Turkish Press: Armenia and Azerbaijan to hold peace talks in Berlin

Feb 26 2024
World  |

Editor : Yağız Efe Parmaksız
2024-02-26 19:18:23 | Last update : 2024-02-26 19:42:10
As both sides confirmed on Monday, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan are scheduled to have peace talks in Berlin, which is a key step toward ending the ongoing conflict in the Caucasus area. The goal of these discussions, which are scheduled for Feb. 28–29, is to continue addressing the long-standing conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, which has been the main source of tension between the two nations.

Until Azerbaijan swiftly recaptured the territory in September, Nagorno-Karabakh, which Azerbaijan claims to be its territory, was ruled by Armenia for many decades. The details of the scheduled meeting were disclosed on social media by Ani Badalyan, a spokesman for the Armenian foreign ministry. She said that the meeting was planned in accordance with the agreements reached at the Munich trilateral meetings, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia.

In addition to confirming his presence in the Berlin discussions, Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov expressed his hope for a fruitful discussion with his Armenian colleague, Ararat Mirzoyan. After Azerbaijan reclaimed Karabakh and over 100,000 ethnic Armenians were forced to flee to Armenia, the peace negotiations are taking place under a very tense moment.

Concerns over possible Azerbaijani plans to seize Armenian territory and create a corridor to its Nakhichevan enclave have been aroused in Yerevan by the conflict's return. International mediation attempts have not yielded a conclusive breakthrough, in contrast to Pashinyan and Aliyev's earlier confidence about striking a peace accord by the end of last year.

Both countries have a critical chance to work through their disagreements and find a long-term settlement at the Berlin peace negotiations. The world is keeping a careful eye on the situation in the hopes that a favorable conclusion would bring forth a new age of harmony and collaboration in the Caucasus. 

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 22-02-24


YEREVAN, 22 FEBUARY, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 22 February, USD exchange rate up by 0.02 drams to 404.36 drams. EUR exchange rate up by 2.32 drams to 438.97 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate down by 0.02 drams to 4.35 drams. GBP exchange rate up by 2.41 drams to 512.65 drams.

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

Gold price down by 29.25 drams to 26348.71 drams. Silver price up by 0.21 drams to 299.99 drams.

‘He wanted to fight for France’: Manouchian honoured as symbol of foreign Resistance fighters

Feb 21 2024

Eighty years to the day since he was executed by the Nazis near Paris, Armenian Missak Manouchian, figure of the French Resistance, takes his place in Paris's Panthéon mausoleum alongside other French national heroes on Wednesday, February 21. His induction is seen as a tribute to all foreign Resistance fighters. 

"I joined the Army of Liberation as a volunteer, and I die within inches of victory and the final goal. I wish for happiness for all those who will survive and taste the sweetness of the freedom and peace of tomorrow. I’m sure that the French people, and all those who fight for freedom, will know how to honour our memory with dignity." Two hours before he was shot at Fort Mont-Valérien in the western Paris suburb of Suresnes, Missak Manouchian wrote a final letter in which he expressed the hope that his adopted country would not forget his sacrifice.

Eighty years to the day after these words were written, the Armenian Resistance fighter's wish will be granted. He is being inducted into the Panthéon on Wednesday, February 21 alongside his wife Mélinée.

Manouchian embodies the "universal values" of liberty, equality and fraternity, in the name of which he "defended the Republic", said the Élysée Palace last June, when announcing his "panthéonisation". "Blood spilled for France is the same colour for everyone," French President Emmanuel Macron said in a press release. 

"This is a turning point in the way we pay tribute in our collective memory. He is the first foreign Resistance fighter and the first communist Resistance fighter to enter the Panthéon," said historian Denis Peschanski, scientific adviser to the group that campaigned for him to be inducted into the Panthéon. 

Born in 1906 in the town of Adiyaman in the southeast of present-day Turkey, Manouchian was an orphan of the Armenian genocide. He was just nine years old when his father was killed fighting the Turks, and his mother died shortly afterwards, swept away by famine during the deportation of Armenians. Taken in by a French-speaking orphanage in Lebanon, he quickly discovered a love for French literature and began writing his first poems. 

Missak Manouchian (near the cross) at the orphanage in Jounieh, Lebanon in 1919. This French-speaking orphanage was run by Sauvegarde du Proche-Orient, a humanitarian organisation founded by the United States. © Wikimedia

In 1924, he managed to immigrate to France and settled in Paris with his brother Garabed. Missak worked as a lathe operator at the Citroën factories. But three years later, misfortune struck again, when Garabed died of tuberculosis. "Missak was orphaned, first by his parents, then by his brother. Death was very present in his life," said Peschanski.

After losing his job during the Great Depression, he survived with one odd job to the next. He audited courses at the Sorbonne and published articles on French and Armenian literature. He also frequented communist circles. Outraged by the rise of the far right, he eventually joined the French Communist Party (PCF), through which he met his future wife Mélinée Assadourian, also an orphan of the Armenian genocide. 

When World War II broke out in September 1939, he was arrested as a communist following the German-Soviet pact. After a short stay in prison, he voluntarily enlisted in the French army. "He wanted to fight for France, but the French Communist Party, following orders from Moscow, saw it as an imperialist war in which the working class had no part to play," said Peschanski. "But Manouchian's love for France went beyond all that."

Garabed and Missak Manouchian in 1924 in La Seyne-sur-Mer, situated in southeastern France, shortly after their arrival in France. © Wikimedia

Demobilised after the June 1940 armistice, Manouchian resumed his militant activities. He was interned by the Germans in June 1941 at the Royallieu deportation camp in Compiègne, northern France, after they ordered roundups within communist circles in the wake of Operation Barbarossa. He was later released for lack of charges.

Missak Manouchian in 1940 dressed in French uniform at the Colpo military base in Morbihan, northwest France. A keen gymnast, he was in charge of training recruits. © Wikimedia

In 1943, he ended up joining the Francs-tireurs et partisans – main-d'œuvre immigrée (FTP-MOI), a wing of armed Resistance fighters composed mostly foreigners. "They were organised into detachments that roughly corresponded to nationalities and origins. There were a lot of anti-Fascist Italians and Spaniards who had fought in the Spanish Civil War, but also Polish Jews and Germans opposed to the Nazis," said historian Fabrice Grenard, a researcher at the Resistance Foundation in Paris.

Appointed military commissioner for the Paris region, Manouchian launched a series of daring attacks. In Paris, one of his groups executed SS Colonel Julius Ritter, who was in charge of the Compulsory Work Service in France.

After long being hunted by a special intelligence unit of the French police under the Vichy regime, Manouchian was finally arrested on November 16, 1943. He was tortured and handed to the Germans along with 23 of his comrades. 

After a show trial, 10 of the Resistance fighters became the emblematic faces of the now-famous "Red Poster", thousands of copies of which were plastered across Paris with the objective of denouncing a "criminal army" of foreigners threatening France. The campaign had the opposite effect, transforming them into heroes. They were further enshrined as symbols when surrealist poet Louis Aragon wrote a poem about them in 1955. The composer Léo Ferré set the poem to music in 1961. 

Reproduction of a poster that was put up in towns across France during the German Occupation by the German propaganda services. Known as the "Red Poster", it featured photos of 10 of the 23 members of the French Resistance who were sentenced to death and shot at Fort Mont Valérien on February 21, 1944. AFP

"Manouchian not only became a legend because of his actions as the military leader of the FTP-MOI, but also because of this German propaganda operation. The Germans wanted to show that the Resistance was made up of foreigners, métèques (an insulting term for immigrants), Jews and communists who were killing good Frenchmen. But this operation failed. The opposite happened. Some people still think that this is a poster showing the members of the French Resistance," said Peschanski.

On February 21, 1944, Manouchian and 21 of his comrades were executed at Fort Mont-Valérien. Three photos secretly taken by a German soldier immortalised the deaths of those featured on the "Red Poster". The only woman in the group, Olga Bancic, was transferred to Germany and beheaded a few weeks later.

A reproduction of a picture taken on February 21, 1944 by German soldier Clemens Ruther shows Georges Cloarec, Rino Della Negra, Cesar Lucarini and Antonio Salvadori being executed at the Mont Valérien military camp by German soldiers. French lawyer and Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld handed over to AFP three photographs, two never released, showing the killing of Resistance members belonging to the Missak Manouchian group, authentified by the French defence ministry. © Clemens Ruther, AFP

Before his death, Manouchian wrote a final letter to his wife Mélinée. In it, he said that he did not hate the German people, and also declared his love for France and his wife. "I have one profound regret, and that’s of not having made you happy; I would so much have liked to have a child with you, as you always wished. So I beg you to marry after the war, and to have a child; fulfil my last wish, marry someone who can make you happy."

Peschanski feels that this is one of the most beautiful letters in French history. "All letters written by those shot by firing squad are tragic, but this one is particularly special and poetic. He fulfilled his literary destiny with this last magnificent letter." Gérard Streiff, author of the book "Missak et Mélinée Manouchian: Un couple en Résistance" ("A couple in Resistance"), agrees. "This letter is absolutely splendid, both for its passionate love and humanist purpose. You've got to be extremely high-minded to be able to express fraternity with the German people when you've got two hours to live."

Mélinée Manouchian, who died in 1989, will be buried alongside her husband Missak Manouchian in the Pantheon. © Wikimedia

After Paris was liberated in August 1944, Mélinée Manouchian made her husband's last words public. She never remarried or had children. She remained faithful to Missak and kept his memory alive by publishing some of his writings. The couple will enter the Panthéon together. The two coffins will rest side by side in the temple’s crypt during the ceremony presided over by the French president. For Streiff, they are inseparable. "She played an important role in his life. They had the same ideals, the same anger. They rebelled against all forms of exploitation. She also played an active role in the Resistance as a member of the FTP-MOI. She only managed to escape the November 1943 roundup because she was in hiding."

However, this joint entry has been met with some criticism. In an article published in November and signed by several historians, Annette Wieviorka, a World War II specialist, said it was unfortunate that Manouchian's comrades had been relegated to the background. "A number of us felt that it was both unfair to the families and an affront to history that only Missak and Mélinée Manouchian, and not all 23 of the fighters, will be inducted in the Panthéon. They were shot and fell together. Honouring only Missak and Mélinée means that the group’s diversity is being forgotten. It has also been said that they were foreigners, but there were also four Frenchmen. The legend has been rewritten," she said.

In a recent book entitled "Anatomie de l'Affiche Rouge" ("Anatomy of the Red Poster"), Wieviorka denounces the "glamourisation" of this Panthéon induction and talks about the backgrounds of all the group’s members: Celestino Alfonso, "the red Spaniard"; Marcel Rajman, "the Polish Jew"; Spartaco Fontanot, "the Italian communist". "It is also important to remember that on the 'Red Poster', the Nazis chose to focus on the Jews by including seven of them, out of 10 men featured. Their implication was that the Jews were the instigators of the crimes committed by foreigners," said Wieviorka.

However, at the entrance to tomb number 13, where the remains of Missak and Mélinée Manouchian will be laid to rest, a plaque will be added to pay tribute to their 22 FTP-MOI comrades and their leader, Joseph Epstein. "This is merely a consolation prize. There are already quite a few plaques [at the Panthéon] and we don't see them. It's not the same as having a place in the Panthéon," said Wieviorka.

Peschanski, for his part, does not understand the controversy surrounding Missak and Mélinée Manouchian’s "panthéonisation." He says that inducting them into the Panthéon is above all a symbolic gesture. "Their names will be inscribed in golden letters. It's a way of honouring them officially." Fabrice Grenard, a specialist in the French Resistance, also does not see the move as controversial. "When De Gaulle admitted Jean Moulin to the Panthéon in 1964, it was also seen as a way of paying tribute to all members of the Resistance. This is the same thing. It makes no sense to admit 23 people. No one's name would be remembered. Through Missak Manouchian, we are paying tribute to all foreign resistance fighters. That's why this 'panthéonisation' is important."

Memorial considerations were far from Manouchian’s thoughts in his final moments. "The sun is out today. It’s in looking at the sun and the beauty of nature that I've loved so much that I say farewell to life and to all of you, my beloved wife, and my beloved friends."

A mural in Paris's 20th arrondissement pays tribute to Missak Manouchian. © Miguel Medina, AFP

This article has been translated from the original in French. 

A Road Trip to Hemshin

The ruins of the 7th century round church in Western Armenia, present-day Turkey


The very first time I heard about the Hemshin communities in Turkey, it was through a feature film I watched several years ago at the Arpa Film Festival in Los Angeles. 

Years later, I attended a conference where Professor Richard Hovannisian presented a documentary about his group trip to Turkey. During the discussion, he spoke about how they headed north to the Black Sea, into the mountains, in search of the Hemshins. 

Prof. Hovannisian was an Emeritus professor of Armenian and Near Eastern history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and authored more than 20 books before his passing. 

Hemshins, in short, are Muslims living in Turkey who speak an Armenian dialect. History tells us that, around the 8th century, a group of Armenians who lived in Turkey were harassed by Arab authorities who, at the time, had occupied Turkey.

During the same period of time, there was an Armenian prince called “Hamam,” who decided to take his people and move them to the evergreen hills by the Black Sea in order to evade the constant harassment they would endure.

Other Armenian communities also decided to follow their lead, traveling to the shores of the Black Sea and establishing new homes high in the mountains.

The name “Hemshin” comes from combination of two words: The name “Hamam” and the word “Shen,” which in Armenian means to build.

Since the 8th century, until some 70 or 80 years ago, Hemshin people lived kind of isolated in the lush green mountains next to the black sea. An interesting aspect of the community is that they preserved the Armenian language, which over the course of many many centuries evolved into a distinct dialect.

Hemshin hills and a tea leaf plantation

The Hemshin population was forced to convert to Islam when the Ottoman Empire came to power in Turkey. They are known to cultivate tea-leaves on the slopes of the mountains by the Black Sea. While we were traveling in the area, we noticed many tea plantations by the foot of the mountains.

Most of the Hemshin people were unaware of their ancestry and the reason that they could speak another language other than Turkish. Within the last century, through research done by the scholars and the visits by academics to the Hemshin communities, they have realized that they are of Armenian descent.

After watching the feature movie and Prof. Hovannisian’s documentary, I decided I wanted to travel to that part of Turkey and meet the Hemshin community.  

Before I continue to tell you about our trip, I’d like to give you a short history of Armenians in Turkey. 

The Armenians living in today’s Turkey, are the only descendants left of what was once a much larger indigenous community that existed for thousands of years, long before the establishment of the Turkish Sultans.

The history of Armenian kingdoms goes back to 800 B.C. Numerous vestiges, such as ruins of fortresses and monasteries, tell us that Armenian kingdoms stretched in a vast area, from today’s Armenia’s highlands through the East of Turkey, known to Armenians as “Western Armenia.”

Many Armenians, in order to learn about the tragic events that their ancestors experienced, they have traveled to Turkey to learn more about their roots. 

I had the opportunity to travel to Turkey while visiting Armenia a few times. However, I never had the chance to travel to the Hemshin area. 

In May 2023, while I was in Armenia, the Narekavank tour company had arranged a four-day visit to the Hemshin area in Turkey.  I seized the opportunity and joined the group.

On Saturday May 6, 2023 at 6:30 a.m., we met at a designated area to start our trip to Hemshin. We were about 17 people, mostly women and only two men plus the guide and the driver.

Since crossing the border from Armenia to Turkey is not permitted, we had to enter Turkey through the Georgian border. 

It was around noon when we crossed the Georgian border and entered Turkey. Our first stop was at the city of Ardahan, which used to be a stronghold for the Bagratuny kings. There, we visited the 10th century Armenian fortress. After spending a little over half an hour visiting that fortress, we headed to the ruins of an 11th century monastery called “Debet” in the province of Dayk.

Ardahan fortress The snow covered landscape

On the way to the monastery, when we crossed some mountainous villages, I was surprised to see that a fresh layer of snow covered the slopes.

The architecture of the Debet monastery, with its unique very high vaulted ceilings, was extremely impressive. On the side of the ruins, I noticed a heap of excavated clay pipes that brought water to the monastery.  

We left the monastery around sunset and headed to the city of Hopa, which lies by the coast of the Black Sea. Our hotel was situated right across from the Black Sea. After a long day of adventuring, we enjoyed a succulent dinner and then relaxed in our rooms. We got up early in the morning to have breakfast and hit the road again.   

Here, I should add that the city of Hopa is known to have a large population of Hemshins. In addition, our guide said that the owners of that hotel were a Hemshin family. The breakfast was served at a hall with sweeping views of the Black Sea.  

After breakfast, we started the second day of our journey toward the hills, where Hemshins live. Our first stop was to see a waterfall, and then a fortress called “Zil,” built by an Armenian prince.

At around 2 p.m., we arrived at a village where the residents and the shopkeepers were Hemshins. I got separated from the rest of the group and walked into a restaurant where the owners were Hemshin. 

As I entered the two story restaurant, the owner, a handsome middle-aged guy, welcomed me in English. I introduced myself as an Armenian. He said, “I’m Hemshin but I can only say a few words of Armenian. However, my father can speak more.” Then he introduced me to his father and we exchanged a few Armenian words. He also proudly showed me an old, framed family picture from when his father was a young boy. He also told me about his upbringing, and a little bit about his family. Nowadays these Hemshin people are more aware of their ancestry.

After having a delicious meal of fish and salad, I checked their souvenir boutique and purchased a few gifts. I was satisfied that I had a chance to meet a member of the Hemshin community and learn about their lives.

A member of the local Hamshen community who owns a restaurant A picture the Hemshin restaurant owner showed Catherine Yesayan

Afterwards, we drove to the city of Trabzon, an ancient Greek city and the capital of Trabzon Province in Turkey by the Black Sea.

There, our tour guide had arranged for us to visit a small church from the15th century, which at one time was part of a monastery complex. The key to the church was with the family who lived next door. 

It is very rare to see an old church where the frescoes have been preserved. Our tour guide said that we were very fortunate to arrive at the right time to have the key and see the inside of the church.

Early the following morning, before breakfast, we headed to Sumela monastery, which is an extraordinary monastery built at the edge of a sheer cliff 300 meters high in the mountains. The monastery was built by two Greek priests in 350 A.D., during the reign of Theodosius. 

After a short visit of the monastery, we returned to our hotel to have breakfast and continue our trip. Then we visited a historic Greek church, which was converted into a mosque. Afterwards, we started to head back to Armenia. 

We crossed a very interesting and newly built, 14 kilometer tunnel to arrive to the other side of the mountains. I couldn’t tell if I was pleased or baffled to travel through that tunnel and see the colorful lightings along the route. 

The tunnel took us to the ancient Armenian Highlands, which was called “Metz Haik.” Our tour-guide mentioned that there have been gold mines in the area since around the 2nd millennium.

We then we passed through an area where there used to be several Armenian villages. The villages disappeared after reservoirs were made.

We spent a night in the Ardvin Province at Agara Resort, where they farm fish in special ponds. The next morning, after breakfast, we visited a few more sites on the way back to Georgia.

We first visited the Tortum waterfall, which is the tallest and a spectacular site in Turkey. Then we visited a church and later the ruins of a church which was built in the 7th century by the order of a Mamikonian Prince. I should add that the architect of that church and the Zvarnotz Church in Yerevan are the same and both are built in a circle.

Catherine Yesayan

I cannot finish this story until I tell you about the many stork nests we spotted while driving back to Armenia. We arrived in Yerevan very late, maybe past midnight.

Catherine Yesayan is a regular contributor to Asbarez, with her columns appearing under the “Community Links” heading. She can be reached at [email protected].

European Wrestling Championships: Armenia’s Aleksanyan advances to quarter finals with 9:1 win over Turkey’s B.Kayisdag


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 13, ARMENPRESS. Armenia’s Olympic champion Artur Aleksanyan had his first win at the 2024 UWW Greco-Roman Wrestling European Championships in Bucharest with a 9:1 victory over Turkey’s Beytullah Kayisdag in the 97kg division on February 13. 

Aleksanyan, the reigning champion of Europe, will face Dutch Tyrone Sterkenburg in the quarter finals.

RFE/RL Armenian Service – 02/13/2024


Deadly Fighting Reported On Armenian-Azeri Border (UPDATED)

        • Artak Khulian

Armenia - An Azerbaijani military post is seen from the Armenian border village 
of Nerkin Hand in November 2022.

Four Armenian soldiers were killed and another wounded when their positions on 
Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan came under cross-border fire early on Tuesday.

Armenia’s Defense Ministry said its outposts around the border village of Nerkin 
Hand in southeastern Syunik province were targeted for four hours. The gunfire 
stopped at 9:30 a.m., it said in a statement.

The head of the village administration, Khachatur Baghdasarian, told RFE/RL’s 
Armenian Service that he heard intense gunshots at around the same time.

Azerbaijan confirmed that its troops deployed in the area opened fire early in 
the morning. Its State Border Service claimed to have destroyed an Armenian army 
post which fired at its positions and wounded one of its servicemen the previous 

For its part, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry accused Armenian forces of also 
violating ceasefire at another section of the long border late on Monday. The 
Defense Ministry in Yerevan denied the “disinformation.”

The Armenian Foreign Ministry condemned the Azerbaijani “provocation,” saying 
that Baku is “looking for pretexts” to heighten tensions on the 
Armenian-Azerbaijani border and trying to torpedo international efforts to 
kick-start talks on a peace treaty between the two South Caucasus nations.

“This use of force followed bellicose statements made by Azerbaijan’s 
military-political leadership and its propaganda preparations of the last few 
days,” read a ministry statement. It urged Baku to “return to negotiations.”

Tuesday’s fighting was the most serious truce violation reported from the border 
in the last five months. The situation there was relatively calm amid growing 
fears that Azerbaijan will also invade Armenia after recapturing 
Nagorno-Karabakh in September.

Last month, the European Union twice warned Baku against taking such military 
action in response to renewed Azerbaijani demands for Yerevan to open an 
extraterritorial corridor to the Nakhichevan exclave.

On Monday, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry summoned the EU ambassador in Baku 
to denounce a monitoring mission launched by the 27-nation bloc along Armenia’s 
border with Azerbaijan a year ago.

Russia, which has also been very critical of the EU mission, was quick to 
express concern at the latest fighting. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called 
on Armenia and Azerbaijan to show “restraint” and avoid “provocative” actions.”

“We will be watching [the situation on the ground] very closely,” Peskov told 
reporters in Moscow.

Azerbaijan In No Mood For Peace, Says Pashinian

Russia - Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol 
Pashinyan are seen during a visit to the Catherine Palace in Saint Petersburg, 
December 26, 2023.

Azerbaijan has no intention to end its conflict with Armenia, Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian said on Tuesday, reacting to the latest Azerbaijani ceasefire 
violation that left four Armenian soldiers dead.

“According to our assessment, this is Azerbaijan's policy aimed at disrupting 
the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan by all possible means,” 
Pashinian told a group of visiting British parliamentarians. “This is also 
evidenced by the aggressive rhetoric of Azerbaijan’s official representatives, 
spiced with open territorial claims to Armenia.”

“Of course, we should do everything to achieve concrete results in the peace 
process, and we are doing it,” he said. “But unfortunately, it is not possible 
to do this without the political will of the other side. And today's incident 
that claimed the lives of four soldiers testifies not only to the absence of 
political will for peace but also to Azerbaijan's intentions to deepen the 
enmity and resort military escalation.”

The soldiers were killed early on Tuesday by heavy fire from Azerbaijani 
positions across the border between the two states. Azerbaijan said its forces 
retaliated against the wounding the previous evening of an Azerbaijani 
serviceman serving in that area. The Armenian military pledged on Monday to 
investigate the shooting incident reported by the Azerbaijani side.

Armenia’s Foreign Ministry accused Baku on Tuesday afternoon of “looking for 
pretexts” to heighten tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The 
Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry denied that and insisted that Baku is “committed to 
the peace process.”

Pashinian claimed the opposite after signaling in recent weeks his readiness to 
make more concessions to speed up the signing of an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace 
treaty discussed by the two sides. His political foes and other critics regard 
his recent calls for the adoption of a new Armenian constitution as one such 
concession. They say that Pashinian’s appeasement policy will not lead to a 
lasting peace.

Armenian Foreign Ministry Blocks Access To Karabakh Section Of Its Website

        • Astghik Bedevian

Armenia - A screenshot of the Karabakh-related section of the Armenian Foreign 
Ministry website, .

Armenia's Foreign Ministry has blocked access to background information about 
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict posted on its official website following 
complaints voiced by a senior Azerbaijani official late last week.

Elchin Amirbayov, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s envoy for special 
assignments, complained about the Karabakh-related section of the website when 
he spoke to RFE/RL. Amirbayov listed its description of Karabakh as “an integral 
part of historical Armenia” among documents and statements which he said testify 
to continuing Armenian territorial claims to Azerbaijan.

“The Armenian side acknowledges that this is the fact, but nothing is being 
done,” he was quoted as saying in an RFE/RL article published last Thursday.

The website section was no longer accessible on Monday. The Armenian Foreign 
Ministry declined to clarify whether access to it was blocked under Azerbaijani 
pressure. The ministry spokeswoman, Ani Badalian, said only that the section was 
“not removed from the website” and that its content “will be displayed in due 

The Armenian government stopped championing the Karabakh Armenians’ right to 
self-determination a year before Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian declared last 
May that Yerevan recognizes Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh. Pashinian’s 
political opponents believe that this paved the way for last September’s 
Azerbaijani military offensive that restored Baku’s control over the territory 
and forced its ethnic Armenian population to flee to Armenia.

A satellite image shows a long traffic jam of vehicles along the Lachin corridor 
as ethnic Armenians flee from Nagorno-Karabakh.

They accused Pashinian of planning further far-reaching concessions to Baku 
after he declared last month that Armenia needs a new constitution reflecting 
the “new geopolitical environment” in the region. Analysts believe that 
Pashinian first and foremost wants to get rid of a preamble to the current 
Armenia constitution enacted in 1995.

The preamble makes reference to a 1990 declaration of independence which in turn 
cites a 1989 unification act adopted by the legislative bodies of Soviet Armenia 
and the then Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast. Aliyev said on February 1 that 
Armenia should remove that reference if it wants to make peace with his country. 
Pashinian denied afterwards that he is planning to enact the new constitution at 
the behest of Azerbaijan.

Aliyev regularly describes Yerevan and other parts of Armenia as “historical 
Azerbaijani lands.” He made clear last month that Baku continues to oppose using 
the most recent Soviet maps to delimit the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and 
renewed his demands for an extraterritorial corridor to Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan 
exclave passing through a strategic Armenian region. Armenian and European Union 
officials said his comments amount to territorial claims to Armenia.

EU, Armenia To Map Out Closer Cooperation

Belgium - EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell meets Armenian Foreign Minister 
Ararat Mirzoyan, Brussels, .

The European Union and Armenia have agreed to start working on an “ambitious” 
plan to deepen their relations, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on 

Borrell made the announcement after chairing, together with Armenian Foreign 
Minister Ararat Mirzoyan, a regular session of the EU-Armenia Partnership 
Council in Brussels.

“In October, your prime minister said in the European Parliament that Armenia is 
ready to move closer to the European Union,” he told a joint news briefing with 
Mirzoyan. “In response, the European Council, the highest political level of the 
EU, tasked me and the [European] Commission to explore ways to strengthen our 
relations in all dimensions. And in this context, today we decided to launch 
work on an ambitious new EU-Armenia partnership agenda.”

“Today’s meetings showed that EU-Armenia relations are stronger than ever, and 
there is a mutual interest to advance them further,” added Borrell.

“Armenia is willing to further deepen the partnership with the European Union,” 
Mirzoyan said for his part.

In his speech at the European Parliament, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian stated 
that “Armenia is ready to get closer to the EU as much as the EU finds it 
possible.” But he did not indicate a desire to seek Armenia’s eventual 
membership in the 27-nation bloc or an alternative to the Comprehensive and 
Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed by Brussels and Yerevan in 2017.

France - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian addresses the European 
Parliament in Strasbourg, October 17, 2023.

Mirzoyan stressed on Tuesday that the CEPA “remains the cornerstone of our 
relations.” Neither he nor Borrell gave details of the closer partnership 
planned by the two sides.

Borrell called for “enhancing our cooperation in the areas of security and 
defense.” But he did not promise that the EU will provide military assistance to 
Armenia under its European Peace Facility (EPF) designed to boost EU partners’ 
defense capacity. He pointed instead to the ongoing expansion of an EU 
monitoring mission along Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan.

Nor did Borrell give any dates for the start of a “visa liberalization dialogue” 
that would eventually lead to the lifting of the EU’s visa requirements for 
Armenians. He urged the Armenian government to “further step up reforms in order 
to progress on this issue.” By contrast, Mirzoyan insisted that Yerevan has 
already met “all the necessary requirements” set by the bloc.

Pashinian’s government is seeking closer ties with the EU amid Armenia’s 
widening rift with Russia, its longtime ally. Addressing EU lawmakers, Pashinian 
effectively accused Moscow of using the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict to try to 
topple him. A Russian official responded by saying that the Armenian premier is 
helping the West “turn Armenia into another Ukraine.”

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2024 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.


President Khachaturyan, Prime Minister Pashinyan attend celebration of Constitutional Court’s 28th anniversary

 14:33, 9 February 2024

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 9, ARMENPRESS. President of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and other government officials attended on Friday an event marking the 28th anniversary of the establishment of the Constitutional Court.

Prime Minister Pashinyan and Chief Justice Arman Dilanyan delivered remarks at the event.

Armenia’s Declaration of Independence Not ‘Sacrosanct,’ Pashinyan’s Party Leader Says

Armenia's Declaration of Independence was adopted on August 23, 1990

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s political team has not yet made a final decision on whether to try to remove from Armenia’s constitution any reference to a 1990 declaration of independence resented by Azerbaijan, a senior lawmaker said on Tuesday.

“I want to make clear that we do not have a final conclusion,” Hayk Konjoryan, the parliamentary leader of Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party, told reporters. “It’s still too early to make a final conclusion and raise questions from that standpoint.”

Konjoryan at the same time stressed: “We must not regard any text as sacrosanct.”

The declaration in turn refers to a 1989 unification act adopted by the legislative bodies of Soviet Armenia and the then Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast and calls for international recognition of the 1915 Armenian genocide. It is cited in a preamble to the current Armenian constitution adopted in 1995.

Pashinyan again criticized the declaration last week, claiming that Armenia “will never have peace” with Azerbaijan as long as it is mentioned by the constitution. Accordingly, he defended his plans to try to enact a new constitution that would presumably make no such reference.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on February 1 that Armenia should remove that reference and amend other documents “infringing on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity” if it wants to make peace with his country. Armenian opposition leaders portrayed Aliyev’s statement as further proof that Pashinyan wants to effectively declare the 1990 declaration null and void under pressure from Azerbaijan as well as Turkey.

“Aliyev and Pashinyan almost simultaneously … presented the same demands to the people of Armenia,” one of them, Artur Khachatrian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “It is obvious that Aliyev is thus forcing Pashinyan to make concessions.”

Konjoryan denied that Pashinyan wants to change the constitution at the behest of Aliyev. Pashinyan sounded less categorical on this score in a reportedly pre-recorded radio interview broadcast on February 1.

Khachatryan is one of several lawmakers from the main opposition Hayastan alliance who have been allowed by the Armenian Foreign Ministry to see in recent weeks written proposals regarding an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty exchanged by Yerevan and Baku. In a joint statement issued on February 2, the lawmakers insisted that the Azerbaijani terms of the treaty are extremely unfavorable for the Armenian side.

“I stand by our assertion that the country which presented such proposals to us has no desire or intention to sign a peace treaty with us,” Khachatrian insisted on Tuesday.

Edmon Marukyan, an Armenian ambassador-at-large and political ally of Pashinyan, likewise charged on February 2 that Baku is not serious about signing the peace deal. He said Aliyev’s demands for the constitutional change in Armenia amount to a “new precondition.”

Armenia becomes 124th state party to join Rome statute of ICC

Goa Chronicle
Feb 1 2024

Yerevan, Feb 1 (UNI) Armenia has become the 124th country to join the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) starting Thursday and the 19th state party from the Group of Eastern European States to enter the organization.

On October 3, the Armenian parliament voted to ratify the Rome Statute, with 60 lawmakers supporting the ratification of the document and 22 voting against. On October 14, Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan signed a law ratifying the Rome Statute and accepting the request for retroactive recognition of the ICC jurisdiction.

At the same time, member of the Hayastan (Armenia) opposition parliamentary faction Artsvik Minasyan said that the ratification of the Rome Statute contradicted the country’s constitution and that the ruling party lawmakers who approved the ratification “exceeded their powers.”

Additionally, Hayk Mamijanyan, the leader of the I Have Honor opposition party, also called the move illegal, pointing to the Armenian Constitutional Court’s 2004 ruling that the Rome Statute was contrary to the country’s basic law.

Armenia’s accession to the Rome Statute means that the country will have to recognize the court’s charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin and join the ICC arrest warrant against him. Against this background, Moscow has considered Yerevan’s plans to join the ICC unacceptable.


The California Courier Online, February 1, 2024

The California
Courier Online, February 1, 2024


1-         Parliamentary
Assembly of Council of

Voted 76-10 to Kick Azerbaijan

            By Harut

            Publisher, California Courier


2-         Armenian
activist Hagop Djernazian physically assaulted in Jerusalem

3-         Ardy
Kassakhian runs for Glendale City Council Reelection

4-         'The Dignity
of Being American' Explores lives of Displaced Persons after WWII




1-         Parliamentary
Assembly of Council of

Voted 76-10 to Kick Azerbaijan

            By Harut

            Publisher, California Courier



With each passing day, the noose is tightening around Pres.
Ilham Aliyev's neck. The European Union’s Chief of Foreign Policy Josep Borrell
warned Azerbaijan on January
22 that there would be ‘severe consequences’ if Armenia’s territory were to be
violated. The French Senate adopted a resolution by a vote of 336 to 1 on
January 17 supporting Armenia's
territorial integrity and calling for sanctions against Azerbaijan. On
January 18, Russia’s Foreign
Minister Sergey Lavrov publicly contradicted Aliyev’s repeated demands that Armenia provide Azerbaijan a ‘Corridor’ through
‘Zangezur.’ Lavrov said that there is no mention of ‘Zangezur Corridor’ in the
Nov. 10, 2020 agreement signed by the leaders of Armenia,
Azerbaijan and Russia.


The latest blow to Azerbaijan
was delivered last week by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
(PACE) which voted overwhelmingly to reject the credentials of Azerbaijan’s delegates, thus ejecting Baku’s participation in
its meetings for at least one year. By a vote of 76 to 10, with four
abstentions, PACE delegates decided to expel Azerbaijan on January 24, 2024.


The resolution adopted by PACE stated: “Very serious
concerns remain as to [Azerbaijan’s] ability to conduct free and fair elections,
the separation of powers, the weakness of its legislature vis-à-vis the
executive, the independence of the judiciary and respect for human rights, as
illustrated by numerous judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and
opinions of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice
Commission).” PACE recalled its previous resolutions which had referred to
multiple problems with Azerbaijan, including the functioning of democratic
institutions, organized crime, corruption, and money laundering, political
prisoners, restrictions on NGO activities, violations of the rights of LGBTI
people, non-implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights,
transnational repression as a growing threat to the rule of law and human
rights, Pegasus and similar spyware and secret state surveillance, and the
cases of at least 18 Azeri journalists and media actors who are currently in
detention. PACE concluded that “more than 20 years after joining the Council of
Europe, Azerbaijan
has not fulfilled [its] major commitments.”


Referring to Artsakh, PACE mentioned its 2023 report which
had specified that Azerbaijan
“did not acknowledge the very serious humanitarian and human rights
consequences stemming from … the absence of free and safe access through the
Lachin Corridor … which lasted for nearly 10 months.” PACE also condemned “the Azerbaijan army’s military operations of
September 2023, which led to the flight of the entire Armenian population of
Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia
and to allegations of ‘ethnic cleansing.’”


PACE expressed its concern about Azerbaijan’s lack of cooperation
with the “rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee [who] were not allowed to
meet with persons detained allegedly on politically motivated charges.” PACE
was also not invited “to observe the forthcoming presidential election despite Azerbaijan’s
obligation to send such an invitation as the country is under monitoring
procedure.” Furthermore, Azerbaijan
had refused three times the visit of a PACE rapporteur.


Ignoring Azerbaijan’s
multiple violations of its commitments to the Council of Europe, Azerbaijan’s
Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov condemned PACE’s decision. However, he
acknowledged that Azerbaijan
was ejected because of its invasion of Artsakh, which he described as “restoration
by Azerbaijan
of its sovereignty.”


Even though Azerbaijan
had dismissed all of its violations of international law, including the
numerous judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and rulings of the
International Court of Justice, this time around, Baku reacted extremely negatively. The Azeri
delegation in PACE announced that their country has decided to “cease its
engagement with and presence at PACE until further notice.” Some have compared Azerbaijan’s withdrawal from PACE after its ejection
to Nazi Germany leaving the League of Nations
in 1933.


PACE’s vote was overwhelmingly against Azerbaijan because only nine Turkish delegates
and one Albanian delegate voted in favor of Azerbaijan. One of the Turkish
delegates even voted against Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, 76 delegates from 28 countries, including all four Armenian
delegates, voted to eject Azerbaijan.


loss at PACE is Armenia’s


1) Azerbaijan’s
reputation was further tarnished after its ejection from PACE, exposing its numerous
human rights violations and flagrant disregard for European values.


2) Baku is now deprived of
the opportunity to raise its issues in Europe
through PACE.


3) Azerbaijan
will no longer be able to criticize Armenia during PACE meetings.


4) Azerbaijan
will be unable to vote in favor of its interests and against those of Armenia at PACE


For far too long, Azerbaijan
has been spoiled by the international community, particularly Western
countries, blinded by Baku’s
vast oil and gas supplies. After its ejection from PACE, Azerbaijan should now be expelled
from the Council of Europe.


2-         Armenian activist Hagop
Djernazian physically assaulted in Jerusalem


On January 23, following an attack by the mercenaries of
Xana Capital on the members of the Armenian community of Jerusalem, one of the aggressors—with clear
intent—approached Hagop Djernazian, co-founder of Save The ArQ (movement for
the defense and preservation of the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem) and punched
him in the face in front of the Israeli Police.

The local authorities immediately arrested the assailant and
sent him to the “Moscobieh” prison pending a court hearing. The following day,
the Israeli Police issued a 15-day restraining order against the aggressor from
the Old City of Jerusalem, as well as a 30-day restraining order from the Cows’
Garden property located in the Armenian Quarter.

After emergency consultations with global lead counsel for
the SavetheArQ movement, Karnig Kerkonian of Kerkonian Dajani LLP, it was
decided to direct the ArQ’s criminal lawyer in Jerusalem, Assaf Golan, to prepare a court
filing and legal package in the coming days aimed at ensuring the safety and
security of the community from further attacks.

Since November 5, 2023, Danny Rothman and George Warwar,
representatives of Xana Capital, have continued their intimidation tactics
against the community via bulldozers, Israeli settlers, and thugs. This marks
the 10th such attack.


3-         Ardy Kassakhian runs for
Glendale City Council Reelection


Councilmember and former Mayor Ardy Kassakhian announced a list of important
endorsements today in his bid for reelection to the Glendale City Council.
Kassakhian announced the endorsement of US Senator Alex Padilla and
California State Treasurer Fiona Ma as well as the endorsements from the
Glendale Environmental Coalition, Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters,
and Democrats for Neighborhood Action.

Senator Alex Padilla has expressed his support, stating “I’m pleased to endorse
Ardy Kassakhian for re-election to the Glendale City Council. Ardy has
demonstrated his commitment to serve the families of Glendale, leading efforts to improve public
safety, housing affordability, and investing in culture and arts programs. He’s
earned the opportunity to serve for four more years”

“I am honored to have the support of Senator Padilla. His
trust in my abilities to serve the people of Glendale means a lot,” Kassakhian said in
response to the endorsement. “I worked with the Senator when he was our
Secretary of State to help find ways to get more citizens registered to vote
and get more voters out to vote.  I was
honored to serve on the language accessibility task force he created and
appreciate the great work he does to represent California
and Glendale’s
interest in the United States Senate.” 


4-         'The Dignity
of Being American' Explores lives of Displaced Persons after WWII


FRESNO—A book signing event
for a recently published book, The Dignity of Being American took place on
Wednesday, January 10, 2024, at the Armenian
Museum of Fresno
located at the University of California Center in Fresno, California.

Co-authored by Varoujan Der Simonian and Sophia Mekhitarian,
the book records never before published stories of fourteen Displaced Persons
and their families who settled in Fresno
after World War II, tracing the paths and the trials these Displaced Persons

The book highlights the extensive involvement of George
Mardikian, the founder of ANCHA (American National Committee to Aid Homeless
Armenians), Brigadier General Haig Shekerjian and attorney Suren Saroyan.

“It’s been our mission to focus on the accomplishments of
our ANCHA leaders and affiliates for their magnanimous undertaking and to
preserve our history for future generations. Heroes they were, and so shall
remain.” Said Sophia Mekhitarian, the co-author of the book, who herself was
once labeled as a displaced person.

Extensive coverage of the role of the Unsung Heroes,
including Dr. Artasches Abeghian, Generals Drastamat Kanaian (Dro) and Garegin
Nejdeh, Arsen Taplatsian, Misak Torlakian, Vahan Papazian, Garo Kevorkian and
others, who saved thousands of POWs and untold number of Armenians—to some
estimation 600,000 Armenians under Nazi-controlled Europe during World War II,
are presented in the book. 

“This is a significant part of our history that often has
been overlooked,” commented Varoujan Der Simonian, of the Armenian
Museum of Fresno and the co-author of the book. “It is
our duty to recognize the role that these men and women played before, during
and following WWII in saving thousands of Armenian lives. I wonder where we
would be now if it weren’t for unsung heroes’ patriotism, dedication, and
commitment—their call to serve their own people, who were far away from their
homeland,” added Der Simonian.  

The 260-page book includes over 300 photos highlighting the
life of the Armenians at Funkerkaserne DP Camp near Stuttgart, Germany.
It covers the ANCHA Monument in Fresno,
all six panels placed on the monument’s pedestal, that was appropriately placed
next to the Sunday School Building
entrance at the Holy Trinity Church
in Fresno.

It also covers an oral history interview with George
Mardikian; and, an essay by Mr. Mardikian titled: Three Meals for the
Chief—providing detailed explanations of what, and how he would prepare three
meals—breakfast, lunch and dinner, for his friend, President Herbert Hoover.
The essay is being published for the first-time courtesy of Herbert Hoover
Presidential Library and Museum

A photographic exhibition titled: The Saga and the Triumph
of the Displaced Persons complementing the content of the book is currently on
display at the Armenian Museum of Fresno.

Copies may be purchased or ordered from the Armenian Museum
of Fresno at
$60, pending availability.



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