2021 February 8
- 1 Daily news wrap-up
- 2 upcoming army reforms / contractor or conscript? / Service length
- 3 snap or no snap? / ruling QP party holds a meeting with PM Pashinyan
- 4 pro-Russian activists organize a rally
- 5 Artsakh president criticizes recent barrage of fake news that "manipulates people's emotions"
- 6 Artsakh president has a new press secretary
- 7 re: US State Department responds to ambassador's "congratulatory message" to Azerbaijan
- 8 Italian ambassador: Italy did not invite Azerbaijan to participate in the G20
- 9 group of Lithuanian MPs urged Azerbaijan to expedite the POW return process
- 10 search operations
- 11 Azeri families ask Pashinyan for help to find missing sons
- 12 Azeri truck explodes on a landmine in Jabrayil
- 13 correction re: teacher qualifications in Armenia
- 14 new district is being built in Syunik's bordering village Shurnukh
- 15 rare wine from occupied territory is being auctioned
- 16 soldiers' prosthetics center will have modern look
- 17 number of births in Armenia
- 18 Georgia reopens the land border with Armenia
- 19 trade between the Black Sea and Persian Sea
- 20 Yezidi-Armenian MP visits Iraq to pay farewell to 104 victims of genocide
- 21 Yezidi-Armenian MP Rustam is appointed as the head of Armenia-Iraq Friendship Group
- 22 Russian humanitarian envoy in Azerbaijan...
- 23 ֏12B in subsidies to pay Artsakh residents' utility bills
- 24 Parliament returned ֏1.3B to state coffers
- 25 techies want a sharp increase in science funding
- 26 infrastructure upgrades / Sevan road ring / Qarvachar road / Armenia-Azerbaijan railways
- 27 Lake Sevan water levels
- 28 COVID stats since Saturday
- 29 COVID vs kids: parents want kindergartens to reopen
- 30 public survey about COVID / news source and Livestreams
- 31 national debt grew 8.8% in 2020
- 32 COVID vs construction: stats for 2020
- 33 National Mall: a mall that only sells products made in Armenia
- 34 top-10 countries Russian tourists plan to visits this Spring
- 35 drones will be used during search & rescue operations
- 36 bear in captivity
- 37 ever wonder why Iran needs to import electricity from Armenia?
- 38 Juventus is interested in Henrikh Mkhitaryan
- 39 today in history
- 40 donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers
- 41 archive of older news
- 42 disclaimer
- 43 Support David's Daily Armenia News Summaries!
Daily news wrap-up
Feb/8/2021: (1) Army reforms, prof. contractors, service time (2) Snap or no snap (3) Azeri mothers' message to Pashinyan (4) Wrath of Arayik (5) US State Dept clarifies (6) Regional transport routes & trade (7) Kindergartens (8) Shurnukh's new district (9) National mall (10) Births increase (11)..
Your 17-minute Weekend-Monday report in 4033 words. Part 1.
upcoming army reforms / contractor or conscript? / Service length
Earlier we learned about rumors that Artsakh Defense Army service could reduce from 2 years after a restructuring. They want to have an army consisted of professional contractors. The reduction of conscription time within the Republic of Armenia was denied by a Republic of Armenia official, but the reform discussions continue.
Artsakh president's spokesman: steps are being taken to quickly shift to a professional army. There are discussions about reducing the conscription time.
Artsakh sec. councilman Balasanyan Vitalik: we are currently working on a professional contract-based army for the protection of our borders.
(The aforementioned Artsakh officials speak about the Artsakh army. What about the service within the Republic of Armenia?)
Parliamentary sec. committee chief Andranik: the Artsakh Defense army isn't being dissolved. It will keep its regular format (կանոնավոր ձեւաչափ). Increasing the share of professional contractors won't change its management structure. There are various army modules around the world. We have many soldiers who participated in the war and have immense experience; they could be recruited as contractors now and help develop the army.
Republic of Armenia citizens can volunteer to serve in Artsakh Defense Army. It has always accepted them on a volunteer basis. This won't change.
The MOD Vagharshak hasn't mentioned the shortening of the 2-year service in Artsakh. As for a shortening in the Republic of Armenia, we have to analyze first and understand what type of army we want, what size, what structure. This all depends on the final reform package approved by the government.
When we finalize our vision about the restructuring, we will provide you the details. It would be impossible to hide anyway because people will go and serve there.
We need a 21-century army with special forces that possess fantastic weapons and intellect. We should have done this since 1994 instead of screaming that "we have the strongest army in the world." All the general who today demand the government's resignation, while they weren't generals yet, were securing victories for us. But when Serj and Kocharyan began handing over ranks and wealth in exchange for favors, they de-facto hindered the future development of the army.
Our lesson today is to find the 44-day participants with high intellectual capabilities and give them an opportunity to control the army in the future and guide the government on how to reform it. Science and education should have a place in the army, and the army should become the locomotive for the economy.
Question: do your conversations with the MOD Vagharshak and govt give you hope that these reforms can be achieved soon?
Andranik continues: Did anyone believe in 1990 that we could have an army that forces Azeris to a ceasefire in 1994 and call itself the strongest army in the region for years? After the 2016 4-day war [April war, when Armenia lost lands in the south and north], we should have realized that something is wrong with our army. Could the Pashinyan administration, who took power in 2018, immediately solve those issues? No, because the army capabilities were squandered from 1999 October 27th to 2018.
Everyone has their share to blame. I don't want to look for traitors. Everyone should realize their role in this defeat. When they pulled the army from the front lines and used it against the protesters in 2008 March 1st, they demoralized and devalued the army. We need to restore the trust in the army.
MOD Vagharshak and I had a conversation about Yerkrapah (a veteran group that helps the army). Both of us are a member. Yerkrapah has a lot to do today. They silently help the army without bragging.
MOD and I discussed legal reforms to satisfy the army's needs and its structure post-war. Expect interesting things in February. I can't reveal details.
I also met the ruling party and Parliament Speaker. The needed legal reforms require their support... They should be perceptible not only to the officers involved in the army but also to the whole society outside the army. This is where the political majority has a major task to accomplish. We must achieve success without wasting time.
I support the appointment of ex-Artsakh army chief Jalal Harutyunyan to his new position in the Defense Ministry of Armenia. If you look at the areas where Jalal commanded during the war, we didn't sustain big losses. He isn't indifferent to the army.
Question: Should we have a committee to investigate the 44-day war like the one that investigated the 4-day war?
Andranik: The April War investigatory committee was formed 3 years after the war. There must be a calm situation. Let the army find strength in itself to analyze. Seyran Ohanyan's (Serj's MOD) 2016 analysis about the 2016 April war had many flaws; everyone was guilty except for them. The new investigative group summarized the info and found the source of the problem. The President of the Parliament has the finalized report. It will be published.
snap or no snap? / ruling QP party holds a meeting with PM Pashinyan
They agreed on three things: opposition parties rejected Pashinyan's offer to hold snap elections, there is no widespread public movement to demand it, the party will continue to support Pashinyan's Roadmap presented on Nov-18 (about finishing implementation of the trilateral statement, securing Syunik borders and involving Russia in some regions, social aid packages for refugees and Artsakh, etc.)
QP MP Alen: We made the offer for snap elections but the opposition did not agree. Is the ruling party supposed to beg the opposition to hold snap elections? It doesn't work like that. They rejected the offer because they know that after snap elections either the Parliament will look similar to what we have today, or even worse for them.
The public elected us and they want us to work for now, then they'll see what's next. The government publicly offered opposition to agree that they won't nominate a candidate for PM, then Pashinyan will resign and snap elections will be held. The opposition, however, chose to continue its street rallies. Today they contradict themselves.
QP leader Makunts: One of the primary mechanisms for formulating public demand is in the form of representation by political forces. Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary parties have not insisted on snap elections.
Opposition LHK leader Marukyan: QP is manipulating things. There will be snap elections. The question is when and how. Our stance remains the same: Pashinyan has to resign. Our party does not wait for elections to work towards POW and humanitarian issues.
Ind. MP Gor Gevorgyan: In the current tense domestic political situation, holding snap elections is an "adventure". Elections should be done to solve problems, not create more. We have POW and humanitarian issues that require an urgent resolution. //
The opposition continues to insist that Pashinyan has to resign before elections, and Vazgen Manukyan has to become the new Prime Minister to rule for a year before organizing elections.
Human Rights Ombudsman criticized the government and the opposition, saying that lately, the only public discourse in politics has been the topic of the change of the government, while there are other important humanitarian topics (and the fact that you could soon grow industrial weed).
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042652.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042753.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042707.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042718.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042753.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042759.html , https://factor.am/336308.html , https://factor.am/336317.html ,
pro-Russian activists organize a rally
ex-HHK MP Hayk Babukhanyan organized a rally titled "Strong Armenia with Russia: for a new union." They demanded Pashinyan's resignation, strengthening of Armenia's security, closer ties with Russia.
Artsakh president criticizes recent barrage of fake news that "manipulates people's emotions"
Arayik Harutyunyan: Recently, disinformation around Artsakh has become more active. Unfortunately, it mainly comes from Armenian circles. Without thinking, some people write stuff for narrow personal interests. This is a criminal game against the nerves and fate of the Artsakh people.
One person (likely referring to Serj's son-in-law Mishik) writes that the Artsakh army and Foreign Ministry are being dismantled. Another one writes that we'll abandon the Karmir Shuka-Shushi road area. The third one claims that we'll install Azeri flags in the capital Stepanakert.
These are all nonsense. We will not cave to the dreams of internal and external enemies. I officially demand everyone to refrain from manipulating the nation's emotions and Artsakh's name.
Every state agency works and will work, regardless of hard times and the haters.
I would like all of us to focus our energy and efforts on the reconstruction and development of Artsakh, to ensure security, to alleviate the pain of loss, to solve the problem of captives and the missing, instead of further weakening the existing values.
Common sense and compassion to all of us.
Artsakh president has a new press secretary
Arayik has appointed Lusine Avanesyan as his office spokeswoman.
It turns out Vahram Poghosyan wasn't actually Arayik's spokesman. Everyone thought Vahram was fired after the appointment of the new spokeswoman. It turns out, he was just a deputy chief of staff and held another position in the media relations department. "I've never been President Harutyunyan's spokesman. It was just a perception."
re: US State Department responds to ambassador's "congratulatory message" to Azerbaijan
Context: Earlier we learned that the US ambassador to Azerb. allegedly congratulated Azeri Economy Ministry with the land gains and promised to help to rebuild those areas. It received direct criticism from US House Rep. Adam Schiff, while Artsakh MFA, without giving names, urged everyone to refrain from making such congratulatory statements.
The US State Department responded: the official statements represent our stance on the issue, but foreign sources may not describe them accurately. We will cite Ambassador (to Azerb) Lee's Twitter post about that meeting
[The ambassador's Twitter page has a message about a general regional development but no congratulations to Azerbaijan.]
State Department continues: we're concerned about the events of last Autumn and realize that the region needs humanitarian assistance. The US supports the OCSE Minsk Group format and the Helsinki Act about no threat of force, respect to territorial integrity, equal rights, and people's right to self-determination.
Italian ambassador: Italy did not invite Azerbaijan to participate in the G20
"Another falsification of the Azerbaijani media," writes Armenpress citing the Italian embassy in Armenia, about an earlier report by an Azeri outlet that claimed that Italy invited Azerbaijan to the upcoming G20 summit. "As for Italy's stance on the resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict, it is clear, balanced, and was presented on November 11th," said Italian ambassador Giovanni.
group of Lithuanian MPs urged Azerbaijan to expedite the POW return process
They cited the trilateral statement and called for an unconditional return of POWs, and the establishment of an atmosphere of trust between AM and AZ.
The search crews found 3 bodies in Hadrut and Varanda (Fizuli) regions. DNA analysis is necessary for identification. Names of 29 soldiers were identified via analysis and published today.
Russian ambassador Kopyrkin: The return of Armenian POWs is one of the priorities of the November 9 trilateral statement. I am not exaggerating, this is an issue that is personally dealt with by President Putin and Ministers. The solution may not come as quickly as we expect, but believe me, the maximum is being done, I am sure it will definitely be resolved.
A group of families of missing soldiers gathered in front of the MOD building with demands about news about their missing relatives. MOD Vagharshak met the families.
Azeri families ask Pashinyan for help to find missing sons
A group of Azeri parents held a protest in front of the Azeri MOD with demands for news about their missing relatives. "I need Pashinyan's help. Please. I've searched for my son. No one in the MOD has helped us," said a mother, who was among a group who complained that the MOD ignored their calls and refused to meet them.
"Let them find the bodies if they are dead. If the government cannot find them, they should allow us to participate in search operations. It's possible they were captured and aren't dead," said the parents.
Azeri truck explodes on a landmine in Jabrayil
Ilgar Ahmedov was driving his vehicle in the former battlefield area when an explosion happened. It left one person dead, with the other two missing from the vehicle.
correction re: teacher qualifications in Armenia
Recently I wrote about how teachers can take a test, place in a higher Tier, and earn a higher salary. I confused Tier-1 (lowest) with Tier-4 (highest). There are no Tier-4 teachers in Armenia. The majority are Tier-1 and 2. Only two teachers are Tier-3.
new district is being built in Syunik's bordering village Shurnukh
Shurnukh was one of the two villages that lost a dozen houses because they were located on the internationally-recognized Azeri side of the border. The affected district is called "Verin Tagher".
The government is building a new district nearby called "New Verin Tagher" after discussing it with the residents. The houses will be single-story, with a basement and land for farming. Additionally, each member of an affected family will receive ֏300K and ֏68K/mo for 6 months.
An electric fence was installed so the cattle won't cross to the Azeri side.
rare wine from occupied territory is being auctioned
Earlier we learned that winemaker Grigori Avetisyan from Artsakh's Togh village managed to save the last few thousand bottles of "Kataro" wine. They will be placed on an auction. The proceeds will be used towards building a new factory.
Armenian symphonic orchestra organized a charity concert recently. The winemaker was invited. He gifted a bottle to the orchestra conductor. The latter placed it on an auction. It was purchased by a patron who, in turn, gifted it to the legendary composer Tigran Mansuryan on his birthday. They shared a photo:
soldiers' prosthetics center will have modern look
Medical Univesity isharedphotos from the new center that will use high-tech mproesthetics.
number of births in Armenia
Yerevan 2019: 21.4K
Yerevan 2020: 21.9K
https://www.panorama.am/am/news/2019/02/18/Հայաստան-բնակչություն-ծնունդ/2074124 , https://factor.am/336006.html , https://news.am/arm/news/584846.html , www.1lurer.am/hy/2020/12/29/2020-ին-Երևանում-ավելի-շատ-երեխա-է-ծնվել-քան-2019-ին/387660
Georgia reopens the land border with Armenia
Ninotsminda-Bavra accepts vehicles now. Georgian citizens need to take a test within 3 days of the arrival and receive permission from the Georgian authorities, too. Armenian citizens need to take two doses of vaccine before entering Georgia.
Many Javakh Armenians had been waiting for this day; they recently organized several protests in Georgia.
trade between the Black Sea and Persian Sea
A week after meeting Iranian colleagues, Deputy PM Avinyan met the Georgian ambassador to discuss trade between the Black and Persian seas, new transport route opportunities, and the North-South energy route connection.
Yezidi-Armenian MP visits Iraq to pay farewell to 104 victims of genocide
ISIS fighters committed genocide against Yezidis in Syria and Iraq 6 years ago. Many of the unidentified victims were buried in mass graves at the time. 104 were recently identified and re-buried in northern Iraq yesterday. Ethnic Yezidi QP MP Rustam Bakoyan participated in the funeral.
Yezidi-Armenian MP Rustam is appointed as the head of Armenia-Iraq Friendship Group
https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1042682.html Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh have cleared...
... 1191 ha of lands and 352 km of roads from 24.1K explosive materials since the beginning of their mission.
Russian humanitarian envoy in Azerbaijan...
... brought 20 trucks with construction aid to help the local population with energy and water issues.
֏12B in subsidies to pay Artsakh residents' utility bills
The government held talks with Artsakh energy monopolies ArtsakhEnergy and ArtsakhGas to negotiate a deal over the government's plan to subsidize the residents' utilities for a year.
It applies to <180m3 gas and <500kW/h electricity consumption. The settlements that don't have a gas network and heavily rely on electricity, will have a 1,500kW/h limit.
Maintenance costs associated with installing a gas system inside houses will also be subsidized in full.
The lawmakers are still debating on how to subsidize the utilities. It could be done through the aforementioned method, or the prices could generally decrease, etc.
Parliament returned ֏1.3B to state coffers
The savings were made in 2020 and returned to the budget. "But the media won't write about this," wrote visibly-salty QP MP Alen Simonyan.
techies want a sharp increase in science funding
Gevorg Safaryan, the founder of EarlyOne and Limetech companies, wants the Education Ministry to add an amendment to the ongoing education reform bill to secure a +50% rise in science funding.
"Science funding should account for 4% of the budget by 2024. It should increase gradually. We need a clear development path and an understanding of why we're doing that."
"The government should lay out the foundations by increasing science funding in the initial period. The private sector will take on and continue from there."
Krisp is an app that removes background noise over internet calls. They are one of the pioneers. It went international and is valued at $120M today. Its co-founder Artavazd brings Krisp as an example of how investments in science can benefit the economy.
infrastructure upgrades / Sevan road ring / Qarvachar road / Armenia-Azerbaijan railways
Infrastructure Minister Papikyan: 2021 is an economically difficult year but we're doing everything possible to keep the budget for road repairs, amid a reduction in the overall infrastructure budget. The subsidized road repair budget is almost the same as in 2020.
The regional road unblocking should not only reopen the Vardenis-Qarvachar road [northern road that used to connect Armenia to Artsakh, shorter than Lachin], but we should also use Vardenis road to develop internal tourism.
The SouthCaucasus Railway company assessed the cost of restoring the northern railway route that connects Ijevan-Ghazakh (Armenia-Azerbaijan) and found it ~$500M. The southern railway route (Syunik) will be slightly cheaper. These are preliminary numbers.
In 2020 we launched a project to lay asphalt around Lake Sevan and make a ring around it. We'll build another 20km this year to finalize it.
Yeghvard's infrastructure (medical center, schools) and vehicle fleet is being replenished as part of a ֏1.5B federal iwsubsidy project.
Lake Sevan water levels
As of February 7th, the water in Sevan is 12cm above the mark from last year. It stood at 1900.53m, the highest since 2012 (as of Feb 7th).
COVID stats since Saturday
7014 tested. 451 infected. 526 healed. 11 deaths. 4395 active.
COVID vs kids: parents want kindergartens to reopen
A group of parents protested in front of Yerevan city hall. They want a proper organization of the kindergarten admission process. "12,000 children are still waiting for public kindergartens. We don't know when the admissions will begin. We patiently waited 1 year under quarantine. The quarantine was recently extended without news about kindergarten reopening, while the rules for schools were relaxed to ensure proper admission."
The municipality spokesman met the parent and said they are working towards increasing kindergarten capacities. "It's no secret that we had to make changes due to the pandemic. We are waiting for instructions from Healthcare and Education Ministries. We're in talks with them to resolve it; the solution is near. Many working parents need their children to attend kindergartens."
"The use of an online admission registration system has nothing to do with long waiting lines," said the spokesman in response to a statement made by a parent. "The work done by us since 2018 has freed up many facilities to increase room for kindergartens. Over 1,000 additional children were admitted, as a result. Every year, up to 8,000 children used to wait in queue lines for admission. Last year due to the pandemic there was no admission at all, so that number sharply increased. Please do not associate the pandemic issue with the online registration system."
Currently, children whose both parents have a job are prioritized on the queue list. A protesting parent is against that system because [not everyone is "officially" registered as a worker but is still busy working.]
The aforementioned queue issue is about the free public kindergartens. "Private ones accept kids for $140/mo. Their business is booming today. They don't respect safety rules. Why should the free public kindergartens remain closed?", said a parent.
public survey about COVID / news source and Livestreams
64% of the population gets its COVID news from the TV, radio, and print media. 46% from the internet.
53% believe that the population is not acting responsibly, only 7% believe there was discipline.
Pashinyan and HealthMin Torosyan were periodically posting updates during the pandemic. 27% of the population received their COVID info from such broadcasts by officials.
51% said Pashinyan's Livestreams and posts were the most trustworthy source for COVID news.
The research was done by CRRC/CivilNet on August 2020.
national debt grew 8.8% in 2020
From $7.321B to $7.968B.
Foreign debt was $6.053B, or +4.6% (govt debt +5.6%, Central Bank debt -6%)
Internal public debt was $1.915B, or +25%.
COVID vs construction: stats for 2020
Private businesses spent less, while the government spent more on construction.
Overall -9.5% or ֏414B, from which ֏141B came from the govt.
Construction with federal funding +6%. With international credit -6%. With local municipality public funding +43%. With charity funding -68%. With foreign investor funding +58%. With local private sector -34%.
National Mall: a mall that only sells products made in Armenia
A group of businessmen founded the "National Mall" and gathered products made in Armenia and Artsakh. They want to help the Armenian economy. From food to soap. Some of the items are exclusive to this mall.
A businessman from Shirak finds the mall more convenient. He just refers interested customers to visit the National Mall for purchases.
The mall has 60 employees today. They'll soon open a playground and a food court.
top-10 countries Russian tourists plan to visits this Spring
Turkey, USA, Egypt, Maldives, Uzbekistan, USA, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Armenia, and Serbia. Data by OneTwoTrip tourism agency.
drones will be used during search & rescue operations
The Emergency Ministry wants to use surveillance drones to find and rescue people after natural disasters, or hikers who go missing. Three scenarios were tested in Aparan: lost in a forest, disoriented and lost in darkness, buried in snow.
The drones successfully found those missing in forests or darkness. It has room for improvements in dense forest areas and flying altitude.
In the darkness, the drone's speaker instructs the person to follow instructions and move around so the drone will spot them more easily. Upon detection, it automatically sends the data to the rescue center.
bear in captivity
Econews.am nature activists raised an alarm about Hanqavan's "Nairi Spa Resort" hotel keeping bears listed in the Red Book. The Nature Ministry asked the inspectors to investigate while reminding that the law that regulates the animal world is currently being amended to count the animals in captivity, establish the system of permission to keep certain animals in personal zoos, etc.
ever wonder why Iran needs to import electricity from Armenia?
Well, maybe because Chinese firms moved to Iran and they have been mining Bitcoins with Nvidia graphics cards en masse. They used 300MW power, enough to serve 100,000 people. It caused electricity outages across Iran.
Juventus is interested in Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Big if true. "Calciomercatoweb" writes that Juve is waiting to see if Heno extends the contract with Roma. The latter two are currently negotiating.
today in history
1828: writer Jules Verne was born.
1834: Dmitri Mendeleev was born.
1879: Canadian architect Fleming suggested dividing the planet into timezones (proof that the Earth was flat before 1879).
donations to Artsakh & recovering soldiers
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.
Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/lfm1cz/feb82021_1_army_reforms_prof_contractors_service/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2020 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2021 Daily Armenia Reports|