Turkey providing documents for genocide hearings against Israel -Erdogan

Jan 12 2024

ANKARA, Jan 12 (Reuters) – Turkey is providing documents for a case brought by South Africa against Israel at the U.N.'s top court on a charge of committing genocide against Palestinian civilians, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul, Erdogan said that Turkey would continue to provide documents, mostly visuals, on Israel's attacks on Gaza.

"I believe Israel will be convicted there. We believe in the justice of the International Court of Justice", Erdogan said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz described Erdogan as the president of "a country with the Armenian genocide in its past", and that he was targeting Israel with "unfounded claims".

Israel is not among the more than 30 countries that have formally recognised the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 as genocide. Turkey, established in 1923 after the Ottoman Empire collapsed, has always denied there was a systematic campaign to annihilate Armenians.

Reporting by Huseyin Hayatsever and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler, Toby Chopra and Alex Richardson

US, Britain carry out strikes against Houthis in Yemen


YEREVAN, JANUARY 12, ARMENPRESS. The United States and Britain launched strikes from the air and sea against Houthi military targets in Yemen in response to the movement's attacks on ships in the Red Sea, Reuters reports.

As witnesses in Yemen confirmed explosions throughout the country to Reuters, U.S. President Joe Biden cautioned in a statement late on Thursday he would not hesitate to take further action if needed.

"These targeted strikes are a clear message that the United States and our partners will not tolerate attacks on our personnel or allow hostile actors to imperil freedom of navigation," Biden said.

Britain's ministry of defence said in a statement that "early indications are that the Houthis' ability to threaten merchant shipping has taken a blow."

Iran, which supports the Houthis, strongly condemned the attacks. A spokesperson for the Houthis said there was no justification for the attacks and that the group will continue targeting ships heading towards Israel.

Russia said it had requested an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the military strikes.

The Houthis say their attacks on shipping routes in the Red Sea are a show of support for the Palestinians and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is in hospital due to surgery complications, said in a statement that the strikes targeted Houthi capabilities including drones, ballistic and cruise missiles, costal radar and air surveillance.

Armenpress: Two young Armenians arrested after the attack on the Armenian quarter in Jerusalem


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 28, ARMENPRESS. After an attack by armed men on the territory of the “Cow Garden” in the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem, two young Armenians have been arrested, the Movement for the Protection and Preservation of the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem said.

"Tomorrow they  will be brought to the court. The lawyers hired by the Movement for the Protection and Preservation of the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem will represent them during the court proceedings,” the statement reads.

The movement urges the Armenian Patriarchate to use all possible means through its connections with the police, the municipality and the government to secure the immediate release of the boys.

Expert: To exit CSTO Armenia needs ‘strong security guarantees’ from West

Dec 25 2023
Armenia may decide to withdraw from the CSTO when they receive strong security guarantees from the West. However, this is also linked to Russia's war against Ukraine, says the expert on the South Caucasus at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (Warsaw), Wojciech Wojtasiewicz.

Armenia looks towards the USA

According to Wojtasiewicz, the Armenian authorities have not yet decided how to shape their foreign policy.

"In Yerevan, I often heard that the decision to review relations with Russia is not theirs but Russia's. After Armenians were left face-to-face with Azerbaijan in the Karabakh situation, they wanted to look towards the U.S. and European countries, not participating in the CSTO and CIS meetings. However, they have not explicitly stated an intention to leave these organizations," he noted.

Unofficially, it is said in Yerevan that about a year ago, they talked to American and European politicians about the desire to leave the CSTO. However, the response was that the time had not yet come, and there was a threat of Russia launching a military operation in Armenia.

Armenia has de facto left the CSTO

Similar hints were made in November by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Specifically, when asked about Armenia's continued membership in the CSTO, he said that they would be guided by national interests.

"Our partners in the CSTO must also understand us. If being CSTO members, we cannot receive the necessary assistance and support, and membership is an insurmountable obstacle to receiving assistance from other parties, then we must make decisions based on our interests," he said.

However, many analysts in Armenia emphasize that de facto the country has already left the CSTO, says Wojtasiewicz.

Under what conditions Armenia will leave the CSTO

"For them, reality is more important than official status. I think the Armenian government will decide to leave the CSTO when they receive strong security guarantees from the West. And the West can provide such guarantees only when Russia suffers a defeat in Ukraine. Before that, both the West and Armenia will be very cautious. Most likely, relations with Russia in 2024 will be the same as this year, within the framework of the so-called 'two steps forward, one step back' policy," the expert notes.

This formulation is valid for Armenia's relations with the West as well. Multivectorality is explained, in part, by the Georgian example. When under Mikheil Saakashvili, the course towards Eurointegration was taken, and in 2008, there was Russian aggression in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Currently, Russia plays a significant role in Armenia's foreign policy. Although they do not share common borders, there is a threat that if Yerevan refuses cooperation, Moscow may contribute to the overthrow of the government.

"After the Azerbaijani operation in Nagorno-Karabakh in September 2023, anti-government protests took place in Yerevan. There were concerns that if the demonstrations turned into something more significant, Russia would use them to change the government," Wojtasiewicz added.

For more details on what is happening in the Armenia-West-Russia triangle, read the material by RBC-Ukraine.


Moody’s upgrades IDBank’s long-term deposit ratings to B1 and changes outlook to stable from positive

 18:17, 13 December 2023

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 13, ARMENPRESS. Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has today upgraded IDBank's long-term local and foreign currency bank deposit ratings to B1 from B2 and changed the outlook on these ratings to stable from positive, IDBank said.

Concurrently, Moody's upgraded the bank's Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) and Adjusted BCA to b1 from b2, upgraded the bank's long-term local and foreign currency Counterparty Risk Ratings (CRRs) to Ba3 from B1, and upgraded the long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment (CR Assessment) to Ba3(cr) from B1(cr).


Asbarez: Greg Martayan Named Valley Economic Alliance Vice President

Sonya Blake, President and CEO of the Valley Economic Alliance with Greg K. Martayan

Greg Martayan, former senior government official and well respected key advisor, was tapped to serve as The Valley Economic Alliance’s Vice President of External Affairs.

The Valley Economic Alliance is a strategic private-public collaboration made up of governments, corporations, small businesses, educational institutions, and community organizations whose mission is to engage and unite behind the principles, policies, and practices necessary for economic vitality and prosperity. Bringing together a sustainable economic future for the five-city San Fernando Valley region, including Burbank, Calabasas, Glendale, Los Angeles and San Fernando. An area of more than 160,000 businesses, over 2 million residents, and covering more than 400 square miles.

Throughout his service and career, Martayan has been regarded as a leader who has compassion, empathy, and respect for all.  He has been lauded for his strategic planning and ability to create real impactful change, helping communities, corporations, and small businesses thrive. As an experienced administrator, Martayan has helped resolve large scale issues which positively impact the quality of life within multiple sectors.

“I look forward to working closely with the five cities represented in the San Fernando Valley and their elected officials, to create a more economically sustainable Valley. In addition, I recognize that small businesses, corporations, and the entrepreneurial spirit are what drive the Valley, which is why I want to make sure they know they are heard in the halls of government.  I’m honored to be working with President and CEO Sonya Blake, who has been a true visionary both for the Valley and the Alliance. The future is bright,” said Greg Martayan, Vice-President of External Affairs, The Valley Economic Alliance.

“Greg is such an amazing addition to our administrative team, with his notable and successful service, I know he will be a great champion for the Valley economy and our partners,” said Sonya Blake, President and CEO, The Valley Economic Alliance.

“The Valley Economic Alliance is a critical and vital part of the engine which keeps the Valley moving forward.  I’ve known Greg for over two decades and have seen the tremendous accomplishments he has made for our community.  The Alliance will be well served with him as Vice President of External Affairs.” – Congressman Brad Sherman

“I have proudly supported the work of the Alliance for many years and know how valuable it is to the Valley’s economic sustainability. Greg worked closely and successfully with my office during his honorable service with the City of Los Angeles. I know his years of experience will make him a valuable asset to the Alliance and the business community at large,” said Katherine Barger, Supervisor, Los Angeles County.

“Greg is an executive leader of tremendous fortitude and understanding. His leadership in Los Angeles has helped create positive solutions on many important issues that positively impacted all our families. He will be great a Vice President for the Valley Economic,” said Amit Kleinberger, Chief Executive Officer and Board Director, Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

“Greg’s service spans well beyond the City of Los Angeles and into all neighboring cities.  I want to congratulate The Valley Economic Alliance on making Greg their Vice President of External Affairs, a leader who I have been proud to work with for many years,” said David Shapiro, Mayor, Calabasas

Martayan comes from a distinguished background of service, with accolades ranging from the US House of Representatives, California State Senate, California State Assembly, California Highway Patrol, Los Angeles City Council, Los Angeles Police Department, as well as numerous non-profits, houses of worship and news publications.

Lawmaker seeks to introduce exoneration options for draft evaders


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 12, ARMENPRESS. A ruling party lawmaker has drafted legislation seeking to introduce several options for draft evaders to be exonerated and cleared of criminal charges in case of turning themselves in.  

Men who’ve evaded mandatory military service and are above the age limit (27) are prosecuted and face a 5-year prison sentence under the current regulations.

Under current law, draft evaders who are now above the age of 27 can’t serve in the military even if they wanted to and they certainly face criminal prosecution.  

MP Hayk Sargsyan from the ruling Civil Contract party has drafted a bill that would give draft dodgers the option to have their criminal charges dropped by either enlisting into the armed forces and serving a full 2-year term, or serving a 1-year term and paying 2,5 million drams, or serving for 6 months and paying 5 million drams, or serving 1 month and paying 10 million drams, or not serving at all and paying 15 million drams to the government.

According to Sargsyan, today there are over 10,000 fugitives on charges of draft evasion. Over 5,000 of them are above the age of 27.

Most of them are abroad and do not return to Armenia in order to avoid imprisonment. Sargsyan argues that if his bill isn’t adopted the draft evaders who are now abroad would wait until they are above the age of 37 to return to be cleared of the charges on the basis of statute of limitations.

Sargsyan said on Tuesday at a parliamentary debate that the legislation seeks to give those who haven’t served and are now wanted the opportunity to be useful to their country.

“I wouldn’t want us to ever declare amnesty for these people again,” he said, referring to a 2021 amnesty declared by the Armenian parliament which cleared of criminal charges over 1300 draft evaders. “But I also wouldn’t want to sentence five thousand citizens to five years in prison, because by doing so, not only wouldn’t our country benefit, but we’d spend a lot of money on finding, sentencing and detaining them,” Sargsyan said.

“That’s what this legislation is about, to give these people the chance to be useful to their country, instead of becoming a burden.”

Multiple men would repatriate to Armenia if the bill passes parliament, according to the MP.

U.S. diplomat visits Azerbaijan as bilateral tensions subside

Dec 8 2023
Dec 8, 2023

On December 6 a top U.S. diplomat made a visit to Azerbaijan against a backdrop of deteriorating relations between the two countries. 

The visit was received positively by Azerbaijani officials and media, but there is no sign that the hunt for "U.S. spies" in the country is about to let up. 

Elsewhere on the same day, President Ilham Aliyev issued a warning to France and India against arming Armenia, saying that doing so increases the chance of more war. 

Aliyev's reception of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O'Brien was the first high-level meeting between the two countries since the sides mutually canceled such visits last month over disagreements on Azerbaijan's military offensive in Karabakh in September. 

The sides stressed the importance of the visit "in terms of discussions on various aspects of bilateral relations and the exchange of ideas on regional issues," according to the readout on Aliyev's website. 

"Emphasizing that Azerbaijan supported the regional peace agenda, President Ilham Aliyev said that after the end of the conflict [with Armenia] and full restoration of Azerbaijan's sovereignty [over Karabakh], historic opportunities had arisen for the establishment of peace, noting that the United States could contribute to the process by considering the new realities," the statement read. 

The readout didn't mention the recent U.S.-Azerbaijani tensions, instead noting that the sides "described the resumption of reciprocal visits as a positive step for advancing bilateral relations." 

The State Department said Aliyev and O'Brien "discussed our countries' deep historical ties and the importance of the bilateral relationship." 

On the same day, O'Brien met Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov. 

O'Brien described his meetings as "positive and constructive" in a post on X. He wrote that the U.S. welcomes visits of Azerbaijani Central Bank governor and energy minister, and that U.S. State Secretary Anthony Blinken "looks forward to hosting" Bayramov and his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in Washington "soon for peace negotiations." 

Previously, in mid-November, Azerbaijan refused to send Bayramov to Washington for peace talks in protest against remarks by O'Brien at a congressional hearing. In that hearing, O'Brien said that the U.S. State Department "has made it clear to Azerbaijan that there cannot be business as usual in our bilateral relationship. The United States has condemned Azerbaijani actions in Nagorno-Karabakh, canceled high-level bilateral meetings and engagements with Azerbaijan, and suspended plans for future events." 

At around the same time, the U.S. Senate passed a bill titled the Armenian Protection Act that would suspend military assistance to Azerbaijan. The bill has not been taken up by the House of Representatives. 

"Looks like Azerbaijan-US relations are back to normal, which is very good as these relations are built over many important areas during the three decades," wrote Farid Shafiyev, chair of a Baku-based state-run think tank, on X. "Or it might face another challenge or spoiler in the US Congress."

While relations might be on a positive trajectory, the spat has resulted in lasting damage to Azerbaijan's small and already beleaguered independent media. 

A campaign in Azerbaijani state-run and pro-government media against American "spies" has been followed by arrests of journalists alleged to be taking U.S. money to do Washington's bidding in Azerbaijan. 

So far, six journalists and one rights activist have been arrested in the country on different charges. 

Abzas Media, a prominent independent investigative outlet, has been the biggest target. Its whole management team was arrested and placed in pretrial detention on smuggling charges after police said they discovered 40,000 euros in cash in a raid of Absaz's Baku office. 

"If we wanted, we would have done it"

A few hours before receiving O'Brien in Baku, Aliyev spoke at a forum in Baku. Responding to a participant's question, he touched on O'Brien's "no business as usual" remark. "Either, they should say that business as usual continues, and I hope to hear it today and we will restore the Washington process, or there'll be only Brussels and Moscow," Aliyev said in English, referring to three of the mediators overseeing the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process. 

He also addressed widespread fears in Armenia and the international community that Baku might invade its neighbor and rival. "If we wanted, we would have done it. I can say this absolutely openly. From all points of view, it is not a big problem. In one day, they laid down their weapons in Karabakh, our flag was raised in Khankendi," he said. 

At the same time, he touched on recent arms supplies to Armenia by France and India and warned that they could trigger another war in the region. 

"This is provocative. The countries, who supply Armenia with weapons like France and India, now pour oil on the fire and create unrealistic illusions in Armenia that using these weapons they can take back Karabakh," he said. 

"My message to them is don't create a situation here – in the region, when we will be sure that you are planning to damage us. We are not sure yet. That's why we do not react, we observe what France is supplying to Armenia those armored vehicles which nobody wants to buy. They do not pose any danger to us. But if we see that there is some serious installation, which can be harmful, we will have to react. And I informed everybody about that. So, there'll be no complaints."

Türkiye welcomes Armenia-Azerbaijan confidence-building steps

 10:32, 8 December 2023

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 8, ARMENPRESS. Türkiye has welcomed the latest Armenia-Azerbaijan agreements.

In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Ankara wants Armenia and Azerbaijan to sign a peace treaty as soon as possible.

“We welcome the decision to take some concrete confidence-building steps between the two countries, announced in a joint statement by the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan and the Office of the Prime Minister of Armenia; We support the decision to continue discussions on adopting additional confidence-building steps. We wish that the peace agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia will be signed as soon as possible, which will constitute one of the most important developments for the establishment of permanent peace and stability in the South Caucasus,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

Following the talks between the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, an agreement has been reached on taking tangible steps towards building confidence between two countries.

Driven by the values of humanism and as a gesture of goodwill, the Republic of Azerbaijan releases 32 Armenian military servicemen.

In its turn, driven by the values of humanism and as a gesture of goodwill, the Republic of Armenia releases 2 Azerbaijani military servicemen.

As a sign of good gesture, the Republic of Armenia supports the bid of the Republic of Azerbaijan to host the 29th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP29) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, by withdrawing its own candidacy. The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan do hope that the other countries within the Eastern European Group will also support Azerbaijan’s bid to host. As a sign of good gesture, the Republic of Azerbaijan supports the Armenian candidature for Eastern European Group COP Bureau membership.

The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan will continue their discussions regarding the implementation of more confidence building measures, effective in the near future and call on the international community to support their efforts that will contribute to building mutual trust between two countries and will positively impact the entire South Caucasus region.