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News from Armenia, op-eds, special projects, features and interviews -

1. Armenian, Azerbaijani FMs to meet on September 2310:10[−]

Foreign Ministry of Armenia has said that Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan is going to participate in the 74th session of UN General Assembly on September 22.

Mnatsakanyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov last met in Washington on June 20, and the meeting before that took place in Moscow on April 15. --0--

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2. Armenia attaches importance to high-level dialogue with EU10:05[−]

According to the Armenian MFA, he said this in a meeting with Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director-General of European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations.

Armenian Foreign Minister emphasized that Armenia highly values the efforts of EU in promoting the country’s development agenda, consistent support for strengthening democratic establishments.

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3. Israel welcome’s Armenia decision to open an embassy in Tel Aviv08:03[−]

Foreign Minister Israel Katz has praised the Armenian government’s decision, saying that it is a “significant step in the development of bilateral relations” between the two states.

Armenia will be the 90th country to open an embassy in Israel, which “attests to the constant increase in the strength of Israel’s position in the world”, according to Katz.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Nizar Amer has said that this move reflects the significant improvement of ties between the two countries that has taken place over the last year.

“The opening of the embassy is a new and important chapter in bilateral relations, and we are confident that this will further strengthen the friendship between the two peoples and enhance cooperation between the states in all areas,” Amer said.

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4. Dubai Burj Khalifa to light up in colors of Armenian flagЧт., 19 сент.[−]

According to the Facebook page of the Embassy of Armenia in the United Arab Emirates, the ceremony will take place at 9 p.m.--0--

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5. Armenia to open an embassy in IsraelЧт., 19 сент.[−]

“The decision to open an embassy in Israel and thus give a new impetus to bilateral relations is aimed at protecting Armenia’s interests in the region more efficiently,” reads the substantiation of the decision.

The embassy in Tel Aviv is expected to open in early 2020.

In January of 2019, Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan remarked that Israel and Armenia would soon open embassies in each other’s territory.

Mnatsakanyan’s remark was quoted by The Jerusalem Post in the article “Are Israeli-Armenian Relations Warming Up?”

“I’m optimistic that this will happen soon. We’d be more than happy to upgrade our relations with Israel,” the Foreign Minister said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grigor Hovhannisyan has said in the interview to The Jerusalem Post in March of 2019 that Armenia considered opening an embassy in Israel regardless of the opening of Israeli embassy in Yerevan.

In July of 2019, President of Armenia Armen Sarkissian noted that Israel and Armenia had great opportunities for cooperation.

“It is time to implement those opportunities,” he said while receiving the credentials of newly-appointed Ambassador of Israel to Armenia Eliav Belotserkovsky.

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6. Pashinyan announces acting heads of police and National Security ServiceЧт., 19 сент.[−]

The Prime Minister has added that First Deputy Chief of Armenian Police Arman Sargsyan is appointed acting Chief of Police.

Former heads of the two agencies, NSS Director Artur Vanetsyan and Police Chief Valeriy Osipyan were dismissed on September 16 and 18 respectively.

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7. 5/10/15: Babayan’s pardon, Mann’s warning and Lee Kuan Yew’s adviceСр., 18 сент.[−]

Today we live in a society, which cannot imagine life without expressing views on social media. Probably it does have certain advantages. Nevertheless, many participants of active discussions have already forgotten or do not even know about the developments, which unfolded in Armenia 5, 10 or 15 years ago.

To fill the gap Mediamax presents 5/10/15 project, which introduces developments in Armenia 5, 10 and 15 years ago.

• 15 YEARS AGO: SEPTEMBER 16-22, 2004

The pardon of Babayan

On 17 September President of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) Arkady Ghukasyan signed the decree pardoning former Defense Minister of NKR Samvel Babayan, who was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment.

Babayan, accused of organizing the 22 March 2000 attempt on Ghukasyan’slife, was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment in high-security prison with confiscation of private property.

What didn’t Romano Prodi like?

On September 19, European Commission President Romano Prodi said in Yerevan he “does not like” the fact that the Turkish-Armenian border remained closed.

Prodi did not rule out that “the issue of closed borders” might become one of the preconditions for Turkey for the membership in the EU.

“Personally, I don’t like that the Turkish-Armenian border remains closed and there are no diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey. I am ready to do everything in my power to contribute to the opening of the border,” said Romano Prodi.

“The time is not on your side”

On September 22 U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group Steven Mann said that the talks between the mediators and Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents in Astana on September 15 were aimed at defining if the two countries’ leaders had the political will to settle the Karabakh conflict.

“We tell the two governments: the time is not on your side. It will be worse both for Armenia and Azerbaijan. The regional development passes by Armenia. Pipelines, roads, railways are being built, and Armenia misses the advantages it could get from the economic integration with the whole region. The country pays a high cost for the army it has to keep. As to Azerbaijan, the major part of the country is under occupation, there are about one million refugees and migrants. And the longer the conflict lasts, the more it acquires the status of a permanent state of affairs which does not suit this country,” Mann said.

He noted it was important that in each country all political leaders - both the government and the opposition – united “in order to legitimatize the idea of talks, legitimatize the idea of compromise”.

• 10 YEARS AGO: SEPTEMBER 16-22, 2009

Lee Kuan Yew in Yerevan

On 18 September Minister-Mentor of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew said in Yerevan that if Armenia wanted to be a competitive country, it should follow the American development model.

According to him, it was the model that was most suitable for Armenia. “Neither Georgia nor Azerbaijan and not even Iran will help you, so you should “jump over” these countries,” he added.

He noted Armenia had to define its privilege, distinguishing characteristic and move ahead with that. “Armenia has a large Diaspora abroad, especially in the USA, and the emphasis should be put on this very factor,” the Minister-Mentor said.

• 5 YEARS AGO: SEPTEMBER 16-22, 2014

“Formal and regular talks”

On 16 September U.S. Co-Chair of OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick said in Yerevan that “the occasional meetings taking place between Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents and Foreign Ministers are no longer enough”.

“It’s time to advance the talks at another level. More formal talks are needed and the parties have to decide what that process should be like,” he noted.

According to Warlick, coming to final terms over the key elements required the parties to have regular high-level meetings.

The co-chair expressed his concerns over the atmosphere of mistrust between the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments and societies.

“There is deep mistrust between the sides and I do notice it during my meetings with senior officials in both Yerevan and Baku,” Warlick said.

“No threat”

On September 21, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan stated that the membership in Eurasian Economic Union did not pose any threat to Armenia’s political independence.

The President stated it in his address on the occasion of Independence Day.

“In the near future we are going to become a member of the Eurasian Economic Union. This decision is conditioned by new possibilities of Armenia's economic development and the existing regional security system. We have to be honest. Nobody is a prophet and we can't predict what result we will achieve in 10 or 20 years from now, but one thing is clear: if we work hard, we can expect serious economic benefits. We have economic growth today as well. The fact that we are not satisfied with the existing growth rates is quite another matter. A huge market is going to open up for our products, and the entry into it depends on our working skills.

On this occasion, I would like to respond to some of our opponents who try to present our membership in the Eurasian Economic Union as a loss of Armenia’s independence. I have to say that such speculations have existed in all 23 years of independence. Today, on Armenia’s Independence Day, I declare with utmost responsibility that our membership in the Eurasian Economic Union does not pose a threat to Armenia’s political independence anyhow. Such claims are groundless. There is not any integration process in the world which does not suppose coordination of steps,” Sargsyan said.

The explosion of Armenian church in Deir ez-Zor

On the same day, militants from the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist group mined and blew up the Armenian Church of the Holy Martyrs in Deir ez-Zo, Syria.

“We strongly condemn the explosion of the Armenian Church, which built in Deir ez-Zor in memory of the Armenian Genocide martyrs. This blatant vandalism toward the sacred place shows once again the ferocious essence of “Islamic State” terrorist group. The international community should immediately stop and eradicate this plague that is threatening the civilized world as well as cut the stream of their funding and support,” said Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian.

Ara Tadevosyan

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8. Valeriy Osipyan: I will speak about the reasons of my dismissal in the futureСр., 18 сент.[−]

Yerevan /Mediamax/. Valeriy Osipyan has made a statement about his dismissal from the position of Chief of Armenian Police, reports.

“For my whole life, I have served the state and people of Armenia and law and justice with the dignity and honor of an officer as my only guideline and standard. I will continue serving my people with the same principles and standards of morality. As for the reasons of my departure, I will speak about them in the future.

Today I want to thank the Armenian people for appreciating the work of police and the reforms we have implemented. I thank the entire personnel of law enforcement bodies, from privates to generals. I thank the police force, the public council working with the Chief of Police, and the media for standing by our side in the hard, responsible times for our state.

I also want to thank all those who accompanied me on this long and difficult journey of fulfilling our duties with honor. I wish you all good luck and selfless service, unshakable dedication to the dignity and honor of an officer, and the resolution and readiness to make decisions,” said Osipyan.

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9. We aren’t true Europeans and our future is vagueЧт., 11 июля[−]
<p>This week we learned that 62% of the people surveyed in Armenia over February-March 2019 said they had a positive image of the European Union.</p> <p> </p> <p>92% of the polled believe Armenia has good relations with the EU, which significantly exceeds the average index of the Eastern Partnership in the region (67%). 61% of the surveyed trust the European Union.</p> <p> </p> <p>The results seem impressive, but if you read the whole report, you will encounter stunning answers that not only give food for thought, but also demonstrate that there are substantial contradictions of values between our perceptions of Europe and the real deal.</p> <p> </p> <p>The surveyed were suggested rating 13 values that were<strong> a)</strong> associated with the EU, and <strong>b)</strong> personal values.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Top 3 values associated with EU</strong></p> <p> </p> <p>Freedom of speech (92%)</p> <p>Human rights (91%)</p> <p>Individual freedom (91%)</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Let's see how those values fared when rated as personal: </strong></p> <p> </p> <p>Freedom of speech (20%)</p> <p>Human rights (32%)</p> <p>Individual freedom (16%)</p> <p> </p> <p>These values were key for the surveyed Armenians in terms of their perception of the European Union, but for themselves personally, they were three or even four times less important.</p> <p> </p> <p>The biggest surprises lie ahead, though.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Top 3 personal values of the surveyed </strong></p> <p> </p> <p>Peace, security and stability (58%)</p> <p>Economic prosperity (42%)</p> <p>Human rights (32%)</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Lowest 3 values </strong></p> <p> </p> <p>Respect for other cultures/minorities (8%)</p> <p>Freedom of religion (8%)</p> <p>Freedom of the media (2%)</p> <p> </p> <p>We want to have peace, security and stability, but we think we can do it without respecting other cultures or having free media. To put it mildly, I am surprised that freedom of the media rates so low in the society that always complains about the media. What future can media have in a society with that approach?</p> <p> </p> <p>83% of the polled associates the EU with <strong>democracy</strong>, but only 10% considers democracy a personal value.</p> <p> </p> <p>Almost the same concerns <strong>rule of law</strong>. 86% of the surveyed people associate it with the EU and only 23% perceive it as an important personal value. This is the picture that we have in a country where all people talk about is past or present unlawfulness.</p> <p> </p> <p>61% of the polled associates the EU with <strong>absence of corruption</strong>, while just 25% of the surveyed describe it as personal value. Does it show that corruption is acceptable to some extent for three quarters of the population?</p> <p> </p> <p>The next indicator is so weird that I find it hard to believe. 91% of the surveyed associate individual freedom with the European Union, but only 16% consider it a personal value.</p> <p> </p> <p>The results of this poll prove the points I made over the years on different occasions: if we don't want to change, no government can change us. If <strong>individual freedom</strong> is unimportant to us, any government will notice it very quickly and feel unchecked. If 3 out of 4 members of our society don't reject corruption unreservedly, no new anti-corruption body will be efficient.</p> <p> </p> <p>The strangest part is that 70% of the surveyed are optimistic about Armenia's future. Not only our conception of the future is vague, but we also seem to believe that it will not be born from the present or inherit its defects.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>The full report on the results of the public survey conducted for EU Neighbours East is available <a href=" east_AS2019report_ARMENIA.pdf" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Ara Tadevosyan is Director of Mediamax </strong></p>

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10. On love, passion, time and happinessСб., 15 июня[−]
<p>In 1970, Armenian academician Varazdat Harutyunyan published the "Architecture in the ancient world", and in a different corner of the world Deep Purple issued ‘In Rock' album with the song ‘Child in Time'.<br /><br />A year later, in 1971, the great Armenian painter Martiros Saryan finished his last painting, "The dream", and Deep Purple released another album, ‘Fireball'.<br /><br />I would be born a few years later, in 1976. Another 14 years fast forward, and I am waiting in vain for Ian Gillan at the staff entrance of Sports and Concert Complex for several hours with the hope of obtaining his autograph. Now, let me take you to 2019, when I welcome Gillan to Yerevan for the fourth time and spend a wonderful evening in his company at Gouroo restaurant. It stands in the yard of Varazdat Harutyunyan's house, next to the Saryan House-Museum. Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi and I climb the stairs to the second floor and enter Harutyunyan's office, where he most likely wrote the "Architecture in the ancient world".<br /><br />Back in the yard, an easy conversation flows about Ritchie Blackmore, Eric Clapton, our daughters, Jesus Christ Superstar It is a warm Yerevan night, accompanied with wine, delicious food, good talk and memories.<br /><br />One of them takes me back to the May of 1990, to the last one of Ian Gillan's 4 concerts in Armenia. He would bend down and touch hands with the audience during the performance, and I was standing very close to the stage, so at some point luck favored me too: the legend looked me in the face and touched my hand too. 29 years later, we sit together in a yard in Yerevan and talk, talk, talk. <br /><br />***<br /><br />We have just welcomed the guests at the airport, and on our way to the hotel, Tony Iommi recalls a visit Brian May recently paid him and takes out his phone to show the photos they made together. I met with Brian May in October of 2010, at the Armenian Embassy in London, where he was invited to accept the Order of Honor. We exchanged emails a few times afterwards, but when Iommi shows me his photos with May, my brain has a problem processing that I am actually acquainted with these people.<br /><br /><iframe src="" width="100%" height="415"></iframe><br /><br />***<br /><br />In Gyumri, Gillan and Iommi meet with the founder of the legendary folk-rock band Bambir, Gagik ‘Jag' Barseghyan. Jag speaks very little, but his wife Anahit Mirijayan later tells us that Jag said to her, "I spoke to them in silence." His son Narek, the new generation of Bambir, has a more active contribution and gifts the guests Bambir's ‘Armenian Scotch' album. It makes me recall that my good friend Charles Lonsdale, former UK Ambassador to Armenia, is a fan and supporter of Bambir. In 2009, he helped me solve the issues I thought were unsolvable and invite Ian Gillan and Tony Iommi in Armenia for the first time.<br /><br />***<br /><br />Naregatsi Arts Institute's Orchestra is playing Black Sabbath's ‘She is Gone' with Armenian folk instruments.<br /><br /><iframe src=";show_text=0&amp;width=560" width="560" height="308"></iframe><br /><br />Iommi and Gillan sit in the front row, focused on the performance. It is a beautiful, symbolic, very emotional moment. Tears are welling up in my eyes, and I try to hide them. This moment is the culmination of all the love, passion and efforts that we poured into the project. It is huge love that has brought the people we thought of as unapproachable in the 70s and the 90s and us to this moment in 2019, when we walk as friends in Yerevan.<br /><br /><strong>Ara Tadevosyan is Director of Mediamax </strong></p>

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