Step Toward Home: Diaspora youth explore Armenia

Over 100 youth from eight countries have arrives in Armenia as part of the Step Toward Home program of the Diaspora High Commissioner’s Office.

During the first three days young people visited the Matenadaran depository of ancient manuscripts, Oshakan, AGBU Armenian Virtual College, and Tsitsernakaberd. They are taking courses of Armenian, Armenian song and dance.

The program’s participants viewed and learned about the Matenadaran’s ancient manuscripts, some of which were donated by Diaspora-Armenians.

In Oshakan, they visited the St. Mesrop Mashtots Church named after the inventor of the Armenian alphabet who is buried there.

At the AGBU Armenian Virtual College, the Diaspora-Armenian youth learned about available technologies for studying Armenian language and Armenian Studies.

Afterwards, the participants visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial, where they laid flowers in honor of the 1.5 million Armenians martyred during the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

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EAFJD draws attention to the video proving Baku is using Armenian captives for political bargaining

The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) sent a letter to the EU leaders today drawing their attention to the leaked video of a conversation between the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife proving Azerbaijan’s instrumentalization of Armenian captives.

The Letter was sent to Charles Michel, President of Council of the European Union, Ursula Von der Leyen, President of European Commission and Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission.

The video attests that Aliyev’s and his government’s previous public statements on the non-existence of Armenian prisoners of war in Azerbaijan were false, and explicitly proves Aliyev’s intention of using these captives as mere objects of trade and political bargaining.

Below is the full text of the letter:

A recently leaked video of an informal conversation between the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his wife not only attests that Aliyev’s and his government’s previous public statements on the non-existence of Armenian prisoners of war (PoWs), captives in Azerbaijan were false, but also explicitly proves Aliyev’s intention of using these captives as mere objects of trade and political bargaining.

In the video (dating to 15 June 2021) one can clearly hear Erdoğan’s wife asking Ilham Aliyev whether they still have more [Armenian] captives. Aliyev responds to this by “yes, of course, it is in the process”. Erdogan’s wife then comments, saying “then return them in portion by portion”, meaning in stages. The whole conversation implies that the Armenian captives and PoWs should be traded for something else.

Despite this irrefutable evidence of the Armenian captives being held as bargaining chips, we remind you of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev’s answer to media representatives at press conference on 26 February 2021 and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jeyhun Bayramov’s statement at press conference on 15 March 2021 where they both emphasised that there were no Armenian captives held in Azerbaijan.

This video and the developments on the ground testify that the Azerbaijani authorities

1. illegally keep all Armenian captives as objects for use in political bargaining;

2. continuously mislead the international community by qualifying the captives as “terrorists” or “saboteurs”;

3. organize false, illegal criminal proceedings against the captives;

4. commit human trafficking, which is a criminally punishable act, such as the capturing of 6 Armenian servicemen on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia on 27 May;

5. blatantly violate clause 8 of the tripartite ceasefire statement of 10 November , 2020 which stipulates the return of all prisoners of war and captives.

6. deliberately cause continuous suffering to the Armenian captives, prisoners of war as well as their families.

Additionally, we recall the fact that since 11 May 2021, the Azerbaijani forces have encroached onto the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia where they still remain illegally, endangering the security of the population in border settlements and generating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. The US department of State, the French President Emmanuel Macron have urged to pull back all the forces from the sovereign territory of Armenian and cease the provocation. In its resolution adopted by overwhelming majority on 20. May 2021, the European Parliament declared that “the temporary entry of troops from Azerbaijan into the territory of Armenia amount to a violation of the territorial integrity of Armenia and of international law”.

Taking into account all the above-mentioned facts, the resolutions adopted by the European Parliament, as well as by several national parliaments of the EU member states, we a panEuropean grassroots organisation, call on you to:

– use all the leverage at your disposal and put pressure on Azerbaijan to ensure an immediate and unconditional release of all the Armenian captives and prisoners of war, as stipulated by the ceasefire statement of 10 November 2020;

– to stand up against the Azerbaijani encroachment on the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia;

– support the creation of a security zone on the border of Armenia with Azerbaijan as an essential prerequisite for a demarcation process which must take place within the framework a comprehensive peaceful settlement, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk group;

The lives and dignity of human beings should never be an object of trade. The release of the Armenian prisoners of war is a mandatory international requirement, and not an act of goodwill or grace. There is no lasting peace without justice. In order for peace to be sustainable, it has to be viable. As EU citizens we thus call on you to use all the instruments at your disposal to defend the inalienable rights of the indigenous Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh and to ensure the realisation of the above-mentioned objectives which are a minimal prerequisite for starting any viable peace-process.

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Mkhitaryan’s goal against Parma voted Roma’s Goal of the Season

Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal against Parma has been voted Roma’s Goal of the Season.

Mkhitaryan became Roma’s best goalscorer with 13 league goals in 2020-2021 season. The midfielder has agreed a contract extension and will stay with Roma for another year.

Read original article here.

Nikol Pashinyan holding consultations with extra-parliamentary forces

Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan today met with Tigran Arzakantsyan as part of political consultations with extra-parliamentary forces.

Dear Mr. Arzakantsyan, I am pleased to see you. Thank you for accepting the invitation. I am sorry that your registration during the electoral campaign was declared invalid. I hope you know that the decision made by the Central Electoral Commission stems from the legislation of the Republic of Armenia. I would like to learn your views about the future course of political life in Armenia. I also wish to hear your opinion about ways of building closer ties of interaction between extra-parliamentary forces and the government,” Nikol Pashinyan said.

Tigran Arzakantsyan said: “What matters most to me is that our party has developed noteworthy development programs. I would like to discuss with the new leadership and the new government issues related to Artsakh’s education system and economic development.”

“I consider myself a patriotic Armenian; I would like to see that my knowledge and investments proved to be effective for my homeland. I wish to serve my country and follow up the talks with the Government of Armenia. Our political teammates, too, would like to cooperate on all these issues,” he added.

“Security is what matters most. Economic development, elections come and go, while life continues. We must continue to uphold and develop our country in every direction. The election results are clear to all of us, but this is not the end of life. We are prepared to cooperate effectively and discuss any issue of national concern,” Arzakantsyan said.

The interlocutors discussed ways of tapping the national potential, as well as the prospects for further cooperation.

Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan is holding consultations with extra-parliamentary forces.

Nikol Pashinyan met with Sovereign Armenia Party leader David Sanasaryan as part of consultations

You are a newly formed political party and I would like to hear your views on the steps to take so that the government and the extra-parliamentary opposition could come closer to each other and work together,” Pashinyan said at the meeting.

“The concept of extra-parliamentary opposition is quite a broad one: some forces adhere to ideas and principles that are diametrically opposite to each other. This is another problem. Nevertheless, I believe that given the challenges facing our country, we should at least try to find ways of getting some synergy, extra energy even by combining mutually exclusive, incompatible approaches. So I would be grateful if you could express your views on these issues. Thank you,” he added.

Davit Sanasaryan said, in turn, that the Party brings together individuals who participated in the April and 44-Day wars, people who went through the hardships of political struggle. “We consider ourselves the bearers of the values proclaimed by the 2018 revolution and we will do our best to make reality what you and I promised during the revolution.”

The interlocutors discussed ways of mobilizing the national potential, as well as the prospects for further cooperation.

During a meeting with Alliance Party leader Tigran Urikhanyan, Nikol Pashinyan said: “The practice shows that extra-parliamentary forces in particular, and all political forces in general often generate valuable political content, which goes unnoticed due to the political noise, and we all suffer from this. And, therefore, we need to make sure that noteworthy ideas and proposals do not get lost in the political noise.”

“We will be pleased if we can make our own contribution to the development of the Republic of Armenia with proposals, including the programmatic approaches voiced during the electoral campaign. Of course, I speak on behalf of the Alliance party, because we formed a joint electoral list consisting of two parties and representatives of several other parties on the basis of a memorandum. Meanwhile, I am convinced that my opinion is shared by other partners as well, since everyone will benefit from sustainable development in the Republic of Armenia,” Tigran Urikhanyan said.

Nikol Pashinyan met with Samvel Babayan, who headed the Liberal Party’s electoral list.

I followed your activity as much as I could during the electoral campaign, and I sincerely regret that your political force did not cross the threshold necessary to get into parliament. I have initiated today’s meeting to hear your views on upcoming political developments, on the formats in which we could cooperate with the extra-parliamentary opposition,” Pashinyan said.

Babayan noted that “everyone should now give up ambitions and try to cooperate for the sake of our statehood and future.”

“I do believe that internal stability will help us solve big problems if we all realize and understand that the national interests should prevail over anything else. Second, we presented our point of view during the preceding political campaign. I wish to highlight some fundamental political issues: the Constitution and the law form the basis thereof. Our political team believes that the turmoil comes from an imperfect and ambiguous legal framework. This is a serious problem and I am asking you to pay greater attention to it in the future,” he said.

“We must strengthen the state, so that people could put their positive energy at the service of our statehood. No one is safeguarded against the evil power, so we must limit it by laws, by legislation, so that it does not hinder us any longer,” Babayan added.

Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with For Republic Party leader Arman Babajanyan as part of consultations with extra-parliamentary political forces.

I deeply regret that the Shirinyan-Babajanyan bloc did not pass the necessary threshold to enter parliament. As I stated in public, today I would like to talk to those forces that partook in the parliamentary elections and are inclined to dialogue,” Pashinyan said at the meeting.

“I wish to learn your ideas about the formats in which we could enhance the level of mutual understanding and accessibility between the government and extra-parliamentary forces. And, of course, I think that the political forces generated quite serious political content during the snap parliamentary elections, and the implementation of at least part of that political content can make a significant contribution to bringing Armenia out of this difficult situation,” he added.

Arman Babajanyan said: “First of all, let me congratulate you on organizing free and fair elections in this decisive period for our country, as well as on the fact that these elections made democracy and democratic processes irreversible in our country. Your victory in these elections is undeniable and indisputable, and in this respect, we are prepared to support your initiatives to safeguard the people’s power. In this context, we are ready for dialogue in any format.”

“We understand that our country is facing serious internal and external challenges, and I am confident that we will be able to defy them with political maturity and cognizance. Once again, congratulations from me, our party and our bloc. We are open to dialogue,” he added.

Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Bright Armenia party leader Edmon Marukyan.

I have been following the election campaign of your Bright Armenia party as much as I could, and frankly speaking I regret that the Enlightened Armenia party has not overcome the threshold of joining the National Assembly, because the party has had its unique place and role in our political life in recent years. Today I would like to hear your opinion on the future course of political life. I would like to hear what decisions you see for the government and the extra-parliamentary opposition, including the Enlightened Armenia party. I wish to see if you have your own ideas that you think important for us to discuss this topic today,” Pashinyan said.

“Our political team will continue to play its role and represent the approaches that we defend and have been defending so far, as well as the values advocated by the party. I hope that the newly formed parliament and the holding of parliamentary elections in general can become the basis for overcoming the internal political crisis in the country,” Marukyan said.

During the meeting, the interlocutors explored ways of consolidating the existing potentialities and capabilities, as well as the prospects for further cooperation.

Nikol Pashinyan met with Citizen’s Decision political party executive body member Suren Sahakyan as part of consultations with extra-parliamentary political forces.

I would like to learn your opinion on the future course of political life in Armenia. I wish to hear your opinion about ways of building closer ties of interaction between extra-parliamentary forces and the government. And if you have other thoughts, of course, these thoughts too,” Pashinyan said.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for the invitation. You are just raising a very important question. The voice of extra-parliamentary opposition failed to be heard over the past couple of years. The election results showed that the political field is not competitive; it is disconnected from reality, so we need to work hard in order to have new “grassroots” in this “gray political field,” Suren Sahakyan said, in turn.

Nikol Pashinyan met with Christian-Democratic Party leader Levon Shirinyan.

Nikol Pashinian said: “Dear Mr. Shirinyan, I am happy to see you, thank you for accepting my invitation. I followed your election campaign as best I could, not in full of course, but I had very good impressions. I am sorry that your bloc did not make it into parliament, but the peculiarity of elections is that they are always unpredictable, if, of course, they are democratic and free elections.”

“Today I would like to hear your opinion on the future course of political life in Armenia. I would also like to know what you think about the possible platforms for fostering relationships between extra-parliamentary forces and the government as a whole, so that we could better listen to each other,” he added.

Levon Shirinyan said, in turn: “The offensive was checked after all. To my mind, this is crucial, and I think we played a key role in that respect. I can say that our bloc worked with exceptional efficiency. The continuation of the revolution, the stability of the state and the strengthening of independence were extremely important for us. We see no problem here, and we will back your government.”

Nikol Pashinyan received Fair Armenia Party chairman Norayr Norikyan as part of his political consultations with extra-parliamentary political forces.

“What are your political plans? How do you see the relationship between the government and extra-parliamentary forces? Which is the way to consolidation, which is the most important component of our country’s recovery from this difficult situation? And what can we do to engage in a dialogue, so that the extra-parliamentary forces hear what the government is saying, and in turn, the government hears what the extra-parliamentary forces say?” Nikol Pashinyan asked.

“I am convinced that there are many good ideas and opportunities, but they get lost in the general noise. Assuming that it is impossible to turn down the noise, at least one should extract rational elements from it: not doing so would mean missed opportunities,” Pashinyan noted.

“I hope that in the coming years, both the legislative and executive branches, naturally with a very strong and responsible mission, must conduct profound processes in all areas of public life in order to make a breakthrough and move forward. I agree with the remark that our country has been facing a deep crisis since last November. Yesterday you said that the political crisis has been overcome. I agree with this assessment. I see a serious need for state building in the coming years to improve governance efficiency and strengthen state institutions,” Norayr Norikyan said.

“I am deeply, and now even more strongly, convinced that it is the duty of our generation to eradicate the informal mores from this sphere, to build a highly responsible, impartial and fair judicial system, and to create an atmosphere of justice in public institutions in general,” he noted.

Nikol Pashinyan met with Republic Party leader Aram Sargsyan.

“I would like to hear your ideas about Armenia’s internal political life, future development, your party’s vision and your personal ideas about what to do, how you see the relationship between the Republic Party, the Government and the parliamentary majority. What specific concerns do you have based on your past experience? What can we do to create a more cohesive and positive political field in the country? I mean positive in terms of interaction between the government and the extra-parliamentary forces, since I think it is really very important to listen to each other. There may always be such ideas that get lost in the noise. I would like to talk more about these topics and see how much our ideas coincide,” Pashinyan said.

Aram Sargsyan noted: “The elections have really put everything back to its place. Today three political forces are going to parliament. I congratulated the other two parties on the fact that they went to the National Assembly, and I think that the best option for the general process would be to transfer the discussion to the platform of the National Assembly. We need to find a common ground between parliamentary forces, give up the old rhetoric, and find the right the formula for getting the nation out of this situation.”

“The task of extra-parliamentary forces in this respect is much easier. In my opinion, their influence is even less. The key word here is that you are prime minister for everyone, no matter which team they belong to. You should be the prime minister for the misguided, too. Their preferred political forces were striving to get into the National Assembly, but they have nothing to make noise about, their complaints have no context. We would be ridiculed for such complaints if we applied to the Constitutional Court based on the results of public opinion polls or a large number of people at rallies. This is just absurd,” Sargsyan noted.

“In our part, I think we will always be close to the state and next to the state. The independence of the Republic of Armenia is what matters most. Our western approaches seek to balance the foreign policy field. We think it very important and we think it will help both the state and the politicians involved in foreign policy. And we intend to continue our work in this direction,” he noted.

He added that there are also proposals regarding the economic sphere, we are happy to present to the government what we have, we will try to make sure that they reach their integrity and become reality, and if they are rejected, they must be rejected reasonably, so that we can explain it to our partners, so that business is not offended.

While looking at cooperation prospects, the parties referred to issues related to the consolidation of opportunities and capacities nationwide.

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Armenia says process to return PoWs is ongoing

Armenia says process to return PoWs is ongoing

June 23, 2021 – 18:37 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – Acting Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan said on Wednesday, June 23 that the process of returning the remaining Armenian prisoners of war and civilians from the Azerbaijani captivity is ongoing.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an easy process but I am confident that we have an opportunity to come to an agreement and resolve the problems,” cited Avinyan as saying.

While the official failed to provide concrete information about whether more PoWs are expected to return home in the near future, he did comment on the border situation, maintaining that the Armenian side was not going to retreat.

“Clearly, the Azerbaijani troops must leave the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, and we will spare no effort to ensure that,” Avinyan said.

According to him, border guards can be deployed when the Azerbaijani troops completely leave the territory of Armenia.

Azerbaijani forces violated Armenia’s border in several sections in the provinces of Syunik and Gegharkunik on May 12 and 13 and are still refusing to withdraw their troops from the area. One Armenian serviceman was killed in Azerbaijan’s shooting on May 25, six troops were captured on May 27, although four of them have already returned home.

Read original article here.

Italian Lega Party calls for release of Armenian POWs and civilians

Members of the Italian Lega Nord Party Massimiliano Capitanio and Giulio Centemero have urged the government to take action to ensure that Armenian prisoners of war are immediately released and repatriated.

“Azerbaijan continues to hold numerous Armenian prisoners of war hostage to use them in political negotiations with the support of Turkey,” the MPs said in a statement.

“We also learn that a few days ago a disturbing video of a conversation between the presidents of the Turkey and Azerbaijan, which would confirm the fact that Armenian prisoners are illegally held in Azerbaijan and are used to obtain minefield maps or other concessions in exchange,” the noted.

They emphasized that clarity, as well as urgent and firm stand by all international partners is needed to stop speculation about these human lives.

“The hope is that our government will soon make its voice heard with a stance against those who continue to violate all international humanitarian law. We therefore ask that these prisoners and civilian detainees be immediately released and repatriated without preconditions,” the lawmakers said.

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Azerbaijan's incursion into Armenia, PoWs raised at PACE meeting

Azerbaijan's incursion into Armenia, PoWs raised at PACE meeting

June 23, 2021 – 15:34 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – Lawmaker Mikayel Melkumyan has raised the issue of the Armenian prisoners of war illegally being held in Baku and Azerbaijan’s recent incursion into Armenia, at a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Azerbaijani forces violated Armenia’s border in several sections in the provinces of Syunik and Gegharkunik on May 12 and 13 and are still refusing to withdraw their troops from the area. One Armenian serviceman was killed in Azerbaijan’s shooting on May 25, six troops were captured on May 27, although four of them have already returned home.

Melkumyan reminded that Azerbaijan and Turkey unleashed the 44-day war against the peaceful Armenian population of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) with the participation of mercenaries and the use of prohibited munitions in the midst of a global pandemic.

“What can be expected from Azerbaijan, which invades the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia? And how come these states remain unpunished?” he charged.

According to him, more than 7 months have passed since the November 10 statement on the cessation of hostilities, but over 200 Armenian PoWs are still being held in Azerbaijan.

“They have invaded the sovereign territory of a Council of Europe member state. What will you say or do? Europe, your decisions must be precise, prompt and focused. Your current procedures no longer match extreme situations, including the one on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border,” the lawmaker said.

Azerbaijan is refusing to return all Armenian prisoners of war, in violation of the statement on the cessation of hostilities signed by the parties in November 2020. The Armenian side has information about some 200 Armenians still in Azerbaijan’s captivity, but Azeri President Ilham Aliyev claims that persons being kept in Baku are not PoWs, but “terrorists and saboteurs”. At least 19 of the hundreds of Armenian captives have been tortured and killed, according to their lawyers.

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China wants to take relations with Armenia to a new level

China wants to take relations with Armenia to a new level

June 23, 2021 – 16:21 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – Chinese President Xi Jinping has expressed readiness to raise bilateral relations with Armenia to a new level. Xi made the remarks in a congratulatory message he sent to Armenian President Armen Sarkissian on his birthday Wednesday, June 23.

The President of China stressed that Armenia is one of Beijing’s traditionally friendly countries. In particular, he noted that in 2020 China and Armenia fought hand in hand against the coronavirus, which he said was a new impetus for the development of bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields.

“I attach great importance to the development of Chinese-Armenian relations, I am ready to make efforts with you to raise bilateral relations to a new level for the benefit of our countries and peoples,” Xi’s message reads.

The first mentions of Armenian-Chinese contacts go back to the 5th and 6th centuries. China officially recognized the Republic of Armenia on December 27, 1991, three months after Armenia broke away from the Soviet Union as an independent state. Diplomatic relations between Armenia and the People’s Republic of China were established on April 6, 1992.

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Armenia to host the Summit of Minds for third time

In October Armenia will host the prestigious international Summit of Minds, the third time in a row.

The Summit of Minds held every year in the French city of Chamonix has been hosted in Armenia since 2019. An exceptional agreement on the organization of the event was reached in September 2018, when the President of the Republic of Armenia Armen Sarkissian participated in the event as keynote speaker.

In 2021 the Armenian Summit of Minds will be held at the Central Bank Training and Research Center in Dilijan, co-organizers of the summit – President Armen Sarkissian, President of the Central Bank of Armenia Martin Galstyan and the founder of The Monthly Barometer Thierry Malleret – announced during an online meeting with the summit participants.

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“Unfortunately, in 2020 we had a double trouble in Armenia. First there was the Covid, and then we had a war. In the case of 2021 Summit of Minds in Armenia, one of the interesting things would be – whether we like it or not – to discuss and analyze what happened in the South Caucasus last year and the future of this region,” President Sarkissian said.

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Parliamentary motion requests Dutch Government not to send official delegation to Baku for Euro-2020

A motion submitted to the Dutch Parliament calls on the government not to send a delegation to to Baku for EURO-2020, the Federation of Armenian Organizations of the Netherlands informs.

The motion submitted on 22 June in Dutch Parliament by Gert-Jan Segers (Christian Union faction) and  Tom van der Lee (Left Green faction), requests the government not to send an official delegation to Baku for EURO-2020 Football Championship, in case Dutch national team reaches quarter finals.

The MPs cite Azerbaijan’s failure to return the Armenian prisoners of war after the 44-day war and the opening of the “Trophy park” in Baku, which, among other things, displays the helmets of fallen Armenian soldiers.

Read original article here.

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