Secy. Blinken Signs Memorandum On Strategic Civil Nuclear Cooperation With Armenian Foreign Minister

May 3 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan signed a memorandum of understanding on strategic civil nuclear cooperation.

Blinken welcomed Ararat Mirzoyan to the State Department Monday, where he said the memorandum opens new paths for cooperation and may strengthen bilateral ties. The two also spoke about improving defense ties and fighting corruption in Armenia among other issues.

Blinken noted, Armenia is going through “challenging times,” but said the nation has a true friend and partner in the US. He went on to praise the country’s government.

“I just want to take this opportunity as we’re sitting here to, in the first instance, praise the leadership of the prime minister and his government, the democratic reforms that they’ve been pursuing, the the progress that continues to be made,” he stated. “But also to very much welcome the dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

Armenia’s foreign minister thanked Blinken for the nation’s support for Armenia’s nuclear energy sector and noted this year mark’s 30-years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

https://www.oann.com/secy-blinken-signs-memorandum-on-strategic-civil-nuclear-cooperation-with-armenian-foreign-minister/

Armenia has a unique position in the Ukraine-Russia war – opinion


May 3 2022




On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion campaign to destroy Ukraine. The invasion, however, did not go as planned. Russia has not been able to capture any strategically important Ukrainian cities, and the Russian army suffered heavy material losses.

The Russian occupation forces retreated from Kyiv and the neighboring Chernihiv region in early April, as a result of a united front and extraordinary resistance. 

On the other hand, experts on Russia warn against describing this pullback as a decisive victory for Ukraine. Although the pull-out indicates that Putin’s plans have been turned upside down, it also provides an opportunity for Putin’s aggressive war machine to regroup its forces and strike new blows to Ukraine.


Kyiv is aware of this as well, and President Volodymyr Zelensky said “Support us in whatever way you can” in one of his appeals implying that an intense battle is on the horizon. However, Kyiv is not the only country looking for allies as it prepares for the war’s worst phase. So is Moscow. Armenia, a traditional and long-standing military-political ally of Russia, is at the top of the list.

Armenia is Russia’s only ally in the South Caucasus. It is home to two Russian military bases and more than 3,000 Russian troops opposing NATO’s eastern flank. 


Armenia is also involved in a number of Kremlin-led neo-imperial projects: The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), formalized in the aftermath of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, is Moscow’s trade orbit to keep its Eurasian neighbours under its dominance, while the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) attempts to balance NATO in this part of the world.

Russia also officially protects Armenia’s airspace and state borders. It’s unsurprising that a country with such close military-political ties with Moscow is among Putin’s closest allies.

Yet, Yerevan has very little room to maneuver because it remains so heavily reliant on Moscow. Russia is Armenia’s main trading partner and investor with the two countries sharing a single market by virtue of their membership in the Eurasian trade block. 


The countries’ defense systems are largely integrated, with Russia serving as Armenia’s security guarantor. Its security architecture was designed by Russia and Armenian military officers are trained in Russian academies, a long-standing post-Soviet policy.

ARMENIA IS essentially Russia’s geopolitical hostage. In February, Armenia abstained from voting on a UN security resolution calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine. Days later, when the UN Human Rights Council called for an urgent debate on the war, Armenia again abstained.

Armenia’s political support for Russia on the international stage is nothing new. When Russia invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014, Armenia made its geopolitical alignment clear and refused to cooperate with the EU. Then-Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan was reportedly the first leader to congratulate the Kremlin on its annexation of Crimea in March 2014. 

Much like North Korea, Syria and Iran, Armenia has reliably voted against UN resolutions condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine. Yerevan even established trade ties with annexed Crimea, violating Ukrainian laws.

With Russia likely to be weakened as a result of its Ukraine invasion, Armenia may face greater pressure to move closer to the West. Politically, Yerevan has already faced pressure from Moscow with both countries’ foreign ministers holding talks at the beginning of March, where the coordination of approaches in the international area was discussed. 

Benyamin Poghosyan, head of the Yerevan-based Center for Political and Economic Strategic Studies, is confident that the Ukraine war will accelerate the emergence of a post-unipolar world. What’s less clear is what that world will look like. 

“If there is no regime change in Russia, the long-term Cold War will start between Russia and the West, with clear dividing lines,” maintains Poghosyan. “In this scenario, Armenia, as a part of the Russian zone of influence, will be on the other side of the barricade, which definitely will negatively impact Armenia’s relations with Euro-Atlantic institutions and separate states.”


Armenia has no free trade agreement with the EU, but remains firmly entrenched in the Russian ecosystem as a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Armenia could thus help link high-value Russian sectors unable to operate in Moscow to the global economy. Already, dozens of Russian companies, mostly IT firms, have relocated to Yerevan.

Armenia’s economic ministry has even published a guide for Russian businesses seeking to relocate, explaining everything from how to register a business to renting an apartment to bringing pets across the border. There is a precedent for this, as Yerevan’s relationship with Russia could parallel its cooperation with Iran. 

Despite extensive US sanctions from 2014, Yerevan did not curtail trade with Tehran. In 2018, the neighbors signed an interim free trade agreement with the EAEU, enabling duty-free trade and closer cooperation.

However, Armenia’s activities appear to have caught the notice of Western countries. “The secretary urged the US commitment, alongside other partners, to continue to hold Moscow and its supporters accountable for the Kremlin’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine” Blinken said to Armenia’s Prime Minister Pashinyan in a phone call. 

Yet, this reminder does not appear to be sufficient and the US has recently said that it is in contact with Armenian officials to ensure that Armenia does not assist Russia in evading sanctions.

Looking ahead, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine looks set to alter the regional balance of power. A dogged Ukrainian resistance plus a litany of Russian blunders and mistakes has put Moscow in a hole. A weakened Russia will almost certainly increase the risks for Armenia’s security architecture, with 90% of the country’s arms coming from Russia and its security dictated by Russia, particularly in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia’s options are limited.

In the late 2020 war, Azerbaijan regained much of the territory it had lost to Armenia in the first war between the two in the early 1990s. But, it continues to seek control over the remaining portion. If Russia were to withdraw, Armenia would likely lose its last remaining foothold. If yet another war broke out, it’s not certain that Russia would even be able to supply arms to Armenia.

Under that scenario, Moscow might force Armenia to recognize the southeastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent or Russian-controlled territories. Russia could also seek to bring Armenia into an axis with Belarus. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has already said Armenia can’t escape such a move.

Ukraine has shown how unpredictable and irrational Putin can be, particularly to his supposed brethren. As an embittered Russia emerges from the ashes of Ukraine, Armenia may find itself caught in the crossfire.

The writer is a freelance journalist based in London.



Moscow`s intensified activities in South Caucasus its response to West – Alexander Skakov

ARMINFO
Armenia – May 3 2022
David Stepanyan

ArmInfo. Moscow's intensified activities in the South Caucasus is its response to the West's steps to isolate Russia, including in the South Caucasus, Alexander Skakov,  Deputy Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, RF Academy of  Sciences, said in an interview with ArmInfo. 

"It is common knowledge that, especially after the war broke out in  Ukraine, the West has spared no effort to prevent the formation of  any regional cooperation formats involving Russia. And given the  sactions, including diplomatic sanctions, aimed at isolating Russia  Moscow needs – as never before – to intensify its policy in the  Caucasus as well," he said. 

In such critical conditions Moscow is more active, and the 3+3 format  mentioned in the final communiqu‚ of the latest meetings between the  Russian and Armenian leaders in Moscow is evidence thereof. Under the  circumstances, all the regional formats – even those initiated by  Turkey – are of importance for Russia if it is directly involved. 

The major problem in implementing the 3+3 format is, according to Mr  Skakov, Georgia's unwillingness to participate because of Russia.  Tbilisi is thus "breaking the format" in the aforementioned West's  interests, which will by no means prevent Georgia's leadership from  showing restraint in dealing with Moscow over Ukraine. 

"In any case, Russia's special relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan  could well cause them to attempt to attract Georgia too to the 3+3 or  to other regional cooperation formats. And the 3+3 will be much more  efficient after the regional communications are unblocked, a rather  complicated, but feasible process, which, beyond doubt, has pretty  good prospects and is, by and large, in the interests of all the  participants," Mr Skakov said.

Marukyan: There should have been half million people on streets now if people really wanted change of power in Armenia

NEWS.am
Armenia – May 9 2022

No loss should hold us back from our national goals, building a stronger state. Edmon Marukyan, Chairman of the Bright Armenia Party and ambassador-at-large of Armenia, told this to reporters Monday at Yerablur Military Pantheon.

"We have made many mistakes, and that is why we are in this situation today. This is a great lesson for all of us to restore what was lost. There is no alternative to building a strong state. If you do not build a strong state, you will lose future wars, too, your nation can become a victim of genocide," he said.

To the question whether he considers it possible that we can bring Shushi city of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) back during the rule of the incumbent Armenian authorities, Marukyan answered: "Nothing needs to be said, but needs to be done. When I say that a strong state should be built, everyone can see their dream in it. Now is not the time for any authorities of the Republic of Armenia—be it present, past or future—to show ambitions and boast against our enemies. Now is not the time for that, now is the time to build a strong state. If we had built that strong state after the previous victories, we would not have reached today. It is not necessary to say something, but to do something. (…). People, let's build our state first, have a strong and effective state."

Referring to the protest actions of the opposition, Marukyan mentioned that it is their right to hold such actions.

"The people have given them [parliamentary] opposition  mandate to act. It is clear that many of them participated in order to com to power, not working as an opposition. But it turned out that way, it is the people's decision, this is the result. But the right of any political unit is to hold marches and demonstrations. But in the political sense I do not even see the worded issue," he said, in particular.

According to Marukyan, the agenda of the change of power put forward by the opposition has no content.

"You have to put content with it. Less than a year has passed since we went to the change of power. We dissolved the National Assembly, we went to the elections, let them come to power. The people did not bring them to power, did not elect them. What should we do? We were not elected either. What should we do? Let's demonstrate all day what we did not enter [parliament]?

If the actions of the current authorities really caused concern among the public, now there should have been half a million people on the streets. If this does not happen, then there is a misjudgment of the situation. If the people want a change of power, they will take to the streets and change the authorities. But it does not happen because there has just been an election and people want to live in peace."

Armenpress: Exhibition on Hrant Dink’s life and struggle to open in Yerevan

Exhibition on Hrant Dink’s life and struggle to open in Yerevan

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 09:10, 5 May, 2022

YEREVAN, MAY 5, ARMENPRESS. An exhibition on Hrant Dink’s life and struggle will open May 7 until July 30 at the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art in Yerevan.

The Hrant Dink: Here and Now exhibition is organized by the Hrant Dink Foundation on the 15th anniversary of the assassination of the editor-in-chief of Agos Newspaper Hrant Dink.

Hrant Dink was assassinated in Istanbul in front of his newspaper’s office on January 19, 2007.

The former office of Agos Newspaper, where thousands gather every year on the day of his assassination to commemorate and demand justice, opened its doors to visitors on April 23-24, 2019 as the 23.5 Hrant Dink Site of Memory.

23.5 promotes the universal values embraced by Hrant Dink such as democracy, co-existence, equality, truth, peace and justice. With its exhibits, archives and public programs, 23.5 acts as a space for remembrance, reflection, dialogue, learning and mutual understanding.

The site of memory takes its name from Hrant Dink’s article ‘23.5 April’, which was published in Agos on April 23rd, 1996.

The Hrant Dink: Here and Now exhibition is an extension of 23,5, said Talin Suzme, Turkey-Armenia Programme Coordinator at the Hrant Dink Foundation.

Hrant Dink will be the narrator and the guide telling his own story and his path of righteousness. Separate corners of the exhibition will be a focus on themes such as memory, justice and minority rights in Turkey.

Hrant Dink Foundation project coordinator Armenuhi Nikoghosyan said the exhibition will make Dink’s voice heard in different parts of the world and present his path of struggle.

“In Turkey, Hrant Dink was speaking about topics which weren’t that much acceptable then. His voice was silenced, but his family is doing everything they can to make Hrant Dink’s voice heard all over the world. Democracy, freedom of speech, justice, these are the issues that concern not only Turkey but other countries,” she said.

She added that the civil society is now under pressure in Turkey, and many NGOs are working in difficult conditions, facing various formal inspections and procedures.

The Hrant Dink Foundation has also faced problems. In 2020, the Dink family lawyer received threats, but many people stood by the foundation and only then legal processes were initiated.

US Secretary of State tests positive for COVID-19

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 11:21, 5 May, 2022

YEREVAN, MAY 5, ARMENPRESS. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tested positive for COVID-19, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a press statement.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken tested positive for COVID-19 this afternoon via a PCR test. The Secretary is fully vaccinated and boosted against the virus and is experiencing only mild symptoms”, Ned Price said, adding that the Secretary has not seen President Joe Biden in person for several days, and the President is not considered a close contact according to guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The Secretary will isolate at home and maintain a virtual work schedule. He looks forward to returning to the Department and resuming his full duties and travels as soon as possible”, the spokesperson said.

Recently Secretary Blinken met with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan in Washington D.C., Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde and Japanese National Security Advisor Akiba Takeo.




Worker at Armenia’s Sotk mine shot by Azeri military

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 16:54, 7 May, 2022

YEREVAN, MAY 7, ARMENPRESS. A miner working in the Sotk gold mine in Armenia’s Gegharkunik Province was shot and wounded by Azerbaijani military shooting on May 7, the mine’s operator GeoProMining told ARMENPRESS.

GeoProMining representative Ruzanna Grigoryan told ARMENPRESS that the shootings began in the evening of May 6 but intensified midday May 7. “The victim is the driller. He is hospitalized and is in a stable condition. The man was wounded in his left arm, in the direction of the heart, but fortunately he didn’t suffer internal organ injuries,” Grigoryan said.

The mine’s operations are now suspended and all employees were evacuated.

As of 17:00 the shootings had stopped, Grigoryan said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense of Armenia told ARMENPRESS that it would soon issue a on the incident.

UPDATES:

17:17 – Ministry of Defense issues 

https://armenpress.am/eng/news/1082690.html?fbclid=IwAR3xmN32cVHQSnHNYoX1mE9bz_zBo3OpBXbXQ77TeuBms132rZlFVjvO81I

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 05-05-22

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 17:50, 5 May, 2022

YEREVAN, 5 MAY, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 5 May, USD exchange rate up by 9.86 drams to 464.49 drams. EUR exchange rate up by 13.72 drams to 492.31 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate up by 0.41 drams to 7.02 drams. GBP exchange rate up by 13.64 drams to 582.70 drams.

The Central Bank has set the following prices for precious metals.

Gold price up by 502.36 drams to 27831.19 drams. Silver price up by 6.65 drams to 337.43 drams. Platinum price stood at 16414.1 drams.

Turkey denies FlyOne Armenia overflight permit

Public Radio of Armenia
May 5 2022

The Turkish aviation authorities have denied FlyOne Armenia airline an overflight permit for flights to European countries through its airspace.  

The airline is therefore canceling all flights to Lyon and Paris until June 10.  

Meanwhile, the Yerevan-Istanbul-Yerevan flights will be carried out as scheduled.

FlyOne Armenia will provide further updates on the resumption of flights. It apologizes to passengers for the inconvenience this may cause.

The company offers to change the date of the flight or get a full refund.

Over 20 Australian politicians call on Government to recognize the Armenian Genocide

Public Radio of Armenia
May 5 2022

Over 20 federal and state political leaders have demonstrated the growing disparity between the elected parliamentarians of Australia and the country’s Government with 107th Anniversary statements accurately characterizing the Armenian Genocide and calling on their colleagues in the executive branch to do the same, reported the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

Video statements from political leaders across Australia and all represented major parties were broadcast during Australia’s National Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, which was viewed by thousands on Facebook Live and YouTube on 26 April 2022.

These calls for Australia’s recognition of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides followed statements from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese referring to the Armenian Genocide as “massacres”, “expulsion”. “deportation”, “dispossession” and “deaths”.

Prime Minister Morrison, who in 2011 called on Federal recognition of the Armenian Genocide, acknowledged the outpouring of Australian support for victims of the Armenian Genocide and through the country’s first humanitarian relief effort and went as far as referring to the events of 1915 as “one of the greatest crimes in modern history”.

Opposition Leader Albanese used his statement to call for the Ottoman Empire’s successor state. Turkey to “come to terms with its history”.

Both stopped short of calling these crimes by their name – genocide.

In contrast, the condolence messages from both federal and New South Wales state political leaders in light of the 107th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide went one step further, accurately characterizing the crimes and genocide and calling on the Australian Government to do the same.

Messages were received from Hon. Paul Fletcher MP – Minister Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and Art, Shadow Home Affairs Minister Senator Hon. Kristina Keneally, as well as their Federal parliamentary colleagues, including Leader of The Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP, Co-Chair of the Australia-Armenia Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Union Trent Zimmerman MP, Tim Wilson MP, Julian Leeser MP, Senator Janet Rice, Senator Eric Abetz, Steve Georganas MP, Mike Freelander MP and Jason Falinski MP and Josh Burns MP.

Minister Fletcher conveyed: “I’m proud on this 107th anniversary to repeat my call to again express my strong belief that the Armenian Genocide must be recognised, it must be accurately described for what it was, and that Australia as part of the community of nations must maintain efforts to ensure there is full awareness of what happened,”

Senator Keneally also referred to the Armenian Genocide accurately, and revealed: “(The Australian) Labor (Party) believes the (U.S. President Joe) Biden administration’s decision (to recognise the Armenian Genocide) is an opportunity for the Australian Government to engage in dialogue with diaspora communities in Australia and our international partners on this issue.”

The Australian Greens is the largest cross-bench party in the Australian Parliament with a formal policy supportive of Australian recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Their leader, Adam Bandt said: “The Greens have consistently called on the Australian government to recognise the Armenian Genocide. We must not remain on the wrong side of history along with Turkey and other nations that refuse to acknowledge this horrific tragedy.”

On the 107th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, these sentiments were echoed by nine other federal parliamentarians, while New South Wales Premier Hon. Dominic Perrottet added his name to the long list of the state’s leaders who have addressed the Armenian-Australian community marking the occasion by recalling the “great crime of the Armenian Genocide”.

Perrottet said: “Our commemoration is about more than just remembering, it’s about commitment. Commitment to learn from such atrocities, commitment to making sure these crimes against humanity are never repeated again.”

“25 years ago, the New South Wales parliament became the first in Australia to formally recognise any condemn the Armenian Genocide. I am proud to be part of that parliament because we cannot forget,” he added.

The Premier was joined by fellow state parliamentarians, including Hon. Jonathon O’Dea MP, Hon. Mark Coure MP, Hon. Victor Dominello MP, Hon. Damien Tudehope MLC, Hon. Walt Secord MLC, Hugh McDermott MP, Tim James MP and Tanya Davies MP, who similarly characterised the massacres against Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks accurately.

ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian welcomed the support from the legislators for their “principled stance”.

“What we saw in November 2021 was the exhibition of Australia’s will on this issue, when the Australian Parliament’s House of Representatives unanimously debated in favour of a motion calling for Federal recognition of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides,” said Kayserian.

“These statements from over 20 representatives we’ve elected to parliament echoes those sentiments and represent a further manifestation of when the everyday Australian stands on this issue, and for this we are eternally grateful.”

Kayserian added: “It is now time for the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader of Australia to stand with their constituents and their elected representatives and take one final step by recognising the Armenian Genocide accurately, and stop bowing to empty threats from a foreign dictatorship, whose century-long campaign of denial has been defeated.”