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ARMENIA: 10 most significant events of the year

10:00, 29.12.2010 Region: World News, Armenia, Karabakh, Diaspora, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Turkey, Iran Theme: Politics, Economics, Society

1. ARMENIAN-TURKISH PROTOCOLS: THE TALKS CAME TO A DEAD END.

On April 22, President Serzh Sargsyan signed a decree suspending the ratification process of the Armenian-Turkish protocols.

The Armenian leader explained his move: Turkey was not ready and not willing to normalize relations with its neighbors. “Turkey has taken a step back, retreated from its commitments and not only has not ratified the protocols, but returned to its old arguments: preconditions, warnings and even threats” stated Serzh Sargsyan.

October 10, 2009, in Zurich, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Turkey signed the “Protocol on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations” and “Protocol for the development of bilateral relations”, which needed to be ratified by the parliaments of the two countries. However, this did not happen.

The signing ceremony was attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and France Bernard Kouchner, as well as Secretary General of the Council of the European Union Javier Solana. The signing ceremony was at the center of the world’s attention, broadcast on 70 TV channels.

However, on December 7, 2009, Turkey linked the Armenian-Turkish process to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. During a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara would not ratify the Armenian-Turkish protocols without resolution of the Karabakh conflict. On April 22, 2010, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan signed a decree suspending the ratification process.

 

2. RUSSIAN BASE IN ARMENIA WILL STAY FOR SEVERAL MORE DECADES

August19-22, during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Yerevan, a Protocol was signed amending the agreement between Russia and Armenia regarding the Russian military base in Armenia.

In accordance with the amendments, the term of the Russian military bases on Armenian territory will be extended from 25 to 49 years. In addition, according to the document, the Russian military base, apart from protecting the interests of the Russian Federation, in conjunction with the Armed Forces of Armenia provides security to the Republic of Armenia.

 

3. AZERBAIJANI DIVERSION

On June 18 at 23:30 local time, an Azerbaijani armed diversion group infiltrated the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, near the village of Chailu. As a result of the retaliatory battle, the enemy pulled back. Four soldiers from the Karabakh side were killed, four more were wounded. The Azeri side left one dead on the battlefield - Mubariz Ibragimov. Subsequently, Ibragimov was declared a hero in Azerbaijan.

 

4. KARABAKH PROSESS: CHRONOLOGY OF MEETINGS

June 17, St. Petersburg

On June 17, St. Petersburg hosted a trilateral meeting between the presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan with the participation of foreign ministers of those countries. Parties were offered the latest version of the Madrid principles.

After the meeting, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said that the Armenian side accepted the proposals in November 2007, and all proposals made afterwards had a working nature. Elmar Mamedyarov said that “the Armenian side, on the one hand, says that they concede to the Madrid Principles and on the other - says it could not agree with some points.”

The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan also held meetings with the OSCE Minsk Group, after which Ilham Aliyev suddenly left St. Petersburg and returned to Baku.

On the night of June 19, an Azerbaijani diversion group penetrated the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

June 26, Canadian Muskoka

Principles, published in L’Aquila on July 10, 2009, were announced June 26, 2010 in the Canadian city of Muskoka in a joint statement by President Dmitry Medvedev, President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy:

“We, the Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group’s Co-Chair countries, France, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America, reaffirm our commitment to support the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as they finalize the Basic Principles for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

We welcome as a significant step the recognition by both sides that a lasting settlement must be based upon the Helsinki Principles and the elements that we proposed in connection with our statement at the L’Aquila Summit of the Eight on July 10, 2009, relating to: the return of the occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh, interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh guaranteeing security and self-governance, a corridor linking Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh; final status of Nagorno-Karabakh to be determined in the future by a legally-binding expression of will, the right of all internally-displaced persons and refugees to return, and international security guarantees, including a peacekeeping operation.

Now the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan need to take the next step and complete the work on the Basic Principles to enable the drafting of a peace agreement to begin.  We instruct our Ministers and Co-Chairs to work intensively to assist the two sides to overcome their differences in preparation for a joint meeting in Almaty on the margins of OSCE Informal Ministerial.”

“On October 27, 2010 the Presidents of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation met in Astrakhan at the invitation of the President of the Russian Federation and discussed thoroughly the process and the prospects of the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

The talks were held on the return of POWs in Armenia and Azerbaijan.  There a total of eight POWs, six military and two civilians’ bodies. On the Armenian side - Manvel Saribekyan; and from Azerbaijan - Mubariz Ibragimov and Farid Akhmedov.

Manvel Saribekyan

Saribekyan was arrested on September 11 on the frontline of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Azerbaijani side called him an Armenian saboteur. Shortly after his detention, Azerbaijan’s ANS TV broadcast a report in which Manvel Saribekyan was identified “for his training in subversive activities in Azerbaijan.’’ The corresponding video appeared on YouTube.

Subsequently, information was received from Baku that “Saribekyan had committed suicide.” According to a report Manvel Saribekyan was found with a strangulated scar on the neck characteristic to a person who has been hanged and forensic experts did not find traces of violence on his body.

According to the Armenian Defense Ministry, Saribekyan was a lost shepherd who was looking for his missing cattle and crossed the Armenia-Azerbaijani border; Azerbaijan persistently said Saribekyan was a member of an Armenian diversion group. Following this, the Azerbaijani propaganda machine spread an “interview” with Mr. Saribekyan through YouTube, in which he stated that he had been trained for terrorist acts on Azerbaijan’s territory. However, expert assessment of the video concluded that the video was filmed under physical and psychological pressure.

On October 26, Azerbaijani authorities handed over the death certificate of the deceased to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Order of the Prosecutor General of Armenia initiated criminal proceedings under Part 2 of Article 104 of RA Criminal Code (premeditated murder with extreme cruelty).

After the examination held in Armenia, doctors concluded that Saribekyan’s death occurred as a result of violence.

 

December 1-2, Astana

December 1-2 in Astana, after 11 years, a long-awaited summit of the OSCE was held. However, the expectations were, apparently, useless. Analysts described the summit as a failure. The final summit declaration was made after half and hour of negotiations, yet it was adopted.

A statement on Karabakh was made a day earlier.

In a statement, the heads of delegations of the OSCE Minsk Group - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and President Ilham Aliyev, “agreed that the time has come for more decisive steps in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

In this regard, they discussed the joint statement of the Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, which were adopted on November 2, 2008 in Moscow and on October 27 2010 in Astrakhan. They also agreed that a peaceful and negotiated solution will bring stability and security, and this is the only path that will lead to reconciliation between the peoples of the region.

The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan reaffirmed their commitment to achieving a final settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, based on the principles and norms of international law, the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the joint statement of Presidents of the USA, Russia and France which were made on July 10, 2009 in L’Aquila and June 26, 2010 in Muskoka.

“The three countries co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group, have expressed their support to the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in making their decisions required to reach a peaceful settlement. They called upon the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, with renewed energy to focus on those issues that still remain unmatched in the Basic Principles and instructed the co-chairs of the Minsk Group in their countries to continue working with the parties to the conflict, contributing to their efforts in this direction. In order to create a better atmosphere for negotiations, they called on to take additional measures to strengthen the ceasefire and confidence-building measures in all spheres”, the statement said.

 

5. FAREWELL "CONCERT" YEREVAN MAYOR

On December 8, Gagik Beglaryan resigned. It all happened after Placido Domingo’s concert in Yerevan ...

On December 3, world-famous Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo gave a concert in Yerevan, which was attended by senior officials of Armenia headed by Serzh Sargsyan.  Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan issued the invitations and guest accommodation for this important event. Among the invited guests was the mayor of Yerevan Gagik Beglaryan, however, although he was not present at the concert his wife with her girlfriend attended. These “elite ladies” sat in the seats right next to the seat reserved for Serzh Sargsyan. According to the official protocol, the seat next to the president is reserved for His Holiness the Catholicos of all Armenians, the prime minister or the speaker of parliament. In order to keep this protocol, Aram Kandayan, an employee of the president’s protocol office, approached Beglaryan’s wife, asking her to change her seat to the next chair. Mrs. Beglaryan was offended because, by invitation, this place was meant for Yerevan’s Mayor and his wife. Mrs. Beglaryan expressed her resentment to her husband. Gagik Beglaryan, being “a real Armenian man,” decided to punish “the insulter of his wife.” He arranged a meeting with Aram Kandayan.

 Kandayan met Beglaryan and was hit in the face while still in the car, a punch which was accompanied by the words “who are you to tell my wife where she to sit.”

After the scandal became public, Beglaryan was forced to resign.

On December 17 the Council of Elders elected a new mayor - the head of the company ArmRosgazprom Karen Karapetyan.  This position did not come as a surprise, given that the Council of Elders Republican Party has an absolute majority - 35 seats.

 

6. ARMENIA: GOVERMENT RESHUFFLE

The mayor’s scandalous departure was followed by other high-profile removals.

On December 9, the Minister of Justice of Armenia Gevorg Danielyan was relieved from his post. Hrayr Tovmasyan was appointed to replace him.

Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said that Danielyan was dismissed for failure to properly conduct his responsibilities. The Premier said that the Minister of Justice has not adhered to ethical standards.

On December 17, Nerses Yeritsyan was dismissed as Minister of Economics and was appointed deputy head of the Central Bank of Armenia for a period of six years. Tigran Davtyan, Minister of Finance took the vacant seat of the Economy Minister. Vache Gabrielyan, deputy head of the Central Bank, was appointed for the post of Finance Minister.

On December 27, the Minister of Agriculture Gerasimos Alaverdyan was withdrawn from his position by the “Rule of Law” party. This decision was made after a consultation with the President of Armenia, and the name of the new head office will be known early in the New Year.

 

7. U.S. CHOICE: ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RESOLUTION THROWN OVERBOARD

In the course of this year’s last session of the House of Representatives, Resolution № 252, condemning the Armenian Genocide, despite the expectations of the Armenian lobby, was not included in the agenda.

However, a small victory was gained: on March 4 this year, the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations voted to adopt Resolution № 252, condemning the Armenian Genocide by 23 votes in favor and 22 votes against.

The U.S. State Department categorically opposed the resolution of the House of Representatives on the Armenian Genocide. Washington does not want to lose its relationship with one of its main allies - Turkey. Ankara has actively tried to avert the discussion. Hillary Clinton held talks with the Foreign Minister and Prime Minister of Turkey. They asked Clinton to do everything to stop the resolution from not being adopted.

The head of the office of Hay Dat and Political Affairs ARF Kiro Manoyan, after the failure of the resolution, told NEWS.am, Resolution № 252, condemning the Armenian Genocide, was not included in the agenda of the U.S. House of Representatives because of the behavior of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. According to him, Pelosi has behaved improperly and did not keep her promise made to the Armenian-American community to bring the resolution up for the consideration.

He recalled that the issue has been adjourned 10 times within the last four years. “The decision not put the resolution on the agenda was ill-intentioned. The majority of congressmen stood for the resolution and were positive about it,” he stressed, recalling Pelosi’s statement that Resolution № 252will be put to a vote if there are enough votes.

On December 22, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to put the Armenian Genocide Resolution, Resolution № 252, on the congressional agenda killing the prospects for the passage of this legislation during this session of Congress.

The Turkish lobby and the administration of President Barack Obama launched a campaign against the resolution. A number of Armenian leaders, including the world-famous rock musician Serj Tankian and model Kim Kardashian, appealed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi calling for her to include the resolution on the agenda. But their efforts were not successful in 2010 ...

 

8. DRAFT BILL ON FOREIGN-LANGUAGE SCHOOLS

On December 22, Armenian Parliament adopted a bill on amendments to the Laws “On language” and “On education” with 69 votes for and 1 against. The bill provides for the opening of a limited number of foreign language schools in the country.

Independent MP Victor Dallakyan voted against the bill, whereas ARFD and Heritage parliamentary groups refrained voting.

In the early 1990s the authorities banned education in Russian language for the Armenian citizens. In fact almost all Russian schools were closed. 

The bill provides for the opening of two private foreign-language schools and nine schools created on the basis of inter-state agreements (not only Russian schools but also English and French).

Several protest actions were held amid the debates over bills.

 

9.  INCIDENTS IN THE ARMENIAN ARMY

Tragic incidents in the Armenian army were, for the first time meticulously discussed in Armenian society. The authorities claim they do not intend to shut their eyes to their shortcomings and clear the army of those who discredit the army’s honor.

On July 27, Lieutenant Artak Nazaryan was killed, while another 5 soldiers and an officer died the next day in an incident that occurred due to violation of army rules.

On August 17, Junior Sergeant Harutyun Vardanyan fired twice at contract soldier Arsen Chobanyan who died at the scene. Under the decree of Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan, eight officers were dismissed, some were deprived of their titles and had to pay fines.

In September a video showing a drunk Major Sasun Galstyan humiliating and beating soldiers – Sergeant Garik Harutunyan and Private Bakur Yeghikyan - was posted on YouTube. The Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that criminal proceedings had been initiated. Sasun Galstyan was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. He was found guilty under Article 375, Part 1of the Armenian Criminal Code (abuse of power).

Another incident occurred on November 19 on the line of contact between the Azerbaijani and Nagorno-Karabakh armed forces.

Four soldiers of the NKR Defense Army were killed: Levon S. Yesayan (born in 1991), Nerses V. Galoyan (born in 1990), Narek V. Sahakyan (born in 1990) and Never M. Sargsyan (born in 1991). Four soldiers were wounded: Sargis A. Melkumyan (born in 1991), Khachik S. Alexanyan (born in 1992), Masis M. Grigoryan (born in 1991) and Manvel A. Hazroyan (born in 1991). The suspect, Manvel Hazroyan, was hospitalized.

 

10.  TV COMPANIES DENIED BROADCASTING

At its December 16 meeting, the RA Television and Radio Commission announced the results of contests for broadcasting licenses. The A1+ TV Company was denied a license once again.

In the 11th contest, a package submitted by the A1+ TV Company received only two points, while the one submitted by the ArmNews TV Company got 44 points. Interestingly, seven of the eight Commission members did not give any points to A1+. Ara Tadevosyan, Director of the Mediamax agency, was the only Commission member that gave A1+ and ArmNews two points each.

NEWS.am staff wishes you happiness and prosperity.

Armenia News - NEWS.am

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