AW: Goverou Bardez: Saving the Oldest Armenian Diaspora in the World

Armenian community gathered outside the entrance of the Patriarchate (Photo: Hagop Djernazian)

On May 10, the Holy Synod of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem convened and unanimously declared Fr. Baret Yeretzian defrocked. The former real estate director of the Patriarchate was accused for his alleged role in leasing Goverou Bardez (The Garden of Cows) for a duration of 99 years to Jewish Australian businessman Danny Rubinstein. A few weeks later, he was decreed to vacate his residence within the Armenian Convent.

Upon hearing this news, a large swath of the Armenian community of Jerusalem gathered outside his home, demanding answers while shouting “TavajanTavajan!” Being a cynic, I didn’t think this would amount to anything of value, but upon arriving on the scene, I was happily proven wrong. There were no Tashnags, Ramgavars, Homenetmenagans, Hoyetchmenagans, children, men or women —  only the people, united in their clamor, for a change, with a protest that lasted for hours until nightfall, emboldened by patriotic chants. 

Armenian community outside Khatchig Yeretzian’s residence (Photo: Hagop Djernazian)

At this point, the Israeli police and their enforcing division, the magavniks as we call them, entered the Armenian Convent, allegedly at the behest of the disgraced priest, in order to escort him out safely to his taxi. The crowd had increased in size, and as he exited his residence, mayhem ensued — shrieks of outrage, spitting, slapping, punching and a tussle with the Israeli forces in an attempt to grab hold of the former priest, now merely Khatchig Yeretzian. I don’t condone this kind behavior, especially toward a man who had been stripped of his power, excommunicated, and at his weakest point. It was easy, far too easy. But, the people needed answers. The people deserved answers, and the Patriarchate for the past three years had not been transparent about this issue. Yeretzian seemed like a sacrificial lamb at the mercy of a justified frenzy. 

There was a need for accountability, and this wasn’t enough. After all, only the Patriarch’s  signature alone holds any legal value as far as the state of Israel is concerned. If His Beatitude Archbishop Nourhan Manougian was deceived, it only highlighted his incompetence; if he had knowingly signed the lease, he was guilty of betraying the Armenian people. Only allegations for  now, but irrespective of both possibilities, our backbone in the Holy Land had been shattered. A few members from our community, galvanized by the fervor of the crowd, organized a protest the following week which was to take place in the Medz Pag [the main courtyard]. And again, the cynic in me, cultivated by decades of communal complacency, said no, meguh chi kar (no one will come). And again, proudly so, I was humbled. Community leaders across the political divide gave speeches which stressed the importance of this patch of land that had been bought, bit by bit, by hokevoragans and ashkharagans since the 14th century, eventually developing into a source of sustenance and  sanctuary by the St. James Brotherhood: livestock and dairy produce in abundance, a pond for the laundering of clothes, and if need be, given our historical predicament to displacement, a place for refugees from every corner of our fractured diaspora. The invigorated youth then proceeded to engage in folkloric dance, most notably the Yarkhushta, a battle dance dating back to the Middle Ages, referenced in the works of Movses Khorenatsi. 

Armenian refugees camping in the Goveroun Bardez following the 1927 earthquake (Photo provided by Eli Kahvedjian)

The partially satiated ensemble, led by activists Hagop Djernazian and Setrag Balian, then marched toward the entrance of the Armenian Patriarchate, adjacent to St. James Church. With respect to its sanctity and holiness, the megaphone was eventually put aside following the plight of the people. In unison, the event culminated with a prayer — Der Voghormia  — imbued, as it always has been, in pain and in memory of those who had sacrificed their lives fighting for our lands. 

Setrag Balian speaking at a recent protest against the land sale

This effort, this naturally knit grassroots activism was not to be equated with the new age astro-turfed mutation that exists only in the hollowness of so-called online or international communities (the 120,000 Armenians for over 160 days in Artsakh can attest to that futility). No. This was born out of pure commonality. The Saghimahays knew one another, not virtually. We knew our walls. We knew our home. Blindfold any one of us, place us at the entrance of the convent, in front of the coarsely asphalted gate — our Vunkin Toor — and watch as our fingertips trace the rugged walls of the hallway leading to the Medz Pag, as the cobblestones beneath our feet move us toward the pricking, yet holy walls of St. James Church, before turning us toward the stairs leading to the Bezdig Pag, all the way up the labyrinth-like alleys which divide the pathways to the different households of the different families that have been for more than a century raising the next generation of Armenians within the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem: the Kahkedjians, Kahvedjians, Manougians, Kasparians, Panossians, Toumayans, Hindoyans, Djernazians, Alemians, Nassarians, Kalaydjians, Kopoushians, Kassabians, Deldelians, Krikorians, Bedrossians, Nakashians, Hagopians, Gejekoushians, Dikatanians, Yezegelians, Karagozians, Baghamians, Antreassians, Nalbandians, Lepedjians, Koutoujians, Melidossians, Tateosians, Sandrounis, Karakashians, Balians, Der Mateossians, Odabashians, Sahagians, Torossians, Baghdassarians, Dikbikians, Jansezians, Boyadjians, Avedissians, Avakians, Shahinians, Bakerdjians, Marshalians and more. 

We knew one another. We knew our walls. We knew our home. 

This movement, this uproar, wasn’t an attack on the Patriarchate, for by that reasoning, the  equally concerned 17 members of the St. James Brotherhood who condemned the leasing of the Goverou Bardez on the 15th of November 2021, also attacked the Patriarchate, and that is  simply not the case. It was a desperate plea for communication in lieu of an indifference, a  societal chasm that had plagued our community for far too long. We were all in the same  proverbial boat, in harm’s way, yet forsaken to anonymity without a voice.

 Following the second protest which took place a few days ago, in an unprecedented collaboration  which hadn’t occurred in over half a century, a joint statement was released by three clubs —  Homenetmen, Hoyetchmen, Pari Siradz:

In the past several weeks, many peaceful protests have been held by the Armenian community of Jerusalem against the fraudulent leasing of Armenian real estate properties, in particular ‘Cows’ Garden’ (Goveroun Bardez). It had become public knowledge that the said real estate had been covertly given away in an illegal 99-year lease to the XANA GARDES organization.

The impact of the illegal lease on the Armenian Quarter would be immeasurably detrimental to the presence and the national ethos of the Armenian presence in the Holy Land. The Armenian community utterly rejects the illegal 99-year lease of the historical “Cows’ Garden” and its environs. The illegal lease poses a great threat to the ubiquitous mosaic of the Holy City.

Consequently, we urge the Patriarch to revoke the contract and rescind all other promised contractual deals regarding the Cows’ Garden and the Armenian properties in general because the Armenian Quarter is the natural link to other Quarters in Jerusalem. The Armenian community is ready to submit any assistance to the Patriarch to revoke the contract.

The Armenian Community at large expresses and acknowledges with gratitude the efforts exerted by His Majesty King Abdullah the Second of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and His Excellency the President of Palestine, Dr. Mahmoud Abbas, who reaffirmed their commitments to the integrity of the Armenian Quarter, as well as maintaining the Armenian and Christian presence in Jerusalem.

We also call upon the relevant stakeholders and in particular, the Republic of Armenia and the Catholicos of all Armenians, Karekin II and to the Armenian communities worldwide to reach out to help and support the struggle of the Armenian Community in Jerusalem for transparency and justice.

We, Armenians, must unite and fight to protect our presence in the Holy Land which goes back to the 4th century C.E. As a united community, we demand answers and transparency of all illegal contracts in order to revoke them, and to protect Armenian properties against all attempts of illegal sales. This will create an enhanced environment for Jerusalem Armenians to flourish, prosper and develop against all attempts of illegal seizure of Armenian properties. Furthermore, it is imperative to note that the Holy Synod and General Assembly of the St. James Brotherhood never ratified this lease.

Many supportive statements have been issued by Jerusalem heads of Churches stressing the fact that the very presence of Christianity in the Holy City is being targeted and jeopardized by extremists. Finally, the contract isn’t just a real estate matter: it is politics at the highest level. The agreement makes a mockery of international law because it violates relevant covenants and decisions, which aim to preserve the status quo, governing Jerusalem. This international covenant protects the rights of the Armenian Church and Community. The main questions to be asked of Patriarch Manougian are these: why was the land leased and to whom?

Finally, the illegal sale/lease contract should be revoked and presented to the Armenian public.  

On behalf of the Armenian clubs in Jerusalem,

Paresiradz (JABU)

The ever-present lackluster mantra of Khalas tskeh inch bidnes, yeghadzeh yeghav within our Saghimahay consciousness, to the delight of the sycophants who sought favoritism from the Patriarchate, had finally succumbed to the ire of a deep-rooted transnational beckoning. 

However, the issue was far from over. The central tenet remained. “Why was the land leased and to whom?”

In his article, “The Risk of Leasing out Armenian Patriarchate land in Jerusalem,” Professor Z.S. Andrew Demirdjian stated, “The risk of losing this property through eminent domain is real. When a private piece of real estate has present or future benefit for the society, there is a real risk to lose it. The government steps in to buy it in the name of public good by invoking the law known as Eminent Domain.” 

He continues: “In the Israeli case, Armenians will be one social group vs. Jewish group. The Superior Court would have the tendency to favor the latter over the former. The whole intention of Israel is to convert the country into a purely Jewish state regardless how long a minority has been living there. Armenians are already considered as second-class citizens. The prospects of  Armenians in Israel seem dim, but we need to continue with our millennia-old tradition of having a piece of the Holy Land as the first nation in the world to have accepted Christianity as its state  religion.” 

It is important to note that today, in Jerusalem, and especially in the Old City, due to scarcity of public spaces, parking lots essentially are gold. In March 2021, the opening of the parking in the  Goverou Bardez, following a 10-year lease agreement with the Jerusalem Municipality, was held with the attendance of Mayor Moshe Lion, with a few dozen Israeli flags covering the entire area, along with a meager Armenian flag, akin to a vassal state bowing down to its new occupiers. Mr. Lion was all smiles next to Fr. Yeretzian. Tell me, dear reader. When was the last time you saw a parking lot opening with flags flanking state dignitaries? Make no mistake, this is no ordinary  parking lot. It is a plot of land on Mount Zion, a few hundred meters away from the Wailing Wall. Its  significance, if it was forgotten to us, was never in doubt to the state of Israel.

In a recent article published by the Jerusalem Post, Mr. Lion granted an interview to journalist Peggy Cidor, who asked the following question: “According to news published this week, a large plot of land in the Armenian Quarter was purchased by an organization representing Jews, which has caused great concern among the city’s Armenian community. What is your position on that?”

Mr. Lion replied, “That is a private transaction; I have nothing to say about it.” 

As the mayor of Jerusalem, of which Armenians are a historic part of its social fabric, pre-dating the state of Israel itself by at least 1,000 years; instead of reassuring us, instead of calming our fears, he opted to hide behind legal semantics. 

From a state like Israel that has, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), “accounted for 69 percent of Azerbaijan’s arms import,” which more likely than not aided in the extinguishing of 5,000 souls, mostly young boys, more accountability ought to be demanded.  

From a state like Israel, that has continuously denied the Armenian Genocide, in order to monopolize their suffering and maintain diplomatic ties with their Turkish and Azeri brothers in arms, at the expense of Armenian lives, nothing ought to be surprising anymore. 

The message is clear, from their side, not ours: Israel will never be a friend of Armenia, and by extension, of the Armenian Diaspora. 

I hope to God that Archbishop Manougian is doing everything in his power to prevent this cataclysm.

If we fail to void this deal, this encroachment warfare on our livelihood, on this plot of land of 11,500 meters squared so vital to our perpetuity, the next generation of Jerusalemite Armenians will be effectively murdered  — not by physical weapons, not by mutilation, not by deportation, not by rape, all of which we, by now, have taken an involuntary historical familiarity to. This time, it will be the genocide of our souls. That is, if we remain silent. 


Der Voghormia: An Armenian church hymn, “Lord, have mercy”
Tavajan: Armenian word for traitor
Homenetmen: Local Armenian club
Hoyetchmen: Local Armenian club
Pari Siradz: Local Armenian club
Ashkharagans: Armenian term used to describe civilians, general population
Hokevoragans: Armenian term used to describe members of the clergy
Saghimahays: Armenians of Jerusalem
Bezdig Pag: small courtyard
Medz Pag: main courtyard
Khalas tskeh inch bidnes, yeghadzeh yeghav: It’s over. Let it be. What can you do? Whatever happened, happened.
Vunkin Toor: The convent gate

Kegham Balian is the production and marketing manager at Balian – Armenian Ceramics of Jerusalem, more than a century old family-business. He also writes for This Week in Palestine and additionally translates Armenian literature into English, hoping to extract and display pertinent lores that seek to highlight the depth of our 5000 year old culture.

Armenia, China discuss possibility of launching direct flights




YEREVAN, MAY 24, ARMENPRESS. Armenia International Airports CEO Marcelo Wende and General Manager Sergey Avetisyan have met with China Southern Airlines representatives led by the airline’s Vice Chairman Gan Zhiang. 

Opportunities for launching direct flights from China to Armenia were discussed.

The Armenia International Airports executives expressed readiness to support the servicing of the flights.


1st Convention of the Future Armenian: Over 200 participants defined their vision of future and unity




YEREVAN, MAY 20, ARMENPRESS. The Future Armenian has recapped its 1st Convention which took place in Yerevan earlier in March.

Over 200 participants from around the world had participated in the Convention.

The Convention of the Future Armenian is based on the internationally recognized and widely used “citizens’ assembly” model of participatory democracy. 200 participants were selected from a pool of pre-registered citizens by a transparent lottery drawing with a representative sampling method to ensure the representation in the Convention of gender, age and educational groups in society, as well as the participants’ countries and places of residence.

On March 10-12, the participants discussed three of the 15 stated goals of the Future Armenian – "Historic Responsibility", "Armenia-Diaspora Unity" and "Growing Population". They then voted for proposed policies and priorities regarding the items.

Summarizing the 1st Convention, Noubar Afeyan, co-Founder of the Future Armenian initiative, highlighted the urgent need to discuss and picture the future – “which can belong to all, and which is worth investing and working for”, or else, he said, “we will stay in the present”. “More precisely, we will go back to the past [in that case]. While our past, with the exception of a few bright moments, isn’t the kind we’d want to go back to, I believe,” Afeyan said.

Future Armenian co-founder Ruben Vardanyan said that the issues related to Artsakh will greatly impact not only Armenia but the entire “Armenian world”.

“And we are sure that we must go through this path together because protecting Artsakh’s security and independence isn’t only an issue for the Artsakhians themselves,” Vardanyan said.

Future Armenian co-founder Richard Azarnia emphasized that implementing the 15 goals is the initiative’s mission.

“In my opinion what matters now is unity,” Azarnia said, adding that the ideas that were adopted during the convention must be followed because they are “collective ideas”. “Now we must walk together hand in hand. The goal of the Future Armenia is to make this path easier and faster.”


From March 10-12, the first pan-Armenian citizens’ Convention in Yerevan brought together Armenian representatives from all over the world in one hall. The 200 participants of the Convention were selected through a transparent lottery and representative sampling method from among thousands of pre-registered compatriots from the Republic of Armenia, Artsakh, and the Diaspora according to gender, age, education, and place of residence. Unfortunately, some of the selected participants did not have the opportunity to participate in-person due to the ongoing crisis in Artsakh.

Three of the 15 defined goals of The FUTURE ARMENIAN initiative were discussed during the Convention: “Historic Responsibility,” “Armenia-Diaspora Unity,” and “Growing Population.” More than 100 representatives from the Armenian expert community from various countries spent five months developing the scenarios and programs presented for discussion.

Numerous guests and representatives from partner organizations attended the opening ceremony of the Convention. Noubar Afeyan, co-Founder of the FUTURE ARMENIAN initiative, delivered the opening speech, while fellow co-Founder Ruben Vardanyan addressed the audience via video. Next, His Eminence Archbishop Nathan Hovhannisyan presented the Patriarchal message of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians.

Discussions on the first day were dedicated to the goal of “Historic Responsibility.” The head of the Expert Committee was Pontifical Legate of Western Europe and Representative of the Armenian Church to the Holy See Archbishop Khajag Barsamian. 

The second day‘s discussions were devoted to the goal of “Armenia-Diaspora Unity.” The head of the Expert Committee was public speaker and Editor-in-Chief of “Aravot” newspaper Aram Abrahamyan.

Discussions on the third day were dedicated to the goal of “Growing Population.” The head of the expert committee was Armine Hovannesian, founder of the “Orran” charitable non-governmental organization and executive director of the “Youth Achievements of Armenia” organization.

On the second day, the participants visited the Yerablur Military Pantheon to pay their respects to and honor the memory of the Armenians martyred for the motherland.

The Convention ended with the official closing ceremony, during which speeches were delivered by High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Zareh Sinanyan and co-Founders of the FUTURE ARMENIAN initiative Artur Alaverdyan and Richard Azarnia. The ceremony was concluded by Artak Apitonyan, executive director of the FUTURE ARMENIAN Development Foundation, who emphasized the importance of each compatriot’s active participation in future activities of the initiative.

Each day of the Convention closed with votes on priorities for policy proposals and initiatives. They were conducted by the Voting Committee, which was selected by the participants on the principle of self-nomination. You can check out the results of the voting at the following links:

First day 

Second day  

Third day  

Particularly noteworthy were the results of the votes regarding pan-Armenian responsibility toward Artsakh (Day 1) – (92,71% voted that Artsakh is an issue for all Armenians around the world), the main agenda for Armenia-Diaspora cooperation (Day 2), the policy for organizing immigration (Day 3), as well as prioritizing the various initiatives.

Throughout the three days of discussions, the Convention participants came up with over 2,000 recorded observations and concerns, proposed dozens of public initiatives and programs, and voted on priorities for their implementation.

Thus, The FUTURE ARMENIAN established a platform through which representatives of various groups of Armenians around the world studied, discussed, and selected scenarios and programs which passed expert evaluation, thereby defining their vision for the future through a united force.

U.S. welcomes continued discussions between Armenia and Azerbaijan ahead of Moscow foreign ministerial




YEREVAN, MAY 19, ARMENPRESS. The United States has welcomed the reports that Armenia and Azerbaijan are going to continue to engage in discussions and reiterated that peace is within reach and that direct dialogue is key to resolving issues.

“…we continue to provide full support and engagement of the United States as these two countries work to secure a durable and dignified peace. We welcome the reports that the parties are going to continue to engage in these discussions, and we reiterate that – our conviction that peace is within reach and that direct dialogue is key to resolving these issues. Our view is that direct talks between the parties are of utmost importance, and we’re glad to see them happen and take place. Whether they are taking place in Arlington, in Brussels, in Moscow, our support with this effort will continue to endure,” U.S. State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said at a press briefing when asked on the upcoming May 19 foreign ministerial talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Moscow.”

Patel declined to “prescribe or hypothesize or speculate” on the possible outcome of the talks. He again stressed that “peace between the countries is possible, and the U.S. continues to welcome and work towards a durable and dignified peace in this case.”

The State Department spokesperson added that the U.S. has found the Washington D.C. foreign ministerial talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan to be “constructive”.

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan is expected to meet his Azerbaijani counterpart on May 19 in Moscow in Russia-mediated trilateral talks.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Pashinyan is expected to meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on May 25 again in Moscow, under the mediation of President Vladimir Putin.

Nikol Pashinyan is wrong: Armenia would benefit from Russia’s defeat

A weakened post-Putin Russia would allow Armenia to ‘Armexit’ from the CSTO and EEU and expand economic and trade ties with the EU.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is a populist and is prone to taking contradictory stances.
Pashinyan recently warned Armenians that, “If Russia loses the war in Ukraine, I have no idea what will happen to Armenia.”

Pashinyan’s comment has placed Armenia together with China, Belarus, and Iran who have strategic reasons to fear a Russian military defeat in Ukraine. Together with five Central Asian dictators, Pashinyan attended the May 9 celebrations of the great patriotic war in Moscow.

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Armenia has nothing in common with these five dictatorships and three autocracies. China and Iran seek to prevent Russia’s military defeat because this would destroy their shared goal of replacing the alleged US-led unipolar with a multipolar world.

Belarus and Iran fear Russia’s military defeat because it could lead to regime change. Russia’s military defeat would also put paid to Iran’s dream of becoming a regional military power and nuclear weapons country.

Pashinyan is a long-time civil society activist in Armenia. His democratic politics are closer to European values than those found in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s totalitarian Russia. Five years ago, Pashinyan came to power with the support of young Armenians in a Velvet Revolution (MerzhirSerzhin) that removed a cabal of corrupt and autocratic leaders who had economically ruined the country.

Armenia at the time, which had been tightly integrated with Russia, was in danger of becoming an autocracy run by the warlords who had won the First Karabakh War in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Buried in Pashinyan’s comment are two important components of Armenian national identity.

The first is Armenians find it difficult to think outside historical stereotypes of Turkey and Azerbaijan as existential threats to their national security. The 1915 genocide of Armenians is ever present in Armenian identity even though Turkey has been a post-imperial country for the last century. Most Armenians tend to wrongly see Azerbaijanis as ‘Turks’ when they had a long history separate to the Ottoman empire and as part of the Soviet Union.

The second factor is the Armenian perception that its geographic location makes Russia its main protector. Armenia is a founding member of the CSTO (Collective Treaty Security Organisation), a Russian attempt at emulating the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact which during the Cold War opposed NATO.

Armenia hosts two Russian military bases and the FSB, Russia’s domestic security service which in the manner of its predecessor the KGB operates throughout the former USSR, operates Armenia’s borders.

In 2013, Armenia withdrew from signing an association agreement with the EU (European Union). Instead, Armenia joined Putin’s alternative, the EEU (Eurasian Economic Union).

Since 2014, Armenia has voted at the UN in support of Russia’s annexation of Crimea because it wrongly views this illegal military aggression as an example of ‘self-determination’ that could be also applied to Artsakh (the Armenian name for Karabakh).

At the same time, Armenia abstained in the October 22, 2022, UN vote on Russia’s annexation of four south-east Ukrainian regions. Only Belarus of the fifteen former Soviet republics, together with Syria, North Korea, and Nicaragua, supported Russia’s annexation.

Pashinyan’s fear of a Russian defeat is wrong because it would provide Armenia with the freedom to pursue a more independent foreign and security policy. A weakened post-Putin Russia would allow Armenia to ‘Armexit’ from the CSTO and EEU and expand economic and trade ties with the EU.

Nearly as many Armenians live and work in Russia as in Armenia. This would change if Armenia received, like Ukraine, a visa free regime with the EU allowing Armenians to live, work, and study within the Schengen Zone.

Reviving talks on an association agreement and DCFTA (Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement) with the EU, the world’s biggest customs union, would bring economic development and foreign investment to Armenia. The EEU will not as it is a weak, stagnant and corrupt actor in comparison to the EU.

Contrary to Pashinyan’s comment, Armenia has therefore everything to gain and nothing to lose from a Russian military defeat in Ukraine. Turkey and Azerbaijan are not planning to invade Armenia. Both countries support US and EU-brokered talks towards the signing of a peace treaty that recognises the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. Azerbaijan is willing to provide guarantees for Karabakh’s relatively small Armenian minority, estimated to be around 50,000.

After sixteen months of war, it is impossible to see a Russian military victory in Ukraine. The upcoming Ukrainian offensive will likely presage the beginning of Russian military defeat and possibly regime change in Russia.

Pashinyan should adopt a more strategic approach by grasping US and EU brokered talks to legally recognise its borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan and use the opportunity afforded by a Russian military defeat to return Armenia to the path of European integration that his discredited predecessor withdrew from.

In Armenia, the tower of the Haghpat monastery, included in the UNESCO list, collapsed.

The tower of the fortress wall of the 10th-century Haghpat monastery complex located in northern Armenia collapsed on Sunday afternoon, the rescue service of the country’s Interior Ministry reported.

According to the department, the incident was reported to the crisis management center of Lori region this morning. A fire brigade was dispatched to the scene.

“It turned out that 12 square meters of one of the towers of the fortress wall of the Haghpat monastery complex (165 kilometers from Yerevan) with a total area of 20 square meters had partially collapsed. There is a danger of collapse of the remaining part. There were no casualties,” the telegram channel of the service says.

According to the press service, the rescuers demarcated the territory. Located in the Lori region of Armenia, the Haghpat monastery complex was founded at the end of the 10th century. It was one of the spiritual and cultural centers of medieval Armenia. Included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

India, Iran, and Armenia: Trilateral Cooperation and Geopolitics of Trade Routes

May 7 2023

Recently, on 20 April, the first trilateral political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Republic of India were held. The meeting took place in the Armenian capital of Yerevan. The delegations were headed by Mnatsakan Safaryan, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia, Seyed Rasoul Mousavi, the Assistant of the Foreign Minister of Iran, Head of the Regional General Department of South Asia and J P Singh, the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs of India.

“During the meeting, the sides particularly discussed economic issues and regional communication channels and outlined the prospects of deepening cultural and people-to-people contacts as well as trilateral cooperation in various fields. The sides agreed to continue consultations in a trilateral format,” a statement by the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Economic issues and regional communication channels are key to this trilateral cooperation, which has been in the making for a while and is inevitable. The meeting also came soon after tensions erupted between Iran and Azerbaijan, Armenia’s arch-enemy when the latter arrested some men on charges of espionage for Iran.

India has been, in recent years, deepening its ties with Armenia, with which it already had ancient, civilizational ties. More recently, it has been supplying weapons to Armenia, as the latter found itself embroiled in military conflict with Azerbaijan over the contested territory of Nagorny-Karabakh, while Azerbaijan, backed by Turkey increased cooperation, including in the military sphere with Pakistan.

However, India’s cooperation with Iran and Armenia, both of whom share a common border, are important for its connectivity ambitions too, and much of the trilateral cooperation will undoubtedly be focused on that.

Since its victory over Armenia in the 2020 Karabakh war, Azerbaijan has been making, albeit indirectly, irredentist claims on lands that it believed historically belonged to it. Some of these are in Northern Iran, also known as Southern Azerbaijan. The war also resulted in some bordering areas of friendly Armenia now becoming part of Iran’s border with Azerbaijan. A year later, Baku conducted military drills on its territory together with Turkey and Pakistan. Iran is also wary of Israeli presence on Azerbaijan’s territory, though for India Israel is a close friend.

However, Azerbaijan’s pro-Pakistan position on Kashmir complements Turkey’s belligerence on Kashmir. For instance, last year on 27 October an event hosted by Pakistan’s embassy in Baku to commemorate “Kashmir Black Day”, was attended by members of Azerbaijan’s parliament as well as officials from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Both India and Iran are wary of Baku’s newfound belligerence.

However, more importantly, it is the politics of the international trade routes that have been a major driving force behind the trilateral alliance. A common threat for all three would be the Zangezur Corridor which Azerbaijan has been insisting on since the time it won the Second Karabakh war.

But what is the Zangezur Corridor?

The Zangezur Corridor is a land corridor that Azerbaijan envisages would connect it to the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan in western Armenia and onward to Turkey without Armenian border control over it. It cuts through Armenia’s southernmost province of Syuni which borders Iran’s Azeri province in the north. Armenians explain they are not against any land corridor as connectivity is critical for countries like it. However, since it runs through Armenian territory, it should be subject to Armenian control.

For both Azerbaijan and Turkey, this land corridor without Armenian control would open up routes to Central Asia, fan pan-Turkism, and would give Azerbaijan control over the borders with Iran which it can then cut off at will, cutting Iran completely off from northern route, rendering the 7,200-km long International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)  - a multimodal trade route which connects India to the Russian Federation through Iran – useless, or put it at the will of Azerbaijan-Turkey combine.

In 2021 in a joint press conference together with Turkish President Reccep Tayyip Erdogan Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said that "Both Turkey and Azerbaijan will take necessary steps for the realization of the Zangezur Corridor” which would "unite the entire Turkic world."

Most Armenians as well as Iran see the corridor as a joint Azerbaijan-Turkey project.

This is also why Iran is against the corridor. Since the 2020 Karabakh war, while Iran cheered for Azerbaijan, it has also been warning against any changes to Armenia’s international borders – effectively any change in Iran’s borders with Armenia, which gives it land access to Russia, the Black Sea and beyond through the territory of a friendly country. In a recent article the former Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Kharazi, now Director of Iran’s Strategic Council of Foreign Relations, made a stark warning against the Zangezur Corridor, in the model that Azerbaijan envisages, which Iran sees as a NATO-created Turan (pan-Turkic) corridor.

Reporting on the 20 April meeting the Iranian media also referred to trade routes and underscored Iran’s antipathy to the Zangezur Corridor.

For India, this is also bad tidings. In case Azerbaijan gets its way with the corridor, Indian access would be subject to its will, and it can cut off access anytime. It is a scenario all parties would like to preempt.

This is why perhaps both Iran and India have, for a while, been mulling having the International North South Transit Corridor run through Armenia and not through Azerbaijan, as earlier envisaged. In 2021, India invited Armenia too, along with its traditional partners, to the virtual meeting to mark Chabahar Day, even as it pitched for connecting the Chabahar port to Iran’s Bandar Abbas port which connects to the INSTC.

Soon after, the Indian Ambassador to Iran, Gaddam Dharmendra announced that India was planning to connect the Chabahar port, which India is investing in, on Iran’s eastern coast and the Indian Ocean with Eurasia and Helsinki through the INSTC which would run through the territory of Armenia.

Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization, Alireza Peymanpak, announced not long after: “Two alternative Iran-Eurasia transit routes will replace Azerbaijan’s route. First opens in a month via Armenia after [the] end of repair work, and the second via sea by purchasing and renting vessels.”

For all three countries, therefore, trilateral cooperation is imperative to keep communication and trade routes open. This would mean, first and foremost, to ensure Armenia’s territorial integrity. Azerbaijan, strategic thinkers converge, is acting not only in its own interest but largely also fulfilling the Turkish agenda. Turkey’s military inroads into South Asia are already substantial. With Azerbaijan is closely allied with both Pakistan and China, trilateral Indian, Iranian, and Armenian cooperation is inevitable. 

(Aditi Bhaduri is a journalist and political analyst. She tweets @aditijan. This is an opinion piece. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy makes surprise visit to Finland for Nordic summit



 15:18, 3 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 3, ARMENPRESS. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has arrived in Finland for a surprise visit, and talks with Nordic prime ministers. The Ukrainian leader will hold talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, and have bilateral meetings with prime ministers from other Nordic nations.

The visit is hosted by Finland's President Sauli Niinistö.

Talks will include "Ukraine's defence struggle," as well as Finnish support for Ukraine and bilateral relations, according to a statement from the president's office. 

President Niinistö will host a Nordic-Ukrainian Summit, which will be attended by Zelenskyy as well as Swedish PM Ulf Kristersson, Norway's PM Jonas Gahr Støre, Danish PM Mette Frederiksen and the prime minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

Zelenskyy will attend a working lunch with outgoing Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, and he'll also meet the incoming prime minister, Petteri Orpo who is currently holding talks on forming a new government after April's election, Euronews reported.

U.S. ‘disappointed’ over Turkey banning Armenian overflights



 11:52, 4 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 4, ARMENPRESS. The United States has noted with “disappointment” Turkey’s decision to ban Armenian airline overflight permissions, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said at a press briefing.

Patel said that ‘the U.S. strongly supports Armenia-Türkiye normalization, which we believe would be important for not just these two countries but helpful for stability across the region.’

“We note with disappointment Türkiye’s announcement that it would suspend Armenian airline overflight permissions. An agreement that had previously been reached between these two countries to resume air connections had been a very important confidence-building measure – not just between these two countries, but, again, for regional stability broadly. And it’s our sincere hope that Türkiye and Armenia can continue to rebuild economic ties and open transportation links as well,” he added.

Russian peacekeepers deliver humanitarian cargo to Stepanakert



 16:32, 1 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 1, ARMENPRESS. The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a daily bulletin on its peacekeeping operations in Nagorno Karabakh that no ceasefire violations were recorded in the last 24 hours.

Monitoring was conducted in 30 observation posts, with patrol being carried out in Martakert, Martuni and Shushi regions in three routes.

It added that humanitarian cargo has been delivered to Stepanakert on Russian peacekeeping contingent’s convoys.

“Engineering-sapper units of the Russian peacekeeping contingent continue mine clearing work in structures and territories. 0,1 hectares of land was cleared during the day,” the ministry added, noting that since November 23, 2020 the sappers cleared a total of 2533,6 ha of territory, 689,5km of roads, 1,940 buildings from landmines and shells, and a total of 26,791 explosive items were discovered and defused.

“Continuous partnership is maintained with the general staffs of the Armed Forces of Armenia and Armed Forces of Azerbaijan with the purpose of ensuring the security of the Russian peacekeepers and preventing possible incidents,” it added.