Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 22-06-22




YEREVAN, 22 JUNE, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 22 June, USD exchange rate down by 4.39 drams to 412.62 drams. EUR exchange rate down by 5.99 drams to 434.08 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate up by 0.11 drams to 7.76 drams. GBP exchange rate down by 6.84 drams to 505.42 drams.

The Central Bank has set the following prices for precious metals.

Gold price down by 209.46 drams to 24412.83 drams. Silver price down by 2.85 drams to 287.48 drams. Platinum price stood at 16414.1 drams.

RFE?RL Armenian Report – 06/20/2022


Head Of Armenian Judicial Watchdog Shows ‘Proof Of Government Blackmail’

        • Anush Mkrtchian

Armenia - Ruben Vartazarian, head of the Supreme Judicial Council, at a news 
conference in Yerevan, .

The nominal head of Armenia’s judicial watchdog controversially suspended last 
year publicized on Monday an audio recording which he believes corroborates his 
claims that the government warned him to resign or face criminal charges.

The official, Ruben Vartazarian, was suspended as chairman of the Supreme 
Judicial Council (SJC) and charged with obstruction of justice in April 2021 
amid rising tensions with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. Pashinian’s political 
allies accused him of encouraging courts to free arrested government critics.

Vartazarian denied the charges and said that he was indicted as part of 
government efforts to replace him with Gagik Jahangirian, a controversial former 
prosecutor widely seen as a figure loyal to Pashinian.

Jahangirian was named as acting head of the SJC pending the outcome of the 
criminal investigation into Vartazarian. The investigation is still going on, 
according to law-enforcement authorities.

At a news conference held in Yerevan, Vartazarian released a secretly recorded 
audio of his conversation with Jahangirian and another SJC member, Stepan 
Mikaelian, which he said took place on February 20, 2021.

Armenia - Gagik Jahangirian, the acting chairman of the Supreme Judicial 
Council, at a news conference in Yerevan, August 2, 2021.

Jahangirian can be heard seemingly telling Vartazarian that he will not face 
criminal proceedings if he steps down as SJC chairman by March 1, 2021.

“I’m telling you, forget about everything, put aside everything, you have kids, 
you have a home,” Jahangirian says, adding that he does not want “bad things” to 
happen to Vartazarian.

Neither Jahangirian nor the SJC denied the authenticity of the 14-minute audio.

The judicial watchdog, which nominates judges and can also dismiss them, 
released a statement downplaying the significance of the audio. It said that it 
will not comment on the “private conversation” recorded without Jahangirian’s 

The acting head of the SJC told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that he has nothing to 
add to the statement.

Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General said, meanwhile, that it has 
instructed another law-enforcement agency to examine the recording and determine 
if there was indeed “illegal interference” in criminal investigations relating 
to Vartazarian.

Armenia - The Supreme Judicial Council holds a hearing in Yerevan, July 26, 2021.

Ever since Jahangirian took over the SJC, Armenian courts have rarely rejected 
arrest warrants sought by law-enforcement authorities for opposition figures 
prosecuted on various charges rejected by them as politically motivated. 
Independent and pro-opposition media outlets have regularly accused Jahangirian 
of pressuring judges to make such decisions. He denies that.

Jahangirian stated last August that Armenian courts must be purged of “people 
who have committed crimes against justice.” The 67-year-old himself had been 
accused of grave human rights abuses when serving Armenia’s chief military 
prosecutor from 1997-2006.

In recent months, Armenian opposition groups, lawyers and some judges have 
accused Pashinian’s government of seeking to increase government influence on 
courts under the guise of judicial reforms. The government says the reforms are 
on the contrary increasing judicial independence.

European diplomats signaled their continuing support for the declared reforms 
during a June 8 conference in Yerevan organized by the country’s Constitutional 
Court and the Council of Europe. Armenian opposition lawmakers were not allowed 
to take part in the conference.

U.S. Says Ready To Work With Russia On Karabakh Peace

        • Heghine Buniatian

Armenia - U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried is interviewed by 
RFE/RL in Yerevan, June 18, 2022.

The United States is willing to continue to cooperate with Russia in 
facilitating a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, U.S. Assistant 
Secretary of State Karen Donfried insisted over the weekend.

The U.S., Russia and France have for decades jointly tried to broker an 
Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord in their capacity as the co-chairs of the OSCE 
Minsk Group. According to Russian officials, Washington and Paris stopped 
working with Moscow in the Minsk Group format following the Russian invasion of 

Donfried denied this as she visited Armenia on the last leg of her tour of the 
three South Caucasus states.

“The U.S. has continued to say that we support the Minsk Group co-chair 
process,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service in an interview. “We continue to 
believe that it is a very important format, particularly on Nagorno-Karabakh, 
and it is essential that we keep various formats in play to try to advance 
peace. And we will continue to do that going forward.”

Asked whether Washington is ready for fresh contacts with Moscow for that 
purpose, Donfried said: “Yes. Russia is a Minsk Group co-chair. France, the U.S. 
and Russia would continue in that format.”

In recent weeks, Armenia’s leaders have called for renewed joint activities of 
U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. Prime Minister Nikol 
Pashinian reportedly discussed the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin 
in a June 1 phone.

Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian meets with U.S. Assistant Secretary of 
State Karen Donfried, June 18, 2022.

By contrast, Azerbaijani officials and President Ilham Aliyev in particular have 
repeatedly questioned the need for the Minsk Group’s continued existence. Aliyev 
has said that the war in Ukraine has effectively put an end to that joint 
mediation framework.

“Azerbaijan has not been supportive of the Minsk Group co-chair process, the 
United States is,” said Donfried. “We are a participant in that process and we 
will continue to do so.”

The U.S. official met with Aliyev in Baku before proceeding to Yerevan for talks 
with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian held on Saturday. She said that in both 
capitals she “felt a desire for peaceful settlement.”

Aliyev on Thursday implicitly threatened to resort to military action if Armenia 
continues to oppose the opening of a land corridor connecting Azerbaijan to its 
Nakhichevan exclave. Officials in Yerevan responded by reiterating that 
Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements brokered by Russia call for only conventional 
transport links between the two South Caucasus states.

Commenting on Aliyev’s bellicose rhetoric, Donfried said: “There is no question 
that words matter and so we need to be thoughtful about the words that we use. I 
think actions matter as well but if there is going to be forward progress toward 
reconciliation between Azerbaijan and Armenia there is no question that people 
need to be mindful about their words.”

Armenian President ‘Happy’ With Russia’s Resilience To Sanctions

Russia - Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturian talks to other Armenian 
participants of an economic forum in St Petersburg, June 17, 2022.

President Vahagn Khachaturian has praised Russia’s response to Western 
sanctions, saying that Moscow has confounded gloomy economic predictions made 
right after its invasion of Ukraine.

Khachaturian was among foreign dignitaries who attended an international 
economic forum held in Saint Petersburg late last week with almost no Western 
participation. He sat next to the speakers of both houses of Russia’s parliament 
during the main plenary session of the annual forum that featured a keynote 
address by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin again defended his “special military operation” in Ukraine and dismissed 
the resulting Western sanctions as an “economic blitzkrieg against Russia had no 
chance of succeeding from the very beginning.” He claimed that the unprecedented 
sanctions are primarily damaging Western economies.

Meeting with Putting later on Friday, Khachaturian said he agrees with “the 
conclusions which you drew” in the speech.

“It’s really a new era,” he said at the start of the meeting. “One should 
probably think about how to continue to develop in the new conditions that open 
up new opportunities.”

“I am sure that Russia’s economy will survive based on the resources and means 
at its disposal and given [what happened in] the last two months,” he went on. 
“The expectations, the predictions which … were made even by Russian 
specialists, financiers and economists have not come true.”

RUSSIA – Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during the St. 
Petersburg International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg, June 17, 2022

Khachaturian, who himself is an economist, said the Russian authorities’ 
economic policies have reversed a depreciation of the Russian ruble, reined in 
inflation an enabled the domestic economy to continue its “development.”

“In this sense, I am very happy,” added the largely ceremonial president who was 
elected by the Armenian parliament one week after the start of the Russian 
invasion in late February.

Armenia, which has very close economic links with Russia, was initially expected 
to be hit hard by the barrage of sanctions imposed by the United States, the 
European Union and other Western powers. But with the Russian economy proving 
more resilient than expected, the authorities in Yerevan now hope that Armenia’s 
economic growth will not slow down significantly this year.

Khachaturian also praised Putin’s role in the ceasefire that stopped the 2020 
Armenian-Azerbaijani war and follow-up peace efforts.

“I think that the Armenian people appreciate your efforts to resolve the 
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” he said.

The president went on to note “historical friendship” of Armenia and Russia. 
“It’s not me, it’s our ancestors who had decided 200 years ago or earlier that 
we must live together and make joint efforts to develop,” he said.

Putin Hopes For ‘Stability’ In Armenia

Russia - Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with his Armenian counterpart 
Vahagn Khachaturian, Saint Petersburg, June 17, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has described Armenia as Russia’s “strategic 
ally” and said Moscow is interested in political stability in the South Caucasus 

“Armenia is not just our partner, it’s our strategic ally, and we value that,” 
Putin told Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturian late on Friday during a 
meeting held on the sidelines of the Saint Petersburg International Economic 

“We understand what is happening today in Armenia and around Armenia,” he said. 
“We are intent on developing our partnership relations. We are interested in a 
stable situation in the country which will guarantee progressive development.”

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov similarly expressed hope last month that Armenia 
will enter a “period of stability” when he comment daily antigovernment protests 
launched by the Armenian opposition on May 1. Peskov said the protests aimed at 
toppling Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian are the country’s “internal affair.”

In his opening remarks at his first-ever meeting with Putin, Khachaturian said 
that Pashinian’s official visit to Russia in April had a “huge impact” on the 
political situation in Armenia by ending “some speculation” there.

“But it was clear how you received [Pashinian] here and what he felt when he 
toured [the Russian city of] Nizhny Novgorod,” Khachaturian said, seemingly 
alluding to speculation that Moscow is encouraging opposition groups to oust 

“I am confident that our further relations will certainly develop. One should 
just help the leadership of the country, I mean Armenia, and, if there are some 
problems, root out those problems,” added the largely ceremonial head of state, 
who was elected by Armenia’s government-controlled parliament earlier this year.

Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2022 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.


Sports: Armenia defender completely loses his head with two bookings in five seconds vs Scotland

June 15 2022

Armenia defender Arman Hovhannisyan committed two bookable offences within the space of just five seconds in their Nations League clash with Scotland which earned him an early bath


Dan Burnham
  • 08:58, 15 JUN 2022

Armenia defender Arman Hovhannisyan was given his marching orders against Scotland after picking up two bookings in the space of just five seconds.

Defender Hovhannisyan completely lost his head as he first chopped down Nathan Patterson with a reckless and late tackle which had referee Nikola Dabanovic reaching for his yellow card. But before the Montenegrin official could even brandish it, the 28-year-old committed a second bookable offence.

He squared up to a disgruntled John McGinn, who he then proceeded to headbutt to seal his fate. Dabanovic showed him the pair of yellows and then the red card in quick succession.

Commentator Ally McCoist afforded Hovhannisyan no sympathy. He said: "The tackle is a howler, the tackle is a yellow card. Let's get that straight away." After then seeing the headbutt, he added: "It's ridiculous, he's off. It's stupidity."

The score had been level before the sending off which came shortly before the break, but Stuart Armstrong netted his and Scotland's second of the night in added time to further Armenia's woes.

McGinn and Che Adams doubled the tally in the second half, before Arman's team-mate and namesake Kamo Hovhannisyan received a straight red for a tackle on Scott McTominay in the dying embers of the game to reduce the hosts to nine men.

The 4-1 win put Scotland up to second in their Nations League group. They lost to Ireland at the weekend but also beat Armenia 2-0 on home turf earlier in the international break.

Arman Hovhannisyan was also involved in a heated moment during that match for which he was lucky not to be sent off for. As he and his team-mates protested a goal which was later ruled out by VAR for offside, he picked up a water bottle and appeared to throw it in the direction of the linesman.

Miraculously, he wasn't even booked for the incident. But he wasn't afford the same leniency on Tuesday (June 14) night.



Steve Clarke knows there's still work to do as he has say on Armenian tactics and bottle-throwing | The Scotsman
Scotland boss Steve Clarke hits out at bottle throwing following Armenia clash (yahoo.com)
Armenia 1 – 4 Scotland – Match Report & Highlights (skysports.com)
Willie Miller slams two Armenian 'assaults' with Scotland win talked up as Steve Clarke turning point – Daily Record
Steve Clarke reacts to Armenia fans' bottle throwing as Scotland boss hails players' character – Daily Record
'I was malkied by Armenia hothead even if pals reckon I was a wee bit dramatic' insists Scotland star John McGinn | The Scottish Sun
Patterson Assists As Scotland Thrash Armenia (evertonfc.com)
Armenia vs. Scotland – Football Match Summary – June 14, 2022 – ESPN
'It got a bit tasty' – John McGinn opens up on Scotland's night in Armenia | The Scotsman

Chief of Staff at PM’s Office and Vice Speaker of Parliament to chair STARMUS VI Festival organization commission



 11:30, 17 June 2022

YEREVAN, JUNE 17, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a decision on setting up an inter-agency commission to coordinate the organization works of the STARMUS VI Festival which will take place in Yerevan this year on September 5-11.

The commission will be co-chaired by Chief of Staff at the Prime Minister’s Office Arayik Harutyunyan and Vice Speaker of Parliament Hakob Arshakyan.

Officials from other agencies are also involved in the commission.

More than 90 European organizations address letter to Charles Michel on his mediation concerning NK conflict




YEREVAN, JUNE 17, ARMENPRESS. On the initiative of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD), 91 organizations active in the EU Member states sent a letter to the President of the European Council Charles Michel, expressing profound discontent with his statement following the trilateral meeting with the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev dating to 23 May 2022, Armenpress reports citing the EAFJD website.

“The organizations welcome Charles Michel’s efforts for peace negotiations. Nevertheless, they emphasize the importance of ensuring that peace is negotiated based on justice and not by sacrificing the fundamental rights and needs of the Armenian side which has been a victim of vicious aggression of the Turkish-Azerbaijani tandem in 2020.

The organizations regret that the press statement of 23 May disregards key principles of EU’s documented approach towards the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and overall endorses the Azerbaijani stance on the conflict resolution in some crucial aspects. This includes using the wording “Karabakh” while referring to the conflict, instead of “Nagorno Karabakh” which is a political entity with a defined territory. The letter further elaborates that using the term Karabakh by the Azerbaijani authorities is a part of the ongoing state policy of ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh.

Referring to the statement by the spokesperson of Charles Michel on 31 May 2022, the organizations express appreciation that it introduced important clarifications and emphasized key principles. The organizations express hope that EU’s future mediation on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict does justice to negotiating an equitable and lasting peace. For this purpose the call on the President of the European Council to base the mediation on six concrete aspects”, the statement says.

Secretary General says CSTO takes all necessary measures to ensure security of member states




YEREVAN, JUNE 17, ARMENPRESS. The Secretaries of the Security Councils of the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) analyzed in detail the military-political situation at a globe during their today’s session in Yerevan, CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas said following the session, regretting over the current crisis in the global security system.

“Agreements existing for decades actually stop operating, and the level of mistrust between a number of leading players is approaching a critical juncture. Moreover, the security challenges and threats not only have not lost their sharpness, but also are showing trends of escalation due to the growing global uncertainty”, he said.

He said that the CSTO principled position on these issues remains the same that all disagreements and conflicts must be solved through political means. The organization addresses all powers with this call.

In line with this, Mr. Zas said, the CSTO is taking all necessary measures to strengthen peace and stability in its member states and is ready for the protection of its interests.

“The development of capacities of collective security forces and means, as well as the mutual partnership of special services and law enforcement agencies is one of the main tools to ensure the security of the member states and resist the challenges and threats”, the CSTO chief said.

He thanked the Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan and his staff for creating wonderful conditions for holding the session.

The Pursuit of Property: The Afterlife of an Armenian Charitable Complex in Istanbul

  •   By Naomi Cohen

WHEN TOURISTS take the shuttle out of the Istanbul airport, they are likely to notice a deep crater across from the last stop, overlooked by a bunch of hollowed-out pastel houses. This mess was supposed to be a shopping mall, convention center, theater, hotel, and more — an “international fun system,” in the words of Selim Dalaman, the architect behind the project.

People would come here to forget, buy, laugh, swim, dine, dance, and sleep. Dalaman was used to larger-than-life projects, but this one, he said, was the biggest he could ever hope to build in such a central spot, in a city of 15 million, on “virgin” land.

Yet as the story goes in most cities, especially ones several millennia old, the land wasn’t virgin. For 175 years, it had held the Armenian Catholic Surp Agop Hospital and its appendages, including a retirement home, a mental asylum, and low-rent housing. The foundation that ran them helped the congregation survive some of the darkest days in the region’s history: it gave free schooling to children orphaned by the 1915 Armenian Genocide and free care to members crippled by discriminatory taxes in 1942. It also pooled wealth in the community to keep it there, even after entire families moved continents.

However far or high the city stretched, and however tense the days for Armenians in Turkey, the buildings stayed put, a reminder that they were inked into the skin of Istanbul. But on paper, the property was itself orphaned. With nothing but a sultan’s decree and a 1936 record to its name, it had no owners, at least in the modern legal sense. This left it under the yoke of the Turkish state — until the state made amends, and the hospital plot vanished.

The Surp Agop Hospital Foundation is “slowly wasting away and under threat of disappearing,” wrote its board president in 1957 in the short-lived Surp Agop Hospital Nonpolitical Monthly Magazine. The truth was that, back then, it was not. Costs were up and donations were down, but the buildings it ran and inherited from members without family were gaining value.

Conrad Hilton built his first international hotel just across from the hospital, on top of an Armenian cemetery, which the city had seized and resold for cheap. To keep up, the Surp Agop board spruced up its three dozen shopfronts and cleared its vegetable patch and a unit of social housing to build the Şan Theatre, a music hall the likes of Radio City.

Then, in 1987, it caught fire. Smoke curled into the retirement home above the hospital, but only the theater burned.

“It wasn’t that old of a building,” said a congregation member, “but it became history.” The theater wasn’t just a piece of real estate; it had placed the foundation at the frontier of Istanbul nightlife, with its classical concerts, spaghetti Westerns, musicals, and air conditioning. The board wanted no less of the building that would replace it: a pair of American consultants had told them they were underselling their worth, and that was just in financial terms.

The timing of the fire was lucky. Turkey had its first prime minister who didn’t make life hard for non-Muslim foundations. Turgut Özal was also a World Bank veteran and did all the things a good liberalizer does. He privatized industry and opened Turkey to free trade. He also looked into returning large plots of land to diasporic Armenians, after a cost-benefit analysis told him they had high sums to invest.

Özal’s plan was too radical for its time, but the Surp Agop Foundation’s project wasn’t. An industrial conglomerate that was friendly with Özal signed with the board to build an entertainment complex where the Şan Theatre had been. They swiftly got permission — but when Özal died two years later, ultranationalists killed the project.

The foundation waited for the next liberalizer to help them resurrect it. In 1999, Board President Greguar Akan met Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then former mayor of Istanbul, at a cocktail party. Akan told Erdoğan and his colleague Abdullah Gül about the entertainment complex.

“You’ll do it, no problem,” he remembered them telling him. “You’ll only have issues if there’s a historical relic.”

“There isn’t.”

“Then you’ll do it.”

When Erdoğan became prime minister, he appointed Gül as foreign minister to push forward talks to join the European Union. The EU prioritized property rights for non-Muslims. In 2008, Gül, by then president, opened a way for Armenian and other non-Muslim charitable foundations to claim their right to thousands of their unregistered and confiscated properties. It was an uneasy peace. Most applications were rejected. Some modest properties were pried from government hands after years of trial. The easiest returns went straight to construction contractors, driving their owners to their own destruction.

On the corner of the Surp Agop property, across from Taksim’s Gezi Park, sits a döner restaurant. In late 2013, after the foundation scored its title deed and before it sent the first bulldozers, the restaurant’s manager wanted to move the women’s toilet from the third floor to the second. The Istanbul Chamber of Architects told him that his building was a historical relic. He wondered why his was the only protected building on the block.

“If I scream, three people will hear my voice,” he said, “but if that hotel’s owner screams” — he pointed across the street — “a thousand people will hear him. It’s a different tune.”

A heavyweight joined the foundation’s redevelopment team around the same period because Dalaman was stuck. His company, Vizzion Europe, had contacts in Brussels who could finance the project, but they needed a title deed. He had men in Ankara who could expedite the title deed, but they were rivals with city officials who approved the zoning. Then Dursun Özbek, a hotel magnate, stepped in. He brought in big names, like a Marriott hotel operator, and made the plan more attractive and “green” by carving out an interior plaza dressed with hanging wisteria and bistro tables.

The project was called Şan City after the theater, but its redesign wasn’t done in its spirit. It was done out of fear. Özbek came on board just as protests had shaken Turkey’s construction establishment. Thousands of people occupied Gezi Park in summer 2013, hugging trees and pitching tents to stop its redevelopment and all speculative projects that preyed on the old heart of Istanbul. During Erdoğan’s first decade in power, every other corner of the city was shuttered with the logos of builders turning shacks into boutique hotels, fields into forests of high-rise condos. As the protests swelled, so did their demands: resign, nationalize, make peace.

That summer, the hospital reeked of tear gas. After the tear gas came silence. Erdoğan blamed foreigners for meddling and threw opponents in jail, accusing them of plotting the failed 2016 coup. European investors didn’t like this, and Asian and Gulf money wasn’t enough of a stopgap. The Turkish lira tumbled, and construction yards were put to sleep. Dalaman was hired to build a nine-story multipurpose mosque that now crowns Taksim Square, but the Şan City project stalled. Özbek and other backers dropped out. The site fell apart: a scaffolding collapsed. A construction container went up in flames.

Levon Zekiyan, archbishop of the Armenian Catholic Church of Istanbul, had seen it all coming. There was no guarantee that the construction hype would continue, he said. “It’s written in the Bible: seven years of plenty, then seven years of famine.” Joseph said to hoard wheat.

The foundation board unanimously wanted to build an entertainment complex — with meager donations and no state support, it needed the profits to afford the latest medical technology. But they split on whether they should restore the hospital or scrap it for a new one. The second plan won out, tying the fate of the hospital and its side services to the fate of the project. Only a fraction of the Surp Agop doctors stayed on, squeezing into a polyclinic in an apartment on the other end of the döner restaurant, the only other building left standing.

The Surp Agop board also gambled on the contract’s duration. It would not pay to erect Şan City, but it deferred its land to Vizzion Europe for 44 years.

“Considering the population of the Catholic community today, the situation in 44 years is beyond imaginable,” stated a critique that was published in Agos, an Armenian weekly. Turkey no longer runs a census on religion, but Armenian Catholics say they number around 2,500 — less than half the size of when they founded the Surp Agop hospital in 1831. Back then, all non-Muslims made up about half of Istanbul’s population; today, they represent roughly one percent.

Who counts as a member is also up for debate. Selin Kalkan was born after the theater fire to an Armenian Catholic mother and a Turkish Muslim father. She didn’t go to church and, as a child of mixed marriage, was barred from Armenian school. Her only link to the congregation, then, was her home in the row houses whose rent the Surp Agop Foundation kept low. Eviction broke that link for good. For the other 120 renters who didn’t have a summerhouse to move into, the eviction also broke their trust.

“I don’t think anyone cares about the foundation anymore,” Kalkan said. The row-house residents were relocated to two apartment blocks a neighborhood away, equipped with televisions, elevators, and other domestic comforts. But nothing is the same: the slopes there hurt their knees, the speakers of the next-door mosque blare straight into their windows, and the only church close by is reserved for funerals.

Armenian Catholic pashas and moneylenders built the Surp Agop Hospital in 1831 to sustain life. They later created its charitable foundation, or vakıf, because it was the only way in the Ottoman Empire to keep property in the family and not risk its seizure. The sultan reserved the vakıf legal title for Muslim foundations, since, by definition, they managed endowments to God, but he informally granted his non-Muslim subjects vakıf land to win their favor.

When the Turkish Republic rewrote its property code based on the one used by Anglo-Saxons in the 1930s, it struggled to translate the vakıf title. The new law was secular, but the title was religious. It encouraged accumulation but for charity, not growth. The vakıf properties of non-Muslims became outliers, bullied and tagged as national security risks. When Ankara reversed its stance and adapted the vakıf title to the modern market, it seemed that everyone would win. But in this market, everyone could also lose.

Şan City was scheduled to open in 2018. In 2019, the board wondered if the day would ever come. It sued. Meanwhile, Vizzion Europe’s office in Brussels declared bankruptcy, and the one in Istanbul downgraded from a sultan’s waterfront palace to a dim space above the polyclinic.

On an average day in the Surp Agop lot, two or three workers will fiddle with cranes, like ants in a canyon, passing away the time. Tourists may snap a photo of the site, unaware that many more eyesores like this await them.

Property restitution aims to turn a loss into a gain, to fill a hole with something tangible. It lets the last owners take up where they left off and build something for posterity. Or, in the case of the Armenian hospital plot, it lets an “invisible hand” decide their future for them.


Naomi Cohen is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul. She reported this story with a grant from the Pulitzer Center and continued her research on non-Muslim hospital foundations in Istanbul in collaboration with Gabriel Doyle and Yasemen Cemre Gürbüz. Their multimedia installation and video were exhibited in the show Finding a Cure in Istanbul, which took place in a tunnel under Gezi Park, put on by Karşı Sanat and the Istanbul Metro.

Government bond auctions with a volume of AMD 25 billion took place on AMX




YEREVAN, JUNE 14, ARMENPRESS. Today the allocation auction of government bonds totalling AMD 25 billion has taken place on Armenian Securities Exchange.

The volume of auction allocation of government bonds (ISIN AMGN36294251) amounted to AMD 25 billion, with the demand surpassing AMD 35,3 billion (around 41%). The weighted average yield of the auction is 10.9690%, and the annual yield of the coupon is 9.25%.

You can take part in the primary auctions via primary dealers the list of which is published on the website of RA Ministry of Finance, while the secondary market government bonds can be bought via members and market participants.

You can receive additional information on auctions by visiting the “Gbond Auction” page on AMX’s website.

About AMX- Armenia Securities Exchange

Armenia Securities Exchange (AMX) is the only securities regulated market operator in Armenia. AMX offers exchange services, such as listing, trading, clearing and informational services, as well as alternative exchange solutions. The Exchange settlement is carried out by Central Depository of Armenia which is 100% owned by Armenia Securities Exchange. AMX’s mission is to foster the Exchange’s infrastructure of capital market, making it an active financial asset for the development of Armenia’s economy.

For additional information please reach us at [email protected]  or +37460695555, ext. 142.

Resistance Movement members continue protests in Yerevan

Armenia – June 7 2022
Marianna Mkrtchyan

ArmInfo. Resistance Movement members demanding Armenian Premier Nikol Pashinyan's resignation marched from France Square to the office of the EU Delegation to Armenia. 

The protesters are chanting 'Armenia without Nikol!', 'Nikol is a  traitor!'. They are holding posters reading "Open your eyes", "What  happened to European values?", "EU what the double standard?" 

The Resistance Movement marched toward the office of the EU  Delegation to Armenia in protest at European agencies' passive stance  on law-enforcers' actions against peaceful protesters.

COMMENT: Russia will not tolerate the EU’s new role in Nagorno-Karabakh peace process

June 8 2022

By Fuad Shahbazov June 8, 2022

The European Union has gradually assumed a key role in the peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which has undermined the Kremlin’s longstanding dominance in the region. Russia is now likely to redouble its efforts to demarcate the border between the two countries and establish new regional infrastructure, but it has little interest in a final peace settlement, which would weaken its influence.

On May 22, the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia gathered in Brussels for a new round of discussions regarding a final peace agreement following the 44-day long war in 2020. The meeting was initiated by the EU, which has gradually assumed a key role in the negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh. The second meeting in Brussels, followed by an April meeting, scored positive results as leaders agreed to finalise the border demarcation.

Although both sides earlier agreed to establish a Joint Border Commission to delimit their mutual boundary line and to “establish a stable security situation” around the border until the end of April, delays occurred on Armenia’s end following Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s official visit to Moscow on April 19, shortly after the Brussels meeting. In Moscow, Pashinyan discussed with President Vladimir Putin the importance of "implementation" of the 2020 November 9, 2021, January 11, and November 26 trilateral statements following the leaders’ meetings in Sochi and Moscow.

As for Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev, shortly after the Brussels meeting, he held a phone conversation with Putin to discuss the Azerbaijan – Armenia normalisation process.

The frequent contact of both leaders with Putin ahead and after their negotiations in Brussels is not a new phenomenon, as Moscow cautiously monitors the EU’s enthusiastic efforts to take the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations away from its orbit. This should not come as a surprise, as Moscow secured a position for itself as a "security guarantor" with the 2020 November 9 ceasefire agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The agreement established Russia as the primary stakeholder in the post-conflict period and enabled it to build a long-desired footprint in the region by deploying peacekeeping forces to the disputed Karabakh region.

However, Moscow's efforts to achieve tangible results in border demarcation and the establishment of new regional transport infrastructure during the Sochi meeting on November 26 and the January 2022 Moscow meeting were unsuccessful.

The  EU therefore intervened in the process to push Baku and Yerevan into more intense negotiations, which sharply undermined the Kremlin’s position as a mediator. Given the EU's vast economic resources, allocation of post-conflict financial aid to Baku and Yerevan respectively, and experience in conflict mediation, its emergence as a new negotiation platform for Azerbaijan and Armenia has diminished the negotiating position established by Russia.

However, although Russia has been distracted by the invasion of Ukraine since February 2022, it is unlikely to tolerate the EU’s efforts to monopolise the Nagorno-Karabakh peace negotiations. Already, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova described the EU’s initiatives as “shameless attempts of Brussels to appropriate the subject of the well-known Russian-Azerbaijani-Armenian agreement reached at the highest level”.

In order to strengthen its image as a mediator, Russia is now becoming more actively involved in the border demarcation process between Baku and Yerevan and has managed to schedule an official meeting of the joint commission in Moscow. Given its military footprint in the Karabakh region and its substantial security leverage over Armenia, Moscow will also be directly taking part in the possible opening of regional communication lines.

In contrast to Armenia – which sees the opening of regional communication lines with Azerbaijan as a potential threat to its sovereignty and national security – Russia is interested in establishing new ways of land connection within the region. Such a development would enhance its position politically and economically and give it more leverage over the regional states.

However, unlike the EU, Moscow is less interested in mediating a final peace between the two parties as it would require the withdrawal of the Russian peace forces from the Karabakh region. It is noteworthy that Russia's peace contingent in Karabakh has frequently become a target for harsh criticism from Azerbaijan and Armenia, as the contingent has often seemed more interested in solidifying its presence in the region than in enforcing the peace. Such uncertainty enables Russia to manipulate the peace process of Karabakh and press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, – all of which  clearly showcased that Russia is trying to disparage the Brussels agreement on border demarcation. Russia is in effect warning the Europeans not to interfere in this issue, for which it has set up a trilateral Russia-Armenia-Azerbaijan format since 2020.

Russia's reaction may also be a result of the pragmatic approach of the ruling Armenian government to normalising ties with Azerbaijan. Yerevan’s engagement in normalisation talks has led to mass unrest in Yerevan, with radical opposition leader Ishkhan Saghatelyan announcing "we are launching a popular protest movement to force Pashinyan to resign”. According to Saghatelyan, “Nikol Pashinyan is a traitor and prepares to hand over the contested region to Azerbaijan”. Though the opposition held several protests in Yerevan, no significant success has been achieved so far.

The de-facto separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh has also joined the vocal criticism of Pashinyan over his negotiations with Azerbaijan and even proposes more radical solutions. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the so-called separatist regime David Babayan has warned that "without Karabakh, the geopolitical landscape of the Caucasus will significantly change".

Sasun Barseghyan, the former leader of the Askeran region within Nagorno-Karabakh, has proposed holding a referendum on joining Russia in order to “avoid physical annihilation, to save the remains of the shattered Karabakh”. The same idea was reiterated by Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of Russia Today, a Russian state propaganda media outlet. Given the status of Simonyan within the Russian propaganda network, her statement represents the _expression_ of a certain current of opinion in Moscow.

Another vocal promoter of such provocative ideas is Konstantin Zatulin, the first deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, who proposed that the analogous “model” of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR) and “Lugansk People’s Republic” (LPR) in Ukraine could be applied to Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Even though Moscow seeks to monopolise the Nagorno-Karabakh peace negotiations, it clearly understands that there are now two major platforms for negotiations – Moscow and Brussels. Russia cannot and is not able to isolate Azerbaijan and Armenia from holding contracts with the EU.

Russia and the EU want the demarcation of the borders between Azerbaijan and Armenia to be finalised soon, though Russia is not eager to mediate the final peace agreement and the region's final status – this would make Russia's further military presence in the region irrelevant. As for Azerbaijan, it will be manoeuvering between Moscow and Brussels to keep both formats alive and reach a final solution to this long conflict with Armenia.

Fuad Shahbazov is an independent policy analyst focusing on regional security issues in the South Caucasus. He tweets at @fuadshahbazov.