News Digest

The meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers Vartan Oskanian and Elmar Mammadyarov with the Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement was held in Strasbourg May 19th. After the meeting Oskanian and Mammadyarov proceeded with the talks in private. The meeting of the Ministers was preparation for a meeting to the region by the mediators next week.

At the May 22nd sitting Chairman of the Armenian National Assembly Artur Baghdassaryan formally submitted his resignation. According to the regulations, the Parliament Speaker should confirm his resignation within 5 days and then leave his post. To remind, Artur Baghdassaryan announced of the intention to leave the post May 12th, after Orinats Yerkir Party political council decided to secede from the ruling coalition.

By RA President’s decree Hasmik Poghosyan, the chairwoman of the Council of the Armenian Society for Cultural Ties will replace Gevorg Gevorgyan at the post of the Minister of Culture.

Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff, Colonel General Sergey Kirichenko arrived in Yerevan on a 2-day visit on May 24th. Kirichenko met with the Chief of the RA Armed Forces General Staff, Deputy Defense Minister, Colonel General Mikael Harutyunyan and National Assembly Vice-speaker Tigran Torosyan. He also attended the memorial to the Armenian Genocide victims, the mine clearing center and the Military Institute after V. Sargsyan. A number of agreements were expected to be signed between the Armenian and Ukrainian Armed Forces upon the outcomes of the visit.

Turkey is a full NATO member and it agreed for the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with Armenia, Special Representative of the NATO Secretary General for the South Caucasus Robert Simmons stated at a news conference in Yerevan on May 22nd. He said the NATO is not going to solve political problems between countries, which are both Alliance members and those involved in partnership programs. “Armenia and Turkey should settle issues of normalization of relations and opening the Armenian-Turkish border themselves,” he emphasized.

The U.S. Senate is set to consider the nomination of Richard E. Hoagland for the United States ambassador to Armenia, according to a US Senate press release. Hoagland is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor. Currently, he is serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan.

The acting US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans is awarded Khachatur Abovyan gilded medal of the State Pedagogical University of Armenia for contribution to development of the Armenian youth, science and education, as well as public activities.

In the first four months of this year Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose 9.7 percent compared to the same period a year ago to almost 395 billion drams. The GDP growth rate in April was 26.6 percent against March, Armenia’s National Statistical Committee said. The committee said according to preliminary data, almost 188 billion drams worth industrial goods, excluding indirect taxes, were manufactured in this period of time, 3 percent down from figures of the first four months of 2005, but the industrial growth in April of 2006 was 12 percent higher against March.

The International Monetary Fund completed the second observation round of the poverty reduction program implemented in Armenia. As PanARMENIAN.Net was told at the Yerevan IMF office, Armenia will be allocated extra $4.9 million. The 3-year term program amounts in some $33 million. The sum of the credits rendered with the account of the latest decision makes some $14.7 million.

Grand Insurance company said it is starting the process of paying compensations to the families of the victims of Armenian Airbus-320 crash on May 3rd. An official of the company said relatives of the victims could apply any time. Grand Insurance company belongs to Mikhail Baghdasarov, the owner of Armavia air company that operated the Airbus-320. Baghdasarov had earlier stated compensations may amount up to $20.000.

Meantime the second flight recorder of the plane has been recovered from the site where the Airbus crashed into the Black Sea May 3. A spokesperson for the Russian transport ministry overseeing the search operation, said the second black box, which recorded flight data and had been thought to be lying 3-5 meters (10-16 feet) away from the first one, was actually located 16 meters (about 40 feet) from the first recorder and was buried deeper in silt. The first box was recovered on Monday, May 22nd.

The Shushi Foundation and the Haypost company (Armenian Post) have signed an agreement to help efforts to restore the town of Shushi in Nagorno-Karabakh and its cultural and historical monuments. Under this agreement every Armenian can transfer a symbolic sum of 500 Drams (a little more than one US Dollar) to the Foundation’s account, approving that way the Foundation’s initiative. Under the agreement Haypost offices will accept transfers and send them on the Foundation’s account once in a fortnight. Names of people donating their 500 drams will be placed on the Foundation’s website. Armenians in Diaspora can also join the initiative. They can find information how to do it by visiting www.shoushi.am.