2021 September 8

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Contents

Daily news wrap-up

News - Sep/8/2021: Pashinyan in Georgia: sea-to-gulf route, regional railway resumption __ Iranian copper smelter __ Stats: exports, tourism, incarceration __ Many villages to merge __ Polish Senate & California __ Trade unions __ New meteorological toys __ Holiday event __ $30m housing aid __ more
by ar_david_hh


Your 11-minute Wednesday recap in 2819 words.

BOOKMARKED: in case you missed ex-Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan's PART 3 of war postmortem analysis

He discusses military expenditures, army size, command and control issues.

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/pk1ydh/part_3_of_war_postmortem_exmod_spokesman_artsrun/

Defense Minister Karapetyan met the director of the Russian-owned South Caucasus Railway

The railway giant operates the Armenian network. The MOD and director Melnikov discussed the physical condition of railways, areas of development, and cargo transfers. The MOD praised the railway's role in passenger and military equipment deliveries in Armenia.

The government recently announced that the railway giant agreed to make large-scale investments within the next few years after negotiations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062615.html

Pashinyan about unblocking regional communication routes and relations with neighbors:

The need to improve relations with our neighbors was mentioned in my 5-year plan, approved by the parliament last month.

As part of that agenda, I have already visited Iran and will visit Georgia today. A key topic of discussion will be the regional communication routes. In this context, I emphasize the importance of the North-South project, which connects the Armenia-Iran border with the Armenia-Georgia border.

It is very important for Armenia to establish a railway link with Russia and Iran. To resolve this issue, AM-RU-AZ are currently discussing the unblocking of regional communication routes. We are determined to make an effort to achieve results while realizing that Azerbaijan also expects communication with Nakhijevan.

Turkish president recently made remarks regarding the normalization of relations and restoring the Armenia-Turkey railway link. We are prepared to discuss it. It's about using the Caucasus to connect north-south and east-west. Russia agreed to actively assist in the normalization of our relations. The US, EU, and France are also interested in this process. Needless to say, China and India are interested in using the regional communication routes.

Long-term regional peace and development is our strategy. It's easy to say it, but its implementation will require wise and pragmatic efforts. Armenia is prepared for such efforts.

We are also ready to resume the negotiations with Azerbaijan within the OSCE framework. Another important area is the border demarcation. We are working towards establishing the necessary conditions to make demarcation possible. We hope to complete the process of returning all Armenian captives and POWs soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062618.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062621.html

Pashinyan visited Georgia to discuss regional trade routes and economic cooperation

Pashinyan met Premier Gharibashvili, followed by a larger meeting attended by MFAs and several Ministers.

Pashinyan: this meeting will make the intergovernmental communication closer and more effective. Thanks for hosting us in brotherly Tbilisi.

Gharibashvili: congrats on the election victory. Happy to host the dear partner in Tbilisi. The Artsakh war was a difficult challenge for our region, but I believe now this challenge will turn into an opportunity for Armenia [trade routes], and will bring prosperity to the Armenian people. //

Pashinyan thanked Gharibashvili for his role in the recent repatriation of 15 Armenian POWs, and for Georgia's balanced stance on the Artsakh conflict.

Gharibashvili about POWs: stability in Armenia means stability in Georgia. We have the same regional goals towards peace and prosperity. The successful release of POWs gives us optimism. Georgia will continue its efforts as a mediator to establish trust between Armenia and Azerbaijan. //

The leaders noted a significant increase in the number of diplomatic trips in the past three years. They agreed to work towards expanding trade, and to develop transport and energy projects.

The MFAs of Armenia and Georgia discussed topics relating to an agreement about a trade corridor between the Black Sea and the Persian Gulf, and ways to create new opportunities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062681.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062628.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062645.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062649.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062656.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062664.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062663.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062661.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062680.html

Tags: #PashinyanInGeorgia #GeorgiaTrip #BlackSeaPersianGulf #TradeRoute

Iranian copper smelter is studying investment opportunities in Armenia

Infrastructure Ministry hosted the representatives of the Iranian "Babak Copper" company. It's one of the largest mining companies in Iran.

The Armenian side noted the presence of other mutual projects and expressed hope that the Iranian side will be interested in this area as well.

The Iranian delegate spoke about the copper tank leaching technologies they use in Iran. They have invested €400M in Iran so far.

They agreed to hold another meeting between Babak Copper, Armenian companies, and the Armenian government soon.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062676.html

import-export stats for 1H2021

Trade: +15%

Exports: +23% (reached $1.6B)

Imports: +11% (reached $2.6B)

Top exports: mineral products, prepared foods, precious metals, agricultural goods.

Top imports: mineral products, vehicles, machinery, chemicals, precious metals, food.


Export destinations: Russia (+35%, $451M), China (+98%, $250M), Switzerland (-30%, $191M), Bulgaria (+35%, $130M), Netherlands (+19%, $80M).

Imports come from: Russia (+23%, $996M), China (+5%, $235M), Iran (+36%, $230M), Georgia (+4%, $170M), Germany (+7%, $115M).

https://www.civilnet.am/news/632018/հայաստանի-արտաքին-առևտրաշրջանառությունն-աճել-է-151-տոկոսով/

incarceration statistics

Year: total / female / very serious cases

2017: 3833/152/775

2018: 3536/125/685

2019: 2266/72/566

2020: 2221/69/531

2021: 1967/46/460

Around 100-150 are foreign nationals.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220386

tourism statistics in 1H2021

Foreign tourists coming:

1H20: 307k

1H21: 239k (-22%)

Armenian tourists leaving:

1H20: 274k

1H21: 115k (-58%)

tourism stats for January-September period shows a different picture

It grew +30% from the 2020's Jan-Sep period.

Economy Minister Kerobyan: 488,000 tourists have traveled to Armenia as of September, with 143,000 in August alone. The number will surpass 1 million this year. Our goal was 1.2 million.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062644.html https://www.civilnet.am/news/631922/հայաստանում-զբոսաշրջիկների-թիվը-նվազել-է-22-տոկոսով/

meeting was held between the government and private investors

Unions, private businesses, international organizations, and the government organized a conference "Public-private dialogue in Armenia" to improve cooperation and discuss issues faced by investors. The participants discussed the best international practices for cooperation.

USAID representative was present. He spoke about the decades-long cooperation with Armenia and suggested more reforms to take into account the opinion of the private sector.

Economy Minister Kerobyan mentioned ongoing government efforts to strengthen trade unions and associations.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062632.html

grape procurement process has begun

Some farmers complained on Monday about the inability to sell their grapes because the large-scale buyers still had grapes in their storages due to their inability to sell/export everything they had stored. The farmers complained that they were offered low prices for their grape.

Economy Minister today: there is an active procurement process in some factories right now. Proshyan cognac factory has announced that they will purchase whatever the farmers can offer. I think the government should refrain from price-related discussions for now.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062643.html

Polish Senate president called for the immediate release of all Armenian POWs

A meeting was held between the Armenian and Polish Parliament leadership.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062686.html

Human Rights Ombudsman's office held a press conference about war crimes by Azerbaijan

They identified Azeri groups and individuals responsible for crimes against Armenian captives. Some of the crimes included pouring cold water on naked captives during winter, not feeding, mutilating, forcing a captive to give a false confession that he used grenades to kill 50 Azeris during a wedding, etc.

The Azeri regime hid a group of POWs from Red Cross representatives ahead of their visit.

There were several killings of captives in the Kovsakan (south-western Zangilan) region on October 20.

Full: https://youtu.be/-LleJA9sT4I https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062641.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062623.html https://factor.am/414143.html

California Democrat party has adopted a resolution calling for the White House to end military aid to Azerbaijan

The party's policies also "prohibit" investments in Azerbaijan and Turkey. Earlier this year they adopted similar resolutions to stop California's pension and other funds from making investments in Turkey.

More in video: https://factor.am/414012.html

how are the newly recruited reservists doing?

They marched 3 kilometers today in full gear and weapons, as part of the physical preparedness test.

In other news, soldiers installed solar panels and batteries in some border positions.

https://factor.am/414457.html

a park dedicated to the heroes of three Artsakh wars is being constructed in Verin Getashen (Gegharkunik)

... financed by hundreds of Verin Getashen natives who currently reside abroad. The park will have a playground, fountains, and a performance stage.

Verin Getashen will also have a newly renovated roads and water network. Four streets will have tuf stone tiles, ten districts will have new irrigation water canals that will prevent water loss and physical damage to nearby roads.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062607.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062629.html

Armenia will hold a large celebration dedicated to soldiers, on the 30th anniversary of independence

Pashinyan: we will organize a large-scale colorful event to pay tribute to our fallen soldiers. In order for our citizens to enjoy 4 consecutive rest days, we're moving the September 20 (Monday) workday to September 25 (Saturday). The non-working days will be from September 18-21.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062620.html

government will allocate $30 million to provide housing to refugees from Artsakh's Kashatagh Province

Kashatagh is one of the regions that went under Azeri control after the war. The government will soon allocate ֏15 billion to help 950 families (3,600 people).

The family can use the aid to finance a mortgage to purchase/build an apartment/house in Armenia's provinces or Artsakh.

The aid will be paid on monthly basis. It will be ~20% higher if a house is built in Artsakh. Up to $24,000 towards mortgage principal and $17,000 for repayment of interest.

The projected budget for 2022 is ֏9 billion. It is yet to be approved and can be amended in the future.

htpps://www.civilnet.am/news/631994/հհ-կառավարությունը-15-մլրդ-դրամ-կհատկացնի-քաշաթաղցիների-բնակարանային-խնդիրների-լուծմանը/ https://www.e-draft.am/projects/3552/about

COVID stats

6659 tested. 645 infected. 334 healed. 15 deaths. 9998 active cases.

Hundreds of children have been hospitalized with delta strain since August, with some of them having over 30% lung infection.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062614.html https://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/295368/

COVID and war's effect on subsidized healthcare

At the start of each year, the government sets aside a budget for each hospital to be used for treating patients who qualify for free healthcare. The government gives the cash to hospitals when a patient comes.

Because of the pandemic and war, more patients received subsidized care this year, leaving some hospitals out of government cash before the end of the year. The Healthcare Ministry said the patients who need subsidized care in these hospitals will need to register in the queue before more funds become available if their visit is not urgent. The long-term solution is an increase in healthcare expenditures and the implementation of the proposed Universal Healthcare, said Minister Avanesyan.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062633.html https://factor.am/414179.html https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220434

you decide: a vaccine or biweekly PCR test, to be able to work

The requirement applies to public and private institutions, beginning on October 1st. Health inspectors will visit private businesses to ensure they require the workers to submit PCR tests (unless vaccinated). The businesses will be required to write down the PCR codes so the inspectors can check their validity.

The inspection priority will be given to high-risk areas like the services sector, schools, etc.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062642.html

the U.S. has donated a $255,000 x-ray fluoroscopy device to Spitak hospital

... as part of a $770,000 program to fight COVID in Armenia. It'll serve the 40,000 residents of nearby settlements. Ambassador Tracey and Armenian officials visited the hospital.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220406 https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062606.html

MUNDUS VINI 2021 festival: Armenian winemakers return with gold medals

The Germany-based organizer "Grand International Wine Award" has a 20-year history of hosting thousands of international participants every year. The jury consists of hundreds of experts (aka alcoholics who found a way to get drunk for free).

Armenian winemakers won 6 gold and 2 silver. The gold winners were Yerevan 782 BC, Takar, and Tariri.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062627.html

post office launches a new domestic money transfer service

You can make transfers between HayPost offices. The recipient can pick it up instantly at one of the 850 locations. It's expected to be especially beneficial for provincial residents.

If you don't pick up the cash within 30 days, it will be returned to the sender. The fees are non-refundable.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062651.html

Armenia to have 78 municipalities after the merger of hundreds of smaller villages

The goal is to improve management efficiency. The merged settlements qualify for more federal aid.

Infrastructure Minister Sanosyan: 54 larger communities were formed after the merger of 486 villages in 2016. In this new phase, we will merge 441 villages into 37.

After this, Armenia will have 77 communities (8 ethnic minorities) plus Yerevan. The Parliament will discuss it on September 24.

The villages aren't being "closed". The only change is in the management model. All local services remain in place. If you're used to visiting a village hall for services, you can continue to do so.

Pashinyan: the practice of merger is not new, but from 2018 onward, we've been providing more subsidies to develop the settlements that merge, under the context of balanced territorial development.

These subsidies are programs co-financed by local and federal resources, and sometimes by donors. We have many successful examples.

There will be attempts to inflame tensions during the enlargement process. It's important not to give in. The experience of the recent years shows that the merger is effective and the communities acquire greater capabilities.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062626.html https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062631.html

Tags: #merger #VillageMerger #settlements

two theaters will merge

The government approved the merger of "State Chamber Music Theater" and "Paronyan Musical Comedy Theater". The former's facility will be given to the State Symphony Orchestra, which has been homeless for 15 years.

Education/Culture Ministry: the merger will lead to significantly improved conditions for the State Chamber Music Theater staff. Today, the theater lacks an orchestra, choir, dancing group, and other things that currently exist in the theater with which they will merge. It will allow the theater to continue to function with the necessary environment which the internationally respected staff deserves. //

Several members of the theater had earlier opposed the merger, suggesting for a different facility to be given to the State Symphony Orchestra. They met the Ministry in July but were unable to convince to stop the merger.

Theater member in July: I wasn't aware that the Ministry held meetings with other members of the industry. They came to the conclusion that [the two theaters that are merging] have what it takes to operate and create under one roof. //

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062657.html https://www.1lurer.am/hy/2021/09/02/Երևանի-Կամերային-և-Հ-Պարոնյանի-անվան-երաժշտական-կոմեդիայի-պետական-թատրոնները-ստացել-են-աջակցություն/548206 https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/219184 https://factor.am/414369.html

Armenia is installing new meteorological stations

Nature Minister Romanos visited the Zvartnots Aero-Meteorological Center, where he learned about how automated meteorological devices operate and share information.

It was recently revamped with new tech, while the employees were given a 15% raise beginning this month.

They purchased a modern high-precision meteorological station from the "Vaisala" manufacturer, to be used in southern Armenia. Its data, which will be the most precise in Armenia, will be sent to Zangezur Biosphere Complex and elsewhere.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/220400 https://www.caucasus-naturefund.org/park/zangezur-biosphere-complex/

you know what else Armenia will be installing?

A new soccer coach, probably, after the national soccer team played a 1:1 draw while hosting the group's weakest team Liechtenstein. A loss of important 2 points.

Armenia is still 2nd in the group but only because its main competitors Romania and Macedonia are yet to play their match later today. If they tie, Armenia will maintain its 2nd position. That game is still 0-0 as of writing this.

A group of Armenian soccer fans held a march ahead of today's game.

https://factor.am/414565.html https://youtu.be/MSSSqmDlUTQ?t=2032 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2022_FIFA_World_Cup_qualification_%E2%80%93_UEFA_Group_J

the bizarre story of paranoid Lukashenko

During last year's elections and revolution attempts in Belarus, the Lukashenko regime arrested a group of 32 Russian men and accused them of traveling to Belarus to organize anti-Lukashenko events. There was a popular belief at the time that Kremlin wanted to install someone more pro-Kremlin. This theory about the 32 Russian men has turned out to be false.

Ukraine, with the knowledge of the CIA, had set up a fake mercenary recruitment portal to lure the 32 Russian men, who had taken part in eastern Ukraine battles. Ukraine accuses them of war crimes. As part of the lure, the disguised Ukrainian agents told the men they would be paid to guard important objects in Venezuela.

The plan was to fly them from Russia to Turkey then presumably to Ukraine instead of Venezuela. [Was Turkey in this "anti-Russian" plot?]

But COVID messed up the plans when Russia suspended the flights to Turkey. The flights to Belarus were still available, so the 32 men decided to use Belarus as a transit to "Venezuela". They arrived in Belarus.

The paranoid Lukashenko dealt the final blow to the Ukrainian plot by arresting the group. It is also possible that Lukashenko knew the Russian men weren't there to "overthrow" him (because they were scheduled to leave only hours later) but he arrested them anyway to use them as leverage against Russia to ask for more "handouts". This was the time when Lukashenko was still pretending to be torn between East and West, and was using every opportunity to get cash from Putin.

An "insider", however, claims that Lukashenko truly believed that the Russian men were there to plot against him. The Kremlin was also caught off guard because these wannabe mercenaries were acting as private contractors without the knowledge of Kremlin.

Ukraine made one last attempt to arrest the men by directly asking Lukashenko to extradite them. The plea was denied, putting an end to the 18-month-long luring operation. The men were returned to Russia.

More in the source: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/07/europe/ukraine-belarus-russia-mercenaries-sting/index.html

today in history

1504: Michelangelo finishes the work on the statue of David

1888: English Football League holds the first soccer match

1922: conductor Ohan Duryan is born

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1062598.html

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/pkhrpc/news_sep82021_pashinyan_in_georgia_seatogulf/

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