Bentley Celebrates Fifth Anniversary in Historic Armenian Capital of Yerevan

June 2 2023

Munich – WEBWIRE – Thursday, June 1, 2023
Bentley Yerevan 5th Anniversary

Bentley Yerevan has celebrated its fifth anniversary of the luxury British marque’s presence in Armenia by hosting a special celebratory event held at a luxurious location in the centre of the country’s historic capital city.

Bentley Yerevan first opened its doors to customers in 2018 and has established itself as a focal point for automotive excellence in Armenia. The team has been working hard to spread the passion for craftsmanship and the sought-after luxury approach of Bentley in the Armenian market. 

A clear focus on the iconic W12 has been part of the celebration, in its last year of ordering and with the W12 coming to an end, the Flying Spur Speed in Arabica and the Continental GT Convertible in Portofino have been the perfect models for this special occasion. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Continental GT has offered from the time of its launch a unique combination of stunning design, supercar performance and unrivalled craftsmanship. With no comparable rivals at its price point, the Continental GT swiftly became a global sensation, defining a new market sector. These performance-orientated cars will shortly be joined at Bentley Yerevan by the W12-powered Bentayga Speed. 

Artem Simonyan, General Manager, Bentley Yerevan, commented:

“We are proud to celebrate our fifth anniversary in Armenia and extremely grateful to our loyal customers and enthusiasts. Since 2018, we have strived to provide the best possible service and experiences for our customers – we look forward to sharing our success with them and I thank my team for the support and dedication since the launch of Bentley Yerevan.”

Balazs Rooz, Regional Director, Bentley Motors Europe, added:

“It is always a delight to celebrate a long-standing partner, it showcases the commitment and dedication towards the brand. 2023 is a special year for Bentley in many aspects, the 20th anniversary of the Continental GT and the end of the iconic W12 which brings us one step further on our Beyond100 strategic journey. As the luxury car market continues to grow in Armenia, we look forward to go beyond the five year anniversary with the Bentley Yerevan team.”

Notes to editors

Bentley Motors is the most sought-after luxury car brand in the world. The company’s headquarters in Crewe is home to all of its operations including design, R&D, engineering and production of the company’s five model lines, Continental GT, Continental

( Press Release Image: )

Armenia and Azerbaijan discuss the delimitation of their borders in Moldova

Nation World
June 2 2023

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan held a meeting this Thursday on the sidelines of the second summit of the European Political Community in Moldova and with the mediation of European leaders.

The meeting was also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron; the Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz; and the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who classified the meeting as a “very good meeting” with a view to reducing positions.

According to Michel, the parties have addressed issues of “connectivity, security, rights, border delimitation and peace treaty”, with the appointment serving as “preparation” for the next meeting on 21 July in Brussels. .

For its part, the French Presidency has commented that Aliyev and Pashinyan have promised to move forward in the delineation of borders and “affirmed mutual respect for the territorial integrity” of the two countries.

Meanwhile, Macron, Scholz and Michel have urged Armenia and Azerbaijan to honor their commitments, particularly in the context of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, to release prisoners of war “as soon as possible”.

The President of the European Council has invited the other four leaders present at the meeting to participate in the next summit of the European Political Community to be held in the city of Granada.

Michel himself had already pointed out at the beginning of the week that it was necessary for Aliyev and Pashinyan to abandon “maximalist positions” before this Thursday’s meeting, and called talks between Azeri officials and the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh “vital”.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been involved in various conflicts in recent years over control of Nagorno-Karabagh, a region with a majority Armenian population that has been at the center of conflict since Azerbaijan decided in 1988 to secede from the region, which is part of . the Soviet Union.

Armenia: new low emission buses arrive in Yerevan with EU support

Low floor, low emission buses have arrived in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, thanks to the European Union, its member states and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The new greener, environmentally friendly fleet of 87 buses will improve the service for citizens and guests to the city by increasing the reliability, safety and efficiency of public transport.

Buses working on compressed natural gas were purchased for the city as part of the EU Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership, launched in 2021 to stimulate jobs and growth, support connectivity and the green and digital transition in the region.

The donation was supported by the multilateral ‌E5P fund where the EU is the largest donor.

Find out more

Press release

Armenians accused of selling babies still work in hospitals and government

Revealed: Members of alleged illegal adoption gang that sold babies to Italy keep high-profile jobs despite charges

Tatev Hovhannisyan

Carlotta Indiano
The alleged ringleader of an illegal network that is accused of selling Armenian children to Italian couples is still working in adoption while on trial, a year-long investigation has discovered.

A joint probe by openDemocracy and Italian investigative website IrpiMedia has found that Anush Garsantsyan is seemingly still involved in arranging adoptions.

And many of her 10 co-defendants – including Armenia’s top obstetrician, a key government official responsible for international adoptions and child welfare workers – also continue to hold senior positions in maternal healthcare and the government.

The news comes four years after a criminal investigation opened into the adoptions of 20 Armenian children between 2015 and 2018, all of whom are said to be alive and living in Italy.

Eleven people have been charged with crimes including the buying and selling of children, abuse of official powers and large-scale money laundering over the adoptions – leading Italy to freeze adoptions from Armenia in June 2021.

But our investigation has uncovered that at least three adoptions took place from Armenia to Italy last year.

These findings have sparked fears from rights campaigners that women in the country remain vulnerable to potential abuses, particularly since international adoptions from Armenia to other countries have not been frozen – and the Prosecutor General’s Office announced in March that the criminal investigation is being widened to examine adoptions that took place in more countries.

Garsantsyan is accused of receiving money from Italian adoption agencies since 2005 and heading a crime ring that preys on vulnerable mothers and Italian families desperate for children. The indictment claims that she and her network sold a total of 61 children, the prosecutor’s office said.

Armenia’s national security service claims the group procured babies by manipulating patients in a maternity hospital into putting their children into orphanages, from where they were sold to overseas couples wanting to adopt.

Investigators say the group caused some Armenian children to be born with health conditions that would make their parents more likely to give them up for adoption, and used false medical records and doctored administrative paperwork to fake such conditions in other cases. They also allege that the group brokered adoptions on behalf of Italian adoption agencies – which is illegal in Armenia.

Garsantsyan is said to have controlled the lucrative profits that arose from this trade, with prosecutors alleging that she earned more than one million euros for her role in the adoptions. Her lawyer has previously said she is innocent of any wrongdoing and that this money was a “reimbursement of costs” for seven years’ work facilitating adoptions.

The indictment names other alleged members of the network as including a former director of a children’s home in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, the former head of the government body that registers births and authorises personal documents, the director and deputy director of a Yerevan maternity hospital, as well as a doctor, and senior officials in the Ministry of Justice and the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry.

Despite the charges against them, the director of a maternity hospital – considered Armenia’s top obstetrician – and his deputy both remain in their positions, according to the publicly available information confirmed to openDemocracy and irpiMedia by the hospital. The director was previously found guilty of bribing a government official over funding to his hospital. In 2021 a court gave him two years’ probation.

We also identified that the bureaucrat at the Ministry of Justice, who is responsible for international adoptions and abduction of children, remains in his position and as of October 2021 was still representing Armenia at international forums. The ministry responded to requests for comment by saying that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

And a child welfare worker, who has been charged with official negligence after allegedly breaching the confidentiality of the database of kids waiting for adoption, still holds her position as the chief specialist at the Family, Women and Children’s Affairs department in the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry.

The Italian Commission for International Adoptions (CAI), which licences Italian adoption agencies and oversees their work, told openDemocracy and irpiMedia that it suspended the opening of new adoption cases in Armenia in June 2021 “as a precautionary measure”.

Yet the two countries concluded three adoptions last year, according to official data, which was confirmed to our reporters by the relevant government departments in both Armenia and Italy.

All three adoptions were organised by Italian agencies – two by Famiglia Insieme Onlus and the other by Associazione Arcobaleno Onlus – and began before the indictments were issued, according to the CAI. It said they were completed only after it received guidance from the Armenian government that its work is not part of the criminal investigation. This was confirmed to openDemocracy and irpiMedia by Armenia’s justice ministry.

Garsantsyan is the Armenian ‘representative’ for both Famiglia Insieme and Associazione Arcobaleno, according to the Armenian Ministry of Justice, which acts on behalf of the country’s Central Adoption Authority. Her role is legally ambiguous, as Armenia prohibits international adoptions via a third party.

In 2020, six months after Garsantsyan’s arrest, Associazione Arcobaleno Onlus credited her with helping organise 200 adoptions. Five months later, Famiglia Insieme Onlus also acknowledged her role as its correspondent in the country.

A third Italian adoption agency, Anpas Informa, also described her as its “contact person” in Armenia in 2011, saying her “job is to accompany the Italian families in the adoption process”. Anpas has not completed any adoptions with Armenia since Garsantsyan’s arrest.

In April, Associazione Arcobaleno Onlus told openDemocracy and irpiMedia that Garsantsyan is still on its payroll but is not actively working.

“Anush Garsantsyan still works for us, but she took some personal time off,” said Bruna Rizzato, Associazione Arcobaleno’s president.

Arcobaleno did not reply to further questions posed by openDemocracy and irpiMedia. Famiglia Insieme also did not respond. But the CAI, which licences all Italian adoption agencies, told us that while Famiglia Insieme Onlus has previously used Garsantsyan’s services, it currently has a separate contact person in Armenia. The CAI added: “Garsantyan is the contact person and not the ‘legal representative’ of Arcobaleno and Anpas.”

These claims were called into question following a letter sent to openDemocracy and irpiMedia by the Armenian Ministry of Justice on 25 May, which suggested Garsantsyan is a ‘representative’ for the Italian agencies and that she is still involved in facilitating adoptions.

It said: “As of today, the Armenian Central Authority continues to cooperate with Anush Garsantsyan, the Armenian representative of the Italian accredited organisations, in the scope of activities within the limits of her competence.”

We shared the letter with the CAI, which told us it subsequently requested an update on Garsantsyan’s situation from the Armenian Ministry of Justice.

The CAI also stressed that it “has given instructions to the agencies operating in Armenia to temporarily suspend their activities related the adoption pending procesures until further investigation is carried out on the nature of the charges brought against the contact person”.

In Italy, couples wishing to adopt a foreign child must apply to organisations appointed by the CAI. There is no suggestion that the Italian families who adopted the children, the CAI or any of the Italian agencies facilitating the adoptions were aware of the alleged crime ring.

Adoption in Armenia is regulated by a 2010 decree that prioritises placing children with relatives or other Armenian nationals, with foreign adoption treated as a last resort. Cultural bias means it is usually children with disabilities that are adopted internationally.

Children with disabilities are among the most marginalised groups in Armenia, according to a 2014 report by Unicef. The report found that some parents are forced to leave them in orphanages due to “a lack of family support and community-based support networks, as well as the attitudes of society”.

The report added: “A few thousand children with disabilities are still isolated from their families, peers, and communities. They live in institutions, they do not attend preschool or school, do not have access to rehabilitation services, and do not participate in social events.”

Doctors acting within the illegal network allegedly preyed on these biases, convincing women seeking abortions to go through with their pregnancies and then using birth-stimulating drugs to induce early labour. The babies were often born with complicated health problems as a result, and investigators say doctors would then coerce the mothers into giving them up for adoption.

In other cases, medical workers allegedly lied to mothers, falsely telling them their children faced illnesses and life-threatening disabilities to get them to give up the child as well as to discourage adoption by local families.

International adoptions of Armenian children have outnumbered domestic adoptions in recent years. In 2015, 55 children were adopted abroad and 41 in Armenia, in 2016 there were 40 overseas adoptions and 35 domestic, and the same is true of 2017 (29 and 27) and 2018 (25 and 23).

The criminal investigation is focused on the alleged sale of 20 children – but hundreds more Armenian women believe they were victims of the illegal adoption network. They have not had their cases taken up by state prosecutors, often because they signed consent forms to give up parental rights, which the women say they were tricked into doing.

One support group, Armenian Mothers, was founded in 2019 to provide help to mothers who believe they have faced injustices in the medical system, from illegal adoptions to bribery demands from doctors.

The group, which today has more than 17,000 followers on social media, was at the forefront of rallies outside the Armenian prosecutor general’s office that demanded the arrest of all 11 people said to be involved in the illegal adoption case.

openDemocracy could not reach the maternity hospital for comment, but in 2019 the director told Aravot, an Armenian newspaper, that the allegations surrounding its practices and adoption were not true.

He said: “Adoptions have nothing to do with maternity care institutions, they are carried out by the ministries of labor and social affairs and justice through the orphanage. If you have any questions, you should contact them, and if you have any other questions, contact the press service.”

The 11 suspects remain free and the trial has started. The Supreme Judicial Council of Armenia refused to provide openDemocracy and irpiMedia with the timeline of the court hearings, but publicly available information suggests the most recent hearing took place behind closed doors on 31 March.

While the prosecutions are ongoing, the 20 Armenian families whose babies are said to have been adopted through the alleged criminal network are stuck in emotional limbo – not knowing where their children are or if they will see them again.

And the completion of three adoptions to Italy last year shows that Armenian authorities are yet to address a legal grey area highlighted by the investigation. The Italian organisations working on adoptions from Armenia are accredited in Italy and specialise in intercountry adoptions. But Armenian law prohibits the use of intermediaries or brokers in international adoptions.

The Family Code of Armenia stipulates that people wishing to adopt can only do so individually or through their ‘lawful representatives’, which can could be a parent, adopter or guardian but not agencies and organisations.

The number of adoptions last year, although small, worries human rights and child advocates in Armenia. They say that regardless of the trial’s outcome, the law surrounding adoptions needs tightening to protect women.

“The absence of any legal amendments means the mechanisms that allowed illegal adoptions to occur continue to operate,” warned Mushegh Hovsepyan, the president of Disability Rights Agenda NGO and a former official in the Armenian Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. “This leaves the door open for further similar abuses.”

The lack of action is particularly worrying since the Prosecutor General’s Office announced in March that it believes at least 437 other Armenian children have been sold for at least €25,000 each to both foreigners and ethnic Armenians living in foreign countries including Italy, the United States, France, Russia and Switzerland.

The state legislation regulating adoption has also not undergone any fundamental changes since 2016 – despite Armenia’s Ombudsman’s Office calling for the establishment of a centralised adoption service and “clear criterias for the selection of adoptive parents, based not only on their [wealth]”.

These recommendations reflect concerns raised in 2016 by the then special rapporteur of the United Nations, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, who is now the president of international not-for-profit Child Identity Protection.

Responding to our findings, de Boer-Buquicchio urged Armenia and Italy to follow their international commitments and “encompass robust mechanisms” to respond to allegations of any illicit adoption practices.

These include, she said, “full access to justice” and ensuring “that the best interests of children are the primary consideration in any future decisions”. She added: “In practice, this can result in the children’s return to the state of origin and that their identity be speedily re-established.”

Children’s advocates also say the state has not heeded previous warnings and has instead turned a blind eye to problems in a broken system. Hovsepyan described the regulation of adoptions of Armenian children as “generally inadequate”.

Anahit Khachatryan, the head of the Children’s Rights Protection Department in the Armenian Ombudsman's Office, added: “The state must guarantee that children adopted abroad enjoy protection and standards that are equivalent to those in the case of domestic adoption.”

With additional reporting by Tiziano Ferri and Tatevik Tshughuryan

Aliyev thanks Putin for efforts to normalize Baku-Yerevan relations

Russia – May 25 2023
Vladimir Putin is holding two separate meetings on Thursday with Aliyev and Pashinyan

MOSCOW, May 25. /TASS/. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev thanked his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for Moscow's efforts to normalize relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

"I would like to express my gratitude to the Russian side for its efforts to normalize relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. We highly appreciate these efforts," Aliyev said on Thursday at the opening of talks with Putin in Moscow.

Aliyev pointed out that the Russian president's participation in Thursday's planned trilateral meeting with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in Moscow shows that Russia attaches great importance to ensuring that Baku and Yerevan come to a peace agreement.

Putin is holding two separate meetings on Thursday with Aliyev and Pashinyan. The leaders will then hold trilateral talks, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier told reporters.

Ruben Vardanyan will join 6th IMCA as a Plenary speaker at Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora section
Armenia –

Ruben Vardanyan, a public figure, politician, former State Minister of the Republic of Artsakh will join 6th IMCA as a Plenary speaker at the Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora Cooperation section.

He is one of the founders of the Russian stock market; co-founder and partner of a number of global projects; a member of a number of large companies, educational institutions, professional and expert organizations, and management and advisory boards; and the recipient of local and international awards.

Among Ruben Vardanyan's most significant projects are the Troika Dialog investment company, SKOLKOVO business school, and the Phoenix Advisors and PhilinPhilgood companies in Russia. In Armenia, his notable projects include the UWC Dilijan International College, Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST), “Wings of Tatev” aerial tramway, "Matena" leadership school, Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, "Aurora for Artsakh" program to support residents of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the FUTURE ARMENIAN public initiative, and more.

For more than 30 years, Ruben and his family, together with partners from around the world, have invested over 1.5 billion dollars in key areas of human development: global education, health care, achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), solving humanitarian problems, heritage, and initiatives for the development of philanthropic traditions.

Armenia, Azerbaijan have reciprocally recognized the existence of enclaves




YEREVAN, MAY 24, ARMENPRESS.  Armenia and Azerbaijan have mutually recognized the existence of enclaves at the political level, but there is no final agreement on this issue at the legal level, ARMENPRESS reports, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said during parliament-Cabinet Q&A session in the National Assembly, referring to the topic of enclaves.

"The topic of enclaves has always existed at the political level and for a long time. For example, in the territory exchange documents of 1999, one of the articles is dedicated to the enclaves of Armenia and Azerbaijan. The issue has a legal and political side. At the political level, in Munich and Brussels, there was the conversation that we mutually recognized the existence of enclaves, that is, that there is Artsvashen, which belonged and belongs to the Republic of Armenia, and enclaves, which are in the territory of Armenia, which belonged to Azerbaijan. And, yes, we recognize that at the political level, and I have said that at the legal level we have additional questions related to at least some of them," said the Prime Minister.

Pashinyan noted that there is no final agreement on the issue of enclaves, whether they will be exchanged or another solution will be given?

"Nothing is decided here, there are discussions and, in my opinion, there is a lot of room for flexibility here.

If there is a clear agreement with Azerbaijan, I will come and say that we have clearly agreed on the solution of the issue and it is like this. There is no final agreement on that topic, there are thoughts and different ideas, none of which are rejected," concluded Pashinyan.

What the Turkish election means for Armenia-Turkey relations

London School of Economics, UK

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu will challenge incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the second round of the Turkish presidential election on 28 May. Armine Avetisyan and Kübra Zeynep Sarıaslan examine what the outcome of the vote could mean for Armenia-Turkey relations.

The parliamentary election held in Turkey on 14 May produced an overwhelming majority for nationalist parties in the country’s parliament. Nevertheless, the presidential election, which was held simultaneously, will now go to a second round of voting. Although Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main Turkish opposition, finished behind incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the first round, he remains in the race for the presidency.

Kılıçdaroğlu had promised to pursue a radical break from Erdoğan’s approach in a variety of policy areas, including foreign policy. His inclusive rhetoric and commitment to reconciling with marginalised groups had raised hopes among those who support closer relations between Turkey and Armenia.

The traumatic history of antagonism between the two countries and the Armenian genocide dispute continue to complicate Armenia-Turkey relations. However, while the Turkish and Armenian governments have failed to establish diplomatic ties, civil society actors on both sides have done a great deal of work to foster closer cooperation across the realms of arts and culture, the media, education, business, and tourism, among others.

But these initiatives have suffered greatly from the unpredictable and unstable foreign policies of Erdoğan’s governments over the last two decades, underlined by Turkey’s military support for Azerbaijan during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020. They have also been undermined by the ultranationalist tone of one of Erdoğan’s key allies, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

Turkey was one of the first nations to recognise the independent Republic of Armenia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Yet the mutual trust and commitment to dialogue needed to restore full diplomatic relations between the two countries has never materialised. Initial normalisation efforts were derailed by the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, which took place between 1992 and 1994. The so-called Zurich Protocols, which were signed by Armenia and Turkey in 2009 as a step toward normalising relations, failed to be ratified in the two parliaments, under pressure from Azerbaijan.

In 2020, after the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia signed a statement which also mentioned opening all trade routes in the region. In 2021, Turkey and Armenia started a new normalisation process by appointing diplomatic representatives. As part of this process, it was announced in 2022 that the land border between Turkey and Armenia would be opened to third-country nationals, however no concrete steps have yet been taken to open the border.

One week before the 2023 Turkish elections, Kılıçdaroğlu announced proposals for a new Silk Road project connecting Europe to China without mentioning Azerbaijan, which signalled distance from the long-lasting ‘one nation two states’ motto that encapsulates the close relationship between Ankara and Baku.

Although Kılıçdaroğlu and his team have not said anything about favouring relations with Armenia over Azerbaijan, and made no comment over the recent closure of Turkish air space for Armenian flights, they have at least signalled they would not establish the same kind of relationship with Azerbaijan’s President, Ilham Aliyev, that Erdoğan has had.

It is not clear to what extent this approach to Aliyev, a popular figure among Turkish nationalists, influenced the results of the first round of the presidential election, but the unexpectedly high votes for the third candidate with Azerbaijani descent, Sinan Oğan, along with the weight of representatives from nationalist political parties in parliament perhaps give some indication.

Kılıçdaroğlu had said he will work to improve Turkey’s poor human rights record and release political prisoners. Turkey’s civil society has suffered through difficult times ever since the failed coup attempt in 2016 and the two-year period of emergency that followed. The subsequent government crackdown on civil society organisations in Turkey, according to both Turkish and Armenian civil society actors, set back some of the progress made in the preceding decades.

This is underlined by the arrest of Osman Kavala in October 2017 during the state of emergency. Kavala was a key figure in programmes promoting civil dialogue and normalisation with Armenia. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2022 for allegedly organising the 2013 Gezi Park protests and the failed coup attempt. Six activists, including Çiğdem Mater, another key figure in the Armenia-Turkey dialogue working for the NGO Anadolu Kültür, were sentenced to 18 years in prison for participating in the Gezi Park protests and supporting Kavala.

Human rights defenders have argued that the prosecution of Kavala and his associates is based on insufficient evidence, and in 2019 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had violated Kavala’s fundamental rights and demanded his immediate release. Referring to this decision, Kılıçdaroğlu indicated that “no one should be imprisoned for their thoughts.” The outcome of the second round of the election could therefore have major significance for wider efforts to establish cooperation with Armenia.

The opposition in Turkey was confident that it could revive EU accession negotiations very quickly if it won the elections. The EU has played and is expected to play an important role in the reconciliation efforts between Armenia and Turkey. EU financial support for civil society has been particularly important in ensuring the sustainability of activities in this field during turbulent times.

However, there is a chronological mismatch in Turkey and Armenia’s engagement with Europe. On the one hand, Armenia, as a former Soviet state that cares about maintaining close ties with Russia, aspires to adopt western values, while Turkey, as a NATO member, has almost entirely abandoned the goal of joining the EU, especially in the last few years under Erdoğan. In addition, civil society has secured more freedom in Armenia since the Velvet Revolution in 2018, though it remains a target for the political opposition. In contrast, Erdoğan’s governments have remained distant from civil society and in some cases even hostile towards it.

Erdoğan currently holds the upper hand ahead of the second round of the presidential election, but supporters of Kılıçdaroğlu concerned with Turkey’s relations with Armenia remain hopeful about his prospects and about the potential to develop future cooperation with Armenia on the basis of shared democratic values. In this scenario, Turkey would undoubtedly gain more credibility in efforts to reach stability in Armenia’s relations with Azerbaijan.

Note: This article gives the views of the authors, not the position of EUROPP – European Politics and Policy or the London School of Economics. Featured image credit: © 2023 The Office to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia (CC BY-ND 3.0)

Armine Avetisyan is a peacebuilding practitioner and researcher. She holds a dual MA in Conflict Studies from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University (USA) and Cultural Management from Istanbul Bilgi University (Turkey).

Kübra Zeynep Sarıaslan is a Visiting Fellow at LSE’s Chair of Contemporary Turkish Studies and at the University of Cambridge. She holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Zurich (Switzerland).

Belgium to open an embassy in Armenia




YEREVAN, MAY 13, ARMENPRESS. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Hadja Lahbib, announced the opening of the Belgian embassy in Armenia. Lahbib also stated that Belgium wants to contribute to the EU observation mission in Armenia.

ARMENPRESS reports, Lahbib announced, “In the Caucasus, Belgium will also be present in Armenia. The country was covered until now by our Embassy in Moscow, and geopolitical developments require monitoring on the ground. Belgium's increased diplomatic attention in a country and a region which has a strong Russian influence is part of the European neighborhood policy with regard to the countries to the east of the EU and bears witness to the concern for preserving security and stability in this strategically important region.

Belgium fully supports European efforts that can contribute to the peace process between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in particular through an EU civilian observation mission in Armenia, to which Belgium wishes to contribute. Our country also attaches great importance to stability and good neighborliness in the South Caucasus. The opening of a diplomatic mission in Yerevan, in addition to our already existing embassy in Baku (Azerbaijan), stems from this vision”.

There are many children in Nagorno-Karabakh who have problems with access to food – Anna Hakobyan




YEREVAN, MAY 10, ARMENPRESS. Anna Hakobyan, the wife of the Prime Minister of Armenia, is on a two-day visit to the Republic of Croatia. She is participating in the "Summit of Spouses of European Leaders".

On May 9, at the invitation of Croatian President Zoran Milanović, Anna Hakobyan participated in the welcoming dinner served in honor of the high-ranking guests who arrived in the country, ARMENPRESS was informed from the Office of Anna Hakobyan.

First ladies and gentlemen from around 10 countries attended the dinner. Together with Anna Hakobyan, Queen Letizia of Spain, Mrs. Linda Rama, wife of the Prime Minister of Albania, Mrs. Aigul Zhaparova, wife of the President of Kyrgyzstan, First Lady of Latvia Andra Levite, Mrs. Lydia Abela, wife of the Prime Minister of Malta, Husband of the President of Hungary István Veres, Husband of the President of Slovenia Aleš Musar, First Lady of Serbia Tamara Đukanović, representatives of the diplomatic corps, the World Health Organization and other senior officials attended the dinner.

During the dinner, Prime Minister's wife Anna Hakobyan had a series of short conversations with those present.

On the second day of her visit to the Republic of Croatia, Prime Minister's wife Anna Hakobyan participated in the "Summit of Spouses of European Leaders".

After the portrait ceremony, the summit started with the participation of Armenian Prime Minister’s wife Anna Hakobyan, Croatia's First Lady Sanja Milanović, Queen Letizia of Spain and spouses of more than a dozen countries' leaders.

One of the topics of discussion was the issue of preventing and combating childhood obesity, during which first ladies of different countries made statements, presenting their country's experience, innovative solutions and established priorities.

The participants of the discussion noted that every third school-aged child in the European region has a tendency to obesity. They noted that obesity, especially at an early age, is a challenge for all countries, and the fight against it is possible only with joint efforts.

During the discussion, Armenian Prime Minister’s wife Anna Hakobyan gave a brief speech.

"I must honestly say that this topic was not in the center of my attention, perhaps for objective reasons, due to such important issues as the war, the blockade of the Lachin Corridor and the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. There are many children in Nagorno-Karabakh who have problems with access to food. But I attach great importance to this topic, thank you for the invitation to be here. The government of the Republic of Armenia is making efforts to prevent the problems discussed here, from now on the issue will be in the center of my attention as well. We have to fight against the problem in the early stage, so that it doesn't get more complicated later," said Mrs. Hakobyan.

At the end of the discussion, the Zagreb Declaration was adopted, according to which the representatives of the countries participating in the summit declare and accept the need for joint work in the fight against childhood obesity, undertake to provide the necessary environment for healthy food and physical activity for children.

A cultural visit to the Croatian National Theater, as well as vocal and ballet performances, were also organized for the first ladies who arrived in Zagreb.