Pashinyan provides comments on Teghut copper deposit and Alaverdi smelter

ARKA, Armenia
Feb 13 2019

YEREVAN, February 13. /ARKA/. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made explanatory  comments today in response to a question from an MP Armen Yeghiazaryan from the Bright Armenia party regarding the future of the Teghut copper deposit in the northern Armenia and the Alaverdi copper smelter.

According to reports from Alaverdi, the workers of the smelter blocked the railway running to Georgia saying that after the closure of the smelter many  of them lost their jobs and are forced to leave the country in search of employment.

In his comments Pashinyan recalled that VTB Bank had provided a loan of $380 million to Vallex group of companies to develop the deposit.

"In all likelihood, there was political interference to make  the bank provide the loan,  but when time came for its repayment, the company appeared to be unable to do so, being as a matter of fact at the stage of bankruptcy due to solvency problems," said Pashinyan.

He said  after coming to power his government tried to resolve the issue and began negotiations, which resulted in an agreement between VTB Bank and Vallex group of companies, despite the existence of problems with a very complex system of collateral and obligations.

"In fact, last year we reached an agreement that VTB would  become the owner of Teghut deposit and attract a well-known company to operate the deposit and the copper smelter in Alaverdi," said Pashinyan.

Pashinyan said at the initial stage of the process, a strange situation arose, when a company sued Vallex Group for a $4,000 debt  demanding that its property, estimated to cost several hundred million of US dollars, be arrested  as security for payment. 

“Because of this, the previous agreements collapsed, and now the negotiations have returned to zero. We are again negotiating with VTB Bank, because the operator has refused to work in this situation,” said the prime minister.

He noted that the authorities would not put pressure the court  to “remove the debt demand,” since their policy is not to interfere in the judicial processes.

“Negotiations with companies are now entering a new stage. We must assist in resolving the issue as quickly as possible,” Pashinyan said.

In 2018 February Vallex group of companies announced plans to lay off more than one thousand workers. According to a statement provided to the media, the Liechtenstein-registered company’s decision was prompted by the need for further research in order to significantly increase the output. To implement the research, the company was to invite both local and international organizations. Vallex said  it would  refrain from operating the mine until it received grounded proposals from experts.

The company says   it has invested more than $700 million in Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) over the past 20 years, including $400 million in the Teghut deposit.

According to estimates made back in Soviet times, the deposit’s potential is 450 million tons of ore, of which the company confirmed only a fifth so far. At the moment, the capacity of the enterprise allows processing up to 50,000 tons of copper concentrate per year and producing 13,000 tons of blister copper.

The Vallex group of companies includes Base Metals operating in Artsakh,  the Armenian Copper Program operating the copper smelter in Armenia’s Alaverdi, the Institute of Mining Metallurgy and Vallex IT LLC, engaged in information technology.  –0–

Expert: Soros foundation provided Armenian NGOs with about $ 3 million in 2018

Arminfo, Armenia
Feb 13 2019
Tatevik Shahunyan

ArmInfo. Soros and similar foundations have the goal of shaping a political agenda in Armenia in both domestic and foreign policy of the country. Expert of the "Voice  of the People"public club Tsovinar Kostanyan said this at a press  conference.

She provided detailed information on the financial support of the  2018 Soros foundation to Armenian NGOs. In particular, it was  mentioned that, for example, on December 26, 2018, the Restart  student movement received $ 20,000 from the Soros Foundation.

Another expert, members of the group "The Voice of People" club,  Arman Ghukasyan, stated that in 2018 grants amounting to about $ 3  million were transferred from a Soros foundation to a number of  Armenian organizations. The "Union of Informed Citizens" NGO also  received funding from the Open Society Armenia Foundation. <The grant  of this organization was 400,000 dollars. The organization has an  anti-Russian position and opposes the participation of Armenia in the  EEU and the CSTO. This is nothing but interference in our domestic  and foreign policy, "the experts stressed. Experts propose to  introduce a new legislative regulation, which will suspend the  activities of such funds in Armenia. <We must understand that  non-profit organizations of Soros are working against the interests  of our country. The foundation is a threat to countries such as  Russia, Hungary, Israel, Austria and not harm Armenia? >, Ghukasyan  said. 

Cyprus Defense Minister commemorates the victims of the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey

Arminfo, Armenia
Feb 13 2019
Tatevik Shahunyan

ArmInfo. Cyprus Defense Minister Savvas Angelidis visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial and the Genocide Museum as part of his official visit to Armenia.

The Cyprus Defense Minister paid tribute to the memory of the victims  of the Armenian Genocide; in the Museum he left an entry in the book  of sorrow. Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum Foundation  Harutyun Marutyan presented the guest with a 2-volume book of  articles on the Armenian Genocide.

Avinyan accused the opposition of inappropriate criticism of the government`s program

Arminfo, Armenia
Feb 13 2019
Asya Balayan

ArmInfo. There were no constructive proposals or criticism regarding the content of the program of the government from the opposition. This was stated by  Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan in an interview with  journalists.

<And this is very sad. The only thing that has been said so far is  that there are no numbers in the program.  Meanwhile, such conceptual  issues as the economic model of development, the scale of exports and  competition were not given attention, "Avinyan said, stressing that  he would like to return to the constructive field and hold more  meaningful discussions.It should be noted that almost all past  governments of Armenia also accused the opposition of inaccurate  criticism of programs and the lack of constructive proposals. 

David Tonoyan: I think the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia will respond to the statement of the US Department

Arminfo, Armenia
Feb 13 2019
Naira Badalian

ArmInfo.Armenia's decision to send a humanitarian group to Syria was legitimate, and there can be no other opinion. Armenian Defense Minister David Tonoyan said this  on February 13 in an interview with journalists, commenting on the US  position on the issue of sending an Armenian humanitarian mission of  83 people to Syria.

"I think the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia will respond to the statement of the US Department," the Defense Minister said.According to the Armenian Defense Minister, there is some geopolitical contradiction with Washington's position  on this issue, but the support of Syria from Armenia, of which the  Armenian community is a part, is "invulnerable" from a moral point of  view and cannot cause any speculation in a way. 

Recall that on February 8 a group of Armenian specialists in  humanitarian demining, medical personnel and ensuring the safety of  the specialists themselves, in a total of 83 people, arrived in the  Syrian Arab Republic (Aleppo) to provide humanitarian specialized  assistance to the Syrian people. The day before, Armenian Defense  Minister David Tonoyan said that the humanitarian mission of Armenia  in Syria is carried out in accordance with the law. The Minister also  noted that if there are such circumstances, and if the need arises to  participate in military actions, then Armenia will certainly do it in  accordance with the law.

 "Of course, we will work with extra-parliamentary forces to make  such a decision," D.Tonoyan said.The US State Department reacted  rather negatively to sending a group of Armenian specialists to  Syria. The United States does not support any cooperation between  Armenia and Russia in a humanitarian mission in Syria. This is stated  in the statement of the US Department of State regarding the dispatch  of the Armenian humanitarian mission to Syria. The report,  transmitted by the US Embassy in Yerevan, notes that the US side  understands the desire of other countries to respond to the  humanitarian situation in Syria, and the US shares concerns about the  protection of religious minorities in the Middle East. 

"Nevertheless, we do not support any interaction with the Syrian  armed forces, regardless of whether it is about providing assistance  to civilians or is of a military nature. We also do not support any  cooperation between Armenia and Russia in this mission. Russia has  cooperated with the Assad regime, which killed civilians and caused a  humanitarian catastrophe. Russia in the global arena continues to  defend the Assad regime and its atrocities, "the US Department of  State noted, reports. 

Nicosia: Defence minister in Armenia on official visit

Financial Mirror, Cyprus
CYPRUS: Defence minister in Armenia on official visit
Cypriot Minister Defence Savvas Angelides is in Yerevan, Armenia, for an official visit at the invitation of his Armenian counterpart, Davit Tonoyan.
Angelides heads a Ministry delegation that will be received by Tonoyan and hold official talks.
The talks will focus on bilateral relations and explore ways to further enhancing the ties between the two countries as well as issues of mutual interest.
During his stay in the Armenian Capital, Angelides will be received by the country's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and will also meet Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan.
Angelides will lay a wreath to the monument for the victims of the Armenian genocide.
The visit takes place in the context of enhancing and promoting already excellent relations of the Republic of Cyprus and Armenian at a Defence Ministry level, said a statement.

Russian Defence Minister expresses gratitude to his Armenian counterpart for humanitarian aid to Syria

Russian Government News
Tuesday 4:16 PM EEST
Russian Defence Minister expresses gratitude to his Armenian counterpart for humanitarian aid to Syria
Russian and Armenian defence ministers held negotiations in Moscow.
During the constructive meeting in a friendly atmopshere, General of the Army Sergei Shoigu thanked his Armenian counterpart David Tonoyan for participating in providing humanitarian aid to Syria.
"I would like to express gratitude for humanitarian assistance provided for the Syrian people. You were the first to respond to our appeal for assistance to the Syrian people", Sergei Shoigu stressed.
The Russian Defence Minister noted that it was especially important for Syrian children as they have not seen normal peaceful life for years and have not gone to school for five or seven years.
"Your assistance is a significant contribution to establishment of peaceful life in Syria," Sergei Shoigu noted.
In turn, David Tonoyan also thanked the Russian side for its assistance in Syria.  
"I'd like to express sincere gratitude for the assistance that Russia, especially Russian Defence Ministry and you personally provided in organising our humanitarian aid to be sent to Syria. You have made a great contribution," he said.
According to the head of the Armenian Defence Ministry, Russia's activity in Syria benefits post-conflict recovery of the country.
"I believe that our participation in this humanitarian operation is of paramount importance. It is important to help the Syrian people as the Armenian diaspora is part of these people," David Tonoyan added.

Azerbaijani Press: Armenia is under Russian occupation – Tigran Khzmalyan

Turan Information Agency, Azerbaijani Opposition Press
Armenia is under Russian occupation – Tigran Khzmalyan

Yerevan / 11.02.19 / Turan: More and more Armenian citizens are inclined to believe that the future of the country is linked to Western values with Europe. Just the rapprochement with Western civilization that most of all corresponds to the economic, political and cultural needs of Armenia. The co-chairman of the European Party of Armenia, film director Tigran Khzmalyan said this in an interview with Turan.

What then is the reason that a significant part of the citizens of Armenia consider it necessary to focus on Russia, and not on the West? Khzmalyan answered that according to the latest polls in Armenia, 87% of respondents were in favor of deepening ties and relations with the European Union. "Therefore, one should be careful in stating that the majority of Armenians are in favor of an alliance with Russia. I personally think that Armenia is not just under Russian influence, but under Russian occupation since November 29, 1921," he said.

The European Party of Armenia proceeds from the fact that Armenia remains an occupied territory, with limited sovereignty and the main task of the political elite and the whole society in restoring national sovereignty, Khzmalyan said.

When asked how Armenia"s relations with Russia should be built, he said, "We are not allies and partners of Putin"s Russia. This country once again departs from the European vector of development. We see how this country self-isolates from the world and pulls along behind those countries and peoples that are in political and economic dependence on it. Moreover, Russia is pursuing an open colonization policy.

It is enough to say that practically the entire economy of Armenia, its energy sector, the financial and banking sector, the railway, aviation, communications, communications, as well as the security system and much more, are under the complete control of Russia. Under these conditions, it is absurd to talk about sovereignty," Khzmalyan says.

During the four months of its existence, the European Party of Armenia brings this position to the public of the country, as well as to the Russian Embassy. "We are categorically against the stay in Armenia of the Russian military base and the forces of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation," our interlocutor notes.

Let us assume that the Armenian government will raise the issue of withdrawing the Russian base from Gyumri, and revising relations with Russia, do they not fear in Yerevan that the fate of Georgia and Ukraine will repeat?

Khzmalyan answers that Armenia and Azerbaijan have already been through this. "It began with us in 1988: destabilization in the region, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the 4-year war in Karabakh, the transfer of huge masses of people from Armenia to Azerbaijan and vice versa. That is all that we may fear already. Therefore, it should not be afraid," said Khzmalyan. What will happen if Moscow supports Baku in the Karabakh conflict in order to punish Armenia?

This question surprises Khzmalyan, who replies that Moscow, in fact, supports only its own interests. "In this case, Armenia and Azerbaijan are instruments for holding Russian interests. Something similar happened already during the April 2016 war. In our opinion, this operation was coordinated by the General Staff and the military-political leadership of Russia. If you look at the map, it is easy to see that the strikes were carried out in the north and south of Karabakh – in the immediate vicinity of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline and near the Iranian border. By the time these events coincide with the activation in Syria. Moscow"s local interests are clear – control over oil and gas flows. Then, Serzh Sargsyan was required to do one thing – to call for help from the Russian peacekeepers, which he refused to do. On April 5, one day after the signing of the truce, Sargsyan flew not to Moscow, but to Berlin, where he made a sensational statement, which few people noticed. He said that from now on Armenia has no political patrons," said Khzmalyan, who regards this statement as stating that from now on Armenia cannot maintain allied relations with Russia.

According to him, the consent of Armenia and Azerbaijan to bring peacekeepers to the conflict region will allow Moscow to control not only Azerbaijani oil and gas routes, but also possible transportation of hydrocarbons to the West from Iran, Syria and other regions. However, neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan agreed to such a proposal, preferring a fragile truce.

At the same time, Khzmalyan did not rule out the likelihood of punishing Armenia with the hands of Azerbaijan, although he believes that the Armenian side is well prepared to repel the attack.

"This well-prepared operation did not lead to any strategic changes. On the contrary, the reaction of our society was very interesting when the masses of volunteers went to the front. In society, even 25 years later, a consensus remained on this issue. Therefore, we do not exclude such an option, but we are not afraid of it," says Khzmalyan.

What will be if Russia raises the price of gas from $ 165 to $ 200-250? Khzmalyan says that the real price for gas today is already 300 dollars. "Up to the border of Armenia, the gas comes for $ 165, and then transferred to 100% of the Russian structure of Rosarmgazprom, which sells it to consumers at a different price. For ordinary consumers, this price is $ 300 per thousand cubic meters. That is, in fact, Russia sells gas to us very expensive, more expensive than, for example, Ukraine," Khzmalyan says.

He sees a way out of the situation in gas purchases from neighboring Iran. "Why drag oil and gas over three thousand kilometers, when less than 300 km. from Yerevan there is a reliable partner – Iraq, which supplies gas at a much cheaper price – $ 100. It is noteworthy that even this pipe, through which gas comes from Iran, belongs to Gazprom. However, in the case of force majeure, no one and no one will prevent Armenia from breaking this enslaving contract, "our interlocutor believes.

What will happen if the Armenian citizens will not be able to live and work under the conditions created by Russia, and will be forced to return? Khzmalyan said on this question that he does not exclude the possibility that Russia will blackmail Armenia with this issue. During the war with Georgia in 2008, hundreds of thousands of Georgians experienced similar pressure in Russia. Therefore, we should not allow people to become hostages of this situation. "Russia is experiencing a serious economic crisis, is under strong sanctions, earnings there are falling and Russia has been able to, like the Soviet Union on the eve of the collapse.

Oil prices are controlled by the United States, which has turned from a buyer into a major seller of hydrocarbons. On the other hand, the events in Venezuela will lead to the fact that this country will also cease to be an ally of Russia and fall under the influence of the West. Therefore, countries relying only on oil will soon find themselves in a difficult situation.

In addition to reducing the price of oil, the United States is starting a new arms race, which the Russian economy will simply not survive. "Therefore, our compatriots either themselves will guess that they should return, or the Russian authorities will explain this to them by their repressions. However, the return of a million or one and a half million for Armenia is not a disaster, but even very good. This is a painful question, but in no case should it influence the choice of sovereignty," Khzmalyan stressed.

Threat and blackmail can achieve the goal for a short time. However, to build long-term politics on blackmail is impossible. "The younger generation of Armenia will never agree with this, they do not want to live in a slave position. No matter what the great powers do, we must get out of this colonial dependence, from those structures that preserve it – this is the CSTO and EurAsEC, frankly hostile to us and in parallel to develop cooperation with Europe.

If we briefly describe our program, then it is:

1) Armexit – Armenia"s withdrawal from Eurasia and the CSTO;

2) Armenter – Armenia"s entrance to the European Union and NATO;

3) Renovation – European integration with infrastructure and legislative changes in the political field based on European standards. These are our strategic objectives and our generation is obliged to do this," says Khzmalyan.

How can Armenia survive without Russia in the presence of a conflict with Azerbaijan and a closed border with Turkey? Our interlocutor answered this question; it will help the example of Georgia.

After the rapprochement of Georgia with the European Union, its citizens were able to move freely and live in Europe. The Armenians of Georgia took advantage of this and this significantly reduced tensions in Javakheti (Armenian-populated region of Georgia – ed.) The question disappeared when one of the countries found itself in another civilization field, in this case, European. Armenians appreciated the value of the Georgian passport and the interethnic conflict, fueled by Russia in this region, has disappeared.

How should the conflict with Azerbaijan be resolved? To this, Khzmalyan replies that this requires a direct dialogue between sovereign and democratic countries. "If this is not the case, then we can only talk about a truce, and not a long-term peace. As for Armenia, it should become independent, freed from occupation and colonial pressure. Only after this negotiations will be worth something. Now you are talking not with Yerevan, but with Moscow, and everything happens with full control and dictate of Russia," Khzmalyan says.

If we talk about principles, then the world should be based on universal human values, on respect for the rights and freedoms of the individual. "I think that our two nations, having millennial neighbors, will find a solution acceptable to our peoples and states," says Khzmalyan.

On the question of whether he represents Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, he says a categorical "no."

"There is a common opinion in the Armenian society. Moreover, any government that accepts such an opinion will not last 24 hours in power, including the current one," the leader of the European Party of Armenia stressed. -02B-

Azerbaijani Press: Pashinyan opposes the participation of the Azerbaijani community of Karabakh in the negotiations

Turan Information Agency, Azerbaijani Opposition Press
Pashinyan opposes the participation of the Azerbaijani community of Karabakh in the negotiations

Baku / 12.02.19 / Turan: If Azerbaijan prepares its people for war, the reaction of Armenia should be equivalent, said the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan on February 12, speaking in parliament.

He stressed that Azerbaijan is more inclined to resolve the issue in military way.

"The Armenian side sees the solution of the Karabakh conflict by peaceful means, but this does not mean that Armenia should not be ready for war," the premier said. He believes that for a peaceful settlement of the problem it is necessary first to create an atmosphere of peace.

"Today, the atmosphere of peace in the region has not been created due to the aggressive rhetoric of Azerbaijan. If we expect that Azerbaijan will stop its rhetoric, naturally, for our part, we must fix our non-aggressive position," Panarmenian website quotes Pashinyan.

According to him, Karabakh should take part in the negotiations to resolve the conflict. However, Azerbaijan is proposing this to include the Azerbaijani community of Karabakh in the talks.

According to Pashinyan, the interests of the Azerbaijani community are represented by the Azerbaijani authorities, and they always participated in the negotiations.

"Our government clearly states that it does not have the mandate and authority to represent the people of Karabakh for the simple reason that Karabakh did not give the Armenian authorities a mandate to do so. -02D-

Azerbaijani Press: City Hall did not allow rally of the Committee "Karabakh"

Turan Information Agency, Azerbaijani Opposition Press
City Hall did not allow rally of the Committee "Karabakh"

Baku / 12.02.19 / Turan: The executive branch of Baku did not allow a rally of the Karabakh public committee, which began on February 16, demanding drastic measures to liberate the occupied territories.

The mayor"s response said that President Ilham Aliyev would take the necessary measures to restore the country's territorial integrity.

This work is being conducted inside and outside Azerbaijan in accordance with national interests, the response said.

* The Karabakh Committee was established in the summer of 2018 with the participation of 17 public organizations: the Karabakh Liberation Organization; Party of the "Classic" Popular Front, Nationalist Action, Civil Solidarity, Islamic, National Democratic and others.

On September 29, the committee held a rally at the Mehsul Stadium. However, after that, the authorities did not sanction rallies and the picket of the Karabakh Committee. -03B-