RFE/RL Armenian Service – 12/20/2023


Baku Suggests Peace Deal Without Border Delimitation

        • Nane Sahakian

Armenia - A view of an area in Armenia's Syunik province where Armenian and 
Azerbaijani troops are locked in a border standoff, May 14, 2021. (Photo by the 
Armenian Human Rights Defender's Office)

Armenia and Azerbaijan should sign a peace treaty before delimiting their long 
border, a senior Azerbaijani official said on Tuesday.

The Reuters news agency quoted Hikmet Hajiyev, a top foreign policy adviser to 
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, as telling reporters in London that Baku 
believes "the border delimitation issue should be kept separate from peace 
treaty discussions."

The issue has been one of the main sticking points in Armenian-Azerbaijani talks 
on the treaty. Armenia has said until now that it wants the peace deal to 
contain a concrete mechanism for the border delimitation.

Yerevan insists on using late Soviet-era military maps as a basis in that 
process. Baku rejects the idea backed by the European Union.

Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan 
Kostanian insisted that the two South Caucasus countries must have a “clear 
border” reflecting a 1991 declaration signed by newly independent ex-Soviet 

Kostanian suggested in July that Baku is reluctant to formally recognize 
Armenia’s existing borders because it wants to leave the door open for future 
territorial claims.

“They key question is whether the parties will manage to agree on the 
delimitation principles and the issue of maps before signing the peace treaty,” 
Tigran Grigorian, a political analyst, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on 
Wednesday. “There seems to be no such agreement yet.”

Azerbaijan Signals Conditions For U.S.-Mediated Talks With Armenia

AZERBAIJAN -- Hikmet Hajiyev, the head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department 
of Azerbaijan's Presidential Administration, gives a press briefing in Baku, 
February 26, 2021

Azerbaijani has indicated that it will not hold fresh peace talks with Armenia 
hosted by the United States unless Washington reconsiders what Baku sees as a 
“one-sided approach” to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had been scheduled to host the Armenian 
and Azerbaijani foreign ministers in Washington on November 20 for further 
negotiations on a peace treaty between the two South Caucasus nations. Baku 
cancelled the meeting in protest against statements made by James O’Brien, the 
U.S. assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia.

Speaking during a congressional hearing in Washington on November 15, O’Brien 
condemned Azerbaijan’s September 19-20 military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh 
and warned Baku against attacking Armenia to open a land corridor to its 
Nakhichevan exclave.

“We’ve made clear that nothing will be normal with Azerbaijan after the events 
of September 19 until we see progress on the peace track,” he said, adding that 
Washington has cancelled “high-level visits” by Azerbaijani officials and 
suspended military and other aid to Azerbaijan.

O’Brien visited Baku earlier this month in a bid to convince the Azerbaijani 
leadership to reschedule the cancelled meeting. He announced no agreement to 
that effect after the trip.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s top foreign policy aide, Hikmet Hajiyev, 
complained about Washington’s “one-sided and lopsided approach” when he spoke to 
a small group of Western journalists in London on Tuesday.

“We do expect that there could be some different attitudes ... demonstrated by 
the United States executive branch of government,” Newsweek.com quoted him as 
saying. “Once it's done and we don't have any problems, [we can] continue our 
discussions on the Washington platform and with regard to peace discussions.”

Hajiyev hinted that Baku expects U.S. President Joe Biden to waive Section 907 
of the 1992 Freedom Support Act passed in 1992 that bans U.S. assistance to 
Azerbaijan. Like his predecessors, Biden did so in 2021 and 2022.

“Azerbaijan doesn't need any foreign aid or support … But here the psychological 
aspect and political aspect is very important, because it was unfair treatment 
of Azerbaijan,” said Hajiyev.

Aliyev also withdrew from talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian 
which the European Union had planned to host in October. The EU too has been 
accused by Baku or pro-Armenian bias.

Armenian leaders have suggested that Aliyev is simply dragging his feet on the 
peace treaty in hopes of clinching more concessions from Yerevan

“Azerbaijan may state that it is interested in finalizing the peace treaty with 
Armenia, but unfortunately words are not enough: we need to concentrate on 
deeds,” Deputy Foreign Minister Vahan Kostanian told the BBC in an interview 
published on Tuesday.

“The fact is that Azerbaijan is reluctant to finalize the treaty based on 
principles endorsed by the international community,” he said.

Pashinian Hits Back At Putin

        • Shoghik Galstian
        • Astghik Bedevian

Russia - Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Armenian Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian in his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, April 19, 2022.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 
latest statement blaming him for Azerbaijan’s September military offensive in 
Nagorno-Karabakh and the resulting exodus of the region’s ethnic Armenian 

Putin again claimed last week that Russian peacekeepers could not have thwarted 
the offensive because Pashinian had downgraded their mandate by recognizing 
Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh during Western-mediated talks with 
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held in October 2022 and May 2023.

“It’s not we who abandoned Karabakh. It’s Armenia that recognized Karabakh as a 
part of Azerbaijan,” he told a year-end news conference in Moscow.

Pashinian hit back at Putin in an interview with Armenian Public Television 
aired late on Tuesday. He said that the Russian leader himself recognized 
Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan shortly after brokering a ceasefire agreement 
that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war.

“Those statements were public and are still available on social media, if I’m 
not mistaken,” said Pashinian.

He went on to deplore Russia’s “zero reaction” to Azerbaijan’s subsequent 
attacks on Armenian border areas and military aid requested by Yerevan. He noted 
that one of the Azerbaijani military operations launched in the run-up to 
Armenia’s June 2021 general elections coincided with Russian Foreign Minister 
Sergei Lavrov’s visit to the region.

Nagorno-Karabakh - A general view of Stepanakert, 10 October 2023.

“There was a high probability that the Armenian government would react 
differently [to that assault,] as a result of which the elections would not have 
taken place in Armenia, which would have essentially meant the dissolution of 
the Republic of Armenia. We realized that there is an attempt to dissolve 
Armenia,” Pashinian alleged, implicitly pointing the finger at Moscow.

Addressing the European Parliament in October this year, the Armenian premier 
accused Moscow of using the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict to try to topple him. 
A Russian government source responded by accusing him of helping the West “turn 
Armenia into another Ukraine.”

The Azerbaijani takeover of Karabakh added to unprecedented tensions between 
Moscow and Yerevan. Pashinian and other senior Armenian officials have since 
boycotted meetings of their counterparts from other ex-Soviet states making up 
Russian-led organizations. They have sought instead closer relations with the 
United States and the European Union. The Russian Foreign Ministry has 
repeatedly accused Pashinian of systematically “destroying” Russian-Armenian 

Armenia - Opposition supporters demonstrate in Yerevan, June 14, 2022.

Armenia’s leading opposition groups also hold Pashinian responsible for the fall 
of Karabakh, saying that he precipitated it with his decision to recognize 
Azerbaijani sovereignty over the territory. They staged street protests in 
Yerevan and tried unsuccessfully to topple him last year after he pledged to 
“lower the bar” on Karabakh’s status acceptable to Armenia.

Pashinian on Tuesday again blamed Armenia’s former governments for the 
restoration of Azerbaijani control over Karabakh. And he gave more indications 
that the Karabakh issue is closed for his administration.

“As I said, I am the prime minister of Armenia and must advance Armenia’s 
national interests,” he told the government-controlled TV channel.

Artur Khachatrian, an opposition parliamentarian, countered on Wednesday that 
Pashinian had made diametrically opposite statements on Karabakh before the 2020 

“When was he lying: yesterday or in June 2020? Yesterday or in Stepanakert’s 
Renaissance Square where he said [in 2019] that ‘Artsakh is Armenia, period,’ 
that Armenia is the guarantor of Artsakh’s security and that Artsakh will never 
be part of Azerbaijan?” Khachatrian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Iran Reaffirms Opposition To Outside Powers In South Caucasus

Russia - Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi attends a meeting with Russian 
President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, December 7, 2023.

“Extra-regional countries” must not be allowed to intervene in disputes in the 
South Caucasus, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told Armenian Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian in a phone call late on Wednesday.

“Care must be taken that the Caucasus region does not become a field of 
competition for extra-regional countries and that its issues are handled by the 
countries of the region and without the interference of outsiders,” Raisi was 
quoted by his office as saying.

Raisi thus reaffirmed Iran’s strong opposition to Western presence in the 
region, which is shared by Russia. He described it as “harmful for regional 
peace and stability” during an October 23 meeting with Armenia’s visiting 
Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan.

Mirzoyan travelled to Tehran to attend a multilateral meeting with his 
Azerbaijani, Iranian, Russian and Turkish counterparts held there within the 
framework of the so-called “Consultative Regional Platform 3+3” launched in 
December 2021 in Moscow. Georgia continues to boycott the platform, citing 
continuing Russian occupation of its breakaway regions.

Amid its deepening rift with Moscow, Pashinian’s government is now pinning hopes 
on Western efforts to broker an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal. Russian 
officials claim that the main aim of those efforts is to drive Russia out of the 
South Caucasus, rather than bring peace to the region.

Yerevan is also seeking to deepen Armenia’s ties with the United States and the 
European Union. In September, it hosted a joint U.S.-Armenian military exercise 
criticized by Moscow and Tehran.

According to the official Armenian readout of Pashinian’s call with Raisi, the 
two leaders discussed Armenian-Iranian relations and the implementation of 
bilateral economic agreements. Raisi’s office said in this regard that he 
“expressed satisfaction with the process of developing relations and 
implementing agreements between the two countries.”

Russian Soldier Who Fled To Armenia Found In Custody In Russia

        • Naira Bulghadarian

A photo of Dmitri Setrakov, a Russian soldier who fled to Armenia before being 
arrested there and sent back to Russia.

A Russian conscript soldier who reportedly deserted his army unit fighting in 
Ukraine has been arrested in Armenia and sent back to Russia.

The 39-year-old Dmitry Setrakov was mobilized, along with hundreds of thousands 
of other Russian men, late last year and sent to the frontline in Ukraine’s 
southern Zaporyzhzhia region mostly occupied by Russian forces following their 
February 2022 invasion of the country. Setrakov fled a military hospital there 
in April this year, according to the Russian human rights group Idite Lesom that 
helped him take refuge in Armenia in late November.

The group revealed recently that Russian military police arrested and 
transferred Setrakov to a Russian military base in the northwestern Armenian 
city of Gyumri in early December. It said on Tuesday that he is currently in 
police custody in Russia.

“They got him out of Gyumri, he is not there anymore,” said Idite Lesom 
spokesman Ivan Chuviliaev.

Both Idite Lesom and an Armenian human rights group, the Helsinki Citizens’ 
Assembly (HCA), earlier condemned Setrakov’s detention in Armenia as illegal. 
The HCA leader, Artur Sakunts, appealed to Armenian prosecutors to clarify how 
Russian officers were able to arrest the man on Armenian territory. Sakunts also 
demanded that they prevent his extradition to Russia.

The Office of the Prosecutor-General said on Wednesday that Russian 
law-enforcement authorities had not asked it to track down, detain and extradite 
Setrakov. It claimed to have “no information” about his detention in Armenia. It 
thus remained unclear how the fugitive soldier was flown back to his country 
where he is now facing up to ten years in prison on desertion charges.

An HCA spokeswoman, Ani Chatinian, decried the prosecutors’ statement and 
accused the law-enforcement agency of inaction.

“In essence, Dmitry Setrakov was illegally transported to the Russian 
Federation, and Armenia signed the [guilty] verdict which will be given to him 
in Russia,” Chatinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Setrakov is the first Russian soldier known to have fled to Armenia and been 
arrested there after refusing to take part in fighting in Ukraine.

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2023 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.


Land dispute in Jerusalem’s Armenian Quarter escalates as residents fear eviction

The Times of Israel
Dec 9 2023

Though the eyes of the world have been focused on the war in Gaza, Jerusalem has witnessed a real estate dispute over the past month that could have grave consequences for coexistence between the city’s religious groups.

A coveted plot of land inside the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City has become the focus of a legal controversy between the Armenian community and an Australian-Israeli developer who intends to build a luxury hotel complex on the property. In recent weeks, the dispute over the property has escalated.

The neighborhood is home to about 2,000 Armenian Christians, a tight-knit community whose presence dates back 1,600 years — the oldest Armenian diaspora in the world.

In April of this year, following a surprise visit by Israeli land surveyors, residents discovered that a land lease deal signed in 2021 by the head of the community, Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, had a much larger scope than initially announced.

It emerged that the 98-year lease included an area known as the Cows’ Garden, a plot of land used in ancient times to keep cattle and which now houses a seminary and cultural halls for the community, as well as the patriarch’s own garden and the homes of five Armenian families.

The deal, which entails over 11,500 square meters — about 25% of the overall surface of the Armenian Quarter — was concluded with Xana Capital, a hotel company owned by Israeli-Australian businessman Danny Rothman.

The patriarch denied knowing the exact terms of the lease, and claimed that a local priest, Baret Yeretsian, signed the contract on his behalf. The clergyman in question has in the meantime been defrocked and has reportedly sought refuge in Pasadena, near Los Angeles.

In an interview with the Associated Press in June, Yeretsian said that Rothman plans to develop a high-end resort in the Armenian Quarter, which would be managed by the One&Only hotel company based in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, which established diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020.

Yeretsian dismissed fears of an Israeli takeover of the Armenian Quarter as “propaganda” based solely on Rothman’s Jewish identity. “The intention was never to Judaize the place,” he said, claiming that Rothman has no political agenda. He insisted that the Armenian patriarch was fully engaged in the long-running negotiations and personally signed off on the contract.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, Hagop Djernazian, an activist from the Armenian Quarter, said that the Armenian community was supposed to earn a yearly $300,000 rent from the deal, “which is laughable for this plot of land, located on the highest point in the Old City on Mount Zion, the biggest open space in the Old City. You can’t find open spaces like this in other quarters,” Djernazian explained.

The area abuts the Jewish Quarter and is a short walk away from the Western Wall.

Hagop Djernazian, an activist from the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem, standing in front of an Armenian flag and a barricade built by local residents in an ongoing land dispute between the Armenian Patriarchy and an Australian-Israeli developer, November 24, 2023 (Gianluca Pacchiani/Times of Israel)

Jewish investors in Israel and abroad have long sought to buy properties in the Old City and East Jerusalem, in a bid to cement Israeli control over parts of the city claimed by Palestinians as their capital. For Jews, Jerusalem, its Old City and the Temple Mount it contains have been a centerpiece of national identity for 3,000 years and Israel sees the united city as its capital.

Scandals involving land sales to Jewish groups have previously embroiled the Greek Orthodox Church, the custodian of many Christian sites in the region. Two decades ago, the Greek Church sold two Palestinian-run hotels in the Old City to foreign companies acting as fronts for a Jewish group. The secretive deals led to the downfall of the Greek patriarch and prompted international uproar.

When the Armenian community learned that the terms of the deal diverged substantially from the preliminary information they had received, protests broke out. A first rally was organized on May 12.

Community leaders demanded that the contract be canceled, claiming that it violated the Constitution of the Patriarchate, which does not allow leasing lands for such lengths of time. The patriarch himself was apparently not aware that his own private garden was included in the lease.

The contract, however, was signed and is now legally in force, and while the community is readying to challenge its validity in court, the standoff on the ground has escalated.

On October 26, a bulldozer appeared at the large parking lot of the Cows’ Garden, Djernazian recounted, and tore down a wall separating the lot from the Armenian Seminary. It also destroyed sections of pavement, chunks of which are now piled up in a mound, with an Armenian flag planted on top.

On the same day, the Patriarchate sent a letter to Xana Capital requesting the cancellation of the land lease.

“This deal puts the integrity of the Armenian quarter in danger and therefore puts the Armenian presence and Christian presence in Jerusalem in danger, because losing this land will cut us off from the Christian quarter,” Djernazian explained.

On November 5, Rothman turned up, accompanied by his Arab Israeli business partner and a group of about 15 armed Israelis with two attack dogs seeking to “threaten and harm the community,” who had organized a protest sit-in.

“They work like the mafia, they sent a mob to confront us,” Djernazian said. The confrontation required the intervention of the police.

Danny Rothman did not respond to a request for comment.

According to the New Arab news website, among those who took part in the confrontation was an American-Israeli West Bank settler named Saadia Hershkop, a self-described “hilltop settlement activist.”

In 2005, Hershkop was deported to the US for 40 days for fear he would participate in acts of violence to disrupt the Gaza disengagement process.

He seems to still have run-ins with the law, and recently held a crowdfunding campaign to cover legal costs for what he describes as a “serious indictment issued against me in revenge for my activism.”

The confrontation prompted the Armenian community to set up a protest tent, manned day and night by residents, to guard against new incursions by outsiders. The community also set up a barricade with barbed wire to block access to the site.

On November 15, a group of people showed up and encroached upon the premises. The community claimed the intruders had been sent from Xana Capital. When the police arrived on the scene, most of the trespassers scattered. The community lamented that those who remained were not arrested, but that police detained three Armenians.

Djernazian accused police of cooperating with the company to assist it in taking possession of the land.

In response to a request for comment, the police said that “it is not a party to civil or contractual disputes… Upon receiving reports or complaints on suspicion of  a criminal offense, they are dealt with by the police accordingly, as is done in cases in which mutual complaints about assault and/or threats were received.”

The next day, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem released an urgent communique, saying that the community “is under possibly the greatest existential threat of its 16-century history,” which “fully extends to all the Christian communities of Jerusalem.”

In solidarity, the heads of the other Christian denominations in Jerusalem issued a joint statement two days later, saying that the recent escalation could “potentially endanger the Armenian presence in the area, weakening and endangering the Christian presence in the Holy Land,” and calling to handle the dispute solely through legal avenues.

Djernazian noted that the community has received the backing of other groups in the city in its effort to reassert control over its quarter, including from Jews. “Both Israelis and Palestinians have been supporting us, which is much needed because in the end, this plan will erase the Armenian presence in Jerusalem, and also the Christian presence. People will emigrate, we will lose our institutions,” he said.

“The real estate company is using the timing of the war [in Gaza] against us. They thought that no one would pay attention, neither journalists nor the international community. But it turns out that the opposite happened, and we received attention from local and international journalists and support from local diplomatic missions and the international community.

“Different institutions and officials have had their eyes on this property since 1967, but it’s next to our school, next to our church and convent,” Djernazian said. “We will not give it up.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

Jerusalem: Armenian Christians battle developer to keep control of their corner the city

SIGHT Magazine
Dec 6 2023


Amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, another battle is playing out in Jerusalem among its small but storied Armenian Christian community, their own patriarch and an Australian-Israeli businessman who is said to be set on taking over the Armenian Quarter of the Old City. 

Last month, things escalated as Jewish settlers aided by dogs and bulldozers disrupted a long-running sit-in in a site known as the Cow’s Garden, currently a parking lot, where businessman Danny Rothman plans to build his latest hotel.

Rothman’s company, Xana Capital Group, made a secret deal in 2021 with the Armenian Christian patriarchate to lease a swath of the Armenian Quarter, including part of the Armenian Theological Seminary and several family homes. When the deal became public, the local community rebelled, a priest who oversees the church’s real estate was defrocked and Patriarch Nourhan Manougian’s leadership came under question.

“This is land that belongs to the Armenian community for centuries,” Levon Kalaydjian, a Jerusalem-born Armenian, told Religion News Service. “This does not belong to the patriarchate, nor is it for him, the Patriarch, to do whatever he wants to do with it.”

Armenians have had a presence in Jerusalem since the fourth century, when Armenia became the first sovereign state to convert to Christianity. Some of Jerusalem’s Armenians trace their heritage to pilgrims who came to the holy city nearly that long ago, while others arrived from the former Ottoman Empire, fleeing the Armenian genocide in 1915 and 1916.

Today the smallest of the four divisions of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Armenian Quarter is considered separate from the larger Christian Quarter, where Palestinian Christians speak Arabic and worship in Greek Orthodox or Catholic churches.

The 2,000 or so Armenians, who speak a unique Jerusalem dialect of Armenian and belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church, are represented by the Armenian Patriarchate and the monastic order of the Brotherhood of St James, which acts as a mini-welfare state: Most Armenians live in church-owned property and work in a church or monastery. 

In Jerusalem’s tense cultural politics, the Armenians are widely considered the most peaceful demographic in the Old City, maintaining good relations with both Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians. That unique status has been complicated by the fact that they are sitting on one of the Holy Land’s most valuable pieces of real estate. 

“The piece of land we’re talking about is one of the most important in the city, if not in the country and the world,” said Setrag Balian, one of the founders of the current protest movement. “Striking as it might sound, it is a fact.”

The Armenian Quarter occupies the highest point in the Old City and lies along the main path from the Jaffa Gate to the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter. It is also situated on one of the few vehicle-accessible roads in the Old City. The Cow’s Garden is one of the few undeveloped spaces inside the walls.

“The Armenian community used to feed off of that land, and Armenian pilgrims used to come camp there and put up their tents and caravans,” Balian said. “Other than the cultural and historic fact that this is the Armenian Quarter, it had economic importance; our life depended on that land.

“And today, even as parking, it depends on it. In modern times, in municipalities all over the world, one of the biggest problems is the matter of parking, so this should also not be underestimated,” he added. 

It’s not the first time someone has tried to wrest control of land from the Armenian community. Enver Pasha, the Ottoman minister of war who was an architect of the Armenian Genocide, once eyed the Cow’s Garden for a summer home, while Jerusalem’s five-time mayor, Teddy Kollek, also pressed for previous patriarchs to allow construction on the land, along with numerous other potential investors. 

None was successful until the deal with Xana, signed in 2021.

The 49-year lease deal will allow Xana to build a luxury hotel complex over not only the Cow’s Garden but the Patriarch’s private garden and the seminary’s main hall, where nearly all of the community’s celebrations are held, some 1.6 hectares in all. The deal also gives Xana the unilateral power to renew the lease for another half century after the initial term is up, for a total of 98 years.

The return for the patriarchate is a lump-sum payment of $US2 million and a yearly rent of just $US300,000 – less than previous offers and a paltry sum for one of the world’s most valuable properties, leading to accusations of bribery and corruption in the agreement. 

Exacerbating the community’s concerns is the developer’s profile. Though Rothman, who also goes by Rubinstein, has been involved in tourism in Israel for decades, little is known about his company, which is based in Dubai, making inquiries about its history and holdings difficult. 

The deal also came at a time when both Christians and Muslims in the Old City and east Jerusalem are under pressure by Jewish settler groups, attempting to take control of properties for the explicit aim of ‘Judaising’ the city.

Patriarch Manougian has claimed that the patriarchate’s real-estate manager, Baret Yeretsian, misinformed him about the deal, and he has defrocked and exiled him. Yeretsian had to be removed from the Old City under police protection in May, due to the community protests outside of the patriarchate.

In October, the Patriarch cancelled the deal, saying it was illegal because it had not been approved by the Synod of the Brotherhood of St James, but only after more than two years of internal pressure from the Armenian community.

Since the cancellation, the patriarchate has put out a statement stressing the danger to the Armenian character of the quarter, and the Patriarch has at times joined the protesters in the Cow’s Garden. 

“Better late than never,” Kalaydjian said.

The controversy has been compared to a 2005 scandal in the Old City, when the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem was dismissed after signing a deal to give over Christian properties in the city to the far-right Jewish settler group, Ateret Cohanim, which some saw as a concession to Israeli designs on non-Jewish sectors of Jerusalem. Yeretsian pointed out that Rothman is a secular Jew, whose investment partner is a Palestinian Greek Orthodox Christian.

But on 5th November armed settler activists appeared with dogs and bulldozers demanding that construction begin on Rothman’s hotel. Balian accused Rothman and his partner of  “cheap intimidation tactics” using “settler groups that don’t even come from Jerusalem, or the Old City.”

The strategy didn’t work.

“We’re a 1,700-year-old presence at least in the Old City. We are not ready to give up just at the presence of armed people or bulldozers,” Balian said.

As important are the internal politics of the Armenian community. He questioned the dismissal of Yeretsian, saying defrocking him only forfeited the patriarchate’s ability to punish him. Before the deal had been formally cancelled, Balian said he rejected calls pushing for the resignation of the patriarch, as it would only set a precedent in which the patriarch can walk away from his responsibilities to the community.

Instead he believes the patriarchate, with its power and influence over the lives of Jerusalem Armenians, needs to bring in lay managers and integrate the community into its decision-making process, at least on mundane matters.

“We’re not saying that the community should decide on everything,” said Balian, “because you need that structure, you need that institution. It’s a religious institution, and we all belong to it. But let’s work together as a united front.”

In a divided Jerusalem, Balian said, what’s most important for his community is to stick together, no matter who is trying to encroach on their land.

“For us, it doesn’t even matter if it’s settlers or not, or if it’s Jews or Muslims or others. Our goal is to keep that land Armenian,” Balian said. 


France Could Supply 26 More Bastion Personnel Carriers To Armenian Army

Dec 5 2023


France has supplied Armenia with 24 Bastion armored personnel carriers, and another 26 to be shipped to Armenia are under production, a report published on the French Senate reveals, according to Sputnik Armenia.

The document says that Yerevan recently placed an order for three GM200 3D air surveillance radars developed by Thales, and negotiations are also underway on the supply of MISTRAL 3 anti-aircraft missile systems to the country.

Earlier, photographs of French armored vehicles heading through Georgian territory to Armenia surfaced on social networks and Telegram channels.

The Armenian Ministry of Defense has yet to comment on reports of the supply of French armored vehicles.

Back in October 2023, the Ministers of Defense of Armenia and France signed agreements on the supply of weapons to Armenia.

"The appeal of Vagif Khachatryan’s sentence is a formality" – Opinion of a human rights defender

Dec 1 2023
  • JAMnews
  • Yerevan

“The formal actions mean to create an impression that there are internal protection measures in Azerbaijan and that these mechanisms are effective,” human rights activist and international law specialist Siranush Sahakyan said about the appeal of Vagif Khachatryan’s sentence.

According to her, the real purpose of the appeal submitted to the court is not to restore justice or eliminate judicial errors against the Armenian detained in Azerbaijani prison. During the discussion on “Possible return of prisoners: International Law and Justice”, the human rights activist emphasized that this step should be considered “a mere formality”.

Vagif Khachatryan was a resident of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Azerbaijani services detained him on July 29, 2023 at the checkpoint near the Hakari Bridge. Through the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, he was on his way to Yerevan for urgent heart surgery.

Baku accuses Khachatryan of “an attack on the village of Meshali in December 1991 that killed civilians.” He is declared a member of a “criminal group that committed genocide”. Vagif Khachatryan did not admit guilt during the trial. However, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Recently, Azerbaijani media reported that his lawyer, Radmila Abilova, appealed the sentence.

  • “Arrest under the protection of the ICRC is a war crime” – the position of Armenia
  • Azerbaijani army officer addresses Vagif Khachatryan’s relatives
  • Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office: “Khachatryan is one of nine wanted in connection with the crime of Meshali”

According to the human rights activist, in other trials of Armenian prisoners of war in Azerbaijan, there were also cases in which lawyers appealed court decisions — to no avail.

Siranush Sahakyan does not expect the appeal submitted in Khachatryan’s case to be effective.

“The main goal is to generate evidence for the processes that are going on in international courts, to organize the protection of Azerbaijan’s interests in international instances,” she said of Baku’s motive.

Sahakyan is convinced that all Armenian captives will face “illegal trials” in order to “protect the Aliyev regime” and put pressure on the Armenian authorities.

“International humanitarian law clearly defines – after the cessation of active conflict, the captives must be immediately released. There is international criminal law, which qualifies the non-fulfillment of the clause on the immediate release of captives as a war crime. If Azerbaijan does not create legal grounds for their detention on these fabricated cases, the accusations of war crimes will intensify.”

According to the human rights activist, Baku is trying to justify the detention of prisoners in Azerbaijan by judicial processes or the circumstance of serving a sentence, creating an impression that their detention is “allegedly legal and objective”.

As an example, she recalls the case of “another resident of Nagorno-Karabakh, Rashid Beglaryan, abducted by the Azerbaijanis”. She says first the Azerbaijani side accused him of illegal border crossing and then of committing “genocide in Khojaly”. She says this proves that Baku had no factual data against him at the time of his arrest:

“Azerbaijanis studied Rashid Beglaryan’s data and taking into account his age, place of residence and other factors considered him a suitable candidate to substantiate their genocide hypothesis.”

Sahakyan said that Baku has so far officially confirmed the detention of 55 Armenian prisoners of war:

“We are talking not only about prisoners of war, but also about civilians and politically persecuted persons. Now in Baku there are 6 civilians, 41 prisoners of war and 8 high-ranking former political and military figures who are considered political prisoners.”

According to the human rights activist, Azerbaijan continues to hold at least 80 Armenian prisoners of war without officially confirmation.

The international law specialist considers it crucial to examine the circumstance of possible psychological torture.

“During all this time, no representatives of any independent mechanisms for the prevention of torture could have contact with the captives,” Sahakyan said.

She believes the visits of Red Cross representatives to be insufficent and, in any case, “belated”.

She believes that the participation of independent lawyers in trials could play a role in preventing torture.

Sahakyan also stated that all returned prisoners of war and civilians testified about ill-treatment and torture against themselves:

“There are no mechanisms to prevent torture in Azerbaijan, and in conditions where there is no international control, these individuals are subjected to various manifestations of ill-treatment. Depending on the developments, in some cases there may be episodes of torture, in other cases inhuman treatment and humiliation prevail.”

Armenia to have first AI supercomputing center in the region


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 30, ARMENPRESS. The first AI supercomputing center in the region will be opened in Armenia, Vice Speaker of Parliament Hakob Arshakyan has said.

The funding for launching the center will amount to approximately 8,5 million USD.

The project was discussed during Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s meeting with NVIDIA executive Jensen Huang in April.

Arshakyan said in a statement that the Cabinet has approved his recommendation on including the AI supercomputing center project in the 2024 state budget, and the proposal will be sent to parliament.

Armenpress: Russia offers Turkey cooperation in the field of small-capacity nuclear power plants


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 25, ARMENPRESS. Russia sees prospects for cooperation with Turkey in the field of nuclear power plants of small capacity.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said at the meeting of the intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation, Tass reports.

"We are ready to continue cooperation in the field of small capacity nuclear power plants," Tass quoted Novak as saying at the meeting.

Iraqi, Armenian presidents chair meeting to boost bilateral cooperation

Iraqi News
Nov 22 2023

Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – The Iraqi President, Abdul Latif Rashid, met on Wednesday with the Armenian President, Vahagn Khachaturian, at the Presidential Palace in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

The meeting addressed ways to develop bilateral ties between Iraq and Armenia as well as the latest international developments, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi Presidency.

The president of Iraq expressed interest in initiating bilateral work mechanisms and monitoring the decisions made at the most recent joint committee sessions in Baghdad.

Rashid indicated that Iraq is now an attractive country for foreign investments, particularly in areas such as infrastructure, tourism, and trade exchange.

Khachaturian expressed his appreciation for Rashid’s visit to Armenia due to its positive impact on relations between the two countries, noting that Rashid’s visit is the first of its kind by an Iraqi president to Armenia.

The two presidents chaired a meeting attended by official delegations from both sides, where they discussed agreements in several areas.

The expanded meeting discussed the importance of regulating flights between Baghdad and Yerevan, as well as between Erbil and Yerevan, to boost tourism activities between the two countries.

Both sides also discussed the cancellation of entry visas between the two countries, in addition to operating direct flights between Iraq and Armenia.

The meeting also tackled cooperation in the fields of investment, energy, and technology, facilitating the entry of companies and businessmen, as well as supporting the tourism sector.

RFE/RL Armenian Service – 11/20/2023


EU Signals Readiness To Organize Armenia-Azerbaijan Talks ‘At Earliest Possible 

Toivo Klaar, the European Union’s Special Representative for the South Caucasus 
and the crisis in Georgia (file photo)

European Council President Charles Michel is “still ready and willing to 
organize a meeting of the leaders in Brussels at the earliest possible 

This was said by Toivo Klaar, the European Union’s Special Representative for 
the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, in an interview with Armenia’s 
state-run Armenpress news agency published on Monday.

“For us the primary interest is to actually have an agreement between Armenia 
and Azerbaijan. And where that is ultimately signed is to us much less important 
than the fact that there is genuine normalization between Armenia and 
Azerbaijan,” he said.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev 
were scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the EU’s October 5 summit in Granada, 
Spain. Pashinian had hoped that they would sign there a document laying out the 
main parameters of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty. However, Aliyev 
withdrew from the talks at the last minute.

The Azerbaijani leader also appears to have canceled another meeting which the 
EU’s Michel planned to host in Brussels later in October.

Most recently Azerbaijan refused to attend a meeting with Armenia at the level 
of foreign ministers in Washington after allegedly “biased” remarks by a senior 
U.S. official. That meeting was reportedly scheduled to be held on November 20.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said over the weekend that while the Washington 
platform was “no longer acceptable for Baku in negotiations with Yerevan”, it 
remained open to a possible continuation of talks in Brussels with the EU’s 

Klaar said that Brussels was “disappointed” with Aliyev’s decision not to come 
to Granada as “we thought that it was an important possibility and quite 
important forum to send strong messages.”

“President Michel is still ready and willing to organize a meeting of the 
leaders in Brussels at the earliest possible opportunity… Dates certainly are 
important. But the most important thing is to actually move forward and that is 
what we are focused on, to try to encourage forward movement in a genuine 
normalization of relations,” the EU special envoy said.

In Armenia, meanwhile, a senior member of Pashinian’s parliamentary Civil 
Contract faction said on Monday that Yerevan did not consider the negotiation 
process deadlocked despite Azerbaijan’s skipping three meetings in two months.

“Yes, they did refuse to participate in negotiations, but that does not mean 
that the processes have stopped. Besides, they have separate relations with 
different centers in the world, too, and these relations also impact our 
relations. And their relations with these centers have not ceased,” Arman 
Yeghoyan, head of the Armenian parliament’s standing commission on European 
integration issues, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Yerevan, Brussels Sign Agreement On EU Mission Status in Armenia

Armenia/EU - Paruyr Hovannisian, Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia, and 
Vassilis Maragos, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia, sign 
an agreement on the status of the EU mission in Armenia, Yerevan, November 20, 

The European Union and Armenia have signed an agreement on the status of the 
27-nation bloc’s mission in the South Caucasus country.

The official signing ceremony took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 
Armenia on Monday.

The agreement was signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Paruyr Hovannisian and Head 
of the EU Delegation in Armenia, Ambassador Vassilis Maragos, the Armenian 
Foreign Ministry said.

Hovannisian said in early November that progress had been made in terms of 
fixing the status of the European Union mission (EUMA) in Armenia, and that an 
agreement on the immunity and privileges of EUMA observers would be signed soon.

“The strengthening and expansion of the EU mission is on Yerevan’s agenda,” the 
official said then.

In January the European Union approved the establishment of a civilian mission 
in Armenia. It said that monitors sent by different EU member states would 
strive to “contribute to stability in the border areas of Armenia, build 
confidence and human security in conflict-affected areas, and ensure an 
environment conducive to the normalization efforts between Armenia and 

About 100 monitors arrived in Armenia in late February. The mission has a 
mandate for two years and its operational headquarters is in Armenia.

Canada recently decided to join the mission. Last week EU foreign ministers gave 
the green light to a proposal to beef up the border-monitoring mission in 
Armenia. When the measure is submitted to the European Commission it will need 
to come up with a proposal on how the EUMA can be expanded. The decision of the 
European Commission, in turn, must be ratified by the 27 EU member states.

The EUMA, which operates from six Forward Operating Bases in Armenia’s four 
provinces bordering on Azerbaijan, said recently that since its deployment it 
has carried out more than a thousand patrols along the border.

Armenia Holds ‘Very Special Place’ From OSCE’s Perspective, U.S. Envoy To 
Organization Says

        • Karlen Aslanian

Dr. Michael Carpenter (R), United States Ambassador to the OSCE, is interviewed 
by Azatutyun TV, Yerevan, November 17, 2023.

Armenia holds a “very special place” from the perspective of the Organization 
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United States ambassador to 
this organization has told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

In an interview late last week Dr. Michael Carpenter said that Armenia has 
become “a model of how a country can reform itself and deepen its democratic 
institutions and take on rule-of-law issues in a very productive and 
constructive way.”

“So we see what’s happening here over the course of the last few years as a 
model that could be emulated elsewhere,” Carpenter said on the eve of the OSCE 
Parliamentary Assembly’s fall session held in Yerevan on November 18-20.

Carpenter stressed that the United States “continues to think it is extremely 
important for Armenia and Azerbaijan to normalize relations so that there is 
peace, stability in the region, and transport links are opened.”

“We think it is for the benefit of everybody and certainly for the United States 
to see peace and stability in this region. And so we are going to keep trying to 
facilitate that through the means that we have available. And we hope that the 
parties understand as well that this is in their interest, too,” the senior U.S. 
diplomat said.

In the context of Azerbaijan’s most recent refusal to engage in a meeting with 
Armenia in Washington citing “one-sided and biased remarks” by a senior U.S. 
official as a reason, Carpenter said that he “wouldn’t say that any window [of 
opportunity] is closed at the moment.”

“I wouldn’t put a fixed timeline to the negotiations process. And I wouldn’t 
have done that six months ago or a year ago. I think it is important that all 
parties redouble efforts to achieve durable peace and security in the region 
because again that and upholding human rights and democracy is critically 
important for us. So we are going to keep doing it,” he said.

Referring to the recent U.S. efforts to help Armenia and Azerbaijan make 
progress in the negotiations, Carpenter said that Washington will continue to 
offer “good offices” to the parties, adding that “ultimately it is up to the 
parties to decide which process is most conducive to their interests.”

At the same time, the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE said that “Russia is not a 
reliable party in negotiations.”

“Russia has proven over the course of the last 18 months plus that it is not 
reliable in any sphere, having violently and brutally assaulted its neighbor 
[Ukraine] and not just that, but having lied about various other international 
commitments and having broken those commitments repeatedly in recent years,” 
Carpenter said.

The U.S. diplomat would not be drawn into a discussion on what the OSCE’s Minsk 
Group has done in the past in the way of promoting a negotiated peace between 
Armenia and Azerbaijan in their conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. “But clearly 
until we have a sustainable, durable peace deal and agreement between Armenia 
and Azerbaijan, our work will not be finished,” he said.

Carpenter said he was not aware of any contacts in the Minsk Group format, but 
acknowledged that “the Minsk Group continues to exist until the parties decide 

After the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh that resulted in Azerbaijan’s retaking 
all seven surrounding districts and establishing control over chunks of the 
Armenian-populated region proper, Baku claimed that the OSCE Minsk Group 
co-headed by Russia, the United States, and France had ceased to exist.

The apparent dysfunctionality of the group deepened after Russia’s invasion of 
Ukraine in February 2022 that was followed by Western condemnation of Moscow’s 
actions and support for Kyiv.

Prospects of renewed contacts between the West and Russia, which deployed a 
peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh under the terms of a 2020 Moscow-brokered 
ceasefire agreement, became even more vague after Azerbaijan established full 
control over the region in a lightning offensive in September this year that 
caused virtually the entire local Armenian population to flee to Armenia.


Another Karabakh Armenian Charged With War Crimes In Baku

Rashid Beglarian (second from the right) is being interrogated by an Azerbaijani 
investigator at a Karabakh location where he is accused of having committed a 
crime during the 1990s war.

Authorities in Baku have brought charges of alleged war crimes against a 
61-year-old man from Nagorno-Karabakh who, according to the Armenian side, was 
kidnapped by Azerbaijan weeks before its forces established full control over 
the region in a one-day military operation in September.

According to Azerbaijani media, Rashid Beglarian, who, Armenians say, strayed 
into an Azerbaijani-controlled territory near Nagorno-Karabakh on August 1, has 
been charged on five counts of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan, including 
“torturing Azerbaijani prisoners” and “participating in the activities of 
illegal armed groups.”

Citing the country’s State Security Service, Azerbaijan’s APA news agency also 
reported that Beglarian admitted that “ethnic Armenian forces, including 
himself, ambushed and gunned down 200 Azeri civilians, most of them women, 
children and elderly people” during February 1992 events near the Karabakh town 
of Khojaly (Khojalu) that Azerbaijan claims amounted to genocide.

The Armenian side has denied that Armenian forces targeted civilians during one 
of their early offensives in the 1992-1994 war, blaming the killings on the 
Azerbaijani forces allegedly seeking to prevent the evacuation of Khojaly’s 
ethnic Azeri residents.

Earlier this month, a court in Baku sentenced another Karabakh Armenian man 
Vagif Khachatrian to 15 years in prison after finding him guilty of “genocide” 
and “forced deportation of civilians,” charges that Khachatrian denied 
vehemently throughout the trial.

Khachatrian, 68, was detained by Azerbaijan’s military in late July as he was 
trying to leave Nagorno-Karabakh for Armenia. Armenia then also accused 
Azerbaijan of “kidnapping” a Karabakh resident.

Virtually the entire Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh – more than 100,000 
people – fled to Armenia two months ago after Azerbaijan carried out a 24-hour 
offensive to take the entire region under its control.

Eight current and former ethnic Armenian leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh, including 
three former presidents, have been detained by Azerbaijani forces and 
transferred to Baku where they are imprisoned pending trial on grave criminal 

Baku has so far acknowledged only nine Karabakh detainees. Armenia insists that 
their number is at least 16. The figure does not include 30 Karabakh soldiers 
and 12 civilians who are said to have gone missing during the Azerbaijani 
assault and remain unaccounted for.

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2023 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.


AW: US State Department signals pause in US military aid to Azerbaijan

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on “The Future of Nagorno Karabakh”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In an overdue and still inadequate response to Azerbaijan’s U.S.-armed genocide of Artsakh’s indigenous Christian Armenians, President Biden has only now started to outline potential accountability measures – starting with a cut-off of all U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan – that have long been called for by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), our congressional allies, and community and coalition partners.

Ambassador James O’Brien, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, told House Foreign Affairs Committee members today “we have not and don’t anticipate submitting a waiver on [Section ] 907,” referencing the 1992 U.S. law that restricts U.S. aid to Azerbaijan based on its ongoing aggression against Armenia and Artsakh.  Amb. O’Brien flatly rejected arguments – often advanced by the Azerbaijani lobby – that enforcing Section 907 would undermine U.S. national security interests.

“A day late and a dollar short,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Having armed, emboldened and actively abetted Azerbaijan’s genocide of Artsakh – the U.S.-backed ethnic cleansing of Armenians from yet more of our indigenous homeland – President Biden will need to do far more than send signals about his willingness to enforce an existing U.S. statute. He can, for example – if he is serious and not just engaged in electoral damage control – lead a U.N. Security Council resolution establishing an international mandate providing security for the safe and sustainable return of Armenians to Artsakh.”

Dr. Alexander Sokolowski, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, and Amb. James O’Brien, Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

Amb. O’Brien’s statements came during the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) Subcommittee on Europe hearing on “The Future of Nagorno-Karabakh,” where committee members pressed the State Department and USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Dr. Alexander Sokolowski about expanding U.S. aid to the over 100,000 Artsakh Armenian victims of Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing and efforts to stop renewed Aliyev regime aggression against Armenia.

Rep. Tom Kean (R-NJ), Chairman, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe

“Over 100,000 ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh are now living as refugees in Armenia. We cannot afford to look away from the region or be distracted by other conflicts proliferating across the globe,” stated Subcommittee on Europe Chair Tom Kean (R-NJ).  He went on to call on State Department and USAID representatives to outline plans for humanitarian assistance to Artsakh refugees and asked them to clarify the Biden administration’s message to Azerbaijani officials to prevent further attacks against Armenia. “I hope our witnesses today will explain how they are communicating to President Aliyev that the use of force against sovereign Armenian territory, including in the Syunik province, would be completely and totally unacceptable,” stated Chairman Kean.

Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA), Ranking Democrat, U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe

Subcommittee Ranking Democrat Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) concurred, noting, “I strongly believe we must provide humanitarian and economic assistance to displaced people in Armenia and ensure accountability for any potential crimes committed against those fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh or those who are choosing to remain there.”

Speaking of the 100,000 Armenian refugees “uprooted” from Artsakh, Amb. O’Brien told Congress, “We insist on the people having complete access to the territory, on the protection of the property, the protection of the culture, and that the people receive adequate information so that they can make a real choice about their future and know that they have the viable opportunity to return and live well in Nagorno-Karabakh if that’s what they choose.”  Instead of clearly condemning Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of Artsakh, Amb. O’Brien announced that the State Department has commissioned independent investigators and is working with international partners to provide “a comprehensive, thorough and transparent record of what happened, not just on those days, but for the months before.”  No timeline was announced for the presentation of the report.

In an attempt to address Congressional concerns about a clear U.S. response to Azerbaijan’s brutal attack on Artsakh that led to the forced exile of Artsakh Armenians, Amb. O’Brien noted, “We’ve canceled a number of high-level visits […] We don’t anticipate submitting a [Section 907] waiver until such time as we see a real improvement in the situation. All of this is to say we continue to urge peace.”

With regard to the U.S. humanitarian aid for Artsakh’s forcibly displaced, Dr. Sokolowski reiterated USAID Administrator Power’s commitment of $11.5 million in U.S. assistance.  He also announced that “USAID has focused nearly $6 million in funding from existing programming at USAID Armenia to respond to the humanitarian crisis.”

Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

Members of Congress were skeptical about the State Department’s optimism about Azerbaijan-Armenia peace talks and President Aliyev’s commitment to peace in the region.

“I don’t see the peace process as going nearly as well as some of the descriptions I’ve just heard. The meeting in Granada, Spain, the last two meetings, Azerbaijan refused to go. I don’t know how you describe that as being positive,” stated Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA).  He went on to raise security concerns stemming from proposed economic corridors through Armenia. “Armenians are concerned and feel threatened by that corridor and what it might imply for another grabbing of land by Azerbaijan once it’s established.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked Assistant Secretary O’Brien to outline the specific resources the State Department is prepared to use to ensure Azerbaijan honors a peace deal.  “What are you prepared to do, Ambassador [O’Brien], to create a carrot and stick to move this agenda? Are you willing to add sanctions for non-compliance?” Assistant Secretary O’Brien stated, “Yes, we are looking at all the tools we have. I’m not going to preview any sanctions decisions, but that’s certainly a tool in our toolkit.”

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY)

Rep. Mike Lawler (R-NY) questioned the Biden administration’s military aid to Azerbaijan in the face of President Aliyev’s ties with Russia and Iran. “Sanctioned Russian and Iranian companies own significant shares in Azerbaijan’s gas fields exporting energy to Europe, and Azerbaijan has recently signed lucrative energy deals with both countries,” stated Rep. Lawler. Assistant Secretary O’Brien noted they were aware of Azerbaijan’s energy deals and affirmed they are not in U.S. national interests.

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL)

“Many of us here in Congress sent letter after letter after letter and supported resolution after resolution to exert pressure and relieve the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, which had been exacerbated since the 2020 war. It looks like we failed,” stated Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) in powerful remarks questioning the State Department’s assessment of prospects for peace. “The tightening of the stranglehold around Nagorno-Karabakh over the years until the ethnic Armenian population was forced to leave was not just about counterterrorism, and it was not just about geopolitics,” stated Rep. Schneider. He went on to relay the story of the brutal murder of Armenian serviceman Gurgen Margaryan, axed to death by Azerbaijani soldier Ramil Safarov during a NATO exercise in Hungary in 2004.  Safarov was extradited back to Azerbaijan in 2012, where he was promoted and rewarded for his actions. “What should be our takeaway from what happened in 2004 through 2012? How should we think of the possibilities of peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan in this context?” asked Rep. Schneider.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)

Calling Margaryan’s murder a “reprehensible” set of events, Amb. O’Brien cited the need for “accountability for crimes,” and “setting a new path going forward,” but stopped short of outlining any clear U.S. actions to achieve the former or to ensure the latter – placing the onus on Armenia and Azerbaijan. “We are creating a path for them to take and incentives for them to go there.”

Noting Turkey’s history of genocide against the Armenian people, Rep. Dina Titus cited the close ties between Turkey and Azerbaijan and asked, “What kind of damage are they causing now?” Rep. Titus called for end-use monitoring of U.S. weapons sold to Turkey, expressing concern about Turkey’s illegal transfer of military parts and munitions to Azerbaijan.

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA)

Rep. Madeleine Dean stressed the importance of the hearing. “What started as a blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh culminated in the Azerbaijani offensive on September 19 and 20 to regain control of the region. Within 10 days, approximately 100,000 residents of Nagorno-Karabakh, about 80-percent of the population, fled to Armenia. Armenia, the U.S., E.U. and international organizations have stepped in to provide humanitarian assistance for the refugees, but many questions remain as to their future, as well as the future of Nagorno-Karabakh,” stated Rep. Dean.

Video from the hearing is available on the ANCA YouTube channel.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.