Belarusian president denies Armenia’s withdrawal from CSTO

 Prensa Latina
Feb 25 2024
Minsk, Feb 25 (Prensa Latina) Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko affirmed on Sunday that his Government has not received any statement on Armenia's withdrawal from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).





“The foremost issue is that as we have not received any official notification that Armenia is going to leave the CSTO, that country remains a member of the organization,” Lukashenko told reporters at a polling station on Sunday, after having cast his vote in the Belarusian parliamentary and local council elections.

The head of State noted that the CSTO countries will react “absolutely calmly” to the corresponding statement. “If they do not want to be in the CSTO, it will not collapse, it will not be destroyed.”

Lukashenko added that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian cannot make a decision on the country’s withdrawal from the CSTO.

“The system of power in Armenia is not the same as in Belarus. Pashinian cannot make the decision to join or leave. There, the parliament makes the decision.”


Armenia freezes participation in Russia-led security bloc – Prime Minister

Feb 23 2024
Feb 22 (Reuters) – Armenia has frozen its participation in the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) because the bloc had failed the country, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in an interview broadcast on Thursday.
Pashinyan also said that Azerbaijan, with which Armenia has fought two wars over the past three decades, was not adhering to the principles needed to clinch a long-term peace treaty, and suggested Azerbaijan was preparing to launch another attack.
Baku on Friday called Pashinyan's allegations unfounded and accused him of stirring up regional tension and of damaging the peace process.
Pashinyan told France 24 television that the CSTO bloc, which is dominated by Russia, and the treaty underpinning it, had failed Armenia.
"The Collective Security Treaty has not fulfilled its objectives as far as Armenia is concerned, particularly in 2021 and 2022. And we could not let that happen without taking notice," Pashinyan said through an interpreter.
"We have now in practical terms frozen our participation in this treaty. As for what comes next, we shall have to see."
But he said there was no discussion for now about closing a Russian base in Armenia. That was subject to different treaties.
Pashinyan has in recent months expressed discontent with Armenia's longstanding ties with Russia and said Armenia could no longer rely on Russia to ensure its defence needs. He had also suggested its membership of the CSTO was under review.
Other ex-Soviet members of the CSTO include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
Azerbaijan recovered swathes of territory in 2020 in the second war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, populated mainly by ethnic Armenians but internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan's military took full control of the territory last year, prompting most of its residents to leave for Armenia.
In his remarks, Pashinyan said prospects for clinching a long-term peace treaty had been hurt by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's statements which Armenia interpreted as laying claim to large parts of Armenian territory. "If the principles of territorial integrity and inviolability of borders are not recognised by Azerbaijan, it is simply not possible," he told France 24.
"Azerbaijan is using the situation to feed its rhetoric. That leads one to think that Azerbaijan is getting ready for a new attack on Armenia."
Azerbaijan's foreign ministry on Friday called the allegations unfounded.
"Statements that Azerbaijan is allegedly preparing for an attack on Armenia, and also that Azerbaijan allegedly does not adhere to international legal norms, are made in an effort to distort reality and deceive the international community," it said in a statement.
Key elements in securing a treaty are demarcation of borders and the establishment of regional transport corridors often through the territory of each others' territory.
Aliyev has also raised the issue of determining control of ethnic enclaves on both sides of the border.
Pashinyan and Aliyev have discussed moves towards a peace treaty at several meetings, including discussions last week at the Munich Security Conference.

Reporting by Ron Popeski; editing by Miral Fahmy/Andrew Osborn

Armenian Prime Minister meets with Paris Mayor


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 22, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has met with the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo.

Mayor Hidalgo said she was glad to host the Armenian Prime Minister and emphasized her continuous support to Armenia and the Armenian people. She said that the City of Paris plans to open the Charles Aznavour Park in the city center this September. The late singer’s bust will be erected there.

PM Pashinyan thanked for the warm reception and warmly recalled the Mayor’s Armenia visit on a mission to support the forcibly displaced persons of Nagorno-Karabakh. Pashinyan highly appreciated Hidalgo’s efforts in the direction of the agendas pertaining to Armenia and the Armenian people.

Pashinyan and Hidalgo attached importance to the development of cooperation between Yerevan and Paris, particularly in transport, construction, tourism and culture. Pashinyan underscored the need for the Paris City Hall to share its rich experience in various fields with Yerevan.

Mayor Hidalgo said that Paris is ready to develop and strengthen partnership with Yerevan, including in various international platforms.

Prime Minister arrives in Paris on a working visit with his wife


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 21, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan arrived in France on a two-day working visit with his wife Anna Hakobyan.

Today, the Prime Minister is scheduled to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, the PM's office said.

According to the source, in the evening, the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of France, together with Anna Hakobyan and Brigitte Macron, will be present at the Paris Pantheon for the relocation of the remains of Armenian hero of the Resistance Movement, Missak Manouchian, and his wife Mélinée Manouchian in the pantheon of the greatest figures of France.

It is noted that today, Nikol Pashinyan will also have a meeting with the President of the French Senate, Gerard Larcher.

Meetings with French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo are planned as part of the visit.


RFE/RL Armenian Service – 02/20/2024


Armenia, Azerbaijan Preparing For Further Talks

        • Shoghik Galstian

U.S. -- Foreign Ministers Ararat Mirzoyan of Armenia and Jeyhun Bayramov of 
Azerbaijan meet in Washington, November 7, 2022.

Armenia and Azerbaijan are discussing the date and venue of an upcoming meeting 
of their foreign ministers, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The leaders of the two South Caucasus states reached an agreement on that 
meeting during weekend talks in Munich hosted by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 
They said the ministers will focus on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty.

“The parties are working out [a date for the meeting,]” Ani Badalian, the 
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “In case of 
reaching a final agreement, we will inform you further.”

It remained unclear whether the upcoming negotiations will be direct or mediated 
by a third party.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had been scheduled to host his Armenian 
and Azerbaijani counterparts in Washington last November. Azerbaijan’s Foreign 
Minister Jeyhun Bayramov withdrew from the trilateral meeting in protest against 
what his office called pro-Armenian statements made by a senior U.S. diplomat. 
Washington afterwards failed to convince the Azerbaijani leadership to 
reschedule it.

Speaking three days before Saturday’s summit, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev 
said that Baku “doesn’t need mediators to normalize relations with Yerevan” and 
that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict “should be removed from the international 

Yerevan has insisted on continued Western mediation. In the run-up to the Munich 
talks, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian accused Baku of walking away from 
understandings reached during his earlier encounters with Aliyev organized by 
the European Union. But he said on Sunday that both sides are “committed to 
those understandings” relating to the basic parameters of the peace treaty.

“A number of articles of the peace treaty have been agreed but a number of 
articles of fundamental importance have not yet been agreed, and efforts must be 
made in that direction,” said Pashinian.

Karabakh Leaders ‘Working On Mass Repatriation’ (UPDATED)

        • Ruzanna Stepanian
        • Astghik Bedevian

A satellite image shows a long traffic jam of vehicles along the Lachin corridor 
as ethnic Armenians flee from the Nagorno-Karabakh, September 26, 2023.

A member of Nagorno-Karabakh’s exiled leadership said on Tuesday that it is 
taking “concrete steps” for the eventual repatriation of the region’s ethnic 
Armenian population displaced by last September’s Azerbaijani military offensive.

“Our struggle will continue,” Gagik Baghunts, the acting Karabakh parliament 
speaker, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “The Armenians of Artsakh will not 
accept the idea that we have closed the page of Artsakh, and the desire to 
return will always stay with us. I hope that we will have significant success in 
that direction already in the not-so-distant future.”

“We are taking concrete steps, we will continue to do everything possible so 
that the Artsakh Armenians return to the homeland, our historical homeland, and 
I hope that despite my rather old age, I will return, not my grandchildren.”

Baghunts refused to shed light on those efforts, saying only that the Karabakh 
leaders are ready for “cooperation with world powers” and even “contacts with 
the Azerbaijani authorities.” He would not say whether there have already been 
such contacts.

Armenia - Gagik Baghunts, the acting Karabakh parliament speaker, talks to 

The Azerbaijani government says that the Karabakh Armenians are free to return 
to their homes if they agree to live under Azerbaijani rule. Karabakh’s leaders 
and ordinary residents rejected such an option even before the Azerbaijani 
offensive forced them to flee to Armenia. None of the more than 100,000 Karabakh 
refugees are known to have expressed a desire to return home in the current 

The Russian Foreign Ministry said last week that Moscow and Baku are now 
“discussing prospects for the return of the Armenian population to Karabakh.” 
Karabakh’s human rights ombudsman, Gegham Stepanian, dismissed the statement, 
saying that only “international guarantees” could convince the Karabakh 
Armenians to return to their homeland.

Armenia’s government does not seem to be seeking such guarantees. Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian has repeatedly indicated that the Karabakh issue is closed for 
his administration.

Pashinian’s political allies lashed out at Samvel Shahramanian, the Karabakh 
president, in late December after he declared null and void his September 28 
decree liquidating the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Shahramanian 
said that he had to sign the decree in order to stop the Azerbaijani assault and 
enable the Karabakh Armenians to safely flee to Armenia.

Shahramanian, Baghunts and other Yerevan-based Karabakh leaders laid flowers at 
the Yerablur military ceremony in Yerevan on Tuesday as they marked the 36th 
anniversary of the start of a popular movement for Karabakh’s unification with 
Karabakh. Later in the day, the Karabakh legislature held a special session on 
the occasion.

Nagorno-Karabakh - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian holds a rally in 
Stepanakert, August 5, 2019.

For the first time, Pashinian, who had famously declared in 2019 that “Artsakh 
is Armenia,” issued no statement on the anniversary.

“Both in 1988 and today, the realization of peoples’ right to self-determination 
and democratic freedoms remain a clear goal for us,” he stated in February 2020. 
“And we are sure that we will achieve our goals with joint efforts.”

Pashinian stopped championing that right in early 2022 and publicly recognized 
Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh a year later. His critics say that the 
drastic policy change paved the way for Baku’s recapture of the depopulated 
region. The premier has reportedly refused to meet Shahramanian and other 
Karabakh leaders since they took refuge in Armenia.

“Armenia did not have a foreign policy, it had a Nagorno-Karabakh policy,” 
Pashinian claimed in December 2023. “Armenia did not have a security agenda, it 
had a Nagorno-Karabakh security agenda. The resources that we should have 
invested in creating the Republic of Armenia we have invested in creating the 
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.”

Growth In Armenian Exports To Russia Moderates

Armenia - Commercial trucks parked at the Bagratashen border crossing with 
Georgia, November 29, 2018. (Photo by the State Revenue Committee of Armenia)

A rapid growth in Armenia’s exports to Russia, driven in large measure by 
Western sanctions against Moscow, appears to have slowed down significantly in 
the fourth quarter of last year.

Armenia was quick to take advantage of the sweeping sanctions imposed following 
the Russian invasion of Ukraine, re-exporting second-hand cars, consumer 
electronics and other goods manufactured in Western countries and their allies 
to Russia. This explains why its exports to Russia tripled in 2022 and doubled 
in January-August 2023.

Full-year data released by the Armenian government’s Statistical Committee shows 
that they rose by less than 39 percent, to $3.4 billion, in 2023. This suggests 
that the lucrative re-exports largely stagnated last fall and December. The 
recent introduction of a new Russian tax on imports of used and old cars may 
have been one of the factors behind the slowdown.

Also, the re-exports prompted concern from European and especially U.S. 
officials in early 2023. They pressed the Armenian authorities to comply with 
the Western sanctions. The authorities introduced in May mandatory government 
licenses for shipments of microchips, transformers, video cameras, antennas and 
other electronic equipment to Russia.

Overall Russian-Armenian trade soared by more than 43 percent to $7.3 billion. 
It grew steadily even before the war in Ukraine not least because of Armenia’s 
accession in 2014 to the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.

Russia has since replaced the EU as Armenia’s number one trading partner. 
According to the Armenian government data, it accounted last year for over 35 
percent of the South Caucasus country’s foreign trade, compared with the EU’s 13 
percent share in the total.

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.


Armenian government considers comprehensive security and defense system


YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 19, ARMENPRESS. The Armenian government is discussing the introduction of a comprehensive security and defense system, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said.

“In addition to the armed forces system, we also have the militia system, which must further develop and become a part of our territorial defense system. It contains components, and according to components we are aiming for our population to have some involvement in the protection of territories. In this sense, we are cooperating with certain organizations. But we should also draw conclusions from these events,” Pashinyan said during his meeting with the Armenian community in Germany where he was on a visit for the Munich Security Conference when asked on the latest Azeri cross-border shooting in Syunik province which left 4 Armenian troops dead and another wounded.

“We are now discussing the comprehensive security and defense system, which has a goal to involve a maximally broad circle of people in the participation of the country’s security. The problem here isn’t the age, I think we must work in order for military discipline and logic to be unquestionable,” the PM said.

Portantino’s Healthcare Provider Bill Offers Armenia-Educated Doctors Ability to be Physicians Assistants in California

Senator Anthony Portantino offering remarks at the senate floor on Apr. 24 during the commemoration of the 108th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

SACRAMENTO – Recognizing the severe shortage of healthcare providers in California, Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank) introduced a bill that creates a pathway for foreign educated doctors to practice as physician assistants in California through a pilot program. The program establishes a partnership with Yerevan State Medical University to allow clinically trained healthcare professionals to work in healthcare at a time when our system needs more providers.

“There are many highly skilled medical professionals who reside in California but cannot practice medicine,” said Senator Portantino. “This program would help address our healthcare provider shortage while offering immigrant doctors the opportunity to take steps to become qualified to practice their chosen craft here. It’s a win-win for the patient and the healthcare system.”

Foreign educated doctors often face challenges in leveraging their higher education qualifications in California. In particular, a significant number of Yerevan State Medical University graduates who practiced medicine in Armenia are not able to practice here.  These doctors, however, have received more clinical education than the typical physician’s assistant has. Rather than being welcomed into our healthcare system, many must accept other forms of jobs outside of healthcare because the process of undergoing licensing or certification to practice medicine is complex, time consuming, and challenging.

The bill, know as SB 1041, would establish a two-year Armenian Doctor Pilot Program. The program requires participants to enroll in a medical refresher course developed by Yerevan State Medical University and an accredited academic institution in California with an approved physician assistant program. It also requires classes to be provided by Yerevan State Medical University and the approved California educational institution via a distance learning program, clinical training undertaken in a federally qualified health center that serves the Armenian community in southern California. The unique program will be eligible only for permanent residents and the citizens of the United States.

“We welcome Senator Portantino’s efforts to establish the Armenian Doctors Pilot Program, which would create a pathway for Armenian educated physicians to practice as physician assistants for two years in qualified health centers in California,” stated Sarkis Balkhian, Executive Director of ANCA-Western Region.

“This program is paramount not only because it provides a professional pathway for Armenian doctors to resume their medical careers but also addresses the shortage of primary care physicians with the cultural and linguistic diversity and skills required to service Armenian-Americans across California, especially those who lack the socioeconomic resources and are often left behind by the system. SB 1041 will also foster further collaboration between the medical institutions of Armenia and California,” Balkhian added.

Azerbaijan president secures fifth term as expected after Karabakh win

First Post
India – Feb 8 2024

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has clinched his fifth consecutive term in elections, official results showed on Wednesday, an outcome widely anticipated following his significant triumph over Armenian separatists last year.

The tallies indicate that Aliyev secured a staggering 92 per cent of the vote, with nearly all polling stations reporting their results.

The election took place amidst a crackdown on independent media and in the absence of any substantial opposition.

“The Azerbaijani people have elected Ilham Aliyev as the country’s president,” AFP quoted Central Election Commission chief Mazahir Panahov as saying at a press conference.

“Turnout was 67.7 per cent,” he added.

Aliyev received praise domestically when his forces regained control of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region from Armenian separatists in September, who had held sway over it for decades.

However, the primary opposition factions in the oil-rich country abstained from participating in the election. Ali Kerimli, a leader of the Popular Front party, denounced the electoral process as a mere “facade of democracy.”

“There are no conditions in the country for the conduct of free and fair elections,” Kerimli told AFP.

The six other candidates who were running were little-known and had praised Aliyev as a great statesman and commander-in-chief since he announced the election in December, a year ahead of schedule.

Singing patriotic songs, several thousand Aliyev supporters gathered on Wednesday evening in the streets of central Baku to celebrate his re-election.

Some demonstrators held signs that read “Karabakh’s liberator” and “We are proud of you!”

The president and first lady Mehriban Aliyeva went to Karabakh on Wednesday to cast their ballots in the region’s main city of Khankendi.

For the first time in Azerbaijan’s post-Soviet history, 26 polling stations opened in Karabakh.

The enclave has been largely deserted after its entire ethnic-Armenian population — more than 100,000 people – fled to Armenia after Baku’s takeover.

‘Escalating crackdown’ 

Last month, Aliyev called the Karabakh victory “an epochal event unparallelled in Azerbaijan’s history”.

“The election will mark the beginning of a new era,” he said, with the country holding the presidential vote on all its territory for the first time.

Supporters have praised Aliyev for turning a country once thought of as a Soviet backwater into a flourishing energy supplier to Europe.

But critics say he has crushed opposition groups and suffocated independent media.

Aliyev’s win was a foregone conclusion, said independent analyst Ghia Nodia of the Caucasus Center for Strategic Studies.

There was “no suspense whatsoever in these elections without the slightest sign of competitiveness”.

In recent months, Azerbaijani authorities have intensified pressure on independent media outlets, arresting several critical journalists who had exposed high-level graft.

“All fundamental rights are being violated in the country, opposition parties can’t function normally, freedom of assembly is restricted, media are under government pressure, and political dissent is being suppressed,” said Kerimli of the Popular Front.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International said: “The escalating crackdown by Azerbaijani authorities ahead of the elections is not just an attack on individual rights, it’s a widespread, coordinated assault on civil society and the rule of law.”

Dynastic rule 

Aliyev, 62, was first elected president in 2003 after the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.

He was re-elected in 2008, 2013 and in 2018, with 86 percent of the votes.

All the elections were denounced by opposition parties as rigged.

In 2009, Aliyev amended the country’s constitution so he could run for an unlimited number of presidential terms, a move criticised by rights advocates who said he could become president for life.

In 2016, Azerbaijan adopted controversial constitutional amendments that extended the president’s term in office to seven years from five.

He then appointed his wife as first vice president.

Around six million voters were registered for the election, which was being monitored by observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).


Armenian Foreign Minister meets with Secretary-General of Permanent Court of Arbitration

 10:25, 7 February 2024

YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 7, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ararat Mirzoyan has met with Marcin Czepelak, the Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, during his visit to the Netherlands, the foreign ministry said.

FM Mirzoyan and Czepelak discussed “matters pertaining to the activity of the Permanent Court of Arbitration,” the foreign ministry said in a readout. They also exchanged views around possibilities of Armenia’s partnership with the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

The foreign minister and Czepelak also discussed the overall security situation in the South Caucasus and existing challenges.

Armenian Youth Foundation awards grant to St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School

February 5, 2024 Guest Contributor Community News, Diaspora 0

WATERTOWN, Mass.—The Armenian Youth Foundation has been supportive of St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School’s education and technology needs since 1988, when it first provided funds for the student computer lab.

Since then, it has funded Armenian textbooks, as well as iPads, laptops, Chromebooks, document cameras and new computers for the lab on multiple occasions. Most recently, it approved a grant request for a permanent kindergarten projection system along with new laptops for teachers in the amount of $5,104.58. This new system will allow the kindergarten teacher to show high-quality electronic content and video presentations without the need to set up a portable projector. The system has a new computer and wired internet and projector connections that ensure clear projection and smooth video presentation.

The new projection system in use in the kindergarten classroom

“We are very thankful to the Armenian Youth Foundation for seeing a major benefit in the use of technology to improve student learning and accepting our grant request,” stated Head of School Dr. Garine Palandjian. “Their continued support for our school has allowed us to have the latest technology to improve our student learning.” 

The Foundation’s mission is to preserve Armenian heritage by proudly supporting a variety of youth programs. Since 1973, it has awarded more than $780,000 in grants to over 20 organizations and Armenian schools. Learn more about the impact of the Foundation on our community and how you can support by visiting