Azerbaijan refuses to resume the negotiations in the existing frameworks, says Foreign Minister Mirzoyan


YEREVAN, JANUARY 19, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ararat Mirzoyan, in response to a question from a journalist of Croatia's public television about efforts aimed at establishing peace, stated that Armenia is engaged in negotiations with Azerbaijan in good faith.

''As I said, Armenia is engaged in negotiations with Azerbaijan in good faith and we are more than interested in establishing lasting peace in our region.

We believe that this will be beneficial not only for the people of Armenia, but for the countries in the region.

However, we see that our constructiveness sometimes does not meet the same constructive approach in the behaviour of our neighbours.

We have been engaged in negotiations by facilitation of the European Union, among other facilitators, and nowadays we see that Azerbaijan, unfortunately, refuses to resume the negotiations in the existing frameworks.

However, we are interested in continuing our negotiations. As I said, we attach importance not so much to the issue of who facilitates the negotiations, but to the principles, according to which the negotiations should continue.

And in this context I would like to emphasize again that those are territorial integrity, recognition of legitimate borders, inviolability of borders, respect for each other’s sovereignty.

These are the principles, according to which, I believe, peace should be agreed. When it comes to participation of Croatia or the European Union in general, I would like to express our appreciation that the EU and Croatia has shown in ensuring security in our region along the borderline.

I’ve already mentioned the EU’s Monitoring mission, but also I would like to express appreciation that Croatia and other EU countries showed in the context of meeting the urgent needs of the refugees who had to flee Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of military operation several months ago in September 2023,’’ the Foreign Minister said.

Armenian dancers, musicians to perform at HWS

 Finger Lakes Times 
Jan 17 2024

GENEVA — Straight from Armenia, the Golden Gates Dancers, a group of young talented dancers and musicians, will be in Geneva Wednesday, Jan. 17, through Friday, Jan. 19, and will present a public performance on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Albright Auditorium at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

The group is coming under the auspices of the Reunite Cultures Fund, which supports programs that promote good will between the people of America and other countries to develop a better understanding of cultures, music and traditions and build cultural bridges.

Students from Armenia and Lithuania have previously visited Geneva under the same program. The Geneva Rotary Club is facilitating their stop in the city. Members of the group are staying with Rotarians while they are here.

Golden Gates started to tour the United States nationally in 2003. Each tour lasts four to five weeks and covers 20 to 25 states.

Besides the performance at HWS, the Dancers will perform at Geneva High School on Thursday, and the Rotary Club is organizing a dinner for the students and the adults traveling with them at the Sons and Daughters of Italy lodge.

They will perform elaborate lyrical suites and pulsating dances of foot-stomping ferocity, bringing to life a taste of their culture in a whirlwind of colorful costumes and exotic sounds.

The company offers audiences an entertaining and authentic glimpse into Armenian culture through music, song and dance. The program is broad and varied, with something to appeal to everyone, including audience participation through clapping and learning Armenian songs and words.

Spiritual duduk, a double-reed woodwind instrument, dynamic dohl, a double-headed drum, qanun, an Arabic stringed instrument, kamancheh, a Persian bowed string instrument, traditional dances and superb vocals combine for an exhilarating and educational performance for audiences of all ages.

“This is a chance for real people to meet and get a glimpse of Armenian culture,” said Vitally Bezrodnov, leader of the Reunite Cultures Fund, who travels with the group.

Asbarez: Prelate’s New Year And Christmas Dinner a Great Success

Prelate Bishop Torkom Donoyan leads the procession of clergy in prayer

“The Church Is Considered the Greatest Armenian Miracle,” Prelate Bishop Torkom Donoyan

The Prelate’s Traditional New Year and Christmas dinner at the Holy Cross Armenian Cathedral’s Baghramian Hall in Montebello on January 6 was a great success with hundreds of community leaders, organizational representatives and parishioners in attendance.

Western Prelate Bishop Torkom Donoyan, who hosted the event, told those gathered that while individuals may come and go, but the church, “the most remarkable Armenian miracle,” is and will remain unwavering.

He attributed his successes, blessings, and achievements throughout his four-year tenure as the Prelate of the Western Prelacy, to the church, while acknowledging that any human faults and shortcomings solely belong to him. The Traditional dinner was organized by the Western Prelacy Ladies Auxiliary and more than 450 guests attended the dinner.

This year’s Prelate’s Traditional New Year and Christmas dinner was hosted by benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Mike and Evelina Sarian. Master of Ceremonies was Reverand Father Karekin Bedourian who greeted the guests and invited all to start the program.

On behalf of the Western Prelacy Ladies Auxilary Sosse Eshgian, welcomed the guests and wished an enjoyable evening for all. Prelacy Executive Council Secretary George Chorbajian, delivered a message on behalf of the body.

The Prelate led the procession of the clergy, who entered the hall chanting Christmas hymns, uplifting the guests, who were holding candles.

The traditional wine and consecrated bread ceremony took place. Prelate Donoyan bestowed his blessings upon the tables and conveyed his well wishes for New Year and Christmas.

A video message by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, was shown. The pontiff conveyed his New Year and Christmas well wishes to the Prelate, the guests and the community at the start of a new year.

Greg Hosharian and his band offered a delightful musical performace during the traditional dinner. The entertainment continued throughout the dinner featuring performances by an extraordinary artistic performance from Ms. Armine Vartanyan, Mr. Hovhannes Balyan, Mr. Arman Beglarian, and Mr. Berj Karazian, with the accompaniment of Ms. Armenuhi Terterian on the piano.

The focus of Prelate Donoyan’s message was to provide an annual assessment and accounting of the activities of the Western Prelacy. The attendees were briefed on the achievements recorded by the Western Prelacy during the previous year, which included the accomplishment of delivering $2,750,000 in humanitarian assistance and various other initiatives. H.G. Bishop Donoyan expressed his reflections and words of thanks and gratitude to the Western Prelacy clergy, the Religious and Executive Councils, national delegates, parishes, the Ladies Auxiliary, staff, friends, and guests and benefactors, donors and the evening’s sponsors for their valuable support.

In his message, the Prelate also expressed his appreciation and gratitude commanding the contributions made towards the construction of Hacob and Hilda Baghdassarian Preschool and Holy Archangels Church in Crescenta Valley. He first acknowledged the generous contribution from Hilda Baghdassarian and her children, Gevik, Peter, and their families, in memory of their late husband and father, Hacop Baghdassarian, and in honor of their mother, Hilda Baghdassarian. He then recognized the contributions made by Mr. and Mrs. Varant and Hoori Melkonian, in memory of their father, Melkon Melkonian, and in honor of their mother, Angel Melkonian. Prelate Donoyan also expressed his appreciation and presented a special memento as a token of gratitude to the Sarians for their generosity in hosting this year’s New Year and Christmas dinner. He commended Mike and Evelina Sarian for their unwavering support to the Prelacy, the Holy See of Cilicia and the Church and their commitment to support various Western Prelacy humanitarian programs.

The traditional New Year and Christmas dinner dedicated to the Prelate, which is the only fundraising event organized by the Western Prelacy, came to an end as he led the atendees in signing of the “Protector,” “Cilicia,” and “Pontifical Anthem.”

AW: Beware of the Vultures

Vultures don’t add a great deal of value to our society. I suppose you can make an argument about their ominous “clean up” presence, but I prefer to say that they simply take advantage of others’ misfortunes. They are not very likable, and they generally represent death or destruction. To the Armenian people, Azerbaijan has become a recent representation of this species, along with the standard bearer of successive Turkish governments. This is a time of hope for the Armenian nation. Hope is usually what remains after debilitating losses. Our faith provides us hope as we seek to bring light into our lives. We mourn the loss of Artsakh while embracing hope to move forward with justice and dignity. We understand this process far too well. At times, we seem to be more comfortable expressing disagreements within our Armenian community than unifying our resources against those seeking our destruction. We are currently negotiating with an enemy whose rhetoric and actions have manifested in criminal behavior and unpunished atrocities against the Armenian people. It is certainly responsible to engage in peace dialogue while withholding our trust. Azerbaijan is a criminal nation that seeks the elimination of what remains of Armenia. This is not speculation but a representation of their policy of territorial aggression and genocide.

There is a school of thought that suggests that Azerbaijan has overextended itself in its criminal behavior and no longer has the support of the western democracies. The regional peace initiatives are driven by self-interest, which is the hallmark of any nation’s foreign policy. When the interests of two or more nations intersect, there is the possibility of an alliance or collaboration. Despite rhetoric from the West supporting Armenia’s territorial integrity and democracy, the intersection here is more a reflection of the East/West divide. Armenians should never be under the impression that support from the West is driven by “shared values” or “democracy.” That would be both dangerous and naive. Armenia is seeking to “balance” its foreign policy with rapprochement toward the United States and European Union. This represents an opportunity for the West to weaken Russia with a foothold in its Caucasian backyard. The still fragile but improving support from the West is directly related to Armenia’s movement away from Russian dependency. Russia’s inability to support Armenia through its military bloc the CSTO over the last few years has been a watershed event in the continuous efforts of the Pashinyan administration to diversify Armenia’s dependence. 

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at an informal meeting of CIS heads of state in St. Petersburg, Dec. 26, 2023 (Photo: Office of the President of Azerbaijan)

The new Cold War, initiated by the Ukraine/Russia conflict, is the context for any support of Armenia. The West sees an opportunity to further weaken Russian hegemony in the region, and Armenia could become the beneficiary of such activity. Georgia is clearly in the western camp, particularly since the Russian absorption of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Armenia is engaged in a complex transition from its traditional Russian dependency while clearly attempting a western political migration. This is still a controversial topic within our community. Many Armenians in the western diaspora advocate for a western orientation, given the freedom and prosperity associated with these regions. Another school of thought does not trust the commitment from western democracies to provide the military and economic support required to move away from Russia. Armenia seeks to normalize its relationship with Russia with respectful parity and not necessarily a full break. The lack of support guaranteed by defense pacts like the CSTO and the ambivalence from other nations in the Commonwealth of Independent States has at times isolated Armenia in a subordinate relationship with Russia and resulted in a lack of respect from other nations in the Eurasian orbit. 

The diaspora spends a great deal of time criticizing the Pashinyan administration in relation to its foreign policy. In a free society, criticism is an important check and balance to ensure prosperity and stability, but we should also applaud results when warranted. We should acknowledge the work of the Armenian government to loosen or remove the shackles on its collar from the Russian Federation. This is a courageous but difficult transition. A weakened Russia still has incredible economic influence in Armenia with significant import activity and a large market for Armenian exports. In addition, Russia maintains a large military presence in Armenia, particularly the base near Gyumri. For this reason, the Pashinyan government is methodically redefining its relationship to bring balance into play. Russia will not allow Armenia to become an independent prosperous state. The European Union has increased its engagement with Armenia through its partnership program, which is focused on social and economic development. The presence of European observers on Armenia’s eastern “border” with Azerbaijan has expanded the work into the political/security domain. Many EU nations individually, and the EU infrastructure itself, have supported Armenia and Artsakh in their struggle against Azeri tyranny, but the recent sale of arms from France and physical presence of observers have increased confidence among Armenians. As the Georgians learned in 2014, the rhetoric of western support is no match for the territorial adjacency of Russia. Words of support did not prevent the loss of Georgian territory. Court orders from the International Court of Justice and hundreds of public statements of support did not prevent Azerbaijan from starving the people of Artsakh and invading in acts of genocidal proportions. This is the challenge for Armenia. It can proceed only as quickly as tangible western support materializes.

Direct negotiations require trust, and there is no reason to trust the Azeris. They have done nothing to earn trust from the Armenians with their criminal assault of the last 30 years with genocidal intent.

This leaves rogue Azerbaijan as the remaining player in the Caucasus. The good news for Armenia is that the criminal acts of Azerbaijan have not gone completely unnoticed. Azerbaijan wants to behave like Turkey by playing Russia and the West against each other. The United States is not willing to participate in this charade and has essentially told Azerbaijan to choose its side. We should always remember that the U.S. looks at this entire region and its subplots in the context of West versus East. The United States expects its substantial tolerance of Azerbaijan to translate into a western orientation. Azerbaijan has not complied, (remember Turkey’s influence) with recent complaints about the “one-sided” positions of France and the United States. Aliyev is paying a price for choosing to boycott western-sponsored mediation, such as the recent meeting with Secretary Blinken. As it relates to the peace treaty negotiations with Azerbaijan, Armenia has wisely declared its preference for third party mediation, while Azerbaijan advocates direct negotiations. Even the temporary political isolation of Azerbaijan is an advantage for Armenia.

Armenia has been conducting a parallel process with Azerbaijan in pursuit of a peace treaty. Each country has “exchanged” proposals as part of the process. Public comments have been limited relative to content, but the Armenian Foreign Ministry recently stated that little progress has been made on the key issues. The border delimitation and demarcation dialogue has mostly addressed procedural issues so far, with the defining substance to come. Armenia remains positive and committed in public comments, despite Azerbaijan’s disruptive behavior. Aliyev seems content with continuing the process while offering nothing in terms of substance or compromise. Buying time seems to be his ploy, as he waits for the next opportunity to damage Armenia. Direct negotiations require trust, and there is no reason to trust the Azeris. They have done nothing to earn trust from the Armenians with their criminal assault of the last 30 years with genocidal intent. They have not honored any agreement, from ceasefires to confidence-building measures such as removing snipers. They have displayed no respect for international laws, from using illegal weapons and jihadist mercenaries to ignoring international court orders regarding Artsakh. Aliyev will continue the “negotiations” at a snail’s pace while he looks for openings in his nefarious objectives. He will speak of territorial integrity but has the audacity to demand a sovereign corridor through Armenia. He is not to be trusted as long as his intent is to destroy Armenia. The negotiations must continue. That is in Armenia’s interest, but trust must be earned. The lack of trust is the main reason for third party mediation; however, Armenia must be wary of hastiness by third party mediators to reach an agreement. They may wish for any agreement that provides “peace,” while Armenia needs substance and security guarantees.

80 Armenians are reportedly held prisoner in Azerbaijan, including Artsakh Armenians who are illegally held as political prisoners, including former presidents and ministers. Any agreement must include their immediate release. The border issues are more complicated, and for that reason Armenia has agreed to a parallel process of sorts that allows a peace treaty to be signed while the final border work is completed. Azerbaijan will seek to take advantage of Armenia’s goodwill gestures. For this reason, the peace treaty must include enough clarification of the border to prevent exploitation. The reference maps must be defined and areas of contention clearly marked.

Aliyev has proven consistently that he honors nothing and has zero integrity. He is a ruthless dictator negotiating with a democratic republic. As long as he dares to speak of “western Azerbaijan” or “Zangezur,” Armenia must protect itself from this rogue nation and its evil intent. Turkey continues to stir the pot with background comments about “Zangezur,” while Iran has consistently stated that opening transportation links must be consistent with territorial sovereignty. Azerbaijan is the vulture hovering over the indigenous peoples of the region. It is an artificial nation built on the investment of others that takes advantage of misfortune and, in many instances, is the cause of the misfortune. In the community of humanity, Azerbaijan has not earned the respect and trust that bring civility to this earth. Armenia must negotiate, but only with the awareness of the danger to the east. It has painfully earned the respect it is enjoying from the West. Perhaps the West’s tolerance of criminals has finally reached its limit, or maybe our self interests have become partially aligned. Our resolve must match our interests, but never trust the vulture.

Stepan was raised in the Armenian community of Indian Orchard, MA at the St. Gregory Parish. A former member of the AYF Central Executive and the Eastern Prelacy Executive Council, he also served many years as a delegate to the Eastern Diocesan Assembly. Currently , he serves as a member of the board and executive committee of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). He also serves on the board of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. Stepan is a retired executive in the computer storage industry and resides in the Boston area with his wife Susan. He has spent many years as a volunteer teacher of Armenian history and contemporary issues to the young generation and adults at schools, camps and churches. His interests include the Armenian diaspora, Armenia, sports and reading.

U.S. continues to believe durable peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is possible – State Department


YEREVAN, JANUARY 12, ARMENPRESS. The U.S. continues to believe that a durable peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is possible, State Department principal deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel has said.

“We continue to believe that a durable peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan is possible.  It’s something that the department will continue to work towards.  Obviously, Coordinator Bono, the Secretary, and others continue to be deeply engaged on this.  I just don’t have any updates for you right now at this time,” Patel said at a press briefing when asked to give updates on U.S. Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations Louis Bono’s recent trip to the region.

Georgian PM congratulates “brotherly” Armenian Orthodox faithful on Christmas, Epiphany

Agenda, Georgia
Jan 6 2024

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Saturday congratulated Georgian nationals of Armenian ethnic background, as well as citizens of Armenia, on the Orthodox Christmas and Epiphany celebrations.

The Head of the Government extended his message both to his compatriots and the “brotherly Armenian people”, the Government Administration said.

May this day bring joy and happiness to all who celebrate this great holiday with their heart and soul”, Garibashvili noted.

He wished “peace and prosperity” to those who are celebrating the holidays today. 

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister participates in the 47th meeting of the BSEC Council of Ministers


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 15, ARMENPRESS. Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Armenia Paruyr Hovhannisyan on December 5 participated in the 47th meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) held online, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Commending the achievement of the agreement on important issues reached under the current presidency, particularly the adoption of the 2024 budget, the completion of the process of updating the fundamental document “BSEC Economic Agenda”, and the reactivation of the Project Development Fund (PDF).

In his statement, Paruyr Hovhannisyan presented the national macroeconomic policies and legislative reforms and emphasized Armenia’s continuous strong economic growth as well as significant increase of foreign trade volumes, including with several BSEC member states.

According to the source, Hovhannisyan reiterated Armenia’s position on unblocking the communication links in the region on the basis of sovereignty, territorial integrity and national jurisdiction. The Deputy Minister briefed on the “Crossroads of Peace” project, recently presented by the Armenian Government, which, through regional connectivity, will contribute to strengthening economic cooperation and political dialogue between the countries of the region. 

The Deputy Minister drew the participants’ attention to the issue of the flow of more than 100,000 forcibly displaced refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia in September this year, which seriously affected Armenia’s socio-economic development. He highlighted the measures by the Government of Armenia to address the life-saving and early recovery needs of the refugees, among them 30 thousand children, with the support of the international partners.

It is noted that the Council of Ministers endorsed a number of important resolutions and decisions and at the conclusion, the Chairmanship-in-Office of BSEC was handed over to Albania.

Photography of ancient Armenian Ani featured in new 2024 wall calendar

Images from Ani, the ancient Armenian capital, are featured in the 2024 wall calendar published this week by Stone Garden Press.

The photographs are from the portfolio of Matthew Karanian, the author-photographer of The Armenian Highland, an award-winning history book about Western Armenia and the First Armenian Republic of 1918. Karanian’s photographs of Ani cover a period of 20 years, dating back to 2003 when he made his first research trip to the ancient capital. During those years, Karanian has documented the changes at Ani.

Ani was a restricted military zone when Karanian first visited 20 years ago. Photography was forbidden, and armed soldiers enforced the law. Still, Karanian was able to take photographs of Ani using a film camera, while standing outside the city walls. One of those images graces the cover of the 2024 calendar. Later, when the military restriction was lifted, Karanian returned and documented the city within the walls, using digital equipment. 

“The loosening of the restrictions harmed Ani,” says Karanian. “With the military restriction lifted, and with the soldiers largely gone, Ani was plundered.” Karanian has documented illegal excavations that were performed, apparently by looters, during the past decade.

There have also been so-called “renovations” to the churches, walls and other monuments in Ani in recent years. These reconstructions were performed under the supervision of Turkish authorities and, according to Karanian, the work was sometimes performed without regard to historical accuracy.

Karanian first published images from his portfolio of Ani in the historical guidebook Historic Armenia After 100 Years. This is the first time the images have been available in a calendar.

The 2024 Ani wall calendar is available online from for the online discounted price of $21.95 with free shipping within the U.S. The calendar measures 9 x 18 inches, and covers the 13-month period from December 2023 through December 2024.

Mail orders are also accepted with checks for $24.95 made payable to Stone Garden Press, P.O. Box 943, Pasadena, CA 91102.

Armenia ponders risks and rewards as sanctions loom on Russian diamonds

Dec 8 2023
Arshaluis Mgdesyan Dec 8, 2023

The EU appears set on including prohibitions on the sale of Russian diamonds in its upcoming 12th package of sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine. 

The move, aimed at exerting pressure on Russia's economy and depriving it of financial resources to wage its war, is certain to have an effect on Armenia's important and growing diamond-cutting industry. 

Whether that effect is negative or positive will depend on how the EU will manage the difficult task of tracing cut diamonds to their rough origins in Russia's mines. 

Helpful or harmful?

The proposed sanctions, adopted by the European Commission and awaiting approval from the EU's 27 member states, will apply to diamonds of Russian origin that are cut in third countries, according to the AFP, which viewed a copy of the document.

Starting January 1, the ban would apply to "non-industrial natural and synthetic diamonds as well as diamond jewellery" while the import ban on Russian diamonds cut or polished in third countries would be phased in between March and September, AFP said.

The bans will affect Armenia's diamond-cutting industry, which gets a large proportion of its raw gems from Russia. They are purchased by the Armenian state company Hay-Almast, which was established in 2021 chiefly to enable bulk procurements from Russia's Alrosa, which is one of the world's largest suppliers of rough diamonds. 

"The whole idea behind creating Hay-Almast was to consolidate domestic demand and procurement of Russian rough diamonds, as Alrosa doesn't do small orders," said Hay-Almast director Tigran Khachatryan. 

Khachatryan told Eurasianet that EU sanctions would definitely have an impact on Armenia's diamond-cutting industry, but he found it difficult to speculate how.

At first glance it's hard to imagine that impact being anything other than harmful, since, according to Khachatryan, Hay-Almast buys 30-40 percent of its rough diamonds from Russia (the rest coming from various other countries, including in Africa).

Armenia's diamond-cutting industry has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years, attracting major foreign investors like India's KGK Diamonds. And with that growth has come a growing need for Russian raw diamonds. 

Armenia's total export of cut diamonds in 2022 totalled $418 million according to Armenian Customs Service statistics. That's four times the number for 2021. Growth has continued this year, though not quite at the same pace: $240 million of cut diamonds were sold in the first six months of 2023. (Cut diamonds ranked third among Armenia's exports for that period, coming in behind gold at $281 million and re-exported cars at $311 million.)

But some are pinning hopes on the prospect that Armenian diamonds of Russian origin will not be identified as such. 

"The new EU sanctions could have various kinds of effects on the Armenian diamond industry," a source in the Armenian government told Eurasianet on condition of anonymity. 

"The whole issue is how strictly the movements of Russian rough diamonds around the world will be monitored and how it will be determined whether a diamond cut in Armenia or some other country is of Russian origin or not."

In this context, the export/re-export supply chain will be a factor. Most Armenian cut diamonds of Russian origin are first sold to the United Arab Emirates and then find their way around the world from there.  

Banking on re-exports

Armenia has already seen economic growth from booming re-exports over the last two years.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine early last year, Armenia's trade with Russia has grown severalfold thanks precisely to re-exports of goods like cars and household items that Western producers had supplied directly to Russia before the war. 

Finance Minister Vahe Hovhannisyan recently acknowledged the central role played by re-export in the overall structure of Armenia-Russia trade. He said that while exports to Russia were up 215 percent for the first half of 2023 compared to the same period last year, re-export accounted for 187 percentage points of this growth while exports of Armenian products accounted for just 28 percentage points. 

Sanctions enforcement difficulties

As the AFP noted, the origin of diamonds can easily be obscured by mixing them with stones from other sources. And they change weight and appearance as they are cut and polished. 

This, coupled with the gems' small size, means it will be exceedingly difficult to enforce sanctions against their circulation. 

In the absence of a sophisticated tracking system, a diamond that is mined in Russia, cut and polished in Armenia, and exported to the UAE will be hard to trace to its origin, experts say.

So if, as seems likely, enforcement is weak, it's possible to imagine a boon for the Armenian diamond-cutting industry. As other markets close to Russian rough diamonds, more of them could enter Armenia, whose exports of cut diamonds would consequently go up. 

One could imagine this developing into a scheme resembling the one under which India purchases Russian oil, refines it, and then sells the resulting fuels onward to Europe.  

"Purely theoretically, we could see a growth in supplies of Russian rough diamonds to Armenia for processing and sale to other countries. But we must be careful, as this could be seen as another attempt by Armenia to help Russia evade sanctions," economist Armen Ktoyan said in an interview with Eurasianet. 

Ktoyan further noted that, while the diamond processing industry is showing impressive growth, Armenian businesses are not seeing much of the profit. 

"Most of the profit goes to international companies involved in moving and selling this product on global markets. So one should think long and hard before betting on growth in the inflow of Russian rough diamonds and making new investments in this sphere," he said. 

Mitigating risks

Meanwhile some in Armenia are focused on the risks posed by the sanctions and see a need to diversify the country's rough diamond importers. Doing so would protect the diamond-cutting industry from a rapid decline should there at some point be a total (and enforceable) ban on Russian rough diamonds. 

The industry already experienced a sharp drop in raw materials in the mid-2000s. At that time production and exports took a dive both because of stronger global competition and because of a strengthening of the Armenian currency, the dram, against the dollar and euro, which drove up the cost of exports

Tigran Khachatryan, the director of the state raw diamond procurement company, says Hay-Almast has been talking for several months now with a potential new supplier. 

He refused to say who it is but expressed optimism that a deal will be reached. 

"We are halfway there in our talks with the new supplier. We hope to have a result soon," he said. 

Arshaluis Mgdesyan is a journalist based in Yerevan.

New Battleground for Antisemitism in Yerushalayim: Armenians’ Support for Palestinians

Dec 7 2023

The war that Israel is waging against the Hamas terror group gradually exposes its enemies, who until now have been sitting on the sidelines. However, as war goes on, it seems that those hostile countries are projecting poison and hatred towards Israel and the Jews.

One of those countries is Armenia, which in recent years has been involved in conflict with Azerbaijan, a country that has Israel’s support and maintains warm and staunch relations with Israel.

The story has no apparent connection to the war.

Several years ago, a 99-year lease agreement was signed for the development of a new luxury hotel in the Armenian quarter in Yerushalayim. A court hearing was recently held regarding the land and parking lot in the Yerushalayim court. The total area is approximately 11.5 dunams [1.15 hectares], which includes a parking lot.

The land was in possession of the Armenian Patriarchate and it was claimed to be a trust for the whole Armenian community. Several members of the community who were angry about this development filed a lawsuit, claiming that they would have to pay hundreds of shekels a month for parking. At the same time, according to a report by Al Jazeera, several Armenians claimed that the property offered for real estate development was allegedly stolen from them by a group of “settlers,” and that the State of Israel wants to expropriate the land in order to expel the Armenians from Yerushalayim. They even called it the State of Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of non-Jews.

If that is not enough, it seems as though there were several members of the Armenian community under pressure from the Palestinians, who began initiating incitement in the global media, echoing pro-Palestinian claims against Israel, and presenting the real estate matter as proof, alleging that Israel wants to appropriate from them and dispossess Israeli land from non-Jews, even though anyone with a little common sense and who is not rabidly antisemitic, understands that there is no connection between this transaction and the current war.

There may be a financial dispute involving the plot, but there is definitely no place to turn the story into an attempt to ethnically cleanse Israel of other nationalities, and whoever makes such a connection, as has been done in several media outlets around the world, is making unsubstantiated claims to incite antisemitism.

The background to the Armenian unrest is probably due to the close, friendly relations between Israel and Azerbaijan, and Israel’s support for the Azerbaijanis in the context of the dispute over Karabakh, which has just recently returned to Azerbaijani control. The anger in the Arab world towards what Israel is doing in Gaza also gives license to aggressively attack Israel, so that everyone can make false claims that have nothing to do with the reality.

Proof that Armenia has recently come out against Israel and the Jewish world, does not only stem from the current story, but also from reports over the past month of the two attacks on the last synagogue in Armenia, where the perpetrators openly admitted that their actions were due to Israel’s support for Azerbaijan. To cover up for their actions, they claimed that they also acted in solidarity with and support for the Palestinians and the Lebanese.

Either way, the Palestinian pressure and desire to avenge Israel has resulted in savage incitement against Israel in several international media outlets, where the ludicrous claims of stealing land and ethnic cleansing are broadcast without any denial or offering an Israeli response.

Deputy Minster of Transport and Road Safety Rabbi Uri Maklev responded by saying, “We are sorry that a property dispute and the development of Yerushalayim is being used during these difficult times for Israel and the Jewish nation as a whole, as fuel to kindle fire in Yerushalayim and, chalilah, for and struggle between countries. Unfortunately we see over and over again that the pro-Palestinians attempt to light the fire with baseless antisemitic accusations. This is a danger to Yerushalayim and gives rise to disastrous consequences for the fabric of interreligious relations. We expect the Armenian leadership to come to their senses and to protect the local Jewish community exactly as Israel allows freedom of religion for all religions across the country.”