Poland’s Tusk pledges quick end to friction as he visits Ukraine


YEREVAN, JANUARY 22, ARMENPRESS. Poland's new Prime Minister Donald Tusk arrived in neighboring Ukraine on Monday to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, aiming to strengthen relations after months of political friction between the two wartime allies, Reuters reports. 

Tusk's government is exploring how to make more ammunition and military equipment as part of a new aid package for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said last week.

Warsaw has emerged as a key ally for Kyiv as it defends itself against Russia and seeks more financial and military support from Western partners.

Poland has also taken in more than a million Ukrainian refugees.

"There is no more important issue than supporting Ukraine in its war effort – that is number one," said Tusk, who assumed office last month, in comments carried on Polish television. 

Relations between the two had deteriorated in recent months amid blockades by Polish truckers at the border, which threatened to dent Ukraine's GDP.

They agreed last week to suspend their protests, which had been aimed at revoking Ukrainian truckers' permit-free access to the European Union, until March 1.

Tusk said his visit was also aimed at "solving problems as quickly as possible".

A video released by his office showed the newly installed leader arriving at Kyiv's main train station in his first trip to Ukraine as prime minister.

Tusk's visit, during which he will also meet with his Ukrainian counterpart, Denys Shmyhal, coincides with Ukraine's Unity Day holiday, which celebrates the unification of western and eastern Ukraine in 1919.


Jerusalem Patriarchate [of the Greek Orthodox Church]
Jan 20 2024

On Saturday morning, January 20, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III led a delegation from the Jerusalem Orthodox Patriarchate to the Armenian Patriarchate, to exchange Christmas greetings. His Beatitude’s speech was as follow:

Your Beatitude, dear Archbishop Nourhan,
Your Eminences,
Your Graces,
Beloved Members of our Respective Brotherhoods,
Dear Fathers,

Christ is born!
Glorify him!

We greet you warmly, Your Beatitude, and the members of your Brotherhood, as you celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Divine Logos in the Church of the Nativity. This is a time of deep joy, and we recall the words of the hymnographer:

O Bethlehem, receive the Mother of God:
for she has come to you to give birth to the Light that never sets.
Let everything that has breath praise the Maker of all.
(From Mattins of the Forefeast of the Nativity)

As we keep the Christmas feast of joy, hope, and light in this time of darkness in our region and in our world, we must not refrain from appropriate rejoicing. For the Light that the darkness can never overcome has come into the world (cf. Jn 1:5), and this great feast renews our faith and trust in the God who comes to share our humanity in all its fullness.

Our spiritual mission that has been entrusted to us by Divine providence is to remain focussed always on this message of hope, especially when hope seems elusive. There is no doubt that at this present time in human history the human family is facing some of its greatest challenges, and our region is no exception. For we are under particular pressure here in the Holy Land, where so many innocent victims suffer and where so many are displaced from their homes and their lands. As we are fully aware, the Christian community is also confronted by the impact of the conflict, and there has never been a time when our shared commitment to our spiritual mission here has been more urgent.

Just as we are keeping the Christmas feast, which is the feast of God’s solidarity with us, we wish to take this opportunity to express our solidarity as well with you and your community in the face of the pressures you are bearing. The situation that you face is not simply an issue for the Armenian community alone; indeed it is an issue for the whole Christian community. We recall the words of Saint Paul, If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it (1 Cor. 12:26). We are committed to remain united in our resolve to defend the integrity of the Christian character of Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

We assure you, Your Beatitude, of our firm support in your endeavours to protect the patrimony of the Armenian patriarchate. As Saint Paul encourages us, we are to bear one another’s burdens, and in this way…fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). We are deeply concerned at the ongoing harassment that the Armenian community is experiencing in the matter of the Cow’s Garden, and we pray for a swift resolution to these problems and the restoration of normal life for the Armenian community.

On this occasion we would like to offer our congratulations for your newly ordained bishops, and we also wish to express once again our condolences at the recent passing away of the late Archbishop Aris, who was a faithful servant of the Armenian Church and of the Christian community of the Holy Land. May his memory be eternal.

In this difficult season for the world and for our region, we must renew our resolve not to let anything distract us from our pastoral and spiritual mission to guard and protect the Holy Places and to serve and support the Christian presence here. Nothing is more important than this. We are to be vigilant for those who cause divisions among us and put obstacles in our way that are contrary to the Gospel (cf. Rom. 16:17). Let this be our special care so that we may always join our efforts and maintain our united front against those who wish to rend the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious fabric of our society.

In this blessed season of the Prince of Peace, we renew our appeal for peace and for a humanitarian ceasefire so that the innocent victims of the present conflict may receive the essential help and care that they so desperately need. And we encourage the authorities of our region and of the world to do all in their power to bring a swift end to this conflict, prevent any escalation, and engage in a process of dialogue that will lead to lasting and robust peace and security for all our peoples.

As we keep this holy season, Your Beatitude, we pray that the Light that shines from the Holy Grotto of Bethlehem will illumine the darkness of this present time, and enlighten the hearts and minds of all to seek peace and pursue it (Ps. 34:14).

Christ is born!
Glorify him!

Armenian Foreign Minister finds huge untapped potential in the economic sphere of Armenia-Croatia relations


YEREVAN, JANUARY 19, ARMENPRESS. We should stress that this year is special for our bilateral relations as we mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. During the past three decades, our states have made important efforts aimed at developing high-level political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ararat Mirzoyan said the abovesaid on January 19, in Zagreb, during a joint press conference with the Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman.

Foreign Minister Mirzoyan expressed satisfaction, noting that the recent reciprocal visits and active interactions reflect the positive dynamics of the bilateral relations as well as the readiness to further enhance the agenda, deepen the cooperation in various fields and different platforms, and, of course, strengthen the ties between the two friendly nations.

“During our discussions today, we touched upon a number of issues of bilateral agenda and possibilities to develop cooperation in different sectors, including economy, culture, IT, tourism and education. Along with the development of the political dialogue, there is huge untapped potential in the economic sphere. While the business forum held in Yerevan during the Minister's visit last February was of particular importance, we are keen to promote and expand the trade and economic cooperation to achieve tangible outcomes,” said FM Mirzoyan.

Mirzoyan noted that they discussed the ongoing processes and steps undertaken to further enhance the Armenia-EU partnership.

“The aspirations of our citizens to see the further deepening of this relationship are based on the shared values upheld by Armenia, Croatia, and the European Union, particularly in the realms of democracy, protection of human rights and other fundamental principles.

At the same time, our commitment derives from the vision of a better and more secure environment for our citizens. Thus, with my Croatian counterpart we looked into the whole spectrum of the Armenia-EU relations covering our democratic reform agenda, people-to-people contacts, visa liberalization dialogue, economic cooperation as well as security matters. In this context, I would like to underline that the Armenia-EU partnership is being enhanced with new dimensions, namely the EU monitoring mission and security dialogue,’’ noted Armenian Foreign Minister.

“Today, we also had the chance to touch upon issues of cooperation in multilateral fora, within international organizations where Armenia and Croatia already have or will further benefit from closer cooperation,” added Mirzoyan.

Armenpress: Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs condemn dangerous rhetoric from Aliyev


YEREVAN, JANUARY 19, ARMENPRESS. Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chairs Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Gus M. Bilirakis (FL-12), David G. Valadao (CA-21), and Adam B. Schiff (CA-30) released a statement on Thursday condemning dangerous statements made by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in his January 10 interview to local TV networks, laying claim to Armenian territory and refusing to withdraw his troops.

“President Aliyev’s most recent escalatory remarks, including his refusal to remove troops from Armenian territory, follow the same pattern he used in the build up to the ethnic cleansing of over 100,000 Armenians in Artsakh last fall. He makes hostile statements, uses those claims to justify further mobilizing his military, and then takes aggressive action because he believes there will not be any consequences. The international community has sadly proven him right with its inaction over the last few years.

“It is past time we hold his regime accountable for the belligerent rhetoric and actions it has taken against Armenians in the South Caucasus. The United States and our regional partners should use every diplomatic tool, including sanctions, to help guarantee the territorial integrity of Armenia and push back against Aliyev’s blatant threats against it. We call on the State Department and our international partners to take immediate action to halt any further Azeri aggression and ensure Armenia’s safety and security,” reads the statement.

PM Barzani, Armenian president discuss bilateral relations in Davos

Kurdistan 24
Jan 18 2024

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Thursday discussed bilateral relations with Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan in Davos. 

 Wladimir van Wilgenburg

ERBIL (Kurdistan24) – Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Thursday met with Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan in Davos.

The PM Masrour Barzani in a post on X said he was glad to see the Armenian President at Davos.

"The Kurdistan Region and Armenia share a common goal: peace and stability for our peoples and the region," he wrote.

The latest developments in Iraq and the region and the development of relations between the Kurdistan Region and Armenia were discussed during the meeting.

Both sides agreed on the importance of maintaining security and stability in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq and eliminating tensions in the Middle East.

Read More: PM Barzani meets outgoing Armenian envoy in Kurdistan Region

Armenia officially inaugurated its official consulate general in the Kurdish capital of Erbil on Feb. 24, 2021.

According to Armenia's Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, around 7,000 to 8,000 Armenians live in Iraq, including 3,000 of them living in the Kurdistan Region.
The majority of Armenians in the Kurdistan Region, between 850 to 900, live in the independent Zakho administration.

Also in May 2019, the first Armenian Orthodox church in Erbil's Christian-majority Ankawa district in the Kurdistan Region.


AW: Chiden Inch: The Enemy’s Oud

Mark Gavoor holding his carbon fiber oud

I have a good friend who is Palestinian. He is a very talented musician, plays several instruments very well and has a deep understanding of music of the Arab world and other cultures in the Middle East. We are in the same orchestra along with 40 other musicians, perform three concerts a year and practice eight times for each concert. 

I have a number of ouds. One that I favor most these days I purchased most recently during the pandemic. It is a carbon fiber, solid black oud made in Israel. Because of the color and material, many of my musician friends consider it unconventional. They also are not particularly fond of the sound. Me? I love the color and the durability of the carbon fiber. I also think the sound is deep and rich. This oud fits my style of play. 

With the brutal attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7 and the even more brutal response in Gaza, my friend has been very despondent, and for good reason. The Armenians lost Artsakh on September 28, a mere nine days before the Hamas attack, after a horrible siege by Azerbaijan. Armenians, myself included, have been increasingly despondent since the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. 

At a rehearsal in November, I was tuning my oud before practice. My friend was walking by and said, “I see you brought the enemy’s oud.” I was not sure what to say. In that instant I understood his pain, but it amplified my pain of the total lack of interest in the three-year plight of Armenians leading to the fall of Artsakh.  All I could think to say was, “You know the maker of this oud was an Israeli aerospace engineer named Meir Yaakov Efergen. He stopped making weapons to make instruments.”  

In that instant I understood his pain, but it amplified my pain of the total lack of interest in the three-year plight of Armenians leading to the fall of Artsakh. 

I understand the feelings of my friend. He could not believe or accept what was happening to his people in Gaza. He felt helpless. All he could do was post on social media, protest and participate in concerts to raise money for aid. It is exactly how I have felt for three years regarding Artsakh. 

A few weeks later, I was still thinking about this exchange with my friend; the enemy’s oud indeed. As a result, I left the carbon fiber oud at home and used a very traditional, classic instrument made by arguably the most famous oud maker, Emaniolis, who was a Greek living in Istanbul at the turn of the 20th century.  At another rehearsal, I asked my friend, “Do you recall calling my carbon fiber oud ‘the enemy’s oud?’” He didn’t, and I understood, given the swirl of emotions the war on Gaza has caused for so many people. I went on to say, “You went to Istanbul and had an oud made to your exact specifications by the most talented living maker in Istanbul. I have never called your instrument ‘the enemy’s oud.’”

This all made me reflect on a quote from the great troubadour Aram Tigran (1934-2009) that was going through my head: “If I come to the world again, I will melt all of the tanks, rifles and weapons, and make sazes, cümbüşes and zurnas.” I would love to see that happen.

Mark Gavoor is Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. He is an avid blogger and oud player.

First time ever, list of Armenia’s biggest trade partners includes U.S.

 17:01, 8 January 2024

YEREVAN, JANUARY 8, ARMENPRESS. For the first time ever, the United States has become one of the biggest trade partners of Armenia, Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan has said at a press conference summarizing 2023.

He said that Russia remained Armenia’s biggest trade partner in 2023. 

“Our biggest trade partner is still Russia, although its share in the total trade turnover has somewhat dropped. Next come the United Arab Emirates, China, Georgia and the United States, which is in this list for the first time,” Kerobyan said.

He said that Armenia continues to work towards a more diversified foreign trade turnover.

The Ecumenical Patriarch’s wishes to the Patriarch of the Armenians in Turkey for Christmas and Epiphany

Jan 8 2024

The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited on Monday, January 8, 2024, at noon, the Armenian Patriarchate in Kontoskali, Constantinople, to personally express his wishes to the Patriarch of the Armenians in Turkey, Sahak Maşalyan, and through him to his flock, for Christmas and the Epiphany, which they celebrated on January 6, 2024.

The Ecumenical Patriarch, accompanied by Metropolitan Gregorios and Monk Ezekiel Xenofontinos, also conveyed heartfelt wishes for a fruitful and peaceful new year.


Tehran Dismisses Baku’s Claims about Hazards from Metsamor Power Plant

The Metsamor nuclear power plant in Armenia

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has dismissed claims that the Metsamor nuclear power plant in Armenia can contaminate the Araks River with radioactive materials, the Iranian Tansim News Agency reported.

Addressing Iranian lawmakers, Amir-Abdollahian said that the technical report and inspection by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran dismissed the possibility of contamination of the Araks River as a result of the operation of the Metsamor nuclear power plant in Armenia.

Earlier, the Azerbaijani media claimed that Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power plant pours 12 to 16 thousand cubic meters of radioactive waste into the Araks River every day.

Decree dissolving unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh enters into force

TASS, Russia
Jan 1 2024
The document was signed on September 28, nine days after tensions had flared up again in the region

MOSCOW, January 1. /TASS/. A decree issued by President of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh Samvel Shahramanyan, which dissolves the unrecognized state, entered into force on January 1.

The document was signed on September 28, nine days after tensions had flared up again in the region. The decree particularly urged the Karabakh population to consider the terms of reintegration in Azerbaijan offered by Baku or stay put if they choose to do so.

Tensions in Nagorno-Karabakh rose again on September 19, 2023, but a ceasefire agreement was reached the next day. Azerbaijani officials and representatives of Karabakh Armenians met in the Azerbaijani city of Yevlakh on September 21 to discuss reintegration issues. On October 15, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev raised the country’s flag in Khankendi (Stepanakert), Nagorno-Karabakh.

According to the Armenian government, over 100,000 internally displaced persons have relocated to Armenia from Nagorno-Karabakh, whose population stood at about 120,000 until recently.