Warning on genocide threat against Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh must become dire across the world with every day – PM




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESS. The illegal blockade of Lachin corridor led to a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno Karabakh, and the humanitarian crisis deteriorated further as a result of the energy blockade, and simultaneously an environmental crisis is happening, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan said.

“Yesterday, on the 66th day of the illegal blockade of Lachin corridor, Azerbaijan restored natural gas supply to Nagorno Karabakh, only to cut it off again two hours later. The last time Azerbaijan shut down the natural gas supply pipeline of Nagorno Karabakh was on February 7, which it had opened on January 29. Electrical energy supply into Nagorno Karabakh is blocked since January 9, 2023. The illegal blockade of Lachin corridor led to a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno Karabakh, and the humanitarian crisis deteriorated further as a result of the energy blockade, and simultaneously an environmental crisis is happening because in order to heat their apartments the population of Nagorno Karabakh is forced to use wood, for which forests are logged. This is an undisputed proof exposing the made up environmental motives of the blockade of Lachin corridor, and that the actions of Azerbaijan have one goal – to complete their policy of subjecting the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh to ethnic cleansing,” PM Pashinyan said. He added that if so far the international community was treating this claim by Armenia skeptically, then now this is becoming more and more obvious.

PM Pashinyan noted that it is no coincidence that in the past three months the Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention issued three statements on the illegal blockade of Lachin corridor and the rhetoric of the Azerbaijani leadership.

“In one of these statements, published on January 18, 2023, the Lemkin Institute asked world leaders to treat the threat of genocide facing the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh seriously. This warning must become dire with every day across the world and the efforts made in this direction must be continual,” the PM concluded.

Armenia conveys proposals around peace treaty to Azerbaijan




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESS. Armenia sent its proposals around a peace treaty to Azerbaijan on February 15, the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said.

He said that the proposals were also sent to the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairing countries.

“Yesterday the Republic of Armenia completed the work of yet another stage of the draft treaty on peace and establishment of relations with Azerbaijan, and our proposals are conveyed to the Azerbaijani side. By saying proposals, we must consider the draft of the full document with our proposals. We conveyed the document to the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairing countries as well,” PM Pashinyan said.

He added that the Armenian side is working on the draft treaty with the following logic: to get a document which it is ready to sign at any moment. Pashinyan added that understandably the document must be acceptable for Azerbaijan as well.

“And we hope that it will be possible to develop the certain progress observed as a result of already three rounds of negotiations. Our vision is the following, the document must contain the kind of logic of agreements, the kind of a system of checks and balances that would rule out any scenario of disrupting lasting and sustainable peace. The meaning of this is that the signing of the document must not transform – as absurd as this may sound, such scenario could happen – into a war based already on a peace treaty, but on the contrary, it should truly mean lasting peace,” Pashinyan said.

Pashinyan again expressed his and the government’s commitment to quickly sign a peace treaty which will become a guarantee for lasting and sustainable peace. He said he is ready to bear that responsibility.

Armenia sent humanitarian aid worth over 157,000,000 drams to Syria and Turkey




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESS. The government allocated more than 157,000,000 drams from the reserve fund to the Ministry of Emergency Situations to compensate the expenditures of the humanitarian aid sent to the countries affected by the earthquake.

“The humanitarian cargo was sent twice by air to Syria and twice by land to Turkey,” Minister of Emergency Situations Armen Pambukhchyan said at the Cabinet meeting.

The rescuers who were sent to Syria have already returned, while those sent to Turkey are now on their way back.

Armenian Prime Minister to participate in Munich Security Conference 2023




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan will participate in the official opening ceremony of the Munich Security Conference, his office said Thursday.

PM Pashinyan and his wife Anna Hakobyan will travel to Munich, Germany on February 16-19.

As part of the Munich Security Conference, the Armenian Prime Minister will have a number of bilateral meetings with foreign colleagues.

A meeting between Anna Hakobyan and Silvana Koch-Mehrin, the President and Founder of Women Political Leaders (WPL) is also scheduled.

Armenian FM plans Syria visit to express support after earthquake




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESS. The Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan’s visit to Syria is being planned, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at the Cabinet meeting. He said the purpose of the visit is to express Armenia’s support following the earthquake.

Pashinyan said that Armenia was one of the first countries to send humanitarian aid to the quake-hit Syria.

“I have to say that I find our work in the direction of Syria to be highly important as well. You know that there were objective and subjective circumstances that were making humanitarian aid to Syria less accessible. I have to state that Armenia was one of the first countries that made a decision and sent humanitarian aid to Syria. We are planning the Foreign Minister’s visit to the Syrian Arab Republic. We will organize it soon if our colleagues in Syria won’t mind. I think that the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs must also definitely visit Syria to express our support,” the PM said.

The PM added that Armenia will maintain contact with the Syrian and Turkish governments with the purpose of supporting the quake-hit countries as much as it can.

PM Pashinyan describes Foreign Minister’s Turkey visit as “very important and meaningful”




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESS. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan’s visit to Turkey is very important and meaningful, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said.

“You know that yesterday the Foreign Minister visited Turkey, which I think is a very important and meaningful event,” PM Pashinyan said at the Cabinet meeting and asked the Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan to provide details.

FM Mirzoyan said the main topic of the visit and discussions was the earthquake.

“I have to state that the Turkish side, on the level of the central, local authorities and the population appreciated the service of our rescuers and the provision of humanitarian aid. This step gained rather positive reaction and gratitude. I also spoke to our rescuers, they told me how the populated treated them. I think this was an important humanitarian step. Certainly we discussed some issues concerning the bilateral relations, concrete agreements were reached, as my Turkish counterpart said in his statement for the press, I can also state that there is a decision to speed up this process of dialogue and the processes taking place with the goal of ultimately opening the borders. It was announced that we will carry out joint work in direction of restoring the Ani Bridge.

Essentially, we will try to complete by the beginning of the tourism season the process of opening the land border for citizens of third countries and diplomatic passport holders of our two countries,” FM Mirzoyan said.

PM Pashinyan in turn said that Armenia’s actions have first of all mostly a humanitarian motive.

“I have to emphasize that I find the criticism against us as totally unacceptable, because I can’t imagine any situation when someone can remain indifferent when millions of people need help on the other side of the door. That’s absolutely unacceptable under any grounds or reasons,” PM Pashinyan said.

He reminded that the government’s action plan emphasized the need to change the quality of Armenia’s relations in the region.

“I regret that such certain changes of atmosphere are happening in such conditions of a disaster, but perhaps objectively human tragedy makes people understand each other better, perhaps that’s the objective reality. I hope this can truly become a new starting point for establishing the Armenian-Turkish relations. We had prepared the blueprints for restoration of the Ani Bridge long ago, and this can truly become a meaningful step,” the Armenian PM said.

Ex-defense minister declared fugitive from justice




YEREVAN, FEBRUARY 16, ARMENPRESS. Former Minister of Defense Vigen Sargsyan is wanted by law enforcement agencies, the Prosecutor-General’s Office said.

Sargsyan, who was Defense Minister from 2016 to 2018, is suspected of violating the rules and regulations of the military housing program during his tenure and ordering respective officials to include 26 handpicked servicemembers, as well as three other individuals in the program who were otherwise either ineligible or behind the waiting list.

The Prosecutor-General’s office had earlier said that Sargsyan’s actions “caused significant damage to the rights and legal interests of persons, as well as the legal interests of the state, by negligently causing grave consequences.”

Five members of the Defense Ministry’s Central Housing Commission are also facing indictments in the case.

Sargsyan is charged with abuse of power. A court issued an arrest warrant for Sargsyan on February 10.

He denies wrongdoing.

Tahar Rahim to Play French Music Legend Charles Aznavour in Biopic ‘Monsieur Aznavour’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Feb 16 2023


Tahar Rahim, who earned BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for his starring roles in “A Prophet” and “The Mauritanian,” is set to play Charles Aznavour, the iconic French-Armenian singer, songwriter and actor who sold more than 180 million records around the world.

Titled “Monsieur Aznavour,” the biopic will be directed by singer-turned-filmmakers Mehdi Idir and Grand Corps Malade (“Patients”), and produced by Jean-Rachid Kallouche’s Kallouche Cinema and Mandarin & Compagnie, the banner behind Francois Ozon’s and Anne Fontaine’s films.

Kallouche, who teamed with Eric and Nicolas Altmayer at Mandarin on Grand Corps Malade and Idir’s previous films, is married to Katia Aznavour, the daughter of the late artist. Filming will kick off in the summer for an estimated delivery in 2024, to mark Aznavour’s centenary.

The movie will chart Aznavour’s rise to stardom in the 1950s and his friendships with many artists, including Edith Piaf, who took him with her on a tour of France and the U.S. Kallouche said Aznavour gave him his blessing to produce his biopic before passing in 2018. “He was impressed with ‘Patients,’ and when I told him I wanted to make a film about his life one day, he said ‘yes’ right away,” Kallouche told Variety, adding that it was Aznavour’s idea that his biopic should focus on the first part of his life, “from zero to fame,’ as the producer puts it.

Aznavour, whose parents came to France after fleeing the genocide in Armenia, started his career acting at the age of 9. But he gained recognition as a singer and songwriter much later, when he was in the 30s. He eventually became a global star whose songs have been covered by other artists, including Ray Charles with “For Mama,” Bob Dylan with “The Times We’ve Known,” Liza Minnelli with “What Makes a Man a Man,” as well as Elvis Costello with “She,” for the soundtrack of the Julia Roberts film “Notting Hill.” Aznavour sang duets with many singers, including Sinatra on “You Make Me Feel So Young.” Sometimes referred to as the “French Frank Sinatra,” Aznavour also appeared in more than 60 films. CNN named him Entertainer of the Century in 1998, and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017.

Kallouche said Rahim was the ideal actor to play the part of Aznavour, as they share many similarities, “the same sensibility, drive and passion for their work, as well as a malicious gaze.” They’ve also had to overcome adversity to achieve success. Rahim, who was born in France from immigrant parents like Aznavous, grew up in a large household in Northern France, broke through at the age of 28 with his performance in “A Prophet,” which won a prize at Cannes, an Oscar nomination and earned him a Cesar Award.

Rahim, who is one of France’s rare actors able to transform himself for roles, went on to become an international star with leading parts in “The Mauritanian” which earned a Golden Globe and BAFTA nomination, as well as “The Serpent,” which was also nominated for a Golden Globe. Rahim, whose career in the U.S. is taking off in a big way, recently wrapped the shoot of Sony’s superhero film “Madame Web” and will next be seen in “Extrapolations,” the series anthology created by Scott Z. Burns for Apple TV+ whose trailer is dropping today, as well as Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” which will come out in June. Like Aznavour, Rahim also leads a rich family life and shares three children with his wife, Leila Behkti, also an actor.

Grand Corps Malade and Idir’s previous two films “Patients” and “La Vie Scolaire” were B.O. hits in France and sold to major markets. Kallouche said the directors duo have been working tirelessly on the script for a year and a half.


Taleen Voskuni Chats Learning Armenian Proverbs For Sorry, Bro

Feb 16 2023

Sorry, Bro is a queer romcom by debut author Taleen Voskuni that should be the next contemporary classic. Following Armenian American woman Nar who rediscovers her roots and embraces who she really is, Sorry Bro gives a heartfelt exploration of identity struggles, complex relationships with family, and most of all, Armenian culture.

It was actually my spouse who came up with it! We were at dinner and I was explaining the plot of Sorry, Bro (which had only been outlined at that point) and as a joke he suggested it should be called, “Sorry, Bro”. Many people think the title refers to tech bros but that’s not the case. Those who know Armenians know that “bro” is very commonly used, even overused. It is a very Armenian word in English form, and I wanted the title to have Armenian-ness and humor in it, so
it just stuck. Part of me is still surprised I was never asked to change it!

I did learn about the proverbs. I wasn’t aware of most of the proverbs prior to writing Sorry, Bro, but purchased two books of Armenian proverbs with translations to include as epigraphs. They’re certainly an interesting look into what Armenian culture holds up as important, what morals and lessons we’ve wanted to pass down. Otherwise, there was not much research to be done because this all came from my lived experience and knowledge of having gone to Armenian school for a decade, plus studying Armenian language and history in college. There was a lot of learning in the years prior to writing the book!

Yes! First I wrote the whole draft, then I went through the two proverb books I purchased and leisurely read each one, highlighting the proverbs that I thought could fit themes of the book. Then I gathered all those highlights and started matching them to chapters. I had a lot of fun in this process and I’m glad it seems that the proverbs really stand out.

My favorite one is, “A wildflower on the mountaintop would not change places with a rose in the garden.” I love how it speaks to what is worth freedom. You could pretend to “have it all” as a rose, but be forever trapped, or be imperfect and free. Nareh learns throughout the book that she rather be a wildflower.

This is tricky, and I think it would have to depend entirely upon what the two cultures are, the historic power dynamics between them, and the type of joke.

It is tough. I think acknowledging how hard it is, that it can be scary, is important. You don’t have to be totally brave. I think depending on the family situation, it sometimes works to go a little at a time. Start with more trusted family members first, or put out feelers, and go from there. But again, every family and personal situation is different. Some people may want to simply dive in and that works for them.

Ah wonderful to hear it! Three excellent fiction books come to mind:
– Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian which jumps between a village in historic Turkey and an Armenian retirement home in LA decades later, and shows how the past can rewrite the future.
– The Gimmicks by Chris McCormick, which follows two Armenian cousins through Soviet Armenia, Europe, and America, where one cousin enters the world of American WWF wrestling while the other joins an Armenian extremist organization.
– The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian, in which an Armenian-American woman attempts to uncover her family’s history, where her American missionary grandmother and Armenian genocide survivor grandfather met in post-war Syria.


Armenia — Russia’s Disgruntled Ally

Feb 15 2023
Emil Avdaliani
Russia’s ambivalence could cost it dear as relations stagnate.

As the blockade of the truncated Nagorno-Karabakh region by Azerbaijani nationalists continues, Armenia is growing impatient with Russia’s seeming inactivity.

Food, fuel, and medicines for the large Armenian community in the area are running low, while images have been emerging of Russian troops, deployed as peacekeepers, standing yards from the blockades but taking no action. The mood is fast souring, making the current crisis in Armenia-Russia relations the worst in recent decades.

Allied from the 1990s, right after the collapse of the Soviet Union, relations between Russia and Armenia have entered a turbulent period. Reasons vary from immediate issues to deeper, geopolitical differences, yet one inescapable conclusion is that Russia is no longer able to provide for its security dependencies and that its influence in the South Caucasus is in decline.

The Kremlin has on numerous occasions turned down Armenia’s requests for help through the framework of the six-member Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Armenia but not Azerbaijan. The problem for Armenia is that wider strategic imperatives drive Russia to seek improved ties with Azerbaijan, which is a critical transit route for Russia’s ambitious projects to connect to Iran. Azerbaijan has also chosen its friends wisely — Turkey’s ally, which has, as a result of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, established itself as a major power in the South Caucasus. It is therefore sheltered from Russian adventurism.

To this changed geopolitical landscape should be added a recent spate of signals showing Armenia’s growing disillusionment about Russia. In January, the country’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan argued that “Russia’s military presence in Armenia not only does not guarantee Armenia’s security but, on the contrary, creates threats to Armenia’s security.” He also argued that the Russian peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh are “becoming silent witnesses” to the unfolding tragedy. Earlier Yerevan even canceled CSTO drills in Armenia, and Pashinyan refused to sign a joint declaration with CSTO member states in Yerevan, presumably for failing to address the country’s worsening geopolitical situation.

This has provided an opening for Iran. Politicians in Yerevan increasingly seek diversification of foreign affairs and military ties. Unhappy with Azerbaijan’s ambitions to attain greater regional influence and of attempts to coerce Armenia into allowing the operation of the so-called Zangezur corridor through the Syunik province (thus connecting the main Azeri lands with its Nakhchivan exclave), Iran sees a meeting of self-interest and opportunity. The opening in 2022 of the Iranian consulate in a strategically located south-eastern city of Kapan, which is located on the only major road between the two countries, indicated the Islamic Republic’s growing displeasure with the changed balance of power in the South Caucasus – especially growing Turkish influence.

Armenia has meanwhile been trying to patch up things with Turkey. In February, Armenian rescuers were sent to Turkey to help Ankara battle the devastating effects of the recent earthquake. This follows continuous hints and practical moves by both sides signaling that a long-closed border could soon open and bilateral trade grow, something underlined on February 15 when the two foreign ministers met in Ankara.

Armenia is also developing ties with the European Union (EU) which announced on January 23 it would be deploying a mission of some 100 observers to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. The mission would in itself be a significant upgrade from a much weaker, 40-member mission sent to Armenia following a significant escalation in September 2022 when Azerbaijan bombed several cities deep in Armenia, and far from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia is also working on diversifying military contacts. Almost entirely dependent on the Kremlin for its security, it has apparently struggled to import modern Russian weaponry. Pashinyan said in September that Armenia lacked arms and that the country’s allies had failed time and again to supply ordered weaponry. This pushes Armenia to seek alternatives; several military contracts signed with India underline the trend.

Tensions in Armenia-Russia relations will likely continue to grow and there are indications that there is a bigger malaise hampering Russia’s influence — the latter’s war against Ukraine. The aggression reverberates throughout the South Caucasus, where countries constantly test Russian weakness. Armenia is no exception. A preoccupied Kremlin provides Armenia with room for maneuver, which in other times would have been unthinkable. As the war in Ukraine will likely continue for a long time, so will Armenia’s willingness to question the foundation of its alliance with a weakened Russia.

Those weaknesses have become palpable in the way Moscow-led multilateral groupings have operated since the war in Ukraine began. The first is CSTO. Although many ordinary Armenians see the organization’s passivity as a deliberate Russian instrument of sabotage, there are indications that the problem with the grouping might be much more profound. CSTO’s feeble response to fighting on the Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan border in September 2022 was much like its inactivity on the South Caucasus front. Moreover, since the all-out war in Ukraine began, CSTO member states have been passive, bordering on hostile, to the Kremlin’s campaign. This begs the question of CSTO’s purpose if it won’t help the smaller members and the smaller members won’t help Russia.

It must be acknowledged that it would be a long and difficult process for Armenia to free itself from Russian influence. The country’s economic and security ties are linked to its giant neighbor to the north, whether it likes that or not. A near-70% growth in bilateral trade was registered in 2022.

And while Russia is distracted, it is not asleep. It will try to regain momentum. For instance, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov argued on February 9 that Moscow is working on a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

Nevertheless, a trend is undeniable. A multipolar era has begun in the South Caucasus where growing competition from other actors limits Russia’s old claim to be the dominant power in the region. When the EU unveiled details of its new mission to Armenia, the Kremlin was reduced to blustering that the bloc was stirring up geopolitical confrontation in the region. It was a far cry from the old days.

Emil Avdaliani is a professor at European University and the Director of Middle East Studies at the Georgian think-tank, Geocase.

Europe’s Edge is CEPA’s online journal covering critical topics on the foreign policy docket across Europe and North America. All opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or views of the institutions they represent or the Center for European Policy Analysis.