Armenian Ambassador presents "Crossroads of Peace" initiative to Swedish FM


YEREVAN, OCTOBER 27, ARMENPRESS. On October 26, Tobias Billström, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden received Ambassador of Armenia Anna Aghadjanian, Embassy of the Republic of Armenia to Sweden informs. 

FM Billström reiterated Sweden's strong support to Armenia. Discussion focused on regional developments, ways to further expand bilateral agenda, as well as the cooperation through EU framework.

AW: Armenian Literarian, Translator Yervant Kotchounian Passes Away

Yervant Kotchounian

Yervant Kotchounian was born on May 20, 1950, in Damascus, Syria. He was the youngest son of Garabed and Tshkhoun (Vanes Kehian) Kotchounian. He came to join his siblings Kalousd and Elmasd.

His mother passed away when Yervant was an infant. In 1958, with the help of his brother Kalousd, Yervant and his sister Elmasd were accepted into the Armenian Evangelical Secondary School of Anjar, Lebanon, where they spent the next ten years.

In 1968, Yervant moved to the capital city of Beirut where he attended Haigazian College for four years, graduating in 1972 with a degree in English literature. He taught at Shamlian-Tatigian High School in Beirut for two years after completing his degree. Yervant also hosted a radio program called Armenian Hour, which aired in Beirut. He hosted another radio program that aired in Cyprus.

In 1974, he married Grace Varbedian and together they immigrated to the United States in 1975, where they settled in Los Angeles and where their children — son Todd and daughter Tara — were born.

For many years, Yervant worked at Blue Cross in an administrative capacity.

At his core, however, Yervant was a man of letters. He loved words and ideas — in all languages. The best living examples of that are his children and their names. Todd is “tahd” — cause, the permanent Armenian call for justice. And his daughter is Tara — terra, land, the resolution that justice would bring. This is how he was in all things: he was true to himself, honest and very smart — sometimes even practical.

His true passion was Armenian letters. He was a translator who sought to preserve and extend the essence of Armenian for its rich and expansive vocabulary while creating a bridge for Armenian writers to reach new audiences. He was the translator and editor of a number of scholarly and literary books — some on commission — most out of love and curiosity. He had translated a series of adventure novels because he wanted them available to Armenian language readers. His writings appeared in all of the local Armenian newspapers, and he was respected as a theater critic.

He served as a jurist for many years for the Hamazkayin Tololyan Prize in Contemporary Literature, awarded to authors of various genres in both English and Armenian whose themes centered around Armenian issues.

Yervant had a passion for music and was always quick to sing or hum along, especially if it was country music. He especially appreciated classical and Armenian music and was an avid supporter of the Lark Conservatory and the Dilijan Chamber Music Series.

He loved gathering with friends and family, sharing poetry and telling stories — a smile never far and his booming laugh often filling the room.

In the past few months, he was in significant pain when he agreed to enter the hospital. On Friday, September 29, he had been in good spirits, laughing and talking. Later that night, he suffered a heart attack that greatly deteriorated his overall condition. After two weeks of treatment in critical care, Yervant died on Saturday, October 14, 2023, surrounded by loved ones.

He is lovingly remembered by: former wife, Grace Kotchounian; son, Todd Kotchounian; daughter, Tara Kotchounian; brother, Kalousd Kotchounian; sister, Elmasd Kotchounian Miller; niece, Nanor and Elie Tashdjian and family; niece, Houry and Zohrab Ghazarian and family; niece, Hasmig and Kevork Harboyan and family; nephew, Garo and Katie Kotchounian and family; nephew, Greg and Katrina Miller and family; and the entire Kotchounian, Miller and Varbedian families, relatives, friends and colleagues.

A celebration of life will be held on October 28 at 5 p.m. at Phoenicia Restaurant (343 N. Central Ave., Glendale, CA). In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that remembrances be made by supporting Abril Bookstore or by donating to an Armenian literary cause in Yervant’s name.

Armenia-Azerbaijan Peace Talks Reach Critical Crossroads

Oct 22 2023

  • The fate of Karabakh Armenians, territorial integrity, and mediation are key issues in the peace talks.
  • Armenia is increasingly positive about Western support, while Azerbaijan seeks regional solutions.
  • Disputes over occupied villages, exclaves, and border delimitation complicate negotiations.

The 35-year-old Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict could finally be coming to an end after last month's lightning offensive by Azerbaijan to retake Nagorno-Karabakh and the subsequent exodus of the region's Armenian population and dissolution of its de facto government. 

The fate of the Karabakh Armenians had long been the main sticking point in the peace talks underway since 2021. Now that that issue has been resolved, however crudely, and the sides have vowed to recognize one another's territorial integrity, it might seem that a conclusion could be at hand. 

But things aren't that simple. Apart from the actual content of a peace deal – chiefly border delimitation/demarcation and the opening of transit links – the sides are at odds over who should mediate.

Up to this point there have been two separate tracks of negotiations, one mediated by Russia and the other by the European Union with U.S. help.

Now, after Azerbaijan's takeover of Karabakh, Armenia is more dissatisfied than ever with its nominal strategic partner Russia and is increasingly positive on the West. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, has been expressing distaste with Western mediation and calling for a regional solution to the conflict, one that could involve Russia, Turkey and Iran, or, perhaps, just Georgia

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had been due to meet in the presence of European mediators on the sidelines of the European Political Community Summit in Granada, Spain, on October 5.  

But Aliyev backed out. The presence of France, an ally of Armenia that has offered to sell it defensive weapons, and the exclusion of Azerbaijan's strategic partner Turkey were the reasons, his advisor later explained

Pashinyan went anyway, and talked Armenia-Azerbaijan peace with President Charles Michel of the European Council, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany. 

Those four released a joint statement afterwards expressing commitment to the normalization of relations between Baku and Yerevan, and the two countries' mutual respect for one another's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The statement also emphasized the importance of "strict adherence to the principle of non-use of force and threat of use of force." Concerns persist in Armenia that Azerbaijan could invade in order to force the establishment of a transit corridor, and the EU wants assurances from Baku that it won't do so.

A few days later, Armenia decided to skip a meeting of leaders and foreign ministers of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members in Bishkek. Aliyev criticized the move, as supposedly a separate meeting was to be held between Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the event. 

"We perceive the mediation of the Russian Federation with gratitude because Russia is our neighbor and ally, as well as Armenia's ally. This country is located in our region, unlike those who are thousands of kilometers away. Naturally, the history of relations between our countries presupposes the mediation of the Russian side," Aliyev said while receiving security council heads of CIS state members. 

"Now, this invites the question: does Armenia want peace? I think not, because if it had wanted peace, it would not have missed this opportunity. The Armenian prime minister flies six hours to Granada and participates in an incomprehensible meeting there, where Azerbaijan is discussed without actually being present, but he cannot fly for two to three hours to Bishkek. He has other important things to do," Aliyev added.

After Aliyev met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bishkek on October 13, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed a similar view. "Baku has a very constructive position on this [signing a peace treaty], while Yerevan has not quite decided yet," he said.

The rift between Armenia and Russia further widened when Pashinyan told the European Parliament on October 17 that Russia was trying to topple him. 

"When the 100,000 Armenians were fleeing from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, our security allies not only failed to help us, but were publicly calling for a change of government, overthrowing the democratic government in Armenia," he said.

Russian state media the following day quoted a "high-ranking" Russian official as calling Pashinyan's statement "provocative" and suggesting Armenia could suffer the same fate as Ukraine, which Russia has waged full-scale war against for the past 18 months. 

"We see that there's an attempt to turn Armenia into a Ukraine number three. If we consider that Moldova is Ukraine number two, Pashinyan is going by leaps and bounds down the path of [Ukrainian President] Volodymyr Zelensky," the unnamed official said.

Exclaves complicate border talks

When Armenia and Azerbaijan finally begin delimiting their common border, one of the more difficult issues is likely to be that of exclaves – the tiny islands of each country's territory that are surrounded entirely by the other's.

During the First Karabakh War in the 1990s all of these villages, most of which are actually far from Karabakh, were abandoned and taken over by the surrounding power. There are three Azerbaijani exclaves in Armenia and one Armenian exclave in Azerbaijan. There are also several bits of territory contiguous with contiguous with each country that the other sliced off during the first war.

After Pashinyan signed the statement affirming Azerbaijan's territorial integrity in Granada, Aliyev told European Council President Charles Michel by phone on October 7 that eight villages of Azerbaijan were "still under Armenian occupation, and stressed the importance of liberating these villages from occupation."  

Asked by Armenian Public TV about this claim in an interview on October 10, Pashinyan did not comment directly but said that Azerbaijan has likewise been occupying several Armenian villages since the 1990s.

"We proposed a solution to that issue back in 2021 and said let's decide what the delimitation map is, and pull back the troops simultaneously from the border line according to that map. These are very important nuances," he said.

Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry in response said that Baku does not occupy any Armenian villages and suggested that Pashinyan was making that claim in order to justify Armenia's occupation of Azerbaijani villages. 

(In June Pashinyan appeared to acknowledge the validity of Azerbaijan's claims on at least one village currently controlled by Armenia.)

Another issue that will need to be addressed in the border talks is the presence of Azerbaijani troops deep inside what's generally regarded as Armenian territory. 

Azerbaijan has made several incursions into Armenia since the 2020 war and currently holds an estimated 215 square kilometers of its land.

By Heydar Isayev via

Prime Minister Pashinyan visits Strasbourg to address European Parliament


YEREVAN, OCTOBER 16, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is traveling to Strasbourg to address the European Parliament.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Pashinyan will deliver a speech in the European Parliament on October 17.

A meeting with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola is also scheduled. Pashinyan and Metsola will then make statements to the press.

Other meetings are also scheduled.

Asbarez: Lavrov Accuses West of Using Armenia to Gain Foothold in Caucasus

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks at a press conference on the margins of the UN General Assembly on Sep. 23

Expresses Hope for Continuing Alliance with Armenia

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday accused NATO member-states of using Armenia to gain a foothold in the South Caucasus to advance their interests. He also expressed hope that Russia will continue its alliance with Armenia, posting to recent statements made by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Lavrov contended that NATO member-states are fomenting anti-Russian sentiments in Armenia “artificially and decisively.”

“We know about a number of NGOs that have been created in Armenia in recent years — and they were many before that as well. These organizations are not created to promote friendly relations between Armenia and the Russian Federation. Just the opposite,” Lavrov said during a press conference on the margins of the Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

He added that the non-government organizations are “creating anti-Russian sentiments and advancing, through Armenia, the interests of the United States and the European Union and NATO countries, first of all, in this region. We see those attempts and they yielding some results,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov emphasized, however, that Russia is convinced that the overwhelming majority of the Armenian people are interested in the development of “traditional, fraternal ties with Russia.”

To that end, the top Russian diplomat said that Moscow hopes that allied relations with Armenia will continue.

“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that a day or two ago Nikol Pashinyan gave an interview, during which he clearly said that Armenia is not changing its orientations. Let’s hope that this position will prevail, despite the attempts [by the West] to take Yerevan in another direction,” Lavrov said.

However, a day after interview, Pashinyan revealed that he would not attend the Bishkek summit. Armenia’s Foreign Ministry also said that Ararat Mirzoyan, the foreign minister, would not attend. Armenia is represented by a deputy foreign minister.

Lavrov had expressed hope that he would host Mirzoyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhum Bayramov, for talks regarding the normalization of relations between Yerevan and Baku.

In recent weeks, both Yerevan and Moscow have stepped up their criticism of one another, with Pashinyan insisting that the Russian peacekeeping forces did not fulfill their mandate and allowed Azerbaijan’s large-scale attack on Artsakh that resulted in the displacement of more than 100,000 Artsakh residents from their homes.

Moscow, on the other hand, has contended that Pashinyan’s recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity that cemented Baku’s sovereignty over Artsakh altered the course of events in the region and blamed the Armenian leader for the fall of Artsakh.

At an Oakland church, Armenians have been keeping their culture alive for 100 years

Oakland Side
Oct 5 2023
Parishioners at St. Vartan Apostolic Church will host the 68th annual Armenian Food Festival this weekend.

Approximately 1000 people registered every hour, non-stop: Number of forcibly displaced reaches 70,500


YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 28, ARMENPRESS. The number of forcibly displaced persons from Nagorno-Karabakh who have crossed into Armenia reached 70,500 as of 14:00, September 28.

The intensity of the influx hasn’t decreased, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson Nazeli Baghdasaryan said at a press conference.

50,866 of the 70,500 have already been registered, while the registration process of the rest is in process.

Approximately 1000 people are registered and taken care of every hour.

PM hints that Armenia can’t rely on Russia’s protection amid Karabakh debacle

The Kyiv Independent
Sept 24 2023
by Igor Kossov andThe Kyiv Independent news desk

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan hinted on Sept. 24 that his country can no longer rely on Russia's protection after the Azerbaijani army quickly defeated ethnic Armenian forces in the restive Nagorno-Karabakh region.  

"The recent attacks on Armenia by Azerbaijan allow us to draw an obvious conclusion that the external security systems in which we are involved are not effective from the point of view of state interests and the country's security," he said in a public comment on TV.

Armenia belongs to the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russian-led military bloc.

Moscow has sent "peacekeepers" to the region but they had very little impact on Azerbaijan's military strike. Hundreds are believed to have died and there were widely publicized images of Armenians fleeing through Russia's own peacekeeping base.

Several of these "peacekeepers" were killed, Moscow later admitted.

This may be reportedly causing an upswell of anti-Russian feelings in Armenia. It is also being reported as a sign of Russia's waning influence in the lands of the former Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, Pashinyan's chief of staff, Araik Harutyunyan, charged that Russian media is already waging a hybrid disinformation war against his country.    

In his Facebook account, Harutyanyan cited an example of a fake story, in which protesters in Yerevan supposedly broke into a government building and saw American airborne troops inside.

In reality, no protesters stormed government buildings that day, he added.

On Sept. 20, Nagorno-Karabakh surrendered to the Azerbaijani military in exchange for a Russian-brokered ceasefire after one day of attacks by Azerbaijani forces.

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as Azerbaijani territory under international law. Its population of 120,000 is predominantly Armenian.

The territory declared independence in 1991 with Yerevan's military support. Until 2020, Armenia de facto controlled Nagorno-Karabakh together with the surrounding regions.

In 2021 Azerbaijani forces also invaded several internationally recognized Armenian territories in the east of the country and are still occupying them.

Azerbaijan's 2023 offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh came amid deteriorating relations between Armenia and Russia. Speculation is rife that the Kremlin has intentionally allowed Azerbaijan to defeat Nagorno-Karabakh in an effort to unseat Pashinyan, who has flirted with the West.

On Sept. 11, Armenian and U.S. forces started joint military exercises.

Moscow reacted negatively to the exercises. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he does not expect "anything good" to come out of the drills.

On Sept. 1, the Armenian government also sent the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to the parliament for ratification.

The move irritated Russia because the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Russia has called Armenia's intention to ratify the statute "unacceptable" and warned about "extremely negative consequences."

Meanwhile, Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov has threatened that the Kremlin could launch an invasion of Armenia and Georgia.