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2017: Life, people, facts


Armenian President delivers a speech at FAST workshop
Armenian President delivers a speech at FAST workshop

Photo: courtesy of Armenian presidential press service

Armenian doctors in Sudan
Armenian doctors in Sudan

Photo: courtesy of Bars Media

Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba in Europa League final
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba in Europa League final

Photo: REUTERS

The signing of the agreement
The signing of the agreement

Photo: courtesy of Armenian presidential press service

Vigen Sargsyan and Serzh Sargsyan
Vigen Sargsyan and Serzh Sargsyan

Photo: courtesy of Armenian presidential press service

Il-76 helicopter of Russian MES
Il-76 helicopter of Russian MES

Photo: courtesy of MES

Serzh Sargsyan at the UN General Assembly session
Serzh Sargsyan at the UN General Assembly session

Photo: courtesy of Armenian presidential press service

Students’ meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan
Students’ meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan

Photo: courtesy of Armenian Government

Karen Karapetyan and Serzh Sargsyan
Karen Karapetyan and Serzh Sargsyan

Photo: courtesy of RPA


2017 has been a year of relative stability after turbulent 2016, set to remain in history as the year of the April War and Sasna Tsrer armed group’s hostage stand-off. 2017 has passed without big shocks, however, that doesn’t mean the issues raised in 2016 have received a solution.

Discovery of the year: The story of Armenian doctors in Sudan

Three Armenian doctors, Gevorg Voskanyan, Hayk Hovhannisyan and Armine Barkhudaryan traveled to South Sudan in spring 2017 in order to substitute Aurora Prize finalist Tom Catena, so he could attend the ceremony.


The Armenian doctors’ work in the war-torn region was a clear and comprehensive display of humanism. It came as no surprise that the society responded with deep fondness and respect.
Armenian doctors in Sudan Armenian doctors in Sudan

Photo: courtesy of Bars Media


That trip changed a lot in the doctors’ lives as well. Gevorg Voskanyan said after returning to Armenia, “You don’t have to travel to Nuba Mountains to do good deeds. There are many places to serve in our home, our yard, city, and village.”

Hope of the year: The launch of FAST

2017 marked the launch of FAST (Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology), created by Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan on behalf of IDeA Foundation, Fr. Mesrop Aramyan on behalf of Ayb and Luys foundations, and high tech & innovation entrepreneur Arthur Alaverdyan.

In October 2017, Yerevan FAST held its first international workshop “Machine Learning for Discovery Sciences” together with the US National Science Foundation (NSF).
Armenian President delivers a speech at FAST workshop Armenian President delivers a speech at FAST workshop

Photo: courtesy of Armenian presidential press service


During the workshop, FAST announced creation of the NextGen Council, which united 15 young Armenian scientists and engineers. Another announcement concerned foundation of the Angels Network of informal investors.

Again in October, FAST launched a fellowship program designed to help postgraduate students and university applicants in natural sciences or engineering fields to do research for PhD degree in top universities of Armenia.  

“We hear a lot that we are a small but proud people. What if we are not small, but we are giants? We are giants in science and technology. We are transformative leaders. We are the greatest inventors, entrepreneurs, doctors, discoverers, creators…. What if we are no longer small either in size or thinking? We are a country, a nation, a place, an ecosystem that everyone wants to be part of, everyone wants to be associated with,” said FAST CEO Armen Orujyan.

Achievement of the year: New agreement with EU

On 24 November 2017, Armenia and the European Union signed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) within the frames of the Eastern Partnership Summit.

The importance of this document lies in more than content for a large part of the Armenian society. In a certain sense, the signing of CEPA was perceived as restoration of Armenia’s ability to make independent decisions. The nervous reactions from some Russian media only confirmed that view.
The signing of the agreement The signing of the agreement

Photo: courtesy of Armenian presidential press service


Confusion of the year: Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s career

Fans of Armenia and Manchester United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan have experienced all sorts of emotions while following his career in 2017: shock, joy, concern, disappointment, anger. The shock and excitement came when Mkhitaryan scored in the Europa League final on May 24, securing Manchester United’s win.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba in Europa League final Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba in Europa League final

Photo: REUTERS


The joy reigned in the beginning of the Premier League season, when Mkhitaryan recorded five assists in just several games.

Autumn brought negative emotions, as Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho began reducing Mkhitaryan’s time on the pitch and then stopped playing him.

Although Henrikh has been involved as a substitute in the last few games, his future at United remains uncertain. It is quite possible that he will leave the club in January 2018.

Finish of the year: OSCE Office in Yerevan

The OSCE Office in Yerevan closed down on August 31, 2017.

“OSCE Chairmanship, participating States and the Secretariat all support activities of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, and it is solely Azerbaijan that abuses the OSCE principle of consensus, singlehandedly blocking the decision on the continuation of activities of the OSCE office in Yerevan, thus opposing to the whole Organization,” commented Spokesperson for Armenian Foreign Ministry Tigran Balayan.

Armenia was the only country in South Caucasus to have an operating OSCE Office.

Programs of the year: “I have the honor” and “This is me”

On 20 April 2017, Armenian Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan presented the “I have the honor” (Pativ Unem) and “This is me” (Es em) programs, aimed at increasing the army’s combat readiness and strengthening the trust towards the armed forces.

Vigen Sargsyan comes forward with revolutionary project


Within “This is me”, the draftees who want to serve at military bases engaged in combat shifts will be eligible to serve under a new type of military service: term-contractual. They will serve for three years, although the servicemen will be on leave for 7 months of the total term, which will be available beginning from the 6th month, when the serviceman’s unit assumes combat shift in the 1+1+2 format each month.
Vigen Sargsyan and Serzh Sargsyan Vigen Sargsyan and Serzh Sargsyan

Photo: courtesy of Armenian presidential press service


Ultimatum of the year: Armenian-Turkish Protocols

On 19 September 2017, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan spoke at the UN General Assembly, noting that the Zurich Protocols of October 2009 had not been ratified, but “had landed instead in some dark drawers of the official Ankara”.

Serzh Sargsyan also remarked that the Turkish government had come up with preposterous preconditions for ratification of the protocols.
Serzh Sargsyan at the UN General Assembly session Serzh Sargsyan at the UN General Assembly session

Photo: courtesy of Armenian presidential press service


“The leadership of Turkey are mistaken if they think that those documents can be held hostage forever and ratified only at the most opportune occasion from their very point of view. Armenia will declare those two Protocols null and void since they continuously lacked any positive progress towards their implementation. We will enter the spring of 2018 without those, as our experience has demonstrated, futile Protocols,” said the Armenian President.

Disaster of the year: Wildfires

Summer 2017 will be remembered as the string of wildfires following one another in rapid succession.

The wildfires in the forest zone near Artavan village of Vayots Dzor marz, Khosrov Forest State Reserve and the woodland near Byurakan village of Aragatsotn marz made the Ministry of Emergency Situations join forces with the Defense Ministry and private companies, also using a special Russian helicopter to battle the wildfire in Khosrov Forest.
Il-76 helicopter of Russian MES Il-76 helicopter of Russian MES

Photo: courtesy of MES


The summer concluded with a fire at Nairit plant. It started on August 28, burning ethanol stored at the plant. Although the public was largely concerned about the possible impact of the burning chemicals, the Ministry of Emergency Situations assured people they were safe and no dangerous emissions were recorded.

Complaint of the year: Students’ walkout and hunger strike

On November 7, ten days after the Armenian Parliament adopted the draft Laws on Military Service and Status of Servicemen in the first review, students announced a walkout, protesting against the provision in the law that obliges all 18-year-old male citizens to serve in the army.

On November 14, five members of the Initiative for development of science announced an indefinite hunger strike at the Yerevan State University. A group of scientists and professors addressed an open letter to the Armenian President, National Assembly and the government, voicing the concerns that “adoption of this law will have dire consequences for education and science”.
Students’ meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan Students’ meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan

Photo: courtesy of Armenian Government


On November 15, the National Assembly adopted the laws and the students stopped the walkout and the hunger strike after the meeting with Parliament Speaker Ara Babloyan and Deputy Speaker Eduard Sharmazanov.

However, on December 18 the students announced they had ceased the talks and resumed the walkout.

Law of the year: On domestic violence and the fight against it

The draft law on domestic violence and the fight against it was among the regulations in Armenian Parliament’s 2017 agenda, which became a topic of discussion among MPs as well as the public and experts because of certain contradicting points.

The experts opposing the draft insisted it could disrupt the peace within the family and cause unfounded interference, while the supporters argued that victims of domestic violence were in danger of repetitive attacks until that crime became punishable by law.

After heated discussions in and outside of the parliament, the Law on prevention of domestic violence, protection of the victims of domestic violence and restoration of family harmony was adopted in December 2017.

Intrigue of the year: Who will head Armenia in 2018?

The discussions and assumption about who will head Armenia in 2018 became especially frequent in the second half of 2017. The second presidential term of Serzh Sargsyan will end in April and the Prime Minister will be governing the country. 

Karen Karapetyan and Serzh Sargsyan Karen Karapetyan and Serzh Sargsyan

Photo: courtesy of RPA


Current Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan stated several times he was ready to continue working in the office after April 2018. Recently, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan qualified that intent as “reasonable and logical”, although he added he had made no plans yet for what he would do after April 2018.

Ara Tadevosyan, Marie Taryan

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