Armenia values development of friendly relations with Estonia – President Khachaturyan to Karis


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 24, ARMENPRESS. President of Armenia Vahagn Khachaturyan has congratulated his Estonian counterpart Alar Karis on the country’s Independence Day.

“Armenia values the development of friendly relations with Estonia and is ready to take necessary steps for the expansion and strengthening of productive cooperation in areas of mutual interest,” Khachaturyan said in a letter addressed to President Karis. “I hope that our personal warm relationship will also contribute to the fulfillment of the agreements reached during my visit to Estonia last year, to the benefit of our peoples.”

Tehran hosting Iran-Armenia Joint Economic Committee meeting

Iran – Feb 14 2024

TEHRAN- The 18th meeting of Iran-Armenia Joint Economic Committee began in Tehran on Wednesday.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the mentioned meeting, Masoud Mirzaei, the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, while welcoming the Armenian delegation, described the political relations between Tehran and Yerevan as good and added: “We believe that the level of economic relations between the two countries should be improved commensurate with the political relations.”

He said the Islamic Republic of Iran is looking for an operational roadmap to expand economic relations in all areas with the Republic of Armenia, and all capacities will be used to expand these relations.

In late October, 2023, Iranian Transport and Urban Development Minister Mehrdad Bazrpash traveled to Armenia to meet the country’s senior officials and discuss ways of expanding trade and transit ties between the two countries.

Speaking to the press prior to the visit, Bazrpash emphasized Iran's readiness to export technical-engineering services to Armenia, announcing the plan of the two countries to strengthen the level of trade and transit, and remove cumbersome regulations in the way of trade development.

Iran and Armenia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in the fields of labor exchange, technical and professional training, as well as, welfare and empowerment of the disabled.

The MOU, signed by Iranian Labor and Social Welfare Minister Solat Mortazavi and his Armenian counterpart Narek Mkrtchyan in Tehran in late October 2023, also covers economic cooperation between the two countries in the fields of petrochemicals, road and construction materials, and medicine.


Iran’s Envoy In Yerevan Defends Armenia’s Territorial Integrity

Iran International
Feb 17 2024

After warnings by Armenia of a fresh Azerbaijani military threat, Iran's Ambassador in Yerevan, Mehdi Sobhani, has reiterated Tehran's stance against any territorial alterations in the region.

In an interview with Armenpress, Sobhani emphasized, “The final position of the Islamic Republic of Iran is that we cannot accept a territorial change in any way. Any territorial changes should take place on the basis of mutual recognition of the territorial integrity of both countries, and this remains our final position…the territorial integrity of the countries of the region should be respected."

Expressing concern over regional stability, the Iranian diplomat stated that Tehran finds it “unacceptable” to witness a volatile situation around Armenia.

His comments come as tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to escalate. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian on Thursday rejected Azerbaijan's persistent demands for legislative changes in Armenia, warning of potential "large-scale" military aggression from Baku.

Pashinian accused Azerbaijani leadership of pursuing a "policy of military coercion" to seize Armenian territory and extract concessions. He highlighted Azerbaijan's reluctance to demarcate the border, following a ceasefire violation that resulted in the death of four Armenian soldiers on Tuesday.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Wednesday maintained his stance, stating that he won't sign a peace treaty unless Armenia revises its legislation, which he claims contains territorial claims on Azerbaijan.

Amidst the tension, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi reaffirmed Tehran's opposition to the presence of external powers in the South Caucasus during discussions with a senior visiting Armenian official.

Iran supports Armenia's stance against Azerbaijani requests for an extraterritorial corridor linking Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave via Syunik, the sole Armenian region sharing a border with the Islamic Republic.

Prime Minister participates in the opening ceremony of the Munich Security Conference


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESSPrime Minister Nikol Pashinyan participated in the opening ceremony of the Munich Security Conference, the PM's Office said.

The Munich Security Conference is attended by dozens of presidents, heads of government and foreign ministers, as well as UN Secretary General António Guterres, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid and others.

Within the framework of the conference, a number of bilateral meetings of Prime Minister Pashinyan are scheduled.

U.S. additional funding bill includes Nagorno-Karabakh aid


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 15, ARMENPRESS. The U.S. additional aid legislation includes humanitarian assistance for vulnerable people who have been impacted by conflicts around the world, including in Nagorno-Karabakh, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said at a press briefing.

On February 13, the United States Senate passed a $95bn bill with aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The legislation will now head to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

“Yesterday, the Senate took important action to advance America’s core national security interests by overwhelmingly passing the national security supplemental agreement," Sullivan said. “This bipartisan legislation will allow the United States to continue to support the people of Ukraine, alongside our allies and partners, as they fight every single day to defend their freedom and independence. 

“It will provide Israel what it needs to defend itself against Hamas terrorists and other terror threats, and help replenish Israel’s air defenses so they’re prepared against threats they face from Iran and Iranian-backed militia groups like Hezbollah.  

“It will provide resources for our troops in the Middle East who have faced attacks from Iran-backed militias as they continue the important mission of defeating ISIS, as well as our forces who are protecting international commerce in the Red Sea from persistent attacks by the Houthis. 

“The bill will provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance for vulnerable people who have been impacted by conflicts around the world.  That includes millions of Ukrainians who have been displaced by Russia’s brutal invasion.  It includes conflicts in Sudan and Nagorno-Karabakh.  And this support also includes dealing with the urgent needs of the more than 2 million innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza, the vast majority of whom have nothing to do with Hamas."

Azerbaijan President Aliyev heads for landslide re-election win – exit poll

Feb 7 2024
BAKU, Feb 7 (Reuters) – Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev was on course for a landslide re-election win, an exit poll showed on Wednesday, in a vote he called early after recapturing the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenia and a crackdown on the media.
According to the exit poll, conducted among 63,000 people by Oracle Advisory Group, Aliyev was set to win with 93.9% of the vote. Preliminary initial results were expected later on Wednesday.
Aliyev, who succeeded his father Heydar as president in 2003, has typically taken over 85% of the vote in elections that rights groups have said are neither free nor fair. Azerbaijani officials say the elections are fair and transparent, and that Aliyev's popularity has increased since victory in Karabakh.
The two main opposition parties are boycotting the poll in the oil and gas producing state, which will host the United Nations COP29 climate talks in November. The country's energy resources are central to Europe's plans to reduce its dependency on Russian gas following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Baku, a close ally of Turkey which also maintains working relations with Russia, attributes Western criticism to prejudice against its mainly Muslim population.
In January, Aliyev, 62, told local media that he had called the snap poll to mark "the start of a new era" in Azerbaijan, which he said had restored its sovereignty by retaking Karabakh. He faced six nominal rivals, none of them critical of his rule.
A series of independent journalists have been arrested since November in a crackdown on dissent, several of them charged with crimes including smuggling.
International press freedom groups have described the arrests as an attempt to silence anti-corruption reporting.
Aliyev in December moved the election from Oct. 2025, shortly after Azerbaijan retook Karabakh, an Azerbaijani region whose mostly ethnic Armenian population had been de facto independent of Baku since the early 1990s.
As the Soviet Union unravelled, Azerbaijan lost an extended war with Armenia over Karabakh, a humiliating defeat which Aliyev worked to reverse. In September, he said that his "iron fist" had consigned the idea of an independent Karabakh to history.
For Azerbaijan, restoration of control over Karabakh marks a triumphant end to 30 years of intermittent war and a chance for hundreds of thousands of internal refugees to return home.
For neighbouring Armenia, the collapse of Karabakh is a national tragedy and humanitarian crisis, with almost all of the region's 120,000 ethnic Armenians having since fled to Armenia.

Reporting by Nailia Bagirova in Baku; writing by Felix Light in Tbilisi; editing by Philippa Fletcher, Andrew Osborn and Gareth Jones

RFE/RL Armenian Service – 02/06/2024

                                        Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Iran Ready To Help ‘Strengthen’ Armenia, Says Envoy

Armenia - Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Sobhani speaks to journalists, January 11, 

Iran is interested in seeing Armenia strengthen its position in the region and 
ready to provide “any assistance” for that purpose, the Iranian ambassador in 
Yerevan said on Tuesday.

Mehdi Sobhani also reaffirmed Tehran’s support for the Armenian government’s 
position on transport links with Azerbaijan.

Yerevan proposed late last year a “Crossroads of Peace” project as a blueprint 
for opening the Armenian-Azerbaijani border to travel and commerce. The project 
says that Armenia and Azerbaijan should have full control of transport 
infrastructure inside each other’s territory. Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein 
Amir-Abdollahian praised it during a December visit to the Armenian capital.

Azerbaijan effectively rejected this formula and renewed its demands for an 
extraterritorial corridor that would connect it to its Nakhichevan exclave 
through Syunik, the only Armenian region bordering Iran. Azerbaijani President 
Ilham Aliyev said in early January that people and cargo should be allowed to 
move through that corridor “without any checks.”

“We welcome and support the Crossroads of Peace project presented by Mr. 
Pashinian,” Sobhani told Armenian journalists and analysts. “That project is 
about maintaining peace and stability in the region and respecting the 
territorial integrity and sovereignty of regional countries. We consider 
Armenia’s position logical and consistent with international norms.”

“We welcome the unblocking of roads but only if that happens on the basis of the 
interests and sovereignty of the regional countries,” the envoy said in comments 
cited by the Armenpress news agency. “We support the strengthening of Armenia 
and the establishment of peace and stability. Only a balance of forces in our 
region will contribute to all that. We are ready to provide any assistance that 
Armenia will need for further development.”

Sobhani indicated Iran’s opposition to the Azerbaijani demands for the so-called 
“Zangezur corridor” backed by Turkey. The Islamic Republic will not tolerate any 
“geopolitical changes” in the South Caucasus, he said, echoing statements 
regularly made by Iranian leaders.

Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali 
Khamenei, also made this clear when he visited Yerevan last week. Pashinian and 
Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan praised Tehran’s stance during their talks with 

Armenia’s position on the issue has been criticized by not only Azerbaijan and 
Turkey but also Russia, its longtime ally. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei 
Lavrov complained on January 18 that Yerevan opposes Russian control of a 
prospective Syunik road and railway leading to Nakhichevan. Lavrov claimed that 
a Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh calls 
for “neutral border and customs control” there. Armenian leaders deny this.

‘No Decision Yet’ On Armenian Independence Declaration

        • Ruzanna Stepanian
        • Karlen Aslanian

Armenia - A copy of the 1990 Declaration of Independence.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’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 Konjorian, 
the parliamentary leader of Pashinian’s Civil Contract party, told reporters. 
“It’s still too early to make a final conclusion and raise questions from that 

Konjorian 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.

Pashinian 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 Pashinian wants to 
effectively declare the 1990 declaration null and void under pressure from 
Azerbaijan as well as Turkey.

Armenia - Opposition deputy Artur Khachatrian speaks in the Armenian parliament, 
Yerevan, February 6, 2024.

“Aliyev and Pashinian 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 Pashinian to make 

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

Khachatrian 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 Marukian, an Armenian ambassador-at-large and political ally of Pashinian, 
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’s Ruling Party To Plead For Release Of Tech CEO

        • Shoghik Galstian

Armenia - Speaker Alen Simonian (left) chairs a session of the Armenian 
parliament, Yerevan, February 6, 2024.

Lawmakers representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party 
have decided to ask authorities to release the founder and two current and 
former employees of a major Armenian software company arrested last week on 
corruption charges.

Ashot Hovanesian of the U.S.-registered company Synergy International Systems, 
senior company executive Lili Mkrian and her former colleague Ani Gevorgian were 
indicted in a criminal investigation into what law-enforcement authorities call 
a fraudulent procurement tender organized by the Armenian Ministry of Economy 
last summer.

The tender was invalidated by an Armenian court shortly after being won by 
Synergy. Investigators say the ministry illegally disqualified another 
information technology firm that submitted a much smaller bid. Four ministry 
officials were also detained last week. But unlike Hovanesian, Mkrian and 
Gevorgian, they were set free or moved to house arrest in the following days.

Synergy on Monday rejected the still unpublicized accusations leveled against 
the remaining detainees and demanded their immediate release. The Armenian Union 
of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UATE) also condemned Hovanesian’s arrest 
over the weekend. It said that recent “unfounded” detentions of “business 
representatives and other prominent persons” are turning Armenia into a “risky 
country” for local and foreign tech entrepreneurs.

Hayk Konjorian, the leader of Civil Contract’s party parliamentary group, 
announced on Tuesday that it met late on Monday and decided to petition a court 
to free the Synergy executives pending investigation. He said the pro-government 
parliamentarians will guarantee the suspects’ proper behavior in writing.

Armenia - Deputies from the ruling Civil Contract party attend a session of the 
National Assembly, Yerevan, March 21, 2023.

Konjorian insisted that the decision was not ordered by or coordinated with 
Pashinian. It reflects public reactions to the arrests, rather than the fact 
that one of the suspects, Gevorgian, is the wife of parliament speaker Alen 
Simonian’s brother, he told journalists. He said the pro-government 
parliamentarians also took into account the fact that Gevorgian and Mkrian have 
young children.

One of those deputies, Emma Palian, expressed confidence that Simonian’s 
sister-in-law will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

“Knowing personally Mr. Simonian but not Ms. Gevorgian, I am sure it will emerge 
that the case is baseless and the result of a misunderstanding,” said Palian.

The speaker, who is a senior member of the ruling party, himself has not 
commented on the case so far. But he did make a point of posting on Facebook a 
photo of himself, his brother and Gevorgian right after her arrest.

The fact that one of the detainees is related to Simonian has fueled speculation 
about political motives behind the high-profile case. Some commentators claim 
that Pashinian personally sanctioned the young woman’s arrest in a bid to boost 
his falling approval ratings by showing Armenians that he is serious about 
combatting corruption. Pashinian allies have dismissed such claims.

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.


Reviving Heritage: The ‘In the Mountains’ Festival in Armenia

Jan 20 2024

By: Momen Zellmi

In the picturesque setting of Tatev, Armenia, on June 24 and 25, the echoes of history and legends will come alive during the immersive festival ‘In the Mountains’. The festival, an initiative designed to boost cultural and gastronomic tourism in Syunik, is a vibrant celebration of the region’s history and legends. The event, meticulously crafted, offers a multitude of experiences, including theatrical performances, master classes, music, national dances, and games, along with a taste of traditional dishes.

Tours of historic old villages are also on the itinerary, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the region’s cultural heritage. Among the highlights of the festival is the opportunity to experience the TaTever aerial tramway over the Vorotan gorge and the Tatev monastery complex from the 9th century. The latter, a spiritual haven accessible by the Wings of Tatev cable car, offers breathtaking views of the gorge. Notably, the TaTever aerial tramway holds the Guinness World Record for the longest passenger aerial tramway.

Under the leadership of Sisian Boghossian, the Tourism Committee of the Republic of Armenia has been instrumental in organizing the festival, underlining its role in attracting tourism to Armenia in four main directions: adventure, culture, gastronomy, and nature. The festival’s potential to boost tourism and provide socio-economic benefits to the community has also been highlighted by Ani Davtyan, the project manager. The festival is supported by the Tourism Committee of the Ministry of Economy of Armenia and organized by Tatev Revival Foundation, Ruben Vardanyan Foundation, Impulse Management Company, and TaTever aerial tramway.

Unique features of the festival include an interactive performance titled ‘History of Syunik. travel through time’, a crafts fair, and musical performances. A dedicated children’s entertainment zone ensures the event is family-friendly, while the ‘Medieval dinner with the noble Orbelian family’ offers an intriguing gastronomic experience. These initiatives are part of the ‘Tatev Revival’ Foundation’s focus on restoring the Tatev Monastery and developing the region. As such, the festival is more than just a celebration; it’s a testament to Armenia’s commitment to preserving and promoting its rich cultural heritage.

Armenpress: North Korea tests ‘underwater nuclear weapon system’


YEREVAN, JANUARY 19, ARMENPRESS. North Korea has carried out a test of a newly developed “underwater nuclear weapon system,” its armed forces have said, calling the move a response to joint military drills by the United States, South Korea and Japan, RT reports citing a statement from Pyongyang.

A military spokesperson announced the test in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) early on Friday morning, citing “provocative military exercises” held around the Korean peninsula in recent weeks.

“In response, the Underwater Weapon System Institute under the DPRK Academy of Defence Science conducted an important test of its underwater nuclear weapon system ‘Haeil-5-23’ under development in the East Sea of Korea,” the statement said, adding that the test helped to develop Pyongyong’s “underwater nuke-based countering posture.”

Pyongyang carried out several similar tests last year, including a “nuclear unmanned underwater attack boat” in March, which it had previously dubbed a “secret weapon.” Unnamed military officials said the naval drone could create a “radioactive tsunami” using underwater explosions and “annihilate enemy ship groups” without detection.

It was not immediately clear whether the latest trial involved a newer model of the same weapon.

History Museum of Armenia, National Museum of Czechia to sign memorandum of cooperation


YEREVAN, JANUARY 17, ARMENPRESS. The History Museum of Armenia and the Czech National Museum will sign a memorandum of cooperation. The signing ceremony will take place in early February, when the Castles and Chateaux of Czechia exhibition will be opened in Yerevan, the Director of the History Museum of Armenia Davit Poghosyan said.

The exhibition will be organized jointly with the Embassy of Czechia in Armenia and the National Museum of Czechia.

The exhibition will feature pictures of UNESCO-listed castles and chateaux in two historical regions of Czechia – Bohemia and Moravia.