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Armenia-China Forum dedicated to the 30th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations

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Armenia—The First edition of the Armenia and China Forum, which was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, took place in Yerevan. The conference was organized by the China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research in partnership with World Socialism Institute, Renmin University of China. It was supported by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Armenia.

In his welcoming speech, Dr. Mher Sahakyan, the founder of the Armenia and China Forum, director of the China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research, announced about the creation of annual Armenia and China Forum, where Armenian and Chinese scholars and diplomats will introduce their research and recommendations for improving bilateral relations.

In his opening remarks Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the PRC to Armenia, Fan Yong welcomed the establishment of Armenia and China Forum by the China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research. He noted, that after the establishment of diplomatic affairs, both countries created trustful relations and supported each other on an international level. He noted that China is the second trade partner of Armenia and sides supported each other and strengthened economic cooperation during the outbreak of COVID-19 as well. Ambassador Fan emphasized the importance of developing relations in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

In turn, former Prime Minister of Armenia,  Dr. Prof. Armen Darbinyan, mentioned that historically Armenia played an important role in trade relations between East and the West. He expressed hope that Armenia will be able to regain the mediator’s role between different players of Eastern and Western parts of Eurasia by the help of developing infrastructure. He also noted, that as a Rector of the Russian-Armenian University he gives great importance to the development of Chinese studies at the university, where many students study Chinese language with great enthusiasm.

General Secretary of the Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Commission of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Ms. Wei Zheng, noted: “We see that in 30 years a whole generation has grown up committed to deepening friendship between China and Armenia and plays an important role in the social development of the two countries. No matter how the international situation changes, we always understand, respect and support each other”.

In turn Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Armenia, Dr. Artur Martirosyan. presented the wide range of existing programs of Armenian-Chinese cooperation, which includes student exchange programs, cooperation in educational, scientific and technical spheres. As he mentioned, the Armenian students, who came back from China contribute to develop the Armenian economy.

Dr. Robert Ghazaryan, Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the National Academy of Sciences, emphasized the importance of cooperation between China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research and Institute of Oriental Studies in the field of academic diplomacy. As he mentioned these efforts are serving for the developing scientific relations between scholars of Armenia and China.

Director of the World Socialism Institute, Renmin University of China Dr. Yun-tian Zheng  mentioned: “While COVID-19 disrupts regular field trips and offline conferences, people-to-people exchanges between our two countries have never come to a halt. So far, we’ve managed to hold a number of online events. For the year of 2021 only, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the foundation of CPC, the publication of our book, China and Eurasia: Rethinking Cooperation and Contradictions in the Era of Changing World Order, and the 3rd China- Eurasia conference was held. Through these activities, our friendship continues to grow and prosper”.

The following panels of the conference followed the opening ceremony:

The first panel was entitled “Armenian-Chinese Relations in a Changing World Order” where Dr. Bin Ma (Deputy dean of the Center for SCO Studies, Fudan University),  delivered his speech on “The Role of Sino-Armenian Relations in the New Eurasian Regional Order”. The speech of Dr. Mher Sahakyan was titled, “Armenian-Chinese Relations in Multiplex Eurasian Order: Thoughts and Recommendations”. In his speech, Dr. Yun-tian Zheng emphasized the importance of strengthening  cultural and social communication between China and Armenia in the changing era. Dr. Ruben Elamiryan (Chairperson of  the Department of World Politics and International Relations of Russian-Armenian University) introduced the opportunities and challenges of the Sino-Armenian relations in a changing environment. This panel was moderated by Mr. Sebastian Contin Trillo-Figueroa (Asia Global Fellow, University of Hong Kong).

The second panel was named “Chinese and Armenian Cooperation in the Framework of Belt and Road Initiative”, where Dr. Song Lilei (Tongji University), spoke about the  importance of starting cooperation between China and Armenia under the Belt and Road Initiative. In turn, Dr. Anahit Parzyan (China-Eurasia Council for Political and Strategic Research) spoke about the opportunities of cooperation between Armenia and China in the framework of Digital Silk Road. Dr. Liu Xu (Executive Director of Center for International Energy and Environment Strategy Studies, Renmin University of China) introduced his research on perspecitves of China-Armenia cooperation in energy sphere. The advisor to the Ministry of Economy of Republic of Armenia, Dr. Nare Haroyan spoke about the potential of developing trade between Armenia and China. Dr. Sun Chao’s (Jiangsu Administration Institute) speech was entitled “Sino-Armenia Relations and Regional Security, Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.” Dr. Anna Zalinyan (Author of the book The Peculiarities of Public Administration of the Republic of Armenia and the People’s Republic of China. 2020) introduced her research on sustainable economic cooperation between Armenia and China in a changing world. Second panel was moderated by Dr. Yun-tian Zheng.

Among honorable guests of the conference were Ambassador of Kazakhstan in Armenia, Mr. Bolat Imanbaev, Head of the National Defence Research University, General Major Genadi Tavaratsyan, chargé d’affaires of embassy of Serbia, Mr. Zoran Marinkovic, Councilor of the PRC Embassy in Armenia, Mr. Chen Min, Councilor of the Embassy of Kazakhstan, Mr. Almaz Azhibaev,  Counsellor of the Embassy of of Bulgaria, Mr. Vencislav Hristov, Premier secrétaire at Embassy of France, Mr. Eric Debenath, Deputy head of mission of Embassy of Iraq in Armenia,  Mr. Methaq Rashad Zabar, head of the Institute of the law and politics (RAU), Dr. Marianna Kalashyan, head of the Center for regional strategic analysis (INSS, NDRU), Dr.  Davit Manasyan, head of the Institut Tchobanian, Mr. Varujan Sirapian, Third Secretary of the Embassy of Russia to Armenia, Mrs. Natalia Viktorova, and other scholars, diplomats and journalists.

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Dozens missing after migrant boat sinks in Aegean Sea

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Volunteers help refugees arriving on the island of Lesbos, in the North Aegean region of Greece. (file) © UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson

Dozens of people are said to be missing after a boat of migrants and refugees sank in the Aegean Sea on Wednesday off the Greek island of Karpathos, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.

“Very sad news from the Aegean: Dozens of people are missing after a boat sank off the island of Rhodes this morning (Wednesday),” UNHCR’s office in Greece said in a tweet.

News media reported that the vessel sank at dawn after setting sail from southern Türkiye yesterday, heading for Italy.

29 rescued

A major search and rescue operation is underway,” said UNHCR.

According to news reports, the Greek Coast Guard said that an air and sea rescue operation saved 29 people, all men, from the waters between Rhodes and Crete.

The media also cited the Greek authorities in reporting that the rescued are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

The wrecked boat had sailed from Antalya, located on the southern coast of neighbouring Türkiye.

Still searching

News media quoted a Greek Coast Guard press official who said that those rescued affirmed that the voyage began with 80 people on board – so up to 50 are still missing.  

UNHCR confirmed the number of missing.

Deadly route

Since the beginning of the year, UNHCR has said that more than 60 people have died in the eastern Mediterranean.

Aegean Sea crossings between the Greek islands and Turkish coasts are often perilous – taking the lives of many migrants and refugees who travel on makeshift boats with hopes of arriving in Europe.

Since January, 64 people have died in the eastern Mediterranean, and 111 in 2021, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The last shipwreck in the Aegean Sea, which took place on 19 June, took the lives of eight people off the island of Mykonos, according to the IOM.

Every more deadly crossing

While the number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe is lower than in 2015, the journeys have become increasingly more deadly.

Throughout last year, the UN counted 3,231 migrants and refugees dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea, and 945 people so far this year.

Successful voyages

At the same time, 70,325 migrants did manage to reach Europe, of which 65,548 individual crossings were reported in the Mediterranean, according to UNHCR.

Since the beginning of the year, Italy received the largest number of arrivals – 43,740, followed by Spain – nearly 17,000, Greece – 7,261, and Cyprus – 2,268.

Last year there were 123,300 arrivals, and in 2020, 95,800. Previously, 123,700 crossed the Mediterranean in 2019, and 141,500 in 2018.

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Nuclear-free Mongolia a ‘symbol of peace in a troubled world’

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Secretary-General António Guterres greets Mongolian peacekeepers which has the largest per capita contribution to peacekeeping operations. UN Mongolia/Rentsendorj Bazarsuk

In a visit to Mongolia on Tuesday, Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the UN’s full solidarity for the country, which he described as “a symbol of peace in a troubled world”. 

Mr. Guterres was speaking to journalists at a press conference in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, following a meeting with the Foreign Minister, Battsetseg Batmunkh. 

He stated that in a world with dramatic geopolitical divides, and where conflicts proliferate everywhere, Mongolia – as an area free of nuclear weapons – is an example for other countries to follow.   

No more nuclear weapons 

“We live in a world where for the first time in decades people are thinking that a nuclear war might be possible again,” said Mr. Guterres. 

“There is only one way to be absolutely sure that a nuclear war is impossible, and that way is if there are no nuclear weapons.”

Mongolia is the latest stop on the Secretary-General’s visit to Asia, which began in Japan on Friday. 

Tribute to peacekeepers 

Over the past six decades, the country has become an increasingly important contributor to the UN’s work, he said. 

Mr. Guterres expressed gratitude to Mongolian peacekeepers serving at UN peace operations, “often in the most challenging settings and with courage in the way they protect civilians where unfortunately, there’s sometimes no peace to keep”.  

The Secretary-General had met with Mongolia’s President, Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, and other senior officials, earlier on Tuesday. 

They discussed the geopolitical situation in the region, the challenges Mongolia faces as a landlocked country, and national efforts to tackle climate change.  

‘Make peace with nature’ 

Relatedly, Mr. Guterres also joined young people and peacekeepers at a tree-planting ceremony, part of Mongolia’s One Billion Trees campaign to address climate change and desertification. 

“My generation was very stupid. My generation declared war on nature – with climate change with the loss of biodiversity, with pollution,” he said

Mr. Guterres stressed how “nature is striking back” with storms, desertification, floods and disasters, which are making life very difficult for many people around the world and causing many victims.   

“Your generation has an important task to make peace with nature,” he said.  “And what we are going to do today, must be a gesture of that new attitude to make peace with nature.” 

The Secretary-General also visited a nomadic family in Mongolia and learned about their way of life. 

He also met a group of beneficiaries from UN projects, including women entrepreneurs and youth activists.   

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Substantial progress made in Vienna; sides focusing on Safeguards

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image source: Tehran Times

The third day of talks between experts from Iran and the EU centered around technical and legal matters regarding the Safeguards agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Delegates from Iran, the EU and the U.S. resumed talks in Vienna on Thursday after nearly a five-month hiatus. This round of talks started on Thursday without the presence of nuclear negotiators from the European trio – Germany, France and Britain. Only experts from these three countries have attended the negotiations.  

Iran believes that any agreement on restoring the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is dependent on putting an end to unsubstantiated allegations about Iran’s past nuclear program. Iran insists that these questions had already been resolved within the PMD, when the nuclear deal was signed in July 2015.

According to reports, substantial progress has been made in bringing the views of Iran and the U.S. closer together during the last three days. However, in Tehran’s view nothing is resolved until everything is settled.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), also confirmed on Saturday that talks are mainly focused on Safeguards issues.

“We are now negotiating,” Kamalvandi said of the talks between Iran’s nuclear experts with Mora.

On the atmosphere of the talks, he said, “It is not bad.”

Mohammad Marandi, a senior expert on nuclear issues, also told Al-Mayadeen TV that “progresses” have been made in Vienna, but one should be “cautious”. He argued the success of talks is 50 percent. Marandi said the differences remain only between Iran and the United States.

He added, “We have heard from certain European sources that the Americans have revived their views on certain issues.”

The Russian chief negotiator in the Vienna talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, also tweeted that there is “no unresolvable issue” on the table in the Vienna talks.

Source: Tehran Times

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