Lukashenko sends birthday greetings to Pashinyan

 11:24, 1 June 2023

YEREVAN, JUNE 1, ARMENPRESS. Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has sent birthday greetings to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, BelTA reported citing the Belarusian presidential press service.

“I am convinced that your vast managerial experience and professional approach to solving state tasks will enable you to continue to successfully cope with the challenges that Armenia faces in the political, social and economic sectors and achieve all the goals set for the benefit of the Armenian people,” the message reads.

The President of Belarus added that he looked forward to further constructive dialogue aimed at developing a comprehensive partnership with Armenia, close interaction in the integration associations and strategic cooperation in the international arena.

Aleksandr Lukashenko wished Nikol Pashinyan new successes in his responsible activity, good health, happiness, peace and accord.

Armenian Prime Minister participates in 2nd European Political Community Summit

 11:45, 1 June 2023

CHISINAU, JUNE 1, ARMENPRESS. The opening ceremony of the second European Political Community Summit has kicked off in Chisinau, Moldova. The summit is held at the Mimi Castle in Bulboaca, located 35 km away from the Moldovan capital.

President of Moldova Maia Sandu is welcoming the participating heads of state and government.

Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan is also participating in the summit.

The membership of the European Political Community has grown since the first Summit in 2022. Invitations to attend the second EPC Summit were extended to 47 heads of State and Government, as well as to the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the President of the European Parliament.

The European Political Community (EPC) is a platform for political coordination among European countries across the continent. It aims to promote political dialogue and cooperation to address issues of common interest and to strengthen the security, stability, and prosperity of the European continent.

The Republic of Moldova is hosting the second Summit of the EPC on 1 June 2023. This Summit will build on the foundations of the initial EPC gathering that took place in Prague in October 2022. The EPC Summits are organized on a rotating basis by each participating country with the host alternating between an EU and non-EU member state. This is the first EPC Summit hosted by a non-EU country.

The discussions of the second EPC Summit will focus on three main topics: joint efforts for peace and security; energy resilience and climate action; and interconnections in Europe for a better connected and more stable continent.

As part of the summit, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan will have a five-sided meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, President of the European Council Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Pashinyan held EU-mediated talks with Aliyev, together with French President Emmanuel Macon and President of the European Council Charles Michel during the first summit in Prague in 2022. The Armenian PM also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the 2022 summit.

Asbarez: Moscow Confirms Upcoming Meets on Opening Transport Routes

The Armenia-Azerbaijan border

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexey Overchuk on Wednesday confirmed that he will meet with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts to discuss the opening of transport routes between the two countries.

He told reporters that on Wednesday that three deputy prime ministers, who are tasked with mapping out the transport route opening process, will meet in the near future.

“Today, we came very close to talking about restoring the railway transport between the western regions of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. At the same time, Armenia also will get the opportunity to unblock and move through Nakhichevan, through Azerbaijan to Russia, to other EAEU countries,” Overchuk told reporters, according to the Tass news agency.

“Indeed, the decisions that we are preparing within the framework of the tripartite working group are undoubtedly of great importance for the stabilization of the situation in the South Caucasus region and unblocking of Armenia,” Overchuk added.

He said that the issues that will be considered at the upcoming meeting “really concern technical details related to the modalities of crossing the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia․”

“We are talking about passport and customs control, and all other types of control that exist at international borders,” he added.

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 31-05-23



YEREVAN, 31 MAY, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 31 May, USD exchange rate up by 0.10 drams to 386.62 drams. EUR exchange rate down by 2.13 drams to 412.76 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate down by 0.01 drams to 4.77 drams. GBP exchange rate down by 2.47 drams to 477.94 drams.

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

Gold price up by 62.82 drams to 24269.19 drams. Silver price up by 1.44 drams to 289.06 drams.

Besieged Artsakh and Mental Health

My early morning coffee on my balcony in front of the Artsakh Foreign Office exposes sunlit green laces of acacia, chirping birds and aquamarine mountain ranges soaring to the gray of the sky on the horizon. But my small delight is unsettled with the first sip that pricks the split corners of my mouth and itchy nettle rash all over my cheeks. This is – as my doctor puts it – a vitamin deficiency induced by the blockade. 

The blockade has completely cut off our enclave from the rest of the world, already isolated by protracted conflict and recent defeat in war. This show of force of Azeri “environmentalists” has been the most “successful eco-friendly” action in the Caucasus with the most aggravated humanitarian outcomes. It not only managed to stop the exploitation of the mine, but to deprive 120,000 people from meeting their basic needs and fundamental rights.

Visible Impact of the Blockade

The edibles have disappeared from food stalls, leaving grains, local dairy and canned food on the rows, next to lonely-standing luxurious Armenian cognacs. Over months, I developed an instinct of buying almost any edible I saw without much discretion, rejoicing over every purchased bit of food like over a trophy. This eventually seemed to me degrading and humiliating. I quit foraging for food to develop an itchy and festering vitamin-deficient rash on my face and limbs.

The blockade has impeded the right to move freely. The Red Cross transports only the severely ill, those in need of medical intervention and children separated from parents. One may be stuck in Yerevan for months, like a student of mine, Sofi Abrahamyan. Many students from Artsakh, around 200, studying in Yerevan cannot come here to see their parents. Left high and dry in Yerevan are also people traveling back to Artsakh from abroad.

Artsakh students, who have now graduated, were having a hard time getting to university from different regions, due to haphazardly disconnected gas supply that fuels public transport. Their studies were further disrupted by regular rolling blackouts at home and university. 

The blockade has crippled big and small businesses due to lack of import of raw materials and goods. People are tending to their own vegetable gardens and cultivating every patch of land. The land, which is giving us all this trouble, is supplying us with fresh vitamins in the form of greens, mostly wild ones. Lavishly growing on slopes, they are generously sold at local bazaars. They are traditionally cooked as soup, with garlic, baked within thin sheets of dough. Over the course of history, sieges like this have taught us to make practical, healthy and creative use of nature.  

The positive sides of the blockade are that fuel shortages force drivers to exercise by walking to their destinations. Plastic is no longer thrown away, but carefully stored and reused. All in all, people have simplified their eating and attire. They are often delighted with a handful of pasta and a warm cup of tea. I, for one, have lost weight without much effort, which I could have hardly achieved by sticking to diets in the good old days.

My current experience incites a comparison with my first blockade, experienced as a 10 year old. The blockade of Artsakh in the ‘90s preceded the war. Now the blockaded people are exhausted by 30 post-war years of protracted conflict; people in the late 80s had a greater sense of security and greater vigor. The refugees of the ‘90s from Baku and Shahumyan were neglected by authorities, while IDPs from Hadrut and Shushi are now treated better. The ‘90s saw densely-populated and better off Artsakh villages, with little exposure to malnutrition and bombardment, as opposed to Stepanakert.

Comparison of Two Blockades

I can recall the start of bombardment in November 1991. We had just moved into a spacious and newly-renovated apartment. The classical dining room furniture sparkled. The bathrooms were beaming. The bedrooms were spacious. 

At a birthday party, town intelligentsia played chess, and women discussed Anna Akhmatova, while the children devoured creamy tarts. The next night, our family woke up to roaring blasts of multiple-launch rockets from an adjacent town. My mother told me that we were not going to school, which I was happy about, but also scared by all the racket. Neighboring families were clamorously sprinting into the basement under the building with infants, blankets and cots. The missiles designed to deliver anti-personnel devastation in an open battlefield were bludgeoning the civilian population, already blockaded and cut from all the land communications with Armenia since 1989, signaling the collapse of the Soviet empire. The next six months were turning the settlement into a ghost town. The buildings cut in half were leering at you with blackened holes and bathrooms. The roads were cramped with rooftops, and hearths on the streets reminded of once apartment stocks. In her book Modern Saints and MartyrsCaroline Cox, a deputy speaker of the House of Lords, recalls, “I used to count 400 Grad missiles every day pounding in on Stepanakert.”  

When the water supply was cut, my mum had to fetch water in buckets from the outskirts of town under cover of the night so as not to be easily targeted by snipers. One evening, we were supping with natural yogurt sent from our relatives from the village (the main supplier of groceries then), when distant blasts were rhythmically and increasingly growing closer and louder. Clobbered and horrified, my siblings and I were instructed to line up along the corridor wall in the center. Then came the ringing of the shattering glass and screams of our neighbors. The rocket, intended for our flat, sprawled back into a perennial linden tree in front; its scattering fragments flickered the walls and crashed into kitchen equipment. Our neighbor Mrs. Anja threw herself onto the bed, covered herself with a blanket and froze. Another lady was trembling so much that I thought she was rocking a baby. Then the news came that this salvo of rockets chopped our neighbor’s head at the entrance of a nearby house.

My classmate, struggling with cancer, having lost her leg at age 11 when her home was shelled in 1991 (Photo: Areg Balayan)

My parents were scared for us, and I was scared for my toddler sister, who had just started walking. I wanted all this to come to an end. The blockade of our town was lifted six months later, when the town of the impregnable medieval fortress, Shushi, fell.

Pressure on Mental Health and Ways to Nourish it

The biggest upshot of blockade is the grave pressure on mental health, its aptness to kill the soul and hopes of people, every third of whom is either displaced or bereaved. Stepanakert psychologists record high anxiety, depression, PTSD, increased fear and unexplainable stomach pains in children, aggression that is stronger among war veterans, trauma, often intergenerational, victimization and powerlessness. To nourish mental health, Natalia Bekhtereva, an eminent neurophysiologist and Leningrad blockade survivor, advises patients to counterweight negative emotions with positive ones (emotion vs. emotion principle) and to drive off oppressive thoughts by exercise (emotion vs. movement). 

The theatrical play, “While She Was Dying,” transforms the desolation and frenzy of the people and engulfs them into the story of a mother and daughter who take solace in their shabby neighborhood by cozy chats and reading Charles Dickens aloud to each other. One day, there’s an unexpected knock on the door. It is a gentleman with a fresh bouquet. The subsequent suspense delivered me from harsh reality for three hours in line with the emotion versus emotion principle. I went with a colleague, who was not captured by the play. Maybe she was too young and better spared from the calamities of life to feel empathy with the lonely lady. However, the performance was appealing to most, since it inferred that even though we may think the opportunity of life had passed, there may be greater chances that could open up.

Theatrical performance in blockaded town, December 2022

People are also cherishing their mental health by the emotion versus motion principle. They attend fitness ballet and barre workouts. A ballroom hosts ladies of various ages and backgrounds, assiduously performing a trainer’s instructions. This routs out their oppressive thoughts. But this blissful state is cut short when a gentle young lady with beautiful big eyes and luxurious hair, performing port de bras next to me, disrupted the flow of exercise: “My uncle, who was receiving intervention in the bigger capital, died. His family is here and doesn’t know what to do.” The rest of the ladies stood motionless for a while, then went on with gymnastics.

A most robust psychotherapeutic tool, according to Viktor Frankl, a Nazi camp survivor, is finding meaning in life. He states that human life, even in suffering and privation, never ceases to have a meaning, and even if we have nothing more to expect from life, life is still expecting something from us. One must not lose hope, but keep the courage that the hopelessness of our struggle does not distract us from the dignity of life and its meaning. The meaning of life may be “someone you look down to – a, friend, a wife, someone alive or dead, or God – and He would not expect us to disappoint him”[1], or else it may be a task to be fulfilled or a grip of some future purpose or actions.   

The blockade has tried to steal our meaning in life, our hopes and values, depriving us of human dignity, finding refuge in the past or simply waiting for the future. On the other hand, it has opened people to search for meaning and made them more receptive to it. Some find it in the growing fidelity to homeland and consider the blockade a sacrifice in its name. Others reconceptualize personal relations, attach significance to teaching or writing as therapy. Many find meaning in religion.

Voices in the Church

The deranged mental health of people drives them into the graceful tufa cathedral. The church counterbalances their pain and torment into joy, consolation and hope. At church, you hear voices of desperation, stories of loss and of miraculous salvation. The desperate voice belongs to a man kneeling in front of the altar, whose son was kidnapped from the military position two weeks ago. He is conversing with the universe: “Bring back my son. He is the reason I live.” The rear seats are taken by a gentleman and a young lady, who share their stories of loss and salvation and how they found meaning in life. One of them is my schoolmate, who lost her leg in the first war, when a Grad missile ‘entered’ her house. “God saved me from bowel cancer when my boy was three. God heard my cry, and I heard how my boy was praying for me.”

The other, Samvel, says that God preserved only him, unscathed out of 42 combatants in the squad. “Upon the defeat, we were retreating through a long road of dead bodies. I was praying for everyone – for friends and foes, dead and alive. Prayer has kept me sound in mind, and God has preserved my body unscathed, because I still have to serve people for His glory.”

The blockades are bludgeoning generations. Members of the elder generation are reactivating their coping mechanisms with decreasing strength. The younger have vigor, but no experienced scenarios of surviving the siege. Like hobbits, we are at the intersection of interests of too many powers and have assumed a mission too big for us to fulfill, our adventures being underway.


[1] Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p. 104

Lusine Vanyan is a lecturer at Artsakh State University. She also is currently working with Doctors Without Borders.

Artsakh’s Defense Army publishes a video showing the use of a mortar by the Azerbaijani army




YEREVAN, MAY 30, ARMENPRESS. The Artsakh Defense Army published a video on its Facebook page showing the use of a mortar by the Azerbaijani army.

[See video]

ARMENPRESS reports, the Ministry of Defense of Artsakh issued a message that on May 30 that the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire in the northern and eastern direction of the contact line by using small arms and mortars.

At around 11:40 am, the Azerbaijani side, according to preliminary data, fired 7 mines from a 60 mm caliber mortar towards one of the Defense positions.

The Armenian side has no losses.

The ceasefire violation was reported to the command of the Russian peacekeeping troops.

As of 13:00 on May 30, the situation on the contact line is relatively stable.

Armenpress: Secretary of Security Council of Armenia, Advisor to the Austrian Chancellor discuss the regional security environment




YEREVAN, MAY 30, ARMENPRESS. On May 30, Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan met with Barbara Kaudel-Jensen, Diplomatic Advisor to the Austrian Federal Chancellor.

As ARMENPRESS was informed from the Office of the Security Council, the interlocutors discussed the regional and wider extra-regional security environment.

Secretary Grigoryan presented details of the progress of the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations and emphasized the positions of the Armenian side on a number of issues.

The parties discussed issues involving the range of interest of Armenian-Austrian relations. Within the framework of the above, Armen Grigoryan emphasized the role of the EU civilian mission in terms of ensuring stability in the region and thanked the Austrian side for supporting it.

Asbarez: ‘Corridor’ Through Armenia is ‘Red Line’ for Yerevan

A military post along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border

Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan said on Tuesday that Azerbaijan’s ongoing insistence on a so-called “corridor” through Armenia is a “red line” for Yerevan.

Grigoryan, who sits on a joint commission with his Azerbaijani and Russian counterparts tasked with opening transport links and delimiting of the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, told reporters that the issue of a “corridor” will not be discussed during upcoming meeting because “it is a red line for us.”

He said that in discussing the opening of borders with Azerbaijan Armenia is moving forward with two succinctly important principles that ensure that the infrastructures agreed to during talks must be in complete completely sovereign and under complete jurisdiction of Armenia.

When the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan met in Moscow earlier this month at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, they agreed that stalled talks on the opening of transport routes and the delimitation of borders should resume immediately.

One such element is restoring of the out of commission Soviet railway lines, the restoration of which, according to Grigoryan, will take two to three years. He called the railroad link an “effective” solution to the unblocking of regional transport routes.

“We want solutions that would strengthen and enhance Armenia’s role in the region as a logistic hub. At this moment the railway option seems to be the most likely one. If we look at the railway infrastructures in the region, it is clear that by restoring individual sections we would get a serious logistic solution on a regional level. By very preliminary calculations the restoration could take approximately two to three years,” Grigoryan said.

The transit route unblocking commission is scheduled to meet later this week, Grigoryan told reporters.

AW: ANCA leaders consult with US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez

ANCA leaders and supporters conferring with US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) at a gathering in Southern California

LOS ANGELES, Calif.  Leaders and supporters of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) conferred last week with US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)  chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee  to encourage the federal government to back the right to self-determination for the indigenous Armenians in the Republic of Artsakh. The Biden administration is currently facilitating talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan that would “integrate” democratic Artsakh into the Republic of Azerbaijan, a genocidal state led by petro-dictator Ilham Aliyev. The ANCA is on record strongly objecting to the Biden administration’s reckless foreign policy on Armenian issues and has been urging Congressional leaders to reverse a policy that would lead to a second Armenian Genocide against the families of Artsakh.

ANCA supporters (from left to right) Sako Shahinian, Vatche Derderian, Michael Tchakmakjian, and Carlo Ghailian with US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

“Chairman Menendez is a champion for Artsakh’s freedom,” said ANCA chairman Raffi Hamparian. “During these consequential days for the heroic people of Artsakh  having Chairman Menendez lead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is more important than ever. We join with Armenian Americans from across the nation in expressing appreciation for our constructive dialogue with Chairman Menendez, including a strategic dialogue on the need for an urgent course correction in terms of US policy on Artsakh,” added Hamparian.

Several gatherings in support of Senator Menendez and his re-election campaign were held in the state of California and included the participation of individuals from across the United States. These individuals were Democrats, Republicans and Independents, who all support the Senator because of his principled position that the Armenians of Artsakh deserve the same rights that Americans enjoy to live in freedom under a government of their own choosing.

ANCA leaders and supporters conferring with US Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) at a gathering in La Jolla, California.

Late last year, Chairman Menendez held a hearing that led to a stinging indictment of US policy on Azerbaijan, charging that the State Department witnesses testifying at the hearing were “wholly unresponsive” to concerns about the ongoing waiver of Section 907 restrictions on US aid to Azerbaijan and the lack of meaningful US assistance to Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and Armenia following Azerbaijani attacks. Former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried and former State Department Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations Philip Reeker were witnesses at the November 16, 2022 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing titled “Assessing US Policy in the Caucasus.” Both Donfried and Reeker are no longer employed by the US Department of State. Chairman Menendez summarized their responses at his hearing this way: “This has been one of the most disappointing hearings I’ve ever held, but it has crystalized some things for me. One is, it seems to me the United States is in bed with Azerbaijan.”

US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) with ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian and ANCA supporter Michael Tchakmakjian

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

AW: Arizona State Legislature affirms Artsakh’s right to self-determination

PHOENIX, Ariz. — The Arizona State Legislature has affirmed the Republic of Artsakh’s (Nagorno Karabakh) right to self-determination in a proclamation issued by Arizona State House Speaker Ben Toma, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

“We welcome the proclamation from the Speaker of Arizona’s State Assembly recognizing Artsakh’s right to self-determination – an important step towards justice for the Armenians of Artsakh,” remarked ANCA National Board member Zanku Armenian. “Amid Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh, this demonstration of solidarity is a crucial part of our community’s ongoing efforts to raise awareness of this unfolding humanitarian catastrophe and ensure Azerbaijan is held accountable for its unabated aggression against the Armenian people. This proclamation is a testament to the tireless advocacy of Arizona’s Armenian-American community, and the ANCA looks forward to continuing to work alongside local activists in the state to ensure our community’s voice is heard at every level of government.”

Arizona Armenian community leaders Artur Artenyan and Vartan Arabyan, working in conjunction with the ANCA, spearheaded the legislative effort. The proclamation cites Artsakh as “the indigenous homeland of the Armenian people, and has been a center of Armenian cultural, political and religious life for several millennia.”

It goes on to document Soviet Azerbaijan’s decades of Artsakh oppression and post-independence aggression, “culminating in an assault on Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 that saw Azerbaijan perpetrate war crimes against the region’s Armenian population, and resulted in Azerbaijan seizing control of 70 percent of Karabakh’s territory.”

The proclamation salutes the Artsakh Armenians “efforts to exercise the right to self-determination and live free from violence and repression, and by recognizing the government of Artsakh, the international community can help put to rest this century-old conflict.”

Arizona House Speaker Toma then affirms support for the “Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self-determination, and its continuing efforts to develop as a free and independent nation, in order to guarantee its citizens those rights inherent in a free and independent society; and be it further, I encourage the United States government to strengthen and solidify our country’s economic and cultural relationship with the Artsakh Republic and its citizens and continue to promote the humanitarian and economic rehabilitation of the region.”

The full text of the Arizona legislative proclamation is provided below.



Whereas, The Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (Artsakh) is the indigenous homeland of the Armenian people, and has been a center of Armenian cultural, political, and religious life for several millennia; and

Whereas, despite its historical and cultural ties to Armenia, in 1921, Joseph Stalin arbitrarily severed Artsakh from Armenia, and placed it under the administration of Soviet Azerbaijan in violation of the national, territorial, and human rights of the Armenian people; and

Whereas, following decades of oppression under Soviet Azerbaijani rule, the Armenians of Artsakh in a popular referendum, voted overwhelmingly in support of exerting their right to self-determination and declared independence from the Soviet Union; and

Whereas, Azerbaijan responded to these calls for independence by force, plunging the region into a bloody conflict that ended with a ceasefire agreement that secured Nagorno-Karabakh’s self-governance; and

Whereas, in defiance of the ceasefire agreement and conflict resolution efforts, Azerbaijan continued to threaten the security and sovereignty of Artsakh in the decades following the war, culminating in an assault on Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 that saw Azerbaijan perpetrate war crimes against the region’s Armenian population, and resulted in Azerbaijan seizing control of 70% of Karabakh’s territory; and

Whereas, The Armenians of Artsakh remain resolute in their efforts to exercise the right to self-determination and live free from violence and repression, and by recognizing the government of Artsakh, the international community can help put to rest this century-old conflict.

Therefore, I, Representative Ben Toma, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, do hereby recognize and support the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self-determination, and its continuing efforts to develop as a free and independent nation, in order to guarantee its citizens those rights inherent in a free and independent society; and be it further, I encourage the United States government to strengthen and solidify our country’s economic and cultural relationship with the Artsakh Republic and its citizens and continue to promote the humanitarian and economic rehabilitation of the region.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.