Azerbaijani "activists" end blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh

May 1 2023
May 1, 2023

Azerbaijani self-proclaimed environmental activists have ended their 4.5-month demonstration on the Lachin-Stepanakert road, thus lifting the blockade of the road which connects Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia. 

The blockade became redundant after Azerbaijan installed a border checkpoint at the opposite end of the road on April 23. 

Azerbaijani media reported on April 28 that the activists decided to temporarily suspend their demonstration following a meeting with Aydin Karimov, the Azerbaijani president's special representative in Shusha. Karimov reportedly asked them to disperse since "a new situation has emerged" following the checkpoint's installation. 

The blockade began on December 12, 2022, when the self-proclaimed environmental activists began staging a sit-in protest on the road near the town of Shusha, in the Azerbaijan-controlled part of Nagorno-Karabakh. The activists, whose composition changed regularly over the course of the blockade, said they were protesting against the exploitation of natural resources in Nagorno-Karabakh by the de facto Armenian authorities and their transportation to Armenia. 

Though the Azerbaijani government claimed it had no links to the protesters, the blockade was clearly part of a broader strategy to make life difficult for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. It prevented most Armenians from being able to travel in or out of the territory and greatly reduced the flow of goods there, driving up prices. 

Neither the blockade nor the establishment of the checkpoint were impeded by the Russian peacekeepers, who are supposed to be the sole providers of security on the road under the peace deal that ended the 2020 Second Karabakh War. 

A few hours after announcing their decision, the eco-activists released a statement praising the checkpoint. "This decisive step aimed at preventing illegality in the territories of Azerbaijan means that the participants of the demonstration have partially achieved their goals." 

It went on: "We declare that our demands that the command of the peacekeeping contingent stop the illegal exploitation of mineral deposits in the territories of Azerbaijan where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily located and ensure the monitoring of environmental and other consequences remain in effect, and that if these demands are not met, we reserve the right to resume the demonstration!" 

Meanwhile, Azerbaijani media published footage from the newly established checkpoint at the border, which purports to show Armenian citizens going through passport control and having their vehicles examined.

Sports: IWF bans flags from weightlifting podium after incidents in Armenia and Albania

May 4 2023

Weightlifters will no longer be able to take their nation’s flag on to the podium, the head of the sport’s governing body said here today on the eve of the Asian Championships.

The embarrassing flag-burning incident at the Opening Ceremony before the European Championships in Yerevan, Armenia last month – and a controversial podium incident last year – prompted the decision, said International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) President Mohamed Jalood.

"We are a sport, we represent peace, not fighting and arguments about who is best," said Jalood at the Asian Weightlifting Federation Congress at Hotel Dong Bang in Jinju, Korea.

Jalood said he discussed the situation last week with IWF general secretary Antonio Urso and Technical Committee chair Sam Coffa before the committee agreed on a ban.

"What happened in Yerevan was taken into consideration when we talked about this," said Jalood.

Referring to an incident last year he added: "We don’t want athletes on a small podium trying to push their flags in front of each other – this is not sport."

From now on flags will still feature in medal ceremonies but as images on a screen, and no longer in the hands of athletes.

At last year’s European Junior Championships in Albania a Turkish athlete disrespected an Armenian gold medallist.

After Garik Karapetyan, one of Armenia’s best weightlifters, had been presented with his medal Emre Ozturk tried to cover up the winner’s flag with his own, left the podium during the Armenian anthem and refused to shake hands.

The European Weightlifting Federation banned flags from any podium ceremony involving Turkish and Armenian athletes for the rest of that competition, and in Yerevan three weeks ago it banned athletes’ flags outright because of the incident that made headlines worldwide.

A fashion designer ran from the crowd during the parade of nations at the Opening Ceremony of the European Championships in Yerevan, Armenia and set light to the Azerbaijan flag.

Days of political interference followed, in which various officials who have nothing to do with sport claimed that Armenia should be dropped by the IWF as a potential host for next year’s World Championships.

Armenia has no diplomatic relations with either Azerbaijan or Turkey, host nation for next year's European Championships.

While Azerbaijan's team flew home on Government orders, Turkey stayed and their federation President, Talat Unlu, praised the hosts for organising a successful Championships.

The new policy will be formally adopted by the IWF at its next Executive Board meeting.

Armenians mark genocide amid new threats, fresh skirmishes with Azerbaijan

(Yerevan, Armenia) Hundreds of thousands of Armenians flocked to the nation’s capital earlier this week to commemorate the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, amid fears that a new genocide carried out by Azerbaijan may be beginning.

During the Armenian Genocide, which took place from 1915 to 1917, between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Turks, and many others were deported or forcibly converted to Islam. Turkey has long rejected the term genocide and downplays the number of victims.

Beginning on the evening of April 23 and continuing all day on April 24, Armenians made their traditional pilgrimage to the Armenian Genocide Memorial complex—Tsitsernakaberd—to lay flowers in memory of the victims of the mass killings in Ottoman Empire Turkey. A continuous stream of residents, young and old alike, came to pay their respects at the complex under a pall of clouds and occasional rain.

This year’s memorial took place just days after fresh border skirmishes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces. For the past several months, Azerbaijan has been imposing a blockade on the Lachin corridor, the sole road connecting Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, known to the Armenians as Artsakh, a disputed territory internationally recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan. The blockade has cut off residential and commercial traffic for the enclave’s120,000 residents, who are mostly ethnic Armenians. After the official ceremony at the memorial on Monday morning, US Ambassador to Armenia Kristina Kvien condemned the blockade but declined to comment on whether the USgovernment had plans to levy sanctions on Azerbaijan.

“We are deeply concerned about Azerbaijan’s decision to set up a checkpoint on the Lachin Corridor,” she told reporters. “We find it unhelpful to the peace process, and what we are focusing on now is trying to get the parties to speak together to come up with solutions that are mutually agreed.” Other American politicians were less diplomatic. Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey said last week that American aid to Azerbaijan “flies in the face of our duty to honor the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide.”

Speaking at a ceremony on Thursday, Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey called the blockade a perpetuation of the Armenian Genocide.

“What we see happening in Artsakh, both with the attack, the aggression that took place a couple of years ago, and the cutting off of the Lachin Corridor, in my opinion, is nothing more than a continuation of the genocide,” Pallone said. “We know the people in Artsakh are suffering, not having enough food, not having medical supplies. To me, that sounds like genocide, but we’re not going to allow it to happen.”

US President Joe Biden officially recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2021.

Nagorno-Karabakh has been the site of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan for more than30 years. Between 1988 and 1994, up to 16,000 Azerbaijani civilians and up to 4,000 Armeniancivilians were killed in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, in addition to more than 15,000 troops.The war broke out after the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh voted to secede from Azerbaijanand become part of Armenia. After a 1994 cease-fire brokered by Russia, the region enjoyed relative stability until the SecondNagorno-Karabakh War in 2020. Azerbaijan decisively won that war, but skirmishes have continued throughout the years. Since 2021, Azerbaijan and Armenia have been engaged in a conflict over the border following Azerbaijan’s stationing of soldiers across the border in Armenia and refusing to withdraw its troops.

At Monday’s ceremony in Yerevan, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, the chief bishop ofthe Armenian church, warned that Azerbaijan’s goal is to “de-Armenianize” and “take overArtsakh.” “We condemn such an inhuman act that is regularly carried out against the children of ourpeople living in Artsakh,” he said. Many who made the somber trek to the memorial on Monday held signs calling for an end to the blockade and urging international recognition of Artsakh as Armenian.

“We are gathered together here to stop the new genocide that will happen in Artsakh, in Nagorno-Karabakh, if we can’t prevent it,” Sona Karabadian, who had come to see the memorial, told The Media Line. “What happened in 1915 we couldn’t stop, because we didn’t have a republic. But now I hope that the whole world will help us to stop and prevent a new genocide, and not to come here every year to put flowers and just remember the victims.”Annie Rafaelian, a Yerevan resident, was encouraged by the presence of Armenians from abroad—including Lebanon, Syria, Israel, and the US—at the memorial on Monday. “Today I noticed that many Armenians from outside the country have joined us,” she told The Media Line. “I’m very happy to see that Armenians from the diaspora have come to show their support and have kept their national pride, and I do hope that this will continue.”

Also passing through was Nanor Balabanian, founder of the Hidden Road Initiative, an organization that provides educational opportunities for students living in remote villages in Armenia and in Nagorno-Karabakh. She was on her way to a ceremony on the contentious border that Armenians are blocked from crossing. Balabanian told The Media Line that her organization has been watching a “nightmare” unfold over the past three years, witnessing the loss of soldiers and even entire villages to Azerbaijani aggression.

Balabanian, a Stanford graduate, has taught about the various stages of genocide and views the blockade as one of the steps on the path to genocide through its isolation of the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.

“To me, it is shocking that I am living through one—the early stages—and the world has been silent, including the communities I grew up with in the Bay Area,” she said. “No, this is not us being dramatic. We are watching this unfold before our eyes.”

100 years on, the nation still remembers the Georgetown Boys (Canada)

Halton Hills, Ontario
Georgetown's Cedarvale Park – formerly Cedarvale Farm – changed the lives of over 100 Armenian refugees and set the tone for Canadian humanitarianism for decades to come

They are all gone now, so we can never directly hear what they have to say about Georgetown’s Cedarvale Park. But Canada and Armenian Canadians have not forgotten the role the local green space played in history. 

Dubbed the Georgetown Boys – a misnomer as there were many girls too – they were rescued by Canadians from the clutches of an orphan’s lonely death. In Georgetown, the federal government and several benefactors hoped to turn these orphans into good farmers. Cedarvale Park, then a farm, served as their home and proving ground. 

But the absence of the boys and girls today creates an undeserved illusion that Cedarvale Park is unremarkable. The painstaking work of historians, archivists and community leaders, many of whom are Armenian, keep the memory alive. Without them, visitors would miss the park’s connection with the First World War and, more importantly, the Armenian Genocide. 

“Armenians are obsessed by 1915,” said Lorne Shirinian, a descendent of the so-called Georgetown Boys. 

Shirinian is the son of Mampre Shirinian, a Georgetown Boy and Mariam Mazmanian, a Georgetown Girl. Her brother, Ardeshes Mazmanian, was also a Georgetown Boy. 

Lorne Shirinian's mother and uncle, Mariam and Ardeshes Mazmanian.

The Mazmanian siblings likely survived when their parents gave them to Turkish neighbours. Neither appeared to know how they escaped the genocide as they were too young to remember. What they do know is that they lost a brother and both parents in the chaos. 

Lorne Shirinian’s father did not talk much about his experiences with the genocide. Shirinian the younger understands that his father was alone from 1915 to 1918. 

The orphans getting picked to come to Canada was, in effect, a lottery. 

“My father tells me one day all the boys, almost a thousand boys, were lined up and the relief workers came and they asked, ‘Who wants to go to Canada?” Lorne Shirinian said. 

“They went through picking randomly. ‘You, you, you.’ And my father was randomly picked. And my uncle did come to Canada randomly.”

Ardeshes and Mariam were separated at some point. While her brother languished at a Corfu orphanage, Mariam ended up at one in Syro, Greece. Once he arrived in Canada with the first group of boys in 1923, Ardeshes pleaded with ARAC to have his sister come to Georgetown. They were reunited in 1927. Mampre Shirinian arrived in 1924 with the second group of boys. 

Mampre Shirnian and Mariam Mazmanian married in 1935 after meeting at Cedarvale Farm. Their son Lorne was born 10 years later, beginning a long life of being surrounded by the Georgetown orphans.

“The Georgetown Boys would drop in all the time. On the weekends, there would be parties. There would be making sheesh kabob on the barbecue. There were dances in the backyard, much to the chagrin of the neighbours,” Shirinian added.

What Shirinian appreciated most was “their joy and vitality for having survived.”

“I always had the feeling that they looked on me and other offspring of the Georgetown Boys as special because not only did we survive, but we are multiplying.” 

Shirinian has added his voice to multiple sources that have crystallized the memory of the orphans. Through those sources, we can tell their story and get to know who they were. 

The Ottoman Empire – the modern-day Republic of Turkey – was in decline in the late 1800s. Looking for a scapegoat to mask their economic mismanagement, the government took aim at ethnic minorities, especially the Armenians. 

Abdul Hamid II is often called the “Red Sultan” as his throne was soaked with blood.

In 1908 the Young Turks seized power from Abdul Hamid. But the Armenians were not safe. One of the Young Turks’ goals was to turn the Empire into an ethnically homogenous nation. 

After the Battle of Sarikamish ended in a catastrophic defeat for the Turkish army, they had their excuse. The war minister Enver Pasha – who planned the battle – blamed the Armenians.

On Apr. 24, 1915, Ottoman Interior Minister, Talaat Pasha, had 250 Armenian intellectuals arrested in Constantinople. The genocide had officially begun. By 1923, mass deportations, starvation and outright killing wiped out virtually all Armenians in Anatolia. Despite the best efforts of some righteous Turks to save Armenians, it is estimated that some 1.5 million people died.

The government of the Republic of Turkey denies the genocide to this day.

The work of Canadian historians has made Cedarvale Park an equally important piece of the puzzle as the genocide itself. 

Author Jack Apramian, who himself was brought to Cedarvale Farm, wrote the book The Georgetown Boys. Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill authored Like our Mountains, a book about the Armenian Canadian experience. Parts of it tell the story of Cedarvale Farm.

Cedarvale Farm today. Mansoor Tanweer/HaltonHillsToday

Through these two, we know how Canadians got involved in the lives of the orphans. Using various means, Armenian children found themselves at an orphanage on the Greek island of Corfu. The Armenian Relief Association of Canada (ARAC), with the blessing and funding of Ottawa, brought the boys to Canada. 

It should be noted that the events are important not just to Georgetown, but also to the nation . “This is the first time in Canadian history that we helped people in need. And we help them by bringing them to the country,” said local historian Mark Rowe. 

By 1920, Canada was only 53 years old. Canadians had engaged in international humanitarian work, but only as individuals. Thanks to the ARAC and the federal government, Canadians were saving lives abroad as a nation, setting the tone for future aid to refugees.
Tales from the farm

The first group of 50 arrived at the farm on Canada Day, 1923. Eventually, a total of 109 would come to live in Georgetown. Apramian’s book creates a vivid picture of what their lives were like. We know that they adored an Armenian woman the orphans called Mama Bedoukian. 

“Mama Bedoukian, make us some pilaf,” a boy asked her one day. As the boys were missing this traditional recipe, the gathering broke out in chants of “ayo, ayo, ayo,” meaning “yes” in Armenian. 

We also know about a small insurrection that took place at the farm. As part of the push to assimilate the boys into Canada, they were made to take on Anglo-Saxon names. 

After several boys voiced their protests, a boy named Onnig Shangayan summed up their rebellion against the new names neatly. 

“See that boy sitting in the corner? They gave him the name Jackson,” Shangayan began. “An Armenian priest put water on his head and named him Hagopian after his father and mother. Then he lost his father, his mother and all he has left is Hagopian. Now you want to take that away too?”

Slices of life like this and others – like when they built a swimming pool and drained a swamp – are available and accessible to the public. 

We know what their lives were like from other sources as well. Aris Alexanian – more popularly known as the founder of the Alexanian carpet retailer – was their teacher. His photographs give faces to the names. 

In an effort to teach them English, Alexanian had the orphans compile a newsletter called Ararat Monthly. It is named after the mountain in eastern Turkey where Noah’s Ark is reputed to have landed. This newsletter is, perhaps, the best way to hear directly from them. 

In a February, 1927, issue of Ararat, author Arkis Krikorian wrote about how the boys were saddened by the departure of their nurse, Ms. Jennie Farmer. 

“Every boy on our farm is not going to forget her; and as long as we live we will remember that we have a friend, a very kind-hearted friend.” 

The Archives of Ontario and the National Archives of Canada have issues of the magazine preserved. The archives of the United Church of Canada have an extensive list of primary sources. 

Big names in the newspaper world, like the Globe and Mail, raised funds to bring the children to Canada. The Toronto Public Library has a digitized record of these efforts as well as general news about the orphans. 

Dorothy Manoukian and Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill both made documentaries about Cedarvale Park. 

The Sarah Corning Centre for Genocide Education has an aggregated list of sources for those interested in learning more. The Zoryan Institute in Toronto keeps the conversation going. And of course, the Esquesing Historical Society of Halton Hills does its part. 

According to Lorne Shirinian, without such a monumental effort to preserve history means that it “goes into a black hole.”

“These boys survived genocide. They came to Canada not to be forgotten,” he said. “Their sons and daughters did what they could to make sure that their history and the memory of their lives is not lost.” 

July 1, 2023 will mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the Georgetown Boys. The Sarah Corning Centre for Genocide Education will commemorate the occasion with a ceremony at Cedarvale Park on Jun. 24. The gathering will begin at 2 p.m. and various government and local dignitaries, including descendants of the Georgetown Boys, will be present.

RFE/RL Armenian Report – 04/18/2023


More Charges Brought Against Former Amenian PM

        • Naira Bulghadarian

Armenia - Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian chairs a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, 

Armenian law-enforcement authorities brought more criminal charges against 
former Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on Tuesday after moving to confiscate a 
large part of his big fortune.

Abrahamian, who served as prime minister from 2014-2016, was charged with abuse 
of power and illegal entrepreneurial activity in September 2018. The accusations 
denied by him stem from allegations by a businessman that in 2008 Abrahamian 
forced him to give up a majority stake in his sand quarry located in Armenia’s 
Ararat province.

Abrahamian was the chief of then President Serzh Sarkisian’s staff at the time. 
His brother Henrik and a relative of then Ararat Governor Alik Sargsian each 
bought 30 percent stakes in the sand quarry at a knockdown price.

The Anti-Corruption Committee (ACC) announced that as part of the same criminal 
investigation it also charged Abrahamian with money laundering. It claimed that 
he did not declare 230 million drams ($590,000) in “illegal revenue” obtained 
from the quarry and used it for buying real estate and other transactions.

The law-enforcement agency did not explain why it took investigators so long to 
file the additional charges and why the ex-premier has still not gone on trial 
nearly five years after his first indictment.

Abrahamian and his lawyers could not be reached for comment.

The 64-year-old is a native of Aarat who used to hold sway in the region south 
of Yerevan, developing extensive business interests there before holding senior 
state positions. He fell out with Serzh Sarkisian shortly after being sacked as 
prime minister in 2016.

Prosecutors recently asked an Armenian court to confiscate 21 billion drams ($54 
million) in cash and 59 properties belonging to Abrahamian or his family, saying 
that these assets were acquired illegally. Court hearings on the suit have yet 
to start.

Azeri Soldier Accused Of Murder In Armenia

        • Ruzanna Stepanian

Armenia-Armenia - A screenshot of video of Syunik residents apprehending an 
Azerbaijani soldier, April 13, 2023.

One of the two Azerbaijani soldiers detained in Armenia last week was charged on 
Tuesday with killing an Armenian man.

The 56-year-old Hayrapet Meliksetian worked as a security guard at a waste 
disposal facility of Armenia’s largest mining company located in southeastern 
Syunik province. He was found shot dead on April 12 several kilometers from 
where the Azerbaijani soldier, Huseyn Akhundov, was caught the following day.

The Office of the Prosecutor-General said that Akhundov committed the murder in 
a failed attempt to steal the guard’s car and flee to neighboring Iran. It 
claimed that the car did not start and Akhundov fled the scene before using the 
victim’s mobile phone to record a video in which he bragged about killing 
Armenians and said “we are not traitors of our fatherland.”

The video posted on social media was widely circulated by Armenian media outlets 
shortly after several Syunik residents apprehended Akhundov on a highway near 
the provincial capital Kapan. The soldier was apparently unarmed during his 

Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service earlier on Tuesday, Narek Ghahramanian, a 
Kapan-born parliamentarian affiliated with the ruling Civil Contract party, said 
that Akhundov confessed to the murder. Ghahramanian suggested that investigators 
are looking for his weapon.

The second Azerbaijani serviceman, identified as Akshin Bebirov, was detained on 
April 12 in a Syunik village located about 100 kilometers northwest of Kapan. 
According to the Armenian military, he claimed to have crossed the Armenian 
border with Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave together with another soldier 
believed to be Akhundov.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on April 12 that they deserted their army 
unit in Nakhichevan because of “being subjected to hazing and humiliation by 
other soldiers.”

The Azerbaijani government demanded the immediate release of both servicemen 
charged with illegally crossing into Armenia. It did not immediately react to 
the murder charge brought against Akhundov.

Sargis Khandanian, the chairman of the Armenian parliament committee on foreign 
relations, indicated that given the accusations leveled against them Yerevan 
does not intend to swap Akhundov and Bebirov for any of at least 33 Armenian 
soldiers who were taken prisoner during or after the 2020 Karabakh war and 
remain in Azerbaijani captivity.

“Armenia is not planning to make any concessions on this matter,” Khandanian 
told reporters.

Pashinian Reaffirms Recognition Of Azerbaijan’s Territorial Integrity (UPDATED)

        • Nane Sahakian
        • Lusine Musayelian

Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian prepares to address the parliament, 
Yerevan, .

Armenia unequivocally recognizes Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and is ready 
to sign a relevant peace treaty with Baku, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said 
on Tuesday.

“The peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan will become realistic if the 
two countries recognize clearly, without ambiguities and pitfalls, each other's 
territorial integrity and undertake not to ever submit territorial claims to 
each other,” Pashinian told the Armenian parliament.

“I now want to reaffirm that Armenia fully recognizes the territorial integrity 
of Azerbaijan and we expect Azerbaijan to do the same by recognizing the entire 
territory of the Armenian [Soviet Socialist Republic] as the [modern-day] 
Republic of Armenia,” he said.

Pashinian already vowed such recognition in a joint statement with Azerbaijani 
President Ilham Aliyev, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Union 
chief Charles Michel issued after their meeting held in Prague last October. The 
statement upheld a 1991 declaration in which Armenia and other newly independent 
Soviet republics recognized each other’s Soviet-era borders.

This was due to be at the heart of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty promoted 
by the West. Pashinian publicly backed such a deal ahead of the Prague summit, 
stoking Armenian opposition claims that he is ready to help Baku regain full 
control over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov likewise said in December that Pashinian 
effectively recognized Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh at Prague. Lavrov 
said the Armenian leader thus all but precluded a different peace deal favored 
by Moscow. It would indefinitely delay an agreement on Karabakh’s status.

An Armenian opposition lawmaker, Artur Khachatrian, challenged Pashinian on 
Tuesday to clarify his position on Karabakh’s future status. The prime minister 
gave no clear answer, saying only that there needs to be an “international 
mechanism” for direct talks between Baku and Karabakh’s leadership.

In April 2022, Pashinian sparked angry opposition protests in Yerevan when he 
signaled readiness to “lower the bar” on Karabakh’s status acceptable to 
Armenia. He and other Armenian officials also stopped making references to the 
Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination in their public statements.

Pashinian’s Civil Contract party pledged to continue championing the principle 
of self-determination in its 2021 election manifesto.

Artsvik Minasian, another opposition lawmaker, accused the Armenian government 
of not honoring that pledge and thus calling its legitimacy into question.

Meanwhile, Aliyev said that Armenia’s leadership now “agrees in principle” with 
his position on the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty. Still, he said, Pashinian 
should go farther and declare that “Karabakh is Azerbaijan.”

In an interview with Azerbaijani state television aired on Tuesday, Aliyev also 
renewed his threats of fresh military action against Armenia, saying that 
Azerbaijan is strengthening its army because it “must be ready for any 

Aliyev went on to again rule out any internationally mediated talks with 
Karabakh representatives. Karabakh Armenians should accept Azerbaijani 
citizenship or leave the territory, he said.

“The separatists have to realize that they have two options: either they will 
live under Azerbaijani rule or leave,” added Aliyev.

Senior U.S. Diplomat Visits Armenia

Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian meets US Deputy Assistant Secretary of 
State Erika Olson, Yerevan, .

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian met on Tuesday with a visiting senior official 
from the U.S. State Department for talks on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and 
U.S.-Armenian relations.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Erika Olson met with other senior Armenian 
officials in Yerevan on Monday. The U.S. Embassy in Armenia said at the start of 
her trip that she will discuss “U.S. support for an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace 
agreement and U.S.-Armenian bilateral ties.”

In a statement, Pashinian’s press office said the normalization of 
Armenian-Azerbaijani relations was on the agenda of his meeting with Olson. It 
said they also touched upon Azerbaijan’s continuing blockade of Karabakh’s land 
link with Armenia and “the creation of an international mechanism for dialogue 
between Baku and Stepanakert.”

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov accused Yerevan on Monday of 
hampering Baku’s efforts to “reintegrate” the Karabakh Armenians into Azerbaijan 
in a phone call with another U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, Dereck 
Hogan. According to Azerbaijani news agencies, Hogan stressed the importance of 
“successfully completing the Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process.”

Earlier on Monday, Bayramov met with Louis Bono, a U.S. special envoy for 
Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. Bono visited Armenia last week.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken mediated talks between Pashinian and 
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on February 18 on the sidelines of the Munich 
Security Conference. Blinken had separate phone conversations with the two 
leaders late last month.

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2023 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
www.rferl.orgMore Charges Brought Against Former Amenian PM

Former Armenian ombudsman visits border village after Azeri attack

Armenia –

Armenia’s former Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan has visited Tegh, a border village in southeastern Syunik Province, following the deadly clashes provoked by Azerbaijan.

Four Armenian soldiers were killed and six others wounded in an Azerbaijani attack while carrying out engineering work near the village on April 11. Armenia lost no military positions as a result of the Azeri aggression, the Defense Ministry said.

The ex-ombudsman, who now runs the Tatoyan Foundation, confirmed the visit to, but could not answer any other questions. He promised to reveal details later.

Israeli military strikes Gaza in response to rockets fired after al-Aqsa clashes



 10:11, 5 April 2023

YEREVAN, APRIL 5, ARMENPRESS. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) targeted two "Hamas weapons manufacturing and storage sites" in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning after 10 rockets were fired in three waves from the Gaza Strip towards the Sderot area and Yad Mordechai in response to clashes that broke out at al-Aqsa on Tuesday night, Jerusalem Post reported citing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson's Unit.

It later also struck a Hamas "military compound and multiple military positions".

Palestinian factions in Gaza fired surface-to-air missiles at the Israeli aircraft carrying out the strikes, according to Palestinian reports. Rocket sirens sounded in Sderot and in Mabu'im, near Netivot, during the strikes.

One of the rockets fired overnight hit a factory in the Sderot industrial zone, five fell in open areas and the rest were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

No injuries were reported.

Earlier in the night, police entered al-Aqsa, firing stun grenades and working to remove the people barricaded inside. Palestinians in the mosque fired fireworks and threw stones at the Israeli forces. Dozens of Palestinians were reportedly injured in the clashes, with Palestinian media claiming that medics were prevented from reaching the site.

Iran names new ambassador to Armenia




YEREVAN, MARCH 31, ARMENPRESS. Iran on Thursday announced its new Ambassador to Armenia who will replace Abbas Badakhshan Zohouri who has been serving since 2020.

In a statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that its current Ambassador to Syria, Mehdi Sobhani, will be appointed Ambassador to Armenia after completing his mission.

Prospects for peace loom as much as prospects for another war in Nagorno-Karabakh

This article was first published on OC Media. An edited version is republished here under a content partnership agreement. 

Ever since the second Karabakh war in 2020, one question keeps getting repeated: will there be another war, considering the on-going tensions and the lack of progress in signing the final, peace agreement. Most recently, on March 26, Azerbaijani forces, as per an announcement by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense crossed the line of contact, under the control of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh. The Russian Ministry of Defense said the move was a breach and violation of the agreement signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan on November 9, 2020. It urged Azerbaijan to comply with the agreement, which placed areas of the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast that Azerbaijan had not taken control of at the time of the ceasefire under the control of a Russian peacekeeping force.

Earlier that month, on March 5, three Nagorno-Karabakh police officers and two Azerbaijani soldiers were killed as a result of clashes. On March 16, two civilians died in a landmine explosion in Aghdam, a region that was formerly under the control of Armenia but which came under Azerbaijan's control following the second Karabakh war. On March 22, the Armenian Defense Ministry said a soldier was killed on the border with Nakhchivan, just south of Yerevan. Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense was quick to deny any involvement in the death of the soldier. It did however hold Armenia accountable for wounding one of its own soldiers on March 20.

The mutual accusations of ceasefire violations are all too common. The hostile narrative by leaders throws any prospects of further constructive dialogue out of the window. What is different this time, however, is not just the hostile rhetoric from Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and other government officials who echo Aliyev's remarks, but an attempt to “create a pretext for military action by portraying the ‘other’ as unwilling to negotiate,” wrote Azerbaijani writer, activist, Samad Shikhi. President Ilham Aliyev said during Novruz celebrations that “if Armenians wish to live comfortably, they must recognize Azerbaijan's borers and sign a peace deal according to our conditions.”

Following Aliyev's remarks, several Azerbaijani officials posted similar statements online, stating that Armenia must “reciprocate Azerbaijan’s peace proposals” to be allowed to live in its internationally recognised borders. Some, resorted to using “Hayastan,” the Armenian name for Armenia in an apparent attempt to insult Armenia. “Hayasız” means “shameless” in Azerbaijani.

The mutual accusations go beyond Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia's presence on the ground via its peace keepers has been a point of contestation as well. Since March 5, they stand officially accused by official Baku of “escorting Armenian convoys and arms to the region,” reported OC Media, a claim official Yerevan denied. The road in question was used to connect four villages cut off from the rest of Nagorno-Karabakh following the closure of the Lachin Corridor.

The most recent advancement on March 26, with no casualties, concerns the official allegation that Baku claims the move was part of an “urgent measure” to prevent the supply of arms and Armenian troops through what it describes as an alternative unpaved road to the Lachin Corridor.

The 2020 ceasefire agreement stipulated that a new section of the Lachin Corridor be constructed to bypass the entrance to Shusha, though a final agreed route has not been made public. There have been unconfirmed media reports that an alternative route was being used to bring in supplies from Armenia, though no evidence of arms transfers has emerged.

Following the second Karabakh war, Azerbaijan made several military advances, breaching the line of contact with Nagorno-Karabakh.

In December 2020, in the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire, two villages in the Hadrut region of Nagorno-Karabakh, stipulated to be under the control of the Russian peacekeeping force, were captured by Azerbaijani troops, who took dozens of soldiers captive.

Russian peacekeepers remained silent at the time.

In March 2022, Azerbaijani troops advanced in the direction of the village of Parukh (Farukh), forcing villagers to evacuate and positioning themselves in the mountains surrounding the village. Despite the peacekeeping mission deploying troops and armored vehicles to the area, residents have not been allowed to return due to security concerns.

These and other incidents in Nagorno-Karabakh have led officials in Yerevan and Stepanakert (Khankendi in Azerbaijani) to question the effectiveness of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. There have also been growing calls for an international peacekeeping mission or UN mandate for the Russian mission.

Following deadly March 5 clashes, Baku officially repeated earlier demands that Russia set up checkpoints on the Lachin Corridor. Both Yerevan and Stepanakert reject the demand, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated checkpoints were not envisaged according to the November 9 agreement signed in 2020 during his visit to Baku in late February.

Lachin Corridor is supposedly under the protection of Russian peacekeepers who have been deployed in the territory since November 2020, following the Russia-brokered agreement signed between Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. They are also in charge of providing security for entry and exit points of the corridor. In a broader context, however, the role of some 2,000 Russian peacekeepers remains vague. The lack of clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and activities in the 2020 agreement is now becoming an issue. The blockade is a testament to that.

There have been continuous international calls for de-escalation with the on-going blockade of Lachin Corridor. Most recently, on March 22, the White House called on both parties to de-escalate. “We do not want to see any violence, and we want to see all sides take appropriate steps to deescalate the tension and to stop the violence,” said John Kirby, the White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications. Meanwhile, Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, said she would travel to Yerevan and Baku in early April, in an attempt to “restore free movement along the Lachin corridor and improve the supply of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

In February, the European Union deployed a two-year monitoring mission, consisting of 100 unarmed monitors, to Armenia's border with Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, on March 23, Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan tweeted:

The tweet was seen by some as a public attempt by the prime minister to avoid a new war.

Pashinyan's tweet was made days before Azerbaijan's advancement on March 26. Since then, there have been no further measures or steps to stall escalations, leaving the prospects for the peace deal looming just as the possibility for yet another war.

Armenian National Committee of Australia Visits Victorian State Parliament


MELBOURNE: The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU) National Office followed up trips to Canberra and Brisbane with two days of advocacy in the Victorian State Parliament.

Following the inaugural Joint Justice Initiative Advocacy Week launched on Monday 20th February 2023, the ANC-AU National Office ventured to Melbourne, and bolstered by local branch member, Jessica Cinar, represented issues of importance to Armenian-Australians to state parliamentarians.

The Armenian-Australian peak public affairs body was also joined by leaders of the Assyrian-Australian and Greek-Australian communities in Victoria, and met with representatives from the Victorian Labor Party, the Victorian Liberal Party and the Victorian Greens.

The ANC-AU met with James Newbury – Member for Brighton,  Meng Tak – Member for Clarinda, Jess Wilson – Member for Kew,  Chris Crewther – Member for Mornington, Ann-Marie Hermans – Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Michael Galea – Labor Member of the Legislative Council, Sonja Terpstre – Labor Member of the Legislative Council, Nick McGown – Liberal Member of the Legislative Council and Samantha Rathnam – Leader of the Victorian Greens and Member of the Legislative Council. 

The delegation congratulated all newly elected and re-elected parliamentarians on their success at the 2022 Victorian state election and discussed ways to advance Armenian-Australian issues of concern to the local community. 
ANC-AU Executive Director Michael Kolokossian said: “Victoria is home to a vibrant and sizable Armenian-Australian community, and it is only right for our compatriots to have their voices heard in the hallways of power. We were proud to be joined by one our newest additions to the ANC-AU – Melbourne Branch, Jessica Cinar,” added Kolokossian.

“The work of the ANC-AU is paramount to the Armenian cause more globally. Having a Victorian Parliament that understands issues of the Armenian-Australian community will help guide Australia’s foreign policy and more accurately bring us in line with our allies,” Cinar added.