Recognition of Armenian Genocide is my goal, I will never give up: Kim Kardashian

Aysor, Armenia
Oct 8 2019

World famous reality star Kim Kardashian said she discussed the issue of recognition of Armenian Genocide with the U.S. Administration during her visit to the White House.

Speaking to Armenpress, Kardashian said the recognition of the Armenian genocide is her aim and she will never give up.

“I am having discussions at the White House over the issue. I did not have a private dialogue with the president about the issue but I am discussing it with the parliamentarians, it is my goal, I will never give up,” she told Armenpress.

Kardashian is in Armenia with her children to participate in the WCIT-2019.

Her sister Courtney Kardashian and her children are accompanying the Armenian superstar.

Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian seeks more ways to make investments in Armenia

Panorama, Armenia
Oct 8 2019

Armenia's potential in the field of information technology is growing day by day, American-Armenian entrepreneur, Reddit and Initialized Capital co-founder Alexis Ohanian told reporters in Yerevan on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 23rd World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) being held in Yerevan on 6-9 October.

Ohanian arrived in Armenian on Monday to attend the world’s largest IT event. He is among the honorary quests of WCIT 2019.

The entrepreneur noted that Armenia has good tech entrepreneurs and a number of founders of big companies.

He praised the fact that every student from any age in Armenia is learning chess. According to him, this is an ‘amazing’ foundation for learning how to program.

“The thing that really makes me smile is when I see kids going to places like TUMO center and learning how to code. Chess is such an amazing foundation for a skill like programming which is the modern days’ superpower,” he said.

Alexis Ohanian stressed Armenia has some bright minds and one of the best ways to level up its economy is to continue investing in technology.

Asked whether he plans to be one of the investors, he said: “We’ve got a lot of stuff coming up today, and I wanna find some more ways to be investing here.”

In the end, Alexis Ohanian said he still cannot read in Armenian, saying with a smiley face ‘thank you’ and ‘good bye’ to reporters in Armenian.

Negotiations failed? Nagorno-Karabakh conflict reaches dangerous stage

New Eastern Europe
Oct 8 2019

A risky combination of official Armenian rhetoric and the exhaustion of Azerbaijani patience raises concern that another full-scale war could break out in the South Caucasus.

October 8, 2019 – Vasif Huseynov


Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Niкol Pashinyan held informal meeting in Davos (CC) – source:

On September 28th, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, addressing the general debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, pointed out that the settlement of the Armenia–Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict marked no progress over the last twelve months, since the last year’s General Debate. He further added that “the negotiations cannot last forever” if the sides continuously fail to reach a breakthrough.

This statement reflects a view that is widely shared by the members of the Azerbaijani political and expert community about the existing status-quo in the three-decades-old conflict. The negotiations for its settlement mediated by the Minsk Group of the OSCE since the mid-1990s have started to be commonly considered pointless by the Azerbaijani public who push the government to achieve an immediate resolution at any rate, including an all-out war. This generates a threat for the breakout of a sudden military clash in the South Caucasus where the present stability is often taken for granted by the international community.

This is the first time since the governmental change in Armenia last year that the Azerbaijani side seems to have lost all hope for a breakthrough in bilateral negotiations. As a matter of fact, the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of Serzh Sargsyan’s government in Armenia marked a newly found commitment in the conflicting sides to look for ways to bring about progress in the resolution process. A certain degree of optimism was also caused by the short meeting between the leaders of the countries, President Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Tajikistan’s capital, a year ago on September 28th. In the course of the meeting, which was the first between the two, they vowed to de-escalate tensions and create a direct hotline between the two sides.

The subsequent summit of the two leaders, in Vienna on March 29th of this year, looked also positive as both sides described it “constructive”. In the months afterwards, the foreign ministers of both countries met on several occasions to facilitate this process and, towards this end, they also vowed to prepare their public for peace. These developments were really perceived by many observers as a sign of commitment from the new Armenian government to reach an agreement with Azerbaijan.

This promising situation in the region, nonetheless, failed to produce tangible results and dramatically eroded in recent months. The bellicose statements of the Armenian leaders and abrupt changes in the official rhetoric of Pashinyan’s government nipped all hope for a breakthrough in the bud. This in fact started to show itself even before the first summit of the leaders of two countries. For example, on March 1st, just days before the Vienna summit, Armenia’s former National Security Director Arthur Vanetsian defiantly declared that “[N]o one will surrender even an inch of land”.

By aggravating the situation further, Pashinyan even attempted to change the negotiation format endorsed by the OSCE and sought to bring in the representatives of the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” – a regime established by Armenia in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Although his move was objected by the Minsk Group and eventually sidelined, it demonstrated the true nature of Armenia’s approach to the resolution process.

The situation recorded a new low in early August, when Pashinyan called for the unification of Armenia with Karabakh. In his address at the opening ceremony of the Pan-Armenian games that were held illegally in Khankandi, part of the Armenia-occupied internationally recognised territories of Azerbaijan, Pashinyan provocatively declared that “Arstakh is Armenia” (Arstakh is the Armenian name for Karabakh). Calling for the unification between Armenia and Karabakh, he even broke the tradition of former Armenian governments that used to deny Yerevan’s control over the “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” and as such made a direct provocation to the Azerbaijani side.

Farid Shafiyev, Chairman at the Baku-based Center of Analysis of International Relations, names the present period in the conflict resolution process as “post-negotiations”. Commenting on the latest meeting between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan on September 24th in New York, he stated that “The meeting … was formal. Obviously, we have entered the ‘post-negotiation’ period, the onset of which should [have been] expected in the light of the radical and populist statements of the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, sounded over the past few months.”

Last time when Azerbaijani officials expressed such pessimistic statements about the prospects of the negotiations, tensions in the region escalated abruptly and the two sides eventually found themselves in a war in April 2016 in the bloodiest confrontation since 1994. With massive investments into military resources, the Azerbaijani side looks determined to change the status-quo and liberate its occupied territories by force. Having boosted its defence budget by around five per cent in 2019 and testing new weapons and military tactics despite low prices on the oil market, which is the primary source of revenue of the country, Baku is preparing hard towards this end.

This generates a critical situation that would turn out catastrophic not only for the conflicting sides but also for the wider region. Numerous risky regional developments, primarily the apparent failure of the negotiations, the rise of far-right populism in the region as exemplified by Armenian government’s provocative statements, and the exhaustion of the patience of Azerbaijani public for a peaceful settlement, demonstrate that the embers of the conflict are smouldering again and raising concerns for another full-scale war. The international community, in particular the European Union and United Nations, should, therefore, act proactively, push the sides into substantive negotiations and thus prevent the emergence of another bloody conflict in the already war-torn region.

Dr. Vasif Huseynov is a research fellow affiliated with the Baku-based Center for Analysis of International Relations.

Moscow restaurant ‘Armenia’ wins suit against Russian opposition

JAM News
Oct 8 2019

Leaders of the many-month-long protests against unfair elections now have to pay the restaurant $3,000

The Moscow restaurant Armenia has won in a suit against the local opposition, which for several months held large protests demanding independent candidates be allowed to participate in local elections. 

The restaurant, which was territorially at the epicenter of the protests, was the only one in Moscow that, due to alleged losses, sued the organizers – opposition leaders Navalny, Sobol and Yashin in August.

Now the court has handed down a verdict – the organizers of the protests must pay the restaurant owners 241,500 rubles [about $3,000].

Authorities lose majority in Moscow parliament – rundown of Russian elections

Op-ed: Russian elections are over: main events just beginning 

Lentach writes a restaurant representative claimed that on July 27 – the day of the largest rally – the institution received less than 550,000 rubles of income [about $8,500].  

In particular, restaurant representatives said in a lawsuit that a banquet for 40 people had been planned for this day (and did not take place due to the rally) for a total cost of more than 396 thousand rubles [about $6,000].

Lawyers for the defendants insisted that Armenia did not justify why the restaurant had to close. They also noted that a copy of the printout with the cost of the banquet cannot be considered valid evidence of loss.

In addition, according to the defendants, with such declared amounts, each visitor to the banquet had to eat at least four kilograms of food.

But the representative of the restaurant Armenia stated that “it’s not enough for a banquet”, and the judge agreed with him.

When the restaurant filed the lawsuit, in response, thousands of users began to put negative reviews on its Facebook page and thus lowered its ratings (down to two out of five). The restaurant was forced to close the page altogether, Kommersant reports. 

Protests in Russia: what to fear and what to hope for

On the day of the rally on July 27, police detained 1.373 people, dozens were beaten with particular cruelty.

Moscow journalist Sergei Yezhov said that the company that owns the restaurant Armenia recently received a contract from the Russian Interior Ministry.

On August 22, another lawsuit was filed against Alexei Navalny and several unregistered candidates in the Moscow City Duma – this suit was filed by the Moscow Metro

Protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg took place every Saturday from July 20 until the September 8 elections.  

For the most part, the protests were not authorized by the authorities, and therefore they were accompanied by mass beatings of participants and arrests.

One of the most egregious cases was the arrest of the journalist Ilia Azar, whom the police took away from his apartment in which his two-year-old daughter remained.

The most massive protest took place on August 10, more than 60,000 people came to the rally in Moscow.

Several protesters have already received prison sentences of two to five years for such offenses as “posting an offensive tweet,” “throwing a ballot box at a policeman,” “touching a policeman’s helmet.”

Election Results:

•In Moscow, where deputies were elected to the city parliament (Moscow City Duma), the authorities were unable to obtain a majority.  20 out of 45 seats were nominated by opposition parliamentary parties.  

There were only seven such constituencies in the last election.

•But in all 16 regions of Russia where governors were being elected, the current heads of regions appointed by the Kremlin came in first.

2018 uprising leads to a ‘technological revolution’, Armenian PM says

Oct 8 2019
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Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan at the Opening Ceremony of the WCIT 2019, Yerevan, Armenia.

Referring to the recent growth of the tech export markets in Armenia, Pashinyan said the country had a newfound “confidence” following last year’s uprisings.

“The ongoing economic revolution will in turn lead to a technological revolution,” Pashinyan told the World Congress on Information Technology.

“We will be able to turn Armenia into one of the technological innovations leader in the world, a true technological centre,” he told participants at the congress, which takes place in Yerevan, Armenia, this year.

Armenia’s 2018 uprisings, dubbed the ‘velvet revolutions’ due to their peaceful nature, comprised of a series of anti-government protests in Spring 2018 which were led by Pashinyan, then a member of Parliament, alongside civil groups.

The protests had taken place in response to former Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan’s consolidation of power in the country, as well as allegation of widespread corruption across government.

Following Pashinyan’s imprisonment for his part in the protests, the government eventually stood down and opposition parties all rallied behind the imprisoned leader, leading to his appointment as Armenia’s Prime Minister.

After the change in government, Armenia has adopted a liberal approach to trade and investment and is seeking to reposition itself as a nucleus of innovation in the Transcaucasia region. Along this axis, the country is hosting this year’s edition of the World Congress on Information Technology, which aims to highlight the potential of IT across public an private sectors.

The theme of this year’s congress is ‘the power of decentralisation’ – a leitmotif that the Armenians are yielding to highlight their newfound geopolitical strategy. Rather than forming hardline alliances with specific regional partners, the country is seeking to position itself as a “network nation,” a country that is able to maintain positive relations with different partners around the globe, Armenia’s Deputy Education Minister, Arevik Anapiosyan, told EURACTIV.

Armenia’s own relations with neighbours Turkey and Azerbaijan remain frosty. The Turkish government still fails to recognise its role in the 1915 genocide that nearly wiped out the rural Armenian community, while Armenia and Azerbaijan are at loggerheads over the sovereignty of the Nagorno-Karabakh region – a disagreement that escalated in 2016, resulting in violent conflicts.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan said that the theme of decentralisation being rallied by the country is directly related to the 2018 uprisings.

“The connection between the Revolution and the power of decentralization was that the main success of the Revolution was linked with the decentralization itself,” Avinyan said, responding to a question from EURACTIV.

“In April 2018, when various citizens of Armenia started carrying out actions in groups, blocking different streets in the capital Yerevan and the provinces, it was already clear that the Revolution was going to succeed because there was a new common logic which didn’t have central governance, people were just conducting actions of common logic in a decentralized manner.”

“The power of decentralisation is this that this phenomenon was out of control”, he added.

One specific area in which Armenia is seeking to attract tech firms to the region is by proposing attractive tax regimes, at a time in which global tech giants face the possibility of higher levies in the EU.

Prime Minister Pashinyan sat down with Senior Vice President at Pixar Animation Studios Katherine Sarafian and Rajiv Ramaswami, CEO of VWmare, on the sidelines of WCIT yesterday. The Prime Minister was unambiguous in saying that tech firms can obtain a series of benefits in the country, including a decrease in income tax for IT companies from January 2020 in addition to far-ranging privileges for start-ups.

Deputy Education Minister Anapiosyan told EURACTIV on Monday that the notion of a digital services tax for Armenia – an additional levy for tech firms operating online – was “definitely not a priority” for her country.

In addition, members of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation group convened on Monday, in a bid to support the the rollout out of innovative technological solutions in the region. Moldova’s Economy Minister, Vadim Brinzan, said that IT companies are afforded the benefit of “separate tax environments” in his country, while Olga Memedovic, Chief of Business Environment Cluster and Innovation Division at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, said that “innovation cycles are becoming shorter” in the region.

Meanwhile, in the EU, commissioners-designate have signalled their commitment to the idea of establishing a digital tax, in a series of written answers to MEPs published recently.

“If no effective agreement can be reached by the end of 2020, the EU should be willing to act alone” on a digital tax, said Margrethe Vestager, the incoming commission’s vice-president, who will be overseeing digital policy in the forthcoming executive.

Vestager has been tasked with the ‘poisoned chalice’ of digital taxation – incoming Commission President Von der Leyen expects the Dane to find a consensus at international level by the end of 2020 or to propose a fair European tax – a challenging task considering that a coalition of member states banded together to block the plans earlier this year, and an agreement in the OECD is unlikely.

It’s not surprising that Vestager has obtained authority in this field – as the signs have been there for many months that she had wanted to impose her political influence on the digital tax plans. In April, she told told France Inter radio that “we are becoming an increasingly digital world and it will be a huge problem if we do not find a way to raise (digital) taxes.”

In addition, in 2020 the Commission is to present sweeping reforms to age-old eCommerce rules, dubbed the Digital Services Act – a far-reaching and ambitious regulatory framework that seeks to govern the online ecosystem.

Moreover, within the first 100 days of the Commission’s new mandate, staring on November 1, Vestager will also coordinate work on a European approach to artificial intelligence, including its ethical implications.

Amid the EU’s attempt to maintain a grasp on the digital ecosystem, Armenia conversely is seeking to position itself as a liberal marketplace open for business, despite domestic difficulties still plaguing the global reputation of the country – including high unemployment rates and poverty.

For Pashinyan, however, technology may offer the country a solution to its many problems. The long-term objective, he says, is to make “the technological sphere a driving force for our economy.”

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

Armenian human rights activist detained in Istanbul

Oct 8 2019
Armenian human rights activist detained in Istanbul
An Armenian-origin Turkish human rights activist was detained on Tuesday after police raided her home in Istanbul, left-wing news site Gazete Manifesto reported.
Police searched the home of Arlet Natali Avazyan before taking her into police custody, the site said.
The human rights activist’s detention follows a tweet on Monday saying she had been summoned by police to testify in a case filed against over alleged terror links.
Avazyan said she had received a call from the police and would testify regarding her tweets on Tuesday.
The human rights activist, known for her opposition to the Turkish government, a few days ago shared a tweet regarding Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
Avazyan posted a picture on Twitter of what she said was the Çavuşoğlu family from the year 1988.
“They were known as 'Kurdish thieves' in the southern province of Antalya,'' she said, referring to the foreign minister’s family.
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Asbarez: Homenetmen ‘Hrashq’ Kicks Off 2019-2020 Season

A team huddles at the end of practice. Go Hrashq!


Homenetmen “Hrashq” officially kicked off the 2019 to 2020 season over the weekend. The first practice of the season took place on Sunday, September 15 at the Pacific Community Center and Park in Glendale.

The practice started off with a coaches meeting in which Head Coach and Athletic Director Dave Beard presented the volunteers with his expectations for the practice session, and the season as a whole. Coach Beard also introduced the idea of implementing a word of the day, an encouraging word to be incorporated throughout the course of each practice. This week’s word was Hrashq.

Each practice day is separated into two sessions. The first session takes place from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and focuses on the younger athletes, while the second session, starting at 12 and ending at 1 p.m., focuses on the older athletes. Both sessions follow the same practice schedule, with slight modifications made in the second session in order to further challenge the older athletes.

A group 1 athlete successfully dunks a basketball

This week’s practice was all about reintroducing the different sports to the athletes and getting them excited for the upcoming season. The gym was separated into three different stations, each station representing, basketball, track & field, and soccer. While at the basketball stations, the athletes were tasked with shooting drills, had to run from cone to cone at the track & field station, and had to kick the ball into the goal as many times as they could in ten minutes.

There are currently 45 athletes of all ages and abilities enrolled in the program. Homenetmen “Hrashq’s” mission, from the beginning, has been to provide a space for children with special needs with various diagnoses including autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability and others, to participate in athletic competitions within the Armenian community, with the hopes of removing the stigma attached to these diagnoses and encourage acceptance and inclusion.

In order to better achieve their mission, Homenetmen “Hrashq” has developed an inclusion model for this season, in which middle school and high school volunteers will be able to practice alongside their special needs peers.

The Kaham game competitions will also follow the inclusion model by allowing a few of the “Hrashq” athletes to compete with their neurotypical peers from Armenian schools, as well as by holding the “Hrashq” competition event at the same time as the other Armenian schools.

Homenetmen “Hrashq” members and parents working together for a common cause

The Kaham games are only a few weeks away so practices in the future will be focused on preparing the athletes for competition.

Prospective volunteers or athletes may contact the Homenetmen Western Region’s office by calling 323.344.4300 or by emailing Nanor Kabakian.

ANCA-Backed Speier and Chu Measures Take Center Stage during Armenia Visit

Represemtatoves Judy Chu and Jackie Speier meet with Armenia’s Foreign Ministry Zohrab Mnatsakanyan

YEREVAN – Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Jackie Kanchelian Speier and leading proponent of Artsakh security, Congresswoman Judy Chu, kicked off their visit to Armenia and Artsakh Monday, focusing attention on recent Congressional amendments spearheaded by the two California legislators, and backed by the Armenian National Committee of America – appropriating an additional $40 million in U.S. assistance to Armenia and implementing Royce-Engel peace proposals to reduce tension along the Artsakh – Azerbaijan border.

“These visits by Reps. Speier and Chu are all the more meaningful – for all Armenians, from their home Congressional Districts to the farthest reaches of our Armenian homeland – in light of their recent legislative leadership in securing the adoption of House amendments supporting Armenia’s democracy and strengthening Artsakh’s security,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We look forward to their successful visits, and of course, to continuing to engage here in Washington, DC with House and Senate leaders to ensure that these provisions remain in the final bills signed into law by the President.”

Rep. Speier, with the support of Reps. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), introduced the Speier amendment to the House version of the Fiscal Year 2020 Foreign Aid Bill, appropriating $40 million in democracy aid to Armenia. “It is very important at this point in time that we do everything in our power to support this new democracy,” stated Rep. Speier during House floor debate in June. “Armenia has a rare and potentially fleeting window of opportunity to consolidate and build upon its democratic gains. […] Armenia has earned a clear signal that the United States supports its democratic transformation and resources will be brought to them to carry out that transformation.”

Representatives Jackie Speier and Judy Chu meet with Parliament Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan

Thousands of ANCA Rapid Responders and Armenian Americans across the U.S. reached out to their U.S. Representatives in support of the Speier Amendment for Armenia assistance through the ANCA’s March to Justice portal. In the days leading up to the vote, ANCA Leo Sarkisian Summer Interns amplified the nationwide constituent advocacy, visiting with every U.S. House office in support of the measure, which was adopted by a vote of 268 to 153 in June.

Armenian National Assembly Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan, who invited the two Congressional leaders from California, welcomed the American lawmakers, and thanked Representatives Speier and Chu for their efforts in advancing support for Armenia in Congress, especially highlighting Rep. Speier’s efforts to secure $40 million of additional financial assistance to Armenia to improve democratic institutions.

Mirzoyan added that the United States is among the key partners for Armenia, and Armenia is eager to develop U.S.-Armenia relations in all directions. Mirzoyan emphasized the importance of cooperation between the legislatures of the two countries.

Representatives Jackie Speier and Judy Chu meet with Armenia’s Supreme Judicial Council

The parliament speaker said that after the 2018 “Velvet Revolution,” Armenia was confidently moving in the direction of democratic reforms and free elections with human rights, free competitive economy, transparency, accountability, independent judicial system and fight against corruption as fundamental goals for the new government of Armenia.

Representatives Speier and Chu also met with Armenia Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan where they reviewed Armenia’s foreign policy priorities and progress in the Artsakh peace process.

Mnastakanyan emphasized the need for ongoing U.S.-Armenia dialogue at all levels, and thanked the visiting lawmakers for their efforts to strengthen U.S.-Armenia relations.

In a meeting with Supreme Judicial Council President Ruben Vardazaryan, and Council members Grigor Bekmezyan, Sergei Chichoyan and Hayk Hovhannisyan, the Members of Congress received an update on judicial reforms in Armenia.

The council members briefed the visiting U.S. lawmakers about the steps being taken to ensure the efficiency and reasonable timeframes for investigation of cases. Vardazaryan said that three times more qualified judges were needed to make the judiciary more effective stated that in order to make all judicial matters effective, explaining that there were 13 vacant positions on various benches across the country.

Speier and Chu said that they would follow the developments of the Supreme Judicial Council in Armenia in hopes of providing assistance and solutions to the ongoing process.

Chu and Speier are scheduled to travel to the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), where they will be meeting with government leaders and visiting the U.S. funded de-mining program, led by The HALO Trust. Central to the day’s discussions will be the Chu Amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Bill, led by Congresswoman Chu with the support of Congressional Armenian Caucus Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Vice-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA).

“The campaign of terror against the people of Artsakh must end,” Rep. Chu told the ANCA following House passage of her measure in July. “That’s why I introduced my amendment to support the cease-fire strengthening proposals originally put forward by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel and his predecessor, Ed Royce. The Royce-Engel proposals include gunfire locators, new observers, and a ban on snipers, heavy arms, and new weaponry along the line-of-contact. Adopting them is necessary for ensuring those who violate the peace are caught and stopped, and that is what my amendment encourages. I am pleased it was adopted in the NDAA and hope to see these proposals implemented,” concluded Rep. Chu.

ANCA summer interns worked across Capitol Hill advocating in support of passage of the Chu amendment throughout the days leading up to the July 11th House adoption of the measure. Since her first election to the U.S. House a decade ago, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) has enjoyed a strong relationship with the ANCA chapters in Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley.

The Royce-Engel initiative, first proposed in Fall of 2015, received the support of over 100 U.S. House members through a series of Congressional calls to the U.S. Administration and the OSCE to take concrete action to ensure Artsakh peace as Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group mediated negotiations continue. The ANCA has launched multiple nationwide grassroots campaigns in support of the initiative, which has gotten support from the U.S. State Department and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, in addition to the Republics of Artsakh and Armenia. Azerbaijan remains the only obstacle to their practical implementation.

World Congress of Information Technologies Kicks Off in Yerevan

An concert billed as the fist-ever AI performance, kicked off Word Conference on Information Technologies in Yerevan

The much-anticipated World Congress of Information Technologies kicked off in Armenia on Sunday evening with a concert celebration in Republic Square, featuring the first-ever artificial intelligence concert. The official program for WCIT began on Monday morning at the Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex in Yerevan.

The conference, which will conclude on Wednesday, is the signature event of the World Information Technology & Services Alliance and has brought together more than 2,500 participants from 70 countries.

This year, the WCIT’s theme is “The Power of Decentralization: Promise and Peril” and will explore how information and communications technology is transforming our lives for better and for worse, and its impact on profits and prosperity, safety and security, democracy and humanity.

The Congress will feature keynote presentations and panel sessions that bring together several speakers, among them Kim Kadashian-West, Alexis Ohanian, GIPHY founder Alex Chung, VaynerMedia president Gary Vaynerchuk, renowned musician Serj Tankian, Acer founder Stan Shih, famous CNN journalist Richard Quest and many others.

Sunday night’s concert at Republic Square was led by the WCIT Orchestra, composed of 100 musicians from 15 countries who were performing together for the first time on stage in real time and featured Grammy Award-winning DJ Armin Van Buuren.

The conference kicked off on Monday with welcoming remarks by Alexandr Yesayan, President of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises and chairman of the WCIT 2019 organizing committee.

“This was a big dream to bring this conference to Armenia and specially Karen Vardanyan, CEO of UATE, has this dream for more than ten years,” he said adding that “Armenia is now uniquely positioned today to become the center for this next three days as well as to become the center in the region as IT is developing in our country.”

Deputy Prime Minister TIgran Avinyan participated in the WCIT

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who delivered introductory remarks at the event, said, “we believe we can make Armenia a paradise for talented people”

“The IT sector in our country has grown about five times in the last seven years. A steady 20% to 25% growth is recorded every year,” the PM noted.

Also speaking at the first day of the conference was Richard Clarke, National Security Expert and author, Chairman of the Middle East, Global Change, countries like Armenia can become economic powerhouses.

“Countries like Armenia, countries that train people in how to code, can become economic power houses, by tying into the knowledge economy,” he noted warning that if we do not create international norms, then the IT we are creating will become “a weapon against us”.

It is proven that those countries, such as Armenia, that make a decision to commit to ICT development benefit greatly, said the Yvonne Chiu chair of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance, who added that Armenia is deservedly considered the “Silicon Valley of the former Soviet Union.”

On the margins of the WCIT conference, the opening ceremony of DigiTec Expo 2019, the largest and most anticipated event in the IT field, took place at Mergelyan Institute’s Yerevan Expo Center on Sunday.

The Executive Director of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UATE) Karen Vardanyan and the Co-Founder and General Director of Ucom, the Platinum Sponsor of the event, Hayk Yesayan, state officials, representatives of local and international organizations, diplomats and other guests were also present at the opening ceremony of DigiTec.

On the sidelines of the annual regional exhibition of IT technologies DigiTec, Armenia and India signed an agreement on franchising of engineering ArMath laboratories.

Also, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Armenia and Ethiopia which provides for the opening of over 50 engineering laboratories for schoolchildren according to the model operating in Armenia.

According to Vardanyan, the ministers who have arrived in Armenia to participate in the WCIT forum are interested in cooperation with the Armenian side.

White House Green Lights Turkey Attack on Kurds in Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with President Donal Trump

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)— The White House said Sunday that U.S. forces in northeast Syria will move aside and clear the way for an expected Turkish assault, essentially abandoning Kurdish fighters who fought alongside American forces in the yearslong battle to defeat Islamic State militants.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened for months to launch the military operation across the border. He views the Kurdish forces as a threat to his country. Republicans and Democrats have warned that allowing the Turkish attack could lead to a massacre of the Kurds and send a troubling message to American allies across the globe.

U.S. troops “will not support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area,” in northern Syria, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an unusual late-Sunday statement that was silent on the fate of the Kurds. There are about 1,000 U.S. troops in northern Syria, and a senior U.S. official said they will pull back from the area — and potentially depart the country entirely should widespread fighting break out between Turkish and Kurdish forces.

The announcement followed a call between President Donald Trump and Erdogan, the White House said.

The decision is a stark illustration of Trump’s focus on ending American overseas entanglements — one of his key campaign promises. But his goal of swift withdrawals in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have been stymied by concerns from U.S. officials and American allies about the dangerous voids that would remain. As he faces an impeachment inquiry at home, Trump has appeared more focused on making good on his political pledges, even at the risk of sending a troubling signal to American allies abroad.

Key Republican leaders in Congress appeared taken aback by the move.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday in an appearance on “Fox & Friends” that he had not spoken with Trump about the decision and had concerns.

“I want to make sure we keep our word for those who fight with us and help us,” he said, adding that, “If you make a commitment and somebody is fighting with you. America should keep their word.”

One of the show’s hosts, Brian Kilmeade, asked McCarthy to try to intervene and “call the president before it’s too late.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of Trump’s most vocal backers, also weighed in via tweet, saying that, “If press reports are accurate this is a disaster in the making.”

Trump, meanwhile, tweeted a lengthy defense Monday morning, writing in all-caps that, “WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN.”

In December, Trump announced he was withdrawing American troops from Syria but was met with widespread condemnation for abandoning Kurdish allies to the Turkish assault. The announcement prompted the resignation in protest of then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and a coordinated effort by then-national security adviser John Bolton to try to protect the Kurds.

Since January, U.S. officials have tried to broker the creation of a “safe zone” in northern Syria to provide a security buffer between the Turkish military and Kurdish forces, but Turkey has repeatedly objected to its slow implementation.

The White House announcement Sunday came a day after Erdogan offered the strongest warning yet of a unilateral military operation into northeastern Syria, as the Turkish military has been dispatching units and defense equipment to its border with the area.