Armenia, Saudi Arabia establish diplomatic ties

Nov 25 2023

Tbilisi, Nov 25 (EFE).- Armenia and Saudi Arabia have established diplomatic relations, the foreign ministry the country in the Caucasus said on Saturday.

A foreign ministry statement said the signing of the corresponding protocol took place on Friday in Abu Dhabi by the ambassadors of the two countries to the United Arab Emirates.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Friday that Armenia and Saudi Arabia were in touch with each other for the past few years.

“Our foreign ministers have met twice, phone calls have taken place, contacts have taken place during various multilateral working discussions,” Pashinyan told reporters before the government formally announced diplomatic ties with the kingdom.

“I think the process is advancing, and I hope that Armenia and Saudi Arabia will soon establish diplomatic relations, which would be a very important and significant event,” he said.

After several disagreements with Russia, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced his intention to diversify the country’s foreign relations.

Saudi Arabia supported Christian Armenia in its conflict with Muslim Azerbaijan in the war for control of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, causing great discomfort in Azerbaijan’s main ally, Turkey.

Armenia, which gained independence in 1991 after the Soviet dissolution, maintains good relations with Iran, which opposed from the beginning the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

According to some experts, it was one of the triggers for the current war between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which is backed by Tehran. EFE



We should help each other to find the right way of development, says Vice Minister of China Civil Affairs


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 23, ARMENPRESS. The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs of Armenia Narek Mkrtchyan on Thursday received the delegation of the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China, headed by Vice Minister Zhan Chengfu.

During the meeting, the perspectives of sectoral cooperation and a number of issues of mutual interest were discussed, the ministry said in a press release.

The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs highly appreciated the role of long-standing friendly relations between Armenia and China and in this context emphasized the importance of joint work in the fields of social protection of both countries.

"We have effective cooperation with the Chinese Embassy in Armenia and have implemented many joint projects. We hope that further initiatives with the Ministry of Civil Affairs will also have tangible results," the minister said.

Zhan Chengfu, in turn, thanked for the reception and noted that the members of the delegation were impressed by Armenia.

"Both Armenia and China are developing countries, and we should help each other to find the right way of development. We have a lot to learn from Armenia and a lot of work to do together," said the head of the delegation, adding that they are ready to exchange experience in various fields.

''During the meeting, the parties also referred to the process of providing social support to forcibly displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh. Zhan Chengfu noted that they are ready to take necessary steps to overcome the crisis created in Armenia.

As part of the visit, separate discussions with the representatives of the sector with the participation of the delegation members, as well as visits to the care facilities operating under the ministry are planned,'' the ministry said.

Armenia Turns to Iran To Reduce Energy Dependence on Russia

Nov 19 2023

  • Armenia and Iran's trade is expected to rise to $1 billion by next year, enhancing their economic relationship.
  • Iran aims to reduce Armenia's energy dependence on Russia, offering alternatives like extended gas-for-electricity deals.
  • The cooperation faces challenges due to differing views on regional issues and the presence of external actors in the South Caucasus.

As Armenia gradually turns away from its traditional strategic ally, Russia, it is tentatively exploring deeper partnerships with the likes of France and the United States.

And then there is Iran. 

Tehran and Yerevan have enjoyed cordial – even warm – relations since the early 1990s. That entente now looks poised to develop yet further, but geopolitics makes this a complicated proposition.

The appeal of this development is most evident in the numbers.

As Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan told Armenian Public Television in an interview aired on November 14, trade between Armenia and Iran is booming. Where the countries traded $350 million worth of goods in 2021, the expectation is that this figure will rise to $1 billion by next year, he said.

Grigoryan sees this as more than a question of generating prosperity.

"Economic relations between the two countries are important from the standpoint of security," he said.

Another interview from a few days earlier, this time given by Iran's newly appointed ambassador to Armenia, Mehdi Sobhani, to independent Yerevan-based news outlet CivilNet, offered more context for that perspective.

Sobhani hinted at the idea of Iran reducing Armenia's energy dependence on Russia. In a mutually advantageous deal, the two countries agreed in August to extend an existing deal whereby Armenia provides Iran with electricity in return for natural gas supplies. This arrangement has been in place since 2009 and was due to end in 2026, but will now be rolled on, in an apparently enhanced form, until at least 2030.

"Thanks to that agreement, we will be able to increase imports of electricity from Armenia to Iran in exchange for gas, triple or even quadruple it," Sobhani said.

 While this idea is promising, Russia can still play the spoiler.

The Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, the very instrument that could be used to wean Armenia off Moscow's gas, has belonged to Russian gas giant Gazprom since 2015. Russia has precedent in constraining the potential of this route.

Even as the pipeline was being designed, Moscow successfully insisted that its diameter be limited to 700 millimeters – less than the originally intended 1,420 millimeters – as a way to ensure no excess volumes of Iranian gas would be sold onward to third countries. This technical fix limited the pipeline's volume to 2.3 billion cubic meters per year. Ultimately, Gazprom bought Armenia's entire gas distribution infrastructure outright.

It is not only energy that is being traded, though.

To expedite other human and commercial exchanges, a vital cross-border highway running through Armenia's southern Syunik region is undergoing a major upgrade. In October, the Armenian government awarded a $215 million contract to two Iranian companies – Abad Rahan Pars Iranian International Group and Tounel Sad Ariana – to do the work. Once finished, the road will enable motorists to drive from Agarak, on the Iranian border, and continue some 32 kilometers northward across mountainous terrain over 17 bridges and through two tunnels.

The politics is where it begins to get complicated.

Although Iran consistently affirmed Azerbaijan's sovereignty over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, it has nevertheless often seemed to quietly back Yerevan's interests.

This is playing out at present in wrangling over the so-called Zangezur Corridor. After the Second Karabakh War in 2020, Azerbaijan regained large swathes of territory, including its entire frontier with Iran. Baku began speaking again then of its desire to push ahead with developing a transportation route across the very southern edge of Armenia – the Zangezur Corridor – so as to bridge its mainland territory with its exclave of Nakhchivan.

What Tehran has advanced is an alternative. In early October, Iran broke ground on a bridge that would facilitate faster transit between mainland Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan through its own territory, thereby notionally eliminating any need for an Azerbaijani corridor through Armenia.

Iran is operating in this situation out of a position of strategic self-interest. It is eager to prevent a physical corridor at its northern periphery that would unite the Turkic world and potentially cut off its access to Armenia and points further north.

In this month's interview, Sobhani forcefully reiterated Iran's opposition to the Zangezur Corridor.

"Our position on that matter has been declared at such a level that no one can change it," he said, according to CivilNet's English translation. "This is the position of the Supreme Leader of our revolution, who has stated very clearly that we do not accept and do not tolerate any border or geopolitical changes."

Iranian and Armenian interests diverge, however, when it comes to the presence of extra-regional actors in the South Caucasus, including on the subject of mediation with Azerbaijan.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was explicit on this point when he recently stated: "The presence of foreigners in the region not only does not solve the problems but complicates the situation."

Armenia increasingly favors U.S. and EU mediation, but Tehran would like to see matters settled exclusively by regional players. Iran has accordingly welcomed a 2021 initiative to establish a 3+3 format for talks that would involve the three South Caucasus nations – Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – and the three adjacent regional powers – Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

Several meetings have already been held in this format, most recently on October 23 in Tehran. But little seems to have come of them. (The format is in any case misnamed since it is actually 3+2 as Georgia has never agreed to participate in it.)

Elsewhere in his interview, Ambassador Sobhani offered general words of support for the 100,000 or so ethnic Armenians displaced by Azerbaijan's September offensive.  

"We believe the rights of the people of Karabakh should be ensured. The rights of every person from Karabakh should be ensured. They must have the opportunity to exercise their rights. This is a reality that no one, including Azerbaijan, can ignore," he said.

Even though he did not indicate that Iran had any particular policy regarding these people, the very mention of Karabakh drew the ire of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry. 

"[W]e consider the position of the Iranian Ambassador against our territorial integrity and sovereignty as a provocation. We expect Iran to prevent such steps, which are inappropriate to the spirit of our relations, as well as to take necessary steps regarding the opinions voiced by the Ambassador," it said.

By Lilit Shahverdyan via 

British Armenians fear a repeat of history as Genocide Memorial vandalised

Nov 7 2023
Georgia Gilholy

Every November people across Britain and the world are invited to observe “Red Wednesday”, an annual day of commemoration for the 360 million Christians estimated to be living under severe religious persecution. Armenians have often been among these millions.

Indeed, at the heart of the leafy London suburb of Ealing, a silent witness to the horrors of Armenian history now stands tall. The striking flame-shaped 6-foot monument, carved from tuff, Armenia’s national stone, was recently installed as England’s first dedicated memorial to the victims of the Genocide against its people.

The genocide Armenian Christians experienced at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, which historians consider the first “modern” genocide, claimed the lives of up to 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1916. On the instruction of Ottoman politician Talaat Pasha, Armenians were marched into the Syrian desert and brutally massacred, raped, robbed and starved.

The Turkish government still refuses to acknowledge these atrocities as anything more than an accident of war, but the historical consensus is that it was an organised, violent and deliberate attempt to eradicate this ancient Christian community, who had long faced periodic violence and systemic persecution under their Muslim rulers.

However, London’s Armenian community has been left feeling “under attack” after the monument dedicated to this brutal historic episode was vandalised following attempts by masked extremists to interrupt its unveiling ceremony.

As the 23 September inauguration ceremony unfolded, what should have been a solemn occasion quickly turned into a shocking display of hatred and attempted intimidation. A group of men arrived (pictured), some of whom had concealed their faces, waving Turkish flags and grinning as they displayed fists with the little finger and index finger raised: a “Turkic hand gesture” associated with the Grey Wolves, a proscribed terror group in several countries.

The Grey Wolves, a Turkish nationalist organisation, were behind spates of bombings and shootings throughout the 1970s, targeting not only Armenians but also Kurds and members of the opposition Democratic Peoples’ Party in Turkey. The group has displayed hostility to most non-Turkish or non-Sunni elements within Turkey and has distributed Turkish translations of Nazi literature.

In 2020, France banned the group for hate speech and political violence. In 2019 Austria outlawed its characteristic hand gesture. They are also outlawed in Kazakhstan.

Despite the group’s attempted provocation, attendees like Anna, a 13-year-old scout who spoke at the event, stood firm. “Me and my fellow scouts were hurt and shocked by the disrespect of the individuals who decided to turn up and show the sign of a Turkish extremist group,” she told me.

“These disgusting actions did not interrupt the ceremony, and we continued to proudly speak about our country, as we spoke and told the stories of our ancestors while they stood in the back. They failed to interrupt our ceremony, showing how strong us Armenians are when we are together.”

“The Grey Wolves gesture is the moral equivalent of a Nazi salute,” explained Annette Moskofian, who chairs the UK’s Armenian National Committee, a grassroots community body.

“To me personally, history is repeating itself. The idea of one nation, two states between Turkey and Azerbaijan means the Azerbaijani regime wants to finish what the Ottomans started in 1915, and that there are people in the UK who share these ideas makes us feel under attack,” she declared.

“Even in a civilised developed country like the UK, we have seen these attempts to intimidate our community, and the extremists who agree with the approach of the Turkish and Azeri governments feel able to threaten us with their hatred and racism.”

For the Armenian community in the UK, the attacks on their event and the genocide memorial itself did not feel like an isolated incident; instead they have served as a harsh reminder of the challenges their community has long faced, with little external support.

“Within 10 days of the inauguration ceremony, the memorial was desecrated by bright yellow paint, and the word Genocide on the plaque was scratched as if someone was trying to erase that specific word,” Moskofian explained. Fortunately, the memorial is under CCTV camera surveillance, and the police are actively investigating the incident as a “hate crime”. Moskofian says she is “confident that the perpetrators will be brought to justice and serve as an example”.

This disturbing display of extremism occurred at the peak of the recent crisis in Artsakh, which Baku had subjected to a harsh humanitarian blockade since last December. In September, the crisis provoked the exodus of almost all of the 100,000 ethnic Armenians from the enclave as Azeri forces launched a takeover, ending more than 1500 years of Armenian Christian presence in the small, mountainous region.

Moskofian shares a personal connection to the genocide. Her grandmother was a survivor, the sole member of a family of 100 who lived to tell the tale. “The Armenian Genocide Memorial Inauguration was a very proud moment for me as her descendant”.

“We have been keen to erect a monument to the Genocide ever since Ealing Council officially recognized it in 2010.”

“Although this was for me a token recognition until the UK joins other countries, including the US, in officially naming the atrocities committed by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians during that period as what it was: a genocide.”

For now, a flame-shaped symbol of the eternal souls of Armenian genocide victims continues to stand in a leafy corner of London. Sadly it seems that the embers of hatred are still glowing nearby.

At the time of writing the Home Office has yet to respond to a request for comment regarding its policy towards The Grey Wolves.

Unmasking Azerbaijan’s War Crimes: The Urgent Need for Accountability

Nov 9 2023

The issue of war crimes committed by Azerbaijan continues to remain at the forefront of the international community’s attention and public scrutiny.  Of particular concern are the incidents following Azerbaijan’s deadly attack on the Republic of Artsakh from September 19th to 21st, resulting in the deportation of the entire Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh.

In light of these events, along with Armenia’s recent ratification of the Rome Statute, it is crucial to examine the brutal war crimes committed by the Azerbaijani armed forces in the recent past.

This examination is vital to properly assess the xenophobic policies of the Azerbaijani side and the potential dangers they pose.

The internet, the International Court, and the press have already discussed a series of crimes attributed to the Azerbaijani side. Prominent among these are well-known footages depicting killings in 2020, as well as the execution of Armenian soldiers during the military aggression against Armenia in September 2022.

However, there are lesser-known episodes that require attention to highlight the specific inhumane policies of Azerbaijan, their actual intentions, and the crimes of war.

Particular attention should be given to footage clearly showing signs of torture and executions. These instances might be of a mass scale and have not faced significant resistance from the international community and organisations.

With the hope that following the adoption of the Rome Statute by Armenia, not only can Armenia hold Azerbaijan accountable for many crimes but also potentially prevent a new Azerbaijani adventure, the presence of the International Criminal Court could play a concerning role.

Amidst numerous anti-Armenian statements by Ilham Aliyev, his regime’s fascist position, and the regime’s committed war crimes, the ratification of the Rome Statute serves as another means for Armenia to safeguard its sovereignty.

This move may not fully replace defunct security systems such as the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) and agreements with Russia. However, it could open a new chapter of accountability for Azerbaijan and its leadership.

In the face of the collapse of the global security system and numerous major regional conflicts, controlling Azerbaijan’s reckless behaviour becomes increasingly challenging.

By Editor-in-Chief “Respublica Armenia” newspaper Ararat Petrosyan.

Armenia’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO dies aged 72

 19:45, 7 November 2023

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 7, ARMENPRESS. On November 7, Christian Michel Ter-Stepanyan,  Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Personal Representative of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia to the International Organization of La Francophonie, has passed away aged 72, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

“Christian Michel Ter-Stepanyan has been part of the diplomatic service of the Republic of Armenia for a long time, having invaluable contribution in the promotion of Armenia’s priorities on international platforms,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 02-11-23

 17:10, 2 November 2023

YEREVAN, 2 NOVEMBER, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 2 November, USD exchange rate down by 0.02 drams to 402.37 drams. EUR exchange rate up by 3.40 drams to 427.88 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate down by 0.01 drams to 4.32 drams. GBP exchange rate up by 2.15 drams to 490.61 drams.

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

Gold price down by 137.76 drams to 25696.41 drams. Silver price down by 6.87 drams to 293.27 drams.

Armenian electronic label Discotchari releases first deadstock discovery of “Something Different”

It was a case of serendipity. In a post-ceasefire Armenia, the story behind Discotchari’s inaugural release is a testament to the bonding power of art, even in times of strife. The “deadstock discovery” – a term used for warehoused, sealed or discontinued records that have been removed from catalog – emerged when Discotchari stumbled upon a cache of ’45s featuring virtuosos John Bilezikjian and Raja Zahr, still encased in their original factory boxes from 1970. Available on November 3, 2023, this collaboration will be released on hundreds of 7” 45rpm units, plus digital downloads and streaming on all platforms. 

Discotchari, a sublabel under Critique, is an L.A-based electronic label that selector and A&R Zach Asdourian and DJ and marketing professional Anaïs Gyulbudaghyan started in 2020, focused on reconstructing a long-lost back-catalog of rare groove music from artists of Armenian and Middle Eastern/SWANA identities to form an archive of songs that would be rediscovered by future generations of listeners. Over the years, Asdourian and Gyulbudaghyan learned the value of building a community of fans and Armenian “rare groovers” organically, rather than creating songs with the sole intent of achieving algorithmic rotation over the Internet.

“We started Discotchari based on our firm belief that, by increasing awareness of our music history, we can positively influence socio-political Armenian issues by providing a means for artasahmantsiner (non-Armenians) to experience our culture while also providing a consistent source of inspiration and pride for our barekamner (fellow Armenians) faced with an existential crisis,” says Asdourian. “In the last century we have seen smaller countries like Japan and Jamaica grow into cultural exportation phenomena, and in both cases music has played a big role in attracting interest from global markets. These economics reinforce the sovereignty of these countries, and the Armenia we know today has potential to become a prime destination for cuisine, nature, spirituality, innovation and all forms of artisanry.”

Front cover of album (Photo credit: Discotchari)

The release, Something Different, which features songs “Zulu Man” and “Chemical Reaction,” speaks to the souls of two extraordinary artists, John Bilezikjian and Raja Zahr. John Bilezikjian, largely recognized as the twentieth century’s most advanced oud musician, made an everlasting impression on the world of music, and as Asdourian called it in an interview with the Weekly, “a respectful iconoclast who ventured beyond the boundaries of ‘Western Armenian’ tradition set forth by Udi Hrant’s generation then maintained by John Berberian and others.” His commitment to decoding the oud’s history and uncovering its full potential continues to astound listeners, and naturally, as a scholar of Middle Eastern music, his library of 20th century Turkish encyclopedias, sheet music and pop records reveal a passion for confirming the Armenian (along with Greek and Jewish) origins of Ottoman classical music. 

On the flip side, Raja Zahr’s journey from Beirut to Oklahoma and his eventual settlement in glitzy Los Angeles is one of adventure and passion. In the local scene of belly dance nightclubs, he established himself as a premier Arabic percussionist. The combination of John’s oud expertise and Raja’s percussion prowess resulted in a one-of-a-kind musical collaboration.

“Raja met John through a mutual acquaintance, and they developed a quick bond as they began touring across the Southwestern states, performing their repertoire of regional belly dance standards and writing original compositions together,” Asdourian said. “Of the nine songs they wrote together, two of them were recorded in 1970 at a studio owned by a friend of Raja and ended up pressed onto the vinyl records that Discotchari is releasing. According to Raja, other songs were recorded but got lost when the studio burned down.” 

Back cover of album (Photo credit: Discotchari)

The two songs capture the mentality of two superstar musicians, at a very young age, adjusting to a new environment while trying to maintain a connection to their roots. The record features the ancient oud and darbuka colliding with the fallout of the global psychedelic movement. One song muses about melancholy and desperate feelings, and another leads listeners on an action-packed adventure of drum breaks. 

And how did this release come to be? I’ll let Zach share. 

“A year and a half ago, we did not have any set plans for the first Discotchari release, so we tried to focus on things that would help us gather the material and resources to take that next big step. We were very experimental in trying to build our audience, and ironically it was the idea of merchandising that actually led to the discovery of the Something Different 45s! John Bilezikjian had a label in the 70s called ‘Dantz Records.’ The label logo and album artworks are as clever as the name’s play on words,” explained Asdourian. 

“I was able to track down and meet John Bilezikjian’s son, Johnny, to pitch this apparel idea I had, but when I told him that my main focus was reissuing Armenian dance records, he told me that his father had a record collection like no other, and that I should come check it out sometime,” Asdourian continued.

After purchasing this record collection from Johnny last year, Asdourian and Gyulbudaghyan discovered, among sealed vinyl of Elias Rahbani and Fairuz, a couple hundred copies of the Something Different 45s still in their original factory boxes from 1970. They were able to uncover the entire production run of these records nestled between CDs, cassettes and reel-to-reels, and reach an agreement with Johnny and Raja Zahr to give these unheard recordings the proper release that they deserved. 

The songs are quintessentially 1970s, pulling in common psychedelic notions from the era’s “mind-expanding” music, a-la-Pink Floyd, Rush, Yes, Genesis and other introspective bands known for their complex instrumentals, and equally as complex, thoughtful lyricism. However, John and Raja found a way to blend Near Eastern flavors and a clear love for their roots with progressive and psychedelic rock. It’s interesting to see the dichotomy between the two similar-but-different songs. 

“The song ‘Chemical Reaction’ written by Raja is the theme to its own world of sandy landscapes and scorching sun. From the very first seconds ‘Chemical Reaction’ takes you on a whirlwind of emotions. The scenarios are endless when it comes to properly categorizing the high times and low lunges this track can create on a dance floor,” describes Asdourian. “The song ‘Zulu Man’ on the other hand is John’s ode to 60s rock ballads, full of light, smooth, complex instrumental passages that equally put you at ease and keep you guessing where they’re going next. ‘Zulu Man’ is leaning more towards the obscurities of Gandalf and King Crimson than the soundtracks of the decade.” 

With their first label release coming soon, Discotchari has no plans to stop anytime soon, with another rare Armenian discovery coming soon, along with an electronic album by a Yerevan-based artist.

“In our search for music, we aim to present a different angle on Armenian music, focusing on long-lost gems that never made it to the general public, and our upcoming releases completely reflect that,” says Gyulbudaghyan. “In line with our radio residency, we’re rolling out a series of club nights called ‘Silk Road Secret Agents’ that are focused on representing the music of legendary trade routes connecting Asia and Africa with Europe via the Middle East, sewing a rich tapestry of musical heritage as we go. We’re looking forward to collaborating with SWANA musicians, DJs and creatives, to reignite thousands of years of cultural exchange, to disrupt conventional perspectives and diffuse critical intel behind often elusive recordings.”

In a world where music serves as a reflection of our shared human experience, Discotchari’s work illustrates how art can transcend time and borders. Something Different, their inaugural release, is more than just a reissue of a long-lost gem. It’s an homage to the power of music to unify across cultural differences.

Gyulbudaghyan concluded, “We love Armenian records and want to turn their global nuances into a talking point, so we started the conversation ourselves on social media, and 18 months later, we’re now able to release a record that embodies the cultural fusion we are so passionate about highlighting.” 

Something Different is available on Bandcamp and Soundcloud and features John Bilezikjian on oud and harpsichord and Raja Zahr on drums and Arabic percussion.

John and Raja in the studio circa 1987 (Photo Credit: Discotchari)

Artist: John Bilezikjian, Raja Zahr
Album: Something Different
Label: Discotchari
Catalog Number: DSC001
Barcode: 197644375011
Release Date: November 3, 2023
Genre: World, Psychedelic Rock
Format: digital + deadstock 7” 45rpm
License: courtesy of the artists
Rights: © ℗ Discotchari 2023
Originally pressed by Nose Records in 1970

Side A:

  1. Zulu Man – 3:17

Side B:

  1. Chemical Reaction – 2:37

Engineer: Drew Bennett
Producer: Paul Massaad
Liner Notes: Zach Asdourian
Personnel: Jim Zrake, John Mazo, Russ Viot

Melody Seraydarian is a journalist and undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, pursuing a degree in Media Studies with a concentration in media, law and policy. Her column, "Hye Key," covers politics, culture and everything in between from a Gen-Z perspective. She is from Los Angeles, California and is an active member of her local Armenian community.

Returning to the Motherland: Mireille Goguikian’s Retrospective in Yerevan

On October 7, 2023, the Modern Art Museum of Yerevan held an exhibition entitled, “Retrospective – 35 Years of Artistic Creation,” in honor of Lebanese-Armenian painter Mireille Goguikian.

“This exhibition shows my resilience as an Armenian artist. This exhibition is me taking a stance with Artsakh. I wanted to share my Retrospective with my Armenian people,” Goguikian said. Now, visitors of the Modern Art Museum of Yerevan can see two of Goguikian’s works in the museum’s permanent collection.

Retrospective in honor of Lebanese-Armenian artist Mireille Goguikian

Born and raised in Beirut, Goguikian’s true artistic talent remained undiscovered until she was 17 years old studying to become an architect. Her professors and peers encouraged her to change paths and pursue art. Three years deep into her architecture program, Goguikian decided to take the risk, changed her major and studied visual arts. One year into the degree, Goguikian’s paintings began to stand out, earning multiple honorary prizes and distinctions, such as the first Samir Tabet Prize and the second prize of the Béchir Gemayel. After graduating from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (ALBA) in 1988, she started regularly exhibiting in local galleries and even taught in an academy for a year before she left for Paris. 

The next five years of Goguikian’s life in Paris witnessed a creative shift in her career, as she fully committed to her artistic path. “During my stay in Paris, I got more involved in the Armenian community. Even though I didn’t speak very good Armenian, they welcomed me with open arms. This was when I started searching for my Armenian roots,” Goguikian said.

Throughout her career, Goguikian participated in 50 international exhibitions in Tokyo, London, Paris, Italy, Seoul and so on. She also presented 17 solo exhibitions, the latest being her first-ever solo exhibition in Yerevan.

Titled “Mireille of Cities” and “Queen of Colors” back home in Beirut, Goguikian mainly paints cityscapes. “I paint cities just like I imagine them in my head, cities filled with light and love, where chaos doesn’t exist,” Goguikian explained.

“You can see the sun and the light as recurring themes in most of my paintings. In many ways, the sun also represents Armenia,” she continued. All of the red paintings in her collection are about Armenia. For Goguikian, the strength and the passion of the color red represent Armenia.

Chaleur Rouge, 2021 by Mireille Goguikian. Oil on canvas 50x70cm.

“I wanted to offer some light and positivity despite these challenging times,” Goguikian said regarding her exhibit in Yerevan. “I believe this was a successful exhibition, and we Armenians needed it.” Many people attended the opening reception of Retrospective, all eager to see and learn more about the Lebanese-Armenian artist and painter.

Goguikian’s works have appeared in several collections, both private and public, and they are exhibited in many cultural foundations and museums worldwide. Despite her popularity in the broader art scene, Goguikian has always wanted to share her talent through educational activities, especially with those in her community. She is a member of the National Federation of French Culture and the Armenian Artists of France and a previous art teacher at Hamazkayin’s Toros Roslin Fine Arts Academy. 

Lebanese-Armenian artists Rita Massoyan Yedalian, Mireille Goguikian, Raffi Yedalian and director of the Toros Roslin Art Academy Hagop Handian

In addition to her ongoing contributions to the Armenian art community, Goguikian continues to represent a valuable resource for Armenia by actively engaging in international exhibitions. For the XIll Biennale in Florence, Goguikian was selected as a participating artist to showcase seven paintings, “Shards of Beirut,” and she won the very selective Jury Prize. In 2021, she won the Caravaggio Prize in Milan and the International Prize in Barcelona in November 2022. In the near future, Goguikian will have a collective exhibition in Dubai and a solo exhibition in Beirut Kaleem Art Space in April. 

Hena Aposhian is a freelance journalist who primarily focuses on Armenian arts & culture. She is a graduate of the American University of Armenia and holds a bachelor's degree in English & Communications.