Charles Michel wants very much that the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia meet again in Brussels. Toivo Klaar



 13:22, 8 March 2023

YEREVAN, MARCH 8, ARMENPRESS. Toivo Klaar, the special representative of the European Union in the South Caucasus, announced that the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, wants to hold another tripartite meeting with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

"Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, wants the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to come to Brussels again. A few weeks ago, he met with the leaders in Munich. Now we expect that the leaders will meet again in Brussels in the near future," ARMENPRESS reports Klaar told the Azerbaijani APA agency.

Exclusive: New Ambassador of Mexico discusses Lachin Corridor, development of ties with Armenia



 10:00, 2 March 2023

YEREVAN, MARCH 2, ARMENPRESS. Mexico has said on numerous occasions that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict must be resolved through peaceful negotiations prioritizing the interests of the peoples, the new Ambassador of Mexico to Armenia Eduardo Villegas Megías told ARMENPRESS in an exclusive interview.

Eduardo Villegas Megías is the non-resident Ambassador of Mexico to Armenia stationed in Moscow, Russia.

The Ambassador is visiting Armenia to present his credentials. During our interview, Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías explored the Armenian-Mexican bilateral relations, the Armenian community’s role in Mexico, and discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the blockade of the Lachin Corridor which has resulted in an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). He also reiterated that Mexico is in favor of free movement along Lachin Corridor.

ARMENPRESS: - Mr. Ambassador, please present the agenda of your trip to Armenia. What are your plans?

Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: I am here first of all to present my credentials as newly-appointed ambassador. I have other planned meetings during my visit to Armenia, particularly meetings related to the culture sector, for example I will visit the Komitas Museum-Institute and the Tchaikovsky Music School. Of course, there will be political meetings as well, for example meetings with Members of Parliament. Meetings with Armenian businessmen are also scheduled for discussions on economic matters. This is my first visit and I plan to cover all possible aspects.

ARMENPRESS: How would you describe the Armenia-Mexico relations? Which areas of mutual interest have potential for development? Do you see prospects for enhancing trade-economic partnership?

Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: In terms of bilateral relations, I have to mention that warm and friendly relations have developed between Armenia and Mexico. Over the course of the 30 years [of diplomatic relations], the two countries maintained very friendly relations ever since Armenia gained independence. And I came to Armenia in this capacity to intensify and encourage the development of bilateral relations in all areas, such as educational, economic, political, cultural and others.

Regarding the economic sector, as you know trade turnover between our countries isn’t high and this is associated with various factors. We have a neighbor with whom we cooperate a lot, whom we trade with a lot, I am referring to the United States of America. You in turn have trade relations with your neighbors, for example with Russia and the European Union. Actually, there hadn’t been a big impetus for the development of the relations between the two countries, although undoubtedly there is a big potential. In this regard I talked with an Armenian yesterday who lived in Mexico and is very interested to boost Armenian presence in Mexico, and Mexican presence in Armenia.

ARMENPRESS:  You were appointed Ambassador of Mexico to Armenia during a difficult period of time for Armenia. The Lachin corridor – Nagorno Karabakh’s only lifeline – is blocked by Azerbaijan for already 80 days. The blockade has disrupted essential supplies and resulted in a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno Karabakh. Despite international calls to reopen the corridor, and the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice ordering Azerbaijan to open the corridor, Azerbaijan is still keeping the corridor blocked. What is your attitude for this kind of conduct by Azerbaijan? In your opinion, what actions can be taken by the international community, including by Mexico, in order for the corridor to be opened. Do you think it’s time to consider imposing sanctions against Azerbaijan?

Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: We are aware of the Lachin Corridor and the humanitarian crisis facing the people in Nagorno Karabakh. In turn, Mexico expressed its stance on many occasions during international forums. This issue must be resolved through negotiations. Our country truly aspires to peace and supports peace. We believe that the best way is to sit around the negotiating table and find a solution in a civilized manner, and the interests of the peoples must be a priority in the solution. We don’t believe that in this regard sanctions could be effective. In relation to the special military operation in Ukraine many countries tried to impose sanctions against the sides, especially against Russia, but Mexico did not join these sanctions. During international forums Mexico numerously outlined that the issue must not impact the way of life and quality of life of the people of Nagorno Karabakh. We’ve numerously called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to sit around the negotiating table in order to give a solution to this issue, because ultimately it is the people who’d suffer from sanctions. The sanctions against Russia are a vivid example, they actually don’t produce the desired result and only the people suffer.

ARMENPRESS: Just to clarify, is Mexico in favor of uninterrupted functioning of the Lachin Corridor?

Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: Yes, Mexico expressed its stance and is in favor of free movement in Lachin Corridor.

ARMENPRESS: On February 8 the Mexican Senate adopted a document recognizing the Armenian Genocide, citing the need to protect universal human rights. Is the society in Mexico aware of the Armenian Genocide?

Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: Regrettably, right now the Armenian presence in Mexico is very low. Mexico took in many Armenian migrants throughout the course of history. This topic remains among priorities for these people. Overall, the awareness on what had happened in this region is low, though there are certain organizations which raise awareness about this fact. There is the Memory and Tolerance Museum in Mexico City, where the genocides and massacres that happened over the course of the history of mankind are talked about regularly. What happened to the Armenian people in 1915 in Ottoman Turkey is often recalled there. To answer your question, I will repeat that the awareness is actually low but there are active organizations which pay attention to this issue, and one of them is the Senate of Mexico.   

ARMENPRESS: As you know, Azerbaijan has been occupying sovereign territories of Armenia since 2021 and 2022 and is refusing to release Armenian PoWs of the 2020 Artsakh war. In your opinion, what can the international community do to make Azerbaijan release the PoWs and pull back its troops from territory of Armenia?

Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: There are multilateral mechanisms, the UN, EU and also Asian platforms which can raise their voice and express themselves within the framework of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in order to ensure free movement in Lachin corridor and for the issues related to the Armenian prisoners of war to receive a concrete solution. All countries should be concerned over the issue of prisoners of war. And during these discussions, Mexico, which isn’t involved in this conflict, will again call on the sides to sit around the negotiating table.

ARMENPRESS: How would you assess the Armenian community’s role in Mexico today? How many Armenians live in Mexico?

Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: There are ethnic Armenian governors, businessmen and cultural figures in Mexico. There are few Armenians in politics, but many in culture. For example, musicians, because I think music has developed a lot in Armenia. Now the estimated size of the Armenian community in Mexico stands at around 3,000 people, with the highest concentration in Mexico City, Cancun and Tijuana.

ARMENPRESS: Mr. Ambassador, does Mexico consider opening an embassy in Armenia?

Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: Like I said, the development of bilateral relations proceeded at a low intensity in the past thirty years. Actually, there are no plans to open an embassy of Mexico in Armenia because at this moment the relations aren’t yet at that level, however this can’t in any way be an obstruction and if we succeed to intensify and develop bilateral relations in the coming years then eventually Mexico could look into the possibility of opening an embassy in Armenia.

Interview by Karen Khachatryan

Cameramen: Hovhannes Mkrtchyan, Hayk Barseghyan

Photos by Hayk Badalyan

5 dead in new Azerbaijan-Armenia clash over Karabakh

Canada – March 6 2023

Reuters – Azerbaijani troops and ethnic Armenians exchanged gunfire on Sunday in Azerbaijan's contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh, killing at least five people, according to reports from Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Nagorno-Karabakh was the focal point of two wars that have pitted Azerbaijan against Azerbaijan in the more than 30 years since both ex-Soviet states have achieved attendance.

Azerbaijan's defence ministry said two servicemen were killed in an exchange of fire after Azerbaijani troops stopped a convoy it suspected of carrying weapons from the region's main town to outlying areas. It said the convoy had used an unauthorized road.

Armenia's foreign ministry said three officials from the Karabakh interior ministry were killed. It said the convoy had been carrying documents and a service pistol and dismissed as "absurd" Azerbaijani allegations that weapons were being carried.

Nagorno-Karabakh has long been recognized internationally as part of Azerbaijan, though its population is made up predominantly of ethnic Armenians.

Armenian forces took control of Karabakh in a war that gripped the region as Soviet rule was collapsing in the early 1990s. Azerbaijan recaptured large swathes of territory in a six-week conflict in 2020 that ended with a truce and the dispatch of Russian peacekeepers, who remain in the region.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan have met several times as part of efforts to resolve the conflict, but periodic violence has hurt peace efforts.

For the past three months, Azeri environmentalists have been blockading the Lachin corridor linking Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, saying they oppose mining operations in the region.

Armenia says the protesters are political activists acting at the behest of Azerbaijan's authorities.

The World Court ordered Azerbaijan last month on Wednesday to ensure free movement through the Lachin corridor.

(Reporting Naila Bagirova, writing by Ron Popeski, editing by Marguerita Choy)

Armenian Prime Minister, President of Germany discuss bilateral ties, humanitarian crisis in blockaded Nagorno Karabakh



 16:27, 3 March 2023

YEREVAN, MARCH 3, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and his wife Anna Hakobyan were hosted by the President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender at the presidential residence in Berlin.

PM Pashinyan and Anna Hakobyan signed the guestbook and then PM Pashinyan had a meeting with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, while Anna Hakobyan had a meeting with Elke Büdenbender, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a press release.

PM Pashinyan and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s meeting then proceeded in an enlarged format.

Nikol Pashinyan and Frank-Walter Steinmeier discussed a number of issues related to the Armenian-German cooperation.  The development of partnership in the political and economic sectors was discussed. In this context, the active partnership between the governments of the two countries was highlighted.

President Steinmeier expressed readiness to contribute to the strengthening of bilateral ties and underscored the importance of the reforms aimed at developing democracy in Armenia.

PM Pashinyan presented details on the institutional reforms process and said that democracy is of strategic significance for the Armenian government.

The ongoing processes in the South Caucasus region, the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno Karabakh resulting from the illegal blockade of Lachin Corridor by Azerbaijan and other issues of mutual interest were also discussed.

Anna Hakobyan and Elke Büdenbender attached importance to the active involvement of first ladies in various directions.

The Spouse of the President of Germany attached importance to the development of the dual education sector and the programs implemented in this direction, presenting details on the steps taken in Germany. The Spouse of the Prime Minister of Armenia said that the My Step Foundation is also implementing projects in the dual education area. The important role of women in establishing and strengthening peace was underscored. In this context Mrs. Hakobyan invited Mrs. Büdenbender to attend the Women’s Role in Promoting Democracy, Peace and Security international summit which will take place in Yerevan this year.

In Her Own Words: Growing up without electricity, Nare Vardanyan builds financial data engine

Feb 19 2023

Facing the pandemic and pregnancy was more than scary for Naré Vardanyan but clearly not the first challenges she has faced. That she taught herself 11 languages was a precursor to creating a multi-lingual, world-wide platform.

"There was always a ceiling. One I knew I needed to crush to get to places and to do things.

I grew up in Armenia, a small country in the Southern Caucasus plagued by territorial conflict and war. I learned to read under candlelight, as we had no electricity or hot water for years.

As a kid, this was just another adventure that helped me develop a wild imagination and the ability to seek solutions with little to no means. Yet when I grew up, I realized things were not the same everywhere else in the world. Some people are born in rooms where they can realize their dreams, others, like me, have to queue outside or find new ways to break in.

I know 11 languages. I am often asked how. That was one way to entertain myself and gain new tools to solve problems globally. Very few people in the world speak my language. So I needed to learn their language to get them to listen to me.

After obtaining my degree in International Relations, I dreamed of working at a global organization addressing problems in developing countries. I had the opportunity to work for the United Nations focused on financial inclusion and poverty reduction. Through this experience, I came to realize that these issues will not be solved by world leaders only. Doing things from the bottom up is the only way to make a real difference and get a seat at the table. This is how I got into startups and entrepreneurship.

We founded Ntropy with my co-founder Ilia in the midst of a pandemic and economic uncertainty. As millions of people transitioned to working from home, others lost their businesses and essential means to survive. If you were not on traditional payroll, chances that you would get compensation were meager.

The goal at Ntropy is simple: change the way money is accessed everywhere in the world. Despite advancements in recent years to make capital more equitable, transparent, and automated, the underlying issue of data, hence trust, remains unsolved.

At Ntropy, we are developing a cloud-based platform to address this issue.

We firmly believe that financial data plays a crucial role in the functioning of businesses across various industries. However, making this data usable is a challenging task that requires a network-level approach. For instance, consider bank transactions. A quick look at your bank statement reveals the difficulties in understanding purchases due to non-standard merchant names and descriptions. While many companies have attempted to address this issue through internal solutions, they often fall short in terms of scalability, maintenance, and generalization.

This is where Ntropy comes in. Ntropy is the first to build a truly global, cross-industry, cross-geo, and multilingual financial data engine. We are building technology to help humans and machines understand how money moves.

This allows equalizing trust and access to money for businesses and individuals anywhere. Diverse data means diverse systems and algorithms that can equally qualify anyone regardless of background, race, ethnicity, postcode, and gender. One should be assessed in terms of financial behavior and potential, not purely based on history or the lack of it. Unfortunately, this is the system we live in today.

As a female tech CEO, I faced the limitations of the system personally. I raised our seed round through the pandemic, while my home country where my family lives, was at war. Between calls with VC-s and checking in with my Mum to make sure there are no air strikes where they are, I had to tell myself every day how privileged I am to do what I do.

A few days after we signed the paperwork to close the round, I found out that I was going to have a baby. This was terrifying. What are people going to think of me? Will they lower their expectations? Will I let them down?

Despite my concerns about facing bias as a pregnant woman and new mother, the reality was different. My investors have been consistently supportive and empowering. I successfully raised our series A funding in one of the worst market conditions, while caring for a six-month-old child. Venture capitalists we talked to questioned our technology and business model at times, but no one passed on us because I had a child.

While I acknowledge that bias still exists, I also know that there has never been a better time to be born a woman and build “empires.”

The ceiling is still there. Yet there are many more of us crushing it every single day. We can see the path that is beyond this artificial cap and that path can be anything we choose it to be."

Armenian National Committee of America Endorses Portantino For Congress

Feb 21 2023

The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) today announced its endorsement of Senator Anthony Portantino for the 30th Congressional District of California.

California’s 30th Congressional District is home to the largest concentration of Armenian-American constituents anywhere in the United State. The district includes part of Pasadena and the communities of Glendale, Burbank, the Foothills, and Little Armenia.

“Senator Portantino’s commitment to the Armenian-American Community is manifest in his unrelenting advocacy for Armenian issues,” said ANCA-WR Board Chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq.

“Senator Portantino has worked closely with the ANCA-WR for many years both as a State Assemblymember and then as State Senator, and we look forward to continuing our close partnership with him in Congress. We are confident that he will be the leading voice for Armenian-Americans in the United States Congress as he follows in the footsteps and example set by Congressman Adam Schiff. While we typically do not issue endorsements this early in a campaign, we make exceptions for candidates who have proven themselves to be champions of our Cause and leaders on our issues, as Senator Portantino most certainly has over a period of many years. We are therefore proud to stand with him from this early stage of the campaign.”

The ANCA – Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian-American community on a broad range of issues.

In 2018, Portantino and other state and local leaders visited Armenia as part of an ANCA-WR-led delegation focused on deepening economic ties between California and Armenia.

As the chair of the senate appropriations committee, Portantino has supported various Armenian-American institutions like the Armenian Relief Society and the Armenian-American Museum, which was allocated $10 million in Governor Newsom’s budget.

During his time as chair of the senate budget subcommittee on Education from 2018-2019, Senator Portantino successfully allocated $500,000 to California’s state budget to fund curricula on the Armenian Genocide.

In 2021, the Senator introduced legislation ensuring that California taxpayers no longer fund the Turkish Government and its continued denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Senate Bill 457, introduced by Senators Anthony Portantino and Scott Wilk, allowed local agencies to divest from Turkey. The bill passed in the California Senate with overwhelming support.

More recently, Portantino and 21 other legislators from California’s Senate and Assembly authored a letter to President Biden regarding Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockade of Artsakh. The letter calls upon the Biden Administration:
• To condemn and call for the unconditional lifting of the blockade by Azerbaijan;
• To allocate humanitarian assistance to Artsakh;
• To halt all U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan under Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act;
• To sanction the Aliyev regime under the Global Magnitsky Act for violating International Humanitarian Law; and
• To introduce a resolution in the United Nations to establish a mission in Artsakh to ensure regional peace and security.

“I am extremely honored to receive the endorsement of the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region. I have many long-standing friendships with ANCA members and grassroots activists, and I have been proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my friends for human rights, Genocide recognition, condemning the violent Azeri attacks on Arstakh and supporting increased trade and cooperation between California and Armenia. I can think of no better way to begin my campaign to succeed Adam Schiff than with the support of the ANCA.

From my youth, I remember my mother speaking about Armenian orphans in the wake of the Genocide, and I was pleased to have developed friendships in California where I can utilize my mother’s lessons to make a positive difference for a vibrant community. I have been to Armenia and Artsakh four times, and I look forward to my continued support of Armenian American causes and greater community in Congress,” said Portantino.

EU ‘Takes Note’ of ICJ’s Order, Calls on Azerbaijan to Open Lachin Corridor

Representatives of Armenia at the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Feb. 22

The European Union on Friday, once again, called on Azerbaijan to open the Lachin Corridor, saying that it had taken note of Wednesday’s ruling by the International Court of Justice, which compelled Azerbaijan to to ensure “unimpeded movement” along the road that has been blockaded since December 12.

“The European Union takes note of the binding Order issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), indicating that Azerbaijan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin corridor in both directions.

The EU remains concerned about the obstructions that continue to be in place in the Lachin corridor and the resulting humanitarian implications for the local civilian population. All concerns of Azerbaijan about the usage of the corridor can and should be addressed exclusively through dialogue,” said Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the European Union’s External Action Service.

“The EU reiterates its call on the Azerbaijani authorities, and all those responsible, to guarantee the freedom and safety of movement along the Lachin corridor, in line with commitments undertaken under the trilateral statement of 9 November 2020. We also underscore the vital need to ensure uninterrupted supplies of gas, electricity and other services to the affected population,” Stano added.

“The EU remains engaged, including at the highest, level to support efforts towards strengthening peace and security in the South Caucasus,” said Stano’s statement.

Armenia-Azerbaijan, a difficult dialogue

Feb 23 2023
23/02/2023 -  Onnik James Krikorian

By some accounts it was a historic occasion. On 18 February, during the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany, the Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian leaders shared the same stage for the first time since the former Soviet Union collapsed. The panel, “Moving Mountains: How to ensure security in the South Caucasus,” also included OSCE Secretary General Helga Scmid.

On the eve of the discussion, however, the name of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was noticeably absent. While some tweeted their abhorrence at this omission, others instead sighed in relief given that the last time he shared a stage with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev at the same event in 2020, the discussion quickly descended into bickering and mutual accusation.

“Never do this again,” tweeted  International Crisis Group (ICG) Senior Analyst Olesya Vartanyan at the time.

But do it again they did, albeit in an extended format and even if Pashinyan’s presence came as a last minute surprise to everyone.

“His name was not mentioned in the initial proposal given to me,” Aliyev told reporters. "He probably decided to attend last night. I think this is a good development because, finally, some cooperation among the three South Caucasus countries can be started.”

The Azerbaijani President also told media that the idea of establishing a regional format in Tbilisi could be discussed, echoing similar comments from EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, Toivo Klaar, 10 days earlier.

“It is very important that the three countries of the South Caucasus work together and contribute to peace,” Klaar said in an interview with the Georgian Public Broadcaster. “And here the role of Georgia as a bridge between Armenia and Azerbaijan is very important.”

Despite trepidation at how the panel would turn out, there were also even more positive signs.

Just hours before the panel discussion, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had facilitated a trilateral meeting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders on the sidelines of the conference. Accompanying them were Armenian Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, his counterpart Jeyhun Baramov, and Azerbaijani Presidential Advisor Hikmet Hajiyev.

In essence, the three main officials involved in the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiation processes were present in one room. Accompanying the U.S. Secretary of State were also Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried and the newly appointed Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations, Louis L. Bono.

“We believe that Armenia and Azerbaijan have a genuinely historic opportunity to secure enduring peace after more than 30 years of conflict,” Blinken told media in an address before the meeting continued behind closed doors.

This too was arguably a historic occasion. It was the first time that the Biden Administration had managed to gather the Armenian and Azerbaijan leaders together. Last year, Blinken had only convened a meeting of the two foreign ministers while U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had brought together Armen Grigoryan and Hikmet Hajiyev in Washington D.C..

Aliyev described the talks as constructive and also confirmed that Baku had received Yerevan’s latest comments and suggestions on the text of a possible bilateral peace treaty, but it was clear that differences remain.

“At first glance, there is progress in Armenia’s position, but it is not sufficient,” Aliyev said. He also announced that during the meeting he had proposed Yerevan set up border checks on a still yet-to-be-opened route connecting Azerbaijan via Armenia to its exclave of Nakhichevan. In turn, Baku would introduce its own checkpoints on the Lachin Corridor connecting Armenia to Karabakh through Azerbaijan.

Referred to in Azerbaijani circles as the “Zangezur Corridor,” disagreement over how the Nakhichevan route would operate has been a major sticking point in the negotiation process for at least a year. It is also one of the possible reasons for the current impasse on the Lachin Corridor where self-proclaimed Azerbaijani ‘eco-activists’ have restricted traffic in what can be considered a partial blockade.

For over two months, vehicles from the Russian peacekeeping forces and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) can travel on the Lachin Corridor or transport humanitarian assistance to the ethnic Armenian population of Karabakh. This was naturally brought up in the meeting with Blinken.

“Nikol Pashinyan stressed the fact of the illegal blockade of Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan and the resulting humanitarian, environmental and energy crisis in Nagorno Karabakh,” an official Armenian statement read, though also ending on a positive note. “The continuity of the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan was highlighted.”

But despite what appeared to be further commitment to that process, the mood deteriorated in the panel discussion that followed soon after even if opening remarks from Aliyev were encouraging.

“We had our own war two years ago, which lasted 44 days,” he stated. “We know what tragedy war brings to people. Azerbaijan and Armenia must demonstrate how important peace is. We are currently working on a peace agreement. And this can be a good example of how making peace can end the grief and tragedies of conflicts.”

But rather than build on that to explore the possibilities of regional peace, stability, and security, questions from the moderator, Munich Security Conference chair Christoph Heusgen, saw the mood between Aliyev and Pashinyan quickly deteriorate, leaving the Georgian Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, uncomfortably sandwiched in-between. Lachin, of course, was the issue.

“The continuation of the crisis may cause irreversible humanitarian consequences for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pashinyan charged, referring to the long-running standoff. In response, Aliyev demanded that the term “Nagorno Karabakh” no longer be used in international circles.

Pashinyan countered that the term was in the November 2020 ceasefire statement and also that the Lachin Corridor was had not been put under Azerbaijan’s control.

But in a bewildering turn, Pashinyan then referred to Baku’s claims that dozens of mosques had been destroyed by Armenian forces during the nearly three decades it effectively controlled seven adjacent regions to the former Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO). Those territories were returned to Baku after the 2020 war, but Aliyev had not raised the issue of mosques during the panel.

“It seems that Azerbaijan is trying to give this whole situation a religious context. But there is no religious context to this conflict. There is a Muslim minority in Armenia, and we have a functioning mosque,” claimed Pashinyan, presumably referring to the tiny remnants of what remains of Armenia’s Muslim Kurdish community and the Blue Mosque in central Yerevan.

Nonetheless, Pashinyan attempted to end on a more constructive note.

“We have a very complicated history,” he said. “And this is also a historical meeting, but for what purpose do we want to use it? To stir up intolerance, hatred, aggressive rhetoric? Or, on the contrary, use this platform to improve the situation?”

Aliyev too, in a response to a question from the audience, also reiterated Baku’s commitment to the Brussel Process of peace talks with Yerevan as facilitated by European Council President Charles Michel. However, he nonetheless had also earlier justified the devastating 2020 war that saw over 6,000 people killed.

“Peace negotiations sometimes take too long. Ours lasted 28 years. This suited Armenia and its supporters, who wanted to continue the occupation of our lands,” he said, also referring to the November 2020 ceasefire statement that ended the war the same year as ‘an act of capitulation,’ angering Armenians watching.

Despite technical problems with the livestream, what could have proven a constructive and historic opportunity for the three leaders in the South Caucasus to discuss regional cooperation and security, the panel instead laid bear the divisions and disparate positions that have afflicted the region for over thirty years.

Nonetheless, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken remained positive about his own meeting with the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders. “Pleased to hear that the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process is on track and negotiations between the two sides are continuing,” he tweeted  the next day, almost as if the more contentious panel discussion had never taken place.

In a press briefing on 22 February, U.S. State Department Spokesperson Ned Price also sounded upbeat and told reporters that the Armenian and Azerbaijani “parties come together in Brussels in the coming days in the talks hosted by President Michel of the EU. […] there has been significant progress that we’ve taken note of. We are going to do everything we can to see that progress continue”.

CivilNet: Iran ‘ready’ to organize 3+3 summit in region


21 Feb, 2023 10:02

  • Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has again accused the West of attempting to oust Russia from its leading role in the South Caucasus.
  • Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Hossein Abdollahian has announced his readiness to organize a meeting in Tehran in the “3+3 format,” referring to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. .
  • The United States’ new ambassador to Armenia, Kristina Kvien, has presented her credentials to Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan.

On 35th Anniversary of Liberation Movement, Artsakh Vows to Continue Fighting

Hundreds of thousands of Armenians took to the streets of Stepanakert in 1988 calling for reunification with Armenia

Monday marked the 35th anniversary of the Artsakh Liberation Movement. It was on February 20, 1988 when a special session of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast Regional Council was convened in Stepanakert, passing a decision to appeal to the Kremlin to reunite Karabakh with Armenia. And thus began the movement for the self-determination of the people of Artsakh, who had taken to the streets to make that historic demand.

Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan, State Minister Ruben Vardanyan and Parliament Speaker Artur Tovmasyan visited the Stepanakert Memorial Complex on Monday and paid tribute to Artsakh’s fallen heroes, as a result of whose sacrifice the Liberation Movement brought the Armenian Nation a victory.

The Artsakh foreign ministry on Monday called the Artsakh Liberation Movement “a struggle that embodied the collective aspiration of the people to restore historical justice, preserve national identity and dignity, and fully realize their inalienable right to live freely and develop in their homeland. In response to the decades-long discriminatory policies of Azerbaijan, the people of Artsakh gathered all their will and rallied for the idea of the revival of Artsakh and reunification with Armenia.”

“Thirty-five years ago, on February 20, 1988, an extraordinary session of the Council of People’s Deputies of the NKAO was held, which decided to petition the Supreme Soviets of the Azerbaijan SSR and the Armenian SSR to transfer the autonomous region from Azerbaijan to Armenia. The issue of the transfer of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia was raised in a democratic, parliamentary way, on the basis of the people’s will, in strict accordance with the Soviet legislation in force at that time and the generally recognized norms of international law,” said the Foreign Ministry statement.

“The decision of the session, which confirmed the right of the people of Artsakh to decide their own destiny, marked the current stage of the Karabakh Movement and predetermined the prospects for the socio-political development of Nagorno-Karabakh. It, in fact, became the forerunner of the Declaration of Independence the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, adopted on 2 September 1991, under the new historical and political realities created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, and marked the beginning of the path to the state independence of Artsakh,” explained the foreign ministry.

“This act of a nationwide _expression_ of will by the people of Artsakh was rightly regarded as a reliable guarantee against the policy of discrimination of the ethnic Armenian population pursued by Azerbaijan for decades, which ultimately should have led to its complete destruction,” the statement added.

“Subsequent events confirmed the legitimacy and rightness of the historical choice of the people of Artsakh. Just a week after the session of the regional Council, the Azerbaijani authorities organized brutal pogroms and murders of Armenians in Sumgait and other cities of Azerbaijan, and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, they unleashed a full-scale war against Artsakh. The criminal policy of official Baku, aimed at the destruction of the people of Artsakh, has not changed even decades later. This is evidenced by the military aggressions of 2016 and 2020, the ongoing state terrorism against the people of Artsakh, as well as the transport and energy blockade of the Republic that has been going on for the third month already,” the statement said.

“Despite the incredible difficulties and trials, the people of Artsakh continue the struggle for their free and independent existence in the historical homeland, thereby realizing the right of peoples to self-determination, enshrined in international law, including the UN Charter. The past 35 years have clearly demonstrated that the most important prerequisite for solving national problems is national unity, the consolidation of the moral and spiritual forces of Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora, which makes it possible to confront the most serious challenges of the time,” the Artsakh foreign ministry said.

“Through many years of struggle for national dignity and the right to freely decide their own fate in their historical homeland, as well as the creation of a democratic and viable state, the people of Artsakh have proven that they deserve recognition of their independence by the international community,” the statement said.

Harutyunyan, Vardanyan, the Artsakh Parliament and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also marked the 35th anniversary of the Artsakh Liberation Movement in separate statements.