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Armenia opposition ‘I Have Honor’ bloc: Nomination for deputy parliamentary speaker will depend on result of talks, Armenia

The ‘I Have Honor’ bloc’s decision to nominate a candidate for deputy parliamentary speaker will depend on the outcome of consultations of the two opposition forces. This is what spokesperson of the opposition Homeland Party Sos Hakobyan said during a conversation with Armenian, touching upon elected deputy of Civil Contract Party Alen Simonyan’s statement that the opposition deputy parliamentary speaker must be from the ‘I Have Honor’ bloc.

“Such issues need to be solved through consultations held by the two opposition parties, not the authorities. The two opposition factions need to work together to solve such issues, not oppose each other,” he stated.

Sports: Tokyo 2020: Artur Dalaloyan becomes Olympic champion as part of Russian tea, Armenia

The Russian gymnastics team became champion of the Olympic Games in Tokyo during the team triathlon.

Among the champions were Artur Dalaloyan, Denis Ablyazin, David Belyavskiy and Nikita Nagorny, who each earned 262,500 points.

The Japan team became vice-champion, and the Chinese won third place.

The Russian team won second place at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Russia hadn’t become a champion in this sport for the past 25 years.

Russia is represented by 335 athletes in 33 sports at the Olympics in Tokyo.

Armenian ombudsman releases new report on Azerbaijani shootings near Yeraskh

Panorama, Armenia

Armenia’s Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman) Arman Tatoyan has released a new ad hoc report on shootings of the Azerbaijani forces in the immediate vicinity of the Yeraskh community of Armenia’s Ararat Province from 14-15 July and on human rights violations, the ombudsman said on Facebook.

The report, which is in English, reflects results of the ombudsman’s fact-finding activities in Yeraskh, presents evidence on dangers to the community residents’ rights, as well as facts of violations of their rights.

The report shows the links between these shootings and Azerbaijani shootings in other bordering parts, near settlements.

Tigran Abrahamyan: Authorities failed to take any measures to ensure Armenia’s security

Panorama, Armenia

Armenian security expert Tigran Abrahamyan, the head of the analytical center Henaket, stated the Armenian authorities failed to take any measures to ensure the country’s security.

In a public post on Facebook on Saturday, he referred to the Defense Ministry’s statement on an attempt by an Azerbaijani drone to cross into Armenia’s airspace late on Friday.

The air defense units of the Armenian armed forces took measures to thwart an attempt by an Azerbaijani UAV to cross into Armenia’s airspace in the south-western direction of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border on Friday, at around 11pm, the Defense Ministry reported.

The situation was relatively stable in all sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border as of 9am Saturday, it said.

Abrahamyan underlined that the Defense Ministry was late to release a statement on the border tensions recorded late on Friday afternoon, while the ministry considered it expedient to respond to the reports of different sources over various border sections only today.

“This came despite the fact that the situation was rather uncertain and the information disseminated by various sources, including Azerbaijani, was contradictory.

“From the point of view of ensuring information security, the problem of efficiency creates new security risks, which either the structures dealing with the problem don’t realize or are simply inactive,” the expert said.

“It is not about reacting to Azerbaijani rumors, which is not always advisable, but the vacuum created in the Armenian media space, accompanied by the threats of clashes from Azerbaijan, poses a threat to information security.

“As it was the case in many other issues, this time as well the structures dealing with information security remember this concept only when the task is to isolate those who oppose the higher echelons of power and take active steps within its framework with unacceptable purposes and methods.

“The meaning of security remained incomprehensible for these people after all and no measures were taken to ensure it,” Abrahamyan said.

One of Armenian soldiers injured in shootout with Azerbaijani forces in critical condition

Panorama, Armenia

One of the three Armenian soldiers wounded in a shootout with the Azerbaijani forces on Friday is in critical condition, the Investigative Committee of Armenia reported on Saturday.

The three soldiers, identified as Arman Atasyan, Lernik Navoyan and Yurik Ohanyan (contract soldiers), sustained injuries after the Azerbaijani troops opened fire at the Armenian positions stationed in the Gegharkunik section of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border at around 5pm.

They were rushed to Gegharkunik garrison hospital, with Arman Atasyan being in critical condition.

A criminal case has been launched into an attempted murder out of motives of national, racial or religious hatred or fanaticism under Article 34-104 of Armenia’s Criminal Code, the Investigative Committee said.

A preliminary investigation is underway.

Pianist Eva Gevorgyan to perform at 18th Chopin Competition

Panorama, Armenia

Russian-Armenian pianist Eva Gevorgyan will perform at the 18th Chopin Piano Competition, she said on Friday.

“So happy to be selected to play on the 18th Chopin Competition! Thanks so much to my dear Professor Natalia Trull and to my family and friends!” she wrote on Facebook.

This year in October Warsaw will become again a piano capital of the world hosting the 18th Frederic Chopin International Piano Competition, one of the oldest and most prestigious music competitions in the world.

The preliminary of the 18th Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw started on 12 July and will last till 23 July. Nearly 160 pianists from all over the world will compete in the Chamber Hall of the Polish National Philharmonic to win their place among the 80 participants of the Chopin Competition.

Eva Gevorgyan has received prizes at more than 40 international competitions for piano and composition.

Armenian Church Threatened in Nagorno-Karabakh

07/25/2021 Nagorno-Karabakh (International Christian Concern) –  Holy Mother of God Church (St. Astvatsatsin) is being threatened with destruction, located in Taghavard, Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh). In just over one month, between June 10 and July 12, a large swath of the village was destroyed. The current bulldozed section reaches just outside the church.

St. Astvatsatsin Church was built in 1840 and was a Christian heritage site for the Armenian population prior to the fall 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war. Caucasus Heritage Watch, which monitors and reports via satellite images, called on the Azerbaijani authorities to protect the church and cease the bulldozing of Taghavard.

St. Astbatsatsin is one of several historic Armenian churches facing potential destruction in Artsakh, including Ghazanchetsots cathedral, after Azeri forces began to clear the region of any Christian history.

Concern over Azerbaijan ruling family influence at Oxford centre

The Times of Higher Education
July 22 2021
July 22, 2021
A member of the family of Azerbaijan’s autocratic ruler sits on the board of a University of Oxford research centre that studies the country, raising conflict of interest concerns for academics.
A body representing Armenian scholars expressed concern that the Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Centre, founded in 2018 by a £10 million donation from an undisclosed source, could neglect the study of Armenian heritage in the central Asian country, which, they say, the current government is trying to erase.
The donation was brokered by Nargiz Pashayeva, sister-in-law of President Ilham Aliyev, who since 2003 has ruled Azerbaijan amid accusations of torture, the jailing of political opponents and corruption.
Professor Pashayeva, rector of the Baku branch of Moscow State University, sits on the seven-person board of the Oxford centre, which decides which applicants are awarded scholarships to study Azerbaijan and the wider region.
“It is a source of concern that the Nizami Ganjavi Centre at Oxford came into being through a large donation of mysterious origin made possible by an individual with the closest possible ties to the Azerbaijani state’s rulers,” said Marc Mamigonian, director of academic affairs at the US-based National Association for Armenian Studies and Research.
The focus of the centre is on the history, culture and languages of the region, but some topics are more contemporary – in May it hosted an event titled “Beyond the Boom: Toward Human and Social Development in the Post-Oil Era in Azerbaijan”.
And for decades, scholars and journalists have raised the alarm about Azerbaijan’s destruction of historic Armenian tombs, churches and cross-stones called khachkars in its territory.
“There is reason to be concerned about the potential impact on how the study of the South Caucasus, past and present, will be framed – that is, what will be included, what will be excluded, and what forces will influence these ostensibly academic decisions?” Mr Mamigonian said.
There is no suggestion that the centre’s existing research is politically biased or flawed.
The ultimate source of its funding remains a mystery. Announcing the creation of the centre in 2018, Oxford said it had been made possible by “generous philanthropic support from the British Foundation for the Study of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus” (BFSAC), a UK-based charity established in 2016 and chaired by Professor Pashayeva.
The foundation was listed as a project of the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society, a body also co-chaired by Professor Pashayeva that aims to build relations between the two countries. Although its website is no longer functional, it counted the Azerbaijani ambassador to London as a patron.
An Oxford spokesman said its donations review committee “was made aware of the original source of funds for this gift, which does not come from a government”, but he did not offer any more information about the source.
Robert Hoyland, professor of late antique and early Islamic Middle Eastern history at New York University, and one of the foundation’s trustees, told Times Higher Education that the gift came from “a donor based in Europe, not in [Azerbaijan], was not made to or from BFSAC, but to Oxford University directly, and the deed of gift was made between those two parties”.
Elspeth Suthers, senior manager for Caucasus Programs at the US-based National Endowment for Democracy, which has warned about autocratic donations to Western universities, said it was “absolutely correct to question where these funds came from”.
She said Azerbaijan’s information strategy outside the country “has been focused on making sure that there are competing claims – at least one of which is sympathetic to their position – on any issue they have a vested interest in, rather than in trying to suppress competing narratives”.
The Oxford spokesman said: “The centre’s board comprises seven members, five of whom are Oxford University academics. Each member serves a three-year term, which is extendable for one further term, and the board reports into the university’s Faculty of Oriental Studies.
“The centre is formally constituted according to the university’s standard provisions guaranteeing academic freedom and research independence. Applications to the centre’s graduate scholarship and visiting fellowship programmes are considered on academic criteria alone.”
Professor Pashayeva did not respond to a request for comment.

Chaos in the Caucasus: Could a ‘Biden Doctrine’ Contain Russia and Turkey?

The National Interest

The Biden administration’s rhetorical willingness to confront both Turkey and Russia has been reassuring but policy needs to extend beyond promises.

by Ara Papian

Crafting a China strategy dominates the Biden administration’s foreign policy agenda, but Russia remains America’s most active adversary, challenging the West from Ukraine to Central Asia. Western inaction—more than Russian enterprise—has allowed this to happen.  In effect, the White House consistently folds with a full house when the Kremlin holds only a pair of twos.  

Russia has also benefited from the failure of Turkey to act as a counterweight to its ambitions. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has acted more as a liability to NATO than an asset. The most recent example of this is when Turkey purchased Russian S-400 missiles and provocations of Greece and Cyprus. Indeed, Russia and Turkey cooperated during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh last year in which Turkey helped its satellite state, Azerbaijan, to wrestle parts of Nagorno-Karabakh from Armenian control in fulfillment of Erdoğan’s neo-Ottoman aspirations. Turkey also muted NATO’s response to the recent aviation piracy incident in Belarus. 

The Biden administration’s rhetorical willingness to confront both Turkey and Russia has been reassuring but policy needs to extend beyond promises. The key to an effective policy in this direction is in Armenia. The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War shook up the status quo. Russia tied Armenia’s hands and allowed Azerbaijan and Turkey a victory on the battlefield. It even turned a blind eye to Turkey’s deployment of thousands of Syrian jihadists against Armenian forces. Russia then used the ceasefire agreement to shred the Minsk Group status quo and impose its forces as “peacekeepers” in the region. 

The Azeri elite, historically close to the Kremlin oligarchy, secured political capital by winning the war, tightening their grip on power. But it was a Pyrrhic victory. Russian troops now sit close to pipelines traversing Azerbaijan. At a minimum, Moscow can make offers Baku cannot refuse as Russia leverages its military presence into contracts for Russian energy, transport, and infrastructure companies.  

While Armenia has close cultural ties to Russia, much like in 1921 when the Lenin-Ataturk pact divided the young independent Armenian Republic between Soviet Russia and Turkey, Russia continues to backstab Armenia and curtail its independence. Russia’s current military presence in Armenia was never meant to serve its declared objective of protecting its host from a Turkish aggression and was merely a way for Russia to maintain its presence in a vital region. However, Armenia remains Russia’s Achilles heel. Its freedom movement helped catalyze the Soviet Union’s dissolution. The present-day aspirations of the Armenian public to be governed independently and democratically pose a threat for the Kremlin and may have demographic implications for Russia’s south. 

The United States has a unique opportunity. The Armenian public understands Russia’s betrayal. Anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia is at the highest level since independence from the Soviet Union. The Kremlin also knows that the country is now a low-hanging fruit for the West. 

The United States has a choice: it can capitalize on the situation or remain passive and let Russia take over Armenia and subsequently Georgia. Inaction has consequences. Successful Russian-sponsored aggression damages U.S. credibility and ultimately erodes the embrace of the West and its values.  

President Joe Biden’s Armenian Remembrance Day statement, which he delivered on April 24, was a great start. But it is not enough. The United States needs to be present. The United States should sponsor new bilateral and multilateral arrangements. A U.S.-French-Greek alliance, for example, would bolster Armenia’s security against Turkish and Azeri threats, and help solidify Armenia’s place in the West. In effect, Biden should seek a revised Eisenhower doctrine.  

Sixty-five years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower promised that a country could request American economic or military assistance if threatened by armed aggression, especially from the Soviet Union. An updated American strategy—a Biden Doctrine—could tame the geopolitical ambitions of Russia and Turkey. Supporting Armenia is further consistent with Biden’s declared objective of putting human rights at the center of U.S. foreign policy.  

Washington silence, however, will send the wrong signal to potential allies and undermine America’s ability to advance human rights and its global security agenda. It will also embolden dictators from Vladimir Putin to Aleksandr Lukashenko in their transnational repression and state terrorism.  

Ara Papian is Armenia’s former Ambassador to Canada and a governing board member of the National-Democratic Axis (NDA), a pro-Western political movement in Armenia that advocates for a Major Non-NATO U.S. Ally status for Armenia. 

Armenian [Nursing] Home’s plans? ‘No comment,’ we’re told

Pascack Press & Northern Valley Press
The Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, at 70 Main St., Emerson, is closed, with no word on when it might re-open, if ever. Until recently it was anticipating an exciting expansion. (John Snyder photo)

EMERSON—There are no answers yet as to plans for the continuation of the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (ANRC) in Emerson or elsewhere, with borough officials saying they have no updates on the 70 Main St. site.

ANRC closed its doors on Easter Sunday after after 83 years in operation. From the outside, the 3.5-acre property, with its 86 beds, still appears neat as a pin. Commons areas appear ready for use.

All residents “were safely and appropriately transitioned” to other nearby facilities, according to an April 23 announcement posted on the home’s website.

The message continues, “Further, virtually all ANRC employees were offered subsequent employment prior to closing — no small feat.”

Administrator Stephen J. Epstein wrote residents and family members April 2 that the facility “will close its doors for the last time” on Easter Sunday, April 4.

“Started in 1938, caring for the aged and infirm Armenians and soon growing to include all races and religions in America, over the last several years the Home struggled to compete with the growth of assisted living and home health care services and finally succumbed to the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he wrote.

“We sincerely thank our residents for allowing us the joy of caring for them over these past 83 years as well as their supportive families and friends,” he added.

NJ Spotlight News said in May that according to plans filed with the state on Feb. 8, operators at ANRC “provided residents’ families with a list of seven other facilities in the region, five with spots open for Medicaid members. Follow-up communication with the state indicates all residents did eventually find a new home.”

Until recently the home was embarked on exciting expansion plans. The Armenian Mirror-Spectator reported in 2018 that the board of directors for New York’s only residential facility for Armenian seniors, the New York Armenian Home, decided to sell their building in Flushing and relocate. They finally agreed with ANRC on a joint venture in Emerson, for which they were then finalizing the paperwork.

The paper quoted Khoren Bandazian, secretary of ANRC’s Board of Directors:“We’re going to be establishing a new non-profit company that each side will have participation in. And, we are currently talking with the Hackensack Meridian Health Network to be the developer, to build the new building, and also to manage the building going forward once it’s completed.”

According to Bandazian, construction on the Emerson property was to begin within the next nine months and was expected to be completed 18 months later.

On ANRC’s website, the message announcing its closure notes that the New York Armenian Home, Inc., and ANRC entered into an affiliation agreement on March 28, 2019. “By helping those in need, our respective organizations carry out their missions and further the charitable purposes. Despite setbacks caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we have made great progress, and are now very close to taking the next steps toward our joint venture.”

The message notes both organizations “are now fully focused in moving forward with the actions necessary to further our joint development” at 70 Main St. “It has been an arduous journey for our collective community, and although the Covid-19 pandemic created challenges and changes to our vision, the end is in sight and development planning is underway.”

Mayor Danielle DiPaola told Pascack Press on July 21 that she had not heard from ANRC officials in some time. She said it was her understanding that a new facility was approved for construction, and a groundbreaking held in 2019.

She said the original plans included nursing home residents staying in the existing facility while a new facility was built on the adjacent grass field. Then the old structure would be razed, and residents relocated, once the new facility was completed.

At the 2019 meeting, the Land Use Board approved minor changes to an amended resolution for a 118-bed facility in partnership with Hackensack Meridian Health.

The amended resolution was approved, 6–0, in 2019, with two abstentions and two members recused. Architect and planning professionals for ANRC said then that delays in construction were due to changes in state nursing home regulations.

— With John Snyder