Table of Contents
Hello, and welcome to Armenian News Network, Groong, Week in Review. I’m Hovik Manucharyan.
This episode was recorded before Azerbaijani forces started a wide-scale attack against Artsakh and Armenia over the weekend, so we will not cover that important topic today.
In this episode, along with Asbed Bedrossian, we’re going to talk about the following major topics:
To talk about these issues, we have with us:
Asbed Kotchikian, a senior lecturer of political science and international relations at Bentley University in Massachusetts.
Marine Manucharyan, president of the Civic Forum NGO. Her areas of focus include Artsakh, the Armenian Armed Forces, National Security and Foreign Policy.
Emil Sanamyan, a senior research fellow at USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies specializing in politics in the Caucasus, with a special focus on Azerbaijan.
On Monday September 21, Armenia celebrated its 29th anniversary of Independence. A very long parade of congratulations rolled in from world leaders, from Russia to America, to China, Japan, Canada, Australia, the Arab world - even Saudi Arabia, around Europe and South America, Kazakhstan and Georgia. Many world landmarks were lit up in the colors of the Armenian flag, and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser proclaimed September 21 as “Armenian Independence Day” in DC.
One country we didn’t hear from on September 21 was from our neighbor Iran, and the press immediately went speculating what was going on. Finally, congratulatory letters arrived I think on the 24th, three days late. The letters were sent to Prime Minister Pashinyan as well as President Sarkissian.
What is Iran telling Armenia?
For the past month Azerbaijan has upped the war rhetoric and ramped up its #FakeNews machinery to full gear. A constant stream of complaints about Armenian families relocating from Syria and Lebanon to Artsakh is now coupled with fake information that Armenia is relocating 60,000 PKK fighters there, on Friday they had included ASALA fighters.
There was a leaked internal Facebook memo a couple of weeks ago that singled out Azerbaijan as a major hub for fake accounts and profiles which their government uses against their opposition and Armenians. As usual they accuse Armenians of the same things that they’re accused of, in order to blur everything and drown the story in the noise. Is this a two-way street? Is there a lot of Armenian counter-Faking?
Where is all this disinformation leading to?
Bright Armenia’s leader Edmon Marukyan said that the LHK will not join the rally. They’re in favor of change, but through elections. On Friday, a Yerevan court authorized the arrest of BHK leader Gagik Tsarukyan on vote buying charges. Tsarukyan denies all wrongdoing and says that the charges are politically motivated because he called on PM Pashinyan to resign.
● Armenia celebrated its 29th anniversary of Independence on Sept. 21, 2020. A very long parade of congratulations rolled in from world leaders, from Russia to America, to China, Japan, Canada, Australia, the Arab world, around Europe and South America, Kazakhstan and Georgia. Many world landmarks were lit up in the colors of the Armenian flag, and Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser proclaimed September 21 as “Armenian Independence Day” in DC.
○ Meanwhile, Ilham Aliyev complained to the UN about Armenia, while a potential tragedy began unfolding in Azerbaijan: the colors of the Armenian national flag were 'detected' in school textbooks! 😯😂 (Here’s the text of the speech)
○ Turkey warned Armenia against playing with fire after an Azerbaijani soldier was killed on the border.
● GM Levon Aronian won the Bundesliga title with OSG Baden-Baden.
● Armenia’s athletics team returned home with three gold medals from the Balkan Athletics Championships held in Romania.
● Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Suren Papikyan discussed his concerns to IAEA General Director Rafael Grossi over the recent Azerbaijani threat to strike the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant.
● Armenia health workers fighting COVID-19 honored with Hero of Our Time special award.
● The Hairenik bloc: The Prosperous Armenia, Homeland and ARF parties announced that they will hold a rally in the Freedom Square on October 8, and say that they plan to call for snap elections in Armenia. The LHK will not join the rally. Edmon Marukyan has said that the party is in favor of change, but through elections.
● Composer and conductor Loris Tjeknavorian shares his memories of independence.
● Japan considers necessary to reform the UN Security Council because the system designed seventy-five years ago no longer delivers on the purposes of the Charter.
● Azerbaijan’s militaristic rhetoric, accusations against Armenia show that Baku is preparing a ground for an attack, Editor-in-chief of Realist Arabic news agency, Amr Eldiib says.
● The Yerevan Court of General Jurisdiction approved a motion on arresting former Armenian Ambassador to the Vatican Mikayel Minasyan. An arrest warrant has been issued.
● The Governor of Aragatsotn province has tested positive for COVID-19.
● Employees of a children’s home in Yerevan are under criminal investigation on suspicion of physically and psychologically abusing the children at the institution.
● Stepanakert called on Baku to abandon its policy of military blackmail and threats, and get back to a full format of negotiations.
● A shooting at an Armenian school over the weekend in San Francisco has sparked a new hate crime investigation — the third hate crime against an Armenian establishment in San Francisco in the last two months. The SFPD is Investigating.
● Azerbaijan has called army reservists for inspection and training, claiming that there has been a ‘serious deterioration of the situation on the front line’.
● A project funded by the European Union’s EU4Business initiative is helping to improve food safety in Armenia. The effort is being implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC).
● Elvir Klempic, the National Affinity and Ethnic Engagement Director for the Joseph Biden presidential campaign, has issued a statement on his role and position on the Armenian Genocide and related issues.
● Armenians, Syrian refugees in Turkey and Greeks are at the top of the list of groups targeted with hate speech by the Turkish media in 2019, according to the “Hate Speech and Discriminatory Discourse in Media 2019 Report,” published by the Hrant Dink Foundation.
● "My Step" faction MP Armen Pambukhchyan has been named deputy minister of emergency situations.
● Israel’s State-Run Aerospace Giant Contributed to Azerbaijani Laundromat, Leaks have Revealed.
● Gagik Tsarukyan has denied the allegations made in the recently published in Khodorkovsky’s Dossier.Center website, that he has secret ties to Russia.
● Armenia’s technology sector is continuing to grow rapidly despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to PM Pashinyan.
● Russia is advancing a draft law to ban the latest encryption technology to prevent internet users bypassing state-imposed blocks & filters.
● The SHANT 2020 nationwide military exercises will be held in Armenia from November 16 to 20.
● Two employees of the Cadastre Committee have died from the novel coronavirus.
● Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in as the Belarusian president on Wednesday.
● The new Ambassador of the Netherlands Nico Schermers presented his credentials to the President Armen Sarkissian.
● New ambassador of Armenia to Bulgaria, Armen Edigaryan, presents credentials.
● Russian MFA spox Maria Zakharova denied Azerbaijani reports that Russia advocated for the 'return of five regions surrounding Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan' and that 'Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan impedes the Karabakh peace process.'
● Kansas, Armenian leaders talk military models in partnership exchange.
● Yerevan will host the Armenia International Music Festival, with five classical music concerts at the concert hall of Karen Demirchyan Sport and Concert Complex.
● The Ministry of Education has expanded the funding for the teaching of Armenian and other Armenia-related subjects abroad. In the 2020-21academic year, the teaching will be expanded to ten institutions across eight countries.
● Putin awards three Russian Armenian doctors for great contribution to the coronavirus fight.
● Fruit prices rose by 30.2% in Armenia.
● Three employees of Yerevan orphanage were arrested over child abuse.
● Russian PM Mikhail Mishustin has expressed interest in visiting Armenia with the condition that he also be allowed to visit Gagik Khachatryan, a former finance minister who is in jail with charges of corruption.
● No congratulatory messages have arrived from Iran on Armenia’s anniversary of Independence this year.
● Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan said that the increase in numbers since September 11 is conditioned by the increase of mobility and non-observance of the epidemic rules since the end of the emergency rule.
● President of Iran Hassan Rouhani has sent congratulatory letters to PM Pashinyan and President Armen Sarkissian about Armenian Independence Day. The letter is 3 days late, and there has been much speculation about why it took so long.
● Former MP Artur Gevorgyan arrested in the US.
● Caucasus 2020: Armenian and Russian troops hold major live fire drills.
● California State University, Northridge (CSUN) has received an anonymous $3 million gift to support its Armenian Studies Program and provide scholarships to students.
● WorldBank: Financing Reforms are Critical for Better Health in Armenia.
● Venice is also an Armenian city: Italian exhibition opens at the President's residence.
● "Credit Holidays" granted to thousands of borrowers in Armenia can cause major damage to the banking system, Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank Nerses Yeritsyan told a parliamentary inquiry.
● The Spanish Senate ratified the Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on September 23.
● Reports that Turkey is transferring syrian Militants to Azerbaijan as hostilities against Armenia increases.
● Armenian champions Ararat-Armenia made it to the play-off round of Europa League after beating Celje (Slovenia) 1-0 at home in the third qualifying round.
● Arthur Gevorgyan, the son-in-law of former Republican MP and former Chief of Police Vladimir (Vova) Gasparyan, has been arrested in the US.
● There has been a huge amount of #FakeNews disseminated by Azerbaijan’s secret services about Armenia and Armenians. Azerbaijan is well known and well documented by Facebook as a hub for fake accounts and fake news being used against their domestic opposition, as well as Armenians.
● The EU will provide Armenia with 60 million euros in fresh assistance earmarked to deal with the coronavirus crisis, reform courts and root out corruption.
● Sweden’s first resident ambassador to Armenia Patrik Svensson presented his credentials to President Armen Sarkissian
● The U.S. Embassy in Armenia warned US citizens to avoid travel near the line of contact and the border, including the area to the east of the M4 and M16 Highways north of the Dilijan National Park and up to the border with Georgia in Tavush province, and Nagorno-Karabakh region.
● The Turkish Prosecutor General's office has launched the process to deprive Armenian MP Garo Paylan of diplomatic immunity. Paylan and seven other members are accused of making statements supporting “terrorists” in the developments surrounding Syria’s Kurdish-majority city of Kobani.
● The ministry of healthcare won an award of the United Nations Interagency Task Force on the prevention and control of Non-communicable Diseases (UNIATF) during the Task Force meeting.
● Police Chief Vahe Ghazaryan and Indian Ambassador Kishan Dan Dewal discussed effective partnership between Armenia and India law enforcement.
● PM Pashinyan relieved the Deputy Minister of Education, Grisha Tamrazyan and Georgy Avetisyan, the Head of the Food Safety and Inspection Agency.
● Minister of education, science, culture and sport Arayik Harutyunyan met with the Ambassador of Lithuania Inga Stanytė-Toločkienė, where the latter expressed interest in establishing a TUMO center in Lithuania.
● The NSS warned about and denied #FakeNews being spread by Azerbaijani special services over “evacuation of the residents of Artsakh” in social networks.
● DM Tonoyan is in Russia attending the main stage of the Kavkaz 2020 (Caucasus 2020) Russian military drills in the Kapustin Yar shooting range. In Armenia it was held at the Alagyaz shooting range on September 24.
● My Step MP Gayane Abrahamyan has submitted a resignation letter. She has cited that “status has become an end, not a means”, and therefore that has crossed a red line for her.
● Referring to newly appointed Constitutional Court judge Yervand Khundkaryan’s candidacy to the presidency of the court, judge Vahe Grigorian said a different candidate should be considered. Later in the day Justice Khundkaryan failed the confirmation vote to become the President of the Constitutional Court. He was the only nominated candidate to become the chief justice.
● President Sarkissian visited FAST, the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology, and familiarized with their ongoing projects, and referred to his ATOM presidential initiative on science development in Armenia.
● Seven Iranian prisoners in Armenia repatriated to Iran.
● Federal Member for the South Australian electorate of Spence, Nick Champion has affirmed his support for Australian recognition of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Genocides by signing on to the Joint Justice Initiative of the Armenian-Australian, Assyrian-Australian and Greek-Australian communities.
● The world premiere of "Gate to Heaven" by Jivan Avetisyan will take place at the Moscow International Film Festival on October 1-8.
● Today marks the birthday of Komitas.
● Several hundred Syrian refugees have been recruited by Turkey to fight against Armenia in the disputed Karabagh region - writes the Jerusalem post, attributing it to Syrian sources.
● Mustapha Adib, Lebanon’s PM-designate has resigned after failing to form a new government.
● Turkish police have arrested the Kurdish mayor of Kars Ayhan Bilgen, and transported him to Ankara by plane.
● Six months after French Armenian politician Patrick Devedjian’s death, the Hauts-de-Seine department, of which he was president, paid him a strong tribute on Friday.
● Two resolutions in the US Congress, H.Res.452 and H.Res.190 regarding U.S.-Armenia and U.S.-Artsakh relations, continue to garner support,
● Artsakh President Arayik Harutyunyan partook on Saturday in Stepanakert's Circular Park in a solemn ceremony dedicated to the Day of the Capital.
● Libya starts implementing joint military programs with Turkey, defense minister says
● Turkey bashes UN, EU and Armenia in latest statements
● Greece said on Wednesday that it still expects the EU to approve sanctions against Turkey despite agreeing to restart talks on maritime boundaries.
Pianist Laura Galstyan won the 4th prize at the 5th Krystian Tkaczewski International Piano Competition in Poland and was recognized as one of the top six pianists.
That concludes our program for This week’s Groong Week in Review. We hope it has helped your understanding of some of the issues from the previous week. We look forward to your feedback, and even your suggestions for issues to cover in greater depth. Contact us on our website, at groong.org, or on our Facebook Page “ANN - Groong”, or in our Facebook Group “Groong - Armenian News Network”.
Special thanks to Laura Osborn for providing the music for our podcast. I’m Hovik Manucharyan, and on behalf of everyone in this episode, I wish you a good week. Thank you for listening, and talk to you next week.
29th Anniversary Independence, Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan, War
Additional: Emil Sanamyan, Asbed Kotchikian, Marine Manucharyan