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Russia says Turkey’s statements on Karabakh ‘destructive’

Turkey’s statements on Nagorno Karabakh are destructive, Russia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich has said.

Ankara declared earlier it would do its utmost to ensure the “return of territories in Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan.”

“The attempts to defend one of the parties to the Karabakh conflict are destructive and cannot have any continuation,” Lukashevich said, speaking to Rossiya-24 TV Channel.

Russian PM signs decree on economic sanctions against Turkey

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on the implementation of special economic measures against Turkey, the press service of the Russian government said Tuesday.

“Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on the measures to implement the Decree of the President of Russia ‘On measures to ensure national security of the Russian Federation from criminal and other illegal activities and the use of special economic measures against the Republic of Turkey’,” the statement reads.

The resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers adopted on November 30 approves the list of agricultural products, raw materials and food originating from Turkey that will be prohibited from being imported to Russia beginning on January 1, 2016.

Russia will also ban charter flights with Turkey from December 1, 2015, with the exception of flights returning Russians home from holidays, the Russian government’s press service said.

“The Transport Ministry has been instructed to ban charter flights between Russia and Turkey from December 1, 2015, with the exception of special flights returning Russian tourists who are currently in Turkey,” according to the statement.

The ministry was also instructed to strengthen security measures in regard to regular flights between the countries.

Erdogan downed Su-24 to revenge son’s disrupted oil business: Damascus

Photo: AP


Turkey shot down Russia’s bomber as revenge for the destruction of oil smuggling business that belongs to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son, a Syrian minister stated, reports. 

Turkey downed the Russian Su-24 Fencer bomber over Syria in response to the destruction of hundreds of semi-truck oil tankers sent to Turkey from Syria by the Islamic State, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said.

The information minister said that oil smuggled into Turkey was bought by the Turkish president’s son, who owns an oil company.

“All of the oil was delivered to a company that belongs to the son of Recep [Tayyip] Erdogan. This is why Turkey became anxious when Russia began delivering airstrikes against the IS infrastructure and destroyed more than 500 trucks with oil already. This really got on Erdogan and his company’s nerves. They’re importing not only oil, but wheat and historic artefacts as well,” al-Zoubi told RIA Novosti in an interview.

“The fact of the attack on the [Russian] plane in Syrian airspace without any warning, as the surviving Russian [co-]pilot reported, confirms once again that Turkey is lying,” the information minister said.

Armenia seeks to make best use of EEU membership, develop cooperation with EU

On November 26, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian participated in the Eastern Partnership Informal Ministerial Dialogue in Tbilisi, attended by Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, and Helga Schmid, Deputy Secretary General for the External Action Service.

Addressing the meeting, Minister Nalbandian said:

The European Neighborhood Policy has played a substantial role in promoting and deepening the cooperation between Armenia and the EU. We highly appreciate the EU’s continued support and assistance provided to our country over the years, which has been instrumental for the effective implementation and sustainability of the reform process and institutional capacity building in Armenia.

Armenia welcomed the European Neighborhood Policy review process. We highly appreciated the initiative of High Representative Mogherini and Commissioner Hahn to engage the partner countries in this process. We are pleased to note that the outcome of the EU Council deliberations of the last week duly reflected the principle of differentiation to be applied to the partners, taking into account the progress made in implementation of their commitments in the areas of democratic reforms.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank you, Johannes, and ask you to convey my gratitude also to Federica for your joint letter on the ENP review process that I have received a week ago and assure that we share the ideas contained therein.

Dear colleagues,

Since our last meeting in Minsk some important developments have taken place. I would like to note with satisfaction, the decision of the EU Council authorizing the European Commission and the High Representative to open negotiations on a new agreement with Armenia.

The negotiations will be launched in coming days and I am hopeful that through the active process of deliberations we will be able to reach an agreement on a new framework document that will reflect the essence and depth of our bilateral relations and set new guidelines for mutually beneficial cooperation.

Following the successful negotiations of last month, we look forward to signing in coming days the agreements on Armenia’s participation in a number of EU programs, such as “Horizon 2020”, and the Program for Competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises (COSME). In the area of transport, the Government of Armenia has expressed its readiness to conclude a common aviation agreement, following the liberalization of the aviation market through the Open Skies Policy.

We attach great importance to people to people contacts, and view enhanced mobility of our citizens as an important prerequisite for bringing our societies closer. It is almost two years now that the EU-Armenia Visa Facilitation and Readmission agreements are being implemented. We do believe that it is high time to move further and launch a dialogue on visa liberalization with an understanding that this is a reform oriented process.

Dear colleagues,

The Government of Armenia is committed to advancing the reforms aimed at development and consolidation of the democratic institutions and good governance, protection and promotion of human rights, strengthening the rule of law and the independence of judiciary. With this in mind, the President of Armenia has initiated the process of constitutional reform. If approved in referendum on December 6 it will transform Armenia’s semi-presidential model of governance into the parliamentary one.

According to the opinion of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe “the work carried out by the Constitutional Commission of Armenia is of extremely high quality and deserves to be supported and welcomed” . It also stated that the draft text of the Constitution is in line with international standards.

Dear colleagues,

Armenia well recognizes the importance of inclusive cooperation in different formats. We hold the view that it is possible to make best use of various integration frameworks employing more visionary approach. Since our joining the Eurasian Economic Union, and even before, we have been advocating for a rationale that builds on opportunities provided by different integration formats while avoiding undue creation of new dividing lines in the larger neighborhood. We want to make best use of our participation in the Eurasian Economic Union and at the same time develop mutually beneficial possible cooperation with the European Union.

Dear colleagues,

We look forward to advancing our efforts in the framework of both Eastern Partnership and European Neighborhood Policy and we are confident that we will continue to proceed in the right direction, based on shared values and respect of each other’s decisions and choices.

Thank you.

The US interested in deepening cooperation with Armenia

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian received today Bridget A. Brink, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European & Eurasian Affairs.

The Armenian Foreign Minister hailed the high level of partnership between Armenia and the US, stressing that considerable progress has been achieved in the bilateral relations over the past years, which opens up new perspectives for the further reinforcement and expansion of cooperation.

Bridget A. Brink noted, in turn, that the US values the partnership with Armenia and is willing to take practical steps with a view of deepening the cooperation.

The interlocutors referred to the perspectives of development of Armenian-American economic relations and exchanged views on the results of the first meeting of the Armenia-U.S. Council on Trade and Investment.

“I’m proud that the US is one of the largest direct investors in Armenia,” Bridget A. Brink said, voicing hope that the high-level meetings will help boost mutually beneficial cooperation.

The Armenian Foreign Minister and the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State exchanged views on the process of peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, emphasizing the impermissibility of violation of the ceasefire regime.

Edward Nalbandian and Bridget A. Brink referred to a number of issues on international and regional agenda, the ways of fighting terrorism and resolution of conflicts.

The US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State praised Armenia’s contribution to global security and the country’s participation in peacekeeping operations.

Kurdish forces enter IS-held town of Sinjar

Kurdish fighters have reportedly entered Sinjar in northern Iraq, a day after launching an offensive to retake it from Islamic State (IS) militants, the BBC reports.

The Kurdistan Regional Security Council said in a tweet that Peshmerga forces had entered  “from all directions” and were clearing the town of IS.

The Kurdish offensive is supported by US-led coalition air strikes.

When it captured Sinjar last year, IS killed or enslaved thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority.

Tens of thousands of others became trapped on nearby Mount Sinjar without food or water for days until they were rescued by Syrian Kurdish forces. The risk of genocide was a key factor in the US decision to launch air strikes in Iraq.

The offensive to retake Sinjar began in earnest at dawn on Thursday, with some 7,500 Peshmerga fighters closing in on three fronts after coalition warplanes bombed IS positions, command-and-control facilities and weapons stores.

Islamic State group affiliate in Egypt claims it downed the Russian plane

The Islamic State (IS) group affiliate in Egypt claimed it downed the plane, without saying how, AFP reports.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail expressed doubt about the claim, saying “experts confirmed that a plane cannot be downed at such an altitude”, and Russian Transport Minister Maksim Sokolov said the claim “cannot be considered accurate”.

Germany’s Lufthansa and Air France said they would halt flights over Sinai until the reasons behind the crash became clear.

The Airbus A321 with 214 Russian and three Ukranian passengers and seven crew, had taken off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in south Sinai bound for Saint Petersburg.

It lost contact with air traffic control 23 minutes later.

The wreckage was found roughly 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the North Sinai town of El-Arish, Egyptian officials said.

Debris and bodies was spread over an area of between six and eight square kilometres (two and a half to just over three square miles).

The aircraft’s black box had been retrieved and sent for analysis, Ismail said.

The IS affiliate waging an insurgency in the Sinai claimed that “the soldiers of the caliphate succeeded in bringing down a Russian plane”.

It said this was in revenge for Russian air strikes against IS in Syria.

Three military experts said IS in Sinai does not have surface-to-air missiles capable of hitting a plane at high altitude.

But they could not exclude the possibility of a bomb on board or a surface-to-air missile strike if the aircraft had been descending to make an emergency landing.

The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin ordered rescue teams dispatched to Egypt.

Russian experts would take part in the Egyptian-led investigation, Ismail said.

Francis Ford Coppola recognizes System Of A Down for “Commitment to Justice”

The Armenian-American group is being honored by the Parajanov-Vartanov Institute at an Oct. 21 event to be held at Los Angeles’ Chateau Marmont hotel, according to the .

Armenian-American rock band System Of A Down are being honored by the Parajanov-Vartanov Institute at an Oct. 21 event to be held at Los Angeles’ Chateau Marmont hotel.

The institute recognizes the work of filmmakers Sergei Parajanov and Mikhail Vartanov, which includes The Last Spring and Minas: A Requiem, respectively.

The former was filmed during war-time in Armenia shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and edited in candlelight. It has been cited as an important work by such revered directors as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, who released a statement recognizing System of a Down and its Wake Up the Souls tour.

The trek put the focus on the Armenian genocide, which took took the lives of some 1.5 million men, women and children 100 years ago, in addition to the band’s own arsenal of politically-minded hard rock songs.

Says Coppola: “I would like to extend my congratulations to System Of A Down on being honored for their commitment to justice with the 2015 Parajanov-Vartanov Institute Award, in memory of filmmakers Sergei Parajanov and Mikhail Vartanov, whose work I greatly admire. I am also pleased to hear of the band’s unique gesture to help restore Mikhail Vartanov’s film Parajanov: The Last Spring, which was created under prohibitive conditions and yet exemplifies the power of art over any limitations. I would strongly encourage others to unite around this significant endeavor.”

Proceeds from the Chateau Marmont event will benefit the restoration of Vartanov’s Parajanov: The Last Spring film trilogy at UCLA.

Maestro Loris Tjeknavorian’s 78th birthday celebrated at Tehran museum

A number of artists, colleagues, and officials came together at the Imam Ali (AS) Religious Arts Museum on Sunday evening to celebrate the 78th birthday of Armenian composer and conductor Loris Tjeknavorian, reports.

Addressing participants, Art and Cultural Organization of Tehran Municipality Director Mahmud Salahi praised Tjeknavorian for his lifetime achievements.

“As far as I know, the indefatigable maestro still feels like a 30-year-old for broadening his experiences in music,” Salahi added.

Photographer Fakhreddin Fakhreddini, famous for his black-and-white portrait photos of Iranian celebrities, also spoke at the celebration.

“Tjeknavorian’s compositions can be considered as a fusion of music and paintings, since he is a notable painter as well,” he said.

Tjeknavorian also spoke briefly, saying that he has always been interested in genuine Iranian and Islamic culture, traditions and arts.

The musician who is of Armenian origin expressed pleasure over his Iranian nationality as he hoped for further peace and friendship for his countrymen.

Tjeknavorian said that he draws inspiration from people and added, “I have always been delighted to be living among the Iranian people.”

The celebration came to an end with the presentation to Tjeknavorian of a painting by Morteza Asadi and other awards.

Tjeknavorian was born in 1937 in Borujerd in the southwestern Iranian province of Lorestan and was educated in Tehran.

After he studied violin and piano at the Tehran Conservatory of Music, he studied composition at the Vienna Music Academy, where he graduated with honors in 1961.

Tjeknavorian has performed throughout the world, having conducted international orchestras in Austria, Britain, the United States, Canada, Hungary, Iran, Finland, the former Soviet Union, Armenia, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Africa and Denmark.

His own compositions have been performed by major orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the American Symphony Orchestra in New York and the Tehran Symphony Orchestra.

Iran’s First Vice-President due in Armenia Wednesday

Iranian First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, heading a high-ranking political and economic delegation, will start a two day visit to Armenia on Wednesday, Tasnim News Agency reports.

According to a report by official website of the Iranian president, Jahangir is schedule to hold separate meetings with the neighboring country’s Prime Minister and parliament speaker during which the two sides will explore avenues for the expansion of mutual cooperation between the two countries.

He will also attend Iran-Armenia joint trade meeting with traders and economic activists of both countries in attendance.

The Iranian first vice president will visit Yerevan’s Blue Mosque (also known as Masjid-e Kabud) to attend the 250th anniversary of the construction of the historical mosque.