Armenian Archbishop arrives Bethlehem for Christmas

Reuters Via Yahoo!
Jan 18 2024

STORY: Many Christians mark the date on December 25, based on the Gregorian calendar, while several Orthodox Christians commemorate the event to recognize the birth of Jesus on January 7.

Some Armenian churches celebrate on January 19, when the Christmas Mass will be held, making them the last of the Eastern Churches to mark the event.

Leaders from the various churches arrive every year at the church to kick off their Christmas Eve celebrations.

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Karekin II to visit United States and UK


YEREVAN, JANUARY 13, ARMENPRESS. Catholicos Karekin II of the Armenian Apostolic Church will visit the United States and the United Kingdom, the Church said on Saturday.

In a statement, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin said Karekin II has left for “the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in the U.S., and the Diocese of the Armenian Church in Great Britain and Ireland.”

Karekin II will meet with philanthropists of diocesan organizations and the Armenian Apostolic Church to discuss the church programs.

Asbarez: US Places Azerbaijan on Religious Freedom Watchlist

The Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi was dismantled by Azerbaijanis

The United States on Thursday added Azerbaijan to a watchlist on religious freedom, following fears for Christian heritage after the country seized control of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, releasing an annual index of designations, maintained all 12 countries that had been on the previous year’s blacklist, including China, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

In the sole change, Blinken added Azerbaijan to the watchlist, meaning it will join the blacklist, which carries potential sanctions, without improvements.

In a recent recommendation to the State Department, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom pointed to concerns for the preservation of Christian religious sites in Nagorno-Karabakh, where virtually the entire population of 100,000 ethnic Armenians has fled to Armenia.

The commission also voiced alarm over regulations on all religious practice in the Shiite Muslim-majority but largely secular country under strongman President Ilham Aliyev, including a requirement that all religious groups be registered and their literature approved by an official body.

“Governments must end abuses such as attacks on members of religious minority communities and their places of worship,” Blinken said.

The “countries of particular concern” on the blacklist are China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

Besides Azerbaijan, countries on the watchlist are Algeria, the Central African Republic, Comoros and Vietnam.

Aurora’s Sunrise on PBS

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‘May Armenia and Azerbaijan draw closer to a definitive peace,’ – Pope Francis


YEREVAN, DECEMBER 25, ARMENPRESS. Pope Francis has prayed for Armenia and Azerbaijan to come closer to peace in his Christmas message at the midday "Urbi et Orbi" blessing on Christmas Day.

May Armenia and Azerbaijan draw closer to a definitive peace, he prayed, especially through humanitarian outreach and the return of refugees to their homes in security and with respect for religious traditions and places of worship, Vatican News reported.

Yerevan Concurs With Baku On Separating Border Delimitation with Peace Treaty

A military post along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border

Days after Baku said that the border delimitation and demarcation between Armenia and Azerbaijan can be a separate process from the signing of a possible peace treaty, Yerevan signaled that it would not rule out such an option.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Parliament Speaker Alen Simonyan said that separating the two processes may be considered by Yerevan.

“I think that we can consider such an option because in terms of time it could take longer, perhaps even years. A country heading toward true peace won’t see any obstacle in such things,” Simonyan said, stressing that this is his personal opinion.

The border delimitation and demarcation could take very long, he added.

“Yes, I don’t rule out that such an option could be acceptable for Armenia,” Simonyan added.

Earlier this week, Hikmet Hajiyev, a top foreign policy adviser to President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, told reporters in London that the two processes must be carried out on separate tracks, emphasizing that the border delimitation should not be linked with the peace deal.

“The 35-year-long conflict is now over,” Hajiyev said.

“The strategy for Azerbaijan now is to win peace. (This) requires action from both sides,” he added.

“A peace treaty is not rocket science,” Hajiyev said. “For Azerbaijan there are no longer obstacles on the way to a peace agenda.”

“Azerbaijan is ready to form a peace treaty with Armenia. For that reason, Azerbaijan has also suggested five fundamental principles and a text for a peace treaty. Currently, there are diplomatic engagements between Armenia and Azerbaijan in direct talks. I believe that Armenia and Azerbaijan have managed to surprise the world with a positive agenda. On December 7, the two countries made a joint statement expressing their intention to advance the peace agenda and implement confidence-building measures,” Hajiyev told reporters in London on Tuesday.

Armenia Considers Departure from Russia-Led Military Bloc

Dec 22 2023

  • Armenia's dissatisfaction with the CSTO stems from the organization's inaction during Azerbaijani incursions and increased cooperation with the EU.
  • The Armenian government explores various options, including Euro-integration and adopting a non-bloc status, amidst debates about expelling Russian military bases.
  • Analysts suggest that Armenia's departure from the CSTO could be a logical outcome, potentially opening avenues for diverse defense and military-industrial collaborations with other countries.

Armenia's possible exit from the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is being discussed more and more actively as differences grow between Yerevan and Moscow.

Many in Armenia are wondering what the point is of remaining in a military alliance that has demonstrated its unwillingness to protect the country. 

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly denied claims, including by Russian officials, of an imminent change in Armenia's foreign policy vector, but that has not stopped speculation as to how the country might leave the CSTO and what would come next. Representatives of the authorities are themselves musing about this prospect. 

 "There is of course the idea of Euro-integration in Armenia, but there is also the idea of becoming a country with non-bloc status, so there's a wide range of options. We are listening to civil society and trying to figure out what the best tools are for ensuring Armenia's security and development," Security Council Secretary Armen Grigoryan said at a forum in Brussels on November 10 titled, The Strategic Future of Armenia: Armenia-Europe.

Fifteen Armenian public organizations recently released a statement criticizing Russia for, as they put it, interfering in Armenia's internal affairs. The statement demands that the Armenian government expel Russia's 102nd military base, ban Russian broadcast media, and begin the process of ending the country's membership in the CSTO. 

Growing dissatisfaction with Russia

The CSTO, which also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Belarus, is one of the main causes of the growing Armenian resentment toward Russia. 

The bloc, which is, theoretically, bound to come to the aid of a member state when it is attacked, took practically no action in September last year when Azerbaijani troops invaded border areas and took up positions on strategic heights inside Armenia.   

Since then, Armenia's approach to the CSTO, and to Russia, has been increasingly confrontational. Yerevan has reduced its participation in the bloc to an absolute minimum. Over the past year, it has snubbed CSTO meetings at practically every level and has reassigned its representative in the organization to other work and left his post vacant.

At the same time, Armenia has welcomed more intensive cooperation with the EU, which at the start of this year deployed a civilian monitoring mission to the Azerbaijani border with the aim of supporting stability there. 

This step elicited a sharply negative reaction from the Russian authorities, who claimed the mission's purpose was to "confront Russia geopolitically" in the South Caucasus region.

Such rhetoric from Moscow has done nothing to stop the growing cooperation between Yerevan and Brussels, including in the military sphere. 

At the summit of EU foreign ministers on December 11, it was announced that the EU would review the possibility of rendering military aid to Armenia through the European Peace Fund.

It was also announced that the EU mission in Armenia would increase the number of its monitors from 138 to 209. 

Another sore spot for Armenia is Russia's alleged failure to deliver weapons that Yerevan says it paid millions of dollars for.  

The Armenian authorities have no plans to sue Russia and instead seek to solve the matter in an "atmosphere of partnership," Deputy Defence Minister Hrachya Sargsyan told a briefing on December 4. 

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recently proposed resolving the dispute through Russia canceling part of Yerevan's overall debt to Moscow. That total debt amounts to about $280 million, according to the Armenian Finance Ministry's latest calculations. (Armenia has not released precise figures on how much money Russia owes it for undelivered weapons.) 

Scenarios for leaving the CSTO

Most of the analysts Eurasianet spoke to see Armenia exiting the CSTO as a logical possible outcome of the current strained relations between Armenia and Russia. 

The head of the Research Center on Security Policy in Yerevan, Areg Kochinyan, says that Armenia could withdraw from the CSTO after approving a national security strategy that stipulates "non-bloc status" for the country. A new national security strategy is currently being drafted, and it's unknown now whether it will contain such a provision. 

If the national security strategy were amended so, "It would mean that Armenia has decided not to participate in any military bloc or alliance and therefore it would have to leave the CSTO. But at the same time it would mean that the country would not seek to become part of any other collective defense bloc," Kochinyan told Eurasianet. "I think this position would be more acceptable for Russia and the other regional powers, Iran and Turkey."

Yerevan-based political analyst David Arutyunov doesn't find it difficult to imagine Armenia leaving the CSTO.  

"In the context of the whole scope of Armenia's close relations with Russia, including in the economic sphere and the presence of the Russian military base here, leaving the CSTO is a relatively easy matter," Arutyunov told Eurasianet, adding that another crisis could provide the final impetus for quitting the bloc. 

He said the Armenian authorities have deftly managed to achieve domestic political aims by directing public discontent over the country's security problems towards Russia and the CSTO. 

"If something like the crisis of September 2022 happens again and causes internal political ructions in Armenia, it's possible that the Armenian government will resort to leaving the CSTO" in a bid to deflect criticism. 

What might Armenia's "non-bloc status" mean?  

Areg Kochinyan, of the Research Center on Security Policy, believes that a "non-bloc status" could open up opportunities for expanding Armenia's defense and military-industrial cooperation with various countries.

"We're talking not just about the West, but also other countries like India, that produce weapons. Armenia can enhance its relations with them even to the level of strategic partnership," he said. 

David Arutyunov believes that it's too early to speak about any real prospect of Armenia being outside of any military-political alliances.

"For now all this talk is theoretical. There are no real discussions on realizing this in practice. And even so, the talk pertains to the CSTO specifically, while bilateral relations with Russia will remain in any case – alongside contacts with the West," Arutyunov said.

The head of the Armenian Institute for Resilience and Statecraft, Gevorg Melikyan, is doubtful that the Armenian authorities really intend to leave the CSTO and declare non-bloc status.

"I don't see any such clear policy or strategy. For now, it's a matter of the Armenian government's desire to make an impression on Western partners to extract some kind of security guarantees. Since there are none [such guarantees], the Armenian government will try to convince Western partners to treat Armenia like they would treat any other anti-Russian country and not accuse it of maintaining contacts with Russia in the security sphere because it remains in the CSTO," Melikyan told Eurasianet. 

Arshaluis Mgdesyan via

Russian company Wildberries in Armenia: Dependence or freedom of choice?

Dec 19 2023

  • Gayane Asryan
  • Yerevan

Wildberries in Armenia

The Russian company Wildberries came to the Armenian market in 2018, and has seen huge sales over the past three years. At first, both customers and even employees of the chain considered it just an alternative resource for purchases.

But since 2021 the situation has changed — sales of the online hypermarket in Armenia have increased significantly. At this stage, the company has entered into competition with Armenian manufacturers and companies importing goods from China, Turkey, Iran and other countries, often replacing them.

Now you can find Wildberries on any street in Yerevan. They are open until 22:00 and 23:00, later than all other stores selling clothes and household goods. Most of them become profitable businesses and achieve a competitive advantage over local stores. This is facilitated by both the online sales model and the customs privileges available to Eurasian Economic Union member countries.

The EAEU is under the leadership of Russia. It includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

  • “Economic growth in Armenia is unstable”: analysis of the situation and expert’s forecast
  • People, money and the economy: an analysis of the situation in Armenia
  • “Armenia’s economic growth potential is not infinite.” Opinion

Wildberries is a virtual supermarket founded in Russia in 2004 by Vladislav and Tatiana Bakalchuk. This universal shopping network sells almost everything, including clothes, cosmetics, food, home appliances, alcohol, and books.

The company currently operates in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Israel. It entered the Armenian market in 2018..

According to the first half of 2023, 270 such outlets are operating in Armenia. There are 1878 local sellers registered on this online shopping platform, and the number of buyers has reached 415 thousand.

Active outlets are mainly located in Yerevan and neighboring cities. However, the company also works in remote town, with delivery handled by Armenia’s postal operator Haypost.

Vladislav Bakalchuk told journalists that one out of every six Armenia residents uses their services. Armenian goods are also on the platform. So far, sales through Wildberries are suitable for large Armenian companies that have partners in Russia.

The company plans to create a new logistics center in Armenia. It will speed up delivery both within the country and from Armenia to Russia, including for those entrepreneurs who do not have warehouses and partners in Russia.

The logistics center will not just be a warehouse, but a place for receiving, sorting, packing and shipping products manufactured in Armenia.

According to the State Revenue Committee, Wildberries is 28th on the list of Armenia’s largest taxpayers in the first half of 2023. It paid about 4.7 billion drams ($11,750,000) to the state budget.

Compared to the same period of 2022, the amount of taxes paid by the company increased 16 times. At the end of the first half of last year, the company ranked 403rd in the list of the largest taxpayers. At that time, it paid 295 million drams ($737,500) in taxes to the budget.

The company has more than a thousand employees in Armenia, who receive fixed salaries and interest payments.

Arpine is 34 years old. More than half of all her monthly purchases are goods ordered from the Wildberries online store. She buys mainly clothes, household appliances, cleaning products, and cosmetics. She calls herself a captive of the company, as she spends $200-300 dollars a month on Wildberries purchases with a salary of only $450.

“It was probably a couple years ago, I needed to buy clothes for my child to perform at a matinee. Some of my friends advised me to look in Wildberries. I found several options, looked at other customers’ reviews and bought the right clothes for only AMD 4300 ($10.75). And the tailor offered to make it for 12 thousand AMD ($30). So I was able to buy the necessary thing three times cheaper,” Arpine says.

According to her, shopping in this network is so profitable that some goods can be ordered and then sold by herself:

“When I just started using the site and there were not so many buyers from Armenia, I used to buy a big batch of some goods and resell them from home.”

The only problem Arpine sees is that she has become “addicted”. She says she often buys things she doesn’t really need. But she is very happy that the online store offers a wide selection of goods.

“With three children, I physically do not have time to go shopping, it takes a lot of time. I prefer to order everything I need in the evenings, when the children are asleep. And then I pick them up at the nearest delivery point – five minutes from home.”

A few months ago Gayane Alekyan and Karine Karapetyan opened a Wildberries store in Yerevan. Beforehand, they took a one-month course organized by the company to learn the nuances of business. After that they submitted an application for opening their store.

“The first important requirement of the company is to have a suitable space of 50 or more square meters with wide showcases. Furniture and branding in accordance with accepted standards are also required. And this is done at our expense,” Gayane Alekyan explains.

The income of the outlet depends on the number of orders – the more orders, the higher the income. The company pays these percentages weekly to the stores issuing orders. There is also a separate sum for high ratings, both for individual outlets and their employees.

“The company has found ways to incentivize its employees. Even though they are small sums, they motivate them to serve clients faster, with more flexibility and kindness. We have just started working, we don’t earn that much yet, but our expectations are positive,” Karine Karapetyan says.

Among the difficulties, she is most concerned about cases when goods are lost, especially when they are returned and a long correspondence begins, in which it is necessary to prove that the goods have been returned.

She finds it difficult to compare it with other business models, but she is sure that the money, time and risk invested are worthwhile.

Armen Gasparyan had to close his store in September 2023. He had been importing and selling clothes from Turkey and China for over 10 years. During this time he was able to attract regular customers and expand his business, opening another store.

“Over the past year, the number of my customers has been gradually decreasing. Wildberries branches opened next to my stores. I noticed that my clients started ordering clothes from this chain. I can’t blame anyone, it’s cheaper for them.”

He believes that although the market is free and unregulated, the government should support small and family businesses, otherwise it will not be able to compete with Wildberries — such as by freezing of interest on loans in banks or their financing by the state, simplification of customs clearance procedures, certain tax benefits:

“I think that the competition is withstood by those stores that do not have loans, that work on their own premises and do not rent. Those who do not have a large staff. Perhaps specialized stores, Armenian branches of famous brands, stores offering Armenian typical products will not fall victim to expansion. They will always have sales.”

He and other merchants affected by the expansion of Wildebrries and the growing popularity of the online chain have met with government officials. They offered to take action but were rebuffed:

“They said we are making super profits, people have got the opportunity to buy cheap goods – so they do. They suggested that we also bring cheap goods from other markets. It is easy to say, but it is necessary to say from which markets and direct them to those markets. Or to help us organize sales, for example, to allocate space for us to sell specific goods. Or create a platform for online sales. But this issue is not on the agenda at the moment, it does not concern the government.”

Narek Karapetyan, an economist and expert at the Amberd Research Center, believes that the growth of online commerce can have an important healing effect on Armenia’s economy:

“First, it reduces the trade margin, i.e. the difference between price and cost, and provides our citizens with an opportunity to purchase goods at a more affordable price. In addition, it reduces the role of the non-export sector, import-oriented commercial enterprises in the economy a redirects this human capital to productive activities.”

In his opinion, the first stage is painful for some entrepreneurs, but the whole world is now going through a similar process. Many jobs are being replaced by technological solutions, the global economy is “optimizing”, and this opens up opportunities for creative and flexible businesses.

“I think traders also see the risk that the customs territory of the EAEU [an economic union whose members are Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan] does not fully provide fair conditions. For example, traders operating on online trading platforms get the opportunity to import goods from other EAEU member states more cheaply. This naturally violates the conditions of fair competition.”

He says that one should be very careful when talking about business support. After all, it is carried out at the expense of the whole society.

He adds that small businesses engaged in trade have already been granted unique tax benefits (turnover tax – with a high threshold) nd the customs policy is implemented at the level of the EAEU.

“In the conditions of working in the same tax regime, a change in the composition of entrepreneurs should not have a significant impact on taxes. But since we have different taxation regimes, online trading platforms actually “steal the market” from SMEs operating under the turnover tax regime. Despite this fact, online trade can have a positive impact on tax revenues in general.”

As for the preservation of small stores, he believes that the first thing to worry about is businesses engaged in manufacturing. A “blow” to the import business may even have a salutary effect on the economy.

Anna Mkheyan has specialized in digital marketing for the last three years. She works in the Armenian network of a well-known brand.

She considers the success of Wildberries in Armenia to be logical, as the form and content of trade has changed worldwide, especially after the coronavirus pandemic:

“Nowadays time-saving, diversity of assortment are very important. The success of this Russian chain is also in the diversity of offerings, fast delivery, flexibility of work. People have a choice, an opportunity to make mistakes and return an order. While in other stores in Armenia a customer cannot always return a low-quality product or a purchase that he or she dislikes, although by law he or she has the right to do so.”

According to the marketer, this is a precedent in Armenia, but abroad it is a common approach to work. And in order for local merchants to withstand competition, they must increase their online work as well.

“You need to have pages of a store or brand in social networks, manage them competently, attract new customers with various advertising tricks. These are the main tasks, but it would be good to cooperate with already established online trading platforms, for example, Wildberries, if the goods are fully or partially produced in Armenia.”

There is no alternative to changing the approach to work, as in the near future many brands and stores will switch to online sales to save money.

“Online shopping is also a way to save time. Modern man is acutely aware of his lack of time, losing time is an unacceptable luxury for him.”

Prisoner exchange expected on December 13

 14:48, 13 December 2023

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 13, ARMENPRESS. There’s been no change in the agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan concerning the prisoner swap, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan has said.

“There’s been no change in the agreements. As of this moment everything is proceeding according to the agreements. There were two components, the release of prisoners and the conference related to climate change. The conference officially ended yesterday, and today we can already expect the implementation of the second component. We have no grounds to say that Azerbaijan won’t adhere to the agreements,” Mirzoyan said.

Meanwhile, Azeri media reported that the prisoner exchange is expected on December 13.

Azerbaijan has to release 32 Armenian prisoners in exchange for Armenia's release of two Azerbaijani servicemen under the agreement.

POW Exchange on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Border

Armenian-Azerbaijani prisoner exchange (Photo: Screen grab from Azatutyun, )

YEREVAN— Following an agreement made on October 7 between the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan, the exchange of Armenian and Azerbaijani prisoners of war took place today on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, in the region of Ijevan and Kazakh.

The offices of the Armenian Prime Minister and the Azerbaijani President released a joint statement announcing the mutual release of detainees, with Baku freeing 32 Armenian servicemen and Yerevan releasing two Azerbaijani servicemen. The timing coincided with the visit of U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James O’Brien to Baku. While it was considered a positive step by several countries, the announcement was seen as a result of direct negotiations between the two countries.

According to information shared by the Azerbaijani APA agency, Armenian nationals who were captive in Azerbaijan were detained during a supposed “counter-terrorism operation” in the Hadrut region of Artsakh in December 2020, a month after the end of the 2020 Artsakh War. The remaining six individuals were apprehended at various border points.

Human rights advocate Siranush Sahakyan has reported that, according to official data, Azerbaijan still holds 55 Armenians, including 41 prisoners of war, eight former Artsakh leaders and six civilians. She added that there is unofficial data regarding at least 80 prisoners of war and civilians held without investigations into their statuses.

The joint statement states that Armenia and Azerbaijan mutually acknowledge a “historical chance to achieve a long-awaited peace in the region.” Both nations reiterated their commitment to normalizing relations and forging a peace treaty based on principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. After deliberations between the Armenia’s prime minister’s office and the president’s administration of Azerbaijan, an agreement was reached to take “tangible steps towards building confidence between the two countries,” the statement declared.

Furthermore, the Armenian administration expressed support for Azerbaijan’s bid to host the 29th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP29), withdrawing its own candidacy. Azerbaijan reciprocated by supporting Armenia’s candidacy for membership in the COP Bureau of the Eastern European Group.

Both countries anticipate further discussions to implement trust-building measures in the near future. They “call on the international community to support their efforts that will contribute to building mutual trust between two countries and will positively impact the entire South Caucasus region.”

However, concerns have arisen regarding the sincerity of such commitments. This skepticism arose due to the recent sentencing of Gagik Voskanyan, who was handed an 18-year prison term by a court in Baku following the announcement of the return of POWs. Voskanyan was part of the group of Armenian prisoners repatriated today.

Voskanyan faced a range of charges, including terrorism, arms smuggling and illegal border crossing, among other alleged offenses. Many observers believe the case against him to be fabricated. Throughout the legal proceedings, Voskanyan vehemently maintained his innocence.

The incident involving Voskanyan captured global attention after Armenia’s Ministry of Defense released a video on August 16, 2023. The footage depicted Azerbaijani Armed Forces soldiers engaging with Voskanyan, subsequently arresting him and escorting him to an undisclosed location. This incident and the fact that former state and military officials of Artsakh continue to be detained in Baku raise doubts about Azerbaijan’s commitment to the promised release of prisoners of war.

The “historic opportunity to achieve long-awaited peace in the region” asserted in the joint statement has been critically dissected by analysts, emphasizing the ongoing series of aggressive actions against Armenia, including recent fatalities at the border. Additionally, the statement reaffirmed intentions to establish a peace treaty based on principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Yet, recent remarks by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev regarding access to exclave Nakhichevan through Armenia raise questions about Azerbaijan’s readiness to respect Armenia’s sovereignty, particularly as it pertains to border controls and customs.

Aliyev initially promised to exchange prisoners on November 9, in order to portray the potential success of direct negotiations. Azerbaijan has recently declined to participate in meetings mediated by the West, instead insisting on direct talks with Armenia. This shift towards direct negotiations has sidelined established international mediators and threatened Armenia’s position. Yerevan-based analyst Tigran Grigoryan argued that Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan, through engaging in these direct talks, might be pressured into further concessions without effective oversight or accountability.

Despite this development, intermediary efforts have still been in play. The EU Eastern Partnership Foreign Ministers’ Conference in Brussels on December 11-12 indicated the potential meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani ministers, though no separate talks have been announced.

In a recent announcement, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov expressed Baku’s expectation of mutual sincerity and commitment from Armenia, stressing the significance of maintaining peace and neighborly relations without falling victim to short-term geopolitical maneuvers. 

“Peace and neighborly relations should not be sacrificed to some short-sighted geopolitical speculation,” Bayramov stated, underlining the necessity for collective efforts akin to the European model. Bayramov urged for mutual tolerance from Armenia and called upon EU member states to support the peace process without causing any disruptions.

This statement seems to echo the recent joint declaration between the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan, emphasizing bilateral negotiations. Such an approach appears aimed at facilitating Azerbaijani interests within the realm of negotiations with the government of Armenia, according to Haykakan Alik.

Key global stakeholders have weighed in on the joint statement made by the leaders of both nations, expressing views on the release of detainees and the prospects for peace in the South Caucasus.

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed the urgency of signing an early peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia, emphasizing its potential as a pivotal step towards sustainable peace and stability in the region.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, conveyed Moscow’s welcome of the mutual agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan to normalize relations and sign a peace treaty. Zakharova commended the release of prisoners and the concrete support extended by both Yerevan and Baku in international organizations.

The U.S. State Department lauded the joint statement by Pashinyan and Aliyev. The United States emphasized the significance of the commitment made by both parties, highlighting it as a crucial confidence-building measure, pivotal for the forthcoming peace agreement and normalization of relations.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell echoed the sentiment of a historic opportunity for peace in the region. He reaffirmed the EU’s dedication to supporting the ongoing efforts. Borrell emphasized the joint statement’s pivotal nature, considering it a substantial political step forward.

Javier Colomina, NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative in the Caucasus and Central Asia, welcomed the mutual release of detainees and other confidence-building measures declared in the joint statement by Armenia and Azerbaijan. Colomina underscored NATO’s firm backing for these efforts, emphasizing support for the normalization of relations between the two nations.

Hoory Minoyan was an active member of the Armenian community in Los Angeles until she moved to Armenia prior to the 44-day war. She graduated with a master's in International Affairs from Boston University, where she was also the recipient of the William R. Keylor Travel Grant. The research and interviews she conducted while in Armenia later became the foundation of her Master’s thesis, “Shaping Identity Through Conflict: The Armenian Experience.” Hoory continues to follow her passion for research and writing by contributing to the Armenian Weekly.