Rep. Frank Pallone Stresses Artsakh’s Self-Determination After Visit

WASHINGTON, D.C — Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-06) stressed Artsakh’s status as a full functioning state after visiting the nation on September 18th in conjunction with an exchange of U.S and Armenian MPs.

The Congressman helicoptered to Artsakh with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) in the morning, stopped in Shushi to visit a technical school, then drove to Steppanakert to address the Artsakh Parliament, followed by lunch with the speaker. He met with the President of Artsakh the day before and received a medal form the government in conjunction with his efforts to recognize Artsakh as an independent republic.

Pallone said that Artsakh deserves international recognition because it legally separated from the Soviet Union, by exercising its self-determination with a referendum. It then defended itself in a difficult war and proceeded to set-up a democracy which exercises transparency and has achieved a level of economic development that is remarkable given the forces aligned against the country.

“Shushi is being transformed in one generation from a city that was mostly destroyed to one that has roads, housing, and schools that are modern and up to date. A lot of this is with the help of the Armenian Diaspora. I visited a technical school financed primarily by French philanthropists. The students are eagerly learning building and construction trades that will be important to the continued redevelopment of Artsakh. Its facilities and equipment were similar to school in the U.S,” Pallone said.

“Stepanakert, looks almost completely rebuilt from the time of the Artsakh War. The Parliament is housed in a new building. Construction continues throughout the city with a new landmark church and completed hospital. I addressed the parliament and met with the speaker separately about the need for the U.S to play a large role in the Minsk process. The settlement must guarantee that Artsakh remain Armenian as an independent nation or part of Armenia. We also discussed the extent to which Azerbaijan continues its military buildup with its oil reserves and receives advanced equipment from other countries.

“The Armenian Caucus members intend to follow up in Congress to see how we can cut off assistance to Azerbaijan, as long as they continue military action against Artsakh. We will push for conference building measures with Azerbaijan that might prevent an unintended war. We will also seek continued U.S aid to eliminate land mines and promote economic development in Artsakh,” Pallone concluded.

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Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee Joins Armenian Caucus

The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) is pleased to welcome Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI) to the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues. An Assembly delegation met with Rep. Kildee last month and discussed issues of concern to Armenian American constituents living in Michigan’s 5th Congressional District. Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny, Michigan raised Western Region Director Mihran Toumanian, and Grassroot and Development Associate Mariam Khaloyan were joined by the Assembly’s Michigan State Director John Jamian. St. John Armenian Church of Greater Detroit Pastor Very Rev. Fr. Aren Jebejian, and members of the Armenian American Community. Rep. Kildee is also a committed supporter of religious freedom in the Middle East. In the 114th Congress, he co-sponsored H. Res. 279, which urged “respect for freedom of expression and human rights in Turkey,” as well as H. Con. Res 75, which designated “the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria” as “war crimes”, crimes against humanity, and genocide.”

“On behalf of Armenian Americans in Michigan, we thank Rep. Dan Kildee for his dedication to and support of U.S-Armenia relations, as well as for joining the Armenian Caucus following our insightful meeting,” Fr. Jebejian said.

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NASA is Interested in Armenian Chemists’ New Substance Used for Thermoregulation of Spacecraft

Armenian chemists have created a new kind of coating used for thermoregulation of space equipment based on willemite.

Volodya Baghramyan of the General and Inorganic Chemistry Institute of National Academy of Sciences told News.am that NASA has contacted the institute after learning about their research and development of the substance.

Willemite coating is a zinc silicate which is highly demanded because it reflects 95% of sun rays. The Armenian Institute has succeeded in synthesized to 230-240 degrees, saving energy used for its production.

“There is certain interest because protecting spacecraft from ionizing radiation is always actual. Therefore, we hope that the program will continue in one way or another,” the director of the Institute Nikolay Knyazyan said.

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6th Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference Took Place in Yerevan

On September 16th, the 6th Armenian-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference kicked off at Karen Demirtchyan Sport and Concert Complex.

During the plenary session, RA Minister of Diaspora, Hranush Hakobyan delivered her opening remarks, His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians gave his blessings to the participants of the conference. President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Artsakh Republic, Bako Sahakyan, and His Holiness Arma I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia gave his blessings.

The 6th Armenian-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference was held under the title “Mutual Trust, Unity, and Resposibility” and with the participation of more than 1,800 representatives.

There were more than 1,500 leaders and representatives of Armenian structures and organizations from 71 countries around the world, Armenian Members of Parliament and ministers of different countries and Armenians elected as representatives of local authorities. Artsakh is represented by a 40 member delegation, and over 400 state, political and cultural figures, scholars and journalists are participating in the conference as representatives of the Republic of Armenia.

There were several large groups participating from the Russian Federation (259), the USA (213), France (92), Lebanon (107), Syria (44), Iran (56), Argentina (35), Canada, Turkey, and Georgia.

Representatives of the communities of Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Mexico, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Myanmar also participated in the conference for the first time.

During the conference, there were 2 plenary sessions, as well as 16 panel sessions devoted to 4 topics. The panel sessions were devoted to the development of Armenia’s economy, regional challenges and the national security agenda, the foreign policy agenda, the elimination of the consequences of the Armenian genocide and the preservation of the Armenian identity.

Two roundtable discussions were held during the conference. The first roundtable discussion was devoted to the creation of a Pan-Armenian Council. The second was devoted to the preliminary plans for organizing and conducting the celebrations dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Armenia, the 100th anniversary of the Battles of May and the 2,800th anniversary of Erebouni-Yerevan.

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Head of Council of Europe Jagland Calls for Investigation into “Azerbaijan Laundromat”

The head of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, called for unprecedented legal action against Azerbaijan over its refusal to release a political prisoner in defiance of the European court on human rights.

Jagland’s intervention centers on opposition leader Ilgar Mammadov, who was jailed for organizing and taking part in demonstrations in 2013. Judges at the ECHR found he was jailed for criticizing Azerbaijani authorities but the government has refused to release him.

At a meeting of Council of Europe ambassadors last Wednesday (Sept. 13), Jagland called for the launch of legal proceedings against Azerbaijan for flouting ECHR court judgements – an unprecedented step in the 68 year history of the Council of Europe.

“We cannot have political prisoners in Europe and we cannot have a situation in which Azerbaijan continues to deprive Mammadov of his liberty against the judgement of the highest court – which clearly stated his arrest and detention were arbitrary,” Jagland said in a statement released to the Guardian. “The time has come for Azerbaijan to think hard about its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and whether it still wants to fulfill them.”

Azerbaijan signed the European convention of human in 2001 but its refusal to implement ECHR rulings has contributed to a slow-burning crisis for the court.

Jagland wants to invoke the Council of Europe convention’s Article 46.4 which could ultimately lead to Azerbaijan being ejected from the human rights body. This “nuclear option” has never been used before and would require action from European foreign ministers, following a court assessment.

The politics of the oil-rich country were also being debuted in the European Parliament, when MEPs voted to set up a corruption investigation by 349 votes to 290, with 42 abstentions. “Following the recent ‘Azerbaijani Laundromat’ revelations, attempts by Azerbaijan and other countries to influence European decision makers through illicit means [the European parliament] calls for a comprehensive parliament investigation,” the text stated.

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Aroyan Company to Invest $11 Million in Jewelry Industry Within Eight Years

Aroyan Company will invest $11 million in Armenia’s jewelry industry with eight years, Suren Karayan, Armenian economic development and investments ministers said.

The government gave the company its permission to do business in Meridian Free Economic Zone as resident. “The company is planning to create five jobs with $300 average salary this year and to increase the number of employees to 100 within eight years,” Karayan said. “The company intends to import its products to Russia, Kazakhstan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Oman. Annual exports will total about $2.5 million.

Meridian Free Economic Zone or jewelry industry, opened up in 2014. The total area for production and offices is 25,450 square meters.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Ensures Continued Funding to Artsakh

WASHINGTON, D.C – The Senate Appropriations Committee adopted the Fiscal Year (2018) State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) appropriations bill, which ensures continued funding to Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh), reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

The “Committee recommends assistance for the victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in amounts consistent with prior fiscal years, and for ongoing needs related to the conflict, which, given Azerbaijan’s recent and unprecedented attacks against Armenia and Artsakh, underscores the importance of implementing an accurate ceasefire monitoring system along the line of contact.

In the Assembly’s testimony earlier this year to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny urged robust funding for Artsakh to help meet the ongoing humanitarian and development needs for its people.

The Committee also adopted an amendment offered by Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), which would prohibit arms sales to the Turkish Presidential Protection Directorate in light of the vicious attack by Turkey’s security detail in Washington, D.C, against peaceful demonstrators May 17, 2017. Last week, nineteen people, including 15 Turkish security officials, were indicted as a result of this attack in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence during President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit.

Bill Maintains Section 907

The bill also maintains Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, restating the six customary exemptions for humanitarian and other assistance to Azerbaijan. The Assembly continues to call for full enforcement of Section 907 given Azerbaijan’s hostile and aggressive actions against Armenians.

“The Armenian Assembly applauds the bipartisan work of the Senate Appropriations Committee and specialty appreciates the efforts of Senator Van Hollen in helping to ensure continued funding to Artsakh. His leadership on critically important priorities for U.S engagement in Armenia and Artsakh is vital, and we look forward to continuing our work with him during this critical time,” state Armenian Assembly Co-Chair Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian.

“Moreover, with recent developments by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) shedding light on money laundering by President Ilham Aliyev and his family, known as the ‘The Azerbaijani Laundromat,’ we are seeing the exposure and rejection of caviar diplomacy done for years,” the Assembly Co-Chairs added.

As part of the Manager’s amendment package, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), included bill language on visa restrictions for Azeri officials “about whom the Secretary of State has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of Mehman Aliyev, the director of Turan, Azerbaijan’s last remaining independent news outlet.” Similarly, Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) included language regarding visa denial for Turkish officials involved in prolonging the unlawful detention of U.S Citizens in Turkey.

The bill also promotes international religious freedom and protection for persecuted religious minorities, particularly in the Middle East. The $25 million program also includes $5 million for atrocities prevention programs.

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Armenian Assembly Intensifies Advocacy on Hill Prompted by Security Concerns in Armenia

The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) has intensified its advocacy on Capitol Hill, prompted by security concerns as a result of Azerbaijan’s increased aggression along the borders of Armenia and Artsakh, which has included the targeting of and substantial damage to a kindergarten in Armenia’s Tavush region.

From the Assembly’s testimony in the House and Senate and its outreach to Members of Congress, the Assembly remains dedicated to underscoring the need to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its actions. The Assembly also continues to emphasize the importance of humanitarian and development aid for the people of Artsakh.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) reiterated his support for assistance to Artsakh as well as a robust cease-fire monitoring system, which Armenia and Artsakh have agreed to implement. When he met with Assembly Terjenian-Thomas interns this summer, Royce highlighted the letter he spearheaded with Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) which proposes three concrete steps that would save lives in Artsakh and help to avert war.

In addition, the Assembly has called for Members to withdraw their Membership from the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, and given the ongoing violations by Azerbaijan, renews its call.

Working in tandem with the Assembly Co-Chairs and helping to lead the charge, long-time Board Member Annie Totah organized several Assembly delegations and held numerous meetings with elected officials to reinforce the Assembly’s message. Mrs. Totah met with, among others, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. John Sarbanes, (D-MD), and freshman Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD).

Assembly Delegation Met With Sen. Van Hollen

An Assembly delegation with Mrs. Totah met with Sen. Van Hollen, who serves on the Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs. They relayed the importance of U.S assistance to Armenia and Artsakh, and shared the testimony submitted by Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny to the Subcommittee for Fiscal Year 2018 highlighting key priorities, including deep concerns regarding Azerbaijan’s deadly ceasefire violations and its targeting of civilians occurring more frequently with recent reports of continuous attacks at the line of contact.

Mrs. Totah continued her outreach with Congressman Steny Hoyer, a long-time friend and ardent supporter of Armenian issues. He has been a steadfast supporter of congressional efforts to combat genocide denial by reaffirming the proud chapter in U.S history in helping to save survivors of the Armenian Genocide. She thanked him for all the work he has done helping Artsakh and Armenia.

More recently, Rep. Hoyer was vocal in condemning Turkey for the violence against peaceful protester outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence and voted in support of H.R 354. He stated: “Our resolution makes it clear, the United States will not tolerate violence against peaceful protesters on our shores and those responsible must face justice.”

Mrs. Totah Met with Rep. Anthony Brown

Mrs. Totah also met with Rep. Brown and described the role and work of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian issues. She and the Assembly staff urged him to join the growing Armenian Caucus, which is currently comprised of 109 Members of Congress. During her conversation with Tom Perez, who was elected this year to serve as the Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Mrs. Totah discussed the importance of U.S-Armenia relations and the strong and vibrant Armenian communities across the country that care deeply about their homeland.

“The Armenian Assembly will continue to advance key priorities as we seek to further strengthen U.S-Armenia and U.S-Artsakh relations and hold Azerbaijan accountable for its egregious human rights violations,” Ardouny stated. “We also deeply appreciate Annie’s tireless advocacy on behalf of the Armenian people. Her enthusiasm and dedication are truly remarkable. We look forward to her significant and continued efforts,” he added.

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China to Provide 10 Million Yuan in Aid to Armenia

Armenian Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan had a meeting with his Chinese Counterpart Chang Wanquan.

The parties discussed a wide range of issues on bilateral and global agenda. They pointed to the training of military personnel and humanitarian cooperation as promising fields of collaboration.

Reference was made to issues of international security. China has been largely involved in resisting global challenges. Armenia, in turn, attaches great importance to those efforts and is willing to contribute to them. “Despite being a small country, Armenia has its decent participation in international peacekeeping efforts,” Vigen Sargsyan said. The Defense Ministers of the two countries hailed the reciprocal support within the framework of international organization.

Speaking about the Karabakh issue, Chang Wanquan said his country stands for exceptionally peaceful settlement of the conflict. Vigen Sargsyan briefed his counterpart on the current state of the conflict and noted that Armenia is resolute to solve the issue through negotiations, but the Armed Forces are always ready for any development of events.

The parties agreed that it’s necessary to double efforts towards the deepening of Armenian-Chinese cooperation.

Vigen Sargsyan thanked the Chinese party for the years of support to Armenia’s defense sector, which he said is an evidence of friendly relations between the two countries.

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Bako Sahakyan: The Civilized World Will Sooner or Later Recognize the Existence of the Artsakh Republic

STEPANAKERT — On September 2nd, in his address on the 26th anniversary of the Artsakh, President Bako Sahakyan said: On behalf of the Artsakh authorities and myself personally, I extend to all of us the warmest of congratulations on September 2nd, the day of the Artsakh Republic.

Twenty-six years ago our people took the historical decision to determine their own destiny and build a free, independent democratic, legal and social state.

During those years together with our sisters and brothers from Mother Armenia and the Diaspora we have managed to realize numerous strategic programs, which day by day bring us closer to attaining our cherished national goals, further strengthen and develop our country.

I am confident the civilized and progressive world will sooner or later recognize this equitable and lawful resolution of the Artsakh people, will not hesitate to admit the prevailing realities that demonstrate our adherence to universal human values and commitment to international norms and principles.

I am confident since our people have proved through their painstaking work and dedicated service of their brave sons that they are able to build, make prosperous and safeguard their ancestral Fatherland, their independent statehood.

Dear compatriots: I once again congratulate you on this memorable day and wish peace, good health and all the best to you, welfare and prosperity to our people and Homeland.

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