Your 14-minute Friday report in 3275 words.
NATO weapons used by Azerbaijan during war
French paper AgoraVox reports that the 44-day war was the first time when a NATO member-state (Czechia) supplied attack weapons to an active conflict zone. “It violated an internal agreement about members staying out of such conflicts.”
In 2018, Azerbaijan displayed the Czech-made Howitzer artillery units attached to mobile vehicles. It raised a wave of protest in Czechia, so the Czech govt quickly denied supplying weapons to Azerbaijan, claiming that the Czech arms company supplied those weapons to Israel instead.
Journalists found that the Czech and Slovakian arms companies had earlier attempted to obtain a license from Czechia to supply weapons to Azerbaijan, but they weren’t granted one.
Journalists found that 54 “Tatra” units were shipped to Israel, equipped with modern tech, then shipped to Slovakia where the units were equipped with another modern tech before being shipped to Azerbaijan.
Foreign Ministry condemns Turkish-Azeri military exercise
MFA spokeswoman: The Turkish-Azerbaijani military exercises in Kars do not speak about peaceful intentions towards Armenia, despite Turkish MFA saying “if the peace is lasting, Turkey and Azerbaijan are ready to take steps to normalize relations with Armenia.”
Artsakh MFA released a similar message, welcoming the European resolutions.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041083.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041144.html
National Interest: Congress Should Stop Giving Azerbaijan a Free Pass on Iran and Russia
“Part of the reason why the State Department continues to undermine efforts to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions is because of the fundamental disconnect between perceptions of Azerbaijan in Congress and the reality of that country’s policy”
Biden’s State Secretary pick Anthony Blinken about Artsakh conflict:
The US will review its security assistance to Azerbaijan after the recent Artsakh war, wrote Anthony Blinten to Senator Bob Menendez.
“I’m deeply concerned about the resumption of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan last autumn and the humanitarian crisis in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. I strongly support US funding for demining efforts in Nagorno-Karabakh. I will work with the Congress, USAID, the UN, and the allies around the humanitarian issues.”
Sen. Menendez: how will the US help Armenians defend against Turkish-Azeri aggression?
Blinken: I support assistance to Armenia in strengthening security, stability, democratic governance, and promoting economic growth. Our administration will review the US security assistance to Azerbaijan. We will determine the appropriate level of assistance to meet the security needs of Armenia and the region.
Sen. Menendez: how will the US be involved in OCSE Minsk Group work in a way that will also reflect the interest of Armenians?
Blinken: President Biden said that the US should make diplomatic efforts to find a lasting solution to the conflict while working with our European partners. We should provide international humanitarian assistance to end the suffering. We will intensify the US involvement to find a permanent solution and protect Nagorno-Karabakh security.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041074.html , https://anca.org/press-release/secretary-of-state-designate-blinken-testifies-in-support-of-renewed-u-s-leadership-to-strengthen-armenias-security-and-resilience/
President Sarkissian congratulates President Biden:
I am confident that in the coming years you will do your best to ensure further progress and impressive achievements for your country.
I expect that our cooperation will provide an opportunity to advance the Armenian-American friendly relations, will contribute to the long-awaited peace and stability in the region.
I wish you and your administration success.
US ambassador to Armenia about the Artsakh conflict:
A political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is needed to strengthen regional peace. The United States reaffirms the need for the immediate and safe return of POWs.
The United States reaffirms its commitment to working with the Armenian people, government, civil society, and the private sector to support the aspirations.
Army meets US envoy
General Chief of Staff Onik Gasparyan met US ambassador Tracey and US Military attaché Scott Maxwell to discuss defense cooperation and future plans.
US Senator Adam Schiff called for offcial recognition of Artsakh
“The US Congress must recognize the independence of Artsakh… The OSCE Minsk Group should resume the negotiations… The Turkish involvement should be reduced in the region.”
Foreign Ministry responds to pro-Armenian resolution passed in European Parliament
Yesterday the European Parliament adopted two resolutions condemning the use of illegal weapons in Artsakh, Turkey’s intervention, the use of jihadists, and called for securing the Armenian population’s existence in Artsakh.
Armenian Foreign Ministry: Armenia gives great significance to the resolutions condemning Turkey’s import of armed mercenaries from Syria and elsewhere. It contained information about the war crimes committed by Azerbaijan, and steps to eliminate the consequences. It’s very important that it not only condemns the war crimes but also calls for them not to remain unpunished.
LHK Marukyan: Artsakh war will be discussed in the PACE Monitoring Committee, but not in the plenary session. We will touch upon the subject during the plenary session with speeches.
rumors & rebuttals: Defense Ministry salaries
MoD dismissed rumors about lowering staff salaries. “January’s payment deadline is on February 7th. We gave a partial salary earlier this month to help workers; that wasn’t the final sum.”
rumors & rebuttals: Pashinyan’s statement about Shushi
Pashinyan was accused of saying that Shushi isn’t an Armenian city. He was quoted saying: “Շուշին հակամարտությունից և ազատագրումից առաջ ունեցել է 90 և ավելի տոկոս ադրբեջանական բնակչություն: Այսինքն, դուք ուզում եք ասել, որ 90 և ավելի տոկոս ադրբեջանական բնակչություն ունեցող Շուշի քաղաքը հայկակա՞ն էր իր այդ կարգավիճակով”
InfoCenter: an MP criticized Pashinyan [for not agreeing to give away Artsakh regions earlier in war], which would “keep Shushi Armenian.” In response to that last phrase, Pashinyan answered that soviet-era demographics would need to be restored under which Azeris would be 90% of the Shushi population.
QP MP: The Prime Minister’s speech was distorted in the press and in the speeches of various opposition politicians. Before the war, 90% of the Shushi population was Azeri. Therefore, if we agreed to hand over Shushi, we would end up with Shushi having a 90% Azeri population. Would Shushi remain “Armenian” under de-facto Azeri control? That is what the PM said.
https://factor.am/330900.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204909
bomb explosion in Jabrayil left an Azeri sapper wounded
The search crews discovered the bodies of 1 volunteer soldier in Jabrayil and 3 elderly civilians in the Hadrut regions. The civilians have been identified.
POW recalls war events and how he was captured
Vardan was one of the POWs who was transferred by Azerbaijan recently. He was deployed near Mataghis on the 2nd day of the war. “Artillery fired at night. It struck near our vehicles. In the morning a battle began. Some of my friends were wounded. The rest left… We found a bunker and stayed there until October 22nd. Azeris came and gunfire broke out on several occasions. We sustained casualties from a grenade. Our group was eventually captured. We were beaten for 7 days.” (full story in the link)
group of war participants demand “unpaid wages”
A group of men who fought in the 44-day war gathered in front of the Defense Ministry. They complained that the state owes them unpaid wages. “Let them first explain why. Maybe our names are not present on the list. Maybe the error was done in Artsakh so we should take the complaint to them? What can be done on our part?”
HimnaDram-donated infrastructure that was lost during the war
Since 1992, the All Armenia Fund has invested millions of dollars in Artsakh. Some of it was in regions that are now part of Azerbaijan. That sum is around $110 million.
Security Council meeting between Armenia and Artsakh
… was held today. The two agreed to meet more frequently to discuss future plans and exchange info.
Defense Ministry is recruiting high-tech experts
The MoD and HayTech Cybersecurity Center have an ongoing program to recruit high-tech and IT experts for the army. The exams will begin in February among this year’s conscripts.
Parliament votes to elect two Supreme Court judges
QP Party nominated former prosecutor Gagik Jhangiryan and Davit Khachatryan for Supreme Court Council seats (not to be confused with Constitutional Court). MPs asked questions to learn the candidate’s stance on various issues before voting.
Parliament’s legal affairs committee chief says Jhangiryan’s age does not disqualify him from becoming a member because he is appointed by Parliament and not fellow judges.
Opposition LHK and BHK decided not to participate in the Q&A and voting. They complained that the opposition’s opinion was ignored while selecting the candidates due to “political games”. “We have no problem with the candidates from a professional point of view. Both are professional,” said LHK MP Taron Simonyan.
BHK also left the room. BHK MP Tonoyan believes the Parliament should not discuss topics unrelated to humanitarian and POW issues.
Ind. MP: when [former regime members] were making assassination threats, the judges were releasing them back to the streets. The Supreme Court chief even made a statement urging judges to do so. Your opinion?
Candidate Jhangiryan: I don’t know details of those exact cases and justification behind no-arrest verdicts. I won’t give political opinions. If a case is launched within Supreme Court regarding that topic, I will give my professional opinion. Of course, there should be mechanisms to prevent violence.
MP to candidates: do you support the idea of merging Supreme Court Council and Constitutional courts to create one unified Supreme Court? (Context: in 2020 an expert group tasked with discussing Constitutional reforms voted 8-7 to support the idea of a merger)
Candidate Jhangiryan: No. The two are established institutes. If there are problems with them, they should be fixed separately.
Candidate Khachatryan: Yes, I support the merger.
MP asks: your opinion about judges being independent.
Candidate Jhangiryan: lower court judges should be independent of higher court judges and wealthy entities while making decisions. The system must be free not only from executive and legislative branches, but also underground criminal system, opposition and pro-government forces, and clans.
MP asks: comment the opposition’s decision not to participate in this Q&A and vote.
Candidate Jhangiryan: I approach it philosophically. I met the two parties. The discussions took place in a very warm and friendly atmosphere.
Ind. MP: comment the rumors about mansions owned by you.
Candidate Jhangiryan: I worked as the director of “Academy 9 Cooperative” and received a 4bd apartment in Davtashen. I sold it in 1989 and used the money to destroy our old house and build a new 3-story building in place. I became a public official in December-1990 after the house was already built.
MP asks: earlier you accused this government of not doing anything to create an independent judicial system. What steps will you take to achieve that?
Candidate Jhangiryan: actually that was out-of-context, I didn’t say the govt hasn’t done anything. Sure, the judicial code was reformed, new rules are established for checking candidates’ records, new anti-corruption institutes exist, but this takes a long time. What we need is quick action to purify the judicial system; it must be based on laws passed by you.
QP MP: March 1st trial [Kocharyan] is being delayed. People believe it’s being done artificially. What can the judicial system do?
Candidate Jhangiryan: I share the concerns with you. It’s been over >18 months that March 1st case is in a preliminary stage. It hasn’t entered the final evidence phase. Besides the petitions to dismiss prosecutors/judges, petitions to be released on bail, we haven’t seen anything else being done. I believe it’s a defense tactic. It’s abnormal. I don’t remember any such trials in which this phase lasted over 2 months. I don’t have a solution right now to expedite it, but it’s a fact that it’s being artificially delayed. It’s a defensive tactic. It’s an abuse of power. The court has the tools to prevent it.
QP MP: how come some judges give 15 years while others 10 for the same crime? Those with less money often get longer terms. There are corruption risks.
Candidate Jhangiryan: I’ve spoken about this discrepancy in the past. I brought comparisons between burglary-related court rulings between various regional courts. Under the same conditions, some defendants got terms that were 3 years longer. You can’t solve this legislatively. It has to be defined by the Cassations Court. We will try to resolve this.
The Parliament launched a secret-ballot vote to confirm or deny the candidates. Both of them were approved: Jhangiryan 86-3, Khachatryan 85-3.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041079.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041084.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041085.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041086.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041090.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041095.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041095.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041096.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041108.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041127.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041130.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041147.html , https://youtu.be/n4jgo_thvt4 , https://youtu.be/egiUEKxJVhQ , https://factor.am/330747.html , https://factor.am/330757.html , https://youtu.be/XKBZdEqfU_U , https://factor.am/330791.html , https://factor.am/330802.html
update: court reject’s Kocharyan’s petition to expel prosecutors
Robert Kocharyan and co-defendants lost a petition to remove and replace the prosecutors, as part of the March 1st trial.
Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant renovation / Armenian and Russian officials
Russian ambassador Sergey Kopyrkin and Infrastructure Minister Papikyan visited the nuclear plant to learn about the ongoing renovation work that will extend the NPP’s operational years. (renovation is being done with Russian loan, although the final part will be done with Armenian funds after Ministry found Russian loan terms unfavorable)
The NPP is preparing for the final renovation work. A system has been installed to repeatedly heat-and-cool the reactor’s metal parts to make them more durable. The installation of this system has been confirmed successful and will begin the reactor’s renovation process this year. This will allow the NPP to operate beyond 2026, likely until 2036. The renovation work is done by the Russian Rosatom Service.
Minister Papikyan thanked his Russian colleagues for the work and for continuing the operations during the pandemic. Minister said Armenia’s main goal for the future is the construction of a new nuclear plant. (big if true)
The Russian ambassador said, “The traditions of mutual assistance, trust, and friendship determine the relations between Russia and Armenia. Nuclear energy remains a truly strategic direction for the development of our bilateral cooperation. A lot of work has been done in the last three years, made possible by Armenian and Russian experts. The NPP should continue to serve as a cheap source of energy to help the economic development.”
cargo transport in EAEU bloc during pandemic
With +1.9%, Armenia was the only member that recorded a YoY increase in cargo transport. It reached 13.5 million tons. Land transport up, air transport down.
EAEU -7.2%. Russia -7.3%. Kyrgyz -21%.
new railway or road route to Russia could solve Lars problem
Hundreds of cargo trucks couldn’t travel between Armenia and Russia because the only land passage in Lars, Georgia was closed due to snow. Deputy Economy Minister says this will be a thing of the past if regional transport is unblocked.
“Armenian agricultural goods will be priced more competitively in foreign markets. Fresh food will arrive sooner. When a season begins, some food prices are very high. That’s when businesses want to enter the market. Cargo delays in Lars lead to great economic losses for these businesses.”
why does sugar cost ֏344?
State regulators found that a recent price hike is a result of a combination of factors. Importing sugar costs +22% more, cane import costs +2%, Dram devalued over Ruble -4%, the level of supplies that exist in Armenian storages vary. As a result, sugar prices increased +5% from last month.
flu season / get a free vaccine
Acute respiratory infections are more common this year. A medium activity was recorded. The Healthcare Ministry advises the population, especially seniors, to get vaccinated. It’s free.
+2042 tested. +183 infected. +213 healed. +9 deaths. 7678 active.
Economy Minister’s trip to Syunik and Iran
Economy Minister Qerobyan visited Syunik to discuss economic aid for the province. Ministry will collect ideas from local farmers as part of an agricultural aid program.
He visited Meghri free economic zone and met several businesses. The Minister considered the operation of the free economic zone as a priority issue that needs to be resolved ASAP.
Qerobyan then visited Iran to discuss the development of bilateral trade and economic cooperation. He will meet Iranian state officials and businesses.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041087.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041137.html
Armenia and Iran renew the agreement on joint film production
Education Ministry, National Cinema Center, and Iran’s Farabi Film Foundation renewed the 2017 agreement on cooperation in the field of cinematography in order to create joint film projects and strengthen Armenian-Iranian cultural ties.
It can contribute to the preservation of film heritage, the creation of children’s film programs, the development of joint film production, the implementation of bilateral educational programs, the formation of the Armenian-Iranian film market, the distribution of films, and participation in bilateral festivals.
To promote a healthy lifestyle among seniors, this year the Education/Sports Ministry will organize a national sports competition among the >63yo people who provide a doctor’s approval.
Seniors will be throwing basketball shots, darts, and play board games like chess, checkers, and short backgammon (aka incorrect backgammon). The winners will receive Cups and participation certificates.
education reforms to improve students’ remote learning skills
The Education Ministry cooperated with the National Center for Educational Technology to draft a reform package to promote e-learning. It will help rural areas that lack qualified teachers. In 2020, 101 schools couldn’t teach 18 subjects due to a shortage of 695 teachers.
Top-5 subjects with teacher shortage: fine arts, music/dance, Armenian Church History, Informatika.
Upon completion, the student can attend most classes in-person, and receive e-learning from a teacher in another school for certain subjects.
֏120 million to teach Armenology in foreign schools
Education Ministry will promote the Armenian language, culture, and history in education centers around the world. The funding for this program has significantly increased since 2019.
2019: ֏16 million
2020: ֏60 million
2021: ֏120 million
This year, the recipients will be 8 education centers in 6 countries, instead of 4. The list will later expand to include Russian and Egyptian universities that were left out due to pandemic.
Teaching is carried out mainly by local Armenologists, sometimes with the help of specialist visits from Armenia.
high schools will have laboratories for natural sciences
Education Ministry says 99 schools will be equipped with modern tech to study natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, geography). “Such laboratories will increase the interest among young people in scientific research, group work, implementation of innovative programs.”
today in history
1905: Russian revolution begins with a labor strike in St. Petersburg.
1921: composer Arno Babajanyan was born (Fake news. He was born on January 21st but his father faked it to 22nd so the birthday celebration wouldn’t coincide with the death of Lenin, who died on 21st. All heil Ճպլ պապի!)
1944: the US and Britain launch Operation Shingle against the Axis.
1969: assassination attempt against Leonid Brezhnev.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041026.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041046.html
top-5 bestseller translated books in December
5)«Աղախնի պատմությունը» by Մարգրեթ Աթվուդ
4) «Հազար չքնաղ արևներ» by Խալեդ Հոսեյնի
3) «Երկնքից երեք խնձոր ընկավ» by Նարինե Աբգարյան
2) «Զուլալի» by Նարինե Աբգարյան
«Սուրբծննդյան հրեշտակը» by Մարկ Արեն
Artsakh refugees continue to return to their homes
87 did so today, bringing the total via Lachin road to 50,390. Over 95,000 people have returned if you combine the Qarvachar road while it was still operational.
German “Aktion Deutschland Hilft” and World Vision Armenia will provide material aid to 10,000 Artsakh refugees.
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1041153.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/204948
www.1000plus.am (recovering soldiers & their families)
www.HimnaDram.org (for Artsakh & Armenia)
www.ArmeniaFund.org (U.S. tax-deductible)
archive of older news
All the accused are considered innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they “sound” or “appear” guilty.