Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Will the UK recognise the Armenian Genocide, yet?

RFE/RL Report
Putin Upbeat On `Strategic' Ties With Armenia
September 21, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed confidence on Wednesday
Russia and Armenia will further deepen their already close relations
"deeply rooted in history."

In a letter that congratulated President Serzh Sarkisian on Armenia's
Independence Day, Putin said Russian-Armenian ties are being "enriched
with promising projects in different sectors." They are also cemented
by the two countries' membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic
Union (EEU) and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), he

"I am convinced that with joint efforts we will ensure further
development of the whole complex of strategic relations and
constructive cooperation on addressing pressing issues of regional and
international relevance. This undoubtedly is in the best interests of
the fraternal peoples of our two countries," added the Russian leader.

Putin congratulated Sarkisian as Russian soldiers marched in an
Armenian military parade held in Yerevan on the 25th anniversary of a
1991 referendum in which the vast majority of Armenians voted for
independence from the disintegrating Soviet Union. Russia has kept a
military base in Armenia ever since the Soviet collapse.

Putin and Sarkisian most recently met in Moscow in early August for
talks that reportedly focused on the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict. Moscow took the lead in international efforts to bolster the
ceasefire regime in the conflict zone and revive Armenian-Azerbaijani
peace talks following heavy fighting around Karabakh that broke out in
early April.

Putin hosted a meeting of Sarkisian and Azerbaijani President Ilham
Aliyev in Saint Petersburg in June. Aliyev and Sarkisian hinted
afterwards at progress towards the conflict's resolution, fueling
media speculation that they are under pressure to accept a Russian
peace plan. Neither side has reported further progress in recent
weeks, however.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande reaffirmed his
"commitment to finding a fair and lasting settlement of the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict" in a congratulatory message sent to
Sarkisian on the occasion.

"As I had the opportunity to tell you during our Warsaw meeting on
July 9, I am ready to host a meeting in Paris with a view to
consolidate the ongoing peace process and discuss measures to resolve
this extremely lengthy conflict," Hollande wrote, according to
Sarkisian's office.

The French president appeared to refer to his offer to organize
another meeting of Aliyev and Sarkisian this year. No agreements on
the proposed summit have been reached yet. 

RFE/RL Report 
Karapetian Orders Action Against Government `Theft'
September 22, 2016
Sargis Harutyunyan

Prime Minister Karen Karapetian ordered the Armenian government on
Thursday to root out what he called the embezzlement of budgetary
funds set aside for government officials' travel expenses.

Karapetian alleged and decried the illegal practice after his chief of
staff, Davit Harutiunian, unveiled a new electronic system for the
purchase of air tickets for officials travelling abroad on business.

"It's a quite complex system and you all understand what it is aimed
at," he told a cabinet meeting in Yerevan. "That is why I am issuing a
directive. We are going to put in place quite complex mechanisms for
eliminating the primitive theft. Sort that out in your agencies."

"When they tell me about what [fraud] schemes are devised for tickets
# it takes a lot of fantasy to do that," added Karapetian. "If those
people used their intelligence in another area, the effects would have
definitely been much better."

The premier did not specify the scale of the alleged fraud or name
officials who he thinks engage in it.

Armenia's newly appointed Finance Minister Vartan Aramian was
reluctant to comment on Karapetian's blunt remarks after the cabinet
meeting. "The prime minister's appeal is also an order to the Finance
Ministry," he told reporters. "Let me just get down to work."

Aramian insisted that he was not aware of any cases of ticket fraud
when he served as deputy finance minister in the past.

Karapetian pledged to speed up economic reforms and strengthen the
rule of law in the country after he was appointed prime minister by
President Serzh Sarkisian on September 14. So far he has named only
six members of his new government. Four of them, including Aramian,
did not work in the previous cabinet.

Karapetian on Thursday also moved to abolish one of Armenia's 19
government ministries: the Ministry for Urban Development. A relevant
government bill presented by Harutiunian would also change the name of
the Economy Ministry to the Ministry for Investments and Business

Knesset Deputy Speaker:
 “We cannot recognize the Armenian Genocide”
September 22, 2016 17:27

Israeli Knesset Deputy Speaker Tali Ploskov said in an interview with Mediamax that "Today Israel does not have the opportunity to recognize Armenian Genocide on state level”.

“President of Israel and President of Knesset said that they accept the fact of the tragedy. But the political relations between Israel and other states do not allow Israel to recognize Armenian Genocide on state level. Although all of us deep inside accept that horrible tragedy and offer our support to the Armenian side,” Knesset Deputy Speaker said to Mediamax correspondent during her visit to Yerevan.

Nevertheless, Tali Ploskov emphasized that progress was registered in the process of recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Israel, when Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee officially recognized it in June, 2016.

“The next step is supposed to be the recognition by President of Israel or Minister of Foreign Affairs, but I am not quite sure it will happen. This issue is not going to change yet. Such issues are not solved quickly,” he said.

Knesset representative noted that it is very important for Israel that “Everyone in Yerevan understands that we do not have anything against Armenia”.

“Yes, we cannot declare what our Armenian counterparts would like us to say. We have reasons that everyone understands. But this does not mean we cannot cooperate,” the MP said

Tali Ploskov informed that he is in Armenia to participate in the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Independence of Armenia.

“Besides the main purpose of my visit, my counterpart Artak Zakaryan and I decided to hold a conference for entrepreneurs, which will host representatives of different spheres from both countries. We plan to hold the first such meeting on September 24,” Tali Ploskov said.

Israeli Knesset Deputy Speaker informed that he will have meetings with the Speaker and MPs of Armenian National Assembly to discuss inter-partliamentary cooperation related issues.

“Last year cooperation was intensified in different spheres between our two countries, which should be continuous. We should work hard to achieve it. I am convinced that there will be no obstacle on our way,” Israeli Knesset Deputy Speaker Tali Ploskov said in an interview to Mediamax .

Ha'aretz, Israel
Sept 23 2016
Jewish Right-wing Extremists Riot During Performance 
by Christian Choir in Jerusalem
By Nir Hasson
Two members of anti-assimilationist group Lehava arrested, including
leader Bentzi Gopstein, after trouble flares during song by Armenian
Church Choir
Right-wing extremists rioted during a performance by a Christian choir
at a contemporary arts event in Jerusalem on Thursday. The police
arrested two members of the anti-assimilationist Lehava organization,
including its leader, Bentzi Gopstein.

Dozens of extremists infiltrated the Manofim contemporary arts
festival event, being held in the Clal Center mall, and clashed with
attendees. The event was the finale of Manofim’s ninth annual
festival. Organizers had wanted to take advantage of the circular
shape of the Clal Center interior, one of the oldest commercial
centers in Jerusalem.

Various choirs performed on the ground floor during the evening while
hundreds of people stood on the floors above to watch.

The right-wing demonstration erupted during the performance by the
city’s Armenian Church Choir. An eyewitness said the disruption
started when the choir began singing, and that it took a long time for
the police to arrive.

Meanwhile, Gopstein and other activists allegedly shouted at the
choir, “Christians!”, “Go to Syria!”, “Jew murderers!” and more. The
choir was forced to stop performing after one song.

Following the event, security guards and police blocked the entrance,
and several Lehava members gathered in front of the building and
protested that they were not allowed to go inside.

“Two right-wing activists were arrested after they refused to obey
police orders, and continued to interfere with the event and disrupted
the public order with shouts and confrontations with police,” the
police said in a statement.

Right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir claimed that officers hit Gopstein
in the head during the clash, adding that Gopstein needed medical
treatment for his injuries.

Rinat Edelstein and Lee He Shulov, the directors-curators of the
Manofim festival, said in a statement: “We are still shocked and
pained about the violent and vulgar behavior of Lehava, headed by
Bentzi Gopstein. We wish to express our solidarity with the Armenian
choir that was forced to leave the event because of Lehava’s violence
against them.

“We were shocked to find that in Israel in 2016, such a violent
organization is not outlawed and its members are not sitting in jail,”
they added.

Rabbi Noa Sattath, executive director of the Israel Religious Action
Center, which organized a counterdemonstration against Lehava on
Thursday evening, said, “The fact that Lehava thugs do not rest for a
moment, and that while hundreds of citizens — Jews and Arabs —
demonstrate against them, they choose to violently interrupt religious
Christian activities, is clear proof that the head of this criminal
organization, Bentzi Gopstein, should be prosecuted as quickly as
possible, before more blood is spilled in the capital.”

10,000 square meters of mined areas demined in Armenia’s 
Syunik Province

Over the course of the current year, the peacekeeping mining engineering battalion of the Armed Forces of Armenia has demined about 10-thousand square meters of mined areas in Syunik Province.

In parallel, the Humanitarian Demining and Expertise Center has started the marking of respective hazardous areas in Armenia.

The objective of this marking is to prevent people from entering hazardous areas, and to raise awareness of the danger caused by landmines.

Mark Moogalian honored for helping thwart 2015 train attack
23 Sep 2016 

A French-American man who helped stop a heavily armed gunman on a train in France in 2015 has received the country’s highest honour, the BBC reports.

Mark Moogalian and five other passengers overpowered the suspect, Moroccan national Ayoub El-Khazzani.

Mr Moogalian was shot in the neck during the struggle on the high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris.

The Legion d’honneur was given by President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace.

When a French passenger tried to enter a toilet on the train, he encountered the gunman and tried to overpower him.

Seeing the struggle, Mr Moogalian tried to intervene but was hit by a bullet.

Three other Americans – off-duty military servicemen Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler – then overpowered the attacker.

They also had the help of UK businessman Chris Norman.

The Americans and the Briton received the honour in August 2015.

Sorbonne professor Mark Moogalian, has lived in France for more than two decades, but is originally from Midlothian and is of Armenian descent.

Cheese Tops Dairy Exports from Armenia: Most Goes to Russia
Seda Hergnyan
September 22, 2016

During the first seven months of 2016 Armenia produced 13,000 tons of
cheese, 3,600 tons of yoghurt, 3,500 tons of sour cream, 550 tons of
cottage cheese, 317 million liters of milk, and 7 million liters of
ice cream.

These figures are provided by the country’s National Statistical Service (NSS).

When compared to the same period last year, cheese production
increased by 19.1%, milk by 2.7%, and sour cream by 3.2%.

Yoghurt production decreased by 3.8%, cottage cheese by 5.3%, and ice
cream by 10.6%.

When it comes to Armenian diary exports, cheese and cottage cheese top the list.

The NSS reports that Armenia exported 3,300 tons of cheese and cottage
during the first half of 2016 at a customs value of US$8.4 million.
(The NSS, for some unknown reason, lumps the two products together)

Nevertheless, given the smaller production amounts of cottage cheese,
most of the exports in this category consists of cheese.

The primary market for Armenian cheese is Russia, with smaller
quantities this year to the USA and Georgia.

Surprisingly, cheese and cottage cheese exports skyrocketed in 2015,
despite complaints from cheesemakers regarding less than conducive
market conditions.

[the US Armenians do not seem to have heard of Lord Darzi]

Getreated Medical Travel.com
Sept 20 2016
5 Medical Innovations You Didn’t Know were Armenian
History of Medicine - Hopkins University
Raffi Elliott

Armenia is making its mark as a global medical tourism hub, yet to the keen observer, this should come as no surprise. Despite its tiny size, this caucasian nation has contributed disproportionately to the medical profession, through advances in medical research over the course of many centuries. Armenians have been found in every aspect of medical innovation, from the publication of Mkhitar Heratsi’s ‘Relief of Fevers’ in 1184 to the pioneering work of Drs. Simeon Minasian, Garabed Galstian, and Baronig Matevosian during the American Civil War , though their contribution goes much deeper.

Armenian doctors, medical researchers and inventors are responsible for some of the most important life-saving innovations of the last century. 

 1- Varaztad Kazanjian: Father of Modern Plastic Surgery 

The Invention:

As a young man, Varaztad Kazanjian fled the Ottoman Empire, where he worked in a local post-office due to the anti-Armenian pogroms known as the Hamidian Massacre. Settling in Boston to start a new life, Varaztad started working at a local wiring factory, where his extraordinary dexterity with tools led him to study dentistry at Harvard. During the Great War, Kazanjian was sent on a medical mission to the battlefields of France. Despite being trained as a dentist, his compassion for the sheer number of soldiers with horrific facial wounds he met lead him to experiment with various treatments. The innovative procedures he worked with were often accomplished in primitive conditions, in field hospitals near the front lines.

Why it’s important: 

Dr. Kazanjian’s pioneering procedures directly lead to establishing the medical field of plastic surgery, earning him the prestigious position of first ever Professor of Plastic Surgery at Harvard . His efforts didn’t go unrecognised by others either. He was awarded the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by HM King George V of Great Britain, as well as the Honorary Award of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons.

His work helped propel battlefield medicine into the 20th century, allowing many wounded soldiers to recover from some of the most horrific wounds brought by modern warfare. These techniques eventually became commonplace in the civilian world as well. Victims of crashes, burns, and other accidents now had access to some of the most cutting-edge facial reconstruction technology in human history.

The importance of Dr.Kazanjian’s efforts may go unnoticed for today’s casual consumers of cosmetic plastic surgery, but it’s worth remembering that the history of perfect noses and perfect breasts starts with an Armenian dentist’s struggle to stitch up wounded soldiers of World War One. 

2- Michel Ter-Pogossian: PET scan 

The Invention:

The Positron Emissions Tomography scanner, better known to the layperson as the PET scan, is one of the most recognisable pieces of medical technology today, but had it not been for the efforts of the German-Armenian nuclear physicist Michel Ter-Pogossian, this may not have been the case.

A son of Armenian Genocide survivors, Michel Ter-Pogossian was born in Berlin , Germany in 1925. Having witnessed the rise of the Nazis, his family quickly eed to France when he was still a child. Michel was not ready to let his adopted country fall to the same fate as his birth place. He promptly took up the fight against the Nazis as part of the French Resistance Movement during WWII while earning his degree at the University of Paris’s Institute of Radium. He continued his studies after immigrating to Missouri in 1946, where he attended classes at the Washington University of St. Louis, eventually securing a faculty seat in its School of Medicine.

Why it’s important: 

His most notable contribution to Science, the PET scanner is known as one of the most promising methods of detecting early stages of cancer, as well as for monitoring heart disease, allowing millions of people to identify these life-threatening diseases in time to treat them. 

3- Raymond Vahan Damadian: Inventor of the MRI 
The Invention:

If mo damadianst of us ever confuse the PET scanner with anything else, it’s almost always the MRI Machine, but that’s OK, because the MRI was also an Armenian invention ; This time, by the Armenian-American physician, Raymond Vahan Damadian.

Born to an Armenian family in New Mexico, Raymond had an early interest in the physical sciences. With a bachelor’s degree in mathematics already under his belt, he decided to pursue his interest in medicine, graduating as an M.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1960.

As a doctor, Raymond researched the effects of sodium and potassium in living cells, eventually leading him to his first experiments using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Raymond conducted the first-ever diagnosis of cancer with a full-body scan in 1977 when he used his newly-invented Magnetic Resonance Imagine (MRI) machine on a patient. Despite controversy revolving around his being denied a Nobel Prize for the invention that many believed entitled him to, Damadian never stopped improving on his important research.

Why it’s important: 

By inventing the MRI machine, Dr Damadian discovered a new way for medical professionals to diagnose cancer and conduct follow-ups without exposing the patient’s body to ionising radiation. This revolutionised the field of cancer researched, and allowed for easier and safer cancer diagnosis.

The MRI machine is also a very versatile as an imaging technique . Today, it is also widely used in biomedical research, as well as in the imaging of non-living objects. There are currently over 25 000 MRI machines used in hospitals and research labs across the world, used in diverse fields of research and medicine, including, but not limited to neurology, cardiovascular research, oncology, and much more. The MRI machine is even preferred to CT scanners when either technique could be used for the same effect. 

 4- Hrayr Shahinian: Pioneer in Microsurgical Techniques 
The Invention: 

dr-shahinianHrayr Shahinian, M.D., F.A.C.S. is recognised as a pioneer of endoscopic surgical techniques, commonly used in order to treat all sorts of skull-based disorders. After graduating from the American University of Beirut in 1981, he continued on at the University of Chicago’s Medical School. Having completed fellowships at the Department of Head and Neck Surgery in the swiss city of Zurich, and in craniofacial surgery at New York University, Dr Shahinian was certified by the American Board of Surgery in 1992.

Why it’s important: 

Dr Shahinian’s new techniques provide a less invasive alternative to older neurosurgical technology . His pioneering endoscopic approach has since widely replaced traditional techniques across the United States and is being used around the world from Canada to South Korea. He has published over 80 academic papers on endoscopic techniques.

Dr Shahinian has since received numerous awards for his work and has secured various patents. he was also honoured by NASA for his work in the field of advanced medical technology. 

 5- Dr John Najarian: Father of modern Organ Transplantation 
The Invention:

Though organ transplant procedures have been attempted for decades, a high rate of rejection by the patient’s immune system made the operation extremely dangerous and incurred a high probability of failure. This all changed thanks to the pioneering work of Dr John Najarian.

Why it’s important: 

The medical field that Dr Najarian entered back in the early 1950s was quite different from what it is today. Modern organ transplant techniques were in their infancy when a young John Najarian was considering cardiology as a career option. The first successful kidney transplant in 1954 lead him to reconsider his path, leading him to proclaim : “That’s the field, that’s something. If you can put in an organ in an individual and save his life, that is remarkable and that’s the direction I want to go.” From that point on, Dr Najarian concentrated his efforts in immunology in order to facilitate kidney transplants, which until then had been complicated by a high rejection rate by the body.

As the first surgeon in the world to conduct successful pancreas and kidney transplants, his invention garnered him both praise and controversy over the years. Despite overseeing the development and manufacture of AntiLymphocyte Globulin (better known through the acronym “ALG”), which helped patients bodies’ recognise and accept foreign organs, for over 25 years at the University of Minnesota, his programme was eventually shut down by the FDA because it had never received its approval. Despite Dr Najarian eventually being cleared of all charges, the damage to his institution had already been done. His research facility had lost a lot of funding, and a lot of skilled researchers.

Despite this major setback, his groundbreaking research and contribution to his field was recognised by many. Dr Najarian even recalls: “To this day I can’t walk down the street and people don’t come up and shake my hand. It’s the most amazing thing in the world”. After all, he managed to save the lives of countless millions with his breakthroughs in organ transplants.


Though the field of medicine is the result of the collective effort that has been propelled by the work of thousands upon thousands of doctors, scientists, and inventors across millennia, one should not discount the unique contribution of the inhabitants of a tiny nation, nestled between the high mountains of the Caucasus. Their endeavours have made now-mundane treatments such as Cancer prevention, plastic surgery, organ transplants, and microsurgery unmistakable parts of modern medicine, saving countless lives.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

issue 27 of the Armenian Church News of the Diocese via the link below.

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24 September 2016
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Prayer for the Republic on the 25th Anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Armenia
Հանրապետական մաղթանք Անկախության տոնի առթիվ Երևանի Ս Գր Լուսավորիչ եկեղեցում
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Message of thanks from Buckingham Palace on the occasion of HM The Queen's 90th Birthday.
Letter of thanks received by Bishop Hovakim from Buckingham Palace on the occasion of HM The Queen's ninetieth Birthday.
Celebratory Reception at the Armenian Vicarage
We would like to invite you to a casual-themed reception at the Armenian Vicarage on Sunday, 9th October at 1:30pm, hosted by Bishop Hovakim. This event is exclusively for young persons and we hope you will be able to attend. There will be wine and snacks, and an opportunity to network and discuss issues of interest. Come along for the Divine Liturgy at St. Yeghiche Church beforehand and receive a special blessing for students, to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Translators, the scholars and founding fathers of Armenian literature.
Link to calendar
Fundraising Gala Dinner
Fund-raising Gala Dinner for the restoration of Our Lord Jesus Christ's Tomb in the Holy Sepulchre Church, Jerusalem.
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The Primate's Office
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Iverna Gardens
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Armenian News... A Topalian... Military parade on 25th Anniversary

Military parade on 25th anniversray of Armenia’s Independence

Fox News
Sept 21 2016
Armenia shows off powerful ballistic missiles at parade

YEREVAN, Armenia –  Armenia has proudly showed off state-of-the-art
Russian ballistic missiles at a military parade marking its
independence day.

The Iskander missiles displayed Wednesday are capable of striking
targets up to 300 kilometers (186 miles) with high precision, adding
muscle to the Armenian military amid tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Nagorno-Karabakh is officially part of Azerbaijan, but since a
separatist war ended in 1994 it has been under the control of forces
that claim to be local ethnic Armenians but that Azerbaijan claims
include regular Armenian military. Efforts to negotiate a settlement
have failed.

President Sargsyan’s address on 25th anniversary of 
Armenia’s Independence
21 Sep 2016 

Today, at the Republic Square President Serzh Sargsyan was present at the Military Parade of the RA Armed Forces dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s Independence.

Address by Serzh Sargsyan, President of the Republic of Armenia,
at the Military Parade

Soldiers, Officers, Generals,
My sisters and brothers,

I congratulate all of us on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Armenia.

We have made our choice by casting a ballot on this very day a quarter-century ago, but we are well aware that deep in our hearts and in our collective memory we had made that choice much earlier. We chose freedom at the times of Patriarch Haik. We are faithful to the decision that we had made back at the times of a bow and arrow. Today, at the 21st century weapons have changed, but we have not, and we are determined to defend our liberty. And this parade is a testimony to that.

In the ideal world the right, of course, is the source of might. Nevertheless, the contemporary world and our environment are far from being ideal. There are still circumstances, in which the might is the source of the right. We have got both our right and might to defend our freedom. And this parade is a testimony to that.

Freedom and independence need to be defended not exclusively from external threats. The domestic social and political life is no less important and vital to us. Our citizens should be free since a free individual and a free society function way more effectively. We can and we shall continue building an efficient nation, which will defend a free citizen and a free society. Unfree people theoretically can create a lot but not happiness.

In the course of the past 25 years we have registered irrevocable achievements. Occasionally we have made mistakes, occasionally we have run into the extremes, but at the end of the day we have been moving in the right direction. We are building our happiness with free thoughts and free hands, which means we produce peacefully and creatively. And there is only one obvious prescription as to how we shall move forward: it is to work hard, harder and harder.

Indeed, we highly value our achievements since we have paid a dear price for them. We shall multiply those achievements with our hard work and defend – with the might we have accumulated.

Long live our boys that vigilantly guard borders of Armenia: they are the primary guarantors of our freedom. Glory to the immortal heroes who fought in the Artsakh liberation war, to each and single brave fellow of ours. Glory to the young lions of this April, who wiped out all the hostile planning of our adversary. Some months ago at the grave of scout-machinegunner Sasun Mkrtchyan I promised on behalf of all of us that we would continue the sacred mission of Sasun and his friends, we would always keep lit the light that emanated from the new generation of Artsakh and Armenia, that had united all of us during those April days; united as a fist, ready to crush the head of the adversary that threatened our security. And we will keep our word. And this parade is a testimony to that.

Long live the citizen of the Republic of Armenia, a soil cultivator and construction worker, a physician and teacher, a miner and entrepreneur, a civil servant and artist. Glory to the citizen of Armenia, who establishes new values.

Long live the trilateral unity of Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora: by joining our forces we are getting much stronger than one could imagine.

Long live our brothers and sisters that represent Armenia’s ethnic minorities, who enjoy equality and share responsibility in the consistent pursuit of the cause for development and defense of our country.

Long live the traditional Armenian family, which in spite of all currents remains the source of warmth that gives birth to heroes and brings up generations thirsting for knowledge.

My fellow compatriots,

I again congratulate all of us and Armenians around the globe with the quarter-century anniversary of the reestablishment of the independent Armenian statehood.

Glory to the Republic of Armenia!
Glory to the Armenian Armed Forces!

25 Years on: Reclaiming Our True Independence
By Rupen Janbazian 
September 21, 2016 in Editorials
Twenty-five years ago, Armenia declared itself independent from Soviet rule, with over 99 percent of eligible voters saying “yes” to statehood. After 70 long years, Armenia was once again a free and independent nation.

Though most believed that prosperity and bliss would come about following Armenia’s second independence, the years immediately following 1991 would prove to be bleak and disappointing. Ongoing war with neighboring Azerbaijan; devastation following the earthquake of 1988; severe economic hardship; unchecked ownership and entrepreneurship; and an illegal blockade were just a few of the countless problems the newly formed republic faced.

The people of Armenia, who had been so optimistic at the ballot boxes, were soon losing faith in the system they had so courageously fought for and, for the first time, felt a sense of disenchantment toward the idea of independence.

Twenty-five years have since passed, and unfortunately not much has changed in Armenia’s geopolitical and socioeconomic situations—a permanent peace has not been established with Azerbaijan and Armenian servicemen continue to be killed on the Nagorno-Karabagh (NKR/Artsakh) Line of Contact; hyper-privatization has paved the way for the prosperity of only a few and a large portion of the population continues to live in poverty; Armenia remains a blockaded, land-locked country, that seems to be the victim of constant bullying by greater powers.

Though these are realities our country is faced with, they are realities we must do our best to change. And by feeling a sense of belonging to Armenia, we must actively do our best to bring about real change.

Because the fact remains that this is a two-way street; Armenia needs us—Diasporan Armenians—just as much as we need Armenia.

So it is our responsibility—the responsibility of all Armenians regardless of where we live—to engage with what is happening in this country, and actively try to be a part of its development and progress. It is the duty of all Armenians—both in the homeland and in the Diaspora—to keep faith in the idea of independence and to actively try to make Armenia a true and rightful democracy.

Only then can we expect real change. Only then can we reclaim our true independence.

Serj Tankian launches new petition for civic changes, reforms in Armenia 

Frontman of the rock band “System of a Down” Serj Tankian and a number of prominent Diaspora-based Armenian cultural and social figures have launched the petition Justice Within Armenia on Change.org on the 25th anniversary of Armenia ’s independence .

“We should take the opportunity to celebrate some of the successes of this small but beautiful nation while also tackling the troubling issues at hand,” Tankian said in a Facebook post.

“Independence means little when a large segment of the public are discontent. That is why myself and a group of friends have drafted a statement of support for the people of Armenia and their call to action for positive civic changes and reforms. Please have a look at the below campaign link on change.org and sign on if you agree.”

“Justice Within Armenia is a coalition of concerned Armenians around the world who believe in standing in solidarity with the people of Armenia and being present as eyewitnesses and monitoring free and fair elections while actively engaging with the Armenian populace in contributing to the present and future of our nation. We need to visualize an egalitarian state worthy of the resilience of our people and achieve it. Given our unique values and character, Armenia can and should become a country of opportunity, creativity, democracy and hope in a region rife with turmoil. The alternative is unthinkable,” the petition reads.

Among the initial signatories are Tankian, Vahe Berberian, Atom Egoyan, Arsinee Khanjian, Alexis Ohanian, Ara Oshagan, Carla Garapedian, Chris Bohjalian, Eric Bogosian, Hrant Tokhatyan, Robert Guediguian and many others.

Justice within Armenia 

We, as Armenians, residing in Armenia and throughout the diaspora, are collectively committed to immediate change and justice in Armenia. In the wake of yearly protests and recent upheavals during the spring and summer of 2016 that resulted in gross violations of human and civic rights,

We say
NO to systematic corruption, monopolies, judicial inequality, police brutality, partisan politics, unequal rights, national depopulation, and elections tainted by fraud, all of which have contributed to the ongoing unrest.

We say
YES to the equality of all people, the fundamental preservation and protection of human rights, direct engagement in fair and transparent elections, respect for the rule of law, fair wages, separation of powers, a free press and advocacy for the disenfranchised. We say yes to tangible, democratic change through civic engagement with the citizenry of Armenia.

As a global community of Armenians, we would like Armenia's political leaders to embody integrity, accountability, wisdom, intelligence, diplomacy, compassion, effectiveness and visionary thinking in addressing the pressing needs of the people of Armenia, thereby securing an egalitarian, just and constructive path towards real democracy where every voice matters.

Justice Within Armenia is a coalition of concerned Armenians around the world who believe in standing in solidarity with the people of Armenia and being present as eyewitnesses and monitoring free and fair elections while actively engaging with the Armenian populace in contributing to the present and future of our nation. We need to visualize an egalitarian state worthy of the resilience of our people and achieve it. Given our unique values and character, Armenia can and should become a country of opportunity, creativity, democracy and hope in a region rife with turmoil. The alternative is unthinkable.

Initial Signatories

    • Serj Tankian - USA - (Artist, Activist)
    • Vahe Berberian - USA - (Artist, Writer, Actor, Director)
    • Atom Egoyan - Canada - (Filmmaker, Writer, Producer)
    • Arsinee Khanjian - Canada - (Actor, Director, Activist)
    • Eric Nazarian - USA - (Filmmaker, Writer)
    • Albert Kodagolian - USA - (Director, Cinematographer)
    • Alexis Ohanian - USA - (Reddit Co-Founder)
    • Antranig Kzirian - USA - (Artist and Activist)
    • Ara Dabandjian – USA – (Musician, Composer)
    • Ara Dinkjian - USA - (Musician, Composer)
    • Ara Oshagan - USA - (Artist)
    • Ariane Ascaride - France - (Actress, Screenwriter)
    • Carla Garapedian - USA - (Film Maker)
    • Chris Bohjalian - USA - (Author)
    • David Alpay - Canada - (Actor, Musician)
    • Eric Bogosian - USA - (Actor, Playwright, Novelist)
    • Eric V. Hachikian - USA - (Composer)
    • Hasmik Papian - Armenia - (Soprano)
    • Hrant Tokhatyan - Armenia - (Actor)
    • Jacky Nercessian - France - (Actor)
    • Maria Armoudian - New Zealand - (Writer, Radio Host, Professor at University of Auckland)
    • Nancy Kricorian – USA – (Novelist, Poet)
    • Norayr Kasper – Canada – (Cinematographer, Photographer, Architect)
    • R-Mean – USA - (Artist, OpenWounds1915)
    • Robert Guediguian – France – (Filmmaker, Producer)
    • Sebu Simonian - USA - (Musician)
    • Serge Avedikian – France – (Filmmaker, Actor, Producer)
    • Silvina Der Meguerditchian – Germany – (Visual Artist, Filmmaker)
    • Theodore Bogosian – USA – (Director, Writer, Producer)
    • Vicken Cheterian – Switzerland – (Historian, Journalist)

25 amazing things you probably didn’t know about Armenia
Armenia is a land of epic vistas, crumbling churches and 
many surprises
21 September 2016 

It’s 25 years since Armenia gained independence from the Soviet Union, and to mark the occasion Telegraph Travel has unearthed a few things you probably didn't know about the country. 

1. It’s the oldest wine-producing nation in the world 

At least that’s what the archaeologists claim: in 2011 they unearthed what is believed to be the world’s oldest wine production facility, which was found, of all places, in a cave in the village of Areni.

Archaeologists reckon wine has been quaffed here longer than anywhere else 

2. It was the first nation to adopt Christianity… 

Christianity spread to the now-defunct Kingdom of Armenia soon after the death of Jesus, though it took until the early 4th century for it to be adopted as the state religion. Still, that was earlier than any other country on the planet. 

3. ...And it has the churches to prove it 

From millennia-old monasteries to crumbling cathedrals, Armenia is scattered with Christian places of worship: they don’t call this the “land of churches” for nothing. It’s impossible to identify the best basilica in the land, but one of our favourites is the 9th-century Tatev Monastery; a stunning building in an area of unremitting beauty.

4. Chess is part of the curriculum 

Which explains why Armenians are so good at it. Indeed, since breaking free from the Soviet Union, the country has proven itself to be a world beater at the sport : the men’s team have won the European Team Championships (1999), the World Team Championship (2011) and the Chess Olympiad (2006, 2008, 2012), while the women’s team have scooped the European Championship (2003). 

5. It lost 1.5 million people in the Armenian Genocide 

In 1915 the Ottoman government orchestrated the systematic extermination of 1.5 million Armenians, an act known as the Armenian Genocide. Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, denies it was genocide , but governments of 28 countries – including Britain, Russia and France – recognise the events as an act of genocide.

The Armenian Genocide memorial complex is located in Tsitsernakaberd

6. More Armenians live abroad than in Armenia 

The events of 1915 forced millions of Armenians to flee abroad, where they established strong communities in the US, Russia and France. There are thought to be some 5.6 million people of Armenian descent living abroad, which is greater than the population of Armenia (3 million). 

7. It has celebrity connections 

Armenia is the ancestral homeland of Cher, Andre Agassi and Serj Tankian, the frontman of American metal band, System of a Down, one of the groups at the forefront of publicising the injustices of the Armenian Genocide. Armenia is also partly responsible for the Kardashians - dad Robert was second generation Armenian American.

8. Armenians think they know where Noah’s Ark is 

There’s a widely-held belief in Armenia that Noah’s Ark is embedded in ice atop Mount Ararat. Despite many expeditions, said ark has never been found, but that doesn’t stop it appearing on Armenia’s coat of arms.

9. It's national symbol is in Turkey

Snow-capped Mount Ararat is the principal national symbol of Armenia and is considered by many Armenians to be sacred. The massif has featured prominently in Armenian art and literature and is depicted on the country’s coat of arms, however it is actually located within Turkey. It hasn’t always been that way: the holy mountain has been passed between the Kingdom of Armenia, Persia, Russia and Turkey. 

10. It has one of the world’s oldest capitals… 

The Armenian capital, Yerevan, is one of the world’s oldest inhabited cities, constructed as it was 29 years before Rome. Overlooked by the snow-capped Mount Ararat, the capital has a bewildering number of historic buildings, not to mention a clutch of excellent museums.

11. ...Which is known as the “Pink City” 

Yerevan gets its pretty pink hue (and moniker) from the rosy volcanic rock that was used to construct many of the city’s buildings.
12. Churchill had a taste for Armenian cognac… 

During the Second World War, Joseph Stalin shipped several dozen cases of Armenian cognac to Winston Churchill, which the then-British prime minister consumed with gusto. His love for brandy was no secret: by his own estimate he had drunk enough brandy to fill three railway carriages by the time he was 71.

13. In fact Armenian cognac oiled the wheels of Yalta 

The Yalta Conference – a meeting in the Crimea between Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Franklin D Roosevelt to discuss Europe’s post-war reorganisation – is believed to have been largely fuelled by Armenian cognac and wine. One of Churchill's aides at Yalta famously wrote about the then-British prime minister “drinking buckets of Caucasian champagne which would undermine the health of any ordinary man”. 

14. It has a record-breaking cable car 

According to Guinness World Records, the longest non-stop double track cable car is the Tatev Aerial Tramway, which clocks in at 5,752 m (18,871ft) long. The spectacular cable car connects the village of Halizor with the aforementioned Tatev Monastery, offering spectacular views across the Vorotan River Gorge en route.

Tatev Aerial Tramway is best avoided if you suffer from vertigo

15. It’s technically at war 

Relations between Armenia and neighbouring Azerbaijan have been fraught for years and the two countries are technically still at war. The issue centres around Nagorno-Karabakh, an area of south-western Azerbaijan populated largely by ethnic Armenians. Supported by Armenia, it tried to breakaway from Azerbaijan in 1994 sparking a bloody war between the two nations. A Russian brokered ceasefire was signed in 1994, but fresh fighting broke out this year . 

16. You can go skiing there 

The main ski resort in Armenia is Tsakhkadzor, which has some 27km of slopes, plus six lifts to get you up there. Expect to pay around 8500 Armenian dram (about £17) for a day ski pass.

17. It’s big on birds 

Armenia is a twitchers delight, home as it is to 345 of Europe's estimated 530 bird species. Highlights include falcons, swans and eagles, which also feature on the Armenian coat of arms.

Storks abound in Armenia where they are considered a sacred animalI.

18. The people are as hard as nails 

Armenia won one gold and three silver medals at the Rio Olympics, all of which were in wrestling or weightlifting. Enough said. 

19. They like Shakira (sort of) 

Many Armenians were delighted to hear about Shakira’s stunning faux pas at a concert in neighbouring Azerbaijan, whereby the Colombian singer walked on stage carrying her national flag upside down, thus turning it into the Armenian standard. Oops. 

20. Its bread is Unesco-listed 

Dinner tables are rarely without huge piles of lavash, a tasty flat bread that is the cornerstone of Armenian cuisine. So important is this humble dish that it was placed on Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014.

21. It boasts the largest lake in the Caucasus 

And what a beauty she is, too. Covering one sixth of Armenia’s territory, Lake Sevan is overlooked by the stunning Sevanavank monastic complex, which is one of the country’s top attractions.

22. Its women are the sexiest in the world 

At least that’s according to a dubious poll of 44,000 US men, who voted Armenian women the world’s sexiest. The results were perhaps skewered by the ubiquity of Kim Kardashian, who famously “broke the internet” with her nude photoshoot for Paper magazine.

23. They don’t have much luck with the footy 

Despite being Armenia’s national sport, football is not something it performs particularly well at – at least not on the international stage. Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union, the country has failed to qualify for either the UEFA European Football Championships or the FIFA World Cup. 

24. It has three Unesco World Heritage Sites 

Which are: the monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin; the cathedral and churches of Echmiatsin and the archaeological site of Zvartnots; and the monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley.

25. There’s an Armenian alphabet monument 

When the Armenian alphabet celebrated its 1,600th birthday in 2005, the authorities erected 39 stone statues depicting its letters near the final resting place of the man who created it, Mesrop Mashtots. Visitors can visit the giant letters, which stand proud in the town of Aparan.