Baghdad: Al-Sudani calls for establishment of joint forum for businessmen between Iraq and Armenia

Shafaq News, Iraq – Feb 27 2024

Shafaq News / Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani received the President of the Republic of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan and his accompanying delegation, who arrived in Baghdad today on an official visit.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s media office, Al-Sudani highlighted the significance of this visit, following a series of important meetings between officials of the two countries, expressing appreciation for the Armenian government's efforts in developing bilateral relations.

He pointed out the “investment opportunities and significant projects Armenian companies could contribute to, especially the Development Road and Al Faw Grand Port and related projects.”

Furthermore, Al-Sudani called for “the establishment of a joint business forum between the two countries, emphasizing the need to open an airline route, sign a memorandum to avoid double taxation, and facilitate the issuance of entry visas to encourage mutual tourism.” He affirmed “Iraq's aspiration to cooperate with Armenia in the fields of energy, information technology, and e-governance.”

PM Al-Sudani expressed Iraq's pride in its citizens of Armenian origin, who represent a significant addition to the diversity of Iraqi society through their contributions in various scientific, medical, social, and cultural fields.

He also appreciated “Armenia's stance in voting for a ceasefire in Gaza.”

On his part, President Khachaturyan expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome, indicating that “his visit aims to express a sincere desire to develop relations between the two countries.”

He confirmed that he arrived in Baghdad leading an official delegation, accompanied by a business delegation, “to explore available opportunities and expand the economic partnership between the two nations.”

The Armenian President highlighted several commonalities between the two countries, acknowledging that “Iraq was among the countries Armenians sought refuge in during the days of the genocide.”

He also expressed “his country's readiness to cooperate with Iraq in the fields of information technology, banking, and clean and renewable energy.”

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 23-02-24


YEREVAN, 23 FEBUARY, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 23 February, USD exchange rate down by 0.01 drams to 404.35 drams. EUR exchange rate down by 1.30 drams to  437.67 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate hasn’t changed and comprises 4.35 drams. GBP exchange rate down by 0.18 drams to 512.47 drams.

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

Gold price down by 36.40 drams to 26312.31  drams. Silver price down by 0.08 drams to 299.91 drams.

Armenian Foreign Minister meets with ICC Assembly of States Parties President

 10:32, 9 February 2024

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 9, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on February 8 in The Hague met with Päivi Kaukoranta, the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Kaukoranta congratulated Armenia on joining the ICC, the foreign ministry said in a readout.

Mirzoyan and Kaukoranta exchanged ideas around the ongoing and required further steps in the direction of applying the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, highlighting close partnership with the assembly.

The FM underscored Armenia’s priorities and expectations regarding joining the ICC, which were earlier voiced during the official ceremony dedicated to the membership of Armenia in the ICC and are in line with universal principles of democracy, the rule of law and fight against impunity.

The Armenian government’s representative for international legal affairs, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, also participated in the meeting and presented details about the steps for harmonizing the Armenian legislation with the Rome Statute.

Armenia’s Hidden Crisis: Tackling Statelessness Head-On

Feb 9 2024
Momen Zellmi

Armenia's Hidden Crisis: The Unseen Struggle of Stateless Individuals

In the heart of the South Caucasus, Armenia – a land of rugged mountains and rich history – is grappling with an invisible crisis. The nation's Migration and Citizenship Service recently published its 2023 activity report, shedding light on the alarming rise in the number of stateless individuals within its borders. This revelation has prompted Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and other key stakeholders to reevaluate current laws and consider the implementation of new legislation.

Statelessness is a complex issue that affects an estimated 12 million people globally. These individuals lack the legal protections and rights that come with citizenship, rendering them vulnerable and invisible. Armenia's recent study on the matter reveals a disturbing trend: the country's stateless population is on the rise. The findings of this research have sparked discussions and spurred action, as the Armenian government acknowledges the need to address this issue head-on.

The study's conclusions were presented during a discussion on the annual activity report of the Migration and Citizenship Service of Armenia. In attendance was Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who actively participated in the conversation. The meeting served as a platform for stakeholders to express their concerns and brainstorm potential solutions to the growing problem.

Recognizing the urgent need for reform, the Armenian government has initiated the process of revising its current laws. The aim is to create a legal framework that not only reduces the number of stateless individuals but also provides a clear and consistent procedure for determining their status. This proposed legislation, currently in its draft form, is being meticulously crafted to ensure that it addresses the unique challenges faced by stateless people in Armenia.

"The issue of statelessness is one that requires our immediate attention and action," stated Prime Minister Pashinyan during the discussion. "It is our responsibility to protect the rights and ensure the well-being of all individuals within our borders, regardless of their citizenship status."

As Armenia works towards creating a more inclusive society, the development of this new draft law marks a significant step in the right direction. By establishing a standardized procedure for determining the status of stateless individuals, the government aims to provide these individuals with the legal protections and rights they have long been denied. This legislation also seeks to prevent future cases of statelessness by addressing the root causes of the issue.

The journey towards reducing statelessness in Armenia is just beginning. The draft law, once finalized, will need to be approved by the Armenian Parliament and signed into law by the President. However, the commitment and dedication demonstrated by the government thus far offer a glimmer of hope for the country's stateless population. As the Armenian people and their leaders work together to address this hidden crisis, they are not only redefining what it means to be a part of their nation but also setting an example for the global community.

In a world where borders and citizenship status often dictate an individual's opportunities and access to basic rights, Armenia's efforts to combat statelessness serve as a reminder that every person deserves recognition, protection, and a place to call home.

Armenian constitutional reform sparks concerns

‘Hayakve’ initiative press conference (Facebook, February 6, 2024)

YEREVAN—Avetik Chalabyan, the coordinator of the “Hayakve” initiative, issued a stark warning during a February 6 press conference regarding the dangers posed by proposed constitutional reforms in Armenia.

Chalabyan said that under the pretext of constitutional amendments, there is a concerted effort to erode Armenian statehood, transforming the country into a semi-state entity beholden to Turkey and Azerbaijan. He accused the current administration of openly capitulating to pressure from Baku and using the threat of war to coerce the populace into accepting unconstitutional changes.

On January 19, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced plans for a new Constitution. He argued that, rather than simply amend the current Constitution, Armenia requires a new legal framework to enhance its competitiveness and viability in light of evolving geopolitical dynamics.

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has appeared to lend credence to the conspiracy theories circulating in Armenia that Pashinyan is submitting to Azerbaijani demands. On February 1, Aliyev said that peace could be achieved between Armenia and Azerbaijan if the former revises its Constitution and other relevant documents. Aliyev highlighted Armenia’s Declaration of Independence, which is cited in the preamble of the Constitution, as a point of contention, viewing its reference to the unification of Armenia with Artsakh as a territorial claim against Azerbaijan.

In an interview with Armenian Public Radio on February 1, Prime Minister Pashinyan expressed concerns that maintaining references to the Declaration of Independence in the Constitution could hinder peace efforts. He said that Armenia’s economic growth and military reforms might be perceived as preparation for war, potentially leading to hostility from neighboring countries.

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan initially downplayed rumors linking the proposed constitutional changes to peace negotiations, but later acknowledged Azerbaijan’s concerns regarding Armenia’s Declaration of Independence.

Mirzoyan said that both countries had identified legal issues within each other’s constitutions and provided clarifications. However, the Armenian opposition accuses the government of aiming to remove references to the Declaration of Independence from the Constitution, particularly those pertaining to the reunification of Armenia and Artsakh. This controversy underscores the complex dynamics at play as both nations navigate the path to lasting peace and stability in the region.

The “Hayakve” initiative, known for its advocacy against recognizing Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, has consistently opposed such measures. During the February 6 press conference, Chalabyan reiterated the initiative’s commitment to upholding Armenia’s national goals, as enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. He emphasized the determination of the initiative’s participants to resist the government’s anti-national agenda through all available legal means.

Chalabyan reminded attendees that the “Hayakve” initiative seeks to criminalize any recognition of Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, proposing severe penalties, including imprisonment, for officials who do so. The initiative also aims to penalize denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Chalabyan warned of the grave consequences of succumbing to dishonor, stressing the imperative of preserving Armenia’s sovereignty and historical legacy amid mounting threats.

Armenian opposition figures have accused PM Pashinyan of capitulating to Azerbaijani pressure by seeking to remove any mention of Artsakh and the Armenian Genocide from the constitution, potentially leading to further concessions from Armenia to Azerbaijan and Turkey.

During a February 6 session of the Armenian National Assembly, Artur Khachatryan, a deputy of the “Hayastan” faction, raised concerns over what he perceives as a threat to Armenia’s independence and sovereignty.

Khachatryan highlighted the presence of Azerbaijani troops on 150-200 square kilometers of Armenia’s territory, criticizing the government’s inaction in addressing this issue. He accused the authorities of complacency in the face of Turkish and Azerbaijani demands, particularly regarding proposed changes to the Armenian Constitution.

“The Turks demand that we change the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia,” stated Khachatryan, suggesting that the government’s efforts in drafting constitutional amendments have been influenced by Turkish pressure. He drew a comparison to General Douglas MacArthur’s demand for constitutional changes in Japan following its capitulation after World War II. 

Khachatryan criticized what he described as a capitulant political force within Armenia, which he believes is allowing Turkish interference and undermining Armenian sovereignty. He suggested that the proposed amendments may be influenced by external forces, particularly Azerbaijan, with the intention of weakening Armenia.

Khachatryan is one of several lawmakers from the “Hayastan” faction who the Armenian Foreign Ministry has permitted to see a confidential document outlining several proposals for an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty. In a February 6 interview with Azatutyun, Khachatryan refrained from divulging specifics of the draft peace agreement, yet shared his skepticism about Azerbaijan’s genuine commitment to peace, suggesting that Azerbaijan lacks sincere intentions for reconciliation.

Khachatryan argued that Azerbaijan’s supposed preference for a stronger Armenia contradicts its historical behavior, suggesting that aggressors typically target weaker states. He highlighted the simultaneous demands made by Aliyev and Pashinyan, hinting at potential manipulation tactics employed by Azerbaijan to influence Armenia’s constitutional reforms.

Gegham Manukyan, also a member of the opposition “Hayastan” faction, has voiced apprehensions regarding the government’s intentions, suggesting that the proposed constitutional amendments are aimed at addressing Azerbaijan’s demands while simultaneously consolidating power within Armenia. 

Manukyan, also having reviewed the draft peace agreement at the Foreign Ministry, said that Pashinyan’s primary objective in this process is clear – to align the constitutional changes with demands outlined in the peace agreement. He told Azatutyun that such a move poses a significant risk to Armenia’s newly established statehood. 

As part of the ongoing endeavor to redefine various aspects of Armenian identity, Alen Simonyan, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Armenia, recently took to Telegram to articulate his support for transforming both the national anthem and coat of arms of the Republic of Armenia.

Abraham Gasparyan, Ph.D., a political scientist and the founder and director of Genesis Armenia, recently voiced his perspective on the proposed alterations to the Armenian Constitution and national symbols. Speaking on his program “Change the Channel with Abraham Gasparyan,” he delved into the significance of national emblems, including anthems, flags and coats of arms, asserting that they serve as mirrors reflecting a nation’s evolving societal landscape and geopolitical context.

Gasparyan underscored the emotive resonance inherent in national anthems, portraying them as potent instruments capable of evoking patriotic sentiments and historical consciousness. He lamented what he perceived as a lack of reverence from the Armenian government, particularly under PM Pashinyan’s administration, towards the national anthem and its profound symbolism. Gasparyan accused the authorities of belittling the sacrifices made by previous generations in the pursuit of national freedom, cautioning that such disregard could precipitate further losses, potentially including the territories of Artsakh and Armenia.

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

ICRC visits Armenian captives in Azerbaijan

 16:44, 5 February 2024

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 5, ARMENPRESS. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives visited Armenian detainees in Azerbaijan in the end of January and in the beginning of February this year, ICRC Armenia representative Zara Amatuni told Armenpress.

She said that ICRC visited the captives who are acknowledged by Azerbaijan.

'These are regular visits which are agreed upon with the authorities of the given country,' she said.

The ICRC personnel reviewed the detention conditions and health of the captives and enabled them to contact their families.

A top law enforcement official in Armenia earlier said that 55 Armenians are currently held captive in Azerbaijan but Baku has so far acknowledged only 23 of them.

Armenia formally joins international criminal court in snub to Russia

The Guardian, UK
Jan 31 2024

Yerevan obligated to arrest Vladimir Putin if he enters Armenia after move Moscow calls ‘unfriendly step’

Armenia has formally joined the international criminal court (ICC), officials said, a move which traditional ally Moscow has denounced as unfriendly.

The Hague-based court in March issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, over the war in Ukraine and the illegal deportation of children to Russia.

Yerevan is now obliged to arrest the Russian leader if he sets foot on its territory.

“ICC Rome statute officially entered into force for Armenia on 1 February,” the country’s official representative for international legal matters, Yeghishe Kirakosyan, told AFP.

The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Armenia had taken a “wrong decision” when its parliament voted in October to ratify the ICC’s Rome statute, and the Russian foreign ministry has called the move an “unfriendly step”.

Armenia is home to a permanent Russian military base and is part of the Moscow-led military alliance the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), that consists of several ex-Soviet republics.

Western countries hailed the ratification, which marks the expansion of the court’s jurisdiction into what was long seen as Russia’s back yard.

“The world is getting smaller for the autocrat in the Kremlin,” the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said in reference to Putin after Armenia ratified the ICC statute in October.

Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, has tried to reassure Russia that his country is only addressing what it says are war crimes committed by its neighbour, Azerbaijan, in their long-running conflict, and is not aiming at Moscow.

Kirakosyan said: “Joining the ICC gives Armenia serious tools to prevent war crimes and crimes against humanity on its territory.

“First of all, this concerns Azerbaijan,” he added. Yerevan has fought two wars with its arch-foe over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

But Armenia’s move illustrated a growing divide between Moscow and Yerevan, which has grown angry with the Kremlin’s perceived inaction over Azerbaijan’s belligerence.

In September Azerbaijani forces swept through Karabakh – where Russian peacekeepers are deployed – and secured the surrender of Armenian separatist forces that had controlled the mountainous region for decades.

“Armenia hoped that by joining the ICC, by making such a sensitive step for Russia, it could receive security guarantees from the west,” independent analyst Vigen Hakobyan told AFP.

“But apparently it has strained its Russia ties without receiving real security guarantees from the west.”

Armenia signed the Rome statute in 1999, but did not ratify it, citing contradictions with the country’s constitution.

The constitutional court said in March those obstacles had been removed after Armenia’s adoption of a new constitution in 2015.

Last November, Yerevan formally deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome statute.

Mourad Armenian Saturday School celebrates Armenian Christmas

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—The Sts. Vartanantz Church Mourad Armenian School celebrated Armenian Christmas on Saturday, January 6, 2024, following the Christmas Badarak and the Blessing of the Water. 

During the Divine Liturgy, the 7th grade students beautifully recited the Havadamk (Nicene Creed) as they stood in front of the altar in their shabeegs and veils. They also witnessed the ceremony of the Blessing of the Water, during which Matt Burke was honored as Godfather of the Holy Cross.

Immediately after church services, approximately 180 guests, including students, made their way to the Aramian and Fermanian Halls for the Christmas Hantes (recital). Thanks to the efforts of the parent-teacher organization (PTO), the hall was bustling with Christmas cheer and a festive atmosphere.

The Mourad Armenian School 7th grade students reciting the Havadamk (Nicene Creed)

In her opening remarks, Mourad Armenian School co-director June Mangassarian thanked everyone for supporting the school and commended the students and teachers for their dedication. “Our students brighten up our days, every Saturday. They come to school with big smiles and eager to learn our language,” said Mangassarian. Rev. Fr. Kapriel Nazarian then offered the opening prayer. 

Co-director Lala Attarian highlighted the vital role of Armenian institutions in our struggle to preserve our identity, language and heritage. She also mentioned that our students have had an active role in raising funds for their brothers and sisters from Artsakh. Moreover, she proudly announced that Mourad Armenian Saturday School has established the Sister School program with the “Nor Oughi” school in the Ararat province of Armenia, an ongoing project that aims to help students connect with their peers in the homeland. Attarian invited Mourad School Committee chairman Hagop Khatchadourian to present his remarks. 

Khatchadourian reflected on the message of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, proclaiming 2024 as the “Year of Human Resources Preparation.” “Let us rekindle our mission of devoted work, and let’s revamp our activities in Providence…Considering the challenges of our community, we need to work together to ‘prepare’ our future leaders and teachers,” said Khatchadourian. Finally, he invited the community to attend the 90th anniversary celebration of the Mourad Armenian School, which will take place on April 6, 2024.

The students then began their performance, including songs and a piano solo. They sang with enthusiasm under the direction of music director Baron Raffi Rachdouni. When the children started singing Gaghant Baba, Santa appeared with a bag full of gifts for the students on stage, as well as babies and siblings in the audience. Gifts were donated by the Providence ARS “Arax” and “Ani” chapters and Taline Badrikian, author of children’s books. After Santa left, the raffle tickets were drawn, and everyone, winners or not, departed with delight and joy!  The event concluded with Rev. Fr. Nazarian’s appreciative remarks and the closing prayer. 

The food, prepared and served by the Ladies’ Guild and the Men’s Club, was delicious and plentiful. Special thanks to PTO members Ani Dedeyan, Alenoush Hagopian, Megan Khatchadourian and Melanie Zeitounian, the students and teachers who all worked hard for this unprecedented event. It really takes a village to put on such an event!

The Mourad Armenian School thanks all the families who supplied the desserts and the following establishments and individuals for their generous donations: Ani’s Full-Service Salon, Dedeyan family, The Gentleman Cigar Lounge, Hercules Pizza, Iskenderian family, Karo’s Barber Shop, Kodos Jewelry, Krikorian family, Noreen LaFazia, My Car, Inc., The Patio on Broadway, Pizza Palace, PJ’s Pub, Talar Restikian, Sako’s Pizza and Virginia and Spanish Peanut Company.

Armenia honours Luis Moreno Ocampo

Jan 13 2024

Luis Moreno Ocampo is a welcome guest at the Armenian Embassy where Ambassador Hovhannes Virabyan pinned a Medal of Gratitude on his lapel.

Not quite the same limelight as at the start of last year when the film Argentina, 1985 portraying his exploits convicting military juntas was a hot favourite to win an Oscar but on January 5 (Christmas Eve for Orthodox churches) Luis Moreno Ocampo was a welcome guest at the Armenian Embassy where Ambassador Hovhannes Virabyan pinned a Medal of Gratitude on his lapel.

Why the gratitude? For using his prestige as the first chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to bring attention to the escalating Azeri aggression against Nagorno Karabakh as from 2022, a full year before the Armenian enclave was finally overrun last September. A month beforehand Moreno Ocampo had issued a report on “Genocide against Armenians in 2023,” not hesitating to use the G-word when others might describe the Azeri invasion of Nagorno Karabakh as the hardly less serious ethnic cleansing – at his acceptance speech in the Embassy, Moreno Ocampo only regretted that his report had come too late to bring United States attention to the danger in time, a danger continuing into the present and future because Baku constantly describes Armenia as “Western Azerbaijan.”

Beginning with praise of Armenians worldwide as a uniquely talented diaspora and ending with a quote from Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Moreno Ocampo centred his speech entirely on Nagorno Karabakh. 

The medal presentation was accompanied by a short video to mark the occasion from Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan himself and followed by a reception offering Armenian delicacies.

Armenpress: Armenia presents vision on new avenues of deepening partnership with European Union


YEREVAN, JANUARY 13, ARMENPRESS. On January 12, Armenian Ambassador to the EU Tigran Balayan participated at the roundtable discussion with Permanent Representatives and Ambassadors of the EU member states, high-level representatives of the European Commission and EEAS, the Mission of the Republic of Armenia to the European Union said in a press release.

The meeting was organized by the Permanent Representative of Greece to the EU Ambassador Ioannis Vrailas in a follow-up to the Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan’s participation at the EU Foreign Affairs Council on December 11, 2023.

During the discussion Ambassador Balayan presented Armenia’s vision on new avenues of deepening partnership with the European Union, following EU Council decisions. He touched upon the ideas and proposals that are aimed at the intensification of Armenia-EU relations with a final goal of upgrading them to a qualitatively new level.

The participants expressed full support for Armenia’s ambitious reforms and rapprochement agenda and promised to continue the cooperation in this regard.

In his introduction and while answering many questions from the colleagues, Ambassador Balayan outlined Armenia’s approaches for long-lasting peace in the South Caucasus region.

Armenia’s Ambassador gave a detailed presentation on the reasons and consequences of the ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh, underlining that the feeling of impunity in Baku, which once again manifested two days ago with more irredentist, menacing and provocative statements of the Azerbaijani president, is already threatening the very fragile situation.