GLOBSEC 2023 Bratislava Forum:Armenia top security official to participate in panel discussion with Azerbaijan’s Hajiyev


 16:23, 29 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 29, ARMENPRESS. The AC Milan Junior Camp is holding an International Camp in Yerevan, with 160 boys and girls aged 11-15 from various provinces of Armenia in attendance.

Photos by Gevorg Perkuperkyan

The Milan Junior Camp is held at the Football Academy in Avan, Yerevan.

The camp offers the opportunity for all participants to share a unique experience where they will meet new friends, have fun and play lots of football in complete safety under the supervision of the highly qualified AC Milan staff led by Milan International Academy Head Coach Claudio Zola.

AL2 Sport founder Luca Amadessi, coordinator and organizer of the Milan Junior Camp, praised the venue.

“I can say that the academy and fields are high standard. Our main goal is to give participants the opportunity to play, to learn and make new friends,” Amadessi said.

“Given my experience of many years, I can say that you have wonderful fields and academy. Our goal is to convey AC Milan’s approaches and methodology to the young people. We really enjoy working with them,” Claudio Zola said.

The Milan Academy Junior Camp is a charity initiative by Ameriabank, together with Team Telecom Armenia, Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine and Tashir Group of Companies.

Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 29-05-23

 16:50, 29 May 2023

YEREVAN, 29 MAY, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 29 May, USD exchange rate down by 0.35 drams to 386.17 drams. EUR exchange rate down by 1.46 drams to 413.78 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate down by 0.01 drams to 4.82 drams. GBP exchange rate down by 1.71 drams to 476.69 drams.

The Central Bank has set the following prices for precious metals.

Gold price down by 26.27 drams to 24184.45 drams. Silver price up by 1.48 drams to 287.36 drams.

Armenia seeks ECHR interim measures against Azerbaijan over kidnapping of 2 soldiers

 16:55, 29 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 29, ARMENPRESS. Armenia has applied to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) seeking interim measures in the case of the two Armenian servicemen kidnapped by Azerbaijani forces on May 26.

“On May 28, Armenia applied to the European Court of Human Rights requesting interim measures over the fact of the kidnapping of the two military servicemen who were supplying food to a military position. The court is waiting for Azerbaijan’s response. At this moment it is confirmed that the [servicemen] are in Baku and we expect to receive an answer in the next days,” the Office of the Representative of Armenia for International Legal Affairs told ARMENPRESS.

The two servicemen of the Armed Forces of Armenia were kidnapped by an Azerbaijani military squad that had infiltrated into the territory of Armenia. The kidnapped Armenian servicemen are facing fabricated charges in Baku.

Artsakh’s parliament condemns the May 28 statement of the president of Azerbaijan

 18:29, 29 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 29, ARMENPRESS. The press service of the National Assembly of the Republic of Artsakh responded to the May 28 statement of the President of Azerbaijan, stating that the National Assembly of Artsakh strongly condemns such attacks on the right to self-determination, sovereignty and security of the people of Artsakh, as well as the peace of the region and the threats of resumption of military operations.

As ARMENPRESS was informed from the National Assembly of the Republic of Artsakh, the the statement reads as follows, "The May 28 statements of the President of Azerbaijan once again contained clear threats to the people and authorities of Artsakh, violating the well-known norms of international law and the international obligations undertaken by Azerbaijan.

This time, by demanding the dissolution of the democratically elected bodies of the Artsakh people, the President and the National Assembly, as well as the rest of the state institutions, the leader of Azerbaijan has once again proven that he is ready to continue the policy of ethnic cleansing of the people of Artsakh and the occupation of territories by using force and the threat of force. This is another proof that the people of Artsakh simply cannot live within Azerbaijan, due to the existential dangers arising from the xenophobic and anti-Armenian politics prevailing there.

The people of Artsakh have chosen the path of self-determination, sovereignty and statehood, the pillars of which are the President and the National Assembly. Therefore, we strongly condemn such attacks on the right to self-determination, sovereignty and security of the people of Artsakh, as well as the peace of the region and the threats of the resumption of military operations.

Addressing all actors of the international community, including the Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia that have signed the trilateral declaration of November 9, 2020, as well as to all entities interested in peace and stability in the region, we expect their practical and active actions to eliminate the almost six-month-long blockade of Artsakh and other continuous encroachments, as well as to prevent Azerbaijan from new crimes against the people of Artsakh, including possible military aggression. The obligation of the international community is also to guarantee the security of the people of Artsakh, which does not pose any threat to international peace and simply seeks to live freely and with dignity in its native land, based on the fundamental norms of international law.

The National Assembly of the Republic of Artsakh, as the highest body elected by the people, regardless of repeated threats from Azerbaijan, will continue to implement its main mission of state-building and protection of our rights to live freely”.

Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan spreads the second misinformation today. Defense Army of Artsakh

 20:42, 29 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 29, ARMENPRESS. The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan spread the second misinformation during the day.

As ARMENPRESS was informed from the the Defense Army of the Republic of Artsakh, the message of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan that allegedly on May 29, under the guise of agricultural works, engineering works of new fortification structures were carried out in front of the Azerbaijani positions located in the occupied territories of Askeran, Martuni, Shushi, Kashatagh and Karvachar regions of the Republic of Artsakh, and which were allegedly stopped as a result of the actions of the Azerbaijani army, does not correspond to reality.

Armenpress: Prime Minister Pashinyan meets with President Khachaturyan, refers to Azerbaijan’s behavior after Brussels talks

 21:28, 29 May 2023

YEREVAN, MAY 29, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan had a meeting with the President of the Republic Vahagn Khachaturyan, ARMENPRESS was informed from the Office of the Prime Minister.

President Vahagn Khachaturyan – First of all, Mr. Prime Minister, I want to once again express my support to you and the Government regarding the policy that you implement together with the government, which is aimed at establishing peace in the region. In connection with this, last week was important for our political life, starting with the meeting in Brussels, after which you clearly expressed the view of the government of the Republic of Armenia, according to which we recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and expect the same from Azerbaijan.

I think this was a very important statement and it was also a proof that we are not just talking about peace, but we are committed to finally establishing peace in the region. I think our neighbor should also realize this and appreciate the steps you and the government are taking. In fact, what the government is doing today, I mean the steps that are being taken both domestically and in the field of foreign policy are aimed at this.

As you know, I was on a business trip and met with various officials and my colleagues in Qatar. One of the most important meetings was with the head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva. I was happy to hear her point of view, which I want to convey to you as well. They accept Armenia as a full partner that fulfills its agreements and obligations, a reliable partner in terms of financial stability and fulfillment of obligations. During our meeting, we also agreed that we will continue to work in the same manner. They are ready to make additional investments, provide additional financial support.

We recorded the same during the meetings with my colleagues, the Emir of Qatar, they are ready and waiting for our proposals. Qatar is a very dynamically developing country, it has achieved success in a surprisingly short time. It seems to all of us that it is only a resource-based country, but in fact, according to the logic of its development, Qatar is a country with a modern, high-tech, knowledge-based economy, and in the person of it, we have a willing partner for cooperation.

I want to assure you once again that I support and will support to the best of my ability all the programs that you implement, which are aimed at establishing peace in the region.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan – Thank you, honorable Mr. President, first of all, thank you for the words of support, as well as the invitation. Yes, we regularly have meetings in a public format, but, of course, we also have informal meetings much often: we discuss, consult, try to understand what are the best solutions for our country.

Of course, I agree with you that these public meetings are also important so that our people can see that there is institutional cooperation and interaction between different branches of power. On the other hand, it is very important that these mechanisms of government interaction work effectively.

In this regard, I can testify that a very constructive cooperation has been established between the president-parliament-government trio, which is very important especially in this period. I also consider it important that the policies of the government are discussed and consulted with the parliament and the president of the Republic, but of course this is not about responsibility at all. the government fully undertakes it and should undertake it, but knowing also the opinion of the most important institutions of the state on these issues is extremely essential.

I am also happy to report that in our meetings, in fact, such a trend has been formed: whenever we have met so far, we have recorded quite good economic indicators in our country. I want to express hope that this tradition of ours will not change in any way. In that sense, I also consider our cooperation with international economic and financial institutions to be important, because we are very zealous about Armenia's reputation. It is really important because not everyone researches the country in every detail. In many cases, they ask the opinion of the international institutions, or get acquainted with their published opinions. So we try to show ourselves as a responsible partner.

Regarding the regional situation, of course, today I had the opportunity to say that, especially after our last meetings, after the Brussels agreements, the statements made by Azerbaijan at least raise questions, and I think we should try to find an answer to a clear question, whether these statements constitute a step back from the agreements reached. I also think that we should communicate this issue with our international partners, because in all cases the reliability of agreements is an important prerequisite, because when agreements are reached and they are not implemented, of course, this is a problem in all kinds of relations, including international and interstate ones.

Mr. President, I will also share my impressions, information from the recent discussions and negotiations. Of course, we managed to discuss one part, now the process is very intensive, but I will also inform you about the upcoming plans, what is planned in our international agenda.

AW: Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Society of Eastern United States presents new regional executive

Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Society of Eastern United States 46th Annual Representative Assembly

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Society of Eastern United States Region convened its 46th annual representative assembly on May 13 at St. Gregory’s Church “Founders Hall.” For the first time in three years, the meeting was held in-person; it was hosted by the Hamazkayin Philadelphia Chapter. In addition to chapter representatives, in attendance were the following guests: Arevig Caprielian, Hamazkayin Central Executive Committee; Ani Tchaghlasian, ARF Eastern Region Central Committee; Caroline Chamavonian, ARS of Eastern USA; Daron Bedian, AYF-YOARF Eastern Region USA; former Hamazkayin Central Executive Committee member Hrair Baronian.

In her remarks following the election of a temporary executive, Caprielian commended the outgoing regional executive and expressed her appreciation for the members’ untiring work toward fulfilling the mission of Hamazkayin to the best of their abilities. She emphasized the importance and urgency of the success of initiatives such as ArtLinks, Petag and the Western Armenian Cultural Retreat,” all in an effort to attract youth to the ranks of Hamazkayin. She reminded attendees that they dedicate all events during this year to the commemoration of the 95th anniversary of Hamazkayin.

Tchaghlasian congratulated the outgoing regional executive, noting that in spite of the difficulties presented by the 2020 Artsakh War and the dire situation in Lebanon, the Hamazkayin Eastern Region continues its cultural and educational initiatives.     

The representatives of ARS and AYF also added their remarks and expressed their continuing support of Hamazkayin and its mission. A congratulatory letter from Hairenik editor Zaven Torigian was read by Hasmig Aprahamian.

After the presentation of annual reports by chapter representatives, the meeting came to a close with the election of the new Eastern Regional Executive: Aprahamian from New Jersey, chairlady; Kari Ghezarian from Philadelphia, vice-chairlady; Hoori Samuelian from New Jersey, treasurer; Maroush Paneyan-Nigon from Philadelphia, secretary; Vartivar Keshishian from New Jersey, advisor; Aline Baghdasarian from Washington, DC, advisor; Khajag Arakelian from Chicago, advisor.

As has always been true in the past, the collegial atmosphere present throughout the meeting precipitated lively and fruitful discussions, resulting in a successful 46th annual Hamazkayin Eastern Regional Representative Assembly. 

The Eastern USA region of Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society, consisting of nine chapters, constitutes one of the branches of the worldwide Hamazkayin family, founded in 1928.

AW: Memorial Day in Fresno

Every year, on Memorial Day, many Armenian Americans travel to Ararat Armenian Cemetery in Fresno, California, to visit their deceased loved ones and honor the heroes who gave their lives for our freedom. By walking around this very special place, you might find the graves of John M. Haroian and Luther Avakian, two handsome men who were born and raised in Fresno County, California.

Pvt John M. Haroian

Haroian and Avakian didn’t know each other, but they had a common cultural identity and a common tragic destiny. They could spend hours talking to people about their childhood, and that’s what they did. Their respective parents were Armenian refugees who were forced to leave their beloved land. Haroian grew up on a farm in Sanger with his parents Kachadoor and Elizabeth and his little brother Nish. Whenever Haroian spoke about his childhood, he would always talk about his mother’s cooking. According to him, her gata was a taste of heaven. Avakian also loved talking about his parents Mugger and Queenie and his beloved sister Victoria. Thinking about them would always put a smile on Avakian’s face.

2nd Lt Luther Avakian

During World War II, Haroian and Avakian both decided to join the US Army. At that time, they were both living in Fresno, and both had a bright future ahead of them. Sadly, the future of the world was uncertain, and so many men and women had to put their plans and goals on hold. After saying goodbye to their respective parents, they headed toward Europe, where all hope seemed lost and where millions of people were barely clinging to life. 2nd Lt Luther Avakian became a fighter pilot of the 352nd Fighter Squadron, 353rd Fighter Group, while Pvt John M. Haroian became a proud member of 7th Armored Division. They both knew that the odds of surviving this never-ending war were slim, but they also knew that the fate of the free world was at stake.

Thousands of miles away from home, Haroian demonstrated outstanding courage and was a source of inspiration for all his comrades. He was way too young to see what he saw, and way too young to feel what he felt, but he fought heroically and kept moving forward, until January 24, 1945. On that fateful day, Haroian was confronting German forces near St. Vith in Belgium when he was struck by enemy fire. His comrades rushed to his aid and desperately tried to treat his wounds, but nothing could be done to save him. Haroian was only 19 years old when his life ended.

Pvt John M. Haroian’s gravestone

Six months before Haroian died, Avakian was fighting for freedom over France. Mission after mission, Avakian flew into hell and did everything he could to defeat the forces of tyranny. Ignoring their own safety, Avakian and his comrades destroyed 28 locomotives, sank eight barges, damaged 13 trucks and struck many German bases. Every time they took off, these pilots knew they might be killed, badly wounded or lost at sea, but day after day, they showed the entire world that not all heroes wear capes; some fly P-47 Thunderbolts. On June 6, 1944, Avakian wrote a letter to his beloved father which ended with the words: “Dad, you keep the home fires burning, and I will see what I can do here.” The next day, Avakian took off from England and headed toward the north of Paris for another perilous mission. Sadly, he never came back. Struck by German anti-aircraft fire, Avakian’s Thunderbolt crashed, killing him instantly. He was only 21 years old.

2nd Lt Luther Avakian’s gravestone

If these two Armenian American heroes had survived the war and returned to Fresno, Haroian could have witnessed his little brother Nish become a remarkable physical education teacher at Sanger High School. Avakian could have visited Armenia and discovered the beautiful homeland of his parents. Haroian could have found the love of his life and started a family. Avakian could have become a devoted husband and a proud father. But their destiny was to die in Europe and return to their country in coffins. It was to die as heroes and sacrifice their lives for people they didn’t know. It was to lose everything, so that freedom would win.

Following the war, their respective families decided to repatriate their lifeless bodies and bury them at the Ararat Armenian Cemetery, which is also the final resting place of Soghomon Tehlirian, the Armenian hero who assassinated Talaat Pasha, the principal architect of the Armenian Genocide. Also buried in this cemetery are Pvt Berge Poochigian and PFC Leroy Emerzian, two more kids who had so much to live for and never got the chance to fulfill their dreams. Poochigian was killed on May 12, 1945 during the deadly Battle of Okinawa (Japan), and Emerzian was killed on June 18, 1945 during the ferocious Battle of Luzon (Philippines).

Ararat Armenian Cemetery

So if you plan to visit the Ararat Armenian Cemetery in Fresno, please take a moment to honor and remember the heroes who sacrificed everything they had, for everything we have. It is our duty to keep their stories alive and make sure that future generations know what Haroian, Avakian, Poochigian, Emerzian and all the others did for us.

To honor all the Armenian American heroes who died during World War II, here is an excerpt of a poem named “Memorial Day,” which was written in 1914 by Joyce Kilmer. This young American poet was killed in action in 1918 during the Second Battle of the Marne (France). He was only 31 years old.

Memorial Day

The rose blossoms white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.

Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.

May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.

John Dekhane grew up in Paris before moving to the South of France. He works for a sport organization in Monaco. Since he was a child, he has always been interested in World War II with particular emphasis on American soldiers. In order to honor them, over the past years, he has located and purchased WWII U.S. artifacts in Europe and donated these items to more than a hundred museums in the United States.

RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service – 05/29/2023

High Schoolers’ ‘Last Dance’ Becomes Symbol Of Blockaded Karabakh Armenians

May 29, 2023 16:19 GMT

• By Amos Chapple

Photo: Genadi Musaelian (©)

Amid fears for the future of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, two teenagers have become a symbol of resolve as bitter political talks over the region continue.

When a rainstorm burst over their high-school graduation ceremony in Stepanakert on May 26, Karen Bagian and his classmate Ani thought nothing of dashing into the downpour to dance. "At first it seemed to us something ordinary, why not? It’s just a bit of mischief,"
Bagian told RFE/RL. "Everything looked so beautiful that I wanted to dance."

school students dance outside the Stepanakert Cathedral during their graduation ceremony. The city is known as Xankandi in Azeri.

But in the context of increasing anxiety among Armenians over the future of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the dance quickly became seen as an emblem.

When the images began to be shared across social media, Bagian, who uses the Armenian word Artsakh for the Nagorno-Karabakh region, recalls, "I realized that these few moments were enough to describe the unbending will and love of us, the young generation of
Artsakh, for our restless Artsakh land."

Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought over Nagorno-Karabakh for decades. A war in the 1990s left ethnic Armenians in control of the Azerbaijani
, which has had a predominantly Armenian population for centuries, as well as swaths of Azerbaijani land outside Nagorno-Karabakh.

Conflict over the region again erupted into full-scale war in 2020, when Azerbaijan launched an attempt to retake the region by force. That war ended with an Armenian defeat and a Moscow-brokered cease-fire that led to some 2,000 Russian troops being deployed
into the region as peacekeepers.

An newly made Azerbaijani checkpoint on
the Lachin Corridor, the only road between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, photographed on May 2.

An ongoing Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin Corridor, the only road from Armenia into Nagorno-Karabakh, has led Yerevan to accuse Moscow of not fulfilling its obligations under the treaty. In April 2023, an Azerbaijani checkpoint was installed on the same
road. Locals say Russian troops "stood by and did nothing" as its construction took place.

A recent report
by the International Crisis Group
 said that, while the checkpoint is a relatively small step, the 120,000 ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh worry it "represents a form of muscle flexing that could be the precursor to ethnic cleansing."

Recent Russian-mediated talks between the Armenian and Azerbaijani leadership have led to Baku and Moscow claiming that a peace settlement is likely to be announced soon, but Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian told his parliament on May 29 that an agreement
remained out of reach.

High school girls run across the courtyard of Stepanakert’s Cathedral after their graduation ceremony on May 26.

Pashinian has indicated he is willing to acknowledge Azerbaijani sovereignty over the Nagorno-Karabakh region provided the security of ethnic Armenians in the region is guaranteed. Baku says ethnic Armenians would have the same rights as any other inhabitants
of Azerbaijan. But several brutal
 of ethnic Armenians blamed
on Azerbaijani soldiers
 has left some observers fearing the worst if control of the region is handed back to Baku.

For the thousands of Armenians who viewed the dance of two high-school students as rain hammered down around them, the scene was as bittersweet as it was cinematic, with some calling it a "final last bell." High-school graduation is known in Armenian as the
"last bell."

Avanesian Gabrielian
, who posted a video of the dance that was shared more than 1,200 times on Facebook, told RFE/RL, "It felt like the moment was from a beautiful movie," adding that, for Armenians, life itself in the embattled region is seen
as a kind of resistance.

The teenage dancers, she said, "remind the world that they are determined to live on their ancestral land. It’s another way of fighting."

• Amos Chapple

Amos Chapple is a New Zealand-born photographer and picture researcher with a particular interest in the former U.S.S.R.

[email protected]

May 29, 2023 09:30 GMT

pose for a group photo during the first meeting of the European Political Community in Prague on October 6, 2022.

Welcome to Wider Europe, RFE/RL’s newsletter focusing on the key issues concerning the European Union, NATO, and other institutions and their relationships
with the Western Balkans and Europe’s Eastern neighborhoods. To subscribe, click

I’m RFE/RL Europe Editor Rikard Jozwiak, and this week I’m drilling down on two major issues: the upcoming European Political Community summit in
Moldova and the difficulties facing the EU in seizing or using Russian frozen assets.

What You Need To Know: On June 1, the leaders of the EU’s 27 member states and their counterparts from 20 other European countries
gather at the private Mimi Castle and winery some 30 kilometers outside the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, for the second summit of the European Political Community (EPC). The EPC, a brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, was launched last year following
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an intergovernmental forum for political discussions on the future of Europe.

At its inaugural summit in Prague in October 2022, Macron referred to the meeting as "an opportunity to build a strategic intimacy in Europe." He was also quick to dismiss the notion that
it was some sort of substitute for EU membership, calming the nerves of leaders in the Western Balkans and the EU’s Eastern neighborhood.

Still, a more impertinent description of the whole event is "yet another European talking shop," not too dissimilar from, say, the Council of Europe. So, don’t expect the EPC to morph
into an organization with a budget, secretariat, flag, or anthem.

Deep Background: Despite being short on outcomes so far, feedback from leaders after the Prague meeting suggested they liked the idea
of a forum that provided a "looser setting" where they could chitchat and not be bound by the kind of structures and strict speaking times that are imposed by other, more formal political organizations.

The Chisinau meeting is scheduled to last a little over five hours, with a short opening ceremony followed by four roundtables dealing with topics such as energy, security, connectivity,
and mobility. After a working lunch, the biggest chunk of the agenda is meant for various bilateral meetings — possibly the most interesting aspect of the day, even though the intimate setting, with few diplomats present, will make it difficult for media
to tease out whether any breakthroughs or breakdowns occurred.

There will also be a family photo, which might be the most interesting aspect for posterity. Three European microstates — Andorra, Monaco, and San Marino — have joined the EPC since
the Prague meeting, so the only European countries without a representative in Chisinau, apart from the Vatican, are Belarus and Russia. That is telling.

And it sure looks like the EPC is here for the foreseeable future. A summit is already planned for the Spanish city of Granada in early October, and then another for the United Kingdom
in the first half of 2024, with the hosts rotating every six months between EU and non-EU countries.

Drilling Down

  • Perhaps the most interesting meeting could be on the summit’s sidelines between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. They met in Brussels in May under the auspices of European Council President Charles Michel in search
    of a comprehensive peace agreement between Yerevan and Baku over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. While the meeting lasted four hours, there were no specific achievements apart from the understanding that they should meet as often as necessary.
  • The same trio is likely to be flanked by Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Chisinau in what can only be interpreted as a clear European push to play a bigger role in settlement efforts in which Moscow has so far seemingly called many of the shots.
    Because Paris is often accused of being too close to Yerevan, there has been a conscious push by Brussels to include Berlin in order to ensure more balance in the talks. Senior EU officials speaking on the condition of anonymity continue to stress that the
    added advantage of Brussels becoming more engaged on this issue is that "the EU has no hidden agenda here" and is willing to grant time and a platform to facilitate talks for as long as it takes.
  • The expected Aliyev-Pashinian meeting comes just a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted them in Moscow — a gathering that concluded with the two leaders verbally sparring in front of the assembled media.
  • But don’t expect a breakthrough in Chisinau, as more meetings are scheduled in the next few months: in Brussels again in July with just Michel; and then possibly at the next EPC summit in Granada. But gestures related to the Karabakh conflict, such as the release
    of detainees, demining initiatives, or the unblocking of transport links could be in the cards. There could also be a larger role for the EU monitoring mission in Armenia that was set up earlier this year with the aim of contributing to stability at the border
    between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Europeans will also look to get some sort of assurances from Baku regarding the rights and security of ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh. For months, Azerbaijan has been blockading a key road that connects Yerevan
    to Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • On other matters, are there likely to be any concrete deliverables at the summit? Don’t rule out something more tangible on, for example, the strengthening of Solidarity
     with Ukraine, a commitment on reducing or eliminating
    roaming costs
    , or the possibility of increasing exchanges of diplomats and civil servants among countries.
  • A discussion paper written ahead of a security roundtable at the summit, which will be co-chaired by Poland and the United Kingdom, includes a focus on boosting cybersecurity. The text, seen by RFE/RL, notes that "Russian aggression against Ukraine is taking
    place in cyberspace in a form of incidents and malicious cyberactivities conducted by state-sponsored groups as well as by cybercriminals." It also suggests that more should be done to boost resilience to cyberattacks in countries neighboring Russia and in
    the Western Balkans.
  • The document also talks of more financial support to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in order to safeguard the Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhya and the need for governments and civil society "to identify societal weaknesses which
    are targeted to facilitate information operations by malign actors, and which polarize and destabilize communities, e.g. ethnic minorities or marginalized communities, migrants, gender/sexual issues, and political/democratic processes and participation."
  • The summit will doubtless shine a spotlight on Moldova and its president, Maia Sandu, in what is the biggest political gathering in the country’s history. In its run-up, the EU has already agreed
    to set up
     a civilian mission there to counter hybrid threats as well as to impose sanctions on two Moldovans accused of undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and five more, including oligarchs Vladimir Plahotniuc and Ilan Shor, for
    allegedly destabilizing Moldova.
  • Beyond Sandu’s big moment, there will be other leaders vying for attention. If Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy shows up (he was absent at the Prague summit), he is likely to dominate the headlines. Meanwhile, there was no indication yet of whether Turkish
    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be ready to travel so soon after securing another five-year term in a May 28 presidential runoff.

What You Need To Know: One widely discussed aspect of the war in Ukraine is how to finance the reconstruction of the country once the
fighting ends. It is estimated by both the United Nations and the European Union that Kyiv needs over $400 billion in the next decade to rebuild its economy, a figure that will rise as the war grinds on. While Western partners are almost certain to provide
economic aid for the foreseeable future via loans, grants, and investment in infrastructure, there is a growing sense that Russia must foot some of the bill.

In the final statement from the G7 summit in Hiroshima on May 19-21, the leaders of the seven leading Western economies concluded that "we will continue to take measures available within
our domestic frameworks to find, restrain, freeze, seize, and, where appropriate, confiscate or forfeit the assets of those individuals and entities that have been sanctioned in connection with Russia’s aggression."

The leaders added that "we reaffirm that, consistent with our respective legal systems, Russia’s sovereign assets in our jurisdictions will remain immobilized until Russia pays for the
damage it has caused to Ukraine."

The big question is how likely this might be achieved.

There are several avenues to using frozen Russian cash for the reconstruction, but all of them are complicated. To keep such assets in the West frozen until Russian repayment, as the G7
statement alluded to, is a long game. It also risks backfiring if governments, notably within the EU, were to stray from the unanimity that is required every six months to roll over sanctions on Russia.

The question then becomes whether it’s possible to use some of the frozen wealth right away, either by confiscating assets held by individuals who have been targeted by the EU or by actively
investing some of the Russian state reserves that EU member states are holding, many in the form of sovereign bonds.

Deep Background: In the EU, it is the European Commission that oversees actions regarding frozen Russian assets within the bloc. Already
in March 2022, it created a Freeze And Seize Task Force tasked mainly with ensuring that all member states implement the bloc’s (by now 10) packages of Russia sanctions but also increasingly to explore the legal options on the use of seized Russian assets.

In November 2022 and in March, the European Commission sent out discussion papers to member states detailing the options. Seen by RFE/RL, the papers paint a rather pessimistic picture
of what is legally possible and how much Russian money the EU can realistically channel for future Ukrainian rebuilding.

The EU has so far frozen an estimated 20 billion euros ($21.4 billion) worth of assets belonging to the 1,500-plus people so far sanctioned for undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
But the chances are small that this money can be used in any way. EU legislation stipulates that the freezing of assets alone cannot be considered a first step toward confiscation. It is considered private property and, as such, requires compensation in the
event of deprivation.

Drilling Down

  • One of the European Commission papers on the confiscation issue notes that previous rulings by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) suggest that sanctions like asset freezes are "of temporary and nonpunitive nature." In other words, by that reading, it’s clearly
    a restriction but cannot be seen as a criminal punishment. It simply concludes that "from both legal and sanctions policy perspectives, it is important to preserve the temporary and noncriminal nature of sanctions to avoid raising the procedural and evidentiary
    thresholds required for the adoption of sanctions in the first place."
  • There is an argument that the only way money can be confiscated is if the individual possessing the frozen assets is convicted of a criminal offense. This is a long and arduous process but something that the EU and its member states are looking into. The European
    Commission has already asked Eurojust and Europol, the EU’s two agencies for criminal justice and law enforcement cooperation, to cross-check the list of sanctioned individuals against their databases; they identified criminal links relating to 71 individuals
    and three sanctioned companies.
  • Another possibility is to legally consider some Russian entities such as companies or organizations criminal or terrorist organizations and therefore regard individuals as criminally liable for their association. That could facilitate confiscation, but in order
    for that to happen, national or EU laws must be rewritten to include such a possibility. Consensus among the 27 EU member states is needed for that and, so far, that has not been possible.
  • The most likely option right now might be the "active management" of frozen Russian state assets belonging to the Russian Central Bank and affiliated entities. It is estimated that some $300 billion is frozen worldwide, with up to two-thirds of that in the
  • But even if all the legal hurdles are cleared, not all the assets would be available. Firstly, under international law, rules on state immunity would have to be assessed. That would likely cover Russian Central Bank assets that are necessary for sovereign functions
    like monetary policy, although it is unclear if international immunity would extend to assets used for commercial purposes.
  • What the EU is therefore examining is potentially selling Russian sovereign bonds on the market and handing over the proceeds to Ukraine. Legal changes would be required, but it’s unclear whether it would be worth it. The European Commission calculated that
    annual revenues of around 2.6 percent could be generated by selling short-term bonds. That could provide several billion dollars to Ukraine, but no more.
  • Discussions have been held among representatives of various EU member states, but there appears to be some reluctance on their part. The EU doesn’t want to go it alone; it would prefer that the United States do the same in order to alleviate fears among other
    central banks around the world that their dollar or euro reserves in the West are not safe from confiscation.

On May 29, the annual Globsec Bratislava forum kicks off in the Slovak capital. It is arguably the biggest think-tank event in Central
and Eastern Europe, with leaders including French President Macron debating the latest developments in Europe and beyond for a full three days. I will be there to moderate panels on the future of both EU defense policy and the European neighborhood. Feel free
to come and say hello or catch up over a coffee in Bratislava. I’ll be writing about the forum in the next edition of the Wider Europe newsletter on June 5.

That’s all for this week. Feel free to reach out to me on any of these issues on Twitter @RikardJozwiak or on e-mail at [email protected].

Until next time,

Rikard Jozwiak

If you enjoyed this briefing and don’t want to miss the next edition, subscribe here.
  • Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international
    summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.



RFE/RL Armenian Report – 05/29/2023

                                        Monday, May 29, 2023

Aliyev Again Threatens Armenia, Karabakh
May 29, 2023
• Ruzanna Stepanian

Azerbaijan - President Ilham Aliyev visits Lachin, May 28, 2023.

Azerbaijan may be walking away from recent understandings reached with Armenia, 
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian suggested on Monday, reacting to Azerbaijani 
President Ilham Aliyev’s latest threats of fresh military action against Armenia 
and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Aliyev said on Sunday that apart from recognizing Azerbaijani sovereignty over 
Karabakh Yerevan must also meet a number of other conditions set by Azerbaijan. 
That includes delimiting the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on Baku’s terms and 
opening a corridor to the Nakhichevan exclave, he said.

“They must not forget that Armenian villages are visible from here,” he added 
during a visit to the border town of Lachin.

Pashinian said the threat runs counter to the mutual recognition by the two 
South Caucasus states of each other’s territorial integrity which he and Aliyev 
reaffirmed at their May 14 meeting in Brussels.

“I think that both Azerbaijan and our international partners should at least 
clarify whether that means a renunciation of the understandings reached in 
Brussels,” he told Armenian lawmakers. Armenian diplomats should “get an answer 
to this question from our partners,” he said.

Pashinian provoked a storm of criticism in Armenia and Karabakh when he 
confirmed after the Brussels summit his readiness to recognize Karabakh as part 
of Azerbaijan through a peace treaty currently discussed by Baku and Yerevan. He 
said the treaty should call for an international framework of addressing “the 
rights and security” of Karabakh’s Armenian population.

Armenia -- Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian speaks in the National Assembly, May 
29, 2023.

Aliyev appeared to again rule out any such mechanism on Sunday, saying that the 
Karabakh Armenians must dissolve their government bodies and unconditionally 
accept Azerbaijani rule.

“Everyone knows that we can carry out any [military] operation in that 
territory,” he warned. “That is why the [Karabakh] parliament must be dissolved, 
the element who calls himself the president [of Karabakh] must surrender and all 
ministers, deputies and other officials must resign. Only then can there be talk 
of amnesty.”

Arayik Harutiunian, the Karabakh president, rejected the threats on Monday. A 
spokeswoman for Harutiunian said Aliyev’s demands also mean he “recognizes the 
legitimacy and importance of our institutions.”

Aliyev already made clear in April that Baku will not hold any internationally 
mediated talks with Stepanakert. The Karabakh Armenians “will either live under 
Azerbaijani rule or leave” their homeland, he said.

Two Karabakh lawmakers said Aliyev has doubled down on such threats because of 
the far-reaching concession to Baku made by Pashinian.

Aliyev and Pashinian are scheduled to meet again on Thursday in Moldova’s 
capital Chisinau on the sidelines of a European summit. The Armenian premier 
insisted that the controversial peace treaty will not be signed during that 

Two Armenian Soldiers Captured By Azerbaijan
May 29, 2023
• Artak Khulian
• Susan Badalian

Armenia - A purported photo of a military truck of two Armenian soldiers who 
were captureed by Azerbaijani forces late on May 26, 2023.

Two Armenian soldiers were captured by Azerbaijani forces late on Friday in what 
Armenia’s Defense Ministry described at the weekend as a cross-border incursion.

The ministry said that the soldiers, Harutiun Hovakimian and Karen Ghazarian, 
were ambushed and “kidnapped” after delivering water and food to Armenian army 
units guarding the border with Azerbaijan. It published photographs of their 
abandoned military truck found in a wooded area in in the southeastern Syunik 

The Azerbaijani side claimed that Hovakimian and Ghazarian were taken prisoner 
during a sabotage attack on an Azerbaijani army outpost. It was quick to bring a 
string of criminal charges, including “terrorism,” against the servicemen.

The Defense Ministry in Yerevan rejected the claim as “disinformation.” It said 
the fact that an assault rifle belonging to one of the soldiers was found inside 
the truck only proves that they could not have carried out any armed attacks in 
Azerbaijani territory.

Armenia -- The Shikahogh forest preserve in Syunik province, September 4, 2018.
Hovakimian’s mother told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that the 34-year-old contract 
soldier has for years been engaged in food supplies to troops manning Armenian 
border posts in Syunik’s Shikahogh forest reserve.

“He always went back and forth through that road,” she said. “He knows the road 
very well and could not have deviated a single inch from it.”

The Armenian government asked the European Court of Human Rights to order the 
Azerbaijani authorities to provide urgent information about the soldiers’ health 
and detention conditions. The Strasbourg court did not rule on the request as of 
Monday afternoon.

Hovakimian and Ghazarian were captured more than a month after two Azerbaijani 
soldiers were detained in Armenia. Baku said they strayed into Armenian 
territory from the Nakhichevan exclave due to heavy fog and demanded their 

One of the Azerbaijani conscripts was charged with murdering a Syunik resident 
one day before his detention. The other was sentenced to 11.5 years in prison by 
an Armenian court on May 8.

Pashinian Congratulates Turkey’s Erdogan On Election Win
May 29, 2023

TURKEY - Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan celebrate near 
Taksim Mosque at the Taksim Square in Istanbul on the day of the presidential 
runoff vote in Istanbul, May 28, 2023.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian rushed to congratulate Turkish President 
Recep Tayyip Erdogan on winning reelection in a weekend run-off vote.

“Congratulations to President Erdogan on his re-election,” Pashinian tweeted on 
Sunday evening shortly after the release of official election results that 
showed Erdogan winning over 52 percent of the vote.

“Looking forward to continuing working together towards full normalization of 
relations between our countries,” he wrote.

Turkey has for decades made the opening of the border and the establishment of 
diplomatic relations with Armenia conditional on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace 
deal acceptable to Azerbaijan. Turkish leaders have repeatedly reaffirmed this 
precondition since the start of the normalization talks with Yerevan in January 

Tensions between the two neighboring states were reignited in late April after 
municipal authorities in Yerevan unveiled a monument dedicated to Armenians who 
had assassinated masterminds and perpetrators of the 1915 Armenian genocide in 
Ottoman Turkey.

Czech Republic- Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Turkish President 
Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet in Prague, October 6, 2022.

The Turkish government strongly condemned the move and banned Armenian airlines 
from flying over Turkey to third countries. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu 
threatened last week “new measures” against Armenia if the monument is not 
removed soon.

Pashinian described the erection of the monument as a “wrong decision” when he 
spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service earlier this month. He claimed that his 
government had nothing to do with it.

During the presidential election campaign, Erdogan and his political allies 
repeatedly touted Turkey’s decisive military assistance to Azerbaijan provided 
during the 2020 war with Armenia. They accused Erdogan’s main challenger, Kemal 
Kilicdaroglu, of opposing Ankara’s political and military alliance with Baku.

Reposted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
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