2021 May 13

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Daily news wrap-up

May/13/2021: (1) Syunik and Gegharkunik borders (2) Armenia deploys forces. Azeris partially retreat (3) Armenia calls CSTO (4) Fake maps were used (5) Official addresses border gaps (6) Science researcher salaries to quadruple (7) New fertility programs to boost demographics (8) Exports stats $$$
by ar_david_hh


Your 12-minute Thursday report in 3080 words.

update: Azerbaijan's encroachment into the Republic of Armenia

Sev Lake (diameter 1mi) is located on the Syunik border. It has several surrounding heights belonging to Armenians and Azeris.

Officials reported that Azeris could not place their border guards on their side of the border sooner because of snow, but with its recent melting, they recently began the placement process. Last week it was reported that Azeris were installing their positions on their side of the lake.

Evidently, during this process, yesterday they decided to encroach on the Armenian side under the pretense of using a map that allegedly showed it was their territory. The Armenian side said the real map shows it's an Armenian territory, and that the Azeri actions are a deliberate provocation.

Pashinyan held a Security Council meeting and called it an unacceptable action and said "peaceful negotiation is one of the options". Negotiations began between Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan.

False information was widely circulated yesterday about shootouts and encroachments elsewhere. Neither was confirmed and they were denied by official and local forces. The circulation of "alarm-inducing misinformation" was criticized by authorities and Human Rights Ombudsman.

Pashinyan urged the political opposition to refrain from "attempts to win political dividends from an incident that concerns national security", while the opposition accused the government of being traitors and incompetency. Other opposition figures suggested capturing the Azeri troops.

A local official reported yesterday that Azeris somewhat retreated but not fully. Negotiations continued overnight.

Vazgen Manukyan summoned a meeting with the forme regime allies while BHK called for a Parliamentary session to discuss the topic.

--

Pashinyan this morning: yesterday morning, Azerbaijani Armed Forces carried out a provocative operation to cross the RA state border in the Sev Lake area. There has been no significant change in the situation since yesterday.

We have a large number of Armenian forces in the area right now. But the situation has not escalated militarily, no shootouts, there are negotiations since yesterday to remove Azeri troops.

This was a pre-planned provocation by Azerbaijan. They brought with them visibly falsified maps and claimed that the area belongs to Azerbaijan. It's obvious the maps were altered. It's visible by comparing them with the official Soviet-era maps. This shows that we're dealing with an organized provocation.

Obviously, an important question is how was it possible for Azeris to enter through our territory and reach Sev Lake. This is a separate issue that will definitely be addressed.

Some were claiming yesterday that MOD and NSS denied the incident ever happening. What they actually denied was the false rumors about shootout and casualties. The official information was fully provided after a full assessment of the situation.

We must take this situation very seriously because, in fact, we are dealing with a crisis, which has several scenarios for further development. Our task is for Armenia's territories to remain inviolable. Azeri forces must withdraw to their original positions of May 10.

There is an ongoing negotiation process on the spot. We will hold another Security Council meeting later today. //

--

The military prosecutors will examine the circumstances that lead to the incident. While they investigate, Redditor LotsOfRaffi recalls his recent trip to Sev Lake:

I have been to this lake last summer [...]. It's VERY remote, barren and rocky. It's not easy to fortify. I think a lot of people imagine that Armenia should have a system of trench networks going from the Iranian border all the way to Georgia. This is almost certainly impossible to do (let alone within 6 months), not to mention, useless.

The trenches didn't stop the Azeri drones in Artsakh. There will be gaps. These could probably be monitored by surveillance drones in the future, but until then you can't just have Armenian soldiers standing shoulder-to-shoulder throughout the border.

Parliamentary Security Commission member Khachatryan: we had Armenian troops in this area but Azeris moved forward through areas where we did not have positions yet. Our borders do have areas without outposts. It is practically possible to physically cross the border if you want it. The same can be done by Armenians if there is a will. //

--

Armenia's representative to the CSTO military bloc has informed the bloc about the Syunik incident, calling it direct aggression against a CSTO member-state and a threat to regional stability. "If Azerbaijan does not withdraw from Armenia within a reasonable timeframe, Azerbaijan will bear full responsibility for further escalation."

In turn, CSTO said they are closely monitoring the situation and will take action if necessary.

Today the army reported a similar border encroachment in Gegarquniq. During the planned event to place their troops on their side of the borders, Azeris decided to move further and cross into the Armenian territory under the pretense of "border clarification". The MOD reported two incidents in Vardenis and Sisian sections. "In both cases, the Armenian army took steps to stop the advancement. The Azeri side was instructed to leave the territory immediately and to return to their starting positions."

--

Pashinyan held a security council session: this is the second day of an explosive situation near Sev Lake. Armenian armed forces conducted counter-measures, as a result of which, Azeri forces retreated from some of the positions. Neither party has used weapons. 250 Azeris still remain within our territories in Syunik and Gegharquniq.

This is a provocation by Azerbaijan and could be an attempt to cause military clashes. There are multiple reasons to believe this. [talks about Azeris using fake maps, the planned Azeri military exercises, Aliyev's recent tantrums].

We believe the situation warrants CSTO military bloc's intervention. It's also necessary for avoiding escalation. I have instructed MFA, MOD, and other officials to begin talks with CSTO. //

MFA Ayvazyan held a phone conversation with the presidents of the CSTO military bloc and OSCE. OSCE said they are monitoring the situation.

MFA Ayvazyan held a conversation with the US State Department representative. The latter said they are closely monitoring the situation and urged restraint. "We understand that the sides are engaged in negotiations."

Russian MFA Lavrov held a phone conversation with Azeri MFA Bayramov. "During a phone conversation with AM and AZ, we confirmed the need for strict observance of the ceasefire, as well as the strict implementation of the November 9 and January 11 statements," said Russian MFA.

Armenia also used other diplomatic channels to contact foreign representatives about the escalation. Armenian ambassador to Iran spoke with the Iranian MFA.

--

Later that day, the military prosecutors finished the investigation they began earlier and decided to launch a felony case about the illegal border crossing by a group of Azeri soldiers. It notes that Armenian soldiers went to the scene to confront Azeris but were threatened not to come closer. A felony case is launched against the Azeri soldiers.

Security Councilman Grigoryan: as you may know, we launched a CSTO procedure. We are confident that it will help resolve the problem. It's a matter of time. The issue will be resolved with the help of our allies.

This is not a local issue, this has a basis for broader actions. After discussions, we decided to trigger Article 2 instead of 4. This is the first time in CSTO's history that it's being used.

Azeris haven't fully withdrawn yet, negotiations are underway. The reason they were able to cross the border is that we have been unable to install border positions across the full border in the winter due to snow. The borders are long, you can't solve all the problems at once, but we will resolve the issue over time.

The borders did not have fortifications after 1994 border changes, either. It takes time. I understand the concerns but we are doing everything that's possible. //

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/naz9hj/may122021_1_azeris_use_fake_map_to_claim_a_hill/ https://news.am/arm/news/643400.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052173.html https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/naz9hj/may122021_1_azeris_use_fake_map_to_claim_a_hill/gxyc97f/ https://factor.am/370376.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052175.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052188.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052216.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052233.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052234.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052245.html https://hetq.am/hy/article/130800 https://factor.am/370321.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052249.html https://factor.am/370101.html https://factor.am/370271.html https://youtu.be/aBJhl8OL5Ak https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052253.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052252.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052254.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/213758 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052262.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052263.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052270.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052269.html https://factor.am/370384.html https://youtu.be/jLqTu9c33yw

foreign diplomats condemned Azerbaijan

US Rep. Frank Pallone: Azerbaijan has now invaded Armenia in clear violation of international law. The U.S. must condemn this attack in unequivocal terms and use its influence with allies to bring about the withdraw of Azeri forces from Armenian territory.

https://twitter.com/FrankPallone/status/1392629746002010118?s=20

Rep. Adam Schiff called this yet another dangerous and provocative action by Azerbaijan, and urged the US administration to be more active in OSCE Minsk Group and to end military aid to Azerbaijan. "We should not provide aid to a nation that repeatedly violates human rights and the sovereignty of neighbors."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052169.html

A group of French Parliamentarians called France and Europe to take action against Azerbaijan for "ignoring international law and using military force in the Republic of Armenia territory."

https://factor.am/370370.html

US State Department report mentions Azerbaijan's vandalism of Armenian cultural sites in Artsakh

The report says: Turkey helped Azerbaijan to capture 4 regions in Karabakh and another 3 were given peacefully. During the conflict, Human Rights Watch reported two separate attacks on the Holy Savior Cathedral in Shusha by Azerbaijani forces. There was reportedly no evidence the site was used for military purposes.

In connection with attacks on and vandalism of religious sites following the Fall fighting, Armenian officials, religious leaders, and civil society representatives expressed concerns for the protection of Armenian cultural and religious heritage.

https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/azerbaijan/ https://factor.am/370106.html

UN says they haven't been able to provide humanitarian aid to Artsakh because of obstacles by Azerbaijan

The UN General Secretary's spokesman said they hope to see progress in this issue soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052230.html

watch your profanity

Human Rights Ombudsman said they will monitor the election process and urged every politician to refrain from using hate speech, insults, and polarizing the society during the electoral campaign (GOOD LUCK).

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052192.html

civil society groups hold a session about elections / "great opportunity to restore authoritarianism"

During a conference about election transparency and democracy, ruling party MP Hamazasp accused the former regime of opportunism.

MP: we have circles who have not an ounce of democratic values in their DNA. They have used every tool to eliminate democracy: from murder to rhetoric opposing democracy. They even attack fellow opposition forces for being pro-democracy. Democracy is at risk from external forces, too. Aliyev has a problem with hearing about it in a neighboring country.

https://youtu.be/r_hvtSd4Uqo?t=138

https://factor.am/370204.html

Anna Davtyan: the anti-democratic forces are attempting to promote the idea that we must choose between democracy and security, and that democracy means anarchy. Unfortunately, this government gave a great gift to the anti-democratic forces, they failed to launch a democratic campaign to let the public decide on land concessions [before the war].

https://factor.am/370230.html

Helsinki Committee local rep. Grigoryan: these attacks against civil society did not begin in 2018. They have always been observed. There was an arson against our office during the 2003 Kocharyan election. It was vandalized in 2012 during Parliamentary elections. There are specific people who have a task to protect their economic resources.

https://factor.am/370220.html

Kocharyan visits Moscow

Kocharyan's lawyers had earlier asked the judge for permission to leave the country. He has to ask for permission because he is going through a bribery trial. Kocharyan is a board member of the Russian business giant SISTEMA and has made similar trips in the past.

Today the media claimed that Kocharyan attempted to meet Vladimir Putin but the latter allegedly rejected the meeting and that the same happened with Putin's chief of staff Anton Vaino.

The outlet writes that Kocharyan will proceed with the scheduled business meetings instead. Kocharyan's lawyer confirmed that he obtained permission to leave the country but did not provide further details.

https://civic.am/politics/6198--.html

research scientist salaries to quadruple within 3 years

The government made amendments to expenditures during today's session. Beginning in 2022, a wage scale will be established to gradually raise the salaries by 2025 to "competitive levels".

Researchers would undergo certification tests before the raise. Today, the average salary is $175. It will become $530. The chief researcher will earn $1,050.

The salary fund will increase from $7.6m to $27.5m.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052185.html

programs to boost demographics

Armenia's fertility rate dropped by 1.8x in the past 30 years and is currently at 1.6. The Healthcare Ministry and Pashinyan cabinet discussed the latest reforms to boost demographics:

1) The current law has barriers for some infertile couples who want to have children. In particular, under current law, one of the couples applying for assisted reproductive technologies must be the biological parent of the child. The amendment will eliminate this restriction.

2) Assisted reproductive technologies will be available to couples who have 3 children of the same gender and want to try a new gender (կրկին պորձիր)

3) The couples who apply for assistance and produce more embryos than necessary will be able to donate the rest to other couples in need.

4) The procedures will be limited to women under 53yo due to health concerns.

In 2019, soldiers were added as qualified recipients of the assisted fertility program. The budget was ֏1b. "We will have better results if the funding is increased."

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052187.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052202.html

IUI: reproductive services will be available in provinces, not just Yerevan

Healthcare Ministry: provinces will receive the ability to develop Intrauterine insemination services (IUI). The services will be decentralized. They will no longer be centered in Yerevan.

Today, people are forced to travel to Yerevan for this treatment. You have to make two visits per month, for up to two. We will train experts in provinces.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052199.html

update: how many families have used housing mortgage aid programs aimed at demographics?

The programs are for families who purchase or build a house with a loan. The government subsidizes it. 840 families have so far received help, 424 of them this year.

There are three programs that began on Jul/1/2020. The level of aid increases with 3rd and each additional child. That includes new subsidies towards mortgage after the birth of a child.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/213702

government drafts a financial literacy plan

Education Ministry: a plan was drafted in 2014-2019 to organize financial literacy programs in schools with the help of NGOs and private entities. In 2019, the Central Bank launched research to examine the current state of financial literacy, based on which the financial literacy commission formed a new plan for 2021-2025 with the help of the German government.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052163.html

five new modular schools will be built in provinces

The government allocated ֏500m to build schools in three provinces. "The practice of reusing old property should be ruled out [...]. Seismically unsafe schools will be replaced with modular ones," said Pashinyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052190.html

֏800m for infrastructure subsidies in provinces

Today the government approved a plan to allocate additional funds to 6 provinces for capital investments, roads, water/sewer pipes, parks, public buildings, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052210.html

֏400m to subsidize utilities for border residents

43 border settlements will receive help with living conditions and subsidies for gas, electricity, irrigation water, and other bills.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052212.html

bill: you should know what's in your sour cream / proper markings on store shelves

The government approved a plan to require dairy sellers to take steps to ensure customers are not duped and there is a fair playing field among dairy producers who use different ingredients.

Some products contain real milk/milkfat while others contain substitutes but currently there is no clear distinction between them on the store shelves.

The tag on the item must have a visible marking that says it's a substitute ingredient. Stores must keep them separate from "real" products. The first violation costs $60.

Parliament is yet to approve the bill.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052202.html https://factor.am/370381.html

iGorts: diasporans can take jobs in Artsakh government positions

Last year Armenia launched the iGorts program and invited numerous diasporan Armenians to help the government by sharing their expertise. This program will become available in Artsakh.

Govt: Especially in the post-war period, a significant number of Diaspora Armenian specialists expressed a desire to apply their innovative ideas in Artsakh.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052241.html

COVID stats

3723 tested. 267 infected. 674 healed. 19 deaths. 8124 active.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052170.html

stats: Armenia's trade export destinations in 1Q21

Total $573m (+3% from last year)

Russia $147m (+2%)

China $79m (+95%)

Switzerland $74m (-10%)

Netherlands $28m (-10%)

United States $23m (+41%)

Germany $18m (+33%)

Iran $16m (-18%)

Italy $9m (-8%)

Slovakia $2.6m (up 157 times, mostly clothing and bedding)

France $1.7m (+67%)

UK $1.4m (+73%)

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052123.html

what did Armenia export in 1Q21?

Mining materials $220m (+21%)

Food $114m (-3%)

Non-precious metals & items $67m (+9%)

Chemicals -7%

Plastics -25%

Animal products +64%

Wood products +74%

Full: https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052123.html

update: Armenia asked to extend EAEU trade rule waiver

When Armenia joined the Russia-led EAEU economic bloc in 2015, it received certain privileges during the transitional period. Import tariffs were lowered for 981 products for the duration of several years.

That deadline would end in 2022. In 2019, the Armenian government asked EAEU to extend the privileges. The EAEU members have to agree to that.

Today the Kazakhstan Senate joined the other member-states and voted to grant Armenia the low tariff rates for 94 products for another year.

https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/292839/

Photos: archaeologists to resume excavations in Karnut

The results of the 15-year-long excavations in the Neolithic-Eneolithic settlement in Aknashen will be summarized in a monograph and published in 2021, while the excavations of the Early Bronze Age mausoleum will resume in Shirak's Karnut settlement.

archaeologist Badalyan: at some point we have to stop and summarize what we have found so far. In Aknashen, we focus not as much on artifacts as on the monuments and the culture that characterizes them. It's located in the lower part of the Qasakh River near Verin Khaturnakh. Armenian and French experts worked here.

The works will resume in Karnut in the summer. We're dealing with Kur-Araks culture from the 4th century B.C. that was present in Armenian Highlands and outside. The teams examined large areas and learned details about the population's lifestyle and architecture. We cooperate with foreign experts when necessary.

Read yesterday news in case you missed the discovery of Roman-era baths and aqueduct in Artashat.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052122.html

today in history

1830: Ecuador breaks away from Columbia

1836: Russia begins first railways construction

1949: Gregory Areshian is born. He was an Armenian-American archaeologist and historian who co-led the group that found a 5,500-year-old show in Armenia.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1052141.html http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Gregory_Areshian ICYM Wednesday news

Wednesday news:

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/naz9hj/may122021_1_azeris_use_fake_map_to_claim_a_hill/

Redditor translated it into Russian

https://new.reddit.com/r/ArmDailyReports_RUS_/comments/nba9q5/новости_12_мая_2021/

end of report

The accused are innocent unless proven guilty in the court of law, even if they "appear" guilty.

News archive: http://www.armeniapedia.org/wiki/Daily_Anti-Corruption_Reports

Donations: soldiers' families, humanitarian aid, US tax-deductible donation.


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/nbpx1e/may132021_1_syunik_and_gegharkunik_borders_2/

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