Educating Armenia’s Best and Brightest

March 2 2023

Jade Bahng | March 2, 2023

In November of 2022, 25 Armenian undergraduate and graduate computer students from the National Polytechnic University of Armenia (NPUA) took a specially designed, online continuing education program with modules developed by USC Viterbi professors Sven Koenig, Clifford Neuman, and Antonio Ortega.

The NPUA students engaged in 35 hours of customized content focusing on cybersecurity and other engineering topics. The 50- to 60-minute modules included “Introduction to Cyber Security”, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”, and “Introduction to Linear Algebra.” Each students took 33 hours of online, asynchronous classes as well as two additional hours of live online sessions.

“The process was pretty straightforward,” said Neuman, an associate professor of computer science practice who taught Introduction to Cyber Security. “I’ve been lecturing in the Distance Education Network since 1992. The only difference was that I needed to develop a more streamlined versions of the classes—going through the material and deciding which are the most relevant things that we can fit into effectively nine hours.”

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has been committed to providing opportunities for students all over the world through its pioneering distance education network, [email protected], which enables online learning on a global scale. The program, regularly ranked among the top five in the nation, celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

To make this collaboration possible, Charlie Ghailian, chairman of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies Leadership Council, contacted donors to support continuing education for Armenian computer science students.

Six donors, including Armenian-American tech leaders such as Alexandr Yesayan and Vahe Kuzoyan, contributed to the pilot program.

Ghailian said these donors are motivated by an emotional connection to the USC Viterbi community, as well as a commitment to providing the opportunities the next generation of young Armenian students need to succeed.

“The Armenian community in Southern California has a long-standing relationship with USC,” Ghailian said. “So, when it comes to these opportunities of connecting with these gifted students on the other side of the ocean through specific funding connections such as these virtual classes, we are motivated to find the opportunity. Sometimes the only difference in success is finding that opportunity.”

Professor Raghu Raghavendra, USC Viterbi’s vice dean for global academic initiatives, hopes that this collaboration with NPUA will open new doors for online learning.

Raghavendra and USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos are scheduled to visit NPUA this June to continue discussions of developing in-person partnerships, such as USC faculty lecturing at NPUA.

“It is important to our program that we are accessible and well-known globally,” Raghavendra said. “If anyone wants to study in the United States, we want USC to be the place they think of.”

EU mission to Armenia aims to push Russia out – Moscow

Feb 21 2023
21st February 2023, 09:16 GMT+11

Brussels' "civilian mission" is nothing but a geopolitical project targeting Russia's "ally," the Russian Foreign Ministry said

A newly announced EU mission in Armenia supposedly aiming to "contribute to stability in the border areas" is nothing but a geopolitical project serving the West's interests, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday. The mission would hardly improve the security situation in the region, it added.

"It is not the first time that we see the desire of the EU and the West… to gain a foothold in Armenia… at all costs," the ministry said while calling Yerevan Moscow's "ally." Russia treats such moves as "geopolitical" actions that have nothing to do with the real peace process in the region.

The West "does everything to push Russia out of the region and weaken its historical role as a major security guarantor," the statement added. The ministry also doubted the EU mission's real ability to ensure peace and stability in the South Caucasus, pointing to the fact that a similar EU mission in the Serbian breakaway region of Kosovo failed to prevent a major flareup of tensions between Belgrade and Pristina last year.

Brussels also outright ignored public criticism of its initiative leveled by Baku. Last week, the head of the Azerbaijani parliament, Sakhiba Gafarova, warned that an EU mission could "impede the process of normalization" of relations between Yerevan and Baku.
The EU announced on Sunday that it would send what it called a "civilian mission" to Armenia's border with Azerbaijan to "contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia, build confidence and human security in conflict-affected areas," and support the process of normalizing relations between the two neighbors.

The mission would involve some 100 civilian staff members, including 50 "unarmed observers," the EU said. According to Brussels, the mission, which was first announced by the bloc's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, in January, was established at Yerevan's request.

Moscow insists that only trilateral agreements reached by Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan could serve as a basis for normalizing the situation in the region. The agreements include the delimitation of the two neighbors' borders, the opening of transportation routes, and the establishment of contacts between civilian groups, lawmakers, and religious leaders from the two countries. Russia stands ready to contribute to this process, the ministry added.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have a decades-old dispute over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a part of Azerbaijan with a predominantly ethnic-Armenian population that claims independence from Baku. In 2020, the two nations fought a 44-day war, which ended with a Russian-brokered truce.

In September 2022, tensions on the border between the two neighbors flared up again, leading to a series of border skirmishes that reportedly claimed the lives of dozens of soldiers on both sides.

Why Ukraine Supports Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh

Feb 21 2023

For over two decades, Ukraine has firmly stood by Azerbaijan in order to highlight the importance of preserving internationally recognized borders in the post-Soviet space.

by David Kirichenko
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict presents a diplomatic challenge for Ukraine as it seeks to balance its interests with its foreign policy priorities. Ukraine views conflicts in the post-Soviet space as remnants of the Soviet era, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is no exception. However, the conflict also serves as a reminder of Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia due to Russia’s repeated attempts to attack Ukraine’s sovereignty and borders. Therefore, Ukraine has been interested in supporting the preservation of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders since 1991.

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as the Artsakh conflict, arose after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian-majority region located within the borders of Azerbaijan. Ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991, leading to a full-scale war between the two sides. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but the conflict was never fully resolved, and tensions have remained high between the two sides.

The 2020 fighting saw Azerbaijan launch a military offensive to retake control of Nagorno-Karabakh with Turkish support. Ethnic Armenian forces could not hold off the Azerbaijan military, and Azerbaijan made significant gains in the region. A Russia-brokered ceasefire was signed in November 2020, but Azerbaijan had already secured control of much of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh resulted in significant casualties on both sides and displaced thousands of ethnic Armenians from the region. The conflict has also had broader regional implications, with Turkey’s involvement raising tensions with Russia. The resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains an ongoing issue, with ongoing negotiations and efforts to find a lasting peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia, and the annexation of Crimea, has made Kyiv’s position on preserving the territorial integrity of neighboring states even more crucial. For over two decades, Ukraine has firmly stood by Azerbaijan in support of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. This unwavering stance, which has become more robust and consistent since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, is a reflection of Ukraine’s understanding of the importance of preserving internationally recognized borders in the post-Soviet space.

Furthermore, Ukraine’s refusal to recognize self-proclaimed states, such as Kosovo, is a strategic move aimed at protecting its own sovereignty and territorial integrity, given Russia’s repeated attempts to invade Ukraine’s borders.

Regarding any international conflict, Ukraine abides by the principle of territorial integrity. Most Ukrainian politicians and experts support this approach, which is reflected in Ukraine’s 2020 national security strategy, which declared Azerbaijan a strategic partner on par with Poland, Lithuania, and Georgia. Turkey, which is actively participating in the current conflict on Azerbaijan’s side, also has a strategic partnership with Ukraine.

In contrast, Armenia, a member of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), has traditionally supported Russia in all votes on issues related to Crimea and Donbas. On the other hand, Azerbaijan has consistently voted in favor of Ukraine.

Given its foreign policy priorities and ongoing conflict with Russia, Ukraine has expressed support for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia and highlighted the “privileged dialogue” between the two countries in recent years. Zelenskyy has emphasized the importance of preventing the crisis from turning into a “frozen” conflict and urged for a swift resolution to the problems back in 2020.

Since 2014, the UN General Assembly has adopted nine resolutions related to the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the human rights situation in Crimea, and the region’s militarization. But, Armenia has voted against all nine resolutions on Crimea. Armenia has used this support for the concept of “self-determination” in Crimea as a justification for a similar process in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, this approach has moved further away from a peaceful settlement and has drawn Armenia closer to its main ally, Russia. 

While Russia has long been Armenia’s main military and political ally, Armenia’s dependence on Moscow for defense and security deepened further following the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. Armenia is heavily reliant on Russia for military equipment and officer training. In addition, Russia is Armenia’s leading trading partner, and in 2019, nearly half of all money transfers to Armenia came from the two million Armenians living and working in Russia. As a result, Armenia is constrained in its foreign policy choices and is obligated to align its voting behavior with Russia in international organizations.

For over two decades, Ukraine has stood as a steadfast ally of Azerbaijan, consistently supporting its territorial integrity since the first ceasefire in 1994. This unwavering stance, which has become more robust and consistent in the face of Russia’s aggression, speaks to the strategic importance of preserving internationally recognized borders in the post-Soviet space. Armenia’s dependence on the Russian state as an ally has put it at odds with Ukraine, making it unlikely that relations between both countries improve until Armenia distances itself from Russia.

David Kirichenko is a freelance journalist covering Eastern Europe and an editor at Euromaidan Press. He tweets @DVKirichenko.

Vakifle Armenian church bell tower damaged by new earthquake in Turkey
Armenia – Feb 21 2023

As a result of earthquakes with magnitude 6.4 and 5.8 registered in Hatay province of Turkey on February 20, buildings and constructions of Vakifle, the only Armenian village in Turkey, were significantly damaged. There were no human casualties.

The Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul reported that the bell tower and walls of the Armenian Church of the Holy Virgin in the village were damaged. The wall of the former hotel was also damaged.

Surmalu trade center director jailed in pre-trial detention



 13:04, 23 February 2023

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 23, ARMENPRESS. A court approved the investgiators’ motion on remanding the Director of the Surmalu trade center in pre-trial detention.

Surmalu director Irina Madatova was arrested on February 22 in the ongoing criminal investigation into the August 14, 2022 deadly explosion at the trade center’s warehouse.

Madatova is charged with violating fire safety rules and falsification of documents, the Investigative Committee said in a press release.

A total of 5 persons are indicted in the case.

The peace process in the South Caucasus stands at a crossroads SHARE:

Feb 24 2023

The peace process in the South Caucasus is at a crossroads. Russia is seeking to place obstacles in the way of peace with the goal of continuing with the freezing of conflicts that have existed for over three decades. The EU – supported by the US – is seeking to end the frozen conflicts and bring peace to the three nations in the South Caucasuswrites Dr. Taras Kuziuo.

Nikol Pashinyan is central to the question of peace in the region. Pashinyan came to power in a colour revolution uprising in 2018 that ousted corrupt post-Soviet Armenian leaders. Pashinyan’s instincts are those of a political leader seeking to build a democratic society in Armenia and re-orientate the country from its over-reliance on Russia to Europe.

Pashinyan is the first Armenian leader who is not from the Karabakh region and has no links to the large diaspora.  He is therefore distrusted by the pro-Russian lobby in the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs and by the Kremlin which has always distrusted leaders who have come to power in colour revolutions. The Kremlin has always viewed colour revolutions as CIA-backed conspiracies seeking to undermine Russia’s sphere of influence in Eurasia.

Pashinyan is the first Armenian leader who recognises that Armenia can only develop economically if it is at peace with its neighbours. Peace treaty has been negotiated – but not yet signed – with Azerbaijan accompanied on a parallel track of the normalisation process with Turkey. The signing of the peace treaty would reduce Russia’s influence in the South Caucasus and facilitate greater integration with Europe.

Pashinyan faces domestic pressure to not agree on Karabakh becoming part of Azerbaijan. There is though no alternative to them as international borders for former Soviet republics must be based on internal boundaries that had existed between them. Of the fifteen former Soviet republics, only Russia and Armenia have baulked at transforming internal republican boundaries into international borders.

In the Soviet Union, Karabakh was part of the Azerbaijani Soviet republic and the UN adopted several resolutions declaring the region to be part of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory. Emotions and nationalism about where Karabakh should belong need to be replaced by pragmatic steps towards peace that include safeguards and guarantees for the Armenian minority that has declined over the years of occupation and especially after the 2020 Karabakh war to approximately 50,000.

Armenia could resume its negotiations, which it ended under Russian pressure in 2013, with the EU for an Association Agreement. Armenia would be able to also join Georgia and Turkey in benefitting economically from the energy corridors in the South Caucasus emanating in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan would be able to expand its energy supplies to Europe, which partially offset those which used to be imported from Russia. With peace on its western border secured, Azerbaijan would be able to focus on countering the major threat to its national security from Iran.

Russia’s war in Ukraine provides opportunities for the EU to expand its influence into a region that is strategically important to its energy security. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has severely undermined its image as a military power and reduced its ability to project power into its self-declared Eurasian sphere of influence. With Pashinyan seeking to sign peace treaties with Armenia’s neighbours, Armenia is a weak link in Russia’s sphere of influence. Peace treaties would end the need for Russia’s ineffective so-called “peacekeepers.”

Russia’s last card is to parachute into Karabakh oligarch Ruben K. Vardanyan to oppose Karabakh being included inside Azerbaijan and eventually to replace pro-Western Pashinyan with a pro-Russian puppet. Vardanyan made billions in Russia in the 1990s at a time when this was impossible to do without breaking laws that allowed Russian intelligence services to collect damning kompromat on you. The Kremlin has a long record of using kompromat to blackmail oligarchs and state officials to implement its goals.

The South Caucasus stands at a crossroads. Although pre-occupied by the war in Ukraine and China, the US needs to back up the EU’s brokering of a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This would in turn facilitate the normalisation process between Armenia and Turkey. The resultant decline in Russian influence would improve the West’s energy security that has now become independent of Russia.

The US, Israel and Turkey have strategic interests in curbing Iranian Islamic extremism and military aggression. Azerbaijan has long been a target for Iranian extremism – as seen in the recent terrorist attack on its Embassy in Tehran. Iran’s military alliance with Russia is a threat to Western backing for Ukraine in its war with Russia from which it is receiving sophisticated weaponry and possibly nuclear weapons technology.  Israel and Ukraine are the only two countries in the world threatened by Iran and Russia respectively with being wiped off the face of the earth.

Dr. Taras Kuziuo is a professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy and author of the just published Genocide and Fascism. Russia’s War Against Ukrainians.

ICRC facilitates transfer of patients from blockaded Artsakh




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 21, ARMENPRESS. Due to the blocking by Azerbaijan of the only road connecting Artsakh with Armenia, 8 patients from the Republican Medical Center the Republic of Artsakh with serious diseases of the oncology and pathologies requiring emergency surgical interventions have been transported today, on February 21, to specialized medical institutions of the Republic of Armenia with the mediation and escort of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Ministry of Health of Artsakh said in a press release.

5 patients, who had been transferred to Armenia for medical treatment, returned to Artsakh together with an accompanying persons.

Scheduled surgeries continue to be suspended in the medical centers of the Republic of Artsakh.

5 children remain in the neonatal and intensive care units of the Arevik medical centre.

7 patients remain in the intensive care unit of the Republican Medical Centre, 3 of them in critical condition.

A total of 113 patients have been transported so far from Artsakh to Armenia with the mediation and support of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Armenian people are facing crisis once again

Jan 25 2023


Azerbaijan has blocked the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh (known as Artsakh in Armenian) to Armenia and the outside world since December 12. This most recent aggression leaves 120,000 people in Artsakh under siege, unable to access medical supplies, food and fuel as the region experiences harsh winter conditions.

This is the second time in just two years that Azerbaijan has committed a clear violation of human rights. It must be condemned by the international community yet again.

In 2021, we celebrated with our Armenian sisters and brothers when President Joe Biden formally recognized the Armenian Genocide after 106 years. The announcement was to be the beginning of expanded support as the president pledged for the first time that the promise of “Never Again” included the Armenian people.

Now is the time for the Biden Administration to hold up to that promise.

Jewish World Watch calls for an immediate end to unprovoked aggression and for the Biden Administration to take decisive action and halt United States military assistance to Azerbaijan until the blockade is lifted. The international community must protect the safety and well-being of the Armenian people in Artsakh, and Azerbaijan must be held accountable for its actions.

Please sign this emergency letter to President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging them to take action. 

Opposition MP: Armenia will not get any economic benefit if Turkey border is reopened
Armenia – Feb 17 2023

Back in the days of "football diplomacy," when there was a lot of talk about the reopening of the Armenian-Turkish railway, there were quite a few studies that proved that Armenia does not receive any economic benefits from it, Armenian opposition MP Gegham Manukyan told a press conference on Friday

"That is, Armenia cannot carry out such amount of cargo transportation to the Black Sea, taking into account the width of our railway tracks and the narrowness of the Turkish one. Through the territory of Turkey, cargoes reach the Black Sea through mountainous regions; that’s why the speed of trains and the number of train cars are limited, and such cargo transportation will not take place. (…) There is no substantiated economic assessment of what benefit Armenia can have. Moreover, when the Minister of Economy of Armenia spoke about multi-billion [US dollars of] investments, when he was asked on what basis this was based, it was found out on the basis of the study of the World Bank in 1999," said Manukyan.

Memory of Saint Hieromartyr Gregory the Illuminator of Greater Armenia

Sept 30 2022

Hieromartyr Gregory was the son of a relative of the king of Armenia and lived in the time of the pagan emperor Diocletian. He was catechized in the Christian faith and then embraced it by receiving the Holy Baptism in Caesarea, Cappadocia. After being ordained a Presbyter, he went to Armenia to spread the Holy Gospel.

In Armenia, his relative tried to persuade him to make sacrifices to idols and return to his native religion. Gregory’s negative attitude angered the pagan ruler, who insulted him and led him to torture. Despite the hardships he suffered, he remained steadfast in the faith in the Savior Christ and the Orthodox faith.

After many miraculous events, the pagan ruler repented of his previous life and asked for God’s grace. After being catechized, he was baptized in the name of The Holy Triune God.

The entry of the Armenian ruler into the Church led many of his compatriots to the path of true faith. The fervent faith of the clergy, the steadfastness of words and deeds as much as possible in their lives and the courageous Christian confession contribute on the one hand to the spread and consolidation of the holy Gospel in the world and on the other to the real social prosperity of God’s people.

Source: Church of Cyprus