RFE/RL Armenian Service – 01/23/2024

                                        Tuesday, 


Gyumri Mayor Avoids Political Crisis

        • Satenik Kaghzvantsian

Armenia - A session of the Gyumri city council, December 29, 2023.


Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party dropped its objections to 
the 2024 municipal budget of Gyumri on Tuesday more than one month after pulling 
out of a power-sharing agreement with the city’s mayor.

Mayor Vardges Samsonian representing the Balasanian Bloc failed to push the 
budget drafted by his administration through the city council late last month. 
The bloc unofficially led by Samsonian’s predecessor and local businessman 
Samvel Balasanian does not have a majority in the council.

The draft budget was rejected by council members representing not only Civil 
Contract but also two political groups in opposition to Armenia’s government. It 
was passed unanimously on Tuesday after being amended in accordance with 
proposals submitted by all three factions. It now calls for 5.7 billion drams 
($14 million) in local government spending.

Knarik Harutiunian, who leads Civil Contract’s group in the Gyumri council, said 
it voted for the budget even though there are still “some shortcomings in the 
document.”

“We will try to give the Balasanian Bloc a chance to govern adequately so that 
the people of Gyumri do not suffer,” she said.

The bloc had teamed up with Civil Contract to install Samsonian as mayor in the 
wake of the last municipal election held in October 2021. As part of their 
power-sharing deal, two Civil Contract figures became deputy mayors of Armenia’s 
second largest city. Three dozen other members of Pashinian’s party were also 
given posts in the municipal administration.

All those officials stepped down after Civil Contract unexpectedly announced on 
December 6 the end of the deal. It said it does not want to be part of “shady 
governance,” implying that Balasanian is continuing to pull the strings in 
Gyumri. Commentators suggested at the time that the ruling party will try to 
gain control of the municipality despite holding only 11 seats in the 33-member 
city council.

Karen Malkhasian, the local leader of the opposition Aprelu Yerkir party, noted 
that the Gyumri mayor has become far more cooperative and responsive towards 
other factions after the failure of his first attempt to push through his budget 
proposal.




Yerevan Again Laments ‘Regression’ In Baku’s Stance

        • Nane Sahakian

Armenia - Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan gives a press conference in Yerevan, 
.
Կիսվել


Azerbaijan has reversed in recent weeks progress made in peace talks with 
Armenia, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan insisted on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, after this positive step of December 8 [prisoner exchange] we 
saw that Azerbaijan is not continuing with its constructive stance, to say the 
least,” he told a news conference. “That manifested itself through both the 7th 
Azerbaijani proposals on the [Armenian-Azerbaijani peace] treaty and the 
Azerbaijani president’s latest interview. There was a significant regression and 
even a blow to the peace process on a number of key issues.”

Mirzoyan complained on January 10 about “some regression” in the latest 
Azerbaijani proposals on the peace treaty submitted to Yerevan. He said Baku is 
reluctant to explicitly recognize Armenia’s borders through that accord.

In televised remarks aired hours later, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev 
renewed his demands for Armenia to open an extraterritorial corridor to 
Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. He also demanded Armenian withdrawal from 
“eight Azerbaijani villages” and again dismissed Yerevan’s insistence on using 
the most recent Soviet maps to delimit the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian rejected Aliyev’s demands, saying that they 
amount to territorial claims. Mirzoyan likewise said on Tuesday that Azerbaijan 
wants to redraw its long border with Armenia.

“I want to stress that nobody has the authority to draw a new border,” he said. 
“We remain determined in our position that during the delimitation process our 
relevant commissions should reproduce borders drawn on legal grounds prior to 
the break-up of the Soviet Union.”

Mirzoyan made clear that Pashinian’s government remains committed to its “peace 
agenda” despite what it sees as a risk of an Azerbaijani invasion of Armenia.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, expressed on Monday 
serious concern about “the latest territorial claims by President Aliyev.”

“Any violation of Armenia’s territorial integrity would be unacceptable and will 
have severe consequences for our relations with Azerbaijan,” Borrell said after 
chairing a meeting of the foreign ministers of EU member states.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry was quick to reject the criticism. A ministry 
spokesman accused Borrell of “distorting” Aliyev’s statements and inciting 
“bellicose and aggressive policy against Azerbaijan.”




Armenian Car Re-Exports Hit New Record In 2023


Armenia - Car carrier trailers line up near a customs terminal outside Gyumri, 
March 13, 2023


Armenia’s re-export of mostly second-hand cars more than doubled last year as 
local traders continued to take advantage of Western sanctions imposed on Russia 
over its war in Ukraine.

Armenian government data shows the total value of those exports rising to almost 
$533 million in January-November 2023 from $217 million in the same period a 
year earlier.

This growth was particular rapid in the first half of the year when used cars 
became the country’s number one export item. It appears to have somewhat slowed 
in the following months after the Russian government imposed higher duties on 
imports of such vehicles.

The sanctions include serious restrictions on trade with Russia. Also, Western 
automakers pulled out of the Russian market following the outbreak of the war in 
Ukraine in February 2022, pushing up the prices of new cars and forcing many 
Russians to switch to cheaper used models. Car traders from other nations, 
including Armenia, rushed to capitalize on the market opportunity.

According to Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC), the number of cars 
imported to the South Caucasus country jumped nearly six-fold to almost 45,300 
in 2022. The SRC has been struggling to cope with long lines of cars formed 
outside its s main customs terminal processing imported vehicles.

They include not only used cars but also brand new ones. The SRC reported sharp 
rises in taxes collected from local dealers of carmakers such as Mercedes-Benz 
and Toyota in the first-half of 2023. Both Mercedes-Benz and Toyota stopped 
directly supplying their cars to Russia after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Armenia has also been re-exporting consumer electronics and other 
Western-manufactured goods to Russia. This is the main reason why its exports to 
Russia tripled in 2022.

The re-exports prompted concern from EU and especially U.S. officials about a 
year ago. They pressed the Armenian authorities to comply with the Western 
sanctions. The authorities introduced in May mandatory government licenses for 
shipments of microchips, transformers, video cameras, antennas and other 
electronic equipment to Russia.

According to the Armenian government’s Statistical Committee, exports to Russia 
rose by 50 percent to $3.2 billion in January-November 2023.

Armenia’s overall exports reached a new record high of almost $7 billion. This 
includes $2.1 billion worth of what the Statistical Committee describes as 
precious stones and metals and jewelry items. Rough diamonds imported from 
Russia and re-exported to other countries, notably the United Arab Emirates, are 
believed to account for a large part of that figure.



Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2024 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
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Armenian Christmas Celebrations Reinforce Cultural Identity at Sts. Vartanantz Church Mourad School

Jan 17 2024

By: Momen Zellmi

In a heartwarming celebration of heritage and unity, the Sts. Vartanantz Church Mourad Armenian School in Providence, R.I., marked Armenian Christmas on January 6, 2024, with a vibrant array of spiritual and cultural activities. The day commenced with a Christmas Badarak and the Blessing of the Water ceremony. Notably, 7th grade students, clad in traditional Armenian attire, recited the Havadamk (Nicene Creed), a testament to the school’s commitment to preserving their cultural legacy.

The day’s highlight was the honor bestowed upon Matt Burke, recognized as the Godfather of the Holy Cross during the ceremony. The religious services were followed by a Christmas Hantes (recital) held in the Aramian and Fermanian Halls, which drew an enthusiastic crowd of approximately 180 guests, including students and their parents.

Emphasizing the significance of retaining Armenian identity and heritage, Co-Directors June Mangassarian and Lala Attarian underscored the role of education and community initiatives. They brought attention to the Sister School program with the “Nor Oughi” school in Armenia, an endeavor designed to foster connections between the students and their ancestral homeland.

The Mourad School Committee Chairman, Hagop Khatchadourian, spoke on the importance of nurturing future leaders and educators within the Armenian community, resonating with the proclamation of 2024 as the “Year of Human Resources Preparation” by His Holiness Catholicos Aram I. Khatchadourian also heralded the upcoming 90th anniversary of the Mourad Armenian School, marking a significant milestone in its history.

The event reached its crescendo with performances by the students, including melodious songs and a piano solo. Santa’s presence, distributing gifts donated by local organizations and individuals, added an even more festive air to the celebration. The event wrapped up with Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian expressing appreciation for everyone’s involvement. The Ladies’ Guild and the Men’s Club prepared a veritable feast for the guests, with the day’s success owing much to the generous contributions from local businesses and community members.

Armenia’s Energy Security Faces Frosty Relations With Russia – Analysis

Jan 17 2024

By IWPR

By Gayane Markosyan

Armenia’s strained relations with Russia, its traditional strategic ally, may have an impact beyond political and security alliance, affecting the country’s energy security as Moscow supplies most of Yerevan’s gas needs.

Armenia is officially considered a self-sufficient country in terms of its volume of electricity, generating up to 98 per cent of its needs in-country. Experts, however, warn that the reality is more complex.

“Our self-sufficiency depends on the countries from which we import the gas and the uranium that operate our thermal and nuclear power plants. And when our government officials speak about our self-sufficiency, why do they forget to say how we maintain it?” energy expert Armen Manvelyan told IWPR, noting that in fact over 70 per cent of Armenia’s electricity depended on Russia.

According to Armenia’s statistical committee, in 2021 thermal power produced 42.9 per cent of the country’s electricity, while 25.4 per cent was provided by nuclear plants with uranium imported from Russia. Internal resources produce about 31.6 per cent of Armenia’s electricity: 27.9 per cent from hydropower and 3.7 percent from solar power plants. 

In addition, Armenia imports natural gas and oil for most of its energy needs, predominantly from Russia. According to data from the Ministry of Territorial Administration, Russia supplies 87.5 per cent of Armenia’s gas needs via pipeline through Georgia, while Iran covers 12.5 per cent through a barter agreement under which it exports electricity in exchange.

Armenia also trades electricity with Georgia, though volumes are low since the countries’ networks are not synchronised. Energy interconnections with Azerbaijan and Turkey are inactive for political reasons.

In an interview on November 15, Iran’s newly appointed ambassador to Armenia, Mehdi Sobhani, hinted that Tehran might help Yerevan reduce its energy dependence on Russia. Since 2009 Armenia has provided Iran with electricity in return for natural gas supplies; the arrangement was due to end in 2026, but in August the two countries agreed to extend and expand it until at least 2030. Russia, however, could turn the tap off as gas giant Gazprom owns the pipeline bringing the gas from Iran to Armenia.

According to the Statistical Committee of Armenia, in 2021 natural gas accounted for 76.2 per cent of imported energy resources and oil products for 21.9 per cent.

Armen Manvelyan, an energy expert, noted that amid the strained relations with Russia in the wake of the situation in Nagorny Karabakh, this dependency was problematic. 

“Armenia is not in the best energy situation right now,” he continued. “Yes, the nuclear power plant is working, thermal power plants are working, but their activities depend on the energy resources supplied from Russia. And if their prices increase, Armenia may face serious problems.”

While a spike in prices is not imminent, the widening rift between Yerevan and Moscow meant that it cannot be ruled out.

“Until now, the existing favourable tariffs were determined by the quality of political relations between the two countries,” Manvelyan said. “If you have good political relations, you get a good price. When you start to spoil your political relations, the situation may become dicey and prices may increase.”

Other experts are more optimistic.

“I think that the problems associated with the dependence on Russian gas are not as acute and existing issues can be mitigated by diversifying the country’s energy system, for example developing further nuclear and solar energy,” Avetisyan told IWPR, adding that supplies from Russia and Iran were mutually beneficial. 

“In the case of Iran, this is done within the Gas for Electricity scheme, while in case of Russia, we buy the gas, we do not receive it as a gift.”

Manvelyan noted that rates were certainly lower for Yerevan. 

“Armenia pays Russian gas at a low price, 175 dollars per 1,000 cubic metre while Azerbaijan sells gas to its ally Turkey at 290 dollars,” he said, adding that Armenia was short of options in terms of friendly neighbours and should hence “make every effort to ensure good relations with Russia”. 

“An increase in gas prices will trigger a chain reaction across the country’s economy as prices of our goods will increase, affecting our export opportunities because our products will become uncompetitive,” he concluded.

To increase its self-sufficiency, the Armenian government has embarked on a path to liberalise the energy market as a way to boost its electricity export capacity and diversify sources. 

“We support the government of Armenia in implementing reforms in the energy sector. We are working with the Armenian government in three main areas – liberalisation of the electricity market, diversification of energy supplies and development of interstate trade with Georgia,” said Abgar Budagyan, chief of party at Tetra Tech, which implements USAID’s energy programme in Armenia.

For Prime MInister Nikol Pashinyan, the gradual liberalisation of the electricity market which started in 2022 has opened up new opportunities and created favourable conditions for interstate trade. 

“We are developing production capacities, carrying out large-scale reconstruction of substations and power lines, and building Armenia-Iran and Armenia-Georgia high-voltage lines, which contribute to the formation of the North-South Electricity Corridor and create new opportunities for increasing exports, imports, transit or seasonal power exchange. Thus, Armenia can become a kind of regional electricity hub,” he said in June. 

The open market means that consumers can choose an electricity supplier, depending on the offered tariffs. It also means that the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) no longer has the monopoly over the electricity supply, although new suppliers still have to use ENA’s distribution network, meaning that the company remains the only guaranteed distributor.

“Since the introduction of the new market model, the Commission approved the licence for 14 suppliers and seven wholesalers are already operating,” Sergey Aghinyan, a member of the Public Services Regulatory Commission, told IWPR.

According to official statistics, in the first six months of 2023, 13.1 per cent of consumers chose new electricity suppliers, up from 5.3 per cent in the whole of 2022. The government forecast the share to reach 23 per cent in 2024. 

Experts and officials noted that the reform contributed to the development of interstate imports and exports.

“In 2022, Armenia exported 365 million kWh to Georgia; in 2012-2021 the amount remained constant at 242 million. This happened mainly because of market liberalisation,” Vardanyan said. Iran remained the main recipient of Armenia’s electricity, with 1178.3 million kWh of electricity supplied in 2022. 

But experts remain divided over the benefits of liberalisation. Avetisyan’s assessment one year on is positive as it is “an important process that provides opportunities for free competition for existing market players not only within the country, but also abroad”.

Manvelyan maintained that authorities should have strengthened state control rather than open the market.

“Energy is one of the few industries that should be very seriously controlled by the state, it is the only one in the position to build large systems and high-voltage networks,” he said. “If Armenia were a large country, we could also talk about the private sector, but this is not the case of our country.”

  • About the author: Gayane Markosyan is a Yerevan-based investigative journalist whose work focuses on gender, legal and economic issues.
  • Source: This publication was published by IWPR and prepared under the “Amplify, Verify, Engage (AVE) Project”implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway.
https://www.eurasiareview.com/17012024-armenias-energy-security-faces-frosty-relations-with-russia-analysis/

Preserving and perpetuating our ethnic heritage

Ruth Thomasian (Project Save), retired Principal Hoory Boyamian & St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School students on Armenian Culture Day, 2018

The long directed crusade toward preserving and perpetuating our ethnic heritage has seen its peaks and valleys, to be sure, but its strength lies in its continued existence. The debate still continues whether Armenians in the Diaspora can preserve their ethnic existence. As always, there are two sides to this issue. Some say they cannot; others say they can.

Granted, the future of the Armenian Diaspora is uncertain, and the struggle is extremely difficult. But we should never be hopeless. If Diaspora Armenians were able to survive, despite their losses, hundreds of years away from their fatherland, there is still hope that they will be able to do so in the future, provided that they do not lose their will and determination to preserve and perpetuate their culture and heritage.

We all know the importance of a nation’s culture and heritage. They give us a real sense of roots and belonging, as well as knowledge and wisdom, without which a nation becomes unrelated to the present. It is culture and heritage that offer a sense of identity and hold us together as an ethnic group and as a nation.

We, the Armenian people, can learn from our heritage, appreciate its historic values and develop the ability to build upon them. We cannot, however, build a sound and strong present and future without those values inherited from the past.

A tremendous challenge lies before Diasporas Armenians. The great task at hand is to protect what is bequeathed to us from our ancestors. The abdication of this responsibility is unforgivable. If we believe we are the inheritors of a glorious, 3,000-year-old culture, we should actively commit ourselves to ensuring its survival, which, in turn, will ensure our own survival. With a reaffirmation of will, determination, faith and fortitude, the safekeeping of the Armenian heritage will be a certainty. But where is one to begin?

  1. One of the most effective ways to preserve and perpetuate the Armenian heritage is the Armenian school. The Armenian school is one of the strongest tools in transmitting our culture. Armenian language and history are vital arteries connecting us to our roots. They are important depositories and powerful conveyors of our ethnic values. 

The Armenian school is destined to be the most potent force to help light the path for future generations of Armenians. It is a powerful weapon to fight against assimilation.

  1. Another powerful tool to preserve and perpetuate the Armenian heritage is the media. Television, radio and press carry a potential in this realm that one cannot afford to ignore. Radio and television time, in particular, is readily available, and even now is being utilized to present many fine programs of an ethnic nature. The Armenian press, along with other media, also plays a very important role in our public life. It serves the public, provides information and offers guidance. It is also called on to act as a public conscience. 

Furthermore, the Armenian press is a link between the Diaspora and Mother Armenia. It is a potent medium to educate the public on Armenian matters.

  1. A third arm of defense to preserve and perpetuate the Armenian heritage is the Armenian church. The Armenian church, consisting of the Apostolic, Catholic and Evangelical branches, is the bedrock of our nation, the front of our ethno-national identity in the Diaspora. Without it, we are spiritually and, to a considerable extent, culturally impoverished people. The church can provide our people with the God-given strength to love one another and to glory in each other’s presence. 

Undoubtedly, the Armenian churches try to uphold the spiritual identity of our people. They are the institutions that have tried to protect the best of our spiritual heritage and to advance the noblest ideas of humankind.

  1. A fourth powerful factor to preserve and perpetuate the Armenian heritage is the Armenian organizations. This entity comprises political, cultural, benevolent, compatriotic and athletic groups. These organizations are dedicated to promoting Armenian heritage. They have tremendous potential to assist the new generations of Armenians through their multitude of programs. 

The Armenian organizations are the strong and staunch advocates of Armenianism. They champion Armenian language, history and culture. They continue to espouse Armenian rights and to keep the Armenian Cause alive. They organize, supervise and motivate Armenians to attend Armenian affairs and encourage them to get involved. Separately and corporately, they try to improve the lot of Diaspora Armenians.

  1. A fifth important and effective tool to preserve and perpetuate the Armenian heritage is the Armenian home. The foundation for ethnic consciousness begins at home. Without the help of the Armenian home, the efforts of organizations to inculcate pride in our heritage in our younger generations will be a difficult task. 

One of the major thrusts of transmitting the Armenian identity at home is the value systemHow do children learn and develop Armenian cultural values? Children fashion their value system mainly during childhood. One of the most important ingredients, then, is the parents

Similarly, one of the most important classrooms is the home, and the parental dimension is extremely decisive in effective Armenian education. If Diaspora Armenians are to raise children who are proud of their national, ethnic and cultural values, they have to fulfill their responsibilities as Armenian parents by creating a conducive atmosphere where their children are exposed to, appreciative of, and taught the Armenian language, history, music, art and other expressions of their culture.

Can Armenians live in Diasporan pluralistic societies, interact freely and openly and still retain their Armenian identity? Yes, they can, provided that they make a personal commitment to a bicultural way of life. This has to be an emotionally as well as intellectually felt act of will, to remain true to their Armenian roots under all circumstances, as in marriage, for better or for worse.

Rev. Dr. Vahan H. Tootikian is the Executive Director of the Armenian Evangelical World Council.


Developing transit cooperation cannot be basis for violation of territorial integrity of countries – Iran

 14:40, 8 January 2024

YEREVAN, JANUARY 8, ARMENPRESS. Iran has clear positions regarding the situation in the South Caucasus region and transit corridors, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Nasser Kanaani has said in response to a statement from Turkey on the so-called Zangezur Corridor.

“Iran has clear positions regarding the situation in the South Caucasus region and transit corridors, he noted. We are making a lot of efforts to establish peace, stability, and security in the regional countries. We emphasize that developing transit cooperation cannot be a basis for geopolitical changes and violation of the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of countries,” IRNA quoted Kanaani as saying at a press briefing.

The Turkish Minister of Transport and Infrastructures Abulkadir Uraloglu has said that Ankara expects to complete what he described as the “Zangezur Corridor” project by 2029.

2,3 million tourists visited Armenia in 2023

 17:06, 8 January 2024

YEREVAN, JANUARY 8, ARMENPRESS. 2,300,000 tourists visited Armenia in 2023, a tourism official has said.

Sisian Boghossian, the Head of the Tourism Committee under the Ministry of Economy, said that most of the 2,3 million tourists came from Russia.

“In 2023 we had two million three hundred thousand tourists, nearly a thirty percent growth compared to 2019 and nearly a thirty-nine percent growth compared to 2022,” she said.

50% of the 2,3 million came from Russia, followed by Georgia and Iran respectively. Diaspora Armenians from the United States are next.

“We have many tourists from India now who arrive from Dubai. Germany and France are still important target markets for us, and China is in the top ten countries,” Boghossian added.

The Growth of the Drone Industry in Armenia

ANYUAKMEDIA
Dec 28 2023


The drone industry in Armenia has been experiencing significant growth in recent years. As technology continues to advance, drones are becoming increasingly popular and are being used in a variety of industries, including agriculture, construction, and photography. This growth presents both opportunities and challenges for Armenia.

One of the main reasons for the growth of the drone industry in Armenia is the increasing demand for aerial photography and videography. Drones provide a unique perspective and allow photographers and videographers to capture stunning images and footage from the sky. This has opened up new opportunities for professionals in the creative industry and has also attracted tourists who are looking for unique and breathtaking views of Armenia’s landscapes.

In addition to the creative industry, drones are also being used in agriculture. Farmers are utilizing drones to monitor crop health, assess irrigation needs, and even spray pesticides and fertilizers. This technology allows farmers to be more efficient and precise in their farming practices, ultimately leading to increased productivity and reduced costs. The use of drones in agriculture has the potential to revolutionize the way farming is done in Armenia and can contribute to the country’s food security.

The construction industry is another sector that has benefited from the growth of the drone industry in Armenia. Drones are being used to survey construction sites, monitor progress, and inspect buildings. This technology allows construction companies to save time and money by quickly identifying any issues or discrepancies. It also improves safety by reducing the need for workers to physically access dangerous or hard-to-reach areas.

While the growth of the drone industry in Armenia presents numerous opportunities, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One of the main challenges is the lack of regulations and guidelines surrounding drone usage. Currently, there are no specific laws in Armenia that govern the operation of drones. This lack of regulation can lead to safety concerns and potential misuse of drones. It is crucial for the government to establish clear guidelines and regulations to ensure the responsible and safe use of drones in Armenia.

Another challenge is the limited availability of skilled professionals in the drone industry. As the demand for drone services increases, there is a need for individuals who are trained and experienced in operating drones. Currently, there are only a handful of training programs and courses available in Armenia. It is essential for the government and educational institutions to invest in training programs to meet the growing demand for skilled drone operators.

Despite these challenges, the growth of the drone industry in Armenia presents a promising future. The opportunities for economic growth and innovation are vast. With the right regulations and investments in training and education, Armenia can position itself as a leader in the drone industry in the region. The government, private sector, and educational institutions must work together to create an environment that fosters the growth and development of the drone industry. By doing so, Armenia can reap the benefits of this emerging technology and contribute to its overall economic development.

https://anyuakmedia.com/the-growth-of-the-drone-industry-in-armenia/#gsc.tab=0







Aurora’s Sunrise by Inna Sahakyan included in MovieWeb’s 16 Best Animated Movies of 2023

 11:54,

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 28, ARMENPRESS. Inna Sahakyan’s animated documentary Aurora's Sunrise has been included in MovieWeb’s 16 Best Animated Movies of 2023.

“Animation has a significant advantage over live-action filmmaking in that it can convey abstract ideas in a way that makes sense, both visually and spacially. Though there's a stigma surrounding animation in the west, with some likening the medium to children's entertainment, we occasionally get a film that demonstrates a level of maturity and emotional depth you simply can't find elsewhere.

“This is best exemplified by Aurora's Sunrise, an animated documentary film based on the life of the titular Aurora Mardiganian. A survivor of the Armenian Genocide, Aurora's life is depicted with a unique combination of live-action footage and brilliant animation, showcasing her journey from Eastern Anatolia to the streets of Hollywood. Inna Sahakyan directed this melancholic tale, with Aurora Mardiganian appearing in a handful of snippets taken from the 1919 film Auction of Souls.

“The animated portions of Aurora's Sunrise illustrate Aurora's journey in a way that simply wouldn't be feasible otherwise. Through the utilization of Armenian symbolism along with interview segments and archival footage, we're given an intimate viewing of Aurora's life against the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide. For those who may not have a full grasp of the Armenian Genocide's impact, Aurora's Sunrise presents this tragic event from a unique and informative perspective. Aurora's Sunrise is streaming on PBS,” MovieWeb said in the review.

[see video]

UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia commends progress in children’s rights in Armenia

 21:17,

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 20, ARMENPRESS. Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Paruyr Hovhannisyan on December 20 received the delegation headed by  UNICEF's  Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia Regina De Dominicis.

Paruyr Hovhannisyan highly appreciated the work of the United Nations Children's Fund in Armenia, including the program cooperation in a number of directions, as well as the involvement of UNICEF in humanitarian responses and support for forcibly displaced refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh, the foreign ministry said.

According to the source, during the meeting, the complex support provided to refugee children, assessment of needs, and protection of children from the most vulnerable groups were emphasized by both sides. Regina De Dominicis noted the progress registered in the field of children's rights in Armenia, highlighting the active cooperation between the government agencies of the Republic of Armenia and the United Nations Children's Fund.

Changing platforms is perhaps Azerbaijan’s tactics to avoid talks – lawmaker

 12:48, 13 December 2023

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 13, ARMENPRESS. Armenia envisions the effectiveness of peace talks with Azerbaijan in the same platform where it started, a senior lawmaker said Wednesday.

“Armenia is always ready for talks,” Sargis Khandanyan, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, representing the ruling Civil Contract party, said at a press briefing when asked to comment on the latest statement from Moscow claiming that Armenia has turned down Russia-mediated negotiations, whereas Azerbaijan has agreed to it.

“Unfortunately, in the past months we’ve seen that Azerbaijan is the one who’s avoiding the negotiations and not participating. We expect our colleagues to be able to bring Azerbaijan to the negotiations table,” Khandanyan said.

The MP said it’s the content of the talks that matter, and not the type or format.

“A certain logic of negotiations has been developed, which must be continuous. Perhaps changing the platforms of negotiations is a tactics by Azerbaijan in order to avoid the negotiations. This is the reason why we want the logic of the negotiations to be continuous. And we envision the effectiveness of it in this format, meaning, to continue the conversation where it had begun,” Khandanyan said.

Asked whether Armenia finds the Russian platform to be trustworthy considering the fate of the November 9 agreement, which Russia failed to guarantee as a party, the MP said this is a legitimate concern and question.

“And unfortunately, today we’ve appeared in a situation where main principled issues of the November 9 statement relating to ensuring the security of the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians and their stay in Nagorno-Karabakh, also relating to the Lachin Corridor haven’t been fulfilled, and are disrupted. That legitimate concern and question still remains,” the MP said.

MP Artur Hovhannisyan from Civil Contract added that Armenia doesn’t differentiate between the platforms of talks if the principles are maintained – recognition of territorial integrities, unblocking of roads under the sovereignty of the countries.

“There was the November 9 statement, and everyone saw what happened. And basically the trust and sentiments stem from the realities,” he said.