Turkey’s annual inflation soars to 64.86 percent in January

 19:48, 5 February 2024

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 5, ARMENPRESS. The Turkish economy continues struggling with sky-high inflation. The year-on-year headline inflation rate touched 64.86% in January, up from December's 64.77% and more than analyst estimates of 64.52%. It was also the highest figure since November 2022, reports Euronews.

Month-on-month inflation came in at 6.7%, a large step up from December's 2.93%, as well as slightly above market consensus of 6.49%.

It is noted that, however, core inflation for the month of January, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, clocked in at 70.48%, down from 70.64% in December.

Parliament majority leader, French ambassador discuss Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization

 16:36, 1 February 2024

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 1, ARMENPRESS. Head of the Civil Contract faction in parliament Hayk Konjoryan on February 1 met with French Ambassador to Armenia Olivier Decottignies.

In a readout, the parliament press service said the majority leader and the French ambassador discussed the course of the democratic reforms in Armenia and attached importance to the unwavering implementation of the fight against corruption. Views were exchanged around the Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process. Konjoryan highly appreciated France’s strong support to Armenia in all sectors.

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 30-01-24


YEREVAN, 30 JANUARY, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 30 January, USD exchange rate up by 0.15 drams to 403.96 drams. EUR exchange rate up by 0.89 drams to 437.81 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate up by 0.01 drams to 4.52 drams. GBP exchange rate down by 0.90 drams to 512.18 drams.

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

Gold price up by 62.33 drams to 26267.45 drams. Silver price up by 1.28 drams to 298.78 drams.

Jerusalem: Armenian Christians fight controversial land deal

Jan 21 2024

While Christmas may be a distant memory for many, the Armenians of Jerusalem only just held their annual celebration on 19 January.

This year, the holiday was overshadowed by the war in Gaza and the ongoing threat to the survival of the community from a deeply controversial real estate deal.

Many spent the day in an unconventional fashion, joining a sit-in at a tent in their church car park, which is part of a large plot at risk in the Armenian Quarter of the walled Old City.

"This illegal, treacherous land deal actually brought us all together," says Setrag Balian, a ceramicist turned activist.

Armenians date their presence in the holy city back to the 4th Century. Many of the 2,000-strong community live inside the large, cobble-stoned compound of St James Convent.

In the past, they have often been divided by political differences and family fights and there have been rifts between Jerusalemite Armenians and their Church leaders who act as employers and landlords for many.

Yet for two months, local Armenians and priests have all been staying in a large, improvised tent here, around-the-clock, to try to block the development going ahead. They eat here and work shifts as guards behind a makeshift barricade decorated with Armenian flags.

Together, they say, they have seen off attacks by contractors with bulldozers, armed settlers and masked thugs.

  • Controversial land sale angers Jerusalem Armenians
  • Jerusalem Christians say attacks on the rise

"Everything was put in danger with this deal," Setrag says. "Whoever wants to take away our rights and endanger our presence and our lives here, we will stand up against them and defend our rights till the end."

Last April, facts began to emerge about a 2021 contract secretly signed between the Armenian Patriarch and a Jewish Australian-Israeli developer. It gave a newly-created firm, Xana Gardens, a 98-year lease to build and operate a luxury hotel in an area known as the Cow's Garden.

The deal covered a plot of 11,500 sq m, abutting the ramparts of the south-western corner of the Old City, with an option to take over an even bigger area.

It includes the car park, some church buildings and the homes of five Armenian families, accounting for about 25% of the Armenian Quarter.

Located on Mount Zion, it has huge religious significance and is incredibly valuable real estate but an annual fee of just $300,000 (£237,000) was to be paid by the developer.

"For that amount you could barely rent yourself a couple of falafel shops in the Old City," commented one Armenian using the car park, who asked for his name not to be used.

Amid heated protests by locals and a decision by Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to withdraw their recognition of the patriarch over his role in the deal, pressure grew on the Church to cancel the contract.

Meanwhile, an international team of Armenian lawyers came to investigate and give advice.

The patriarch claimed he had been tricked by a trusted priest who was later defrocked. He finally announced a formal move to cancel the deal in October.

At that point, tensions between Armenians and representatives of the developer – whose workers had forcibly taken over the car park – began turning into direct confrontations.

When Israeli bulldozers arrived at the contested site to try to begin demolition, Armenians rushed to block it. The next month, there were claims of intimidation as the developer arrived with several armed men.

Further attempted incursions came after the protest tent was set up. The most violent was last month when masked men came to the car park beating people with sticks and using tear gas. A priest, Father Diran Hagopian, broadcast events on Facebook Live.

"They were shouting, 'you should go out from this land'," he later told the BBC. "One of their leaders was shouting: 'You can break their legs, you can even kill them, but they should leave.'"

The apparent involvement of known Jewish settlers in attacks alongside other evidence has increased long-held suspicions that a powerful settler organisation is involved in the attempted land takeover.

Ever since Israel captured the Old City and its holy sites from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War, Jewish investors in Israel and overseas have sought to buy properties to try to cement Israeli control over occupied East Jerusalem.

Palestinians want this part of the city as the capital of their hoped-for future state. Jewish Israelis view the whole of the city as their eternal, undivided capital.

Researchers at the Israeli non-profit organisation Ir Amim, which is focused on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and supports the diversity of Jerusalem, are worried about developments in the Armenian Quarter.

"This is close to sensitive places," says Aviv Tatarksy. "Creating a settlement in this area is part of very far-reaching aims of settler organisations who basically want to Judaise completely the Old City, with their eyes on the Temple Mount or al-Aqsa Mosque."

The settlements built in occupied territory are seen as illegal under international law, although Israel disagrees.

The BBC has contacted the developer behind Xana Gardens several times but not heard back.

The now-defrocked American priest who coordinated the deal, Baret Yeretsian , was surrounded by a mob of angry young Armenians shouting "traitor" as he exited St James Convent last year, assisted by Israeli police, before moving to Southern California.

He has since denied to journalists that the developer has any political or ideological agenda, describing such accusations as "propaganda" based on his Jewish identity.

The Armenian Church has now begun proceedings through the Israeli courts to challenge the validity of the contract for the Cows' Garden.

As locals gathered around a brightly lit Christmas tree in their makeshift tent last week, they remained resolute but were aware that their legal fight could easily take years.

Whether incursions can be stopped in the meantime remains to be seen.

Azerbaijan obstructs process of unblocking regional infrastructures, Armenia warns EU


YEREVAN, JANUARY 19, ARMENPRESS. Azerbaijan is obstructing the unblocking of regional infrastructures, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanyan told Toivo Klaar, the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, during a meeting on Thursday.

In a readout, the foreign ministry said Kostanyan and Klaar “discussed the recent developments on regional security and establishment of peace.”

“In this context, the Deputy Foreign Minister drew the attention of interlocutors to the destructive statements made by the President of Azerbaijan in his recent interview, which aim to deviate from the peace agenda. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vahan Kostanyan stressed that the former USSR member states, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, recognize each other's borders in accordance with the Alma-Ata Declaration of December 1991, and the delimitation work should be carried out on the basis of the latest maps available at the time of the dissolution of the USSR. The Deputy Minister also emphasized the imperative of the withdrawal of the Azerbaijani armed forces from the sovereign territory of Armenia. Vahan Kostanyan noted that Azerbaijan is hindering the process of unblocking regional infrastructures, the 4 well-known principles of which — sovereignty, jurisdiction, reciprocity and equality — have been previously agreed between the parties,” the ministry said.

‘Civil Contract’ nominates Karen Tumanyan for the position of member of Supreme Judicial Council


YEREVAN, JANUARY 12, ARMENPRESS: The 'Civil Contract' faction of the National Assembly of Armenia has nominated Karen Tumanyan for the position of a member of the Supreme Judicial Council.

 “According to Article 144.2 of the Constitutional Law the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly, the Civil Contract Faction of the National Assembly has nominated Karen Tumanyan as a candidate for the position of a member of the Supreme Judicial Council,” reads  the statement signed by the Vice President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, the Acting National Assemby President Hakob Arshakyan.

Armenian capital: Antisemitic movement marches with Nazi flag

Jerusalem Post
Jan 4 2024

Hatred for Jews has no boundaries: The few Jews remaining in the Armenian capital continue to endure harassment, and following several deliberate acts of arson on the country’s only synagogue, the climax was a neo-Nazi march in the heart of the city with no intervention on the part of the authorities or the police.

The hatred for Jews and for Israel never stops – with the current war being cited as the reason of course. On January 1st, the capital city of Armenia, a country not exactly teeming with Jews, was host to a serious incident when a group of neo-Nazis paraded down the streets of Yerevan with flags displaying stylized swastikas, and chanting derogatory slogans against internal and external enemies. 

The movement in question is the Husnak movement, a nationalist movement whose website praises Hitler and contains anti-Semitic caricatures, and articles calling for the deportation of Jews and for the “exposure of their activities towards children.”

More than a month has passed since the report, which circulated worldwide, of the second arson attack on the only synagogue in Armenia within weeks, by local antisemitic entities. The true reason for these anti-Semitic acts is not the current war in Gaza, but rather, as reported several times, it is due to the support given by Israel to Azerbaijan, Armenia’s sworn rival. 

There has been a recent increase in anti-Semitism due to the conflict in the Karabakh region, and at the start of the New Year, on January 1st, a crowd of young Neo-Nazis organized a march with stylized flags displaying a swastikas.. 

According to reports published on the networks, these same young neo-Nazis organized a march to the memorial of Garegin Nzhdeh, who was an Armenian collaborator of the Nazis (and whose birthday falls on January 1st).  A bouquet of flowers was placed on the memorial and they saluted him with raised arms.

The Jewish community is outraged that the Armenian authorities took no action against the “shameful acts, and against the extremist group that raised its head.” Additionally, Jewish community representatives added that “the police did not stop the march, nor summon any of the participants for questioning, and in all probability, seeing as what has been happening in the country lately, they must be quite satisfied with these acts.”

Moreover, no one was arrested for the arson attempts on the only synagogue in the country. According to media reports, a group calling itself the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia threatened to attack rabbis and Israelis all over the world, and praised Hamas and Hezbollah following the massacre of October 7th.

Also, according to an article in the Jerusalem Post, former advisor to the armed forces of Armenia, Vladimir Poghosyan, made anti-Semitic remarks and claimed to be helping Hamas and Hezbollah to kill Jews: “I will shout out to the whole world about the just killing of Jews.” In addition, a video clip features him claiming that Jews have no right to exist, as he says, “You are jackals that need to be exterminated completely.”

He also made several serious statements, including that Israel was lucky that he did not assist Hamas and Hezbollah: “I would have killed 100,000 Jews.” The state did nothing to stop him.

If that is not enough, Armenian-Iranian ties are strengthening and becoming more strategic. The Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, arrived in Yerevan last Wednesday, where he made clear the high level of importance of Armenia to Iran.

At a press conference, Amir-Abdollahian emphasized Tehran’s support for the territorial integrity of Armenia, and remarked that the bilateral trade has to reach one billion dollars in 2024, which, of course, was an allusion to the return of the Karabakh region to Azerbaijan, which is supported by Israel.


International banks interested in Armenia’s Crossroads of Peace project


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 29, ARMENPRESS. Various international banking donor organizations have been displaying interest for the Crossroads of Peace project developed by the Armenian government, the Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Gnel Sanosyan has said.

“During our discussions they are trying to outline that they too are interested, and they’d be happy to be involved in case of a necessity of implementing construction or other processes in certain parts of the project. Thus, the signals have been rather positive,” Sanosyan said at a press conference.

Azerbaijan and Armenia Leaders Ready to Finalize Peace Treaty

Hong Kong – Dec 26 2023
By: Momen Zellmi

The longstanding conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region may soon see resolution. This follows an announcement by Dmitry Peskov, the Press Secretary for the President of Russia, stating that the leaders of the two nations have shown readiness to finalize a peace agreement. This development signifies a major stride towards ending hostilities and establishing enduring peace in the South Caucasus.

According to Russian media reports, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, have expressed their willingness to finalize a peace treaty. This came to light during an informal CIS summit in Saint Petersburg on December 26. The leaders’ readiness to reach a consensus on a single document underscores a potentially historic breakthrough in the protracted dispute.

The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which dates back to the times of the Ottoman and Qajar empires, has triggered two wars between the countries. Despite ongoing negotiations, challenges and tensions continue to persist. The Azerbaijani Foreign Minister stressed that a peace treaty would not resolve all disputes, while the Armenian Prime Minister expressed optimism about signing a peace agreement if Azerbaijan accepts mutually agreed principles.

Amid these hopeful developments, relations between Azerbaijan and France have been strained, with Azerbaijan declaring two French embassy employees as personae non gratae. This comes as Baku accuses France of favoritism towards Armenia in European-mediated peace talks. Despite initial hopes for a comprehensive peace agreement by the year’s end, negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, facilitated by international mediation, have shown minimal progress.


"CSTO technically cannot create a unified air defense system": Opinion from Yerevan

Dec 19 2023
  • JAMnews
  • Yerevan

CSTO Unified Air Defense System

On December 19 a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the CSTO military bloc under the leadership of Russia will be held where the issue of creating a unified air defense system will be discussed. However, Armenia stated that it will not participate in the session. Recently, the country’s authorities have refused to participate in all events organized within the framework of pro-Russian integration structures.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to another boycott by saying that Armenia’s absnece at the CSTO assembly will not affect the decision on the creation of the organization’s air defense system. The Armenian Foreign Ministry has not yet commented on whether Armenia is going to join the system if the decision on its creation is made.

Meanwhile, political scientist David Harutyunov told JAMnews that it is technically impossible to create a unified air defense system within the CSTO. According to him, this means cooperation in the format of “CSTO member country-Russia”.

  • “Crossroads of the World project will increase opportunities for access to the sea” – Pashinyan
  • Armenia-EU alliance. How to reach this level of relations? Opinion
  • “By providing a corridor, Armenia can request a road to the Black Sea.” Opinion

The speaker of the Armenian parliament was supposed to take part in the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly session. However, in late November, Alen Simonyan announced that he would not participate in the event.

“I have informed my CSTO colleagues that I will not participate in the event. There is no response from them yet and, I think, there will be none. I’m sure they understand the reasons for non-attendance.”

At the same time, the Speaker of the National Assembly emphasized that lack of parrticipation does not mean “freezing of relations” and that Armenia has no intention to withdraw from the CSTO.

“Simply participation in this event is not expedient in the current situation. And the situation is such that the CSTO does not fulfill its obligations [towards Armenia] and did not fulfill its obligations earlier,” Simonyan said, commenting on the issue at the request of journalists.

The Russian side said that the absence of the Armenian delegation would not affect decision-making on the creation of a unified air defense system.

“Their physical non-appearance for participation does not significantly slow down the processes of harmonization by other member states of the adoption of collective here documents, to which in many cases they join,” Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Pankin told reporters.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also touched upon the creation of a joint air defense system. He noted that it is actually already in operation, as there are relevant bilateral agreements with each state. And in the case of the CSTO, all that remains is to document the existence of the system.

The agreement on the creation of a unified air defense system between Armenia and Russia was signed on December 23, 2015, three months before the April 2016 four-day war. The situation at that time was tense both on the line of contact with Nagorno-Karabakh and on Armenia’s border, in the Tavush region. After the end of hostilities at the end of June, the agreement was submitted for parliamentary approval.

Armenian media are now reminding their audiences of these events, including quoting and clarification from the Defense Ministry from 2016 on what capabilities this agreement will provide Armenia:

“The agreement provides an opportunity to use the capabilities of the Air and Space Forces of the Russian Armed Forces, up to the use of nuclear weapons. The Air and Space Forces of the Russian Armed Forces have a satellite system that can be used on the territory of Armenia in the interests of the Armenian Air Defense Forces. The Russian side also has surveillance systems that can be used in the interests of Armenia.”

However, there is no information about the practical application of the points of this agreement signed seven years ago, despite the fact that after 2016, the Armenian authorities have twice appealed to Russia and other allies in the CSTO bloc to help protect the country’s sovereign territory — the advance of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces deep into the territory of Armenia in May 2021 and September 2022.

Political scientist David Arutyunov says that it is not clear what kind of unified air defense system we can talk about. He believes that it is impossible to create it within the CSTO:

“The countries that are members of the bloc are located in different geographical zones – in Europe, Central Asia, and the South Caucasus. First of all, it is impossible to combine all this. And secondly, it simply does not need to be done. Each of these countries is only interested in protecting its own borders.”

He explains that cooperation in the field of air defense is achieved on a bilateral basis, i.e. between a CSTO member country and Russia. According to him, Armenia’s cooperation with Russia in this sphere began even before the signing of the agreement. In particular, one of the main functions of the Russian military base stationed in Armenia was to create air defense:

“A significant part of Armenia’s air defense, along the entire border with Turkey is provided by the Russian side. And this is one of the reasons why Armenia still exists.”

Arutyunov recalls that many Armenian-Russian agreements were signed in the 90s, when in parallel with the war in Karabakh there was a threat of an attack on Armenia by Turkey. At the same time he emphasizes that there were no documents and it was not assumed that the RF would defend the territory of MK:

“As for the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, the lack of reaction and non-interference was a political decision of the Russian Federation, as Russians do not want to enter into a conflict with Azerbaijan.”

The political scientist considers this problematic, but notes that since 2010 Armenia’s role in Russia’s foreign policy priorities has declined, mainly because of its “presence in Crimea and military base in Syria, as well as the development of Russian-Turkish relations”.

As for the CSTO, according to Arutyunov, the bloc “was not a very effective structure from the beginning.” For Armenia, membership in the organization was just an opportunity to buy cheap weapons. In addition, the CSTO reinforced the guarantees that Armenia already had within the framework of agreements with Russia.

“Perhaps there was some sentiment in Armenia that the bloc would immediately respond and rush to save Armenia. But I don’t know where they came from. There are very few real cases when this structure did anything,” he said.

It is not clear to the political analyst what Armenia will get as a result of leaving the CSTO as there are no alternative guarantees offered by the West:

“A certain diversification in the security sphere is simply inevitable. We see that Russia is not ready to provide at least part of the guarantees that it was initially supposed to provide.”

According to Arutyunov, Armenia has “maneuvering resources” in order not to break ties with Russia and, at the same time, to develop them with the West.