U.S. Embassy helps make the Armenian border more secure

In a ceremony at the Armenia Border Guard headquarters, U.S. Ambassador Richard M. Mills Jr., joined by National Security Service Deputy Director Lieutenant General Arzuman Harutyunyan and Border Guard Troops Commander Major General Armen Abrahamyan, inspected equipment from the U.S. government that will assist the border guards in keeping weapons of mass destruction, biological hazards, and other threats from crossing Armenia’s borders.  The equipment includes a multi-media lab that will be used in training Armenian border guards and other tools that will enhance the ability of border guards to control the flow of sensitive exports across the board and strengthen Armenia’s borders against transnational threats.

This assistance is part of the U.S. Government’s comprehensive nonproliferation programs that strengthen the ability of the Armenian Government to effectively counter transnational threats from international crime, arms smugglers, and risks from weapons of mass destruction.  The United States and Armenia are working together toward common goals of democracy, security, and peace, both in Armenia and in the region.

Over the past ten years, the U.S. Embassy has partnered with various ministries and agencies to develop Armenia’s border security capacity.  Leading the U.S. Embassy’s efforts in Armenia are the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program, the Defense Threat Reduction Office (DTRO), and Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC).  “Our border security cooperation is robust, and we are committed to an open door partnership with Armenia,” said Ambassador Mills during his remarks.

France offers Russia $865M to terminate Mistral deal

France has offered to refund about 785 million euros ($865 million) besides re-export rights for cancelling the Mistral amphibious assault ship deal with Russia, but the latter has demanded 1.163 billion euros ($1.32 billion).

According to Sputnik News, Moscow disapproves the motion since the costs and losses of Russia due to the breach of the contract are estimated at about 1.163 billion euros ($1.32 billion). Moreover, Russia does not intend to issue any re-export permit before the money is returned, according to Kommersant.

Russia and France sealed a $1.5-billion deal for two Mistral-class ships in 2011. The handover of the first ship was slated for November 2014, but the ceremony did not take place. French President Francois Hollande put the delivery on hold, citing alleged interference by Moscow in the Ukrainian crisis.

Presidents of Russia and France Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande discussed the issue at a meeting in Yerevan, as the two attended the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in the Armenian capital.



Eurovision 2015: A song with a message for Armenia – Video

Six singers, one message: Love, peace, and unity – that’s what the Armenian entry in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, Face The Shadow, promotes. Today the band, whose members hail from five different continents but all have Armenian roots, had their second rehearsal at the Wiener Stadthalle, according to Eurovision’s official website.

Armenia  is being represented by Genealogy, the most international band in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. It consists of Essaï Altounian from France, Tamar Kaprelian from the US, Stephanie Topalian from Japan, Vahe Tilbian from Ethiopia, Mary-Jean O’Doherty Vasmatzian from Australia, and Inga Arshakyan from Armenia.

Essaï Altounian was in a sunny mood today: “Every time I am on stage I feel good because the stage is my place – I love to spread the energy and love with the people.” He also explained the meaning of the colour purple in the stage costumes of the Armenian act: “It’s the color of hope of the Armenian culture. It means something deep for us. It’s neither dark nor bright, it’s the color of the roots and of the future. So it perfectly symbolizes the history of the Armenian people.”

Inga Arshakyan has been on the Eurovision Song Contest stage already in 2009, together with her sister Anush. “The feelings are the same – I am extremely excited once again. The only difference is that right now we are six artists and back then I was with my sister. I was scared in the beginning because I didn’t know them but now we have already become one big family. Right now I feel more confident because we are a bigger family now, and that makes us stronger.”

Mary-Jean O’Doherty Vasmatzian is an opera singer, so the Eurovision Song Contest is a new experience for her: “We are still working out the sound levels. Also the microphone placement is something new for me because I generally don’t work with a microphone.” She has quickly warmed with performing on this stage though: “I love it! Armen’s song is so universal, the message is universal, and also the appeal of the music is so universal because it draws from all the different genres. It has pop and rock, soul, Armenian folk music, classical music – something for everybody.”