RFE/RL Armenian Report – 10/06/2017

                                        Friday, October 6, 2017

Mediators Discuss Armenian-Azeri Summit In Yerevan


 . Artak Hambardzumian


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian (L) meets with the Russian, French
and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in Yerevan, 6Oct2017.

U.S., Russian and French mediators met with President Serzh Sarkisian
in Yerevan on Friday to discuss preparations for his upcoming
negotiations with his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev which they
hope will revive the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.

Sarkisian's press office said the meeting with the three co-chairs of
the OSCE Minsk Group focused on "possibilities of pushing forward the
process of a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, including
issues related to organizing a meeting of Armenia's and Azerbaijan's
presidents." It gave no details.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the mediators "continued
discussions" on the Armenian-Azerbaijani summit at their separate
talks with Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian held earlier in the day.

Russia's Igor Popov, France's Stephane Visconti and Andrew Schofer of
the United States will travel to Baku on Saturday. Aliyev and
Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov said on Thursday that
they too will discuss details of the planned summit with the three
diplomats. "It seems to us that Armenia is returning to the
negotiation process and that is a very important issue," Aliyev was
reported to tell visiting officials from the European Union.

The co-chairs already met with Nalbandian and Mammadyarov in New York
late last month. In an ensuing joint statement, they expressed hope
that the Aliyev-Sarkisian encounter will help the conflicting parties
eventually "find compromise solutions to the remaining key settlement
issues."

The New York talks came just days after Aliyev and Sarkisian traded
fresh accusations while addressing the UN General Assembly. The
Azerbaijani leader also strongly criticized the international
community for not helping Baku regain control over Karabakh. He
similarly tweeted on Thursday that the Minsk Group "must exert more
pressure on Armenia's occupier regime."

For his part, Sarkisian again voiced support for the mediating powers'
peace efforts when he met with Schofer separately on Thursday. The
envoy, who took over as U.S. co-chair of the Minsk Group in August,
visited Karabakh earlier this week.



Eurasian Union Membership Good For Armenia, Says Putin Aide


 . Sargis Harutyunyan


Armenia - Sergey Glazyev, an adviser to Russian President Vladimir
Putin, speaks to RFE/RL in Yerevan, 6Oct2017.

Membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is "very
beneficial" for Armenia and its struggling economy, an adviser to
Russia's President Vladimir Putin insisted on Friday.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in Yerevan, the
official, Sergey Glazyev, also claimed that Azerbaijan's accession to
the trade bloc would facilitate a peaceful resolution of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Glazyev argued that by being part of the EEU Armenia is in a position
to attract foreign investors interested in tariff-free access to the
vast Russian market. "Armenia has unique relationships in the world,"
he said. "We know the pervasive influence of the Armenian Diaspora. We
know the competitive advantages enjoyed by Armenian business circles
in various countries of the world, including those such as America
that are now waging an economic war against us."

"So for international investors Armenia is a very well-known point of
entry into the Eurasian market," Glazyev said, echoing statements by
Armenian leaders.

Pro-Western critics of the Armenian government say that EEU membership
on the contrary hampers the country's economic development. They argue
that economic growth did not accelerate after Armenia joined the bloc
in January 2015. Some of its macroeconomic indicators have actually
worsened since then, they say.

"I will allow myself to express the view that if Armenia had not been
part of the EEU the situation would have been worse," countered
Glazyev. He said that the Russian Central Bank's tight monetary policy
is primarily to blame for recent years' economic downturn in Russia
which has adversely affected Armenia and other EEU member states.

The Kremlin adviser, who deals with post-Soviet economic integration
championed by Moscow, has long advocated stronger government
intervention in the economy. He is also known for his hardline views
on the West.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Russian-Armenian intergovernmental
forum in Yerevan, Glazyev also made a case for bringing more ex-Soviet
republics, including Armenia's arch-foe Azerbaijan, into the EEU.

"The enlargement of the EEU is a natural process because # all
countries in the post-Soviet space co-existed for centuries, know each
other well, know how to deal with each other, use Russian as a
language of mutual communication, and share a common ancient culture
of joint activity and joint building of huge empires. We jointly built
the Russian Empire, the Soviet one, and can well build our future for
the next 100 years," he said.

Glazyev at the same time dismissed as "utter nonsense" claims that
Putin's "Eurasian integration" drive is aimed at eventually restoring
the Soviet Union. He insisted that the EEU will remain an "economic
union" of sovereign nations.

Glazyev also said: "If we want to have peace, mutual assistance and
beneficial cooperation that would also help to end political problems,
then we should integrate the entire Caucasus into the EEU."

"I believe that if we form a common economic space, if long-term
cooperative relationships emerge between companies and people, if our
entrepreneurs do business together, then we will strengthen mutual
trust, the economy will start getting ahead of politics," he went
on. Azerbaijan's membership in the bloc would therefore create
"additional possibilities" of resolving the Karabakh conflict, he
said.

Azerbaijan's leadership has shown little interest in joining the EEU
so far.



Armenia Set To Finally Pass Law Against Domestic Violence


 . Anush Mkrtchian


Armenia - Young activists mark International Day for the Elimination
of Violence Against Women in Yerevan, 25Nov2016.

After years of foot-dragging and indecision, the Armenian authorities
plan to enact soon a special law aimed at combatting domestic violence
and helping its predominantly female victims.

Violence against women had for decades been a taboo subject in the
socially conservative and male-dominated Armenian society. It has been
receiving growing publicity in recent years thanks to the activities
of women's rights groups backed by international human rights
watchdogs.

According to the Yerevan-based Women's Resource Center, more than 50
Armenian women have been beaten to death and killed otherwise by their
husbands or other relatives in the last five years. "This trend shows
no signs of decline," said a representative of the group, Anahit
Simonian. "I think this is a very serious number and this process [of
a enacting a law] must not drag on further."

Justice Minister Davit Harutiunian expressed serious concern over
these figures on Thursday. "Violence is not the foundation of a real
and strong Armenian family," he told a news conference.

Harutiunian said that the Armenian government intends to tackle the
problem with a law drafted by the Justice Ministry last year. Both he
and another senior ministry official, Gohar Hakobian, expressed hope
that the bill will be debated and passed by the parliament soon.

If passed, the bill will introduce criminal and administrative
liability for specific cases defined as domestic violence. It would
also obligate the state to protect victims by providing them with
special shelters or banning their violent spouses from approaching
them and even their children.

Women's rights groups say the Armenian police routinely tell assaulted
and injured women to withdraw their crime reports on the grounds that
they lack legal levers to prosecute attackers.Hakobian stressed that
under the draft law the police will have to launch a criminal
investigation even in case of such a withdrawal.

A 43-year-old woman in Yerevan interviewed by RFE/RL's Armenian
service (Azatutyun.am) claimed to have suffered physical, sexual and
psychological abuse at the hands of her husband for 20 years. "I was
pregnant when he once kicked me and fell from my bed," she said,
adding that she now suffers from chronic health problems.

The woman, who did not want to be identified for fear of further
violence, said she has not divorced him because she cannot support
their three children on her own and does not want to upset her
parents."I was probably not very strong," she added. "But the main
factor was the honor of my parents."

The Justice Ministry posted the proposed law against domestic violence
on its website over two weeks ago to receive feedback from civic
groups and ordinary citizens. The latter were encouraged to vote for
or against its passage. More than 560 website visitors have backed the
bill while 505 others have opposed it since then.

The almost evenly split vote highlights many Armenians' enduring
conservative views on the subject that are backed by some nationalist
groups and pro-government politicians. They say any government
interference in family affairs would run counter to Armenian
traditions and undermine the fabric of the society.

This explains why similar legislations previously put forward by
another government ministry and women's NGOs did not even reach the
parliament floor.

The non-governmental Coalition Against Violence has twice submitted a
relevant measure to lawmakers since 2009. Its coordinator, Zaruhi
Hovannisian, voiced support for the Justice Ministry bill on
Friday. But, she cautioned, it is even more important to change
attitudes of vulnerable women.

"A person must not tolerate violence against them," said
Hovannisian. "They must not get used to it."



Press Review



"Chorrord Ishkhanutyun" criticizes the Armenian parliament for
ratifying on Thursday a Russian-Armenian agreement on bilateral
"military-technical cooperation." The paper claims that the deal
allows Russia to "control the use of weapons supplied to Armenia" and
that the Armenian military will not be able to deploy them without
Moscow's consent.

Meanwhile, Arkadi Ter-Tadevosian, a retired army general who played a
major role in the 1991-1994 war with Azerbaijan, stresses the
significance of another treaty relating to a joint Russian-Armenian
military force, in an interview with "Zhamanak." "We have to
understand that a single state cannot act on its own and must form an
alliance with another state," he says. "Everyone is allied to each
other. There are no lone states. Having such an alliance, we will have
a clear idea on what could happen." The signing of the
Russian-Armenian accord last year was therefore a "very positive
step," concludes Tadevosian.

"Haykakan Zhamanak" reacts to President Serzh Sarkisian's visit on
Thursday to an expanding textile factory mostly belonging to the
family of Samvel Aleksanian, one of Armenia's wealthiest businessmen
linked to his administration. An official press release on the visit
said that the Alex Textile company now employs 470 people. Citing some
government figures, the paper contends that only up to 308 of them are
officially registered with tax authorities. "That in turn means that
162 of this company's 470 employees are part of the shadow [economy]
and the employer withholds their income tax from the state budget," it
claims.

(Tigran Avetisian)


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS