ministers 
of Armenia and Azerbaijan, both sides have the obligation under international 
humanitarian law to take constant care to spare and protect civilians and 
civilian infrastructure in the conduct of military operations,” it said.



Russia ‘Keeps Trying’ To Stop Karabakh War


RUSSIA -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a joint press 
conference with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanian following their 
talks in Moscow on October 12, 2020.

Russia keeps pressing Armenia and Azerbaijan to work out a “verification 
mechanism” that would ensure their compliance with ceasefire agreements reached 
by them, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
“In order for the ceasefire to work -- we have seen that after two documents 
that were adopted but did not allow to radically change the situation on the 
ground -- [it is necessary] to create a mechanism to verify compliance with the 
ceasefire regime,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

“We, including our Defense Ministry, are actively working on that, with 
colleagues from Azerbaijan and Armenia in the first instance,” he said, 
according to the TASS news agency. “I hope that such a mechanism will be agreed 
on in the very near future.”

Lavrov made a case for such a mechanism after an Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire 
agreement brokered by Russia on October 10 failed to stop hostilities in and 
around Nagorno-Karabakh. He said Moscow is ready to deploy “military observers” 
to the conflict zone as part of such an arrangement. Azerbaijan reportedly 
objected to the idea.

According to a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, the Russians 
tried unsuccessfully to organize a meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani military 
officials last week. She said representatives of the Armenian Defense Ministry 
flew to Moscow but the meeting did not take place because their Azerbaijani 
counterparts did not show up.

Lavrov again spoke with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on Saturday. 
The separate phone calls were followed by the announcement of another 
Armenian-Azerbaijani truce agreement which was reportedly brokered by France. 
Fighting in Karabakh continued even after that deal, which the warring sides 
accusing each other of not respecting it.

Lavrov on Monday also urged the sides as well as “international players” to tone 
down their “confrontational rhetoric.” “The next absolutely necessary step … is 
a halt to the hostilities and strikes on civilian areas,” he said.

Earlier in the day the Armenian Foreign Ministry insisted that Yerevan remains 
“faithful” to the truce agreements. It claimed that Baku “does not want or is 
unable to implement” them.



Trump Praises Armenians On Campaign Trail

        • Harry Tamrazian

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at John Murtha 
Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, October 13, 2020.

U.S. President Donald Trump has lavished praise on Americans of Armenian descent 
and said his administration is “working” to address their concerns.
Trump reacted to a supportive chant from an Armenian American woman as he spoke 
at an election campaign rally in Nevada on Sunday. “We are working on some 
things,” he said without elaborating.

“Armenians, they are good people,” Trump went on. “They are great businesspeople 
too, you know … Where I just left there were some many Armenians with beautiful 
flags. We’re working on some things.”

“People from Armenia, they have a great spirit for their country. Thank you very 
much,” he added.

Trump spoke after being greeted in neighboring California by Armenian American 
supporters who waved Armenian flags and urged the U.S. administration to 
recognize Nagorno-Karabakh and help stop Turkey’s military support for 
Azerbaijan.

Trump has still not publicly commented on the hostilities in and around Karabakh 
that broke out on September 27. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has 
repeatedly called for an end to the fighting.

On Thursday Pompeo also criticized Turkey’s involvement in the conflict. “We now 
have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, 
increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this 
historic fight,” he told broadcaster WSB Atlanta.

“We’re hopeful that the Armenians will be able to defend against what the 
Azerbaijanis are doing, and that they will all, before that takes place, get the 
ceasefire right, and then sit down at the table and try and sort through this,” 
Pompeo said in remarks criticized by Azerbaijan.

The United States, Russia and France have long been leading international 
efforts to end the Karabakh conflict through the Minsk Group of the Organization 
for Security Organization in Europe.

Moscow brokered an Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreement on October 10. 
Hostilities in the conflict zone have continued since then, however.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival in the November 3 
presidential election, last week expressed deep concern over the “collapse” of 
the ceasefire and accused the Trump administration of being “largely passive and 
disengaged.”



Karabakh Ceasefire Still Not Holding


NAGORNO-KARABAKH -- An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) explodes atop of a mountain 
outside Stepanakert, 

Hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone reportedly continued on Monday 
two days after another humanitarian ceasefire agreement announced by Armenia and 
Azerbaijan.

Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army said Azerbaijani forces again started shelling 
in the morning its frontline positions north and south of Karabakh. It said its 
troops are “taking adequate measures” in response.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said, for its part, that Armenian forces shelled 
Azerbaijani districts north and east of Karabakh overnight and in the morning.

The conflicting parties continued to accuse each other of not respecting the 
ceasefire agreement which was reportedly brokered by French President Emmanuel 
Macron and was supposed to come into force on Sunday morning.

“Minutes after the announcement of the humanitarian truce, the Azerbaijani armed 
forces resumed hostilities and on the morning of October 18 launched a 
large-scale offensive on the southern front,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said 
in a statement.

“In fact, this is the second ceasefire agreement that Azerbaijan does not want 
or is unable to implement,” it added, referring to a similar deal that was 
brokered by Russia on October 10.

Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le 
Drian discussed the situation on the ground in a phone call on Sunday. According 
to his press office, Mnatsakanian “reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to 
strengthening the ceasefire regime.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claimed, meanwhile, that it was the Armenian 
side that “blatantly violated” the truce agreement early on Sunday. He said at 
the same time that the Azerbaijani army has made more territorial gains since 
then.

Karabakh authorities said that the Karabakh town of Martuni and several villages 
came under Azerbaijani rocket fire on the night from Sunday to Monday. But the 
Karabakh capital Stepanakert was not shelled for a second consecutive night, 
RFE/RL correspondent Susan Badalian reported from the scene.

Most local residents continued to stay in basements and bomb shelters. Some of 
them told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that they expect renewed shelling.

Many buildings in Stepanakert have been seriously damaged since the start of the 
war on September 27.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2020 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

 


RFE/RL Armenian Report – 10/19/2020

                                        Monday, 

Armenian, Azeri Leaders Say Ready To Meet

        • Heghine Buniatian

Germany -- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (R) and Azerbaijani President 
Ilham Aliyev meet in Munich, February 15, 2020.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev 
expressed readiness on Monday to meet in Moscow for urgent talks on the 
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The two men were interviewed by the official Russian news agency TASS as heavy 
fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces continued in and around 
Karabakh.

“The Karabakh conflict must be resolved by exclusively peaceful means … And I’m 
ready to make every effort to achieve such a result, including to travel [to 
Moscow,] meet and talk,” said Pashinian.

He said that Armenia remains committed to a “compromise” peace deal. “If there 
is no such readiness on the opposite side we are ready to fight till the end for 
our people, our compatriots in Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.

Aliyev said, for his part, that Baku is “prepared for any contacts” with 
Yerevan. “We are always ready to meet in Moscow or any other place to end the 
conflict and reach a settlement,” he told TASS.

Aliyev noted at the same time that he has received “no such invitation” from 
Russia yet.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hosted on October 9-10 talks between his 
Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts that resulted in an agreement to stop 
hostilities in the conflict zone. However, the fighting has continued since 
then, with each side accusing the other of violating the agreement.

Lavrov said earlier on Monday that Moscow keeps pressing the sides to stop the 
war and resume “substantive” peace talks that will center on a framework peace 
accord proposed by the Russian, French and U.S. co-chairs of the Minsk Group.

Aliyev said that unlike Armenia’s current leadership he supports the proposed 
settlement that calls, among other things, for Armenian withdrawal from 
districts around Karabakh before an agreement on the disputed territory’s 
status, the main bone of contention.

Pashinian put the emphasis on Azerbaijan’s recognition of the Karabakh 
Armenians’ right to self-determination. This issue is of “strategic importance” 
to the Armenian side, he said.



UN Chief Urges Armenia, Azerbaijan To Restore Truce

        • Heghine Buniatian

U.S. -- Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, speaking 
during the 75th General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York, September 
21, 2020

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on Armenia and 
Azerbaijan to respect their latest ceasefire agreement and resume peace talks 
mediated by France, Russia and the United States.

“The Secretary-General deeply regrets that the sides have continuously ignored 
the repeated calls of the international community to immediately stop the 
fighting,” read a statement released by a spokesman for Guterres on Sunday.

“The Secretary-General notes the latest announcement on the start of the 
humanitarian truce on 18 October and expects both parties to fully abide by this 
commitment and resume substantive negotiations without delay under the auspices 
of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs,” it said.

The truce was due to come into force early on Sunday. However, hostilities in 
the Karabakh conflict zone have continued since then, with each side accusing 
the other of violating the agreement.

Guterres also condemned shelling of civilian areas which has killed dozens of 
people from both sides.

“The tragic loss of civilian lives, including children, from the latest reported 
strike on 16 October on the [Azerbaijani] city of Ganja is totally unacceptable, 
as are indiscriminate attacks on populated areas anywhere, including in 
Stepanakert/Khankendi and other localities in and around the immediate 
Nagorno-Karabakh zone of conflict,” said the statement.

“As [Guterres] underscored again in his latest calls with the Foreign Ministers 
of Armenia and Azerbaijan, both sides have the obligation under international 
humanitarian law to take constant care to spare and protect civilians and 
civilian infrastructure in the conduct of military operations,” it said.



Russia ‘Keeps Trying’ To Stop Karabakh War


RUSSIA -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks during a joint press 
conference with his Armenian counterpart Zohrab Mnatsakanian following their 
talks in Moscow on October 12, 2020.

Russia keeps pressing Armenia and Azerbaijan to work out a “verification 
mechanism” that would ensure their compliance with ceasefire agreements reached 
by them, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.
“In order for the ceasefire to work -- we have seen that after two documents 
that were adopted but did not allow to radically change the situation on the 
ground -- [it is necessary] to create a mechanism to verify compliance with the 
ceasefire regime,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

“We, including our Defense Ministry, are actively working on that, with 
colleagues from Azerbaijan and Armenia in the first instance,” he said, 
according to the TASS news agency. “I hope that such a mechanism will be agreed 
on in the very near future.”

Lavrov made a case for such a mechanism after an Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire 
agreement brokered by Russia on October 10 failed to stop hostilities in and 
around Nagorno-Karabakh. He said Moscow is ready to deploy “military observers” 
to the conflict zone as part of such an arrangement. Azerbaijan reportedly 
objected to the idea.

According to a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, the Russians 
tried unsuccessfully to organize a meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani military 
officials last week. She said representatives of the Armenian Defense Ministry 
flew to Moscow but the meeting did not take place because their Azerbaijani 
counterparts did not show up.

Lavrov again spoke with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts on Saturday. 
The separate phone calls were followed by the announcement of another 
Armenian-Azerbaijani truce agreement which was reportedly brokered by France. 
Fighting in Karabakh continued even after that deal, which the warring sides 
accusing each other of not respecting it.

Lavrov on Monday also urged the sides as well as “international players” to tone 
down their “confrontational rhetoric.” “The next absolutely necessary step … is 
a halt to the hostilities and strikes on civilian areas,” he said.

Earlier in the day the Armenian Foreign Ministry insisted that Yerevan remains 
“faithful” to the truce agreements. It claimed that Baku “does not want or is 
unable to implement” them.



Trump Praises Armenians On Campaign Trail

        • Harry Tamrazian

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally at John Murtha 
Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, October 13, 2020.

U.S. President Donald Trump has lavished praise on Americans of Armenian descent 
and said his administration is “working” to address their concerns.
Trump reacted to a supportive chant from an Armenian American woman as he spoke 
at an election campaign rally in Nevada on Sunday. “We are working on some 
things,” he said without elaborating.

“Armenians, they are good people,” Trump went on. “They are great businesspeople 
too, you know … Where I just left there were some many Armenians with beautiful 
flags. We’re working on some things.”

“People from Armenia, they have a great spirit for their country. Thank you very 
much,” he added.

Trump spoke after being greeted in neighboring California by Armenian American 
supporters who waved Armenian flags and urged the U.S. administration to 
recognize Nagorno-Karabakh and help stop Turkey’s military support for 
Azerbaijan.

Trump has still not publicly commented on the hostilities in and around Karabakh 
that broke out on September 27. But U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has 
repeatedly called for an end to the fighting.

On Thursday Pompeo also criticized Turkey’s involvement in the conflict. “We now 
have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, 
increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that’s taking place in this 
historic fight,” he told broadcaster WSB Atlanta.

“We’re hopeful that the Armenians will be able to defend against what the 
Azerbaijanis are doing, and that they will all, before that takes place, get the 
ceasefire right, and then sit down at the table and try and sort through this,” 
Pompeo said in remarks criticized by Azerbaijan.

The United States, Russia and France have long been leading international 
efforts to end the Karabakh conflict through the Minsk Group of the Organization 
for Security Organization in Europe.

Moscow brokered an Armenian-Azerbaijani ceasefire agreement on October 10. 
Hostilities in the conflict zone have continued since then, however.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic rival in the November 3 
presidential election, last week expressed deep concern over the “collapse” of 
the ceasefire and accused the Trump administration of being “largely passive and 
disengaged.”



Karabakh Ceasefire Still Not Holding


NAGORNO-KARABAKH -- An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) explodes atop of a mountain 
outside Stepanakert, 

Hostilities in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone reportedly continued on Monday 
two days after another humanitarian ceasefire agreement announced by Armenia and 
Azerbaijan.

Karabakh’s Armenian-backed army said Azerbaijani forces again started shelling 
in the morning its frontline positions north and south of Karabakh. It said its 
troops are “taking adequate measures” in response.

Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said, for its part, that Armenian forces shelled 
Azerbaijani districts north and east of Karabakh overnight and in the morning.

The conflicting parties continued to accuse each other of not respecting the 
ceasefire agreement which was reportedly brokered by French President Emmanuel 
Macron and was supposed to come into force on Sunday morning.

“Minutes after the announcement of the humanitarian truce, the Azerbaijani armed 
forces resumed hostilities and on the morning of October 18 launched a 
large-scale offensive on the southern front,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said 
in a statement.

“In fact, this is the second ceasefire agreement that Azerbaijan does not want 
or is unable to implement,” it added, referring to a similar deal that was 
brokered by Russia on October 10.

Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le 
Drian discussed the situation on the ground in a phone call on Sunday. According 
to his press office, Mnatsakanian “reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to 
strengthening the ceasefire regime.”

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev claimed, meanwhile, that it was the Armenian 
side that “blatantly violated” the truce agreement early on Sunday. He said at 
the same time that the Azerbaijani army has made more territorial gains since 
then.

Karabakh authorities said that the Karabakh town of Martuni and several villages 
came under Azerbaijani rocket fire on the night from Sunday to Monday. But the 
Karabakh capital Stepanakert was not shelled for a second consecutive night, 
RFE/RL correspondent Susan Badalian reported from the scene.

Most local residents continued to stay in basements and bomb shelters. Some of 
them told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that they expect renewed shelling.

Many buildings in Stepanakert have been seriously damaged since the start of the 
war on September 27.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2020 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.