Opposition protesters march to Armenian president’s residence

Armenia –

Opposition demonstrators marched from Yerevan’s France Square to the Armenian president's residence at 26 Baghramyan Avenue on Friday morning to lay out their demands.

Addressing demonstrators, opposition Hayastan faction MP Gegham Manukyan said that Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda was expected to arrive there for talks with the Armenian president.

The Armenian opposition launched a large-scale civil disobedience campaign on 2 May aimed at forcing PM Nikol Pashinyan from office.

“We are going to present out demands, highlighting that Nikol has no mandate to negotiate [with Azerbaijan] on behalf of Armenia and Artsakh, while European countries turn a blind eye to the manifestations of dictatorship in Armenia,” Manukyan said.

Addressing a rally on Thursday evening, opposition leader Ishkhan Saghatelyan said that protesters would not block roads in Yerevan on Friday. Other acts of civil disobedience will take place in the capital to culminate in another rally at 7pm.

Around 6000 people arrived in Armenia with Ukrainian documents: most of them are Armenians

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 15:14,

YEREVAN, MAY 18, ARMENPRESS. Due to the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, the process of immigration from these countries to Armenia has been activated, Head of the Strategy Development Department at the Office of High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs of Armenia Hovhannes Aleksanyan said during a press conference in Armenpress.

He said that many ethnic Armenians are interested in acquiring Armenian citizenship, getting different residency statuses.

“According to the data of the first quarter, there have been around 6000 border crossings into Armenia with Ukrainian documents, in other words, they entered our country with Ukrainian documents. Most of them are Armenians. Due to the escalation of the situation, the government of Armenia prepared brief information about the checkpoints of crossing by the Western border into the EU states – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, which helped many of our compatriots to leave Ukraine. In addition, we gathered the Armenian communities in these 4 EU states, who managed to create stop stations for our compatriots for organizing the return to the homeland. The Armenian communities provided major support in accommodating the people, solving the documentation issues, assisting financially, sending them off, for which we are grateful”, Hovhannes Aleksanyan said.

Armenia provided some support to those ethnic Armenians who lacked financial means of leaving Ukraine, tickets were purchased for their return to homeland. Aleksanyan said that there was a moment when the Armenian communities in the EU states, especially that in Poland was very overloaded and the capacities were not so big. The Office of the High Commissioner sent a letter to the government requesting to rise the funding of the embassies in order to continue providing the support to the citizens.

“Yes, a special flight was not organized, but there is support in other format, and the families, who apply to the embassy, are able to use that opportunity. I would like to state that the German government finances the return program. “Those who are citizens of Armenia and have temporarily resided in Germany after leaving Ukraine, could apply to the German government for getting a financial aid”, Hovhannes Aleksanyan said.

The next stage of the support provided to Armenians who left Ukraine is already being done in Armenia. The Office of High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs is currently implementing a 4-component project with the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA). The first component is subsidizing the rent of the apartment up to 70,000 drams. The second component is educational as there are families from Ukraine whose children study in Armenian universities. If they submit the respective documents, they could get a subsidy for the tuition fee. The third component relates to healthcare issues, and the 4th one is the one-time assistance. Nearly 80 families from Ukraine, who have settled in Armenia, have already applied to the Office for using the different components of this project.

The Armenian community of Ukraine is the 4th largest in the world, with a population of about 400,000 ethnic Armenians. Hovhannes Aleksanyan said that thousands of ethnic Armenians in Ukraine have no plans to leave the country as they have conscription-age sons, husbands, property, etc.

Armenia diaspora agency receives around 4000 repatriation applications in 4 months

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 15:56,

YEREVAN, MAY 18, ARMENPRESS. The Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs received around 4000 repatriation applications in 4 months.

Hovhannes Alexanyan, the Director of the Department of Strategy Development at the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs said at a press conference that most of the applications concern the citizenship acquisition procedures, enrollment in educational institutions, healthcare issues, relocating businesses to Armenia and possibilities of importing personal-use cargo through customs borders.

“The repatriation process is rather difficult; there are cases when we work with families for 6 months or even a year before they arrive to Armenia. Many of them want to get citizenship, status initially and then benefit from the privileges envisaged for repatriates. For example, in 2021 we had around 7300 compatriots from 45 countries who obtained Armenian citizenship. Most of them come from Russia, Lebanon, Iran, Georgia, Syria, and the United States and European countries. Last year, 2070 of our compatriots obtained the status of permanent residency or special residency in Armenia. Surely it is difficult to say what percentage of our compatriots are permanently residing in Armenia, but at least it is obvious that half of them are in Armenia. Many of them have dual citizenship, even three citizenships and are organizing their lives in different countries,” Alexanyan said.

Alexanyan said in the context of repatriation they view not only the compatriots representing the classic Diaspora, but also those who left Armenia years ago due to socio-economic or other reasons and are now returning.

“Repatriates encounter several issues, particularly accommodation. They even apply to us with requests to find apartments for rent. They ask for legal support while buying apartments. The next issue concerns customs regulations. Our legislation enables repatriates to move their personal property to Armenia without customs payments,” Alexanyan said.

Armenian language courses are also organized for repatriates.

Finland’s FM signs application for NATO membership

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 20:53,

YEREVAN, MAY 17, ARMENPRESS. Foreign Minister of Finland Pekka Haavisto has signed the application for NATO membership, ARMENPRESS reports, TASS informed noting that the ceremony was broadcast live on Yle TV channel.

A while ago the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö, who is in Stockholm on a state visit, officially confirmed in a live broadcast the decision made by the country's parliament to join the bloc.

The parliament of Finland on May 17 voted in favor of the proposal to join NATO, 188 deputies voted in favor, eight were against the application. Sweden also plans to submit the application tomorrow.




RFE/RL Armenian Report – 05/16/2022

                                        Monday, 


Armenian Police Stop Opposition Motorcade Rallies

        • Artak Khulian

Armenia - Police arrest a participant of a motorcade rally held by the Armenian 
opposition in Yerevan, .


Police detained more than 90 people on Monday to break up fresh motorcade 
rallies organized by the Armenian opposition as part of its ongoing civil 
disobedience campaign against the government.

Dozens of vehicles driven by opposition activists were stopped by security 
forces as they slowly traveled to the center of Yerevan from the city’s 
outskirts in several simultaneous processions that began early in the morning.

The drivers were forcibly removed from the cars that were subsequently towed 
away by the police amid traffic jams.

Opposition leaders condemned the police actions, saying that the drivers did not 
violate traffic rules and simply exercised their legal right to peaceful 
assembly.

“The policemen that you are seeing are a minority in the [law-enforcement] 
system, and let this police minority bear in mind that it will be held 
accountable,” one of them, Aram Vartevanian, told reporters.

Vartevanian accused the police of seriously damaging some of the impounded cars.

Armenia - A car belonging to an opposition protester is towed away in Yerevan, 
.

A police statement released later in the day defended the arrests and the 
dispersal of the motorcades, saying that they disrupted traffic in the city. It 
urged opposition supporters not to “restrict other citizens’ freedom of movement 
by interfering with traffic.”

The police did not halt similar processions organized by the country’s leading 
opposition forces last week.

They broke up the latest motorcade rallies as the daily anti-government protests 
entered their third week. The opposition Hayastan and Pativ Unem alliances 
pledged to step up the pressure on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian as thousands 
of their supporters again marched through central Yerevan on Sunday.

Pashinian has rejected opposition demands for his resignation sparked by his 
recent statements on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.



Pashinian Again Criticizes Russian-Led Military Bloc

        • Aza Babayan

Russia -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of other CSTO member 
states arrive for a summit in Moscow, .


Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian again criticized the Russian-led Collective 
Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on Monday for not openly siding with Armenia 
in its border dispute with Azerbaijan.

“As you know, one year ago Azerbaijani troops invaded Armenia’s sovereign 
territory,” Pashinian told a CSTO summit in Moscow. “Armenia appealed to the 
CSTO to activate its mechanisms for crisis situations. Unfortunately, we cannot 
say that the organization reacted in a way that was expected by Armenia.”

Armenia appealed to the CSTO for help shortly after Azerbaijani troops 
reportedly crossed several sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and 
advanced a few kilometers into Armenian territory in May 2021. It asked the 
alliance of six ex-Soviet states to invoke Article 2 of its founding treaty 
which requires them to discuss a collective response to grave security threats 
facing one of them.

Russia and other CSTO member states expressed concern over the border tensions 
but did not issue joint statements in support of Armenia. The bloc’s secretary 
general, Stanislav Zas, said last July that the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute is 
not serious enough to warrant a CSTO military intervention.

In an apparent jibe at Russia, Pashinian also criticized his country’s unnamed 
ex-Soviet allies for selling weapons to Azerbaijan, which he said were used 
against “Armenia and the Armenian people” during the 2020 war in 
Nagorno-Karabakh.

Tajikistan - CSTO holds a military exercise in 2021.

At the same time, Pashinian again acknowledged Russian President Vladimir 
Putin’s “special role” in stopping the six-war through a ceasefire brokered by 
Moscow in November 2020. He further declared that Yerevan remains committed to 
the CSTO because it regards the bloc as a “key factor of stability and security” 
for Armenia and the entire “Eurasian region.”

In his opening remarks at the summit, timed to coincide with the 30th 
anniversary of the CSTO’s creation, Putin focused on the continuing war in 
Ukraine. He briefed the leaders of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and 
Tajikistan on Russia’s “special military operation” there during an ensuing 
discussion held behind the closed doors.

Belarus is the only non-Russian CSTO country to have publicly backed the Russian 
invasion. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko chided the other member 
states for adopting a more cautious stance and not acting in a united front 
against NATO’s eastward expansion.

“If there is no unity in our ranks we may not exist tomorrow,” warned Lukashenko.

A joint statement released by the CSTO leaders after the summit makes no 
explicit mention of the conflict in Ukraine.



Armenian Government Under Fresh Fire Over Peace Treaty With Azerbaijan

        • Astghik Bedevian

Armenia -‘Opposition leader Ishkhan Saghatelian speaks at a rally in Yerevan, 
May15, 2022


Armenia’s political leadership has come under fresh fire after trying to dispel 
opposition concerns about its position on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty 
sought by Azerbaijan.

In March, Baku presented Yerevan with five elements which it wants to be at the 
heart of the treaty. They include a mutual recognition of each other’s 
territorial integrity. The Armenian government said they are acceptable to it in 
principle, setting the stage for official negotiations on the issue.

Armenian official revealed earlier this month that they came up with six other 
issues that should also be included on the agenda of the talks. They said the 
proposals relate to the future of status of Karabakh and the security of its 
ethnic Armenian population.

Edmon Marukian, a recently appointed ambassador-at-large, shed more light on 
them in an interview with Armenian Public Television aired on Friday.

In particular, he said, Yerevan made clear to Baku that “the issues of 
guaranteeing the security of Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenians, respecting their 
rights and freedoms and determining the final status of Nagorno-Karabakh are 
fundamental to the Armenian side.” Marukian said this disproves opposition 
allegations that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian is ready to accept all 
Azerbaijani terms of the deal.

Armenia - Edmon Marukian, the leader of the Bright Armenia Party, speaks at an 
election campaign meeting in Yerevan, June 18, 2021.

Pashinian triggered anti-government street protests after declaring last month 
that the international community is pressing Armenia to “lower the bar” on the 
status issue and signaling his readiness to do that.

Reacting to Marukian’s remarks, leaders of the country’s two main opposition 
alliances staging the protests said they are now even more convinced that 
Pashinian wants to help Azerbaijan regain full control over Karabakh.

“Can Nikol Pashinian explicitly state that Artsakh can never be a part of 
Azerbaijan and that they see no solution along these lines?” one of them, 
Ishkhan Saghatelian, told a weekend news conference. “Everything else is 
manipulation.”

Pashinian’s stance was also denounced by Levon Zurabian, a top aide to former 
President Levon Ter-Petrosian who has long advocated a compromise solution to 
the Karabakh conflict.

Armenia - Opposition supporters rally in Yerevan, .

Zurabian said Pashinian’s administration did not specify the status of Karabakh 
and mechanisms for determining it acceptable to the Armenian side. Nor did it 
make clear that the issue must be on the agenda of peace talks with Baku, he 
said in a Facebook post.

“It once again became clear to us that today Armenia has a government that does 
not understand anything about diplomacy and is literally insane,” he wrote.

“It turned out that Armenia has no idea what it wants to include in the peace 
treaty or what it wants to change in Azerbaijan's proposals,” added Zurabian.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said on May 10 that the document 
presented by Yerevan “can’t be called proposals.” Pashinian complained 
afterwards that Baku wants the planned talks on the peace accord to focus only 
on its own ideas.


Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2022 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

 

Russia’s Accounts Chamber Chair visits Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan

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 16:41,

YEREVAN, MAY 14, ARMENPRESS. Chair of the Accounts Chamber of Russia Aleksei Kudrin and his delegation visited today the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan.

Aleksei Kudrin arrived in Armenia on a working visit.

Chairman of the Audit Chamber of Armenia Atom Janjughazyan accompanied the Russian delegation.

Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Harutyun Marutyan welcomed the guests and introduced them on the history of the creation of the memorial. He also introduced the guests on the history of the three cross-stones stationed in the territory of the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial, which are dedicated to the memory of Armenians killed during the ethnic cleansings carried out against the Armenian population in Azerbaijan at the end of the past century.

The Russian delegation members laid flowers at the eternal flame and paid tribute to the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims with a moment of silence.

The guests also toured the Museum, got acquainted with the permanent and temporary exhibits.

At the end of the visit Aleksei Kudrin planted a silver fir tree in the Memory Park.

Armenian PM receives Russia’s Accounts Chamber Chair

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 11:45,

YEREVAN, MAY 14, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan received Chair of the Accounts Chamber of Russia Aleksei Kudrin, the PM’s Office said.

PM Pashinyan said that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Armenian-Russian diplomatic relations, which is marked by active bilateral high-ranking mutual visits. According to him, they contribute to the close partnership between the governments and other bodies, the strengthening of ties and exchange of experience. Pashinyan added that the purpose of the government is to make the activity of the public administration system more effective and in this context he highlighted Russia’s experience, as well as the cooperation of the Armenian Audit Chamber and the Accounts Chamber of Russia.

Aleksei Kudrin said that they have held productive discussions with Armenian partners, which, he said, are important in terms of applying new approaches in the activity. He also attached importance to expanding the cooperation and presented the activity and results of the Accounts Chamber.

The sides also exchanged ideas about other issues of the Armenian-Russian relations agenda.

Aleksei Kudrin also met with Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan during which they discussed the development of the cooperation.

Times like these are most dangerous for countries like Armenia, PM warns citing changing world order

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 16:32,

YEREVAN, MAY 11, ARMENPRESS. Azerbaijan continues its policy of aggression against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said during a lecture at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael in response to a question from the audience.

“Unfortunately Azerbaijan continues its very aggressive policy against Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. You know that there is a Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno Karabakh. And the main objective of the Azerbaijani diplomacy in the recent months was the following: They go the EU and the US and say ‘look, Armenia is a pro-Russian country’, in some cases they say ‘with a proxy Russian government’, and then they go to Russia and tell them look ‘Armenia is a pro-Western country, look how they are building ties with the West’. Sometimes they say that the government in Armenia was brought to power by the West through a color revolution, which is acting against Russia’”, Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan said that by doing so Azerbaijan seeks to develop an understanding of its aggressive policy against Armenia in both the West and in Russia. He said that they can’t say that there are no arguments to substantiate this position. “The objective reality is that there are arguments to substantiate this position because Armenia is a strategic ally of Russia, it is a CSTO member and an EEU member, and has very warm and close relations with Russia. On the other hand, the relations of Armenia with the EU and EU member states are gradually deepening because the EU is Armenia’s main partner in the democratic reforms area,” Pashinyan said.

Speaking about the observation in the question that Armenia is trying to carry out a multilateral policy, the PM said that he can add that multilateral policy is in turn being attempted against Armenia itself. “And not only must we carry out multilateral policy but we must also be able to manage the risks that are emerging as a result of carrying out this policy,” Pashinyan said.

The PM stressed that Armenia is engaged in balanced policy and that the Armenian government is guided by national interests of Armenia. He emphasized that the Armenian government is attaching importance to all relations but that it is highly important for these relations not to be at the expense of one another. “The world order is changing before our eyes and no one knows how it will be as a result. I want to say that times like these are the most dangerous times for countries like Armenia, this must be recorded and understood. Carrying out balanced policy isn’t easy for us at all, but we are trying to do everything to succeed,” Pashinyan said.

Blinken Broaches Release of POWs in Talk with Aliyev

Five POWs being held captive in Azerbaijan return to Armenia on Oct. 19, 2021

Azerbaijan faltering on the issue of releasing Armenian prisoners of war was one of the topics discussed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his telephone conversation with President Ilham Alliyev on Wednesday.

According to a State Department read out of the call, the release of POWs still remaining in Azerbaijan was discussed alongside other matters including the pace of progress on the so-called peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“I spoke with Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev today about how the United States can continue to support the positive dynamics of the recent peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia,” Blinken wrote on Twitter after his call with Aliyev.

“The parties discussed the forthcoming concrete steps aimed at establishing peace in the South Caucasus, including the delimitation and demarcation of borders, the opening of transport and communication routes, and the release of remaining Armenian prisoners of war,” the State Department said in its read out of the call.

“Secretary of State Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ readiness to assist by cooperating on a bilateral basis, as well as with like-minded partners, including in the status of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair, to assist the countries in finding comprehensive and lasting peace,” added the State Department statement.

While visiting the Netherlands, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan touched on the issue of POWs and the need for Baku to repatriate them to Armenia, saying that Azerbaijani is using the Armenian captives as a bargaining chip to advance its interests in regional developments.

Azerbaijan is trying to make the issue of the return of Armenian captives a subject of trade, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan said at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Clingendael, in response to the question of the meeting participants.

“Unfortunately, despite the November 9, 2020 statement and calls by numerous international organizations, our citizens who were captured during the 44-day war have not been returned, which cannot be understood. This is a practice of using people for political purposes and making them a bargaining chip, which is condemnable,” Pashinyan said in remarks he delivered at the Netherlands Institute of International Relation in Clingendael.

He explained that once discussions on the return of POWs started, Azerbaijan said that they would be released in return for minefield maps of Artsakh. Pashinyan said that Baku was willing to trade POWs for every map Armenian provided. Thus, he said, Yerevan handed over all the maps in its possession in hopes of addressing one humanitarian issue with another.

Pashinyan claimed that Yerevan’s decision to hand over the maps was done as a demonstration of its “dedication to the peace agenda.”

“Until today, at least 38 of our captives are being held in Azerbaijan,” said Pashinyan, emphasizing that during all discussions, Baku attempts to bargain the lives of POWs with other matters that it wants to achieve during the current processes.

“By the way,” Pashinyan added, “the last time it [the barter] was in the presence of the President of the European Council that the Azerbaijani leader promised that he will release another group of captives, but this has not happened so far. I think that it’s impossible to talk about peace by ignoring the humanitarian side of the issue.”

He emphasized the need for the international community to be aware of the current situation and called on them to continue urging Azerbaijan not to make people a subject of political bargaining.

“The war has brought tragedy to many, but I don’t think that the approach of constantly pouring salt on that open wound fits into the 21st century value system,” said Nikol Pashinyan.