President Sarkissian meets with European Commissioner for Digital Single Market

President Sarkissian meets with European Commissioner for Digital Single Market

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19:40, 7 March, 2019

YEREVAN, MARCH 7, ARMENPRESS. President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian received on March 7 European Commissioner for Digital Single Market and Vice President of the European Commission Andrus Ansip.

As ARMENPRESS was informed from the press service of the Armenian President’s Office, during the meeting the interlocutors exchanged views on electronic management, development and implementation of digital agenda, digital public services and necessary regulations. They highlighted the measures aimed at the development of digital skills.  

President Sarkissian said that innovations and new technologies are priority for Armenia. “People in Armenia understand very well that the future is digital, moreover, innovative ideas in the digital market have more potential to be realized”.

Presenting the EU policy for establishing a single digital market, Andrus Ansip said that they expect deeper cooperation with Armenia in this sphere.

Edited and translated by Tigran Sirekanyan




Some high-level officials obtained lands at Meghri FTZ at ridiculously low prices – the lands will be refunded to the State

Some high-level officials obtained lands at Meghri FTZ at ridiculously low prices – the lands will be refunded to the State

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19:53, 7 March, 2019

YEREVAN, MARCH 7, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan referred to Meghri Free-trade-zone, noting that some unusual facts have been recorded in terms of obtaining lands near it.  

“We had preliminary information that some high level official, being informed in-advance that a free-trade-zone will be established there, obtained the surrounding lands at ridiculously low prices. And when I visited Meghri FTZ last year, I recorded that, in fact, there are no state-owned lands there”, ARMENPRESS reports the PM said, inquiring from Chief of Prime Minister's Staff  Eduard Aghajanyan about that case.

Aghjajanyan noted that a criminal case is initiated in the sidelines of that case. According to the Chief of Prime Minister's Staff , the police inform that the mentioned land is undoubtedly subject to be refunded to the state balance. “According to our colleagues, it will take 2-3 months”, he said.

Edited and translated by Tigran Sirekanyan




President Sarkissian suggests EBRD President to pay special attention to implementation of projects in Gyumri

President Sarkissian suggests EBRD President to pay special attention to implementation of projects in Gyumri

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20:25, 7 March, 2019

YEREVAN, MARCH 7, ARMENPRESS. President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian met with the delegation led by President of EBRD Suma Chakrabarti on March 7.

Sarkissian and Chakrabarti discussed the cooperation agenda.

As ARMNEPRESS was informed from the press service of the Armenian President’s Office, noting that the EBRD has quite a large presence in the Armenian economy, President Sarkissian highlighted the contribution of the bank to the development of public-private cooperation, as well as the development of SMEs.

Suma Chakrabarti emphasized that the EBRD is ready to continue supporting the Armenian economy through the implementation of various projects, and the new cooperation strategy is already in action.

President Sarkissian suggested to pay special attention to the implementation of projects in Gyumri.

Edited and translated by Tigran Sirekanyan




All diplomats have the opportunity to participate in economic revolution – Pashinyan attends reception on Day of Diplomat

All diplomats have the opportunity to participate in economic revolution – Pashinyan attends reception on Day of Diplomat

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21:21, 7 March, 2019

YEREVAN, MARCH 7, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan attended the reception dedicated to the Day of Diplomat at the National Gallery of Armenia.

Congratulating the diplomats on their holiday, Nikol Pashinyan said,

“Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly,

Dear Government Members,

Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Dear diplomats,

State officials,

Dear representatives of diplomatic corps accredited in Armenia,

I congratulate you on the Day of Diplomat. This is a really important day for our country. Let me record that our diplomatic system meets this day in totally different conditions and situation. Fortunately, today our diplomats throughout the world do not need to spend long days and time to give explanations in different countries about to what extent the elections were falsified , and to what extent the elections will not be falsified during the next elections, or how many steps these elections were a progress and how many steps they were a reverse, or who, whom and where shot dead and for what. I think this is an important change that reflects the nature of the non-violent, velvet and people’s revolution. And I hope that this change will not be taken as a reason for working less, but vice the versa, it will be an inspiration for working more, more encouraged, with greater enthusiasm, because today the Republkic of Armenia has something to present to the world and today different parts of the world have a greater willingness to listen to the Republic of Armenia”.

Pashinyan emphasized that the most important change that has occurred in Armenia and in all the government bodies, including among the diplomats, is that the entire Government, including the diplomats, do not serve the needs of a single person or even a government, but the people.

“All the diplomats who missed the chance to participate in the political revolution in Armenia, today have a good opportunity to participate in the economic revolution, becoming the activists of the economic revolution, Pashinyan said, adding that the diplomats should present throughout the world the changes taking place in Armenia.

PM Pashinyan also highlighted the activities of the diplomats in terms of Nagorno Karabakh. “I told you during our previous meeting that unfortunately during my international meetings in this period I came to the conclusion that the perceptions and understanding of the nature of Nagorno Karabakh issue has in many cases been distorted in the international arena”, the PM said, emphasizing the necessity of presenting the real image and nature of the conflict on international arenas.

“We have to also continue our policy aimed at the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. We clearly record that the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a key contribution to the global security and prevention of genocides and we view this issue from this nperspective”, Pashinyan said.

PM Pashinyan thanked all the diplomats for their service, particularly those working in unstable regions with security risks. “Particularly, our Consulate General in Aleppo deserves our deepest respect for its the uninterrupted work, despite the fact that the building was bombed. The same can be said about our Embassy in Baghdad”, PM Pashinyan said.

Addressing to FM Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Nikol Pashinyan said, “Mr. Mnatsakanyan, I wish you success, as it is usually said, in leading this difficult and complex staff. I also want to say words of appreciation to all the foreign minister of the 3rd Republic of Armenia for their efforts to accomplish the diplomatic system of Armenia”, Nikol Pashinyan concluded.

Edited and translated by Tigran Sirekanyan




Asbarez: AYF Internship in Artsakh Seeks Group Director

AYF Internship in Artsakh seeks group leader

Apply Now. Deadline is April 15

GLENDALE—The Armenian Youth Federation – Western United States (AYF-WUS) is looking for a Group Director for the AYF Internship in Artsakh summer 2019 program. Now in its second year, the AYF Internship in Artsakh will once again provide an opportunity for young Armenian students and professionals to gain valuable hands-on work experience through professional internships in Artsakh.

“Last summer I had the privilege of being the Group Director for the inaugural year of the AYF Internship in Artsakh,” said AYF member Emilia Der Sarkissian.

“As participants complete their six weeks of internship in the fields of their choice, the director organizes excursions, educational presentations, and serves as a leader during the duration of the program. The Group Director has the opportunity to shape the future of the program and help establish a deep-rooted connection between the participants and one of the most important regions of our homeland,” explained Der Sarkissian.

The Group Director is responsible for maintaining the health, safety, and well-being of the interns, as well as ensuring all participants fulfill their duties and responsibilities. He or she must maintain constant communication with the AYF Internship in Artsakh Central Council in Los Angeles, the AYF-WUS Central Executive, as well as assigned contacts in the regions they visit. The AYF will cover the director’s cost of airfare, housing, and other expenses.

The Group Director must speak fluent Armenian, be a strong and effective communicator, and be easily accessible via different technological platforms. Applicants are expected to have spent significant time in Armenia and must be comfortable leading a small group of college-aged students over the two-month duration of the program.

The summer 2019 program of the AYF Internship in Artsakh will tentatively run through early July to mid-August. The Group Director is expected to be present for the entirety of the program.

Click for more information about the qualifications and requirements of this position, as well as the application itself.

The deadline for applications is April 15 at 11:59 p.m. PST.

For more information, please email [email protected] or call 818-507-1933.

Founded in 1933 with organizational structures in over 17 regions around the world and a legacy of over eighty years of community involvement, the Armenian Youth Federation is the largest and most influential Armenian-American youth organization in the world, working to advance the social, political, educational, and cultural awareness of Armenian youth.

Asbarez: Reportedly Armenia Made ‘Political’ Deal for More Iranian Gas Imports

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan meets with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran on Feb. 27, 2019

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Armenia has reached a “political” agreement with neighboring Iran on importing larger amounts of Iranian natural gas, outgoing Energy Minister Garegin Baghramyan said on Thursday.

Baghramyan also told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that Armenian and Georgian officials are already negotiating on possible Iranian gas supplies to Georgia that would be carried out via Armenia.

The gas issue featured large during Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s official visit to Tehran last week. Speaking after talks with Pashinyan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his hydrocarbon-rich country is ready to sell more gas to Armenia and also use Armenian territory for gas exports to Georgia.

Pashinyan said that Yerevan is willing to boost imports of Iranian gas. He admitted, though, that the two sides have yet to agree on its price.

Armenia currently receives up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian gas each year under a swap scheme that also involves exports of Armenian electricity to the Islamic Republic. Its overall gas imports total roughly 2 billion cubic meters per annum and they mostly come from Russia. According to the current and former Armenian governments, Russian gas is cheaper for the South Caucasus state than Iranian.

In Baghramyan’s words, Rouhani and Pashinyan instructed relevant Iranian and Armenian bodies to look into ways of implementing their “political understandings” on the gas issue, and a commercial deal could take different forms.

“There could be an increase in [Iranian gas] volumes for the purpose of a transit to Georgia,” explained the minister. “If there is a mutually beneficial price offer, there could be an increase in gas volumes in the form of direct sales [to Armenia.]”

“Not only we are negotiating [with Georgia] but also Iranian companies have reached certain understandings with Georgian companies,” Baghramyan, adding that Armenia is ready to serve as a transit route for Iranian gas supplies to Georgia.

Baghramyan further insisted that Russia’s Gazprom gas giant cannot block or impede greater Iranian gas supplies to Armenia.

Gazprom not only meets the bulk of Armenia’s gas needs but also owns the country’s gas distribution network. The latter in turn controls the Armenian section of a pipeline delivering Iranian gas. The pipeline can pump at least 2 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Asbarez: Pallone’s New Bill Seeks to Break Down Barriers to U.S.-Artsakh Travel, Communication, and Cooperation

US Artsakh Travel and Communication.jpg: Pro-Artsakh advocates are encouraged to urge their U.S. legislators to cosponsor Rep. Pallone’s U.S.-Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution by visiting anca.org/USArtsakh

ANCA Backs Bipartisan Resolution Promoting Direct Dialogue, Strengthening Cease-Fire, and Returning Artsakh to the Peace Process

WASHINGTON—Congressional Armenian Caucus founding Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) was joined Thursday by a dozen of his House colleagues in introducing the U.S.-Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution, a bipartisan measure that aims to break down artificial barriers to unrestricted travel and open communication between the United States and Artsakh, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

Joining Rep. Pallone as original co-sponsors of the legislation are Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), Vice-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Representatives Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA).

“We thank Congressman Pallone and his House colleagues for their bipartisan leadership in support of a durable and democratic peace between the republics of Artsakh and Azerbaijan,” said ANCA Chairman Raffi Hamparian. “Outdated and obsolete U.S. restrictions, adopted decades ago under pressure from Azerbaijan, prevent direct dialogue – artificially handcuffing our diplomats and blocking the path to peace.”

Hamparian called for broad bi-partisan support for the measure during a trip to the Republic of Artsakh airport.

Similar to the resolution introduced in the previous Congress, the U.S. – Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution praises the Artsakh Republic for having “developed democratic institutions, fostered a pluralist political system, and, over the past quarter-century, held parliamentary and presidential elections that have been rated as free and fair by international observers.” It also highlights Artsakh’s commitment to common-sense peace initiatives, first advocated by former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and current Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), calling for the removal of snipers and heavy artillery from the Artsakh-Azerbaijan line of contact, the deployment of additional Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitors, and the placement of gun-fire locator systems along the lines of contact. The measures, which have been embraced by Armenia, Artsakh, and the OSCE Minsk Group peace negotiators, have been thus far blocked by Azerbaijan.

The U.S.-Artsakh Travel and Communication Resolution notes that current State Department policies place “self-imposed restrictions on travel and communications between the United States and Artsakh, limiting oversight of United States taxpayer-funded assistance programs and discouraging the open dialogue and discourse that can contribute to a peaceful resolution of Artsakh-related status and security issues.”

The measure calls for a U.S. policy which would:
1. allow officials at all levels of the United States Government, including cabinet-level national security officials, general officers, and other executive branch officials, to travel to the Artsakh Republic and openly and directly communicate with their Artsakh counterparts;

2. encourage ongoing open communication, meetings, and other direct contacts between officials of Artsakh and the Executive and Legislative branches of the United States, state and local governments, and American civil society; and

3. seek the full and direct participation of the democratically-elected government of the Artsakh Republic in all OSCE and other negotiations regarding its future.

Pro-Artsakh advocates can encourage their U.S. Representative to support the measure.

Rep. Pallone is the most traveled U.S. Congressman to the Republic of Artsakh since its independence in 1991. He last visited the region in September, 2017, joined by Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and former Representative David Valadao (R-CA). In remarks before the Artsakh Parliament, Rep. Pallone touted the Republic’s commitment to democracy, self-determination and economic development and discussed the Armenian Caucus’ on-going efforts to share Artsakh’s powerful story of peace and freedom with Congress and the Administration. “Whatever we do, we will always insist that Artsakh has to be Armenian and it has to be able to exercise its right to self-determination,” Rep. Pallone told Artsakh Parliamentarians.

Rep. Pallone is currently serving his 16th term in Congress, representing New Jersey’s sixth Congressional District, which covers most of Middlesex County, as well as the Bayshore and oceanfront areas of Monmouth County. He is the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues pertaining to energy, environment, health care, commerce, and telecommunications.

As founder and a Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, Rep. Pallone has been a leading voice on Armenian American issues since 1988. He has been a consistent cosponsor of Armenian Genocide legislation. Working with his colleagues, he has initiated calls for expanded U.S. assistance to Armenia and Artsakh and spoken out about the plight of Armenians and other Christians in the Middle East. He has been a perennial participant at Armenian American community events, including the Armenian Genocide Observance at Times Square.

RFE/RL Armenian Report – 03/07/2019

                                        Thursday, 
New Armenian Government Structure Approved
Մարտ 07, 2019
• Nane Sahakian
Armenia - Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian holds a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, 
March 7, 2019.
Կիսվել
• 9
Կարդալ մեկնաբանությունները
Տպել
The Armenian government on Thursday made the final decision to reduce the 
number of its ministries from 17 to 12 and lay off some of their employees.
A government bill setting a new structure of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s 
cabinet was sent to the parliament for approval. Its passage by the National 
Assembly controlled by Pashinian’s My Step alliance is widely seen as a forgone 
conclusion.
As expected, the bill would abolish the post of first deputy prime minister, 
meaning that Pashinian will have only two deputies. More importantly, it would 
dissolve the Armenian ministries of agriculture, energy, culture, Diaspora, and 
sports and youth affairs.
In particular, the ministries of education, culture, and sports and youth 
affairs would be turned into a single agency. A similar merger of the 
ministries of energy and local government would lead to the creation of a new 
Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures. The Diaspora 
Ministry is due to be scrapped altogether.
The government announced plans for such a restructuring in December, sparking 
street protests by hundreds of Diaspora and culture ministry employees fearing 
a loss of their jobs. Pashinian countered that the planned change is in tune 
with his repeated pledges to downsize the government made during campaigning 
for the December 9 parliamentary elections won by his bloc.
Pashinian insisted on Thursday that the government will operate more 
efficiently as a result of the changes. He also confirmed that at least some 
employees of the affected ministries will be laid of s but did not give any 
numbers.
“Yes, there will be staff cuts but those staffs will follow an evolutionary 
pattern,” he said at a cabinet meeting in Yerevan.
A leaked government document publicized this week by a senior member of the 
former ruling Republican Party (HHK) suggested that as many as 10,000 civil 
servants will be laid off in the coming weeks or months. Finance Minister Atom 
Janjughazian effectively denied that when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian on 
Tuesday.
Some public administration experts have questioned the wisdom of having fewer 
government ministries. They say that the new “super ministries” would only slow 
down the work of the state bureaucracy.
Armenia Reports ‘Political’ Deal On Greater Imports Of Iranian Gas
• Sargis Harutyunyan
Iran - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol 
Pashinian inspect an Iranian honor guard at a welcoming ceremony in Tehran, 
February 27, 2019.
Armenia has reached a “political” agreement with neighboring Iran on importing 
larger amounts of Iranian natural gas, outgoing Energy Minister Garegin 
Baghramian said on Thursday.
Baghramian also told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that Armenian and Georgian 
officials are already negotiating on possible Iranian gas supplies to Georgia 
that would be carried out via Armenia.
The gas issue featured large during Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s official 
visit to Tehran last week. Speaking after talks with Pashinian, Iranian 
President Hassan Rouhani said his hydrocarbon-rich country is ready to sell 
more gas to Armenia and also use Armenian territory for gas exports to Georgia.
Pashinian said that Yerevan is willing to boost imports of Iranian gas. He 
admitted, though, that the two sides have yet to agree on its price.
Armenia currently receives up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian gas each 
year under a swap scheme that also involves exports of Armenian electricity to 
the Islamic Republic. Its overall gas imports total roughly 2 billion cubic 
meters per annum and they mostly come from Russia. According to the current and 
former Armenian governments, Russian gas is cheaper for the South Caucasus 
state than Iranian.
In Baghramian’s words, Rouhani and Pashinian instructed relevant Iranian and 
Armenian bodies to look into ways of implementing their “political 
understandings” on the gas issue, and a commercial deal could take different 
forms.
“There could be an increase in [Iranian gas] volumes for the purpose of a 
transit to Georgia,” explained the minister. “If there is a mutually beneficial 
price offer, there could be an increase in gas volumes in the form of direct 
sales [to Armenia.]”
“Not only we are negotiating [with Georgia] but also Iranian companies have 
reached certain understandings with Georgian companies,” Baghramian, adding 
that Armenia is ready to serve as a transit route for Iranian gas supplies to 
Georgia.
Baghramian further insisted that Russia’s Gazprom gas giant cannot block or 
impede greater Iranian gas supplies to Armenia.
Gazprom not only meets the bulk of Armenia’s gas needs but also owns the 
country’s gas distribution network. The latter in turn controls the Armenian 
section of a pipeline delivering Iranian gas. The pipeline can pump at least 2 
billion cubic meters of gas annually.
Report Details Destruction Of Ancient Armenian Cemetery In Azerbaijan
• Harry Tamrazian
Iran -- An Armenian priest prays on the Iranian-Azerbaijani border against the 
backdrop of Azerbaijani soldiers destroying Armenian cross stones at the Djulfa 
cemetery, December 2005. (Photo couresty of Djulfa.com)
A detailed report published in an American art journal sheds more light on the 
reported destruction of an ancient Armenian cemetery in Azerbaijan’s 
Nakhichevan exclave.
The cemetery located near Djulfa, a small town close to the Iranian border, 
used to have the largest collection of traditional Armenian cross stones, or 
“khachkars,” dating from the 9th to the 16th centuries. Amateur videos that 
emerged in late 2005 showed Azerbaijani troops smashing the UNESCO-protected 
gravestones. They prompted condemnation from the European Parliament and other 
bodies.
The Azerbaijani government denied their destruction at the time. However, a 
2006 article by the London-based by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting 
(IWPR) confirmed that the cemetery has vanished.
The report published by the Hyperallergic.com journal last month presents more 
details of the destruction of thousands of stones encrusted with crosses, 
Armenian inscriptions and patterns. Its authors, Armenian-born political 
science lecturer Simon Maghakyan and Yale University scholar Sarah Pickman, 
compare the “erasure of indigenous Armenian culture” in Nakhichevan to the 
destruction of Syria’s ancient Palmyra by the Islamic State.
Azerbaijan - Soldiers in Nakhichevan are photographed destroying tombstones at 
the Djulfa cemetery, December 2005. (Photo courtesy of Djulfa.com)
In an interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service, Maghakyan, who is based in 
Denver, insisted that Azerbaijan’s government committed a “cultural genocide” 
and “crime against humanity.”
“It’s not just about the Djulfa khachkars,” he said. “We are talking about a 
complete destruction of Armenian heritage of Nakhichevan.”
Maghakyan claimed that 89 Armenian churches, 5,800 “khachkars” and 22,000 
tombstones were destroyed in Nakhichevan from 1997 to 2006.
“Even in [historical] western Armenia where Turkish authorities wiped out 
around 3,000 Armenian churches we can still find remnants of churches and some 
churches there were even renovated. But in Nakhichevan no traces of Armenian 
culture have been left,” he said.
“I am very happy that many Azerbaijanis who assisted in our research also 
condemn that,” said Maghakyan. He singled out Arif Yunus, an exiled human 
rights campaigner, and Akram Aylisli, a prominent author who has endured years 
of intimidation after writing about massacres of ethnic Armenians in Azerbaijan.
The Azerbaijani authorities have refused to allow international inspectors to 
visit the Djulfa cemetery site. In 2011, the then U.S. ambassador in Baku, 
Matthew Bryza, travelled to Nakhichevan but was barred from inspecting the site.
“Such stonewalling renders independent verification difficult, but the sheer 
amount of forensic evidence that Maghakyan and Pickman present makes a 
rock-solid case for at least not being deterred,” Britain’s “The Guardian” 
newspaper wrote in a March 1 article about the Hyperallergic.com report.
Pashinian Reveals Conditions For Major EU Aid To Armenia
Belgium - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (C), Commissioner 
for European Neighborhood Policy Johannes Hahn (R), and Armenian Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian at a press conference in Brussels, March 5, 2019.
Armenia may have to increase its public debt in order to receive large-scale 
economic assistance from the European Union, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian 
said on Thursday.
Speaking two days after his latest visit to Brussels, Pashinian said that the 
EU is prepared to finance “mega-projects” proposed by the Armenian government. 
The projects relate to the construction and renovation of roads, schools, water 
reservoirs and even prisons, he told members of his cabinet.
“While being ready to help, the EU is not prepared to finance those projects by 
100 percent and it expects Armenia to seriously participate in those projects,” 
Pashinian went on. In order to be able to co-finance those projects the 
Armenian government needs to significantly improve tax collection and/or obtain 
more foreign loans, he said.
Pashinian added that he will discuss the matter with relevant government bodies 
and the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) in the coming weeks to see whether the 
country could manage a higher public debt.
The premier said nothing about the amount of additional aid which the EU is 
ready to provide to Armenia or possible external borrowing required for 
obtaining it. He hinted only that the government could consider raising a legal 
limit on the size of its outstanding debts to local and foreign creditors. That 
debt ceiling is currently set at 60 percent of GDP.
Armenia’s overall public debt, which also includes sums owed by the Central 
Bank, was on course to reach $7.1 billion in December 2018. The figure is 
equivalent to roughly 57 percent of the country’s GDP.
The Armenian state budget for this year sets aside $735 million for debt 
servicing. The sum will account for over one-fifth of the government’s overall 
budgetary expenditures. Debt repayments are projected to peak at $800 million 
in 2020.
Pashinian met with European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission 
President Jean-Claude Juncker and other senior EU officials in Brussels on 
Tuesday.
Speaking after the talks, Tusk praised the Armenian government’s ambitious 
reform agenda and said the EU is ready to support it with “enhanced technical 
and financial assistance.” But he did not give any numbers.
Press Review
“Zhoghovurd” quotes Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian as reporting a major 
increase in cash receipts issued by Armenian shops, restaurants and other 
businesses in January and February. Speaking in the parliament, Pashinian said 
Armenians thus responded to his appeals to help the government tackle tax 
evasion and thus make their contribution to an “economic revolution” promised 
by him. “There is now a much more serious obstacle to the economic revolution: 
the current state of economic legislation,” comments the paper, calling for 
“revolutionary” amendments to those laws.
“Zhamanak” reports on Pashinian’s renewed calls for Nagorno-Karabakh’s 
involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace negotiations. “In essence, Pashinian 
declared in the Armenian parliament that the problem is the format of the 
negotiations,” writes the paper. “Baku has said that there will be no change in 
that format. Pashinian said in Brussels that at their upcoming meeting he and 
[Azerbaijan’s President Ilham] Aliyev will talk about this as well.” The paper 
wonders whether these public statements could lead to the cancellation or delay 
of the meeting.
“Aravot” says that Pashinian’s recent visits to Berlin, Brussels and Tehran 
were a success. “Any unbiased person will agree that the changes which have 
occurred in Armenia in the past year have had a positive impact on our foreign 
relations developing in these directions and our partners are now ready for 
closer cooperation with our country,” editorializes the paper. But it cautions 
that this will not quickly translate into tangible benefits for Armenia and its 
people. It says Armenian government bodies need to work hard to capitalize on 
these foreign policy gains.
(Lilit Harutiunian)
Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2019 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
www.rferl.org

Civil Contract and its leader are perceived as the reincarnation of a primitive version of the PANM

168 Zham, Armenia

March 4 2019
Civil Contract and its leader are perceived as the reincarnation of a primitive version of the PANM
Interview with Robert Kocharyan
[Armenian News note: the below is translated from Armenian]

Azeri president 'easily outplayed' Armenian PM on Karabakh

[168 Zham] Mr. President, Karabakh settlement is one of the most burning issues on the political agenda today. It is not clear whether negotiations are taking place or not. At the same time, there are concerns among experts that some secret deal is taking shape behind the back of the society. What do you think is happening? What expectations can there be regarding [Karabakh] settlement in the near future?

[Kocharyan] Negotiations are certainly underway, no matter how [Armenian Prime Minister Nikol] Pashinyan may be trying to disguise them under different explanations. However, the fact that Pashinyan is zealously trying to shrug off the negotiations is more suspicious than the fact of negotiations proper. Society is unaware of the authorities' position on Karabakh settlement, since it has not been voiced so far, and this is what causes concern. How can one conduct successful negotiations without a formulated position? Negotiations are not idle gatherings, but a tool to consolidate success achieved. There are a number of fundamental conditions in Karabakh settlement that require a clear-cut approach on the part of the authorities before negotiations start.

It is obvious that [Azerbaijani President Ilham] Aliyev has easily outplayed Pashinyan. The Dushanbe lift talks have actually buried the Vienna and St Petersburg agreements aimed at consolidating the trust mechanisms on the contact line, which were beneficial for us. And these [agreements] were the price that Azerbaijan was paying for unleashing the April war [four-day fighting in Karabakh in 2016], in which we lost more than 100 people.

It does not matter what made the prime minister act like that – a conscious choice or incompetence. In both cases, it is a big mistake. The Armenian side has generated high expectations both in Azerbaijan and among the mediators in terms of their readiness to make concessions. And, therefore, I think that the next proposals by the [OSCE] Minsk Group [that acts as a mediator in the conflict] will not be quite pleasant.

[168 Zham] Another question in this regard: There is much talk in the media and social networks that your arrest is somehow related to the impending resolution to the Karabakh problem. As if, since you are in prison, the authorities will make a deal. Perhaps you are aware of this from the media, as well as of the "Bolton plan" (if it actually exists). Do you think it is a "conspiracy theory" or something real?

[Kocharyan] Nothing can be ruled out with these authorities. Anyway, I will hamper any attempt of "ceding" Karabakh regardless of where I may be. I am sure that all those, who see Karabakh as part of the Armenian identity, will do the same. Incidentally, this is what the prime minister and most of his team lack. They have nothing in common with the independence of Artsakh [Karabakh] and the military success and they hate anyone, who fought for this victory. That is why society must control every step they take regarding the Karabakh problem. It is impossible to trust the prime minister's contradictory statements anyway.

Russian gas price already up

[168 Zham] The problem of the price of Russian gas has not been resolved for a long time now. Despite the prime minister's announcement late last year that the problem had been resolved in principle – the gas price would not increase for consumers – it turned out, however, that negotiations are still under way. What do you think is happening in reality? Can judgments be made about the level of the Armenian-Russian relations taking into account the duration of the negotiations? In your opinion, how will this issue be resolved?

[Kocharyan] The issue has really been resolved in principle – the price of gas has gone up. Armenian consumers will pay for this increase directly or indirectly regardless of the authorities' attempts to present the situation in a different light. However, I would not describe the entire complex of inter-state relations only by this circumstance. The authorities will strive to maintain good relations with Russia because of the lack of a more acceptable choice for them and not because of their convictions. This will lead to inconsistency, vagueness, and eclecticism during the implementation of foreign policy issues. This situation can already be observed today. The thing is that the philosophy of the new Armenian government and the Russian elite are diametrically different and this circumstance will always be present in bilateral relations. We are dealing with [George] Soros' disciples who, have unfortunately poor knowledge and understanding of Russia and its culture.

Cabinet programme 'collection of slogans', disappointment to follow

[168 Zham] Are you familiar with the government programme? What is your assessment?

[Kocharyan] Yes, I familiarised myself with it. It is a programme about the absence of a programme and it is simply ridiculous to speak about it being a revolutionary programme with a 5 per-cent economic growth. It is a collection of slogans and desires that reveals the total inability and incompetence of the ruling party to assume concrete and ambitious obligations towards the country's breakthrough development and improvement of the quality of our fellow citizens' life. This is stated by everyone who knows a bit of economy. The authorities totally failed to understand that the 'revolution' is the worst possible brand from the point of view of the country's investment attractiveness. And the cause of poverty is not in people's heads, but rather in the miserable mentality of the authorities. Unfortunately, there was no constructive debate on this issue in the National Assembly [Parliament], because the prime minister's morbid attitude towards any criticism. Thus, welcome to a new reality.

[168 Zham] Do you think that the sentiments within society are changing? What do you think will happen in the near future?

[Kocharyan] People's enthusiasm generated from the revolutionary euphoria is apparently being replaced with a disappointment from unfulfilled expectations. As social psychology says, in such cases, as a rule, euphoria transforms into anger or apathy. A feeling of deception emerges and people naturally start looking for culprits. Usually, those who people linked their high expectations to, become the culprits. This is what happened after the 1991 presidential election and at that time, the euphoria was replaced with hatred towards the Pan-Armenian National Movement [PANM]. Time will show how processes will unfold now. The approval rating of the authorities will most likely collapse in autumn to an extent that the issue of their legitimacy will become topical. What will happen next? A hangover with all the feelings peculiar to such a state.

'Political vendetta'

[168 Zham] New charges have been brought against you in connection with the testimony given by [businesswoman] Silva Hambardzumyan. What is your assessment of the charges? After all, they are in no way related to the main accusation.

[Kocharyan] The new accusation seems to be a script of a cheap grotesque comedy written in the SIS [Special Investigative Service] where the protagonist is an omnipresent lady with a blemished reputation. I had no idea about the existence of this lady and her affairs. Moreover, none of the persons involved in this "case" have confirmed her fairy tale testimony. I think the authorities have invented this accusation and linked it to the 1 March with one purpose only – to influence the established opinion within society about political persecution against me.

As to the alleged charges of "overturning the constitutional order", I must repeat that it is an absolute nonsense. Ninety per cent of all the 76 volumes of the accusation have nothing to do with Article 300.1 of the Criminal Code, which, by the way, did not exist back in March 2008, and that is why it is impossible to apply it. At the same time, this is the issue of my immunity, since my actions stemmed exclusively from the powers of the president.

I had time to familiarise myself with the materials of the accusation and I did not find a single thing that could incriminate me, [ex-defence ministers] Mikael Harutyunyan and Seyran Ohanyan, and [former head of the Yerevan garrison and former chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces] Yuri Khachaturov. Those, who ordered and fabricated this "criminal case", are committing a grave crime and will undoubtedly be punished. There is even no hint of justice in what is taking place. It is a classical political vendetta.

[168 Zham] How would you comment on the charges brought against your son and the case in general?

[Kocharyan] It is an absolutely fabricated accusation. The government is deprived of morality and resorts to various tricks to engage me in some corruption cases. That is why they have made a target out of my family, of course, in the context of my political persecution. Their intentions became clear back in summer, along with the publication of the scandalous wiretapped conversations. Such lawlessness took place in Armenia only in the 1990s under the PANM, when political opponents were dealt with shortly, up to their physical destruction, while the persecution of their relatives was a common thing.

Pashinyan-Ter-Petrosyan 'cooperation'

[168 Zham] Are you familiar with [first Armenian President] Levon Ter-Petrosyan's statements that Pashinyan is not his godson and that they are not cooperating closely? How would you assess his statements?

[Kocharyan] They are very similar in their viewpoints, work style, temper, and level of cynicism. This similarity immediately catches the eye, explaining the large number of publications on their close collaboration. And it is not important at all how often they communicate with each other. The Civil Contract together with its leader [Pashinyan] are all the same perceived as the reincarnation of a primitive version of the PANM.

Pashinyan playing on 'people's sincere feelings'

[168 Zham] How would you assess the march on 1 March and the prime minister's speech on that day?

[Kocharyan] Unfortunately, we again witness how the prime minister is once again trying to play on people's sincere feelings. The irony of the situation is that the main culprits of the 1 March tragedy [when 10 people were killed as a result of post-election unrest] have become the main exploiters of the emotional consequences of those events. Perhaps, the sense of guilt for what they have done haunts their subconsciousness and even 11 years on, it does not allow them to repent and be open for reconciliation. It is all according to Freud's teaching. They continue to use the bitterness of the loss of the relatives and friends of the 10 victims as a tool to achieve their political aims.

It seems that the polarisation of society, the creation of permanent hotbeds of internal tension and confrontation, have become the essence of the activities of the Armenian authorities. It will not bring about any good.

Plans unchanged

[168 Zham] But still, last July, you announced that you were returning to big politics and were going to actively participate in all political processes. Have your plans changed?

[Kocharyan] No, they have not changed, of course. I do not give up my intentions and plans easily, moreover under pressure.

[168 Zham] What are you doing these days?

[Kocharyan] I read a lot and, of course, I do physical exercises to stay in good shape. I started writing the continuation of my book.

Iran official dismisses talk of change of strategy toward Azerbaijan

Mehr news agency, Iran
March 5 2019
Iran official dismisses talk of change of strategy toward Azerbaijan

[Armenian News note: The below is translated from Persian]

The head of Iran's Islamic Culture and Relations Organisation has dismissed speculations about change of Tehran's strategy towards Baku and said that the Supreme Leader has always defended the rights of the people and the government of Azerbaijan Republic, Mehr news agency reported on 5 March.

Abouzar Ebrahimi Torkaman made these remarks in Persian and Azeri during a special news conference in Tehran after certain incidents during the Armenian Prime Minister's visit to Tehran last week led to speculations about souring of relations between Iran and the Azerbaijan Republic.

"In the past few days, unfortunately, a misunderstanding has upset the endeared people of Azerbaijan [Republic] and led to rumours and suspicions that the Islamic Republic of Iran has changed its strategy towards the nation and the government of Azerbaijan Republic… As the spokesman of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also underlined, the slogans chanted on the margins of the meeting of the Armenian Prime Minister with the Armenian community in Iran, do not reflect the Islamic Republic's views at all," Mehr quoted Torkaman as saying.

He described Azerbaijan as one of the "most important countries of the region" among the 15 neighbouring countries of Iran and stressed that Tehran always uses official channels to announce its position.

Torkman went on to add that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has always defended the rights of the people of Azerbaijan. He said: "The Supreme Leader of the Islamic revolution has always shown that he is kind and fond of the people of Azerbaijan Republic. That opinion of his has remained unchanged today."

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited Iran last week and met the Supreme Leader and President Hassan Rouhani. In his meeting with Supreme Leader, Khamenei advised Yereven and Baku to "continue talks" on the issue of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and offered Iran's mediation to resolve the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan Republic.

In the recent months several Iranian and Azerbaijani delegations, including one headed by the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Maj-Gen Mohammad Baqeri, visited each other's capitals. As Torkman was making the reconciliatory remarks on 5 March, Tehran hosted the Azerbaijani minister of economy.