Armenian Church Leaders Unite to Warn Biden that Forcing Artsakh into Azerbaijan is a Death Sentence for Christian Armenians

The Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, and Evangelical Churches speak with one voice in supporting Artsakh’s right to self-determination.

Apostolic, Catholic, and Evangelical Churches Speak with One Voice in Defense of Artsakh
NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES —The spiritual leaders of America’s Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, and Evangelical faithful have joined forces in a powerful public warning to President Biden that forcing Artsakh under Azerbaijan is a “death sentence for the Armenians of this sacred land, home to 120,000 men, women, and children.”

In a letter sent yesterday to the White House, the Church leaders wrote: “We, the spiritual leaders of American Christians of Armenian heritage, call on you to stand firmly against any attempt to force the Christian Armenians of Artsakh under Azerbaijan, a country that is openly committed to ethnically cleansing the indigenous population of this ancient part of the Armenian homeland.”

The signatories to the letter are Archbishop Hovnan Derderian (Western Diocese Prelate), Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian (Eastern Prelacy Primate), Very Rev. Mesrop Parsamyan (Eastern Diocese Primate), Bishop Torkom Donoyan (Western Prelacy Prelate), Bishop Mikhael Mouradian (Eparch Armenian Catholic Eparchy), Reverend Hendrik Shanazarian (Interim Minister, Armenian Evangelical Union), and Zaven Khanjian (Armenian Missionary Association of America Executive Director).

The full text of the interdenominational letter is provided below.

May 30, 2023

President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We, the spiritual leaders of American Christians of Armenian heritage, call on you to stand firmly against any attempt to force the Christian Armenians of Artsakh under Azerbaijan, a country that is openly committed to ethnically cleansing the indigenous population of this ancient part of the Armenian homeland. Any settlement that subordinates the at-risk citizens of democratic Artsakh to dictatorial Azerbaijan is a death sentence for the Armenians of this sacred land, home to 120,000 men, women, and children, and, of course, countless holy sites.

We make this urgent appeal in the wake of our longstanding calls for you to withdraw your waiver of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act and fully enforce this provision of U.S. law. As we have shared with you in the past, Armenia, the world’s first Christian nation, remains a landlocked, blockaded, genocide-survivor state, striving to survive on the frontiers of global freedom. Our great nation must stand with Armenia in every way, beginning with a suspension of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan, a country that would erase our ancient nation from the map of the world. We must never, as Americans, be complicit in such genocidal violence.

We look forward to learning of your renewed leadership in saving Christian Armenian lives and advancing a truly democratic peace that respects the right to self-determination of Artsakh, an early cradle of Christianity.

We pray that the Almighty Lord bless you abundantly and His wisdom leads your endeavors with success, spreading peace, justice, and prosperity to the world.


Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
Western Diocese Prelate

Archbishop Anoushavan Tanielian
Eastern Prelacy Primate

Very Rev. Mesrop Parsamyan
Eastern Diocese Primate

Bishop Torkom Donoyan
Western Prelacy Prelate

Bishop Mikhael Mouradian
Eparch Armenian Catholic Eparchy

Reverend Hendrik Shanazarian
Interim Minister, Armenian Evangelical Union

Zaven Khanjian
Armenian Missionary Association of America Executive Director

Media Invite | The Silent Siege of Nagorno-Karabakh

The Silent Siege of Nagorno-Karabakh

European Parliament, Brussels – Antall 6Q1

Tuesday June 6, from 19:00 to 21:00

The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU Europe) is pleased to invite you to an event hosted by MEP François-Xavier Bellamy at the European Parliament, in Brussels, about the current blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Organized in partnership with AGBU Europe and L’Oeuvre d’Orient, the event includes a discussion with Stepanakert-based journalist Lika Zakaryan, following the screening of clips from the film Invisible Republic, based on the journalist’s diary during the 44-day war in 2020.  

A panel discussion on international political action and legal issues is also scheduled, with international law professor Pierre d’Argent, political scientist Gaidz Minassian, Mgr. Pascal Gollnisch and MEP Andrey Kovatchev.

Non-accredited journalists to the European Parliament may request access at the following link:

This email was sent to [email protected]

AGBU, 55 East 59th Street, NY, New York 10022, United States


Pashinyan visits Moldova for European Political Community Summit, EU-mediated talks with Azerbaijan



YEREVAN, MAY 31, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, together with his wife Anna Hakobyan, has left for Moldova on a working visit from May 31 to June 2.

In Chisinau, PM Pashinyan will participate in the Second European Political Community Summit. The Armenian Prime Minister will also have bilateral meetings with international partners.

A five-sided meeting between the Armenian PM, French President, German Chancellor, President of the European Council and the Azerbaijani President is also scheduled.

PREMIERE: ‘Armenian Cowgirl’ Laura Zarougian Releases “Cairo”


Caught somewhere between east and west lies a tiny landlocked country of ancient rock, traditions, and song. Thousands of miles away, Zarougian was raised next to the vast Atlantic Ocean, nestled between two distinct musical styles. Her childhood was a soundtracked by a mixtape of sixties and seventies folk legends and the Armenian folk songs her grandparents passed down like water from the mountains. “I call the genre ‘Armenian Cowgirl’” says Zarougian, “because the themes are often about the stories of my ancestors, through my own interpretation of the American music I love.”

Press “play” on Nayri, the debut full length from songwriter Laura Zarougian, and you’re greeted by a voice as timeless as the culture of her Armenian ancestors. Her voice, ethereal and shimmering, is imbued with an inner glow. World weary yet proud, Nayri, like the artist herself in many ways, is a balancing act of two worlds: heavy and light, opaque and gin clear. All of this very well captured on her latest single “Cairo,” which we are please to premiere today!

Laura comments “My father was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt. What I know of Cairo is from the stories – the ones my father told me and the ones that were withheld. My family has a relationship to a way of life that is stuck in time. There is a complication of belonging to a place that no longer exists.”

Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders meet for the fifth time in Brussels

May 16 2023
Heydar Isayev May 16, 2023

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan held their latest meeting in Brussels on May 14. The president of the European Council, who mediated, released a statement afterwards asserting that significant progress was made towards a peace agreement. 

But the parties, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, gave no indication that a final accord was at hand.

Pashinyan, Aliyev, and President of the European Council Charles Michel met for the fifth time since the Second Karabakh War in 2020 in which Azerbaijan regained large swathes of territory in and around Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian forces. (Azerbaijan-Armenia post-war talks have also been mediated by the U.S., which coordinates with the EU, and by Russia, which does not.)

"Together, we reviewed all issues on our agenda," Michel said in his statement. "Following the recent positive talks held in the United States on the peace treaty, the momentum should be maintained to take decisive steps towards the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan."

Michel said that the sides agreed to resume bilateral talks on the demarcation of the mutual state border with a shared "unequivocal commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration and the respective territorial integrity of Armenia (29,800 km2) and Azerbaijan (86,600 km2)." 

The specific mention of the two countries' areas means, effectively, that Armenia accepts Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan while Azerbaijan doesn't claim any territory in the Republic of Armenia. 

Azerbaijan has made numerous incursions into Armenian territory since the 2020 war, justifying its moves by the lack of a demarcated border. The Armenian website Civilnet estimates that Azerbaijani troops are currently holding at least 215 square kilometers of land belonging to the Republic of Armenia. 

Michel also reported progress on the issue of connectivity between Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave through southern Armenia. "Positions on this topic have now come very close to each other in particular on the reopening of the railway connections to and via Nakhchivan. Their respective teams have been tasked to finalize an in-principle agreement on the modalities for the opening of the railway connections and the necessary construction works together with a concrete timetable. They also agreed to draw upon the support of the World Customs Organization in supporting this work," the statement read.

Azerbaijan earlier pushed for a seamless corridor to Nakhchivan without any Armenian border or customs checks, but has lately seemed to back down from this demand. 

"The invitation to the World Customs Organization to support the discussions should mitigate concerns that this route will become a 'corridor' while still keeping preferential arrangements for Baku and its exclave – maybe similar to Kaliningrad?," tweeted Olesya Vartanyan, a senior South Caucasus analyst at the International Crisis Group. 

Michel said that more military detainees would be freed "in the coming weeks". "I also stressed the need to safeguard the mutual understanding that soldiers who have simply got lost and crossed to the other side would continue to be released through a speedy procedure," Michel said. In one recent case, two Azerbaijani soldiers crossed into Armenia – by mistake, according to the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry – and one of them was sentenced to 11.5 years in prison on charges of illegal crossing and smuggling weapons, while the other awaits trial for the murder of a civilian. 

Michel again spoke of "the need for a transparent and constructive dialogue between Baku and the population" of Armenian-controlled Nagorno Karabakh, emphasizing "developing a positive agenda with the aim of guaranteeing the rights and security of this population, in close cooperation with the international community."

Dialogue between Baku and representatives of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh seemed to have launched in earnest two months ago but faltered amid Azerbaijan's continuing blockade of the region and regular flare-ups of violence.

Michel announced that the next meeting between the three in Brussels will be in July, and that Aliyev and Pashinyan will also meet with President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany on the margins of the 2nd European Political Community Summit in Chisinau. 

"Will it resolve all the past concerns in Yerevan and Stepanakert toward Brussels? Certainly not. There are and will be many who will question different parts of this statement and why certain issues did not get into the text," Vartanyan tweeted. "What's important is that after more than eight months Brussels is finally back to hosting such meetings – this will not resolve all the problems overnight, but should hopefully prevent emergence of new issues."

Heydar Isayev is a journalist from Baku.

Azerbaijan State Security Service announces detention of 2 ‘agents’ working for Armenia
Armenia – May 16 2023

The State Security Service of Azerbaijan has announced that it has detained two persons who allegedly carried out intelligence-disruptive activities on the assignment of the special services of Armenia.

As per the respective statement, “As a result of the taken measures, Rashad Ahmadov Ahmad (born in 1980), who was suspected of committing treason and planning to commit acts of terrorism and sabotage in Azerbaijan by settling in the territory of a third country and carrying out the tasks of Armenian special services, was detained and brought to criminal responsibility in the Republic of Azerbaijan.”

“It was determined that Rashad Ahmadov [together with Rovshan Amirov (born in 1991)] fulfilled the tasks given by the special services of the mentioned country to the detriment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, state security and defense capability of the Republic of Azerbaijan by engaging in secret cooperation in exchange for financial interest. Based on the instructions given to him, together with other persons, he prepared video materials containing open calls to create enmity on ethnic and religious grounds in Azerbaijan and to break up the territorial integrity of the Republic. Those video materials were created by the Armenian special services and shared on Youtube channels operating in Azerbaijani language and other social networks under their control. Rashad Ahmadov, under the auspices of the Armenian special services, arranged for the distribution of 200 fake maps with fragmented descriptions of the territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan, specially designed by the head of the Yerevan State University Garnik Asatryan and others, among the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan for the purpose of ethnic separatism,” also reads the statement disseminated by the Azerbaijani mass media.

Baku advises EU ambassador to Armenia ‘not to interfere in the affairs of Azerbaijan’
Armenia – May 16 2023

Baku has advised the European Union (EU) ambassador to Armenia "not to interfere in the affairs of Azerbaijan."

"The EU ambassador's attempt to interfere in Azerbaijan's internal affairs is unacceptable," said Ayhan Hajizadeh, spokesperson of the Azerbaijani foreign ministry, answering the question about the statements of Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia.

Referring to the statement by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, Wiktorin said that the rights and security of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh should be ensured, and an international mechanism should be created for this.

Hajizadeh stated that "Azerbaijan's position on this matter is well known."

"The statements of the ambassador of the European Union, which are an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of Azerbaijan, contrary to the norms and principles of international law, are unacceptable. The Karabakh region is the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan, and, like other national minorities in Azerbaijan, the rights and security of Armenians living in the country will be ensured within the framework of Azerbaijani legislation. No one should interfere with the efforts of the Azerbaijani side to dialogue with Armenian residents. It is necessary to put an end to preconceived notions against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan," said the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.

US State Department: Azerbaijan is destroying Armenian spiritual heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh
Armenia – May 16 2023

The US Department of State has released the 2022 Religious Freedom Report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). In particular, in the report, Azerbaijan is on the list of countries under special watch.

In 2022, the state of religious freedom in Azerbaijan had negative dynamics. The government continued to exercise considerable control over religious figures, continuing to prosecute and detain them.

It is noted in the report that at the end of last year, 19 people were imprisoned in Azerbaijan for their religious beliefs. Local human rights organizations also say that the government continued to use physical violence, detain, and imprison religious activists, and that many of the arrests of religious activists—including on drug charges—were political in nature.

The report points as well to the destruction of the Armenian spiritual heritage by Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh territories now under the control of Baku.

International bodies and other organizations continue to question the willingness of the Azerbaijani government to protect and preserve the religious and cultural heritage in Nagorno-Karabakh and adjacent territories under Azerbaijani control, the report adds.

In February, the then minister of culture of Azerbaijan Anar Karimov  announced the creation of a working group to remove the "fake" Armenian apostolic inscriptions from churches. But apparently, after international outrage, the government abandoned the plan, and in March, the European Parliament condemned Azerbaijan's continued policy of destruction and denial of Armenian cultural heritage in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, the report notes.

USCIRF recommends that the US government provide funding to the United States Agency for International Development and the US embassy in Azerbaijan to restore, preserve, and protect places of worship and other religious or cultural sites in Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas.

ANC of Rhode Island secures establishment of Friendship City between Cranston and Stepanakert

ANC of Rhode Island secures Friendship City between Cranston, Rhode Island, and Stepanakert, Republic of Artsakh.

CRANSTON, RI – On April 24, 2023, Rhode Island’s Cranston City Council issued a proclamation establishing a Friendship City between Cranston and Stepanakert, Republic of Artsakh. This Friendship City is just one of many initiatives of the ANC of Rhode Island, which has engaged federal, state and city governments to advance the Armenian Cause for decades. In fact, the Rhode Island House of Representatives was the first government body in the world to officially recognize Artsakh in 2012.

“We are extremely proud of the work that the ANC of Rhode Island, together with Mayor Kenneth J. Hopkins, did to secure this Friendship City,” said ANC of Rhode Island chair Steve Elmasian.

The Cranston/Stepanakert Friendship City, which was spearheaded by the ANC of Rhode Island, will help create a relationship between the people of Cranston and the indigenous Armenians of Stepanakert in the Republic of Artsakh, bridging the two communities together in an effort to foster cooperation. This is the second Friendship City to be secured in the Eastern Region this year. Last month, a Friendship City was established between Granite City, Illinois and the border village of Ashan in the Republic of Artsakh—an initiative of the ANC of Southern Illinois.

The newest Friendship City establishment comes on the heels of the ANC of Rhode Island’s 20th annual flag raising in Cranston in commemoration of April 24. Cranston is Rhode Island’s second largest city and home to the largest Armenian population in the state. 

Stepanakert, the capital of the Republic of Artsakh, has been under attack since 2020. Most recently, the people of Stepanakert have been living under duress and in dire conditions due to the effects of Azerbaijan’s deadly blockade, which has gone on for over 160 days. The current blockade has limited life-supporting essentials such as food, medicine and electricity, igniting a  humanitarian crisis of significant proportions. 

“Our activists showed the people of Artsakh and the world that the Diaspora will not stop their tireless fight to bring justice to the Armenian nation and secure the future of the people of Artsakh. It starts in Cranston, but it definitely doesn’t end there. Rhode Island and the broader Eastern Region stand in solidarity with Artsakh today and always,” concluded Elmasian.

The Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region is part of the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots organization, the ANCA. Working in coordination with the ANCA in Washington, DC, and a network of chapters and supporters throughout the Eastern United States, the ANCA-ER actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.