Diplomatic Ties Strengthen as Armenia’s Prime Minister Visits Greece

Feb 27 2024
Momen Zellmi

In a move that underscores the evolving landscape of international relations, Nikol Pashinyan, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, alongside his wife Anna Hakobyan, has embarked on a significant working visit to Greece. This diplomatic journey, detailed on the Facebook page of Nazeli Baghdasaryan, the spokesperson for the Prime Minister, is more than just a formal trip; it's a testament to the deepening ties between Armenia and Greece amidst a complex global backdrop.

The itinerary for Prime Minister Pashinyan's visit is packed with high-profile engagements, including meetings with some of Greece's most influential figures: President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and Parliament President Konstantinos Tassoulas. While the specifics of the discussions remain under wraps, the agenda is clear – to explore and potentially enhance the bilateral relations between these two nations. This series of meetings underscores the importance both countries place on diplomatic dialogue and cooperation.

In the realm of international politics, the relationship between Armenia and Greece extends beyond mere formalities. Both countries share a history of cultural and political connections, rooted in their Eastern Orthodox Christian heritage and similar geopolitical challenges. This visit, therefore, is not just about strengthening diplomatic ties but also about reinforcing a shared sense of identity and mutual interests in a rapidly changing world. The discussions between Armenian and Greek officials are expected to cover a range of topics, including economic cooperation, regional security, and cultural exchange, highlighting the multifaceted nature of their relationship.

As Prime Minister Pashinyan's visit to Greece unfolds, the implications for both countries and the wider region are significant. Strengthening Armenia-Greece relations could serve as a catalyst for greater regional stability and cooperation, setting a positive example for other nations. Moreover, in an era where global dynamics are increasingly unpredictable, the forging of closer ties between nations with shared values and interests is more important than ever. This visit not only reaffirms the longstanding friendship between Armenia and Greece but also opens the door to new possibilities for collaboration and mutual support in the face of global challenges.

Indeed, as the world watches, the visit of Armenia's Prime Minister to Greece could very well mark a new chapter in the annals of international diplomacy, where shared heritage and common goals pave the way for a stronger, more united future.


Stoltenberg says NATO has no plans to send troops to Ukraine


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 27, ARMENPRESS. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told The Associated Press that the military alliance has no plans to send combat troops into Ukraine amid statements and reports that some Western countries may be considering sending troops to the war-ravaged country.

Stoltenberg said that “NATO allies are providing unprecedented support to Ukraine”.

“We have done that since 2014 and stepped up after the full-scale invasion. But there are no plans for NATO combat troops on the ground in Ukraine,” he added.

President Emmanuel Macron of France speaking on Feb. 26, after a meeting of European leaders in Paris to bolster support for Ukraine, stressed that the talks had not resulted in any consensus on putting troops on the ground “in an official, approved and endorsed way.” But he insisted that “anything is possible.”

Ahead of the conference, Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia warned that some Western countries were considering sending soldiers to Ukraine, adding that he opposed the idea.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also declined to comment, but he underlined that “the Czech Republic certainly doesn’t want to send its soldiers to Ukraine.”

Donald Tusk, Prime Minister of Poland also said on Feb. 27 that “Poland does not plan to send its troops to Ukraine.”

The Kremlin warned that conflict between Russia and the U.S.-led NATO military alliance would be inevitable if European members of NATO sent troops to fight in Ukraine.

Pashinyan meets with the Director General of the International Organization for Migration


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESS.  Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Amy Pope, Director General of the International Organization for Migration.

Issues related to cooperation between the Armenian government and the International Organization for Migration were discussed.

The Prime Minister referred to the reforms implemented in the field of migration in our country, including the steps towards digitization, his office said.

According to the source, Nikol Pashinyan presented the Armenian government's steps aimed at solving the humanitarian problems of forcibly displaced people from Nagorno Karabakh, and at the same time emphasized the continuous support of the international community.

Amy Pope emphasized the effectiveness of the reforms implemented in the field of migration in Armenia and noted that the organization, in turn, is ready to contribute to their further effective implementation through close cooperation. The Director General of the International Organization for Migration praised the Armenian government's steps towards solving the humanitarian problems of forcibly displaced people from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Opinion: Recent incidents on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border remind us of the fragility of peace in the South Caucasus [Azeri opinion]

Feb 16 2024
Vasif Huseynov

As recently as 1 February, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev celebrated peaceful stability along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border following the dissolution of the separatist regime in the Karabakh region in September 2023. There is already de facto peace between the two countries, and a state of peace has prevailed along the border for several months, he said in a meeting with the Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. “Yet, to deliver a logical conclusion to this process, a peace treaty must be signed, and Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan must be brought to an end”, President Aliyev stressed in reference to the territorial claims in Armenia’s constitutional documents.

This stability at the border, along with the optimism for a tangible breakthrough in the near future, was undermined on 12-13 February, when the armed forces of the two countries clashed in the border area, which ended with the loss of four servicemen on the Armenian side and wounded soldiers on both sides.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry launched an investigation examining the circumstances of the initial fire against the Azerbaijani side which led to the escalation of tensions and the military response of the Azerbaijani army. While the results of this investigation have not been made public yet, the first Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia was relieved of his post on February 14 – which may be related with the border clashes. Another fact that has emerged is that the killed servicemen were senior volunteers from a non-governmental military group called Yerkrapah, i.e., not the members of the regular army of Armenia. This raises further questions about the causes of the first sniper attack against the Azerbaijani side.

The area where the clashes took place is an Armenian border village named Nerkin Hand, which, according to the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan, is a zone of observation of the monitoring mission of the European Union (EU). The Ministry’s statement particularly raises this fact and voices concerns. “[This] provocation that was undertaken exactly in the territories observed by the European Union Mission in Armenia raises serious concerns about the aims and purposes of this Mission”, said the ministry on 13 February.

These worrying developments came on the heels of Azerbaijan’s intensifying protests concerning the activities of the EU monitoring mission. On 12 February, the Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Azerbaijan, Peter Michalko, was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, where the Azerbaijani side complained that “the mission is being widely exploited as an anti-Azerbaijani propaganda tool”. Baku also protested the fact that the “Mission has essentially become an agent of ‘binoculars diplomacy’ facilitating the visits of different European officials and unofficial delegations to the border areas.”

Although it has not been stated or hinted by the Azerbaijani government in its recent statements, we may assume that Baku’s concerns are also caused by the mission’s overall impact on the geopolitical situation in the South Caucasus. As Russia gradually recovers its military strength and bolsters its influence regionally, consequences of overt confrontations between Russia and the West over the South Caucasus would be devastating for all three countries of the region. These concerns are shared also by Armenian experts who warn their leaders against “new foreign policy blunders” and urge them to consider that “the prospect of Russia’s defeat in the Ukraine war is gradually becoming dimmer, and if Trump is elected president of the United States in November 2024, its probability may reach zero.”

Russia has never concealed its displeasure and resentment towards growing engagement of the West in the South Caucasus which is seen in Moscow as a “geopolitical game” to drive Russia out of the region. Last month, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov again accused the EU and the United States of playing “who’s boss” game in this region, interfering into the local affairs with a geopolitical agenda, pursuing their own interests at the cost of others. He blamed the Armenian government for implementing the instructions of the West and undermining the relations between Yerevan and Moscow. At the same time, the Russian government called upon Armenia to urgently return to “normal and full work” within the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and lamented that “our Armenian allies have truly distanced themselves from it for now”.

The historical experience shows that Russia’s disputes with a regional country at such an extreme level do not remain limited to only statements. This is a big threat not only for Armenia but also neighboring countries Azerbaijan and Georgia. Any instability in this region may upend the local peace and stability and can turn the South Caucasus into another theater of the Russia-West confrontation. While Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan denies any intention to depart from the CSTO or align with NATO, his government’s actions, including hosting EU monitoring missions and conducting joint military exercises with the United States, signal a strategic shift.

In conclusion, the recent clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the border village of Nerkin Hand serve as a stark reminder of the fragile peace in the South Caucasus. Despite optimistic statements from Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev regarding the stability along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, the eruption of violence underscores the persistent tensions and unresolved issues between the two countries. Azerbaijan's concerns about the activities of the European Union’s monitoring mission, as well as broader geopolitical dynamics involving Russia and the West, add layers of complexity to the situation. The region is increasingly becoming a battleground for competing interests, with Russia viewing Western involvement as a threat to its influence. For Armenia, navigating these geopolitical fault lines presents significant challenges. The potential consequences of escalating tensions in the South Caucasus are dire, not only for Armenia and Azerbaijan but also for neighboring countries like Georgia. Any instability risks drawing the region deeper into the Russia-West confrontation, jeopardizing the hard-won peace achieved following the dissolution of the separatist regime in the Karabakh region. The local countries and their international partners should make sure that the conflict-ridden South Caucasus is not going to end up with a larger conflict with a geopolitical background.


Fast Bank and Mastercard Revolutionize Armenia’s Banking Industry

feb 15 2024

On , Fast Bank in Armenia announced its receipt of a license to issue and acquire Mastercard cards, including Mastercard World and Mastercard World Black Edition cards. This collaboration is poised to revolutionize the banking industry in Armenia, making financial operations more accessible and simplified for customers.

Fast Bank's partnership with Mastercard signifies a significant leap forward in the modernization of Armenia's banking sector. By offering Mastercard World and Mastercard World Black Edition cards, Fast Bank aims to broaden its customer base and enhance the availability and speed of financial services.

Mastercard, a leading technology company in the global payments industry, connects businesses in over 210 countries, facilitating everyday business activities. This partnership enables Mastercard to extend its reach in Armenia and promote a cashless future.

Fast Bank's initiative to issue and acquire Mastercard cards is part of a larger effort to modernize the banking industry in Armenia. By providing customers with more financial management options, Fast Bank aims to simplify financial operations, making it more convenient for individuals and businesses alike.

The introduction of Mastercard World and Mastercard World Black Edition cards will provide Fast Bank customers with access to a wide range of benefits, including enhanced security features, exclusive rewards, and seamless transactions across borders.

Mastercard views this partnership with Fast Bank as a crucial step towards a cashless future in Armenia. With the increased availability and speed of financial services, customers will have the opportunity to transition to more convenient and efficient payment methods.

This shift towards a cashless society will not only benefit individuals but also contribute to the overall growth and development of Armenia's economy. By streamlining financial operations, businesses can focus on expanding their services and reaching new markets.

As Fast Bank and Mastercard embark on this collaborative journey, they remain committed to delivering innovative and accessible financial solutions that cater to the evolving needs of customers in Armenia.

In conclusion, Fast Bank's recent acquisition of a license to issue and acquire Mastercard cards marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Armenia's banking industry. This partnership between Fast Bank and Mastercard will undoubtedly contribute to the modernization of financial services in the country, providing customers with more accessible and efficient payment options.

By embracing the cashless future, Armenia is poised to join the ranks of countries leading the way in financial innovation and technological advancement. This collaboration signifies a promising step towards a more interconnected and streamlined global financial landscape.


EU expresses commitment to stand by Armenia to strengthen its resilience – joint statement


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 14, ARMENPRESS. Armenia and the EU released a joint statement after the Armenia-EU Partnership Council met for the fifth time in Brussels on .

The meeting confirmed the mutual interest and commitment of Armenia and the EU to strengthen and deepen their relations based on common values. To this end, they agreed to launch work on a new Armenia-EU Partnership Agenda, establishing more ambitious joint priorities for cooperation across all dimensions, reads the statement.

“The EU announced an additional €5.5 million in humanitarian aid to support the displaced Karabakh Armenians. This funding comes in addition to the €12,2 million to address urgent humanitarian needs, as well as the recent adoption of €15 million budget support for socio-economic needs.

“The Partnership Council reviewed the implementation of the Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The EU welcomed Armenia’s commitment to CEPA implementation, appreciated the progress achieved and encouraged Armenia to pursue its reform agenda. The new Armenia-EU Partnership Agenda will aim to unlock the full potential of the CEPA. 

“The Partnership Council reiterated the shared commitment of Armenia and the EU  to human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles. The Partnership Council welcomed the accomplishments to date on the implementation of justice reform and the fight against corruption, the creation of a Ministry of Interior and the reform of the police service in Armenia, with EU support. The parties also acknowledged remaining challenges in the fight against discrimination, hate speech and disinformation, and Armenia committed to work towards further progress in these areas. The EU commended Armenia on recently becoming the 124th state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and encouraged Armenia to consider relevant capacity-building opportunities.

“The Partnership Council acknowledged Armenia’s willingness to start a visa liberalisation dialogue with the EU, and the EU’s preparedness to continue to undertake further efforts to explore options to do so, further to the November 2023 Foreign Affairs Council. The EU welcomed the implementation of the Visa Facilitation agreement and of the Readmission agreements by Armenia and encouraged Armenia to sustain and further up its efforts. 

“The EU expressed its commitment to stand by Armenia to strengthen its resilience in different sectors, notably trade, energy and connectivity. The Partnership Council noted that while CEPA did not provide for preferential tariffs for trade in goods, it contained important potential for increasing bilateral trade flows. The parties committed to unlocking this potential through joint efforts. The parties committed to further cooperation to prevent sanctions circumvention while the EU commended Armenia’s efforts in this regard.

“The EU underlined the importance of applying administratively the Common Aviation Area Agreement, which has the potential to create new and more direct air transport connections and generate economic benefits to both sides. The parties discussed ways to advance the energy transition of their economies to become more resilient and competitive. The EU reiterated its support to Armenia’s participation in the Black Sea electricity cable project. The parties will continue to work together to enhance Armenia’s energy production from renewable sources, including through investments under the Economic and Investment Plan, as well as to ensure nuclear safety. 

“The parties also reaffirmed the importance of combating climate change, and in this context welcomed Armenia’s adoption of a Long-Term Low Emissions Development Strategy, and encouraged Armenia to further scale up its ambitions to reach climate neutrality.

“The Partnership Council discussed the progress made in reforms of the education, research, health, social protection and civil protection sectors. The parties acknowledged the positive evolution of Armenia-EU cooperation on research & innovation, and discussed how to use the unexploited potential on digital connectivity.

“The Partnership Council underlined the importance of the Eastern Partnership framework as a regional cooperation platform. The Partnership Council noted that the Economic and Investment Plan (EIP) has successfully mobilised over €550 million worth of investments in Armenia. It supported amongst others regional connectivity, access to finance for SMEs, green buses and energy efficient public buildings, and the socio-economic development of Syunik, which also benefits from a dedicated Team Europe Initiative. The Partnership Council expressed a commitment to continue fostering sustainable development in Armenia by leveraging public and private investments and welcomed the recently launched Armenia-EU Investment Coordination Platform.

“The EU side also expressed its strong condemnation of Russia’s illegal aggression against Ukraine and the negative effects this unjustified war has for the wider Eastern Partnership region, Europe as a whole and globally.

“Armenia informed the EU about the humanitarian and human rights impact of Azerbaijan’s use of force in Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023 and the subsequent displacement. The EU reiterated its rejection of the use or the threat of use of force, also in the context of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations and supports a peaceful conflict resolution.

“The parties further stressed the absolute necessity of establishing durable peace and stability in the South Caucasus. The EU reiterated its commitment to support the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on the principles of mutual recognition of territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders based on the 1991 Almaty Declaration. The EU welcomed the policy direction of the Government of Armenia aimed at working towards peace and normalisation in the region, including the opening of regional transport links under the countries’ sovereignty and national jurisdiction, as well as according to the principles of equality and reciprocity, which also underpin Armenia’s “Crossroads of Peace” project. Armenia welcomed the ongoing strengthening of the EU Mission in Armenia. The parties confirmed the need to fully, immediately and effectively implement all the International Court of Justice orders in the case on the Application of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Armenia v. Azerbaijan).

“Ahead of the Partnership Council, the EU issued the Partnership Implementation Report on Armenia-EU relations since the previous Partnership Council in May 2022. The report underlined that Armenia continued implementing an ambitious reform agenda with strong EU support including financial assistance. It concludes that Armenia-EU relations have never been stronger.

“The Partnership Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mr Josep Borrell. The Armenian delegation was led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, Mr Ararat Mirzoyan. The European Commission’s Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Mr Gert Jan Koopman, also participated in the meeting.”

Genocide Prevention: Remembering the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides

feb 11 2024

On 7 February 2024 the NSW Legislative Council considered a motion on genocide prevention.

Introduced by Liberal Party opposition Whip, the Hon Chris Rath, the motion called for the Upper House to acknowledge that 9 December 2023 marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and to honour the primary initiator of the convention, Dr Raphael Lemkin, who had been influenced by his studies of the Armenian Genocide and Jewish Holocaust.

The motion, according to Mr Rath, also called for the expansion of Holocaust genocide education, with the mandatory inclusion of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides in the curriculum, and the establishment of a genocide museum to create awareness about these genocides.

Approximately 1.5 million Armenians, 300,000 Assyrians, and 350,000 to 500,000 Greeks (including Pontic Greeks) were killed during the genocides committed by the Ottoman and Republican Turkish authorities in the early 20th Century.

A number of parliamentarians rose to speak to this important motion which received cross-party support.

The State Treasurer, the Hon Daniel Mookhey, confirmed that the NSW Government supports the motion and reminded the House that the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which was passed by the United Nations on 9 December 1948, was the first human rights treaty in the history of the UN.

Mr Mookhey recalled that the genocide convention was created as a way in which to hold the Nazis accountable for their actions and equally to establish the principle that those who commit the crime of genocide will be held to account by the international community.

The Treasurer informed the House that the NSW Education Standards Authority is currently consulting about the new history syllabuses, including updated context for the Holocaust and acknowledging other forms of genocide.  He also noted that First Nations people are campaigning for an updated version of the teaching curriculum to properly reflect the history and experiences of First Nations people following the arrival of the British.

Mr Mookhey concluded:

“Lots of people in the community are the victims of genocide or the descendants of victims of genocide … It is so important that we make sure we do not forget that history and that, again, we commemorate how great an achievement it was to establish the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

Dr Amanda Cohn of the NSW Greens reminded the House that according to the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention, a United States‑based NGO named in honour of Raphael Lemkin:

“Genocide is a crime in international law and is a permanent moral wound on the body of humanity. There is never a justification for perpetration of this crime.”

As the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, Dr Cohn stated that the recognition of the Armenian genocide is important for not just Armenians, but “all of us”.  The Greens MP declared that this issue is not only one of principle but one that is personal for her and her family because formal recognition and remembrance of genocide, as well as education, are critical for healing and to ensure that genocide never happens again.

Dr Cohn also instanced the cases of other genocides, including the Rwandan and Tamil genocides, in the context of truth-telling today and pointed out that genocide is not just historical since everyone should be making an active effort to prevent it.

Finally, the Greens parliamentarian observed that the Lemkin Institute issues active genocide alerts when developments occur that it believes show clear signs of genocide in process and cited recent alerts issued regarding the Amhara and Tigray regions of Ethiopia, Sudan, Artsakh (the expulsion of the indigenous Armenian population by Azerbaijan forces) and, most recently, Palestine.

In relation to the current conflict in the Middle East, Dr Cohn also referred to the recent decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ]) which ruled that some acts committed by Israel in Gaza appear to be capable of falling within the provisions of the genocide convention.

Dr Cohn reminded the House that the ICJ has ordered Israel to refrain from any acts that could fall under the genocide convention, ensure its troops commit no genocidal acts in Gaza, prevent and punish any incitement to commit genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, preserve evidence related to any allegations of genocide, and improve the humanitarian situation for Palestinian civilians, as well as calling on Hamas and other armed groups to immediately release hostages without conditions.

In conclusion, Dr Cohn stated that in the context of the UN Convention on genocide, Australia has responsibilities to prevent genocide in Gaza.  “Never again” means never again for anyone.

The Hon. Susan Carter, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Attorney General in the Liberal Party, noted that “Genocide” is a word which should be said slowly to give the mind a chance to catch up and understand the enormity of this concept. She added that one cannot visit the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem or the genocide memorial at Swallow’s Fortress in Yerevan without being overwhelmed at the sad and senseless loss of life, at the evil which drove this, and at the indifference of others who looked the other way or allowed it to occur.

Ms Carter ended:

“We need to speak of this annihilation, because if we do not name evil, acknowledge that evil has occurred, and teach our children to eschew evil, history teaches us we will repeat it.”

The Hon. Mark Buttigieg, Parliamentary Secretary for Industrial Relations, Work Health and Safety, and Multiculturalism, informed the House that UN Convention on Genocide was passed just prior to the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and noted that the Chifley Labor Government, and Foreign Minister H. V. Evatt specifically, were hugely significant in the passage of both the Universal Declaration and the Genocide Convention.

“I note that the Government recognises the enduring impact genocides continue to have today on people in our communities and the need for students to recognise the horrific nature of genocides … These are scars that are left on populations for generations and generations. It is very important that we recognise these genocides when they occur. “

Mr Buttigieg concluded by urging that we should recognise that genocide can occur in any nation and across any peoples, and should be called out for what it is and condemned, but recognised officially as an international war crime.

The Hon. Jacqui Munro (Liberal) noted that the definition of genocide in the convention means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a)Killing members of the group;

(b)Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c)Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d)Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e)Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Liberal MP also noted that there are other acts which are punishable, including direct and public incitement to commit genocide, as part of the UN’s mandate and the demands of our international rules-based order.

Ms Munro stressed the importance of remembrance through institutions such as the Sydney Jewish Museum in Sydney – the Holocaust Museum – and that the same thing should be done with other genocides, including the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides.

The NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Services, the Hon Anthony D’Adam, rose to inform the House that the timing of the motion was appropriate because of the events in Gaza but also to remind his parliamentary colleagues of the Rwandan genocide, the Bosnian genocide, the Tamil genocide and the Khmer genocide.

According to Mr D’Adam, the genocide convention is a landmark in the evolution of international law and a step to prevent the horrors that occurred during the Second World War, the Holocaust of the European Jewish community, from ever happening again.  Unfortunately, the world has not heeded the cry of “never again”, as evidenced by the genocidal atrocities in Rwanda, Srebrenica in Bosnia and the Sri Lankan Tamil genocide.

The Parliamentary Secretary also reminded the House that there have been 28,000 deaths in Gaza and, noting the ICJ’s decision that found that Israel is at risk of perpetrating a genocide, stated that according to the Genocide Convention in order to liberate human kind from this scourge, international cooperation is required.  According to Mr D’Adam, that means that when genocide is occurring countries like Australia and the rest of the world must take action to prevent it.

The final speaker to the motion, the Hon. Stephen Lawrence (Labor), who as a barrister once worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, declared that it is so important that we teach our children in our schools about the crime of genocide, not only as an _expression_ of human solidarity but also in light of Australia’s own history.  Mr Lawrence recalled that in 1938 the Australian Government’s chief delegate to a conference dealing with refugees from Nazi Germany incredulously told the conference that Australia was not desirous of importing a race problem by encouraging any scheme for large-scale foreign migration.

Mr Lawrence concluded saying that in the context of the motion for genocide recognition it is also important to reflect on contemporary events.  He specifically referred to what he described as the “profoundly moving” judgment of the ICJ and noted that even the ad hoc judge appointed by the Israeli Government concurred with the court’s majority on the issue of provisional measures dealing with incitement to genocide. Whilst noting that the ICJ judgement was concerned with questions of prima facie evidence Mr Lawrence concluded that there is no real question that incitement to genocide has been occurring in Israel by persons of high authority, not to mention the broader question as to whether the mass civilian death in Gaza is, on allegation, a grave breach of international humanitarian law or genocide.

Those contemporary events speak to our common humanity.

In reply, Chris Rath thanked all members who contributed to this important debate, stating that it is incredibly important to acknowledge the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek genocides and to enshrine those genocides in curriculums.

The catalyst for the motion, the Joint Justice Initiative, is a coalition of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek community groups in Australia that lobby for the recognition of these genocides.  For a genocide denied is a genocide repeated.

During the Joint Justice Advocacy Week in Parliament House in Canberra in early 2023, Associate Professor Dr Melanie O’Brien, president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and a leading genocide scholar, declared:

“It is crucial that Australia recognise the genocide of the indigenous Armenian, Assyrian and Hellenic populations of the Ottoman Empire by the Ottoman and Republican governments.  It is important to acknowledge the reality of the crimes committed against the victims, survivors and their descendants – some of whom are Australian citizens – and to contribute to the prevention of future genocides.”

As the Lemkin Institute also reminds us, Raphael Lemkin’s broad vision of genocide prevention is a never-ending process of building peace through the rule of law, the historical recognition of victims, and scholarship and practice that is guided by an ethics of the human universal and involves de-escalating identity-based conflicts, working to dislodge deeply rooted conflicts, and building peaceful, inclusive, and just societies.

The NSW Legislative Council is to be congratulated for its forthright debate and unanimous support of the motion for genocide recognition.  It is also a timely reminder of the need to recognise and educate about the unspeakable evils of all genocides and crimes against humanity, from the first genocides of the 20th century to the Holocaust and sadly continuing to the present day.


George Vardas is the Arts and Culture Editor of Greek City Times and is a member of the Multicultural NSW Advisory Board.  He is also a member of the Joint Justice Initiative.  The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

Armenian PM: launch of strategic dialogue with Georgia “of great importance”

AGENDA, Georgia
Feb 8 2024

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Wednesday said he attached “great importance” to launching a “strategic dialogue” with Georgia, adding the European Union was “actually our region” since Georgia had received the bloc’s membership candidate status in December.

Pashinyan said “many important realities” had changed in the South Caucasus region, and with Georgia’s EU status one of them. 

“It turns out that our two neighbouring countries [Turkey and Georgia] have candidate status for membership of the European Union”, he said.

Regarding the declaration on strategic cooperation and dialogue signed with Georgia, I can say that, in fact, all the aspects are carefully planned. This demonstrates the mutual determination of both countries' governments to advance this entire agenda”, the Armenian PM concluded. 

The outgoing Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili announced the signing of a memorandum on strategic partnership with Armenia in late January, following his meeting with Pashinyan.

RFE/RL Armenian Service – 02/08/2024

                                        Thursday, February 8, 2024

Pashinian Defends His Party Accused Of Shady Campaign Funding

        • Shoghik Galstian

Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks at a congress of his Civil 
Contract party, Yerevan, October 29, 2022.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has said that his Civil Contract party operates 
transparently in response to a report accusing it of receiving campaign 
donations of “dubious origin” ahead of last September’s municipal elections in 

The party claimed to have raised 506.5 million drams ($1.25 million) for its 
election campaign from about a thousand donors during a single event organized 
in August.

In an extensive article published last week, the investigative publication 
Infocom.am revealed that the bulk of that sum was generated by donations ranging 
from 1 million to 2.5 million drams, the maximum amount of such contributions 
allowed by Armenian law. It said that their nominal donors included presumably 
non-rich people linked to senior government officials and businesspeople as well 
as ordinary residents of Yerevan who could hardly afford such payments.

When contacted by Infocom reporters, many of those residents claimed to be 
unaware of the hefty sums wired to Pashinian’s party on their behalf through a 
commercial bank owned by Khachatur Sukiasian, a wealthy businessman and 
pro-government lawmaker.

“Their living conditions make us think that they could hardly afford donating 
2.5 million drams ($6,200) to the party,” Lucy Manvelian, the main author of the 
article, told RFE/RL’s Armenian.

There are similar doubts even in the case of other, more affluent donors. They 
include five former officials from the Armenian Ministry of Emergencies. The 2.5 
million drams donated by each of them is a sum comparable to their annual 

Armen Pambukhchian, a senior Civil Contract figure, headed the ministry until 
last July. He then managed the ruling party’s Yerevan election campaign.

Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian greets supporters during an election 
campaign rally in Yerevan, September 15, 2023.

Other such donors work for companies belonging to businessmen thought to be on 
good terms with Armenia’s current leadership. Among them are eight senior 
executives of Yeremian Projects, a company that owns dozens of restaurants as 
well as several dairy farms. They too gave Civil Contract 2.5 million drams 
each. The company told Infocom that it has nothing to do with those donations.

“Our sources told us that the company’s money, not the personal money of those 
individuals, was donated,” said Manvelian.

Pashinian was asked about the alleged campaign finance irregularities during his 
government’s question-and-answer session in the parliament on Wednesday. He 
declined to explain the donations deemed suspicious by the investigative 
journalists while denying any lack of financial transparency within his party.

“Did the investigative reporters obtain that from intelligence services?” the 
premier said. “It’s a report based on information taken from the official 
websites of Armenian state bodies. Can transparency be any different from that?”

In fact, none of the websites cited by Pashinian contains any information about 
campaign donations to his party. Civil Contract for months refused to release 
the list of its donors requested by journalists and civic groups. The ruling 
party agreed to do so only after the Yerevan-based Center for the Freedom of 
Information took it to court in December.

Russia Insists On Mediating Armenia-Azerbaijan Talks

RUSSIA -- Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Galuzin.

Russia has again urged Armenia to agree to resume Russian-mediated negotiations 
with Azerbaijan and stop pinning its hopes on the West.

In televised remarks publicized on Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail 
Galuzin insisted that there is “no alternative” to Russian mediation of 
Armenian-Azerbaijan peace talks.

“It is under the auspices of Russia, at the initiative of President Vladimir 
Putin that the foundations of the settlement between Armenia and Azerbaijan were 
laid,” Galuzin told the Rossiya-24 TV channel.

“We hope that they will realize in Yerevan that the implementation of the 
trilateral [Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani] agreements, rather than efforts to 
involve extra-regional powers, notably the U.S. and the European Union, is the 
most reliable path to the Armenian-Azerbaijani normalization,” he said.

In recent months, Moscow has repeatedly offered to host high-level 
Armenian-Azerbaijani talks in an effort to regain the initiative in the 
negotiation process. The Russian Foreign Ministry rebuked the Armenian 
leadership in December for ignoring these offers. It warned that Yerevan’s 
current preference of Western mediation may spell more trouble for the Armenian 

The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said in late January Foreign Minister 
Ararat Mirzoyan has again been invited to visit Moscow to discuss a potential 
peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Mirzoyan has announced no plans for 
such a visit or a trilateral meeting with his Russian and Azerbaijani 

Yerevan hoped, at least until now, that an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty 
will be brokered by the U.S. and/or the EU.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev twice cancelled meetings with Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian which the EU planned to host in October. Azerbaijan’s Foreign 
Minister Jeyhun Bayramov similarly withdrew from a November meeting with 
Mirzoyan in Washington. Baku accused the Western powers of pro-Armenian bias.

Galuzin reiterated Russian claims that the West’s main regional goal is to 
“squeeze Russia out of the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement, break up the 
existing balance of forces in the South Caucasus and thus create another source 
of instability near Russia’s borders.” He also said Moscow is “always ready to 
provide a platform for Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations on the peace treaty.”

Russian-Armenian relations have steadily deteriorated since the 2020 war in 
Nagorno-Karabakh, with Yerevan accusing Moscow of not honoring security 
commitments to its longtime regional ally. Azerbaijan’s recapture of Karabakh 
last September only added to those tensions.

Armenian Minister Blasts ‘Disruptive’ Arrests

        • Artak Khulian

Armenia - Economy Minister Vahan Kerobian attends a conference in Yerevan, 
February 1, 2024.

Economy Minister Vahan Kerobian complained on Thursday about last week’s arrests 
of several of his subordinates, saying that corruption charges brought against 
them are baseless and disrupt the work of his ministry and other government 

Speaking during a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, he accused law-enforcement 
authorities of “punishing people who did not steal” any public funds.

One of Kerobian’s deputies, Ani Ispirian, and several other officials from the 
Ministry of Economy were detained in two criminal investigations jointly 
conducted by Armenia’s Investigative Committee and National Security Service 
(NSS). Most of them, including Ispirian, were moved to house arrest or freed 
pending investigation in the following days.

In of those criminal cases, a ministry official is accused of abusing his or her 
position to help other individuals receive 238 million drams ($590,000) in state 
agribusiness funding in violation of rules set by the ministry. The official was 
not charged with bribery or embezzlement, a fact emphasized by Kerobian.

The minister said that law-enforcement authorities have “paralyzed the work of 
the entire state system.”

“Our agricultural divisions are now wondering how they should continue working 
in order to be sure that their honest work will not be punished in the end,” he 
told Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. “That is why I believe that we need to make 
a cultural change and decide whether we allow people to make mistakes sometimes. 
I am sure, though, that in this case it will turn out that no mistakes were 
really made.”

Pashinian responded ambiguously to the unprecedented complaint: “Was money 
stolen from the budget or not? … If so, then it’s a different matter. If not, 
it’s the kind of mistake which you mentioned.”

Armenia - A fruit orchard in Aragatsotn province, 3Sep2014.

The government grant investigated by the authorities was allocated from a state 
fund tasked with helping private entrepreneurs set up intensive fruit orchards 
in Armenia. The government has provided about 100 billion drams ($248 million) 
in such financial aid since 2018. It decided on Thursday to extend the scheme by 
two more years despite the criminal case.

The other case stems from a procurement tender that was organized by the 
Ministry of Economy and invalidated by a court last summer. Ministry officials 
are accused of illegally disqualifying an information technology company, 
Harmonia, to make sure that the tender is won by another, larger firm, Synergy 
International Systems, which set a much higher price for its services.

The investigators also arrested last week Synergy’s founder Ashot Hovanesian and 
two current and former employees, drawing condemnation from the Armenian Union 
of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UATE). The tech association said that 
“unfounded” detentions of “business representatives and other prominent persons” 
are turning Armenia into a “risky country” for local and foreign tech 

On Tuesday, 64 lawmakers representing Pashinian’s Civil Contract party 
petitioned prosecutors to release the three suspects from custody. One of the 
suspects, Ani Gevorgian, is the sister-in-law of Alen Simonian, the Armenian 
parliament speaker and a senior ruling party figure. She remained in custody as 
of Thursday afternoon.

Some commentators claim that Pashinian personally sanctioned the young woman’s 
arrest in a bid to boost his falling approval ratings by showing Armenians that 
he is serious about combatting corruption. Pashinian allies have dismissed such 

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
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