Armenia top security official meets with U.S. co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group




YEREVAN, MAY 26, ARMENPRESS. Secretary of the Security Council Armen Grigoryan held a meeting on May 26 with United States Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations, U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Louis Bono.

Grigoryan and Bono discussed issues related to the normalization of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations, delimitation and border security, as well as the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Grigoryan’s office said in a readout.

Secretary Grigoryan presented the Armenian side’s stance in the normalization of relations with Azerbaijan.

The two also discussed a number of issues on the Armenia-United States bilateral relations agenda.

Armenia, Azerbaijan could sign peace treaty in foreseeable future, says Moscow




YEREVAN, MAY 26, ARMENPRESS. Moscow believes that the current circumstances allow expecting that Armenia and Azerbaijan could sign a peace treaty in the foreseeable future, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said.

Peskov stressed that the final solution of all issues is what matters, and not the time.

The Kremlin spokesperson said that representatives of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan will hold a meeting next week in Moscow to discuss existing issues.

“There is no objective to finalize everything because what matters is the final result, no one is in a hurry,” TASS quoted Peskov as saying. No one can predict an exact timeframe for the signing of the peace treaty, he noted.

“Although, as it was noted at yesterday’s meeting, the circumstances have now changed in many ways, and basically these changed circumstances allow achieving the signing of the peace treaty in the foreseeable future,” he added.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held trilateral talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Moscow on May 25. A deputy prime ministerial meeting between the three sides is expected next week.

Armenpress: PM Pashinyan attends the foundation stone laying ceremony of the technological center to be constructed in Yerevan




YEREVAN, MAY 23, ARMENPRESS.  Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the "Dalan" technology center in Yerevan. The investment program is implemented with the support of the Armenian government and Enterprise Armenia Investment Support Fund, ARMENPRESS was informed from the Office of the Prime Minister.

Those in charge for the project noted that the technology center will have 158,000 square meters. total area, will offer 3,000 jobs, will consist of 22 floors and will include 34,000 square meters of office space. The center will also include a scientific and educational center, an exhibition hall, a conference hall, an event hall, a hotel, etc. The investment program is estimated at 125 million USD.

TechnoPark is being built in accordance with BOMA International (Building Owners and Managers Association) standards, and the design and construction works are carried out in compliance with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) requirements. The complex is a technologically well-equipped multifunctional center.

The representatives of the project thanked the Prime Minister for the support of the Government and the Enterprise Armenia Investment Support Fund and for the smooth implementation of the project.

1975 map should serve as basis for delimitation with Azerbaijan, says Armenian PM




YEREVAN, MAY 22, ARMENPRESS. The 1975 map of the USSR military’s General Staff could and should serve as the basis for delimitation with Azerbaijan, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan said at a May 22 press conference when asked on the process.

PM Pashinyan said that Armenia reiterates Russia’s stance that the delimitation process should be conducted based on the 1975 maps of the USSR General Staff, and, according to PM Pashinyan, a reciprocal withdrawal of forces from the border recorded by these maps would ensure stability on the border.

“I must gladly note that we are already seeing this issue recorded by the international community, which is rather important and commendable. I can’t note a movement of stance by  Azerbaijan in this regard, but at the same time I will emphasize that ensuring border security is an important part of the negotiations process. It is no secret that Azerbaijan continues to engage in a policy of military pressure in an attempt to gain more beneficial conditions in the talks through military pressure, but at the same time I have to note that this constitutes a violation of an internationally assumed obligation, because under the statement adopted during the 31 October 2022 Sochi meeting the parties agreed and assumed obligation to avoid from the use of force or threat of force. We must continue our work,” PM Pashinyan said.

The reciprocal withdrawal of forces doesn’t predetermine the delimitation work, Pashinyan said, adding that the process would simply ensure stability.

“I believe that the 1975 map could and should be the basis for future delimitation works as well, because this is what the 6 October 2022 agreements in Prague imply regarding delimitation based on the Almaty Declaration,” the Armenian Prime Minister said.

Armenia ready to recognize Azerbaijan’s 86,600 km2 territorial integrity which includes Nagorno Karabakh – Pashinyan




YEREVAN, MAY 22, ARMENPRESS. Armenia is ready to recognize Azerbaijan’s 86,600 km2 territorial integrity which includes Nagorno Karabakh, but the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh must be discussed through Baku-Stepanakert dialogue, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on May 22.

“The 86,600 km2 includes Nagorno Karabakh. But we must note that we are saying that the issue of the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh must be discussed in the Baku-Stepanakert format,” Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan noted that all administrations before him have recognized the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

“Armenia is ready to recognize the 86,600 km2 territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. And it is our understanding that Azerbaijan is ready to recognize the 29,800 km2 territorial integrity of Armenia. If we understand each other correctly with Azerbaijan in this matter, Armenia, indeed, recognizes Azerbaijan’s 86,600 km2 territorial integrity, with the understanding that Azerbaijan recognizes Armenia’s 29,800 km2 territorial integrity,” PM Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan said it is highly important to create international guarantees for the direct talks between Stepanakert and Baku over the rights and security of Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh. “We mean, for example, that the issue of the rights and security of Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh could get forgotten and Azerbaijan could continue its policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide against Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh through force,” Pashinyan said, highlighting the need for guarantees to prevent this policy.

During Brussels-hosted talks earlier in May, Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev confirmed their unequivocal commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration and the respective territorial integrity of Armenia (29,800 km2) and Azerbaijan (86,600 km2). 

The 29,800 km2 territorial integrity of Armenia includes enclaves, including Artsvashen.

86,600 km2 territorial integrity of Azerbaijan also includes enclaves. “This is a political stance, but the legal part of the issue must still be looked into,” the PM said.

Armenian Embassy in India will have a military attaché




YEREVAN, MAY 18, ARMENPRESS. A position of military attaché attached to the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in the Republic of India will be created, ARMENPRESS reports, the relevant decision included in the list of non-reportable issues was approved at the Cabinet meeting.

It is noted that the military attaché of the Republic of Armenia in the Republic of India will be located in the building of the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in New Delhi.

AW: The Hairenik in conversation with ARF leader Ishkhan Saghatelyan

Ishkhan Saghatelyan speaking to fellow ARF members, April 15, 2023

“Change of power in Armenia will change the current situation… And for that reason, Armenians should not be dismayed.” — Ishkhan Saghatelyan

Ishkhan Saghatelyan, representative of the Supreme Body of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) of Armenia and representative of the “Armenia Alliance” opposition faction of the National Assembly of Armenia, visited the Greater Boston community last month and was interviewed at the Hairenik Building. The text of the interview, translated from Armenian by Weekly contributor Ara Nazarian, appears below.

Hairenik Staff (H.S.): Welcome to the editorial office of the Hairenik, which has been in publication since 1899. For the last five years, our homeland has been facing a series of troubles. How does the opposition evaluate the situation before and after the war?

Ishkhan Saghatelyan (I.S.): The Hairenik is one of our oldest publications, and it has played a very important role in the Diaspora in preserving Armenian identity and maintaining our political direction. I am very pleased to participate in this interview.

In 2018, a colorful revolution took place in Armenia, more precisely, a change of power. The new cadre who came to power promised love, tolerance, justice, security, well-being, but within a short period of time, they demonstrated only the opposite. Today, we are witnessing a period of profound hatred and division in Armenia. From a security perspective, we have been a complete failure; the enemy is within the territory of Armenia, 75-percent of Artsakh is under enemy occupation and what remains of Artsakh has been under siege for the past four months. And it is unnecessary to talk about democracy and justice, because they do not actually exist.

With those mottos, people assumed power; however, they moved away from their declared goals. But even so, there was excitement in Armenia and the Diaspora regarding the change of power, given the promises that were made and the widespread belief on part of the population. There is great disappointment now. What did the opposition do? The work of the opposition before the war was very difficult, because people unconditionally believed in the authorities, where no criticism or any dissenting views registered with the population.

In 2019, the ARF was the first entity to organize a public rally against these authorities. The rally was dedicated to Artsakh and carried the slogan “Develop without compromising,” during which time, the threats emanating from the Armenian authorities were voiced in public.

That rally was held on May 23, 2019, when an alert was issued against the Armenian authorities. However, this did not resonate with the public, given the prevailing euphoria surrounding the authorities.

The situation changed after the war. It was clear that the ruling elite needed to leave, to end the cycle of defeat and have a chance to recover, regain our dignity and change the nation’s course.

Unfortunately, the government did not have the foresight to relinquish power. We opted to get on the streets with the people. In that regard, we implemented three initiatives. First, we initiated the “Homeland Salvation Movement,” which was the consolidation of 17 opposition parties and the nomination of a unified candidate for the post of prime minister. Second, during the elections, we turned to the Armenia Alliance and considered the possibility of removing the prime minister, and third, we established the resistance movement, the people’s movement.

The resistance movement is one of the largest and longest-running movements in the modern history of Armenia. The resistance movement addressed important problems: that the current government has no right to lead the country to new concessions; that the surrender of Artsakh is unacceptable to our people; and that there is a resistance movement in the country. However, the resistance movement did not achieve its most important goal, which was to change the government and prevent all this. The opposition must reevaluate its previous path and start fighting anew with more effective means.

H.S.: During the first weeks of the war, was there really an expectation that the authorities of the day would extend a hand of cooperation? Because after the unleashing of the war, an announcement was made that there was no more opposition, simply because the country was at war and there was a protest against the issue of life and death. Did you feel any change during that period, or was it the same situation that continued?

I.S.: During the war, the opposition’s position was very clear. On the first day, all the opposition forces confirmed that they would put aside all differences and stand in solidarity with the state. The opposition showed exceptional unity and solidarity in those days. On October 16, we held a meeting with the initiative to create an emergency response center with the participation of former presidents, prime ministers, defense ministers and foreign ministers of the republic to unite their forces and fight for our homeland with a united front. In other words, the opposition demonstrated an exemplary attitude, but unfortunately its outstretched hand was not met by the government.

H.S.: Does the Supreme Body of the ARF, having reviewed the events in the past three years after the war, believe that different results could have been achieved should there have been other authorities leading the homeland during the war, having demonstrated a different approach and managed the affairs of the nation differently?

I.S.: Definitely. Nikol Pashinyan will always say that regardless of who was in power, the outcome of the war would have been the same. Even after the war, whoever was in power would not have had the opportunity to change anything. Of course, Mr. Pashinyan has been engaged in deception. Had we had a national government, we would not have been saddled with the results of the war, as we are today, and had Mr. Pashinyan been removed from power and replaced with a normal government, then we would not have had the losses of the past two and a half years. The defeated government is unable, and at times does not even have the desire, to organize the security of our country and its citizens.

H.S.: Is there a difference in the attitudes and mentality between the population of Yerevan and the border villages regarding the developments that have happened in Armenia and Artsakh?

I.S.: Border residents with the enemy in close proximity feel the danger on their skin. In Yerevan, there is a significant conscious segment of the society that understands the dangers, but there is also an indifferent segment that does not believe any misfortune will befall them. The population in the regions who have already lost their pastures and have shown resistance against the enemy and have survived certainly feel that danger.

H.S.: Recently, some Azerbaijani soldiers reached the vicinity of Sisian. They have moved kilometers into Armenia, and no one has noticed. Fortunately, no harm was done to the family whose door the infiltrators knocked on, but the concern is whether we have come to a point where our borders are unprotected, and the residents of Yerevan, happily enjoying life, do not realize what is happening.

I.S.: Unfortunately, this government has abandoned its mission to protect the borders of the Republic of Armenia and asks the people to meet all the wishes of the enemy in order to achieve peace. Of course, the enemy is not coming in peace, rather planning a new genocide.

We referenced this during the days of the resistance movement in July. Since then, we continuously discussed that if the Berdzor region is surrendered to the enemy again, then they will reach Tegh village, where a new frontline needs to be built.

It is necessary to be ready for that day. To begin with, the lands should not be handed over, and if they must be handed over, then the border line should be fixed, whereas the government of the day has done nothing to that effect. That is why the enemy has strolled into Armenian territory, for which only the government of the day is guilty and responsible.

H.S.: The western world has gradually started to show more interest in Armenia and Artsakh and wants to enter the political process at any cost. We are also informed that you will have meetings with major states, especially the ambassadors of France and other key countries. Do we expect any tangible results from these meetings?

I.S.: The purpose of these meetings is to present our points of view and listen to theirs. In the course of our foreign relations, we present our views and ideas in detail. However, in this situation, it is very important that the state leads the state policy. We present an alternative point of view and fight for it; however, they must be followed by the state, and unfortunately, the points of view between us and the state or the government of the day are vastly different.

H.S.: How do you imagine the ARF’s participation in the current government and after?

I.S.: The ARF has ruled out becoming a part of the Pashinyan government, as this is impossible. At one time, in 2018, we did that experiment. We emphasized that the people have a demand and an expectation, and that’s why we decided to be a part of the government, and we tried to fulfill those demands with our capabilities. That mission lasted only four months, and it became clear to us that Mr. Pashinyan had a very different agenda.

Now, it is impossible, as our ideas are completely different, especially in terms of the future of the country; therefore, we will not be able to work with this government.

I confirm the statements that it is necessary to unite; however, it is impossible to do so with Mr. Pashinyan, as he has shown no desire to fight for our country. This is a Turkophile government, and in this situation, it is impossible for us to be a part of this government.

H.S.: The latest incidents in Yerevan serve to obfuscate the main issue. Do the recent issues with Mher Sahakyan, Karen Mkrticyan and the despicable behavior of the Speaker of the Armenian Parliament Alen Simonyan resonate with the population? Do they not realize that the current government needs to be removed from power?

I.S.: These people always talk about democracy and the need for government officials to behave with proper decorum, yet their behavior has breached all boundaries of decency and normal, dignified behavior. Their arrogance has no bounds. This government has demonstrated brazen disregard, for in its behavior and glory, it has brought calamity and loss of life to Armenia, yet it continues to remain in power. They are not spitting in the face of a single soul, but in the face of a millennia-old people. 

H.S.: We probably have the youngest yet lifeless district in the world in Yerablur. The families of those in this lifeless district are alive and number in the thousands. Would they come together to express their anger and demand justice?

I.S.: This is a profound question. Not everyone in Armenia thinks Mr. Pashinyan is the cause of these misfortunes and disasters and that there will be an opportunity to solve these problems after removing the current regime. The trouble is that he has been able to deceive people with his propaganda machine, falsifications and fraud that he has done everything within his powers. He has convinced the people that he is not guilty and that the war would have had no other outcome, in the sense that whoever was in power would have gotten the same result.

In other words, there is an extremist segment of the population that strongly believes in Mr. Pashinyan. Additionally, the whole society is still not of the opinion that he is the one who has brought this level of loss and tragedy to Armenia. Therefore, we have a responsibility to inform the people.

H.S.: Armenia has turned into a police state where the police are stronger and better paid than the army. Do you think you are being followed at all times?

I.S.: Opposition figures in Armenia are subjected to serious pressure from the authorities. The government is working against us and our families, friends and the party. However, none of this will hinder us. We know who we are dealing with and what we are fighting for. Therefore, those pressures are transitory and will not last long.

H.S.: How big is this externally orchestrated conspiracy against Armenia, and how can we dismantle this and address our issues?

I.S.: The first step to call the hands of all the players is to change the government. These external forces make their calculations in coordination with the current government in Armenia. Once there is a change of power in Armenia, everyone’s playing cards will be reshuffled, and the prevailing atmosphere will also change.

I repeat again that the government continuously tries to convince the people that they are weak, incapable, defenseless, that the world is against them and they should acquiesce to the enemy, meet all their demands and hand over everything they demand.

We reject this approach and propose to fight. We are not alone in our struggle. We have allies and sources, and we also believe that the only way to achieve peace is to fight for it.

If there is a change of power in Armenia, the agreement between external forces and Mr. Pashinyan will be null and void, and the situation will change in favor of our state and our people. 

H.S.: Besides financial support, how else can the Diaspora establish close ties with Armenia?

I.S.: The Diaspora has great potential, and today Armenia is consistently pushing the Diaspora away from it. You hear the _expression_ that they are responsible only for the Republic of Armenia and the citizens of the Republic of Armenia; that is, they have put aside the pan-Armenian spirit and the Armenian nation. The Diaspora should respond and confirm that it stands up for its homeland, that this homeland belongs to them as well, not just the citizens of the Republic of Armenia living in Armenia, but also for 10 million Armenians worldwide. Of course, this assumes both rights and duties. The Diaspora should have full access to those rights and obligations. There are many ways to help the homeland: political, economic and the defense of the nation. It is necessary to work on all these fronts.

H.S.: In light of your current visit, what do you have to convey to American Armenians?

I.S.: I had an interesting and full agenda during this visit to the eastern and western US in 10 short days. I had meetings in all regions; the most important were meetings with my fellow party members, where I had the opportunity to reflect and explain the current situation in Armenia and Artsakh, as well as listen and answer questions.

I held important public meetings, as well as political meetings with the ANCA. I try not to be away from Armenia for more than two or three days, but America was an exception. The Diaspora’s work is important to me and part of my visit agenda: how we should consolidate our forces, how we should focus and how we should take control of our homeland.

There is a question of re-evaluating the Diaspora after the war with a new vision, because the Diaspora is very different before and after the war. The Commissioner of the Diaspora is entrusted with the duty of dividing the Diaspora and not to carry out real work in the Diaspora. The Diaspora has serious work ahead and a number of difficulties to overcome.

Armenia and its Diaspora should strengthen each other. Together, with 10 million Armenians, we must move forward with the vision of restoring the trinity of Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora.

I would like to thank our compatriots in the Diaspora and repeat that the authorities in Armenia do not represent the nation, and given the prevailing situation, we should not be disappointed in Armenia. We should not lose hope, as these are all temporary, and we must support the homeland.

Ishkhan Saghatelyan with ARF-ER Central Committee members and ARF members from New England, April 15, 2023

Corruption and disrespect in the process of disability assessment in Armenia

May 1 2023
  • Sona Martirosyan
  • Yerevan

Assessment of disability status

In the process of assessing disabilities, people in Armenia face many problems — from discrimination to outright corruption.

The NGO “Agenda for the Protection of the Rights of People with Disabilities” has been undertaking a comprehensive support program for five months, the main objective of which is to protect people’s rights during the entire disability assessment process.

Mushegh Hovsepyan, chairman of the NGO, believes that “[d]epriving people of their disability status, changing this decision by changing the assessment system, is simply fraud.”

Starting February 1, disability assessment in Armenia has been carried out according to a new system — according to an applicant’s fundamental capabilities.

Since February 1, disability assessment in Armenia has been carried out according to functional assessments

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“Although our organization started operating not so long ago, it is already quite well known among people with disabilities. Most often, we are contacted on issues related to medical and social expertise.

We have undertaken a program to assist people with disabilities in the course of determining their condition in order to better coordinate this aspect of our activities. The program started in November last year, although before that we consulted everyone who contacted us.

However, to monitor the situation, to accompany people with disabilities with representatives of our organization during the assessment of their functional capabilities or the participation of a lawyer in legal proceedings in their cases, additional professional and financial resources were required. We received this opportunity as part of our new program.”

Rights of people with disabilities in Armenia: personal stories of people who face discrimination from the government and in every day life

“As part of the assistance program, we are creating a system of services that will support a person during the entire process of assessing their health status. Moreover, assistance begins even before the start of the assessment process itself and ends only after it is completed. We provide advice, legal aid, and professional medical assessment.

When a person is just about to submit their case for disability assessment and is not sure whether they should enter this process in their particular case, we provide advice to make this decision as well.

We also support people at subsequent stages, when, for example, they doubt whether the group of disability or the degree of functionality is correctly defined. At this stage, we also provide advice on a possible appeal against the decision of the evaluation committee.

In any case, even when our specialists do not consider the decision of the commission to be incorrect or biased, if a citizen intends to appeal it or go to court, we provide all the necessary services, since this is his right.

Our experts help to submit cases for reassessment, to provide justifications. They accompany the beneficiaries of the program in the appeal process itself, helping to clearly and objectively state their point of view and complaint. And in cases where a person decides to go to court, we provide the services of a lawyer.

Since the launch of the program, we have helped more than 150 citizens. There was a case when, after the presentation of the arguments of our experts about the violation of the rights of a citizen, they were restored at the pre-trial stage, the case did not reach the court.

I can say that with our participation, the likelihood that the evaluation commission will make a decision in favor of the citizen increases.”

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“The process of medical and social examination and assessment of functionality contains risks, although it is carried out according to clearly defined criteria. For many of our beneficiaries, the restoration of violated rights becomes a difficult process, since they have no idea on the basis of which this or that decision is made regarding their lives.

Meanwhile, when there are experts next to a person, a structure that he can trust, he feels more confident, understands that his rights will be protected. This feeling of security is very important for a person. So even before the start of the evaluation process itself, we prepare those who contact us about how the process can proceed, what should be emphasized.

It turns out that they are to some extent ready to independently defend their interests. On the other hand, the relevant authorities know that the assistance service is operating, people can contact our experts and get reliable information.

Of course, this is also in the interests of state bodies. There have been cases where the commission made reasoned, justified decisions which, however, raised doubts among citizens. But after consulting our experts, having received the same answer from an impartial institution, people were convinced that their rights had not been violated by the state.

In Armenia, they began to provide free medical care. Doctors thought about this after parents themselves, who lost their sons in the war, turned to them

“The disability assessment process has been considered the most corrupt for many years. There were many stories in the media about this and criminal cases have been initiated.

I cannot say that this program will neutralize all corruption risks, because corruption is, in fact, an example of “mutually beneficial cooperation.”

In order to break this cycle, at least one of the parties must be convinced that it can advance its interests within the law.

For this reason we plan to launch another program in the near future, with the help of which we will try to deepen knowledge about corruption among persons with disabilities and their families, as well as among employees of the system.

I can say with confidence that people’s awareness of their rights influences their decision about possible involvement in corruption schemes.”

Often doctors themselves push parents into giving their children to the orphanage. Parliament has already amended the criminal code, according to which persuasion and coercion to abandon a child are considered a crime

“Among those who contact us, there are many who received disability status years ago, but today they are deprived of their status after a change in the procedure for assessing their condition. But changing the order or tools for evaluating functionality cannot become the basis for making deliberately unfair decisions.

At the moment we have several similar cases concerning, in particular, mental health. We are dealing with the case of a soldier who has post-traumatic stress disorder, visual hallucinations, severe pain due to a traumatic brain injury. Another citizen has a delusional disorder, which naturally affects his ability to work. And they are both being deprived of disability status.

Approximately the same picture emerges in the case of those who have the status of a “child with a disability” when they turn 18 and need to be re-examined. According to our assessment, in these cases many people are also unfairly deprived of disability groups on grounds that do not comply with the law.

In fact, depriving people of their disability status, justifying this decision by changing the system for assessing their condition, is fraud.

People often do not even realize what changes are being discussed or what grounds the government has provided for making such decisions.

Thus a negative attitude is formed towards the new disability assessment system based on functional capabilities, while in some cases it is simply about willful decisions.”

Sexual harassment in Armenia in the workplace – There is not even a legal definition of sexual harassment, thus no protection of labor rights.

“We receive many complaints that the process of determining disability is accompanied by an inadequate attitude towards citizens undergoing examination by experts and members of the assessment commission.

One of the biggest problems people face when starting a disability determination process is disrespectful attitude, rude language, incomprehensible justifications for decisions, or refusal to comment or explain them in detail.

As part of this program, we plan to organize courses for specialists involved in the assessment of functionality. Their main goal will be to develop communication skills with people with disabilities. Most importantly, people with disabilities will help develop the communication skills of experts and civil servants. That is, they themselves will advise them on how best to contact.

Armenian refugees adopt a declaration




YEREVAN, APRIL 29, ARMENPRESS. In order to make the voice of Armenian refugees, their expectations and demands heard, the conference "Old and new refugees of Azerbaijani aggression: the past, the present, the future" was launched at the K. Demirchyan Sports and Concert Complex, within the framework of which the authorized representatives of the non-governmental organizations that initiated the conference adopted a declaration.

ARMENPRESS presents the text of the declaration.

"Accepted by the refugees of Azerbaijan, Artsakh and Nakhichevan during the conference "Old and new refugees of Azerbaijani aggression: the past, the present, the future" held on in Yerevan, we, the authorized representatives of the non-governmental organizations that initiated the conference,

Noting that since the foundation of 1918, the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, Azerbaijan SSR and the current Republic of Azerbaijan have been conducting and are conducting a xenophobic, especially anti-Armenian, racist policy, which aimed and has the goal of expelling from their ancestral homelands or eliminating hundreds of thousands of our compatriots,

Considering that in 1988-1991 in Azerbaijani SSR, and in 1992 in the Republic of Azerbaijan the genocidal actions encouraged by the state (Armenian pogroms in Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad, forced deportation of Armenians from Northern Karabakh accompanied by pogroms) have not been subjected to any legal investigation,

As a result of the genocidal actions of Azerbaijan, hundreds of thousands of our compatriots immigrated to Armenia, were recognized as refugees, or sought asylum by fleeing to other countries.

Over the past thirty years, numerous complaints addressed to the UN Human Rights Committee regarding the return of Armenian refugees and forcibly displaced persons to their homeland and compensation for their property losses have not received a legal solution and remained unanswered.

Bearing in mind that refugees and forcibly displaced persons have the right to voluntary return to their homeland or the part of the homeland in which their physical security, political and civil rights can be ensured according to a number of international treaties, and the danger for Armenian refugees and displaced persons have not only not disappeared, but also after 1988, hatred against Armenians and threats of reprisals were strengthened by state policy in Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan,

Considering that in 1988-1992 then, during the thirty years, Azerbaijan's anti-Armenian, racist policy only strengthened, and, as a result of the 44-day war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh on September 27, 2020, thousands of Armenians were forcibly displaced from Artsakh and found refuge in Armenia and other countries, and internally displaced persons accumulated in Artsakh, which caused enormous problems related to refugees in the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh,

Considering that the Artsakh refugees of 2020 still do not have a clear legal status, as a result of which they may be excluded from the scope and protection of the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Taking into account that our compatriots who were forcibly displaced from Azerbaijan and Artsakh and temporarily or permanently lost their permanent home are in serious need of political, legal, social, economic and humanitarian support, and the remaining Armenians in Artsakh are under serious threat of Azerbaijani use of force,

Finding that the authorities of the Republic of Armenia, despite the many requests and demands of refugees from the territories under the control of Azerbaijan and forcibly displaced persons who have taken refuge in Armenia and the public organizations representing their interests, a/ during the 35 years, have conducted an exclusively humanitarian-social policy towards them, b/ did not plan and pursue a legal investigation process for the obviously anti-Armenian, racist policy of Azerbaijan, in our opinion, did not even have a strategy for the issues of the return of refugees to the territory of Azerbaijan's control and compensation for property losses, c/ did not take into account the political interests and prospects of the refugees sheltered in Armenia, d/ have been very passive, especially in the fight against the falsification of our history and our national identity, the destruction of our cultural heritage, which has intensified in Azerbaijan in the last 35 years,

Seeing that even the agreement in point 7 of the declaration of November 9, 2020 signed between the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia and the Prime Minister of Armenia on the new refugees resulted by the aggressive, criminal war of 2020, which says that "Internally displaced persons and refugees return to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and neighboring regions under the supervision of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees" is not being implemented, while the Azerbaijani authorities are unilaterally implementing it, they are already settling the places abandoned by Armenian refugees with people of unknown identity and origin without any supervision,

We announce:

The Governments of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh should initiate an international political and legal process (including an international judicial process) to call Azerbaijan responsible and demand compensation for the genocidal actions carried out in Azerbaijan (including the Armenian pogroms in the cities of Sumgait, Baku, Kirovabad encouraged and organized by the Azerbaijani state).

The protection of violated rights and interests of our compatriots who fled from Azerbaijan and Artsakh and were forcibly displaced should be recognized as a priority of the Republics of Armenia and Artsakh.

All damage inflicted on refugees and forcibly displaced persons shall be subject to adequate, just compensation. The amount and forms of compensation for damages to refugees and forcibly displaced persons should be determined according to internationally recognized principles.

All Armenian refugees and displaced persons, at least those who want to, should be given the opportunity to return to their homeland, a place of their choice, and there should be all guarantees for their physical, political and civil security, including security for their identity.

We propose to the UN Security Council to discuss the policy of Azerbaijan, which constantly gives birth to refugees, and the threats arising from it.

We request and suggest that the international institutions, to which both the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan are members, act as mediators to solve the problem of refugees,

demand the restoration of the Armenian historical-cultural and architectural buildings, churches, the cemeteries at least with historical-cultural value, sacred areas destroyed by Azerbaijan, to restore their falsified identities,

All Artsakh citizens and internally displaced persons who became refugees as a result of the military aggression of the war unleashed by Azerbaijan in 2020 should be given the opportunity to return to their native places, receiving the real long-term guarantees.

That process can start only after implementing point 6 of the statement of November 9, 2020, signed between the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Russia and the Prime Minister of Armenia, according to which "the Republic of Azerbaijan guarantees the safety of movement of citizens, vehicles and cargo in both directions through the Lachin Corridor". In fact, it is already the 6th month that the connection between Artsakh and Armenia through that corridor has been disrupted, which leads to the danger of a humanitarian disaster. At the moment, the population of Artsakh is a hostage of Azerbaijan, and the road for returning of Artsakh refugees and forcibly displaced persons is practically closed.

According to point 7 of the same statement, "Internally displaced persons and refugees return to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and neighboring regions under the supervision of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees." We ask the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees if they are aware of the actions of unilateral resettlement of internally displaced persons from Azerbaijan and do they supervise it, do they know who they are resettling, and finally why did Azerbaijan start this process unilaterally?

We ask and suggest to the authorities of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh to start an international legal process, including in relation to the vandalism of our cultural heritage in areas that used to be inhabited by Armenians until 1988, which are currently depopulated.

We request and suggest to the National Academy of Sciences and universities of Armenia to publicize the facts of falsification of books, articles and sources published under the name of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan in one common package, to inform the scientific community, scientific academies and universities of other countries about the facts of the large-scale use of science in Azerbaijan for racist and political goals and ethnophobia. In this matter, we are talking not only about the falsification of the history of the Armenian people, but also about the falsification of the history of the indigenous Caucasian and Iranian-speaking peoples of Azerbaijan and the history of all countries neighboring Azerbaijan, thereby also about the falsification of the history of the same Azerbaijanis.

At the same time we insist that

– without the direct participation of the Republic of Armenia and international support, only through non-governmental and civil initiatives and activities, it is impossible to ensure the protection of the political and civil rights of Armenian refugees and our compatriots who were forcibly displaced from the territory of Artsakh as a result of Azerbaijan's aggression, and the restoration of their violated rights and interests.

In this context, we urge

The Government of the Republic of Armenia, represented by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, to form a competent state body, organization or a structural unit of the state body dealing with "Refugee Issues", with the help of which a draft national or state policy strategy or concept on the problems of Armenian refugees will be developed and presented to the interested public for discussion. In the future, that strategy or concept will become part of the state policy conducted by the Republic of Armenia and will be a guideline not only for the Armenian diplomatic bodies, but also for non-governmental organizations and civil initiatives on refugee issues.

We also appeal to the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh with a separate call

to assume full political responsibility for the protection of the interests and rights of not only the refugees who have taken refuge in Artsakh or the citizens of Artsakh expelled from their homeland as a result of the Azerbaijani occupation, but also the interests and rights of all our compatriots who have been deported from Azerbaijan and are de facto refugees.

We appeal to international organizations, in particular the UN Security Council, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the authorities of the OSCE Minsk Co-chair countries, the heads of accredited diplomatic missions in Armenia, to contribute to the solution of the issues raised by us and to involve us in effective cooperation in that context.

With a special appeal, we call on our compatriots who emigrated from Azerbaijan, Artsakh and Nakhichevan at different times and took refuge in different countries of the world, their descendants, as well as to non-governmental organizations that have been dealing with Armenian refugee issues for years, suggesting to unite on one platform and consolidate our efforts and resources to ensure the effective struggle for the protection of the rights and interests of our compatriot refugees and displaced persons.

We hereby announce the goal of creating a common platform for the realization of this idea."