France’s Charles De Gaulle strikes IS targets in Syria

The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle has conducted its first combat operation against ISIL targets in Syria, Sputnik News reports.

Warplanes from the French aircraft carrier “Charles de Gaulle” engaged in their first combat mission, striking Islamic State positions in Syria and Iraq on Monday.

The French media reported that the Charles de Gaulle’s mission is expected to last at least four months and that it may be prolonged.

The ship houses 18 Rafale fighter jets, eight Dassault Super-Etendard supersonic deck attack aircraft and two Hawkeye aerial early warning aircraft (AEW). The carrier’s crew consists of 1,9 thousand sailors, pilots and mechanics.

France’s only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle was deployed in the Mediterranean late Saturday after the November 13 terrorist acts in Paris saw 130 killed and over 360 injured.

The future of Russian-Iranian energy ties and the implications for the South Caucasus

The Media Center, in cooperation with the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, held a panel discussion on how the geopolitics of the South Caucasus will be affected by the emergence of new Iranian-Russian ties in the energy sector.

Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has been talking to Tehran about potential investments in Iran’s natural gas sector in the event the sanctions on Iran are lifted. Possible deals include a swap where Russia would supply gas to northern Iran via pipelines running through Armenia or Azerbaijan and  take a share in liquefied natural gas exported from Iran’s Gulf terminals in return.

Expert on Iran Sevak Sarukhanyan is not optimistic about the perspectives of this cooperation. He says that “when speaking about joint Russian-Iranian energy projects, one should keep in mind there are more difficulties than opportunities.”

“The difficulties first of all come from the economic situation in Russia. The second problem is Iran’s legislature, which seriously restricts foreign investments in the oil and gas sector,” he said.

The expert added there is another important factor that should be taken into account. “Iran uses its oil and gas factors in its negotiations with the EU and is more interested in seeing European companies investing in the country, as it will reinforce Iran’s positions in Europe, accelerate the process of elimination of sanctions and bring high technologies to the country. However, this will not prevent some kind of cooperation beyween Russia and Iran.” Sevak Sarukhanyan added, however, that it’s hard to predict how this will relate to the South Caucasus.”

A new energy axis between Russia and Iran envisages serious changes for the countries of the South Caucasus, at the same time affecting the political relations in the region. Sergey Minasyan, head of the Political Studies Department at the Caucasus Institute in Yerevan considers that with absolutely matching problems and interests in the Middle East, Russia and Iran are actually in a “situational military-political alliance.”

“It’s obvious that the problems and interests of Moscow and Tehran are more than similar. Moreover, a “situational military-political alliance” has been formed in the face of Iran, Iraq, Assad’s administration and Moscow,” he said.

According to the political scientist, “this geopolitical rapprochement between Tehran and Moscow has contributed to two developments: Russia’s decisive role in solving the puzzle around Iran’s nuke program and Russia’s actions in Syria.” However, Sergey Minasyan agrees that speaking of Russian-Iranian economic cooperation, especially in the energy sector, is still untimely.

Iran’s new Ambassador hands credentials to Armenian President

Seyyed Kazem Sajjad, the ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) to the Republic of Armenia, handed over his credentials to President Serzh Sargsyan, President’s Press Office reported.

Armenia’s president congratulated the ambassador on starting his diplomatic duties in our country and wished him success. Serzh Sargsyan spoke highly of the activities carried out by the IRI embassy in Armenia for the last 20 years and expressed the hope that Ambassador Sajjad will continue to pay close attention to Armenian-Iranian relations, following the example of his predecessors who completed their diplomatic tenure in Armenia and filled the ranks of the Armenian people’s friends, by making every effort to further strengthen relations and broaden cooperation between the two countries.

Noting that Ambassador Sajjad has taken office in an important period of time, when a senior-level visit from the friendly country of Iran is expected to be paid by IRI First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, the president stressed that it is a great start and opportunity for the newly-appointed ambassador to engage in productive activities.

At the meeting, the RA president and the IRI ambassador touched upon the implementation of Armenian-Iranian large multi-sectoral projects adopted as a result of the high-level bilateral agreements, which, they were certain, will elevate bilateral relations to a qualitatively new level.

The interlocutors agreed that the new integration processes open up broader opportunities to promote collaboration between Armenia and Iran in both bilateral and multilateral formats.

The ambassador highly praised the Iranian-Armenian community, stressing the community’s major role in strengthening bilateral interstate relations. Considering it a great honor to assume the office of the ambassador to Armenia, Seyyed Kazem Sajjad assured the president that he will continue his predecessors’ work with the same devotion and vigor and building on that solid foundation, he will try his best to develop and further enhance Armenian-Iranian ties.

State of Denial: New play links Armenian Genocide to that in Rwanda

Montreal’s Teesri Duniya Theatre is presenting its offering directed by Liz Valdez and written by playwright Rahul Varma. The play is called State of Denial and explores a very painful and often forgotten part of the history in the 20th century, the reports.

The play links the Turkish-denied Armenian genocide of 1915 with the 1995 genocide in Rwanda, connecting them through the Canadian diaspora experience. When Odette, a Rwandan-born Canadian filmmaker, travels to Turkey to investigate stories of genocide and hidden identity, she interviews Sahana, an elderly and respected Muslim woman who has devoted her life to assisting Armenian survivors. On her deathbed, Sahana confesses a chilling secret that challenges a long-standing state of denial that Odette promises to make public at any personal cost.

In the words of the Director Liz Valdez, “This is incredibly important at a time when we all seem to be so aware and informed, and yet here are these moments in history that most people don’t know anything about. Moments that actually lead to other moments in history. The truth that I had no idea of the similarities between what happened in Turkey in 1915-18 and the holocaust. How? Why? How did we not see it happening again when Hitler came to power? And since then, happening over and over in different horrific ways and for different reasons.”

“History has been written by victors who have the power to exclude what they do not wish the public to know. So learning about history is important, but history constitutes the background – the research that goes on is about peoples’ lives. Learning what history did to people tells us more about history,” playwright Rahul Varma (founder of Teesri Duniya Theatre) said in an interview with Sinj Karan of the Montreal Rampage.

“If we had learned from the Armenian genocide, we may have prevented the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda and many other genocides,” he said.

“Today, the role of an artist is not to revisit history but to allow the public to learn important lessons from it, so horrible acts of history are not repeated. State of Denial is presented to draw attention to, and the elevation of, human misery and to create a world of diminished violence,” the playwright said.

The fictional State of Denial is derived from multiple true stories from the research project, Life Stories of Montrealers Displaced by War, Genocide and other Human Rights Violations housed at Concordia University. Varma affirms, “The stories of elsewhere are Canadian stories affecting all citizens. They go beyond biography and facts, revealing truth while instigating further inquiry. My aim is to address global issues locally.”

At least 22 migrants drown as boat capsizes in Aegean Sea

A boat has capsized off the coast of Turkey drowning at least twenty two migrants attempting to reach the shores of the Greek island of Kos, Euronews reports.

The Turkish Coastguard says it was able to rescue a further 200 people and bring them back to shore.

The group was reportedly attempting to cross the Aegean Sea when it went down near the Datcha peninsula, not far from Bodrum, where Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi’s body washed up two weeks ago.

Greece is on the frontline of the migration crisis sweeping Europe.

Azerbaijan angered by European Parliament resolution

Head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan Malena Mard was summoned to Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Sept.11, over the resolution adopted by the European Parliament, Trend reports.

Azerbaijan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mahmud Mammadguliyev informed Mard about the country’s position on this document.

“Azerbaijan strongly condemns the resolution adopted by the European Parliament,” he said.

Noting that this document is ‘biased and destructive,’ Mammadguliyev said that it is a blow to Azerbaijani-EU relations.

Azerbaijan’s Milli Mejlis will hold an extraordinary session September 14 to consider the attitude toward the resolution of the European Parliament. MPs have been hastily recalled from their vacations on this occasion.

Remind that in a resolution adopted on Thursday the MEPs call for the release of all political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

The European Parliament calls for the immediate and unconditional release from jail of all political prisoners, human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society activists, including Khadija Ismayilova, Leyla Yunus and Arif Yunus, in line with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights and/or a prompt investigation into the death of the journalist Rasim Aliyev.

It demands that the Azerbaijan government immediately end its crackdown on civil society and human rights work and says that “the negotiations for a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Azerbaijan should be immediately put on hold as long the government fails to take concrete steps in advancing respect for universal human rights”.

The resolution calls on the Commission “to review and suspend temporarily, if needed, all funding not related to human rights, civil society and grassroots level people-to-people cooperation granted to Azerbaijan through the European Neighbourhood Instrument, and recalls Parliament’s decision to send a delegation to Azerbaijan.

The non-legislative resolution was adopted by 365 votes to 202, with 72 abstentions.

Azerbaijan will not dare engage in direct war: David Babayan




“The activeness of the Azerbaijani side is connected with the Day of Proclamation of Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, the military exercises under way in Armenia and Artsakh, or Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Baku,” Spokesman for the NKR President David Babayan told .

David Babayan considers that the activeness could be conditioned by the electoral processes in Azerbaijan, the complex economic situation, namely the dropped oil prices and the threats to the Aliyev clan.

He says the predictions about “Azerbaijani fall” could well turn true and believes that this is what keeps the leadership of the country in panic.

“The geopolitical factor also plays a role,” Babayan said. He’s confident, however, that the situation is ‘controllable.’ “The rival engages in a ‘distant conflict,’ which means that it’s afraid of direct fight.”

“The adversary gets a worthy counterstrike and will not dare engage in direct war,” the Spokesman said.

My Travel Affairs: 5 tips for traveling to Armenia

As travel packages to Armenia are becoming popular day by day,  Travel Blog provides 5 tips for traveling to Armenia. The website notes that “Armenia is one of the most ancient and unique countries in the Caucasus. Despite its small territories, this country has so much to offer to its foreign guests: picturesque mountainous landscapes, ancient sights, delicious cuisine, exciting places for active holiday lovers! We must also note the hospitality and kindness of locals who warmly welcome their foreign guests.”

What to take

The answer to this question depends on the season and the purpose you decide to go to Armenia. Just take into consideration that summer in Armenia, especially in the capital, is hot and rather dry with average temperature – 28-35 °C and few rainy days. Thus, it is better to take comfortable clothing suitable for hot Armenian days. However, if you decide to visit the countryside of Armenia in summer, consider that the temperature there is lower than in the capital and in the evening you may need some warm clothes.

The winter in Armenia varies from region to region. In the capital it is not very cold, however, sometimes is very snowy. The temperature ranges from +2 to -10 °C. In countryside and ski resorts the weather is much colder so without warm clothing in winter you won’t get along at all.

The most pleasant season in Armenia is the beginning of autumn, as the weather is so mild, pleasant and warm with few rainy days. In spring you should be ready for changeable weather and some rains, so prepare appropriate thing and clothing.

What concerns the style of clothing, Armenians dress like in Europe, so there are no any special warnings or tips.

What to see

Armenia is of а great interest for cultural tourism lovers. And that’s no wonder: the country with its 3500 year- old history has so many unique historical and cultural attractions, that it is sometimes called “the museum under the open sky”. Most of the sights here are connected with Christianity: ancient monasteries and churches with their amazing architecture, unique cross-stones.

Among religious sights the website recommends not to miss and necessarily visit Khor Virap with its breathtaking view to Mount Ararat, Geghard known for its amazing rock architecture, Tatev, which is the best example of medieval architecture, Haghpat and Sanahin included into UNESCO world heritage list, Echmiadzin Cathedral – the religious center of all Armenians.

Armenia amazes not only by its architecture masterpieces but also by the beauty of its unique nature. So if you want to relax and feel in harmony with nature we recommend visiting the following natural sites. Firstly, of course, we should mention azure Lake Sevan, the beauty of which will not leave anyone indifferent. It is one of the highest fresh water lakes in the world and the largest in the Caucasus. It is impossible not to admire the picturesque landscapes surrounding the lake: hills covered with forests, rock cliffs, grasslands turning into alpine meadows. It is no accident that travelers choosing a tour to Armenia, try not to miss this wonderful and unforgettable place. Sevan is the best choice for those who prefer beach vacations, want to swim, sunbathe, play active games and have a good time.
For those who would like to relax in nature’s lap and improve the health, the best choice will be a cozy town of Jermuk with its healing mineral waters and high- quality sanatoriums.

The trip around Armenia will not be full without exploring its heart – the ancient city of Yerevan. Yerevan delights with its cozy atmoshphere, unique architecture, lots of educational museums, and well-designed cafes and restaurants. Visit the city center with its majestic Republic Square, Opera and Ballet Theater, and modern Northern Avenue, have a good time in one of the national restaurants and order national dishes like tolma, horovats, harisa, stroll around the night Yerevan with its friendly lights and singing fountains and you will get lots of positive emotions and impressions!

What to do

Armenia is not only popular for its cultural tourism but also is an excellent destination for adventure travel lovers. Mountainous landscapes of Armenia are very favorable for different extreme sports and it has good conditions for paragliding, mountaineering, ski sports, snowboarding, rock climbing, trekking and others.

The most popular ski resort of Armenia is Tsakhkadzor which offers great eqipment and well-developed ski trails. The rope-way built on the slopes of Mount Teghenis ensures maximum safety for the visitors.

For paragliding, one of the most favorite places is a small village Tsovagyugh near Lake Sevan and Mount Hatis. By the way, paragliding tours to Armenia are gaining popularity day by day.

The favorite destination for trekking is Mount Aragats – the highest one in Armenia (4090 m).

What to buy

Buying souvenirs that will remind of the trip is an important ritual for any tourists visiting any foreign country. So what to bring home after the trips to Armenia as a souvenir or a gift to relatives and friends? That’s an easy question if you know what are the national symbols of Armenia and what has this country been famous for over centuries. In this list without any doubt we can include Mount Ararat and an apricot as living symbols, and brandy, carpets, duduk and jewelry as national treasures.

The best choice for buying souvenirs will be an open-air fair “Vernissage” that opens its hospitable doors every weekend and offers lots of unique work of crafts and souvenirs. Here you will find paintings, jewelry, woodwork, magnets, musical instruments, national souvenirs, carpets, costumes, semi-precious stones, rarity, and many-many other unique things.

Armenia is also known for its tasty national products, pastry and dried fuits. Want to buy something like that? Visit the famous market at the intersection of Mashtots and Khorenatsi streets.

For buying or degustating Armenian brandy you can go straight to the cognac factory “Ararat” which is one of the most popular brands in the country.

How to communicate

Armenians are very kind and open-hearted people who warmly welcome the tourists and try to make them feel as comfortable as possible in Armenia. Any tourists after the journey around Armenia mention the warm attitude of the locals. So there will be no difficulties in communication at all. And it is also important to mention that residents of Yerevan have a good command of Russian language and youth generation speaks not bad English. So you can easily approach them in case you have any questions and they will be glad to help. However, out of Yerevan there may be some difficulties concerning the language barrier as not all the provincial residents speak English.

Inter RAO UES does not confirm reports on sale of Electric Networks of Armenia

Inter RAO UES does not confirm the reports on the intention to sell the Electric Networks of Armenia, official representative of the Russian energy holding told TASS.

“We do not confirm the information on the sale of the company,” he said.

Russian Kommersant daily that the ongoing protests in Armenia against the planned electricity price hike and the promise of the authorities to nationalize the Electric Networks of Armenia could make the Inter RAO UES to sell the Company.