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Azerbaijani press: Azerbaijan, Iran eye regional situation, mutual co-op

By Vugar Khalilov

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and his Iranian counterpart Hussein Amir Abdullahiyan discussed the regional situation and prospects of cooperation in economic, energy and other spheres, the Foreign Ministry reported on September 24.

The meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the 76th UN General Assembly session, stressed the importance of mutual cooperation between the two countries. The sides noted that bilateral relations are developing in all spheres.

The future development of cooperation in the economic, energy, trade, agriculture, and other spheres topped the agenda of talks.

Hussein Amir Abdullahiyan stressed that Iran is interested in developing comprehensive relations with Azerbaijan.

The two ministers also discussed the current regional situation as well.

Bayramov briefed his counterpart on the restoration, reconstruction and reintegration processes in the liberated areas after the signing of the trilateral statement by Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia.

Other topics, including international and regional issues, were discussed during the meeting, the ministry said.

It should be noted that Azerbaijani and Iranian government officials held several meetings to discuss the new conditions of traffic on the Gorus-Gafan road that emerged following Azerbaijan’s liberation of its territories.

The Gorus-Gafan highway connects Armenia with Iran. A small section of this route passes through the territory of Azerbaijan in Eyvazli village of Gubadli region.

Recently, a number of Armenian media published panic reports that Azerbaijani police and customs officers were inspecting Iranian trucks crossing the territory of the republic.

On September 11, the Azerbaijani media outlets reported that a lot of Iranian trucks continue to enter the Azerbaijani territories in Karabakh under the temporary Russian peacekeeper control without Baku's consent.

Later, the Defence Ministry stated that foreign legal entities, individuals and their vehicles cannot enter the Azerbaijani territories without the country's consent and such cases violate Azerbaijan's laws.

Turkish press: Mafia groups threaten locals in Istanbul’s vivid neighborhood

Mafia groups composed of illegal parking lot operators known as “değnekçi” continue threatening locals in the Balat neighborhood, a UNESCO-protected district on Istanbul’s Golden Horn waterway.

The historical neighborhood has changed in the last 10 years under the direction of Istanbul’s city-wide renewal plans, becoming a favorite attraction point of cinema companies that want to use it as an outdoor studio.

However, the area has been under the spotlight with gunfights between illegal parking lot operators and gangs trying to extort store owners in the last few years as its reputation grows in Turkish media.

One of the latest victims of these thugs was Enes Kaya, who organized events to increase children’s interest in cinema in the association he founded.

Kaya was shot in the legs in the middle of the street and threatened with death by a gang who wanted to turn a rented land into a parking lot. His wife’s shop was damaged by the stoning of the same group.

Sharing his experiences on social media after the attack on his wife’s shop, Kaya said threats did not stop although he complained to the police.

“I complained, but then they followed me and attacked me. One of the four bullets hit my knee,” he noted, adding that the area was turned into a parking lot by assailants while he was being treated in hospital.

Kaya claimed that the person who threatened him was Ararat Özer and the person who shot him was Recep Çetin.

Known as the former Jewish quarter of Istanbul, Balat has merged Turkish, Greek, Armenian and Latin influences, giving any visitor a unique, eye-catching experience to visitors.

However, the internal migration experienced since the 1990s and the fact that the houses have changed hands at very cheap prices led to the emergence of new illegal profiteering and mafia groups in the neighborhood.

Asbarez: St. Peter Armenian Church in Van Nuys Vandalized

One of the shattered windows of the St. Peter Church in Van Nuys

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

The St. Peter Armenian Church in the San Fernando Valley was vandalized on Thursday, with an assailant observed shattering eight very rare stained glass windows of the church, located on 17231 Sherman Way in Van Nuys.

St. Peter parish priest Archpriest Fr. Shnork Demirjian said in a telephone interview the security footage revealed that at around 1:30 a.m. Thursday the assailant was clad in black and carrying a bag, put on a cap and with a baseball bat began breaking the stained glass windows, on the Sherman Way side of the compound.

Father Demirjian and the church board became aware of the vandalism in the early hours of Thursday and immediately informed the Los Angeles Police Department, which said it is actively investigating the incident. According to Father Demirjian, the police have categorized the incident as “vandalism.”

The Armenian National  Committee of America-Western Region strongly condemned the vandalism and called on law enforcement agencies to investigate.

“We call on the Los Angeles Police Department and other relevant law enforcement agencies to undertake a swift and thorough investigation to bring those responsible to justice,” remarked ANCA-WR Executive Director Armen Sahakyan. “This act of vandalism is especially concerning as we recently marked one year since the Armenophobic hate crimes that took place in San Francisco.”

“There is significant amount of stained glass implosion on the property,” said the church on its Facebook page on Thursday. “There has also been vandalism done to the sign of the neighboring church on our property. No one has been harmed.

“The Parish Priest and the Parish Council are taking immediate measures to secure and protect St. Peter Armenian Church,” added the church.

This is a developing story.




Asbarez: St. Peter Armenian Church in Van Nuys Vandalized

One of the shattered windows of the St. Peter Church in Van Nuys

BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN

The St. Peter Armenian Church in the San Fernando Valley was vandalized on Thursday, with an assailant observed shattering eight very rare stained glass windows of the church, located on 17231 Sherman Way in Van Nuys.

St. Peter parish priest Archpriest Fr. Shnork Demirjian said in a telephone interview the security footage revealed that at around 1:30 a.m. Thursday the assailant was clad in black and carrying a bag, put on a cap and with a baseball bat began breaking the stained glass windows, on the Sherman Way side of the compound.

Father Demirjian and the church board became aware of the vandalism in the early hours of Thursday and immediately informed the Los Angeles Police Department, which said it is actively investigating the incident. According to Father Demirjian, the police have categorized the incident as “vandalism.”

The Armenian National  Committee of America-Western Region strongly condemned the vandalism and called on law enforcement agencies to investigate.

“We call on the Los Angeles Police Department and other relevant law enforcement agencies to undertake a swift and thorough investigation to bring those responsible to justice,” remarked ANCA-WR Executive Director Armen Sahakyan. “This act of vandalism is especially concerning as we recently marked one year since the Armenophobic hate crimes that took place in San Francisco.”

“There is significant amount of stained glass implosion on the property,” said the church on its Facebook page on Thursday. “There has also been vandalism done to the sign of the neighboring church on our property. No one has been harmed.

“The Parish Priest and the Parish Council are taking immediate measures to secure and protect St. Peter Armenian Church,” added the church.

This is a developing story.




U.S. House Demands Azerbaijani War Crimes Investigation; Azerbaijan’s Release of Armenian POWs

The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed five ANCA-backed amendments

Congressional, Community and Coalition Advocacy Drive Passage of Five ANCA-Backed Amendments to National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House staked out a powerful stand today against Azerbaijan and Turkey’s 2020 attack on Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and Armenia, overwhelmingly passing five Armenian National Committee of America-backed amendments demanding Baku’s release of Armenian prisoners of war, calling for investigations into Azerbaijani war crimes, supporting U.S. aid to Artsakh, and urging Turkey’s Grey Wolves be designated a foreign terrorist organization.  

The measures were adopted by voice vote on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, as part of larger groupings, or blocs, of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA – H.R.4350).  The U.S. House is expected to pass the underlying NDAA measure later tonight on a largely party-line vote.

“The U.S. House of Representatives – over intense Turkish and Azerbaijani lobbying, but without any vocal legislative opposition – voted overwhelmingly today to hold Ankara and Baku accountable for their attacks on Artsakh last fall and ongoing aggression against Armenia,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We join with our coalition partners and countless community activists to thank the authors of these ANCA-backed amendments – and all those who supported their passage –  and are already at work ensuring that these principled and powerful stands are enacted into U.S. law and translated into American policy.”

The first amendment, led by Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), states it is the sense of Congress that “Azerbaijan must immediately and unconditionally return all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians.”  It goes on to demand a report from the Secretary of Defense on the use of U.S. technology in Turkish drones used by Azerbaijan to attack Armenia and Artsakh during the 2020 war.  The report would also detail the use of illegal munitions and chemical weapons, including white phosphorus, against Armenian civilians.  The bi-partisan amendment was also cosponsored by Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), and David Valadao (R-CA).

“It is critical that we get a full accounting of the facts as we look to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions in Nagorno Karabakh last year,” said Rep. Cardenas.  “I am glad to have worked closely with Reps. Schiff and Sherman to produce an amendment that does exactly that. This report is critical to getting a clear picture of the extent of Azerbaijan’s actions and any potential violations of international law. Additionally, it will make clear that the United States Congress expects Azerbaijan to honor its obligation to carry out the unconditional return of any remaining Armenian prisoners of war safely to Armenia. I am thankful for the bipartisan group of cosponsors that has joined us in this effort, and will work hard to see that the report gets done.”

Rep. Schiff concurred, adding, “It is unconscionable that as we approach the one-year anniversary of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan continues to illegally detain Armenian service members and captured civilians – a reality made even more horrific by ongoing reports that these prisoners of war are subject to torture in violation of international human rights conventions.”  Rep. Schiff went on to note, “With this amendment, we are making it absolutely clear to the Aliyev regime that they have the obligation to release these prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and that the Biden administration should take every possible diplomatic action, including through the OSCE Minsk Group, to hold them to account.”

Rep. Sherman explained, “This amendment is critical in our efforts to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its heinous acts of aggression last year against the people of Armenia and Artsakh. I was pleased to work with Congressmen Cardenas and Schiff and many others on this amendment that aims to uncover the full extent of Azerbaijan’s actions, and sends a strong message calling on Azerbaijan to honor its obligation for the unconditional and safe return to Armenia of any remaining Armenian prisoners of war.”

The second amendment, led by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), requires a report from the Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Secretary of State, addressing allegations that some units of foreign countries that have participated in security cooperation programs under section 333 of title 10, U.S.C. may have also committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights before or while receiving U.S. security assistance. Since 2016, Azerbaijan has received over $120 million in U.S. military assistance under section 333 funding, and would be in the list of countries scrutinized for committing human rights violations during and after the 2020 Artsakh War.  

Speaking on the House floor, Rep. Pallone explained, “Azerbaijan was still receiving equipment and training from the US military that began a deadly attack against Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) on September 27 that led to the death of thousands and the displacement of so many more.”  He went on to explain, “passage of this amendment sends a clear signal that the US takes seriously its democratic norms and commitment to peace by ensuring oversight of our security assistance and I hope at least in future restraint from aiding and tolerating similar regimes in the future, especially when their actions are aimed at destabilizing a fellow democracy.”

Rep. Pallone’s bi-partisan amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA).

The third amendment, led by Representatives David Valadao (R-CA) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), requires the Secretary of State to submit a report to the Senate and House Foreign Affairs Committees of all US humanitarian and developmental assistance programs in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), including an analysis of the effectiveness of such programs and any plans for future assistance.  Rep. Sherman is considered the father of U.S. aid programs to Artsakh, leading legislative effort as early as 1997.  Rep. Valadao traveled to Artsakh in 2017 and reviewed U.S. aid programs there, including U.S. funded demining efforts by The HALO Trust.  The Valadao-Sherman amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), David Trone (D-MD), and Susan Wild (D-PA). 

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) led a fourth amendment requiring a report by the Secretary of State on the activities Turkey’s Grey Wolves organization has undertaken against U.S. interests, allies, and international partners, including a review of the criteria met for designation as a foreign terrorist organization.  The amendment had the support of a coalition of organizations including the Hellenic American Leadership Council, In Defense of Christians, American Friends of Kurdistan, Middle East Forum, as well as the ANCA, which circulated a detailed legislative brief to Congress in the days leading up to the vote.

The Titus amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). 

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) led the fifth amendment supported by the ANCA, modifying the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to authorize sanctions for serious human rights abuse, any violation of internationally recognized human rights, or corruption.  The amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Dina Titus (D-NV), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).

The Senate is set to consider its version of the National Defense Authorization Act over the next month.  The ANCA is working closely with Senate Armed Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee members to explore amendment opportunities similar to those adopted by the U.S. House and to zero-out U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan.

U.S. House Demands Azerbaijani War Crimes Investigation; Azerbaijan’s Release of Armenian POWs

The U.S. House overwhelmingly passed five ANCA-backed amendments

Congressional, Community and Coalition Advocacy Drive Passage of Five ANCA-Backed Amendments to National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House staked out a powerful stand today against Azerbaijan and Turkey’s 2020 attack on Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and Armenia, overwhelmingly passing five Armenian National Committee of America-backed amendments demanding Baku’s release of Armenian prisoners of war, calling for investigations into Azerbaijani war crimes, supporting U.S. aid to Artsakh, and urging Turkey’s Grey Wolves be designated a foreign terrorist organization.  

The measures were adopted by voice vote on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, as part of larger groupings, or blocs, of amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA – H.R.4350).  The U.S. House is expected to pass the underlying NDAA measure later tonight on a largely party-line vote.

“The U.S. House of Representatives – over intense Turkish and Azerbaijani lobbying, but without any vocal legislative opposition – voted overwhelmingly today to hold Ankara and Baku accountable for their attacks on Artsakh last fall and ongoing aggression against Armenia,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We join with our coalition partners and countless community activists to thank the authors of these ANCA-backed amendments – and all those who supported their passage –  and are already at work ensuring that these principled and powerful stands are enacted into U.S. law and translated into American policy.”

The first amendment, led by Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Brad Sherman (D-CA), states it is the sense of Congress that “Azerbaijan must immediately and unconditionally return all Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians.”  It goes on to demand a report from the Secretary of Defense on the use of U.S. technology in Turkish drones used by Azerbaijan to attack Armenia and Artsakh during the 2020 war.  The report would also detail the use of illegal munitions and chemical weapons, including white phosphorus, against Armenian civilians.  The bi-partisan amendment was also cosponsored by Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), and David Valadao (R-CA).

“It is critical that we get a full accounting of the facts as we look to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions in Nagorno Karabakh last year,” said Rep. Cardenas.  “I am glad to have worked closely with Reps. Schiff and Sherman to produce an amendment that does exactly that. This report is critical to getting a clear picture of the extent of Azerbaijan’s actions and any potential violations of international law. Additionally, it will make clear that the United States Congress expects Azerbaijan to honor its obligation to carry out the unconditional return of any remaining Armenian prisoners of war safely to Armenia. I am thankful for the bipartisan group of cosponsors that has joined us in this effort, and will work hard to see that the report gets done.”

Rep. Schiff concurred, adding, “It is unconscionable that as we approach the one-year anniversary of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan continues to illegally detain Armenian service members and captured civilians – a reality made even more horrific by ongoing reports that these prisoners of war are subject to torture in violation of international human rights conventions.”  Rep. Schiff went on to note, “With this amendment, we are making it absolutely clear to the Aliyev regime that they have the obligation to release these prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and that the Biden administration should take every possible diplomatic action, including through the OSCE Minsk Group, to hold them to account.”

Rep. Sherman explained, “This amendment is critical in our efforts to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its heinous acts of aggression last year against the people of Armenia and Artsakh. I was pleased to work with Congressmen Cardenas and Schiff and many others on this amendment that aims to uncover the full extent of Azerbaijan’s actions, and sends a strong message calling on Azerbaijan to honor its obligation for the unconditional and safe return to Armenia of any remaining Armenian prisoners of war.”

The second amendment, led by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), requires a report from the Secretary of Defense, in collaboration with the Secretary of State, addressing allegations that some units of foreign countries that have participated in security cooperation programs under section 333 of title 10, U.S.C. may have also committed gross violations of internationally recognized human rights before or while receiving U.S. security assistance. Since 2016, Azerbaijan has received over $120 million in U.S. military assistance under section 333 funding, and would be in the list of countries scrutinized for committing human rights violations during and after the 2020 Artsakh War.  

Speaking on the House floor, Rep. Pallone explained, “Azerbaijan was still receiving equipment and training from the US military that began a deadly attack against Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) on September 27 that led to the death of thousands and the displacement of so many more.”  He went on to explain, “passage of this amendment sends a clear signal that the US takes seriously its democratic norms and commitment to peace by ensuring oversight of our security assistance and I hope at least in future restraint from aiding and tolerating similar regimes in the future, especially when their actions are aimed at destabilizing a fellow democracy.”

Rep. Pallone’s bi-partisan amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA).

The third amendment, led by Representatives David Valadao (R-CA) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), requires the Secretary of State to submit a report to the Senate and House Foreign Affairs Committees of all US humanitarian and developmental assistance programs in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), including an analysis of the effectiveness of such programs and any plans for future assistance.  Rep. Sherman is considered the father of U.S. aid programs to Artsakh, leading legislative effort as early as 1997.  Rep. Valadao traveled to Artsakh in 2017 and reviewed U.S. aid programs there, including U.S. funded demining efforts by The HALO Trust.  The Valadao-Sherman amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), David Trone (D-MD), and Susan Wild (D-PA). 

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) led a fourth amendment requiring a report by the Secretary of State on the activities Turkey’s Grey Wolves organization has undertaken against U.S. interests, allies, and international partners, including a review of the criteria met for designation as a foreign terrorist organization.  The amendment had the support of a coalition of organizations including the Hellenic American Leadership Council, In Defense of Christians, American Friends of Kurdistan, Middle East Forum, as well as the ANCA, which circulated a detailed legislative brief to Congress in the days leading up to the vote.

The Titus amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). 

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) led the fifth amendment supported by the ANCA, modifying the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to authorize sanctions for serious human rights abuse, any violation of internationally recognized human rights, or corruption.  The amendment was cosponsored by Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Dina Titus (D-NV), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).

The Senate is set to consider its version of the National Defense Authorization Act over the next month.  The ANCA is working closely with Senate Armed Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee members to explore amendment opportunities similar to those adopted by the U.S. House and to zero-out U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan.

17th-Century Armenian Paintings Return to Windsor Castle after 150 years

Staff at Windsor Castle move the portraits into place in the King’s Dining Room

Visitors at Windsor Castle will get to see two newly conserved paintings by the mysterious 17th-century Armenian artist Marcos, The Windsor Express reported on Friday.

The paintings have been installed in the King’s Dining Room at Windsor Castle for the first time in 150 years. They were last recorded within the castle in the early 1870s.

An expert carefully cleans the Marcos painting

It is not known how or when the paintings arrived in England. They were first recorded as hanging at Windsor Castle in James II’s inventory in 1688, and subsequently hung at Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace. 

The works of art show a member of the military aristocracy and an unmarried woman from New Jugha, the Armenian district of Isfahan, which was the cosmopolitan capital of Persia in the 17th century.

The figures are dressed in luxurious fabrics including Persian silks, which the Armenians of Isfahan famously traded across the globe. Both portraits include European details, such as a Venetian wine glass, a German clock and Dutch flowers, signifying affluence through access to luxury international commodities.

In U.N. Speech Pashinyan Highlights Baku’s Continued Threats

n Armenia border patrol soldier in Gegharkunik

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations for the annual General Assembly, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, addressing the session in a pre-recorded video, highlighted Azerbaijan’s continued threats against Armenia and Artsakh, accusing Baku of disrupting regional peace and security.

Enumerating the continued ceasefire violations by Azerbaijan, as well as highlighting that official Baku continues to hold and torture Armenian prisoners of war and civilians in captivity, Pashinyan blamed Azerbaijan for deepening “the atmosphere of hostility.”

“The ceasefire violations, the aggressive and insulting statements addressed to Armenia and the Armenian people continuously escalate the situation,’’ said Pashinyan in his speech, the transcript of which was released by his press office.

Pashinyan pointed to Article 8 of the November 9 statement saying, “Azerbaijan not only still holds several dozen citizens of the Republic of Armenia in captivity, but it also has sentenced many of them to 6 to 20 years prison terms on trumped-up charges.”

“There are citizens whose captivity has not yet been confirmed by Azerbaijan, although there is clear evidence that they are being held captive. This becomes even more unacceptable against the backdrop of Azerbaijanis posting videos last fall of the capture of Armenian soldiers, whose decapitated or mutilated remains were discovered later. We have irrefutable evidence about the torture of our captives,’’ Pashinyan emphasized.

Armenia’s prime minister cited the opening of the so-called “trophy park” in Baku, “where Azerbaijani schoolchildren are taken on excursions to interact the wax models of captured, killed or bleeding Armenian soldiers.”

Saying such deliberate actions by Baku, make it impossible to achieve peace in the region, pledging to create “new opportunities to open an era of peace for our region.’’

In recounting the numerous violations of international norms by Azerbaijan during last fall’s 44-Day War, Pashinyan lamented that the international community did not prevent mass atrocities—ethnic cleansing—against Armenians

“Today, no Armenian lives or practically can live in the territories under the control of Azerbaijan,’’ added Pashinyan.

In his remarks to the U.N. General Assembly, Pashinyan said that Armenia is ready for constructive dialogue, which should lead to the establishment of sustainable and lasting peace in the region.

“To this end, we propose to complete the process of returning prisoners of war, hostages and other captives without delay. It is also necessary to resume the peace process for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs,’’ Pashinyan said, pointing out that the use of force, which continues by Azerbaijan, cannot become gain legitimacy from an international legal perspective.

“The right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination cannot be suspended through the use of force; the conflict cannot be considered resolved through the use of force. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is awaiting its just settlement. This is evidenced by the statements of the Co-Chair countries, which have emphasized the need to resume the negotiation process based on the well-known principles,” added Pashinyan, saying that the Co-chairs would “enable the parties to find common ground, and to open avenues for addressing many difficult issues.’’

In discussing the issue of demarcation and delimitation of the borders, Pashinyan pointed to Azerbaijan’s breach of Armenia’s sovereign borders since May and reiterated his government position for resolving the matter, which includes the simultaneous retreat of Armenia and Azerbaijani forces to Soviet-era borders and deployment of international observers, who would monitor the delimitation and demarcation of the borders.

He also continued to advance the notion of the so-called “opening of regional infrastructures,” which essentially means the opening of common borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Asbarez: Aliyev Hurls Threats as Yerevan Presses for Karabakh Status

A past celebration of Artsakh's independence

Armenia insisted on Friday that a final status for Karabakh has not been determined as Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, once again, threatened Armenia with unspecified consequences if it continued to press for OSCE Minsk Group-mediated talks on the matter, urging Yerevan to not “anger or annoy us.”

“The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a thing of the past,” Aliyev declared late Thursday, in a video address to the United Nations General Assembly. “Azerbaijan no longer has an administrative-territorial unit called Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said, adding that the international community should stop using the Artsakh’s name.

“They [Armenia] should not forget the lessons of the Second Karabakh War,” warned Aliyev in an interview with the Russian “National Defense” magazine, reported the Turan news agency.

“In general, why does Armenia, a loser of the war, having signed the act of surrender, consider itself entitled to talk about some kind of status for Karabakh? It is impossible to talk about the status of something that is no longer there,” added Aliyev.

“There is no Nagorno-Karabakh. There is the Karabakh economic region, there is the East-Zangezur economic region. This is our territory, and only we can determine what administrative units we can have. Only to us, no one else, no other country, especially Armenia,” Aliyev told the Russian “National Interest.”

He threatened that if Armenia continues to pursue the Karabakh status agenda, Azerbaijan will “respond in the same manner” by claiming Zangezur and other parts of Armenia as historic Azerbaijani territory, reiterating his claim that Armenia and Azerbaijan must sign a peace treaty that acknowledges Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan.

Armenia’s National Security Chief Armen Grigoryan on Friday said that the status of Karabakh must be determinate by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, calling Aliyev’s statements “perplexing.”

“The Nagorno Karabakh issue isn’t resolved, and this issue still awaits its resolution,” said Grigoryan. “We believe that we are going to discuss the status within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.”

The United States Ambassador to Armenia Lynne Tracy has also been vocal in emphasizing that the status of the Karabakh has not been resolved. She was rebuked by Baku earlier this month, when the Azerbaijani foreign ministry said that Tracy was destabilizing the peace process.

The status of the Karabakh was a topic of discussion between Armenian and French foreign ministers Ararat Mirzoyan and Jean-Yves Le Drian who met in New York on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly. Le Drian also discussed the matter, including the co-chairs’ role, with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday in New York.

RFE/RL Armenian Report – 09/24/2021

                                        Friday, 


Armenian Parliament Approves Community Enlargement

        • Karine Simonian

Armenia - Deputies from the ruling Civil Contract party preside over 
parliamentary hearings on a controversial enlargement of Armenia's communities 
sought by the government, Yerevan, September 22, 2021.


In a move strongly condemned by its opposition minority, the National Assembly 
approved on Friday a controversial government proposal to merge the vast 
majority of Armenian cities and villages into much bigger communities.

A government bill passed by lawmakers will turn 441 existing communities into 38 
administrative units that will resemble districts. Armenia will have a total of 
79 communities, including the capital Yerevan, as a result.

Most of the current communities already consist of multiple villages and/or 
small towns consolidated by the former Armenian government.

The current government has opted for a further community consolidation, saying 
that it will make local self-government and budgetary spending on communities 
more efficient.

Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Gnel Sanosian 
defended the measure during a parliament debate. He said government experts have 
concluded that good governance and socioeconomic development is highly 
problematic in rural communities with fewer than 3,000 residents.

Sanosian assured their residents that every small Armenian village will retain 
its administration subordinate to the wider community leadership. “No settlement 
in Armenia will be liquidated or renamed,” he said.

Many elected community heads are strongly opposed to the consolidation. The 
country’s two main opposition groups have also denounced it as arbitrary and 
unfounded.

Lawmakers representing them walked out of the parliament at the start of 
Friday’s debate in protest against what they called an unconstitutional bill.

Hayk Mamijanian of the opposition Pativ Unem bloc claimed that the government is 
pushing through the bill to get rid of elected local officials affiliated with 
or sympathetic to opposition parties.

Government officials have denied any political reasons for the community 
enlargement.



Armenian Speaker’s Brother Wins Government Contracts

        • Naira Nalbandian

Armenia- Speaker Alen Simonian chairs a session o f the National Assembly, 
Yerevan, September 13, 2021


A road construction company run by parliament speaker Alen Simonian’s brother 
has won in the last few months two government contracts worth $1.4 million, 
raising suspicions of a conflict of interest and even corruption.

The investigative publication Hetq.am revealed this week that the relatively 
small firm called EuroAsphalt won a recent government tender for paving rural 
roads around Aparan, a small town in Armenia’s central Aragatsotn province. It 
signed a relevant contract with the local government on September 19 after 
pledging to carry out the road works for 287 million drams ($595,000).

In June, EuroAsphalt was contracted by the Armenian Ministry of Territorial 
Administration and Infrastructures to repair country roads in northwestern 
Shirak province. The repairs were supposed to cost the state 386 million drams.

EuroAsphalt had an authorized capital of just over $100 when it was founded by 
two little-known individuals in 2018. Simonian’s brother Karlen became its 
executive director early this year.

Karlen Simonian also manages another construction company called EuroAsphalt-1. 
It was registered in February 2021 and was worth 140 million drams at the time.

Deputy Prime Minister Suren Papikian, who served as minister of territorial 
administration until recently, insisted on Thursday that EuroAsphalt won the two 
contracts as a result of transparent and fair tenders, rather than its chief 
executive’s government connection.

“If people have information about corruption schemes, let them make it public, 
for God’s sake,” said Papikian.

Civic activists see a cause for concern, however. Varuzhan Hoktanian of the 
Armenian affiliate of the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International 
said that the integrity of tenders won by individuals linked to state officials 
has long been in serious doubt in Armenia. He said an Armenian Finance Ministry 
division in charge of state procurements must therefore scrutinize the contracts 
granted to EuroAsphalt.

“When such tenders are won with amazing consistency by relatives or cronies of 
state officials there are corruption risks involved,” agreed Artur Sakunts, a 
veteran human rights campaigner. “This must definitely become a subject of 
investigation.”

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian for years alleged corrupt practices in the 
administration of tenders won by such individuals when he was in opposition to 
Armenia’s former governments. He claimed to have eliminated “systemic 
corruption” in the country after coming to power in 2018.

Alen Simonian is a close associate of Pashinian. A spokeswoman for the 
parliament speaker told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Friday that he will not 
comment on his brother’s business activities for now. She said at the same time 
that he is ready to answer questions submitted in writing.

Simonian also raised eyebrows when he appointed a businessman and friend of his 
as chief of the Armenian parliament staff days after becoming its speaker in 
August.

The businessman, Vahan Naribekian, owns a company supplying furniture to the 
National Assembly and various government and law-enforcement agencies. According 
to Hetq.am, the company has won 148 supply contracts since the 2018 regime 
change.



Karabakh Conflict Unresolved, Insists Armenia

        • Astghik Bedevian

Nagorno Karabakh -- Pedestrians walk past a poster bearing a flag of 
Nagorno-Karabakh in Stepanakert on November 24, 2020,


Official Yerevan dismissed on Friday Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s fresh 
claim that Azerbaijan ended the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with its victory in 
the six-week war stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire last November.

“The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a thing of the past,” Aliyev declared on late 
on Thursday, addressing a session of the UN General Assembly.

“Azerbaijan no longer has an administrative-territorial unit called 
Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said, adding that the international community should stop 
using the Armenian-populated territory’s name.

“The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains unresolved,” countered Armen Grigorian, 
the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council. “The issue of Nagorno-Karabakh’s 
status still awaits a solution and we see that solution within the framework of 
the OSCE Minsk Group.”

The U.S. ambassador to Armenia, Lynne Tracy, has repeatedly made similar 
statements in recent weeks.

“We do not see the status of Nagorno-Karabakh as having been resolved,” Tracy 
insisted on September 13 in remarks condemned by the Azerbaijani Foreign 
Ministry.

Aliyev ruled out on July 22 any negotiations on Karabakh’s status, saying that 
Yerevan must instead recognize Azerbaijani sovereignty over the disputed 
territory.

Later in July, the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the Minsk 
Group issued a joint statement calling for a “negotiated, comprehensive, and 
sustainable settlement of all remaining core substantive issues of the 
conflict.” They said the conflicting parties should resume talks “as soon as 
possible.”

The Karabakh issue was on the agenda of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s 
talks with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian held on Thursday on the 
sidelines of the UN General Assembly. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, 
the two men reaffirmed their governments’ intention to continue to strive for 
“stabilizing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, first and foremost in the OSCE 
Minsk Group format.”

Le Drian also met separately in New York with Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat 
Mirzoyan.



Yerevan Still Hopeful About Turkish-Armenian Rapprochement

        • Sargis Harutyunyan

Armenia -- Armen Grigorian, the secretary of the Security Council, at a news 
conference in Yerevan, .


The Armenian government still hopes to normalize Armenia’s relations with Turkey 
despite apparent preconditions set by Ankara, a senior official in Yerevan said 
on Friday.

Armen Grigorian, the secretary of Armenia’s Security Council, said Yerevan is 
ready to start a Turkish-Armenian “dialogue without preconditions” and discuss 
all thorny issues during a “gradual” normalization process.

Grigorian did not explicitly deny that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian offered 
earlier this month to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “We 
believe that a dialogue at a high and the highest levels is one of the ways of 
normalizing those relations,” he told reporters.

Erdogan claimed last week to have received the offer from Pashinian through 
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili. He appeared to make such a meeting 
conditional on Armenia agreeing to open a transport corridor that would connect 
Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave.

In his earlier comments on Yerevan’s overtures to Ankara, Erdogan cited 
Azerbaijan’s demands for a formal Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani 
sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Asked about the apparent Turkish preconditions, Grigorian said: “The Armenian 
side has stated on numerous occasions … that relations with Turkey should be 
normalized without preconditions because whenever there are preconditions it’s 
hard to make progress on any issue. So we hope that the normalization of 
relations will be without preconditions.”

Armenian opposition leaders have denounced what they see as Pashinian’s secret 
overtures to Erdogan. They say that Ankara continues to make the establishment 
of diplomatic relations with Yerevan and the opening of the Turkish-Armenian 
border conditional on a Nagorno-Karabakh settlement favorable to Baku.

Turkey provided decisive military assistance to Azerbaijan during the six-week 
war in Karabakh stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire last November.


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