Thursday, 21 September 2017

** FATHER FRANK’S RANTS Rant Number 742 21/9/17 GODDESS THAT FAILED



ROHINGYA ETHNIC CLEANSING SHOW FLAWS OF A HUMAN RIGHTS GODDESS
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Hard to be a goddess. Too much to live up to. Should you fail, your votaries will spit on you and drag you into the mud. The lot of Myanmar’s former human rights goddess, Aung San Suu Kyi. Ruthless ethnic cleansing of the country’s Rohingya Muslims violates the rights of man but Suu Kyi ignores it. Nay, she refuses to condemn it. ‘Fake news’, she calls it. Definitely a poor deity.

Fact: the lady doesn’t like Muslims. She let the cat out of the bag as she moaned: ‘Nobody told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim!’ after being nailed by BBC’s Mishal Husein. Of course, there is no moral obligation to like a particular religion. I don’t care for Unitarians – a bloodless, heretical non-Christian sect – but would I wish to have them persecuted, raped and driven into exile? No. Suu Kyi’s dislike of Muslims has nasty, lethal consequences, alas.

The lady and her Army are Buddhists. Some marvel at that. Isn’t Buddhism a religion of peace and compassion? Indeed. The teachings of Siddharta Gautama, the Buddha, the Awakened One, contain not an atom of hatred or violence towards ‘enemies’. Followers may fall short, however. Buddhist monks in Japan could be fierce fighters in their country’s aggressive wars. And Zen, insofar as it is a revolt against social conventions, can infringe moral rules, too. I recall a Zen woman in Rome showing indifference at car accident victims. Sadism? Or the hardness of an unsentimental ethics?

Myanmar’s Buddhist generals appear to nurse a similar, callous contempt for the suffering of the wretched Rohingya refugees. On being questioned about his soldiers raping Muslim women an officer grinningly reply: ‘Just look at those women. How ugly they are. Do you think any man would want to rape them?’

Human rights, her opposition to the military government, earned Aung San Suu Kyi boundless adulation in the West, as well as that coveted goal of do-gooders, the Nobel Peace Prize. But human rights ideology isn’t free from contradictions. Life is the most basic right of man, a right without which all other rights seem pointless. Yet HR advocates give not a jot for the rights of the unborn, destroyed by the millions in abortion! Further, HR are used by Western powers to impose dubious practices on African and third world countries, unwilling to cowtow to the Moloch of an alien secular culture. Evidently, the god of human rights is a pretty cracked idol.

There is no reason to be surprised at Buddhists’ failures to obey their Master’s doctrines. The Buddha, like Christ, never founded a state, a political entity with a government, bureaucracy, all that. Had he done so, he would have been forced to realise that compassion – maybe the noblest virtue - must have limits. And so has peace. If you are tasked to defend the lives of your people, you must be willing to take other lives. Use force. Have armies. Policemen. Prisons. Raise taxes. And so on. Sad truth but the truth.

Aung San Suu Kyi is now a bit frail, but when young she displayed the sweet, pretty looks typical of many South Asian women. I suspect it contributed to her popularity among Western media. Yet I read that her father founded the Communist Party of Burma. Interesting. Because communism’s record in human rights is less than glowing. In fact, communism is perhaps the biggest failed god of modernity. Its idol was smashed in Russia and Eastern Europe over the corpse of millions of innocent victims. Although communists like the lady’s father claimed to combat British colonialism, the ideology they served was probably far more murderous. Wrong to impute to the children the fathers’ guilt but…could there be a dark connection at work there?

So the lady has tumbled down from her high pedestal. Too bad. Human beings, however pseudo-heroic, are like that. Imperfect. Maybe the ancient Greeks were wise to make their gods flawed. Physically as well as morally. A reflection of their human worshippers. (The blacksmith god, Vulcan, was a cripple, for example.) Deities that could fall in love, be jealous, kidnap mortals, rape, kill…the lot. In theory they served justice but when Jupiter stole a shepherd boy up into Olympus to serve as his catamite, what justice was there in that?

Human rights – the current gods of the West - are failed divinities. Would religious states be a solution? In a discussion at Abrar House on the plight of the Rohingyas, speaker Jamal Harwood argued that Muslims will never be safe until there is an Amir, a Commander of the Faithful, or a Caliph, to guarantee their protection. Islamic state needed, in other words. The classic Hizb al-Tahrir position. Sadly, the crumbling Middle East ‘Islamic state’, ISIS, hardly commends the idea. (Another broken idol.) ISIS not really Islamic? Discuss. Regardless, you are back to the harsh realities on running a polity. The Caliph, however pious, necessarily would have to enact choices often based not on faith but on Realpolitik. The history of the medieval Popes offers sobering lessons.

God rules majestically in Heaven. On earth ex-human goddesses like the Burmese lady are no alternatives.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Broken Homeland!!!...By H Tchilingirian


This is a thought-provoking article that forces a reader to take stock of the current situation of Armenians and their prospects for the future.

We are not in a good position and we appear to be drifting to more uncertainty and deteriorating  years to come.

What do you think about this? 
Will you get involved to change course and take matters forward?
  

EVN Report
16 Sep 2017 

https://www.evnreport.com/raw-unfiltered/could-armenians-remain-a-global-nation-with-a-broken-homeland 
Could Armenians Remain a Global Nation with a Broken Homeland?
A homeland plagued with poverty, corruption and depopulation? 

By Hratch Tchilingirian
In recent years a new discourse on “global Armenians” is increasingly becoming part of an effort of constructing a post-Genocide Armenian identity in the Diaspora — and Armenia. These new identity shapers seem to advocate a transition from “survival mentality” to celebration of life and success. One definition was provided in a full-page letter published in The New York Times (28 October 2016), according to which a “global Armenian” is someone, who despite having “forcibly displaced and dispersed” ancestry, lives “across the world” and has made or is making “major contributions toward advancing their adoptive countries.”[1] Such “global Armenians” include scientists, doctors, engineers and inventors making contributions to societies in their countries; politicians, ministers and diplomats serving in different countries; movie stars, sportsmen, bankers and corporate executives; and, of course, celebrities who have millions of followers on social networks. In short, a “global Armenian” is someone who is professionally successful, has an impact in their field, and has public visibility or recognition. 

One of the stated main goals of this prescriptive “global Armenianism” is “to transform the post-Soviet Armenian Republic into a vibrant, modern, secure, peaceful and progressive homeland for a global nation.” This is, indeed, a vision that many in Armenia and the Diaspora dream about. Of course, there are others who use the term “global Armenian” as a descriptive term or as synonym for dispersion.[2] 

Yet, even as “global Armenians” seem to be thriving around the world, they don’t seem to be thriving in the Republic of Armenia. With rare exceptions, global Armenians seem to exist everywhere except in Armenia. Instead, Armenia is visible through its oligarchs -- a small number of people who have political, economic, social and even cultural and religious power that survives through unquestioned loyalty, pubic obedience or oppression. President Serzh Sargsyan himself affirmed at the opening of the 6th Parliament, when he said: “indeed, today, the face of corruption [in Armenia] has changed,” underlining that it is “increasingly becoming more visible and untenable.”[3] 

No, the vast majority of Armenians in Armenia and the Diaspora are not successful “global Armenians,” as defined by the evangelists of this “new” concept. Twenty-seven years after the Earthquake in northern Armenia, some 3,000 Armenians still live in temporary shelters. More worrying, one third of Armenia’s population is poor. There are 900,000 poor people in Armenia, according to the official figures provided by the State Statistical Services. World Bank defines poverty as “the inability to ensure an acceptable minimum of certain living conditions.” In fact, poverty increased by 2.3 percent between 2008 and 2015.” A government report explains that “the number of the poor in 2015 was around 900,000, of whom around 310,000 were very poor, and of the latter around 60,000 were extremely poor.[4] Meanwhile, in the Diaspora, there are thousands of Syrian Armenian refugees in Lebanon alone, facing myriad of needs and uncertainties. 

Global Armenians, like the ocean-crisscrossing Armenian merchants of the 16th-18th centuries, might have preserved colonies or continue to keep communities spread across the world vibrant, even as they face the risk of assimilation spread over generations. However, preserving a nation is not the same as preserving a community. The homeland, Armenia, is the guarantor of the continuation of Armenians as a viable nation. Boghos Noubar, Calouste Gulbenkian, Alex Manoogian and Kirk Kerkorian, for example, are exceptions, but rich organizations and successful global Armenians are not collectively as rich to preserve a country. Successful individuals alone rarely create state institutions which are critical for societal prosperity. National institutions are created with the participation, engagement and involvement of the larger society. Working together on specific projects or towards common goals is different from “unity” or “united” activities, often repeated terms in Armenian discourse, but virtually never fulfilled. 

In the last 25 years, we have been engaged in the process of state-building. But what we have yet to complete is the process of nation-building – a process that is not the mere endeavor of individuals or a certain group of people, but a long-term collective project. 

A nation becomes prosperous when all segments of society ― with their talents, capabilities, and wide range of resources ― are engaged in the process of building a preferred future. In the last century, we have been successful in building prosperous communities and preserving Armenian identity in the Diaspora. In the last 25 years, we have been engaged in the process of state-building. But what we have yet to complete is the process of nation-building – a process that is not the mere endeavor of individuals or a certain group of people, but a long-term collective project. We could view nation-building as the process of fulfilling or taking the efforts started in the Diaspora in the last one hundred years and since Armenia’s independence to their “logical conclusion.” In short, national-building is the construction of an Armenian national identity through the power of the Armenian state. 

And this brings us to the main question: Could Armenians remain a global nation with a broken homeland? A homeland plagued with poverty, corruption and depopulation? 

Even as we should celebrate and promote global Armenianism — a mark of regeneration and integration into global society — we need to be cautious about the temptation to brush aside the real problems facing the Armenian nation. Individually, Armenians have been very successful, they have become global citizens; but institutionally, our collective life bears the shackles of at least three factors: 

(a) the past — we do a lot of retrospection, but very little prospection; (b) lack of a “national philosophy” — or a set of common values around which we could gather collectively; and (c) transformative leadership — we have many leaders, but seem to lack leadership. Let me elaborate these three issues. 

a) The past: Change of perspective 

First, I suggest that we need a major shift of perspective in our national discourse from the past to the future. The past, our glorious and not so glorious history, rather than the future seem to be determining what we ought to do in the present. In this sense, the wise remarks of the late Catholicos Karekin I of All Armenians are instructive: “The glorification of the past does not mean turning the past into a worship idol. If we continue to glorify the past to a point that we are filled and drunken by it …we would betray the past…. We are a ring on that chain [of history] which is the march of our life, spread over the centuries and striving towards the infinite future.”[5] 

Seeing the present from the future does not mean looking into a crystal ball, but seeing the impact and consequences of our own actions and inactions today on the future, as well as determining where we wish to go in the coming years and decades. For instance, according to United Nations projections, in 2050 Armenia’s population will go down to 2.7 million and in 2100 down to about 1.8 million. While Russia and Georgia will also see decline in their population numbers, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Iran will see natural growth.[6] We know now what will happen to Armenia’s population in 30, 40, 50 years. Twenty years ago, we knew what impact the oligarchic system would have on Armenia’s population and the country’s economic development; and we can be sure what we could expect in 5-10 years if the current system of governance in Armenia continues. It is in this perspective that we need to look at the present from the future. 

Neoliberalism ― unregulated or slightly regulated capitalism ― is under attack as a “failed” ideology ...as we have seen in Armenia and the rest of the world: the wealthy and the powerful have greater influence on politicians, political representation, policy making than the vast majority of citizens. 

Secondly, we need to see Armenia and “global Armenianism” in the context of critical global developments. As Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of World Economic Forum, described, we live in a world where “societal polarization, income inequality and the inward orientation of countries are spilling over into real-world politics.”[6] Tectonic shifts in politics, economics and social upheavals are reshaping international relations. These changes have far reaching impact on how countries relate to each other and how risks are managed. In the last few years, the world has seen a continued slow economic growth. Coupled with high debt and demographic changes, this has resulted in financial crises and growing inequalities. Armenia, as well as Armenian philanthropists and philanthropic organizations, are not immune to the risks brought by these shifts. 

Ideologically speaking, neoliberalism ― unregulated or slightly regulated capitalism ― is under attack in many quarters around the world as a “failed” ideology. Neoliberal policies of the past decades have created inequalities in societies. These inequalities challenge the very foundations of democracy, as we have seen in Armenia and the rest of the world: the wealthy and the powerful have greater influence on politicians, political representation, policy making and public discourse than the vast majority of citizens. 

Meanwhile, technological advancements ― “the Fourth Industrial Revolution” ― are transforming societies, economies, and ways of doing business in ways never seen before. These have positive benefits for societies but also unforeseen consequences. Even as globalization has blurred personal and societal identities, many societies are addressing such anxieties by reasserting their personal and collective identity. International relations are becoming less cooperative and more inward-looking. Emotions, rather than rationality, are informing decision-making and political positioning. 

We need to look at our present from the perspective of the future of technology. We know that in the short- and medium-term, for example, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, 3D printing and such unprecedented technologies would become “positive disruptions”. What are the benefits and uses of such technological “disruptions” for Armenia and Armenians? What are the risks for jobs, such as bank tellers, factory workers, traders and many other positions in the economy? As The Economist wrote, “it is not foolish to believe that 3D printing will power the factories of the future.”[8] In a post-hardware world, which is a topic of discussion these days among specialists, “the intelligence in the machines, rather than the machines themselves” would be the centre of attention.[9] These would certainly have uses and impact on education, cultural production, trade and industry, defense of borders, so on. 

We often speak about the lack of adequate leadership or lack of will in Armenia and Diaspora to improve “the state of the nation.” I believe, leadership alone is not enough. What we critically lack is a clear and common understanding of our national “values” (ա ր ժէհամակա ր գ). 

The global risks and socio-political and technological trends that drive them are opportunities for responsive leadership. In the Armenian case, a leadership that would aim to uplift society towards long-term prosperity by engaging and collaborating across stakeholder groups, multiple interconnected systems, areas of expertise and talents.[10] For at least two decades now, we often speak about the lack of adequate leadership or lack of will in Armenia and Diaspora to improve “the state of the nation.” I believe, leadership alone is not enough. What we critically lack is a clear and common understanding of our national “values” (ա ր ժէհամակա ր գ). What are our most important national values? 


b) National values 

Throughout history, I suggest, three pillars have been significant and constant in the Armenian national ethos: church, school, and books (intellectual production) ― in modern terms: spiritual/moral values , education , and communications . These three pillars or institutions have defined, maintained and developed Armenian identity, especially in the Diaspora for at least the last three centuries. 

In the globalised world of the 21st century and with Armenia’s independence, these proven identity pillars have been going through a period of transition and need renewal. While today the Church, more precisely the church leadership is failing to provide the spiritual, moral and ethical grounding for Armenian identity and national life, there is a need for a “new philosophy” that is based on millennia rich Armenian wisdom, moral, ethical, social and cultural values that have sustained our national life, especially in times of great crises and transition. 

Today, the “elephant in the room” that the leadership neither in Armenia nor in the Diaspora are willing to see or acknowledge is the absence of a “national philosophy” ― a “philosophy” in the widest sense, particularly its moral and ethical dimensions. As the experience of the last 25 years shows, political and economic development, social cohesion, basic social justice, etc. would remain problematic without the adoption, promotion and exercise of sets of moral/ethic values ― values that are both universal and Armenian. In short, what are the value components of Armenian identity? 

Armenians like to compare themselves often with Israel and the Jews or with other European nations. Let us look at a few examples of values that are upheld by various societies. In Denmark, for instance, Danish values and philosophy are woven around the idea of interdependence in society. Their sense of “safety and comfort” comes from the surety that material and psychological benefits of living in a society are tangible and accessible. In the "Danish way of thinking” having a secure life is more sensible than taking big risks. S haring and community are complemented with the feeling of security and, thus, “the ideal of the welfare state.” In Singapore, values such as integrity, resilience and teamwork ― respecting and valuing “every individual and their contribution” are among the sets of values that provide guidance to individuals and organizations. As for the Jews, for example, in a 2012 Jewish Values Survey, when asked what informed their political beliefs and activity, 8-in-10 American Jews said “pursuing justice (84%) and caring for the widow and the orphan (80%); another 55% said “seeing every person as made in the image and likeness of God.”[11] 

Interestingly, according to a recent PEW Research Centre survey of religious beliefs and national belonging in Central and Eastern Europe, Armenians scored the highest in a few categories among 18 countries. Armenians tend to be more philosophical than their neighboring countries: 79% in Armenia say they “often think about the meaning and purpose of life”; 57% “feel a deep connection with nature and Earth; 83% “believe in fate” and 72% in “miracles” ― the highest among the surveyed nations.[12] 

What are or should be the basic values that would provide a common denominator for Armenians. This is the million-dollar question and one of the most complex and complicated problems. I believe, answers to such questions should be the result of a process of collective and public thinking, discernment and deliberations. 

While the economic and humanitarian aspects have been well studied areas for national development, there has been virtually no discussion about our “national philosophy” ― which would be driven by education and communications 

I do not have a ready answer, but I would start with two items ― the other two pillars I noted above. Throughout our history, education, the school, has been one of the most significant institutions in our national life. Education (“love of wisdom”) is part of our national fabric: from the 5th century Golden Age to medieval Armenian monastic “universities” (like Tatev and Haghpat) to the establishment of schools as priority for survival after the Genocide and so on. Education, as we know from experience, is not just schools, but a wider project that includes instilling values, character building, etc. In short, education is the process or vehicle by which the “national philosophy” is transmitted and made a living experience. 

Finally, the third pillar is communications. From the ancient manuscripts to tens of thousands of newspapers, magazines, periodicals throughout the last few centuries, communications has been the glue that has bound the Armenian nation together ― intellectually, morally and experientially. In the absence of statehood, transmission of knowledge and values through print media has been part of our national fabric. Today we have wider opportunities with new technologies to reach millions of Armenians rather than only pockets of Armenians or local communities in the past. 

In brief, any serious, transformative approach to our national life must include these proven pillars that would define the “new Armenia” in the 21st century. If we are to see progress in the coming years, a holistic approach to the development of Armenian national life is necessary ― for instance, it has become very clear that you cannot leave politics out of the equation of Armenia-Diaspora relations. While the economic and humanitarian aspects have been well studied areas for national development, there has been virtually no discussion about our “national philosophy” ― which would be driven by education and communications ― that connects our present “values” to the past and builds a preferred future. 


c) Leadership: What needs to be done? 

Over the last 25 years, external and objective problems have been imposed on Armenia and Armenians. However, internally, one of the most critical problems for the prosperity of the country has been the lack of responsive and responsible leadership – not lack of leaders, but leadership. Civil society, in both Armenia and the Diaspora, is not involved in the decision- and policy-making processes. Diaspora institutions ― churches, parties, community organizations ― rarely involve their wider membership or the wider community in their decision-making. Generally, independent professionals, experts, academics, businesspeople are ignored, unless it is for their financial contributions or limited input. 

If we are to remain a global nation, we need to fix our homeland by drawing strength and lessons from the past, but must look at the present from the perspective of the future 

The first step towards building consensus around a “national values/philosophy” is to create a visionary and transcending leadership, which would articulate and address the most critical national issues. Such a step would bring together the knowledge, experience, talents and resources of a wide range of individuals, institutions and seemingly disconnected but equally well-meaning organizational and community leaders. The aim should be transcending personal or organizational agendas for the greater good of the homeland and Armenians around the world. 

I believe, three categories or groups of people need to come together in order to overcome the failures of such attempts in the past. The three categories are, what I call, the thinkers, the doers and the makers . 


Thinkers (մտաւո ր ականնե ր ): intellectuals, academics, professionals, activists who are independent of loyalties to parochial agendas and have a track record of objective approach to national issues. 

Doers (վա ր չականնե ր ): elected or appointed executives of organizations that have impact and influence in the Armenian world. 

Makers (նիւթական միջոցնե ր ու տէ ր ե ր ): visionary individuals who have or control considerable financial and organizational resources, who value collective efforts for long term benefits over gratifying short term successes. 

Of course, there have been many attempts in the past and there are some pan-Armenian organizations that do a lot of good for Armenia and Armenians. However, virtually none has been able to articulate, implement and engage Armenians around a national “philosophy” for the 21st century. There are, indeed, lessons that could be learned from past successes and failures. 

If we are to remain a global nation, we need to fix our homeland by drawing strength and lessons from the past, but must look at the present from the perspective of the future. In this process, we need to pay attention to our axiology and cultural values to complement and strengthen our efforts towards economic prosperity and, especially, political leadership. 

The ultimate challenge is how do we make collective ideas, values and directions towards a preferred future come to life in our national life? 


*This is a shorter version of a paper presented at ARPA Institute’s 25th Anniversary Conference, entitled “Armenia in the 21st Century: A Strategy for Long-Term Development,” held in Los Angeles, 15 July 2017. 

Notes 

[1] “The Future for Global Armenians is Now”, published as an advertisement in The New York Times , https://auroraprize.com/en/news/detail/10454/future-for-global-armenians-is-now (18 May 2017). See also “50 Global Armenians”, Mediamax.am , 

http://www.mediamax.am/en/news/50-global-armenians/10608/ (18 May 2017). 

[2] For example, the suggestion of an “emerging global Armenian society.” 

http://armenianweekly.com/2014/09/08/ani-narod/ . 

[3] «Ազնվություն, գումա ր ած պ ր ոֆեսիոնալիզմ, հանած կոռուպցիա. Սե ր ժ Սա ր գսյանի հաջողության բանաձեւը», Armtimes.com , May 18, 2017, 

http://armtimes.com/hy/article/112398 . 

[4] National Statistical Service of the Republic of Armenia, “Part 1 – Armenia: Poverty Profile in 2008-2015,” published in 2016: 37-38. http://www.armstat.am/file/article/poverty_2016_eng_2.pdf . 

[5] Գա ր եգին Ա. Կաթողիկոս Ամենայն Հայոց, Կեանքը ի Հաղո րդ ութեան ըն դ Աստուծոյ, Լոնտոն, 2015, 56. 

[6] “The Global Risks Report 2017, 12th Edition,” World Economic Forum, Geneva, 2017: 4. 

[7] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/02/don-t-give-up-on-europe/ 

[8] “The factories of the future,” The Economist , 1 July 2017: 19. 

[9] Richard Waters, “Google turns to Assistant as it strives for edge in AI evolution,” Financial Times, 6 October 2016, p. 21. 

[10] “The Global Risks Report 2017, 12th Edition,” World Economic Forum, Geneva, 2017: 4. 

[11] “Denmark ― the country, its mentality, lifestyle, values” http://www.limbistraine.com/ro/cercetare/ Gabriela-Sauciuc/2.Denmark-Country-mentality-lifestyle-values.html#_ednref7 ; “Vision, Mission and Values”, https://www.mfa.gov.sg/content/mfa/aboutmfa/ vision_mission_values.html ; Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox, Chosen for What? Jewish Values in 2012, Public Religion Research Institute, 2012: 2. 

[12] Pew Research Center, Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe , pewresearch.org, 2017: 81, 96.

Armenian News,,, A Topalian.,, Catholicos Aram I calls for Unity!


The Armenian Weekly
Catholicos Aram I Highlights Problems of Emigration, Lack of Confidence; Urges National Unity
September 18, 2017

Aram I at Sixth Armenia-Diaspora Conference: ‘Armenia Is Not Merely a Tourist Attraction, a Market for Business, or a Passport. Shame on Us If This Is How We Approach Armenia.’ 

YEREVAN (A.W.)—His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, stressed the importance of “confidence” as one of the three key phrases in the title of the Sixth Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference titled “Mutual Confidence, Unity, and Responsibility.” 

“Indeed, any type of cooperation in which confidence is lacking becomes false and harmful,” Aram I said after his preliminary remarks. The Catholicos then highlighted ways that mistrust has negatively affected Armenian life over the past 27 years of Armenian independence. 

The sixth installment of the pan-Armenian conference opened on Sept. 18 at Yerevan’s Karen Demirjyan Complex with the presence of delegates, guests, and dignitaries, including the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians. 

“We are at a critical crossroads of our history. Let us be realistic and honest. Armenia is emptying, and the Diaspora is wearing out. In the face of this dangerous reality, random initiatives cannot solve our troubles and heal our wounds. The signs of the time must be read correctly, the diagnosis must be made accurately, and the appropriate decisions and effective remedies must be applied properly,” the Catholicos stressed. 

Aram I noted that it is imperative to bring the Armenia-Diaspora partnership out of the realm of “random financial investments and touristic visits,” and to transform it into one of the most important foundations of Armenian national policy. 

“With the vision of a unified Armenia as the basis of our national ideology, a strong Armenia, resilient Artsakh, and an organized Diaspora must become the strategic and tactical guide to our national policy. The national policy put forth by this national ideology and vision will undoubtedly unite all of our people along its energy and potential, and become the driving force behind the formation and development of pan-Armenian thinking,” he said. 

The Catholicos then underscored Armenians’ need to develop a close relationship with Armenia. “The homeland is a land and its people, before it is a state and an economy,” he stressed, noting Armenia’s critical situation: a landlocked country surrounded by hostile neighbors. Aram I went on to say that it is absolutely crucial and necessary to slow the pace of emigration and to implement measures to secure population growth in Armenia. 

“It’s easy to merely talk about these issues. It’s also easy to criticize…. What is essential is to have the wisdom, will, and commitment to find solutions to our troubles. It is expected that now, under its reformed constitution, which will ensure more transparent and accountable structures and processes, Armenia will be able to find solutions to these and other issues through correctly taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Armenia-Diaspora partnership,” he said. 

The Catholicos noted that Armenia and the Diaspora are not merely partners but “the children of the same nation and homeland.” He went on to explain: “It is with this perspective that the Armenia-Diaspora cooperation should be planned and executed. Over the past 27 years, the bond that has developed between the two segments of our people, with its positive and negative aspects, must motivate our cooperation to improve and to grow. Stagnation means retreat, and retreat is unacceptable for our nation and our homeland, which are surrounded by trouble and challenges.” 

“Armenia is not merely a tourist attraction, a market for business, or a passport. Shame on us if this is how we approach Armenia. Armenia is the home of all Armenians around the world who consider themselves to be Armenian—a home of the past, the present, and the future. We must have much to do and say regarding our home. We must strengthen and flourish Armenia with all our abilities. This must be a sacred covenant for each Armenian.” 

The Catholicos noted the importance of Armenia’s political and humanitarian aid to the crisis-stricken Armenian community of Syria, and considered it a significant step. He went on to stress the importance of continuing and building upon the unity displayed at the worldwide commemorations of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, especially with the upcoming 100 th anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia, which, in his words, will “give new impetus to our national unity.” 

His Holiness then proposed the establishment of a unified and single orthography with “mutual concessions,” and urged the Armenian state’s support of the protection of Western Armenian. 

“Planning today means guaranteeing the future,” noted the Catholicos, underlining his approach that strengthening the foundation of our nation requires a consolidation of the people’s collective energy and the gaining of people’s trust. “Otherwise, we will continue to call out slogans within small, closed circles,” he said. 

Urging the Armenian people not to trust the friendship of powers with their own geopolitical interests, “let us trust in our own strength and unity, our faith, and our determination,” he counseled. 

The Catholicos concluded his remarks with a quote by famed Armenian poet Hovhannes Shiraz: “Armenians, enough of remaining separated, like fingers; become a fist… and you will make Armenia eternal.” 


Panorama, Armenia
Sept 18 2017
Diaspora plays major role in making Armenia more recognizable, tourism committee chief says 

Making a country more recognizable plays a key role in boosting its tourism, Zarmine Zeytuntsyan, Chairperson of State Committee for Tourism of Armenia's Ministry of Economic Development and Investments, said on Monday, meantime highlighting the major role of the Armenian Diaspora in making Armenia more recognizable to the world. 

“Even if we create an ideal country, it will give no significant results if our country lacks recognition. According to the unofficial data, only 10 percent of the Diaspora-Armenians have visited Armenia. Today the Diaspora is our primary target market, and we actively cooperate with the Diaspora organizations, aimed at presenting Armenia to the Diaspora-Armenians. They should visit their homeland not to fulfil their duty, but to spend time here and to get acquainted with the country as a tourist,” Ms. Zeytuntsyan said during the 6th Pan-Armenian Armenia-Diaspora Conference underway in Yerevan. 

According to the official, any information on Armenia is highly politicized in the Diaspora. “When you are abroad, there is an impression that there are only issues here. We are working with all the platforms, including the media to disseminate interesting information about Armenia,” Zarmine Zeytuntsyan said, adding that the Diaspora-Armenians today show increased interest towards the Armenian media. 


Stockholm Center for Freedom, Sweden
Sept 18 2017
Armenians leaving church in İstanbul stoned, threatened with death 

Armenians who were leaving Narlı Kapı Church in İstanbul on Sunday were stoned by a group of children who chanted “death to you,” the artigerçek news website reported on Monday. 

Recently an ultranationalist group attacked the funeral of the mother of jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Aysel Tuğluk in Ankara saying that they would not let “Kurds, Alevis or Armenians be buried in the cemetery.” The body of Tuğluk’s mother was removed from the grave following the attack to be buried in Tunceli province. 

Religious and ethnic minorities have increasingly been the target of hate speech and racist attacks in Turkey. 

A racist graffiti, which read “May the Turkish race live,” was scrawled on the courtyard wall of an Armenian school in İstanbul last year in Sep. 

More anti-Armenian graffiti which read “Suffering to Armenians,” was painted on the wall of the same school on the ninth anniversary of the murder of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. 

A similar message was also written on the wall of Surp Haç Ermeni High School in the Bağlarbaşı neighborhood of İstanbul. “Suffering to Armenians,” the message read. ( turkishminute.com ) 


The Alabama Baptist
Sept 17 2017
Christians in Turkish city of Diyarbikir facing mass persecution 

Turkey — it sometimes slips out of view since it doesn’t make the Secretary of State’s “Countries of Particular Concern” list for human rights violations. 

But in the city of Diyarbikir for one, “entire neighborhoods” have disappeared. The Surp Giragos Church has been converted to an army base, the sanctuary desecrated with urine and garbage, the pews burned as firewood. 

Those are just a few things mentioned in the report “Turkey’s Mass Persecution of Christians and Kurds,” released Sept. 4 by the Gatestone Institute. Since 2015, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been attacking Kurdish-majority areas in the country, and Christians have been caught in the crossfire, according to the report. 

In Diyarbikir “virtually the entire town — and all Christian properties belonging to the indigenous Armenian, Assyrian (Syriac), Chaldean and Protestant communities — was included in an expropriation plan adopted in March 2016 by the Turkish cabinet.” That expropriation plan included the Surp Giragos Church and others. Those ethnic groups haven’t been able to worship in their own churches for the past three years, according to the report. 
“We have been exposed to ethnic and religious discrimination for years,” said Ahmet Güvener, a pastor and the spiritual leader of the Diyarbakır Protestant Church, adding that not one church has been built since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. 

And the government isn’t the only source of “hatred,” the report stated. That sentiment is “widespread among the public as well and expressed extensively on social media.” 

It has spread even to mistreatment of Muslims who have refused to shun Christians or Kurds, said Gatestone Institute, a U.S.-based think tank and international policy group. 

Harassed by Turkish police 

“For instance, a 76-year-old Muslim grandmother in Diyarbakır who is active in a Kurdish political movement has been harassed by Turkish police for being a ‘hidden Armenian,’ simply because she reads the Bible as well as the Quran,” Gatestone reported. 

The situation has impacted journalists and American Christians too. Andrew Brunson, a North Carolina native who served as pastor of a church on Turkey’s Aegean coast, was detained in October 2016 as a “national security risk.” 

Watchdog groups, such as the American Center for Law and Justice, have accused President Erdogan of keeping Brunson in prison without cause, but in August, officials stated his charges as “gathering state secrets for espionage, attempting to overthrow the Turkish parliament and government, and to change the constitutional order.” ( TAB ) 


The Sun, UK
Sept 18 2017
Billionaire mate of Putin ties the knot with his VERY glamorous bride in a blingtastic ceremony in Moscow
By 
Felix Allen 

Karen Karapetyan wed his bride Lilit in a cathedral decked with thousands of flowers and then treated VIP guests to a lavish reception with a 15ft wedding cake

A BILLIONAIRE's son's blingtastic Moscow wedding amazed guests with the level of sheer luxury on display.

Karen Karapetyan wed his bride Lilit in a cathedral decked with thousands of flowers and then treated VIP guests to a lavish reception with a 15ft wedding cake.

Karen Karapetyan and his bride Lilit wed in a lavish ceremony in Moscow

Karen is the son of Samvel Karapetyan, 52, Armenia's richest man who is worth £3.4billion, according to Forbes.

Mr Karapetyan Senior, said to be a pal of Russian President Vladimir Putin, heads the Tashir Group business empire that owns shopping centres and hotels across Russia.

The tycoon's brother, also called Karen, is the current prime minister of Armenia.

Karen Jnr’s wedding was at Moscow’s Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Armenian Apostolic Church before a grand reception for 200 guests at the Safisa banquet hall, one of Moscow’s most prestigious venues.

The hall was decorated with thousands of flowers, candles and threads of dangling glass beads sparkling under the lights.

Notable guests included Putin’s spin doctor Dmitry Peskov, 49, his wife the Olympic ice dance gold medallist Tatiana Navka, 42, and starlet Vera Brezhneva, 35, once named as Russia’s sexiest woman.

Putin’s goddaughter Ksenia Sobchak hosted the evening, also attended by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, 63.

Bride Lilit had two dresses for the day: one with a gigantic pleated skirt for the ceremony and a simpler one for the cake-cutting and dancing under a ceiling covered with thousands of flowers.

The immense wedding cake towered as high as the hall and was also decorated with fresh flowers.

Fans were impressed by pictures posted on social media.

One said: "This is so cool! Fiancees of rich guys are so lucky, she got such a magical wedding."

Another said: "This was such a fantastic wedding. The bride is so pretty, her dress is a killer. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness."

Last month we revealed the fairytale Italian wedding costing millions after the couple redesigned a whole village for their lavish three-day nuptials.

For more photos and video ,  visit 
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/ 4493221/billionaire-son- blingtastic-wedding-moscow/ 


Panorama, Armenia
Sept 18 2017
Mark Pritchard MP appointed as British Trade Envoy to Armenia and Georgia 

On September 12, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Mr. Mark Pritchard, MP, as a British Trade Envoy to Armenia and Georgia, the British Embassy Yerevan reported.

Trade envoys are a network of parliamentarians appointed by the Prime Minister, drawn from across the political spectrum. Trade envoys engage with one or more emerging markets where substantial trade and investment opportunities have been identified by UK government. They support the drive for economic growth by building on the UK’s existing relations with these markets and maximizing bilateral trade.

"I am honored to have been asked by the Prime Minister to be the UK's first Trade Envoy to Georgia and Armenia. My appointment underscores the importance of increasing the UK's trade and investment in Georgia and Armenia and Her Majesty's Government's commitment to a policy of commercial and business success between our respective countries. There are very many trade and investment opportunities to be realized," Mr. Pritchard said.


Georgia Today, Georgia
Sept 18 2017
Armenia's Difficult Position
Op-Ed
Emil Avdaliani 
On November 8, the Yelk Coalition, a pro-Western group in Armenia's parliament, submitted a proposal for the country to leave the Eurasian Union. This spurred public debate about the Eurasian Union's strengths and weaknesses even as abandoning the Russia-led union remains unlikely.

Nothing substantial came out of this proposition. It could have been a clever strategy on the government’s part to show to Moscow that not everything goes well with Russia’s closest ally in the South Caucasus, or simply a parliamentary motion. In both cases, it nevertheless sparked some sort of debate in international analytical circles.

The growth of anti-Russian sentiment has been present in the country for the last several years. Armenians are worried that their military and economic over-dependence on Russia makes their strategic position vulnerable. Now and then, we encounter news from the Armenian defense ministry stating that Yerevan wants to establish deeper military ties with other major regional countries such as Iran. There were even statements about Armenia planning to increase gas supplies from Iran.

Still, these initiatives are dwarfed by the real power Russia holds within Armenia: its control over Armenia’s vital infrastructure and the role Russia plays in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Moscow’s indirect involvement in the conflict falls neatly within the Russian overall strategy of fostering and managing separatist conflicts across the Soviet Union. The Russia-influenced separatist “statelets” of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria have remained a cornerstone of the Kremlin’s foreign policy against the western military and economic encroachment. From Moscow’s perspective, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine’s pro-western aspirations would be stopped, if not permanently then at least significantly hampered, if these conflicts continue to exist.

Although Moscow does not have its troops in Nagorno-Karabakh, it does have a military base, the 201st, in Armenia. Moreover, Russia’s influence in Armenia has increased over the past decade or so when the Kremlin-backed businessmen and companies such as Gazprom and others bought up vital electricity, communication and gas infrastructure in Armenia. Yerevan has also joined Moscow-led integration projects such as the Eurasian Union and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Russia is also supporting Yerevan militarily through providing separate multi-million loans to buy Russian military hardware.

Thus, Armenia’s overall dependence on Russia’s economic and military potential gives the Kremlin the ability not only to navigate Yerevan’s foreign policy vector and keep it strictly within the Russian sphere of influence, but also to impact the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Moscow also needs to be involved in the conflict as it fears Azerbaijan, with its rich energy resources and strong military capabilities, would be able to limit Russian influence on its foreign and internal political developments, while Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey cooperation would only grow. Losing any levers of influence to impact Azerbaijan’s foreign policy will be tantamount to the near collapse of Russia’s South Caucasus strategy, which includes not only denying Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia possibilities to join western integration projects, but also successfully limiting the export of rich deposits of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea through Georgian territory.

Any moves around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that may harm Russian interests will in turn strengthen Russia’s geopolitical contenders Turkey and Iran. Turkey could further solidify its cooperation with Azerbaijan (through Georgia, and I wrote on the positive sides of the Trilateral Format in the past), while Iran could potentially become more vocal about its broader interests in the South Caucasus.

For that reason, Moscow is increasing military hardware sales to both Armenia and Azerbaijan and thus trying to remain a major arbiter. For example, when in April 2016 a near full-scale war broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia was the power which stopped the fighting by brokering a ceasefire in Moscow between the Armenian and Azerbaijani military officials. Russia is also very careful not to let any of the competing sides gain ultimate military preponderance. It is true that statistically, Russia sells more armaments to Azerbaijan than to Armenia (and Yerevan is very much worried about that), but this deficiency is more to accentuate the Armenian weakness and the need to have Russia as its supporter. In other words, Armenia’s military dominance would negate any logic of needing Moscow as a military factor around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Armenia’s strategic position remains vulnerable and whatever the talks are regarding Armenia’s membership in Russia-led integration projects, Yerevan is unable to unilaterally change the course of its foreign policy: Russia simply has too many tools to strike back.

Emil Avdaliani teaches history and international relations at Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University. He has worked for various international consulting companies and currently publishes articles focused on military and political developments across the former Soviet space.