Amb. Andrew Turner - Establishment of Canadian Embassy in Armenia | EU Monitoring Mission | Political Prisoners | Canadian Mil. Supplies to Turkey | Ep 316 - Mar 16, 2024 [EP316]

Posted on Saturday, Mar 16, 2024 | Category: Canada, Armenia | Series: cog



  • Establishment of Canadian Embassy in Armenia
  • EU Monitoring Mission in Armenia (EUMA)
  • Political Prisoners
  • Canadian Military Supplies to Turkey

Episode 316 | Recorded: March 15, 2024

Show Notes

Canadian Ambassador Andrew Turner

As this is your first time on our show Mr. Turner, would you tell us a little about your background, your career in Canadian foreign affairs, and your path to Armenia?


  • Where is the embassy located now?
  • Any plans for a more permanent location at this time?

Establishment of Canadian Embassy

On September 25 2023, a week after the total ethnic cleansing of Armenians started in Artsakh, Nagorno Karabakh, Canada named its first ambassador to Armenia.


There’s a healthy Armenian-Canadian diaspora all over Canada, for example in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa. They have strong ties to their old countries, like Armenia, and also for those of us whose grandparents survived the Genocide in 1915, and ended up in the Middle East, and who finally emigrated to Canada. I was one of them.

So this diaspora ties Canada to Armenia, and if the intention of the embassy is to cultivate this relationship then we have a lot to be thankful for. And as we mentioned earlier, the embassy opened at a very tough time in the life of the Armenian republic.


  • Can you tell us what the mission of the embassy in Armenia is, and why Canada decided to open the embassy at this point in time?
  • What are the main projects and initiatives that you hope to accomplish during your tenure in Armenia?

When minister Melanie Joly announced Canada’s plans to open the embassy, the initial press release stated that one of the reasons for it was to: “counter Russia’s destabilizing activities”.


  • Do you believe Russia’s activities in Armenia are of a “destabilizing” nature?

In his Armenian Independence day message on 9/21/23 prime minister Trudeau said priorities included: _“ …advancing Armenia’s democratic development and promoting inclusive economic growth and new opportunities for people in both countries.” _

(Note: “… Together, in forums such as the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, we continue to promote democracy, peace, and security around the world.”)

Unlike the painful, centuries-old experience of Western states in building peace, Armenia lives next door to a country that is 25 times its size in population, committed Genocide against Armenians, never recognized or atoned, in fact actively works to deny the Genocide around the world, and in the past few years cabinet level people in Turkey have threatened Armenia by saying they are ready to finish the job they started in 1915. So I hope you can see how our past, our history, colors our perception and present politics.

And we’re not even talking about the eastern front where Azerbaijan is flat out calling Armenia “western Azerbaijan”.

(Note: People say that you Armenians need to leave the past behind and look forward and prosper; but without recognition from Turkey, the past IS our present, it was never able to fade into history.)


  • So advancing democracy is great. But probably Armenia’s greatest need right now is security. How can Canada help?

Armenia’s current security architecture is centered on Russia and the CSTO. Pashinyan evidently wants to pivot this towards the West. At the minimum, Armenian authorities are talking about a “non-block” status.

As Armenia moved from words to actions (such as inviting the Russian border guards out of the Zvartnots airport and effectively boycotting the CSTO), previously passive statements from Western leaders have now turned into overt encouragement and vows of support against “Russian threats”.

Last week Toivo Klaar, the EU special rep to the South Caucasus, said that the west wants Turkey to be the regional leader. To Armenians this is like appointing the wolf to be the shepherd, guarding the flock: Armenia’s security problems ARE Turkey, and Azerbaijan. Armenians don’t worry about invasions from Iran, or Georgia, or Russia.


  • What can the US and the EU do for Armenia’s security?
  • Can the West “replace” Russia in providing Armenia with security?


Artsakh, or Nagorno Karabakh, was ethnically cleansed in September. For Armenians this is a major calamity. The biggest since 1915.


  • What is the Canadian government’s position on how the issue of Artsakh should be resolved?
  • How can Canada help put indigenous Armenians back in their homes and their homeland?

EU Monitoring Mission

In the wake of Azeri invasions in 2022, Pashinyan invited EU observers to watch Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan. The size of the mission grew from an initial 50 observers to several hundred observers. In October 2023, Canada announced that it was contributing observers as well. But the number of people contributed by Canada was reported as only “two”.


  • What are the EU observers doing in Armenia, what is their main objective?
  • What was the reasoning for Canada to join this mission?
  • Is this the first time that a non-EU member state has been officially included in an EU monitoring mission? Is it possible that other non-EU states (such as Turkey) may join the mission?
  • Who is the EUMA protecting Armenia from, who is the enemy?
  • What are the success metrics established for the Canadian engagement in mission?

Concerns from Russia and Iran?

Russia and Iran have expressed growing concern towards the EUMA, more like increasingly strident warnings to Pashinyan and his team, that extra-regional forces are not welcome in the South Caucasus, and that issues should be resolved regionally; essentially the so-called “3+3” countries.

We’ve talked with Iranian analysts who say that Tehran suspects such a mission could be used against Iran as well.


  • What do you think about these warnings from Armenia’s traditional allies?
  • Can the EUMA give evidentiary assurances to Iran, that the mission is not pointed at them?
  • What will the EUMA do in case of an Azeri invasion?

Political Prisoners

Canada is vocal about specific prisoners’ rights in states such as Iran, Russia, China. But Canada has been silent on the issue of imprisonment and harassment of Pashinyan’s political opponents:

  • Armen Grigoryan died in court after repeated refusal by the judicial system to remove his pretrial detention or at least agree to reduced severity of punishment, such as “house arrest”.
    • He was arrested because he apparently called people of a certain region “Turks”. That was deemed as inciting hatred by Pashinyan’s law enforcement bodies.
    • If you ask me, this appears very similar to Navalny’s death.
  • Armen Ashotyan, Vice President of the Republican Party of Armenia, the chief political opponent of Pashinyan, has been jailed for almost a year now, in a corruption case. A case that according to some human rights defenders is baseless.
    • Armen Ashotyan’s pretrial detention conditions are very strict. His visitation rights are very curtailed.
    • Meanwhile, the former minister of economy, against whom a criminal case was opened recently, was given house arrest.


  • Does Canada recognize there are political prisoners in Armenia?
  • Is the issue of political prisoners on the Armenian-Canadian agenda?
  • Is Canada working actively to help free Armenian POWs still in Azerbaijan, since the 44-day war, as well as since September 2023?

Canadian Military Supplies to Turkey

During the 44-day war in Artsakh in 2020, Azerbaijan used Turkish Bayraktar drones, and it was discovered that they use Canadian products for vision and camera parts. Canada blocked those exports. (Thank you for that by the way!)

In late 2023, as Sweden was vying for NATO membership, it was held up by Turkey, reportedly in exchange for dropping the various bans on exports to Turkey, among them the Canadian parts.


  • Mr. Ambassador, can you tell us what factors went into the decision making process in this case?


That’s our show! We hope you found it useful. Please find us on Social Media and follow us everywhere you get your Armenian news. Thanks to Laura Osborn for the music on our podcasts.


Andrew Turner

Andrew Turner (Amb.)

Mr. Andrew Turner was appointed Canadian Ambassador to Armenia on September 25, 2023. Ambassador Turner has a BA Hons in History, 1999; and a MA in International Affairs from Carleton University, 2001. He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade in 2002. Prior to his appointment as Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia, Mr. Turner served as Director of the Eastern Europe and Eurasia Division. At Headquarters, he has served in the Cabinet and Parliamentary Relations Division, Eastern and Southern Africa Relations Division, Muslim Communities Working Group and Middle East Relations Division. Overseas, he served at missions in Saudi Arabia (2004 to 2007), Syria (2011 to 2012), Afghanistan (2013 to 2015), Pakistan (2015 to 2017) and Iraq (2017 to 2019).


Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan

Hovik Manucharyan is an information security engineer who moved from Seattle to Armenia in 2022. He co-founded the ANN/Groong podcast in 2020 and has been a contributor to Groong News since the late 1990s.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Hovik Manucharyan on the ANN/Groong podcast are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his employer or any other organization.

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed Bedrossian

Asbed is founder of the Armenian News Network Groong and co-founder of the ANN/Groong podcast.

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