Czech President to visit Armenia in June

Czech President Milos Zeman will visit Armenia and Macedonia in early June, the quotes Zeman’ spokesman Jiri Ovcacek as saying.

The journey to Macedonia and Armenia will take place on June 8-10.

At first, Zeman will visit Macedonia, where the migrant crisis is likely to be one of the topics.

Then he will fly to Armenia where he will speak about the current issues in the region.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon resigns

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon has resigned, saying he lacked trust in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the BBC reports.

It comes amid moves by Mr Netanyahu to bring hardliner Avigdor Lieberman and his party into the ruling coalition, likely offering him the defence post.

Announcing his decision on Twitter, Mr Yaalon said: “I informed the PM that after his conduct and recent developments, and given the lack of faith in him, I am resigning from the government and parliament and taking a break from political life.”

It also follows a public disagreement between the two men after Mr Yaalon backed a senior military figure, who made controversial remarks about Israeli society on Holocaust Day earlier this month.

Donostia (San Sebastian) City of the Basque Country supports Stepanakert

On April 26, 2016, at a regular meeting of leaders of the factions represented in the City Hall of the Basque Country (Spain) Gipuskoa Province’s capital city of Donostia (San Sebastian), the following institutional statement was issued, which was later approved by the Mayor on May 5.

Donostia (San Sebastian) City Hall:

1. At this difficult time, conveys its support to Stepanakert, reiterating the right of its citizens to peaceful and normal life.

2. Calls upon all the parties to return to the situation prior to the ceasefire violations and to refrain from hindering the creation of a mechanism, which will allow monitoring the ceasefire maintenance.

3. Calls upon all the parties to settle all the disagreements between them in the frameworks of the Minsk Group, through dialogue and negotiation, always respecting the will of the people.

4. In this regard, requests on Nagorno Karabakh having its own voice at the negotiations conducted by the Minsk Group on Nagorno Karabakh.

Karabakh commends the meeting of Armenian, Azerbaijani Presidents in Vienna

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic issued the following statement today:

We commend the meeting of Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan held on May 16 in Vienna with participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Secretary of State of the United States and the Minister of State for European Affairs of France, and support the agreement reached at the meeting to finalize the OSCE investigative mechanism, to expand the existing Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson in Office, as well as to continue the exchange of data on missing persons under the auspices of the ICRC.

We also share the position of co-chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, excluding any possibility of a military solution to the conflict and insisting on the importance of respecting the ceasefire agreements of 1994 and 1995.

These agreements that put an end to large-scale hostilities and thus created the opportunity for finding a peaceful settlement to the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict, have been achieved thanks to full participation of all three parties – Azerbaijan, the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and Armenia, in the negotiations. The logic of the settlement process requires the restoration of negotiations on finding a final solution to the conflict in that very trilateral format.

Armenian community centre opens in Abu Dhabi

Hundreds of Armenian expatriates attended the opening of a new cultural centre in Musaffah on Friday, situated by the first Armenian Church in the capital, Gulf News reports.

The centre, which will serve as a cultural hub for Armenian expats in Abu Dhabi, was inaugurated by Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, and His Holiness Aram I, patriarch of the Armenian diaspora.

Addressing the congregation, Shaikh Nahyan hoped the place of worship would serve as an important centre for enriching life, interaction and communication and help in taking care of the affairs of the Armenian community in Abu Dhabi and the UAE at large.

“This building underscores that the UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has always been and continues to be a country whose people embrace Islam, the religion that preaches tolerance and respect for other faiths, values which constitute the basic pillars of our country and created the fertile ground where all people live in co-existence, peace and security,” Shaikh Nahyan said.

“The church is a spiritual symbol for the power of belonging and loyalty of the members of the Armenian community and for deepening social and religious interaction,” he added.

Catholicos Aram I of the Holy See of Cilicia, which is based in Antelias, Lebanon, appreciated the efforts being made by Shaikh Khalifa for promoting tolerance between different religions and nationalities living in the UAE.

According to Hair Mesrob Sarkissian, Head of the Armenian Church in the UAE and Qatar, the Armenian community in the UAE is 10,000 strong, with more than 2,000 populating the capital. “The community centre stands next to the first Armenian church in the capital, which was officially inaugurated in December, 2014. The centre will serve as a hub for the Armenian community in Abu Dhabi.”

Hair Mesrob said the inauguration of the church and community centre would not have happened if not for the liberality of the country’s leaders. “We are grateful to the UAE government, who has been continuously promoting religious tolerance and inter-cultural communication.

Three steps needed for resumption of Karabakh talks

At the meeting of the Executive Board of the Republican Party of Armenia, President Serzh Sargsyan has proposed three important steps needed for resumption of the negotiation process, Spokesman for the Republican Party of Armenia Edward Sharmazanov told reporters after the sitting.

“First, it’s necessary to implement mechanisms of investigation of border incidents; second, the statements of the international community must be more targeted; third, there should be guarantees that Azerbaijan will not undertake new aggression and terrorist acts against NKR people,” Sharmazanov said.

“Speaking about resumption of negotiations is untimely now , as the military actions continue, as Azerbaijan continues to violate the 1994 ceasefire agreement signed with Artsakh and Armenia, as well as the verbal agreement reached in Moscow,” he said.

An 82 year old cyclist on his 17th mission to help Armenia

– Vatche Soghomonian, the 82 year old athlete and lifetime member of Homenetmen Scouts, will be riding his bike again for another worthy cause to aid the people of Armenia.

It was 17 years ago, in 1999, when Vatche rode his bike from capital to capital – Stepanakert to Yerevan to help fund the grape nursery that the Armenian Technology Group, Inc. (ATG) was establishing in Karabakh. Since then, every year he devotes two weeks in the summer to travel to Armenia with his own resources to paddle throughout the countryside to raise funds in support of numerous worthy endeavors.

This year, Vatche has committed himself to help deliver the latest innovation, the Mobile Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MVDL), to Armenia. “This is the most valuable and noble mission that I am undertaking,” said Vatche. In 2004, Vatche, along with his cycling friends, helped deliver four milk collecting-refrigeration tanks for ATG project in Armenia. He will ride his bike on April 2, 2016.
“I was a lab technician during my college years. Now that I see this portable lab, I can only envision how beneficial it will be to the veterinarians and especially to the dairy farmers.” It will enable the vets to do on site testing and diagnosis of food producing animals to ensure that they are free of diseases. After all, the consumers, the children and people in Armenia, will benefit from it.

“My goal is to raise enough funds to supply one portable lab this year,” said Vatche.

This innovation is the latest projects of the ATG. Dr. James Reynolds, President of ATG, devoted three years of his time to testing and assembling the lab and delivered the first prototype to Armenia in 2015. ATG’s objective is to supply 10 MVDLs, one for each region of Armenia and Karabakh. Each of the units costs $15,000, which includes training and follow-up support to develop baseline diagnostic information and clinical data. The MVDL could be rapidly deployed and activated in any rural location. Our mission is simply help increase farm production and income.

More than 25 years ago, ATG started with a simple belief that we can make a difference in the lives of your brothers and sisters in Armenia and Artsakh no matter what the challenges are. We have the collective power to do so.

As Vatche likes to say with a smile on his face, “I will be doing all the hard work, and I will truly appreciate your financial support for this worthy cause.”