Strategic partnership between Armenia and Georgia will open up new opportunities for further deepening of cooperation–PM


YEREVAN, JANUARY 26, ARMENPRESS. The relations between Armenia and Georgia have entered a qualitatively new stage and recorded success in various fields, and the fact that the meetings of the intergovernmental commission are chaired at the level of the prime ministers speaks of the appreciation of bilateral relations.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated during the January 26 session of the Armenia-Georgia Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation in Tbilisi.

“I heartily greet the Prime Minister of Georgia, my good friend Irakli Garibashvili, and all the participants of the 13th session of the Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and Georgia.
First, I would like to thank our Georgian colleagues for the traditional warm reception.

The economic cooperation between our countries has great potential, and our task is to contribute to its full disclosure and implementation. In this regard, the intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation has an important place in deepening and strengthening the economic ties between the sides.

I would like to state with satisfaction that the agenda of the session of the intergovernmental commission is quite inclusive and covers such areas of bilateral cooperation as transport, communication, energy, information technology, healthcare, tourism, agriculture, education and science, culture, environmental protection, etc. I attach importance to the full implementation of the agreements reached within the framework of the session, which will give new quality and substance to the relations between our countries.

I am happy to report that last year the volume of trade between the two countries exceeded 1 billion US dollars. I am sure that this is not the maximum, and in the coming years, the positive dynamics of the trade turnover will be preserved, thanks to the growth of the economies of the two countries and the deepening of interaction,” Nikol Pashinyan said.

The Armenian Prime Minister noted that due to the existing realities in the relations between the two countries, new opportunities have been created for cooperation and implementation of joint projects.

“In this regard, it is noteworthy that a decision was made on the establishment of a strategic partnership between Armenia and Georgia. I am confident that this format corresponds to the existing level of relations between our countries, and will also open new opportunities for further deepening of interaction,” concluded the PM.

Europe: Pro-Armenia activists to demonstrate in major cities in multiple countries Jan. 27-28 /update 1

Crisis 24
Jan 26 2024

Pro-Armenian activists plan to protest in urban centers in 15 European countries Jan. 27-28. The purpose of the demonstrations is to denounce Azerbaijan's control of Nagorno-Karabakh and demand sanctions against the government in Baku. Organizers are planning gatherings in over 50 cities, including Berlin, London, Madrid, and Vienna. A list of cities is here, although further impromptu events are likely. The largest events are likely to be in Paris and Berlin, as France and Germany have the largest Armenian diaspora in Europe.

As of Jan. 26, locations and start times have only been announced for events in France, including:

  • Marseille: Simultaneous gatherings at Beaumont Armenian Apostolic Church of Marseille on Impasse des Monts and Prado church on Avenue du Prado starting at 12:00 Jan. 28

  • Nice: Courthouse (Palais de Justice) in the Vieille Ville from 11:30 Jan. 27.

  • Paris: Place du Canada from 13:00 Jan. 28

  • Strasbourg: Allee des Droits de l'Homme opposite the European Court of Human Rights from 13:00 Jan. 27

Heightened security and localized transport disruptions are likely near all demonstration sites. Low-level confrontations between demonstrators and law enforcement officers or counterprotesters cannot be ruled out.

We should combat culture of impunity: Vladimir Vardanyan gives a speech at PACE Session


YEREVAN, JANUARY 25, ARMENPRESS. It is quite alarming that in some countries of the Council of Europe, torture has started to be used in a widespread or systematic manner for the oppression of certain persecuted groups, which amounts to crimes against humanity, the member of the Armenian National Assembly delegation to PACE Vladimir Vardanyan gave a speech at the Assembly Session.

First of all, the deputy congratulated Mr. Constantinos EFSTATHIOU for the brilliant report reflecting all the topical issues of combating torture and addressing the main strategic challenges of the organisation in that respect.

"Absolute, imperative, unacceptable, prohibited, and immoral: these are the adjectives which may be used to describe torture as a phenomenon prohibited under general international law for a long time.

But torture is not just prohibited. It is absolutely prohibited under general international law, having the status of jus cogens prohibition with no derogation possible and no justification acceptable.

Frankly speaking, for the first time I read the draft resolution and faced some factual events mentioned there. I thought that I was mistaken, and I was not reading a contemporary document but I rather faced something which came to me from medieval times.

How is it possible, in the digital era, that there are such kinds of manifestation of torture in the member countries of our organization.

Ladies and gentlemen, the absolute prohibition of torture is not just a legal imperative, it is a moral obligation that defines our civilization, our wellness, our organization. And hence, a zero tolerance approach towards torture should be the only option for our Assembly," Vardanyan said.

He noted that despite the existence of innumerable international documents on the absolute prohibition of torture at a universal and European level, torture persists in various corners of the globe, reminding them of the need for continued vigilance and advocacy.

“We do not naively believe that torture would be demolished as a social phenomenon entirely. The problem is not in the phenomenon of torture, but rather in a gap existing between international obligation taken and their implementation in practice. We should combat the culture of impunity, which is one of the main challenges.

It is quite alarming that in some countries of the Council of Europe, torture has started to be used in a widespread or systematic manner for the oppression of certain persecuted groups, which amounts to crimes against humanity.”

Vardanyan underscored that the Committee on the Prevention of Torture (CPT) is one of the main international instruments combating torture within the Council of Europe, and its activity should be supported in the widest possible manner, not only by incorporation of the standards in the national legislation, but also providing their full implementation on national level.

“The automatic publication of all the CPT reports, past and present, would be a manifestation of goodwill of all the countries concerned and would contribute to the elimination of culture of impunity and torture.

Last but not least, we fully agree with the rapporteur that, in the digital era, the usage of information technologies, video recording, and other technologies would be served as a very efficient measure to prevent torture and ill treatment and for giving up the culture of impunity.

Let’s make the digital era synonymous of an era without torture,” concluded Vladimir Vardanyan.

Sen. Padilla Among Leaders and Organizations Endorsing Kassakhian’s Re-Election Bid

Ardy Kassakhian is running for re-election to Glendale City Council

Glendale City Councilmember and former Mayor Ardy Kassakhian announced a list of important endorsements on Tuesday in his bid for reelection to the Glendale City Council.  

Kassakhian announced the endorsement of Senator Alex Padilla and California State Treasurer Fiona Ma as well as the endorsements from the Glendale Environmental Coalition, Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters, and Democrats for Neighborhood Action.

US Senator Alex Padilla has expressed his support, stating “I’m pleased to endorse Ardy Kassakhian for re-election to the Glendale City Council. Ardy has demonstrated his commitment to serve the families of Glendale, leading efforts to improve public safety, housing affordability, and investing in culture and arts programs. He’s earned the opportunity to serve for four more years”
“I am honored to have the support of Senator Padilla. His trust in my abilities to serve the people of Glendale means a lot,” Kassakhian said in response to the endorsement. 

“I worked with the Senator when he was our Secretary of State to help find ways to get more citizens registered to vote and get more voters out to vote.  I was honored to serve on the language accessibility task force he created and appreciate the great work he does to represent California and Glendale’s interest in the United States Senate,” added Kassakhian.

Kassakhian grew up in Glendale after his family moved here in 1985.  He attended Glendale public schools and holds a B.A. from UCLA and a Masters in Policy and Public Administration from Northwestern University.  In 2020, Kassakhian ran and was elected to the City Council where he served as the chair of the Housing Authority and as Mayor from 2022-2023. 

He organized the city’s first housing summit which invited staff and policy experts to share ideas and experiences to help address the region’s critical housing shortage and affordability challenges.  He is Glendale’s representative to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Chair of the California State New Motor Vehicle Board. He currently is an adjunct faculty member at Glendale Community College, teaching political science and government.  He lives with his wife Courtney and their young son in the Pelanconi neighborhood of Glendale.

Kassakhian is seeking to serve a second term on the Glendale City Council.  Two council seats are up for election in the March 5 Municipal Election which will take place at the same time as the statewide Presidential Primary.

ANN/Armenian News – Calendar of Events – 01/18/2024

Armenpress: Amundi-Acba Economic Forum 2024: Shaping the Future in Yerevan


YEREVAN, JANUARY 12, ARMENPRESS:  Amundi-Acba is announcing about  the upcoming Amundi-Acba Economic Forum 2024, scheduled to take place on January 24th, 2024, in Yerevan.

According to the organizer, the forum is the continuation of the one held in January 2023 and it promises to be next pivotal gathering, bringing together thought leaders, industry experts, and innovators to explore and discuss critical topics shaping the economic landscape.

Event Highlights:

Amundi Investment View for 2024: From Macro to Markets (14:45 – 15:15)

Kicking off the event, prominent experts of the field from French Amundi and Amundi-Acba will present Amundi's Investment view for 2024, providing valuable insights into macroeconomic trends and market expectations.

Macroeconomic Developments in Armenia (15:15 – 15:25)

A dedicated session on the latest macroeconomic developments and expectations in Armenia will be carried out by Vice-Governor of the Central Bank of Armenia.

AI and ESG Talk (16:20 – 16:35)

Explore the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles in a dynamic talk, highlighting the role of AI in sustainable finance by a special speaker from Amundi Investment Institute.

Panel Discussion: Artificial Intelligence for Sustainable Finance: Challenges and Opportunities (16:35 – 17:10)

Industry experts will engage in a panel discussion, delving into the challenges and opportunities presented by Artificial Intelligence for sustainable finance.

Interview: Geopolitics in South Caucasus and Economic Impact in Armenia (18:05 – 19:30)

And finally the Forum will be concluded by an exclusive interview honored by the Governor of the Central bank of Armenia and Special Guest Star from France. The latter will share his insights into geopolitics in the South Caucasus, meanwhile its economic implications for Armenia will be presented by the Governor of the Central bank of Armenia. The interview will be chaired by the CEO of Amundi-Acba.

Distinguished Speakers:

  • Jean Mazedjian, CEO of Amundi-Acba,
  • Martin Galstyan, Governor of the Central Bank of Armenia,
  • Frederic Pascal, Co-Head of the OCIO Solutions Division, Multi-Asset Solutions, Amundi,
  • Hrayr Aslanyan, Deputy CEO, Fund Manager, Amundi-Acba,
  • Armen Nurbekyan, Vice-Governor, Central Bank of Armenia,
  • Aram Pakhchanyan, independent expert, consultant, Co-founder at Ayb Foundation,
  • Marie Briere, Head of Investor Intelligence and Academic Partnership, Amundi Investment Institute,
  • Garegin Gevorgyan, Director, Financial stability and regulation directorate, Central Bank of Armenia,
  • Armen Kherlopian, independent expert, scientist and investor,
  • Frederic Encel, French writer and scholar of geopolitics, writer, public speaker.
  • Livestream Registration:
  • For details and Livestream registration:
  • Zoom webinar link :

 Amundi-Acba Asset Management was founded in 2013. The company manages three mandatory pension funds having more than 417 billion assets under its management as of December 30th, 2023.

The company's shareholders are the French Amundi, Europe's leading Asset Manager with nearly 2 trillion Euros in assets under management as of September 30th, 2023 and Acba Bank, being one of the largest financial institutions in Armenia, represented throughout the country with 65 branches.

US puts Azerbaijan on religious freedom watchlist

France 24
Jan 5 2024

Washington (AFP) – The United States on Thursday added Azerbaijan to a watchlist on religious freedom, following fears for Christian heritage after the country seized back an ethnic Armenian enclave.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, releasing an annual index of designations, maintained all 12 countries that had been on the previous year's blacklist, including China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

In the sole change, Blinken added Azerbaijan to a watchlist, meaning it will join the blacklist, which carries potential sanctions, without improvements.

Energy-rich Azerbaijan, a frequent US partner, sent troops on September 19 into Nagorno-Karabakh and quickly achieved the surrender of Armenian separatist fores who had controlled the region for three decades.

In a recent recommendation to the State Department, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom pointed to concerns for the preservation of Christian religious sites in Nagorno-Karabakh, where virtually the entire population of 100,000 ethnic Armenians has fled to Armenia.

The commission also voiced alarm over regulations on all religious practice in the Shiite Muslim-majority but largely secular country under strongman President Ilham Aliyev, including a requirement that all religious groups be registered and their literature approved by an official body.

The commission, which is appointed by lawmakers but does not set US policy, was ignored by Blinken on another recommendation — blacklisting India.

The commission alleged incitement and a climate of impunity by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist government on rising attacks against religious minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians.

India has scoffed at the accusations and few had expected any action by the US government, which for years has sought warmer relations with New Delhi, seeing the fellow democracy as a bulwark against China.

Blinken in a statement noted that "significant violations of religious freedom also occur in countries that are not designated."

"Governments must end abuses such as attacks on members of religious minority communities and their places of worship," he said.

The "countries of particular concern" on the blacklist are China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Besides Azerbaijan, countries on the watchlist are Algeria, the Central African Republic, Comoros and Vietnam.

"The past year has resulted in losses and brought Armenia back to square one." Opinion

Jan 3 2024
  • Armine Martirosyan
  • Yerevan

2023 turned out to be difficult and even tragic for Armenia. Armenians left Nagorno-Karabakh, seeing no possibility for themselves to live as part of the Azerbaijani state. Baku seemed to have achieved the desired result, but there is still no peace treaty.

Armenia believes that peace is not beneficial to Baku “as long as there is something to take from Armenia”. Russia does not consider the affair finished, so it is withdrawing its troops from the territory. And in this difficult situation, according to some analysts, Armenia risks being completely isolated economically and becoming a “backward Russian exclave”.

Political observer Armen Baghdasaryan talks about the situation in which, in his opinion, Armenia found itself at the end of last year and what to expect.

  • 2023 in Armenia: dramatic, disappointing and hopeful developments
  • “It is necessary to negotiate with Baku on Nagorno-Karabakh’s autonomy” – Samvel Babayan
  • “2023 was quite successful for Armenia” – Finance Minister’s assessment

“There is a global geopolitical clash in the world, and hotbeds of tension have appeared in different regions. Among them are Ukraine, the Middle East (Israeli-Palestinian conflict). These are links in the same process. The South Caucasus is the most explosive region, where the situation can sharply deteriorate.

Armenia cannot maneuver for long between two geopolitical poles – Russia and the West. Moreover, both Russia and the West set a condition for Armenia: to finally determine the vector of its foreign policy and not to maneuver from now on.

It is impossible from the economic point of view to be under the influence of Russia and at the same time look for security guarantees in the West. It does not work that way.

Trying to sit on two chairs at the same time can lead to very dangerous consequences. Nikol Pashinyan’s jumping from one to the other today is not only belated and senseless, but also very dangerous.

His visit to St. Petersburg for the EAEU and CIS summit answered all these questions. Armenia has no more room for maneuvers. And if a peace treaty with Azerbaijan is indeed to be signed in the near future, it is very important to understand already now who should be the guarantor of its realization.

This is a very important issue, and we can already see the first signs of establishment of Armenian-Russian relations.”

Analyzing the political situation

“Armenia has tried to maneuver between Russia and the West in the past. Let us recall the former President Serzh Sargsyan when he sought to settle relations with Turkey. He tried to move westward by joining the Eastern Partnership project, but overnight became a member of the Russian-led Customs Union.

This maneuvering was unwise. We had no opportunity to choose.

Such an opportunity may come if we can mend our relations with our neighbors. But for that to happen, we are being asked to pay too high a price. We are being asked to give up our territory, to forget the past of the Armenian genocide, and to ban the activities of such parties on our territory.

If we pay such a price, if we make all these concessions, we can turn to the West. But what will remain after such concessions from Armenia and Armenian identity in general? Will there be anything left after that for integration with the West?”

“Nevertheless, we cannot say unequivocally that Armenia has made its choice of foreign policy vector.

Armenia has realized that signing a peace treaty alone does not solve the issue, it is necessary that these agreements do not remain on paper, that the treaty should have guarantors.

And, apparently, the authorities have come to the conclusion that the best guarantor of the implementation of the provisions of the peace treaty is Russia, that Moscow has more levers than the West.

Another question is what Russia will demand for such a guarantee. And this question should be one of the key issues in the new Armenian-Russian dialog that has begun. Most likely, it will be about the “Crossroads of Peace” project and control over Armenian communications.

When Armenia presented the “Peace Crossroads” project, Russia said that it stems from its interests. This means that Russia has certain expectations in terms of control over communications, and a dialogue is underway in this direction.”

Analyzing the political situation

“In a global sense, Russia does not need long-term peace in our region. It needs continued but controlled tensions through which Moscow can maintain leverage over both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

When we talk about the future of Artsakh or the possible return of the Artsakh people, Azerbaijan links it to the issue of the return of its refugees of the 1990s to Armenia. Russia is not against such a solution, because in this case Russia would have a chance to become a guarantor of security both for Armenians in Artsakh and for Azerbaijanis in Armenia. Again, retaining its leverage.

Therefore, although there are no Armenians in Artsakh anymore, Russian troops allegedly continue to ensure peace and security of civilians for the third month. The Russian Federation still has certain plans in this regard.

Russia does not consider the game to be over and hopes to get such a peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in which its role and leverage on both countries will increase.”

“The issue of Artsakh and Azerbaijani refugees of the 1990s from Armenia are absolutely incomparable neither from the legal point of view, nor from the humanitarian point of view, much less from the status point of view.

Azerbaijanis from Armenia left non-violently – unlike Armenians from Soviet Azerbaijan. Besides, back in Soviet times Armenia paid material compensation to the Azerbaijan SSR, while Azerbaijan paid nothing to Armenia. This is only a purely social aspect.

As for the legal aspect. The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, even if unrecognized, was a state entity, and in the Soviet years Nagorno-Karabakh was an autonomous region. An autonomous region is not an administrative unit, but a political one, while Azerbaijanis in Armenia did not have any autonomous formation. Hence, from a legal standpoint these issues are incomparable to each other.

Another issue is that Azerbaijan wants to draw parallels. And if these issues are to be discussed, Armenia’s task is to make sure that they are not considered on the same plane.”

“If Armenians are to return to Artsakh, they must return under international guarantees. It is clear that no one will return under Azerbaijani guarantees, in the status of an ethnic minority.

And international guarantees are not rights written on a piece of paper. It is someone who can ensure the implementation of agreements. International guarantors can be both UN peacekeepers (Blue Helmets) and Russian peacekeepers themselves.

Russian peacekeepers could have ensured the security of the Artsakh people if they wanted to. However, they did not do so, because they did not get Armenia’s consent to the FSB’s control over all raods and the renunciation of its pro-Western orientation.

Russia did not get what it wanted from Armenia and decided to punish Armenians by allowing military action in NK.

Thus Armenians lost Artsakh. Today Armenia goes to Moscow and gives its consent to everything, but Artsakh has already been lost.

Soon Nikol Pashinyan will say that he could have made these concessions two years ago and we would have had the same result, but without the exodus of Armenians from Artsakh. As it was after the 44-day war, when he said that he could have stopped the war earlier, we would have had the same result, but without casualties.”

“Having gained control over roads, Russia’s ambitions with regard to Armenia will end, but the issue is that Azerbaijan and Turkey do not agree with this.

We are talking about the median corridor [serving to increase the flow of cargo from China to Turkey and to European countries, as well as in the opposite direction], through which Russia must ensure its access from Central Asia to the West. If Russia controls the Armenian part of the corridor, the West will oppose it and the corridor will not function.

Azerbaijan and Turkey will then demand an extraterritorial corridor through Syunik [southern Armenia] or abandon the project. Armenia will continue to remain under blockade and will turn into a backward Russian exclave.

It will turn out that we have sacrificed everything, but gotten neither peace, nor “crossroads”, nor unblocking, which the Armenian authorities constantly talk about.

Turkey and Azerbaijan are against the presence of Russia’s FSB on the roads. They want their own presence. In the initial period, they may agree to joint Russian-Turkish control, similar to the Russian-Turkish monitoring center in Aghdam. In time, they will want full control over the roads.

“The West will not leave the region so easily, but the effectiveness of its actions will depend on the situation in Ukraine and the Middle East. If this geopolitical clash should continue, the West will create many problems for Moscow on different fronts, and the most convenient option here is the South Caucasus.

If there is a pause in Ukraine and Palestine, we will have a corresponding situation without any progress.

During this period Armenia will get weaker, being in economic hardship.”

Analyzing the political situation

“It is difficult to predict the situation in the coming year, we do not know what document the sides may sign. Will it be a document in the form of a first step towards peace or will it be a document legitimizing Azerbaijan’s right to new aggression against Armenia?

I think Azerbaijan in reality does not want peace. Aliyev believes that Armenia is weak, has no real allies, and the geopolitical situation is favorable to take everything possible from it.

Azerbaijan will want peace with Armenia when it sees that Armenia is getting back on its feet and can strengthen its negotiating positions and its army.”

How far can Armenia go in getting closer to West: Expert opinion

Dec 24 2023
Story by Natalia Direyeva 
Armenia continues its path towards Western integration and expresses the desire to resume the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union, says to RBC-Ukraine Wojciech Wojtasiewicz, an expert on the South Caucasus at the Polish Institute of International Affairs (Warsaw).

Closer ties with the European Union

Armenia's Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, affirms his commitment to diversifying security relationships. Concrete steps have been taken, including agreements for military supplies from France. In October, Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu announced that Paris would provide a certain quantity of arms, including air defense assets. In November, it was disclosed that the planned transfer of light armored vehicles Bastion to Ukraine would be redirected to Armenia.

Since February 2023, a Civilian Mission of the European Union (EUMA) has been operating in Armenia. This neutral mission, exclusively active on Armenian territory, lacks executive functions. It is designed for a two-year term to contribute to stability in Armenia's border regions and normalize relations with Azerbaijan.

Additionally, an Agreement on Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership is in effect between Brussels and Yerevan. Pashinyan considers it one of the pillars of reforms in Armenia, expressing the ambition to draw closer to the EU and cooperate on police reform, the judicial system, education, and public administration.

The Armenian government aims to return to the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU

As the first step towards strengthening cooperation, on December 11, the EU expanded its mission from 138 to 209 personnel. Foreign Minister of Armenia, Ararat Mirzoyan, made a series of statements affirming a pro-European direction. He welcomed the decision to start negotiations on the EU accession of Ukraine and Moldova, not only on behalf of the government but also on behalf of the Armenian people. According to him, the process of democratization and reform in the country "will not stop for a moment."

Expert Wojciech Wojtasiewicz suggests that the authorities aim to return to the signing of the Association Agreement. The document was ready in 2013, but then-President Serzh Sargsyan received a call from the Kremlin and ultimately declined. Following this, Vladimir Putin initiated the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Armenia is eager to secure visa-free access to the EU

The Armenian government now seeks a new agreement with the European Union, with the expansion of the observer mission marking the initial move.

"Secondly, they want to obtain a visa-free regime so Armenians can travel to EU countries without Schengen visas. They also want a free trade zone. In principle, this is the most important. Additionally, negotiations are underway with the US and France on constructing a power plant to reduce dependence on Russian resources and gas. But implementing such decisions quickly is difficult; it will take time," Wojtasiewicz explained.

The details of what is happening in the triangle of Armenia – the West – Russia are discussed in the material by RBC-Ukraine.

Armenpress: Putin wishes good luck to Armenia during EEU presidency


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 25, ARMENPRESS. Russian President Vladimir Putin has wished good luck to Armenia during its upcoming presidency in the Eurasian Economic Union.

Armenia will assume the EEU presidency on January 1, 2024.

“Russia will hand over the chairmanship functions in the EEU to Armenia on January 1,” Putin said at the EEU summit in Saint Petersburg. “I’d like to wish good luck to our Armenian partners. We will certainly offer any necessary assistance,” the Russian leader said.