The feasibility of taxing church property has become a subject of heated debate this week as Armenian lawmakers adopted in the first reading an amendment to the tax laws that grant some privileges to the Armenian Apostolic Church (ACC).
Relevant draft amendments have been submitted by the Government, whose head Tigran Sargsyan is known for his religious attitudes and has repeatedly in public advocated Christian ideas.
The visit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group cochairmen to the Karabakh conflict region late last week was entirely devoted to the strengthening of the ceasefire along the border. No new proposals on settling the conflict were made by the co-chairs, but for the first time as part of the international mediators’ visit, a meeting was held with Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II.
While Western countries only state about their intention to integrate post-Soviet states, including Armenia, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seems to have redoubled his efforts to collect former allies by forcing a majority of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries to sign an agreement on the establishment of a free trade zone – a document that has just as much geopolitical as economic significance.
Chairman of the Christian Democratic Union of Armenia (CDUA) Khosrov Harutyunyan once aptly remarked that “[President] Serge Sargsyan has come to make Euro repairs” in the republic.
Last week was marked by visits to Armenia by masters of “euro-repairs”, who openly declared that Armenia has a Western direction of development and that the Western countries will gladly support it in this way, without demanding that it sever relations with Moscow.
As society learns of three deaths last week in the Armenian Army, calls for reformed are again raised. Already, families worry whether their sons might survive two years of conscription in the present poor conditions in which death at the hands of a comrade is more a risk than death from an enemy. Three incidents last week have caused concerns to amplify.
Providing an interim status for Nagorno-Karabakh and maintaining stability in the South Caucasus region are becoming the main focus of international mediators brokering a solution to the longstanding conflict.
Armenia is reconsidering its relationship with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), a structure that according to the head of the Armenian delegation to the PACE David Harutyunyan stands for, rather, its own interests than values.
Armenia believes that the PACE is too soft and “understanding” towards Azerbaijan, as European countries and politicians have oil and gas interests in Azerbaijan.
On Saturday night the opposition Armenian National Congress (ANC) declared an end to its round-the-clock rallies in Yerevan’s Liberty Square and ANC leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan stated that henceforth the sole purpose of the movement would be achieving the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan.
The situation along the Armenian-Azeri border, on both sides has exacerbated again – with ceasefire violations resulting in several casualties.
On October 5 at military positions near the village of Chinari of Armenia’s Tavush region, two Armenian conscripts received gunshot wounds of various severity, and the same day in Nagorno-Karabakh a 24-year-old soldier of the NKR Defense Army died.