Ambassadors accredited to Armenia visit Matenadaran


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 11, ARMENPRESS. Arayik Khzmalyan, the director of Mashtots Matenadaran and the deputy director Vahe Torosyan hosted the Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan and Poland to the Republic of Armenia-Petr Piruncik, Bolat Imanbaev, Pavel Cheplak, the press service of the Matenadaran informs.

The heads of diplomatic missions, accompanied by the Matenadaran directorate, toured the museum. The possibilities of implementing joint programs were also discussed.

Third Anniversary of the Second Karabakh War: How It Changed the South Caucasus?

Modern Diplomacy
Nov 8 2023

By: Dr. Vasif Huseynov
On November 8, Azerbaijan celebrates the third anniversary of the Second Karabakh War, also known as the 44 Day War, which the country fought with Armenia to liberate its occupied territories [the Karabakh region and seven adjacent districts of Azerbaijan]. The war, which lasted 44 days from September 27 to November 10, 2020 resulted in the liberation of significant part of the Azerbaijani territories that had been occupied by Armenia in the early 1990s.

Azerbaijan took care to conduct the military operations against the occupying forces of Armenia without jeopardizing the lives of the civilian population of the Karabakh region. As opposed to the Armenian side that intentionally targeted civilian areas in the Azerbaijani cities that were far from the combat zone and killed 100 civilians, Azerbaijan did not attack against the civilian population. Thanks to this humanist approach of the Azerbaijani government, there were minimal casualties amongst the Armenian civilians (60 civilians) in Karabakh during the 44 Day War. According to the expert reviews, the civilian casualty rate in this war was unprecedented (below 2 percent) which is significantly lower than other conflicts of the recent decades.

The implications of this war were multifaceted, extending their influence not only for the conflicting sides but also throughout the broader region. These consequences were not limited solely to the political or geopolitical sphere but also encompassed various other domains, including the economy, connectivity, and regional integration. Three years later, it is safe to assert that the 44 Day War has ushered in a new era for the South Caucasus.

The war shattered the long-standing impasse in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, paving the way for a comprehensive resolution.

Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in protracted peace negotiations for nearly three decades leading up to the Second Karabakh War. This period was marked by sporadic escalations and the loss of both military personnel and, at times, civilian lives on both sides. Armenia’s strategy was straightforward: its leaders aimed to prolong the negotiations as much as possible while the separatist regime in the occupied territories solidified its control over the region and facilitated the settlement of illegal residents from Armenia and the Middle East. Concurrently, the international community failed to exert pressure on Armenia to adhere to the United Nations Security Council resolutions from 1993, which called for the immediate withdrawal of occupying forces from Azerbaijani territories. Acknowledging the erosion of the negotiation process, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan publicly criticized the international mediators and condemned Armenia’s destructive approaches on July 6, 2020, declaring that the peace process had become “meaningless.”

The 44 Day War broke the impasse in the process but fell short of producing full resolutions. Armenia refused to implement the critical provisions of the trilateral [Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia] statement signed on November 10, 2020 that ended the war. Most importantly, Yerevan rejected the Azerbaijani demands to withdraw its armed forces from the territories of Azerbaijan where Russia’s peacekeeping mission was deployed in accordance with the trilateral statement. Armed Forces of Armenia, together with the illegal units of the local separatist regime in Russia’s peacekeeping zone, posed military threats to Azerbaijan’s national security. The problem remained even after Yerevan officially admitted the presence of its troops on the Azerbaijani soil in July 2022 and pledged to withdraw them. At the same time, the leaders of the separatist entity in Karabakh ignored Azerbaijan’s calls for peaceful reintegration of the Armenian residents in Karabakh to Azerbaijan’s constitutional framework.

This process was negatively affected by biased policies of the French government and some other political circles in the West who indirectly emboldened the separatist leaders and encouraged them into uncompromising position against Azerbaijan.

This situation led to a deterioration of relations, even though Yerevan officially acknowledged Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, including Karabakh, on multiple occasions after following the 44 Day War. In September 2023, Azerbaijan’s one-day anti-terror operation against the separatist regime in Karabakh marked the decisive blow for the separatist leadership. Confronted with no alternative, the separatist leaders were compelled to capitulate and fully accept Azerbaijan’s conditions.

The operations resulted with the mass exodus of the local Armenian population from the Karabakh region. International organizations, including the United Nations that sent an observer mission to Karabakh in the aftermath of the anti-terror operations in September, dispelled the claims regarding the forced displacement and ethnic cleansing. Armenians who fled Karabakh reported no coercion or maltreatment. They acknowledged that it was their own leaders who instructed them to leave Karabakh after the region came under control of the Azerbaijani side. Nevertheless, Baku has launched various reintegration projects to bring back the Armenian people and offered them Azerbaijani citizenship, social benefits, and other rights.

Thus, the collapse of the separatist regime in Karabakh marked the conclusive end of the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh” project, initially established in 1923 by the Soviet government as a tool to exert pressure on Azerbaijan and utilized by Armenia to carve up a part of Azerbaijani lands.

The war opened up opportunities for regional integration.

The territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the occupied territories of the latter posed a significant obstacle to the rapid economic progress of both nations and also hindered regional economic and political integration in the South Caucasus. Over the past three decades, since the re-establishment of independent statehood in the early 1990s, the region missed out on numerous opportunities. The Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict destabilized regional peace and security, generated unnecessary additional expenses for various regional economic initiatives, presented challenges to the transformation of the entire South Caucasus into a key transportation hub for the broader region, and discouraged investments from flowing into the area. As a result, the South Caucasus has not fully realized its economic development potential and connectivity projects over the past thirty years.

The trilateral statement signed on November 10 by the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia was not a mere ceasefire agreement; it went beyond that by providing a framework for the region’s post-war development. Notably, the 9th article of the statement focused on the re-establishment of regional transportation and communication links, which had been closed off since the First Karabakh War in the early 1990s. This article stipulated the full restoration of these links, including the establishment of a transportation corridor that would enable unobstructed movement between mainland Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave through Armenia’s Syunik region, also known as the Zangezur corridor.

In a similar way to the negotiations over the withdrawal of the Armenian troops from Karabakh, Armenia refused to honor its commitments under the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020. Therefore, the talks over the Zangezur corridor have yet to deliver practical results. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan has succeeded to obtain an alternative to this corridor via the Iran territory and hence lost interest in the trans-Armenia passage. Nevertheless, we can assume that the Zangezur corridor will be opened soon as it is beneficial to Yerevan and it will help Armenia to overcome self-isolation in the region and integrate into regional transportation networks. Notably, this road has been included in the “Crossroads for Peace” project announced by the Armenian government in October 2023, which envisions more integrated connectivity channels in the South Caucasus with Armenia part of it.

The resolution of the conflict created a good chance also for the regional integration both within the region amongst the three countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia) and around the region together with Russia, Iran, and Turkiye. It is important to note that there were meetings amongst the high-level representatives of those countries on both tracks in October, a month after the collapse of the separatist regime in Karabakh. These developments take place in parallel with the intensification of peace treaty talks between Baku and Yerevan.

That said, the resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict has been a historic movement for the South Caucasus and brought about various opportunities that is set to contribute to peace and stability in the South Caucasus. It is therefore high moment for the international community, including the European Union and the United States, to support the peace and regional integration efforts in the region. The South Caucasus cannot afford to miss the present opportunity.

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 10-11-23


YEREVAN, 10 NOVEMBER, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 10 November, USD exchange rate down by 0.09 drams to 402.59 drams. EUR exchange rate down by 0.13 drams to 430.21 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate stood at 4.37 drams. GBP exchange rate down by 2.08 drams to 492.25 drams.

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

Gold price down by 30.26 drams to 25336.39 drams. Silver price up by 1.36 drams to 291.88 drams.

"Americans extending a helping hand": US-Armenia military cooperation

Nov 7 2023
  • JAMnews
  • Yerevan

Armenian-American military cooperation

The Chief of General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces visited the headquarters of the U.S. European Command, which is stationed in Germany. According to the Defense Ministry, during the meeting with Edward Asryan, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Air Force in Europe and Africa Stephen Basham stated that “the U.S. is ready to initiate new areas of cooperation”.

According to political analyst Gurgen Simonyan, this is “a signal that the Americans are extending a helping hand.”

“When Armenia begins to throw off destructive influence, it will be able to modernize and develop its security system with the help of the United States,” he believes.

  • “Apart from Armenia, no one needs the Crossroads of Peace.” Opinion from Yerevan
  • “It is not necessary to provide security only with the army” – Pashinyan
  • “France to help protect Armenia’s skies”. Signing of documents in Paris

First Deputy Minister and Head of the General Staff, Edward Asryan, visited the headquarters located in Stuttgart at the invitation of the U.S. European Command. He discussed with American partners the possibilities of developing military cooperation and issues related to regional security:

“Edward Asryan presented the details of the reforms underway in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Armenia and the support expected from the U.S. during their implementation.”

It is also reported that Deputy Commander of the US Air Force in Europe, Stephen Basham, stated the readiness of the US to continue both the support of the existing programs and initiate new directions of cooperation:

  • “professionalization of the armed forces, strengthening the professional skills of non-commissioned officers,
  • modernization of the command and control system,
  • peacekeeping,
  • military medicine,
  • military education,
  • combat training, exercises”.

During his visit, Asryan also visited the U.S. Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Europe and the NCO Academy.

Ararat Mirzoyan stated that Armenia’s position is reduced “to constructive discussion and smoothing of problems”, but results can be expected only in case of “bilateral work”

Political scientist Gurgen Simonyan says that cooperation between Yerevan and Washington can be very diverse, depending on the degree of relations and the prospects for the development of strategic relations.

He believes that the talk about initiating new areas of Armenian-American cooperation is a “clear strategic signal” that Armenia will be able to modernize its security system with US support.

“When we talk about military cooperation, everyone thinks that the armies of Western partners will bravely march into the region and protect our state. This cannot happen,” he emphasized.

In the political analyst’s opinion, there is no need to have illusions, and one should realize that “the main defensive force” is Armenia’s armed forces. He explains that the partners “will support as much as our bilateral and multilateral relations will deepen with time”. This refers to both diplomatic and military-technical support.

“In the face of the challenges facing the Republic of Armenia, it is impossible to survive without new approaches to the armed forces. We have no alternative to the modernization leap,” Simonyan believes.

He emphasizes that now there is no place for old-style armies, it is necessary to acquire new technologies, receive modern military education, master technical skills for the use of new types of weapons.

He calls the current situation a transitional period. He is convinced that in case of a new escalation, the West, states friendly to Armenia will closely follow the first clashes.

“If Armenia shows determination and will to fight for its national interests, technological, informational, diplomatic and economic support will not be late. But [U.S.] troops will not enter here,” he says.

Pope Francis speaks with Iranian President by phone

 10:44, 6 November 2023

YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 6, ARMENPRESS. Pope Francis spoke by phone on Sunday afternoon with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Vatican News reports.

The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, confirmed the conversation to Vatican News, specifying that it occurred at the request of the Iranian president.

The Iranian presidency's website reported that President Raisi expressed his appreciation for the Pope's appeals for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Earlier on Sunday, Pope Francis reiterated his appeal at the Angelus address:

"I continue to think about the serious situation in Palestine and in Israel where many, many people have lost their lives. In God’s name, I beg you to stop: cease using weapons! I hope that avenues will be pursued so that an escalation of the conflict might be absolutely avoided, so that the wounded can be rescued and help might get to the population of Gaza where the humanitarian situation is extremely serious. May the hostages be freed immediately. There are also many children among them – may they return to their families! Yes, let’s think of the children, of all the children affected by this war, as well as in Ukraine and by other conflicts: this is how their future is being killed. Let us pray that there might be the strength to say, 'enough'."

In recent days, Pope Francis also held phone calls with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (2 November), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (26 October), and with US President Joe Biden (22 October).

Among other issues addressed in his conversations with world leaders, the Pope had indicated the need to find paths to peace and the hope of reaching a two-state solution with a special status for Jerusalem.

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 06-11-23

 17:11, 6 November 2023

YEREVAN, 6 NOVEMBER, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 6 November, USD exchange rate up by 0.12 drams to 402.34 drams. EUR exchange rate up by 4.36 drams to 432.44 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate up by 0.03 drams to 4.36 drams. GBP exchange rate up by 8.00 drams to 499.59 drams.

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

Gold price up by 148.01 drams to 25799.27 drams. Silver price down by 5.02 drams to 292.86 drams.

In the ultimate irony, Russia’s obsession with Ukraine may have weakened its power over its other neighbors

Oct 26 2023
Holly Ellyatt
  • With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine its most pressing geopolitical priority for at least the last 19 months, Moscow has not had much time or opportunity to hold as much power and influence over all its other neighbors.
  • Russia’s influence in parts of the South Caucasus region — which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia — and other former Soviet republics, differs from state to state.
  • Analysts say the war in Ukraine has created the irony that Russia has lost a degree of control, power and influence over its backyard.

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine its most pressing geopolitical priority for at least the last 19 months, Moscow has not had much time or opportunity to hold as much power and influence over all its other neighbors — a position it has enjoyed since the breakup of the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago.

Russia’s influence in parts of the South Caucasus region — which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia — and other former Soviet republics such as Belarus and those further afield, such as Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, differs from state to state. It’s also largely dependent on the degree of pro-Western or pro-Russian sentiment among the people and leadership, as well as the level of economic and geopolitical reliance on Moscow.

But analysts say one thing is for certain: The war in Ukraine has created the irony that a distracted Russia has lost a degree of power, control and leverage over its own wider backyard.

Azerbaijan’s seizing of breakaway region Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia in September highlighted Russia’s somewhat weakened or reshaped role in the region — given its perceived lack of anticipation of the offensive and lack of intervention in a long-running dispute in which it has traditionally been a mediator.

In a sign that Russia was caught off guard by the conflict in its own backyard, just one day before Azerbaijan launched its lightning offensive, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the humanitarian situation was improving in Nagorno-Karabakh and hoped that would aid the “normalising” of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

The Kremlin rejects accusations that it no longer has the leadership status it once enjoyed, with President Vladimir Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov telling CNBC that “there is no such possibility” that Moscow’s influence has waned among its neighbors.

“Each area is equally important for Russia. Russia continues to play its role in the Caucasus,” Peskov said in emailed comments.

Geopolitical analysts are not so unequivocal, saying Russia’s failure to seize Ukraine in a matter of days — as Moscow expected — when its forces first invaded in February 2022, showed its military capabilities in a new light to its neighbors.

“The question arose about the real fighting capacity of the Russian army,” Vira Konstantinova, political scientist and international relations specialist, told CNBC.

Within the first month of fighting, and with Russian forces withdrawing from the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine’s armed forces had managed to debunk a “key myth of Russian propaganda,” she noted — that Russia’s army was powerful, well equipped and capable.

In fact, she said, Kyiv’s resistance highlighted to Russia’s neighbors and partners that “Russian power is a bubble with only a nuclear button in its center.”

Russian opposition politician Vladimir Milov, who once worked under Putin in the early days of his leadership, before becoming disillusioned with Russia’s geopolitical direction of travel, agreed that the war in Ukraine has, ironically, made Russia look weaker among its post-Soviet neighbors.

“If you take Ukraine out of the equation it’s really clear that Russia does not control the post-Soviet space, as Ukraine is bigger and more important than everything else. So it’s fair to say that if you do not control Ukraine, you do not control the post-Soviet space,” he told CNBC.

“When it was clear that Russia was failing to establish dominance over Ukraine, everybody else also saw that and started to behave more independently. People see that they [Russia] is not achieving this ultimate task and that means they are weak and have to turn elsewhere,” he noted.

Milov said there used to be two schools of thought in Russia two decades ago: one is that Moscow needed to reassert dominance over its post-Soviet neighbors and another — followed by Milov — believed Russia’s neighbors should be treated as equals and integrated, with Russia, into a broader Western space.

Milov said his school of thought had been erased over time — Putin, he said, “squeezed it out.”

Geopolitical analysts say Russia’s influence may have been shaken, but has certainly not disappeared — it remains a superpower among its neighbors and the possibility of further Russian intervention in Russian-backed breakaway regions such as Transnistria in Moldova and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia has not been discounted.

Igor Semivolos, executive director of the Center for Middle East Studies in Ukraine, noted that while it could be said that the “intensity” of Russia’s interactions in what it sees as its backyard has declined — particularly as it “concentrates the main effort on the Ukrainian question” — it’s not entirely correct to say that “Russia has lost its grip.”

“In general, so far, the weakening is observed only in the context of the reduction of Russia’s foreign policy initiatives in this region,” he told CNBC in emailed comments, adding that Russia still “maneuvers and tries to distribute the resources to keep the situation under control.”

But if Western nations wanted to take the opportunity to break Russia’s increasingly precarious hold over its neighbors, foreign policy initiatives and security guarantees are needed now, he said.

“It’s important that other powers start entering the region. The USA and Turkey [could] offer the countries their own security formulas [guarantees], and perhaps in the future, these security formulas will become more attractive than the Russian one,” he said.

Analysts say the West should certainly be reaching out to such Eurasian countries while the opportunity presents itself, and Russia is distracted with Ukraine. Azerbaijan’s decision to strike Armenia while Russia’s back was turned, metaphorically, showed that Moscow’s hands are largely tied, they note.

“Russia’s war on Ukraine has shaken stability in the South Caucasus, and Moscow may try to claw back influence in the region at the expense of regional peace and security,” Vasif Huseynov, head of the Western Studies department at the Center of Analysis of International Relations, a think tank based in Azerbaijan, noted in analysis.

But greater U.S. engagement with the likes of Azerbaijan could “reinforce a platform for peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia” and could help “counter threats to shared interests” from Moscow and Tehran, he noted.

Armenian OnOff studio signed memorandums of cooperation with French and Lithuanian companies at the “ReA” Festival


YEREVAN, OCTOBER 26, ARMENPRESS. In the framework of the 15th anniversary of the ReAnimania International Animation Film & Comics Art Festival of Yerevan, a momentous and unprecedented event has unfolded in the modern history of Armenian Animation.

On October 25, at the National Cinema Center of Armenia, the Armenian OnOff studio signed a memorandum of cooperation with two international companies at once, thus entering the international co-production platform. This achievement represents a significant milestone in Armenian animation history, which will contribute to the development of the animation film art and bolster Armenia's unique standing in the field.

OnOff Studio's first memorandum was signed with Lithuania's Broom Films for the co-production of the feature-length animated film "ZAKO," directed by Tigran Arakelyan, the co-founder of OnOff. The memorandum was signed by Susanna Khachatryan, Executive Producer at OnOff, and Juste Michailinaite, the director of Broom Films.

According to Vrej Kassouny, Founder & Director of the ReA International Animation Film & Comics Art Festival, these collaborations represent a significant achievement for Armenia, Armenian Animation, and Armenian Cinema.

"It is a great honor for us to see that the 'ReAnimania' festival, founded 15 years ago, is fulfilling its purpose. Today, we are pleased to witness that the festival has become a bridge connecting international companies and Armenian creators, Armenian companies. Animation is a complex art form, and its development in Armenia has been progressing steadily but with measured and smooth steps. I am confident that thanks to such partnerships and achievements, this process will accelerate. This is a momentous achievement for all of us."

Susanna Khachatryan, Executive Producer at OnOff, underscores the importance of foreign partners taking the initiative in forging such collaborations.

“We have created and developed a unique VR application technology that has garnered attention from various companies and individuals in the animation world. Our Projects, not yet fully realized, are already in high demand. International co-productions are vital for the development of the animation art in Armenia, and these collaborations hold significant value for all of us”.

Khachatryan also emphasized that the collaboration with French companies is a major milestone, particularly because France is experiencing a boom in animation development.

The second memorandum with French leading TCHACK company, was signed by Susanna Khachatryan and Barbara Vougnon, producer at TCHACK.

“We are very delighted for this collaboration, the new connections we have made and warm welcoming. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Vrej Kassouny for providing us with this exceptional opportunity," said Vougnon.

Within the framework of the memorandum, the Armenian and French companies will cooperate in the production of two films. The short animated film "LONG LIVE THE HOLIDAYS" and the feature- length animated film "MARYAM & VARTO" will be developed and produced, authored by Gorune Aprikian and directed by Luciano Lepinay and Gorune Aprikian.

"We are thrilled to embark on this collaboration with OnOff. The OnOff team employs exceptional techniques in their creative work, which play a crucial role in the animation industry. This partnership goes beyond mere production and technical cooperation; it is a creative venture, and that is what truly matters. Together, we aim to contribute to the creation of a valuable piece of work, not just another movie," said Gorune Aprikian.

Film production is scheduled to start at the end of this year.

Asbarez: Kremlin Angry with Pashinyan’s Latest Remarks About Russia-Armenia Security Ties

Russian presidential spokesperson Demitry Peskov

The Kremlin on Monday demanded information about what Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan means when he told the Wall Street Journal about “the need to diversify relations in the security sector.

The Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov that Moscow was not inclined to accept The Wall Street Journal as a source.

In the interview with The Wall Street Journal, Pashinyan had said that Azerbaijan’s aggressive actions and CSTO’s inaction “in fact, led us to a decision that we need to diversify our relations in the security sector.”

“We still need to understand what Mr. Pashinyan was talking about. And of course, we expect to receive all the information on this account in the conversation with our Armenian allies. And of course, it is not appropriate for Russia and Armenia to communicate through newspapers, especially The Wall Street Journal. Therefore, we will continue the conversation, the dialogue with our Armenian friends, and we will continue to do so; we have a very broad agenda,” Peskov noted.

The Kremlin official was referencing an interview published on Wednesday by the American newspaper, in which Pashinyan again blamed Russia for failing to protect Artsakh Armenians against Azerbaijan ethnic cleansing and not honoring its security obligations.

Peskov added that Russia continues its efforts, “attempts to help Baku and Yerevan to reach, nonetheless, the signing of a peace treaty”.

“This is necessary for the stabilization of the situation in the region and the emergence of a more positive standard of living,” concluded the Russian presidential press secretary.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova also commented on the interview saying that Pashinyan was trapped into repeating the words that the Wall Street Journal put in his mouth.

Armenia welcomes Canada’s initiative on joining EU monitoring mission – FM


YEREVAN, OCTOBER 25, ARMENPRESS. Armenia welcomes Canada’s initiative to join the EU’s civilian monitoring mission, Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said at a joint press conference with Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly.

“We welcome Canada’s initiative on joining and becoming part of the EU monitoring mission in Armenia in the context of both deepening bilateral relations and strengthening regional stability. I’d like to point out the latter, because our region really needs sincere and effective steps aimed at ensuring peace aimed at an objective assessment of the situation by the international partners and ensuring dignified peace for our people,” Mirzoyan said.