Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Armenian News...

News.am, Armenia
May 3 2019
Armenia FM: What is arms trade for Israel is a weapon of death for our people 

What is arms trade for Israel is a weapon of death for our people, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said in an interview with Israeli state-run KAN NEWS,

“We have been witnessing the use of such weapons against our people, and we have losses because of your weapons. So you understand how we look at it,” Mntasakanyan emphasized.

He went on to explain that Armenia is a very security conscious nation.

“And I am sure that you will understand very well what is meant by security consciousness. We have been be and we remain very confident about the way we defend ourselves, our people. You will understand me very well on this point. We are very dedicated to developing peace and security in our region, to finding peaceful resolution to conflicts on the grounds that are acceptable to all parties. Arms race in our region is not contributing to building peace and security,” he said.


Panorama, Armenia
May 3 2019
Armenian de-miners clear over 25,000 sq km territory in Syria

Armenian de-miners who are carrying out humanitarian mine clearance activities in Syria have cleared some 25,290 sq territory in the period from February 19 to May 2.

As the Centre of Humanitarian Demining and Expertise SNCO reports, the Armenian specialists came across anti-tank and other handmade mines many of them improvised. Meanwhile, the Armenian medics of the humanitarian mission performed operations and other medical assistance to hundreds of local residents.

Moreover, clinical. biochemical and laboratory examinations have been conducted. To remind, Armenia dispatched an 83-member team of doctors, sappers, as well as personnel ensuring their safety to Syria to carry out humanitarian mine clearance activities, raise mine awareness among the population and offer medical aid in Aleppo exclusively outside the zone of military operations.

The Armenian government made the decision to provide humanitarian aid to Syria taking into consideration the war-triggered humanitarian crisis in the country and especially in Aleppo, the UN Security Council Resolutions 2393 (2017) and 2401 (2018), a written request from the Syrian side, as well as the existence of a large Armenian community in Aleppo.


News.am, Armenia
May 4 2019
Newspaper: 70-100 thousand Armenians working in Turkey may face deportation 
                   
Some reports suggest that the Armenian citizens may face massive deportation from Turkey in the near future, Past newspaper writes on Saturday.
Many Armenian migrants are working in Turkey, and some of them do not leave for seasonal work, but stay there for years.

Turkey has repeatedly voiced this problem, and now one of the main reasons for this policy is sending the Armenian humanitarian mission to Syria in June 2018.

The issue was a subject of discussions in Armenia as well, as it was mentioned that the humanitarian mission was sent “secretly” and without any debates in the parliament, the newspaper writes.

If the reports are confirmed, Armenia may face another big problem, as, according to different estimates, 70-100 thousands Armenian nationals who are working in Turkey and sending money to their families, will have to come back.


News.am, Armenia
May 3 2019
Armenian ambassador on Erdogan's statements during OSCE session 
                   
In his speech in light of the current issues under consideration during Session 1226 of the OSCE Permanent Council, Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the OSCE, Ambassador Armen Papikyan drew the OSCE member states’ attention to the statements made by the President of Turkey on April 24th, the day marking the 104th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, as well as Turkey’s hindrances to peaceful rallies and freedom of speech, reports the news service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia.

Touching upon the April 24th statement of the President of Turkey, Ambassador Papikyan stated that those kinds of statements are more than offensive and painful manifestations of disrespect towards the memory of the victims and the survivors, as well as an extremely troubling attempt to justify the genocide and one of the brilliant manifestations of Turkey’s policy of denial.

The ambassador noted that the Turkish president’s statement attests to the intention to fully or partially annihilate the Armenian people as a national, ethnic and religious group in the Ottoman Empire.

Touching upon the violations of the fundamental rights to peaceful assemblies and freedom of speech in Turkey, Ambassador Papikyan particularly touched upon the Turkish authorities prohibiting the Armenian Genocide remembrance event held by the Turkish Human Rights Association Istanbul Office at Sultanhamet Square in Istanbul, the square where 235 prominent Armenian figures, including Members of the Ottoman Parliament, religious and community leaders, remarkable writers and artists were brought on 24 April 1915 and later murdered.

The ambassador also informed that, according to press releases, on the same day, an Armenian activist was apprehended by Turkish police officers for speaking out about the Armenian Genocide. In closing, Ambassador Armen Papikyan expressed gratitude to the OSCE member states for Armenian Genocide recognition and the decisions, proclamations and initiatives aimed at commemorating the victims of the genocide and called on the international community to strictly condemn the Turkish government’s insult to the memory and dignity of the Armenian Genocide victims and survivors.


Panorama, Armenia
May 3 2019
Restoration department to open at Manuscript Library of Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem

Mesrop Mashtots Matenadaran of Yerevan will support the formation of a manuscript restoration department at the Manuscript Library of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which houses the second-largest collection of Armenian manuscripts after Matenadaran.
The department will be opened this year, and its creation, organization and work-planning will be carried out with Matenadaran’s support. 

At the invitation of the Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem, from May 5 to June 5 Gayane Eliazyan, the head of the Restoration Department of Matenadaran, together with two senior restorers of the department, Susanna Kirakosyan and Emma Sarkisova, will be sent on mission to Jerusalem, Matenadaran said in a Facebook post. 

They will take part in the establishment of the department as well as in the monitoring, conservation and treatment of the collection. They will collaborate with local employees, for whom they will hold master classes.

News.am, Armenia
May 3 2019
Armenia exports drop 8.6%, minister explains why 
14:04, 03.05.2019 
                   
Armenia’s exports dropped by 8.6% in the first three months of this year; and some of the indicators that recorded a drop are related to the mining industry. The Minister of Economic Development and Investments, Tigran Khachatryan, noted this at a press conference on Friday.

As per the minister, exports in Armenia’s mining sector decreased by $51 million in the first quarter, of which $21 million were the drop in concentrates, and this decrease is also associated with seasonality in this domain. But the minister projected that, though there was a drop in prices, Armenia would have the same—or slightly larger—indicator in this sector over the course of the year, as to what it had last year.

“Electricity exports have declined in the first quarter, as compared with the previous year; that’s also related to seasonality,” Khachatryan said. “We have a slight decline along the lines of tobacco exports, but there is assurance that the gap will be filled in the months to come.

“The export of aluminum foil has had some decline, which is due to the fact that some restrictions were imposed on the Russian producer in the international market. (...). [But] now the problem has already been resolved and there has been a growth, already in March. On a yearly basis, a 22% to 25% growth in the amount of production envisaged, as compared with the previous year.”

“That is, although we [Armenia] have had a more than 8% reduction in exports, we believe that the year will be concluded with a certain growth. The program envisages a 7% to 8% growth in exports this year—it will be either that much or around it,” the minister added. “We don’t see a reason for concerns at this phase.”


Panorama, Armenia
May 4 2019
Production volumes of Armenian pullovers and jackets increased by 1.7 times

The production volumes of socks have increased by 2.2 times amounting for 2 million 436.8 for the period January-February 2019.

As Armenia’s Statistical Service reported in January-February 2018, 1 million 119.1 pairs of socks.

Meanwhile,  the production volumes of Armenian pullovers and jackets and  related products have increased by 1.7 times, amounting for 666.3 items.


Arminfo, Armenia
May 3 2019
Nikol Pashinyan today raised issue of Church taxation: We need to  understand what approach to take on the issue of the property tax of  the AAC
Tatevik Shahunyan

The first meeting of the working group on relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church took place.
The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia  Nikol Pashinian and the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II.

In his welcoming speech, Prime Minister Pashinyan, in particular,  noted: "As a result of discussions with the Supreme Patriarch, we  came to the conclusion that it is necessary to create a working group  to regulate the relations of the RA government and the Holy Armenian  Apostolic Church in order to have a permanent working format, discuss  and solve emerging issues. I want to say that one of the key points  of the election program of the "My step" bloc is the question of  preserving our national identity". 

According to Pashinyan, this issue  has been in the constituent program of the force headed by him since  2013.

At the same time, he stressed the need to clarify how the views of  the government and the Church are identical on various issues: "We  must try to understand each situation and listen to all the  arguments. We must leave the field of arbitrary decisions and take  clearly reasoned, informed decisions. The very first question to be  answered is whether we differentiate the history of the Armenian  people from the history of the Armenian Apostolic Church? If so, why?  If not, why?, etc.".

Another question, according to the prime minister, is related to the  AAC real estate, property tax: "We need to understand what approach  to take here, because it is not yet clear whether this movable  property is homogeneous or not, whether a tax approach should be  applied to various segments of this property or No, in the case of  the application, should it be one or not? I have already discussed  this topic with the Catholicos, and this is especially relevant in  light of the fact that today we are conducting an extended campaign,  urging citizens to pay taxes, because as a result of these paid  taxes, the amount of work that the government must do is formed and  drawn up. In this issue, we need the support of the Armenian  Apostolic Church. Thank God that our call has been worth  understanding>.

The prime minister assured that this year the government will  overfulfill the state budget revenues by at least 40 billion drams,  which will make it possible to raise the salaries of the military,  teachers, and make serious capital expenditures in various fields.
He again urged to discuss all the accumulated issues in an open,  constructive atmosphere. 

The prime minister assured that reading the Bible has become a new  starting point in his life: "The teaching of Christianity in all  respects, including in terms of state-building, is revolutionary. I  am confident that this doctrine can open the door to happiness not  only for the Armenian people, but also for all mankind, "said  Pashinyan, stressing that Christian values can and should serve to  strengthen the Republic of Armenia and the prosperity of the Armenian  people.

"I don't know whether such a format existed in the past or not, but I  am sure that this is an important stage for us, because structural  questions without dark corners should really be given to questions.  From time to time, we will discuss the issues raised during our  periodic meetings, but I hope that as a result of the work of the  working group, we will hear more solutions than problems, "Pashinyan  concluded.

In turn, the Catholicos of All Armenians expressed satisfaction with  the meeting of the working group in terms of achieving results in  regulating Church-State relations. "This is a good opportunity to  discuss issues of mutual interest and find ways to solve them in  order to achieve the mission of our Church, in the name of our  country and people".  According to him, the expansion of Church-State  cooperation should help strengthen the national and spiritual life of  the people, families, the brightness of the church and the power of  the state, the formation of a conscious and law-abiding citizen. 


Panorama, Armenia
May 3 2019
Mkhitaryan: A step closer to Europa League final

London Arsenal beat Valencia 3-1 in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final clash on Thursday.
Armenian national football team and Arsenal midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan was a substitute and entered the pitch in the 75th minute.

“First leg lead and a step closer to the UEL Final. Thank you to our fans for being behind us!” Mkhitaryan said in a Facebook post after the game. 

The next match is scheduled for 9 May. 

Armenian News...8 editorials

Exhibition of Irish High Crosses and Khachkars in Dublin
click on:

Although a propaganda video, this 3-minute clip is a very beautiful presentation of the Akhtamar Island in the pristine waters of Lake Van and its 1100-year old jewel, the Holy Cross Church.
 
 

May 7 2019
One year on, how do Armenians see their “revolution”?
The euphoria is gone, but not the hope. 
Joshua Kucera 

On May 8, 2018, Nikol Pashinyan was elected prime minister of Armenia, capping off his meteoric rise from backbencher MP to protest leader to the highest office in the country. Armenia had had a difficult 27 years since gaining independence from the Soviet Union and the “Velvet Revolution,” as Pashinyan calls it, gave Armenians a rare occasion for optimism. 

One year on, we surveyed Armenians to hear how their lives had changed since then, their assessments of Pashinyan and the new government, and their hopes and fears for the “new Armenia.” The euphoria of one year ago is gone, and doubts about the pace of change are widespread. But even those who have seen little change in their own lives or in Armenia as a whole still see reason for hope. 

“He was an activist, now he’s a guy in a suit and a tie.”
When protests erupted in Yerevan last year, Rudolf Kalousdian, a French-born diaspora Armenian, didn’t take part. “I’m not into politics myself, I’m a very neutral person,” he said. “I don’t really believe in a good politician.” As the protests gained steam, though, he changed his mind. “When I saw how the people were really all together for all that stuff, I decided to join too.”
Kalousdian, 36, is a tattooed rocker who operates a chain of popular bars in Yerevan, and he sees the new government through the eyes of a small businessman. The taxes and license fees he pays have gone up in the last year, and while the government has proposed a new plan that would eliminate taxes on small businesses, Kalousdian worries that his revenues may be too high to qualify for the break. “I pay in tax what I pay in rent. It doesn’t make sense – taxes are very, very high,” he said. 

But the corruption that used to plague small businesses is gone, he says: “It’s good that we’re working more like Western countries now, everything is in order. Nothing is hidden. Back in the day it used to be a lot of bribery to get things faster. Now it’s not like that, you can’t bribe.” And he’s seen his fellow business owners change their mentalities along with it. “The people who were willing to do a lot of under-the-table stuff, they’re willing to change, they’re willing to integrate into the new Armenia,” he said. 

Still, he’s worried about whether things are changing fast enough. He applied for a license to keep one of his bars open past midnight, and still hasn’t gotten it. Under the old government, police raided him and shut him down for operating past midnight, and he worries that could still happen. “But does Pashinyan know about this stuff? I don’t think so.”

Like most other Armenians, he resented the former regime for its corruption. “It wasn’t a real political party, it was a mob, they just wanted to steal a lot of money. Pashinyan won because people were fed up with this stuff.” Now the new government has “a lot of young people, people with open minds,” he said. “It’s not going to be the same 55-year-old guys with the big stomachs, who drink and eat kebabs all day and don’t even know how to write a letter.”

He's seen a change in the mood of his friends and customers toward Pashinyan over the past year. “It’s not like it was before; before he was a hero, he was a god in this city,” he said. Now, “you see a lot of memes making fun of him online. It’s not bad stuff, but people are making fun of the guy,” he said. “He was an activist, now he’s a guy in a suit and a tie. That’s the difference.” 
“I mean, he’s still better than anyone else,” he added. “If I had to choose, I’d choose this guy.” 

“They need to act now, and they’re very slow.”
Last year, Gevorg Kaas was 21 and in drama school in Yerevan. His dreams of becoming a film director were dying and he was getting ready to drop out and move abroad. “There was no hope for a new life, to change the country, for justice,” he says. “The education system and everything else in Armenia was corrupted, and for someone like me, who wanted to do art, there was no hope that any sort of door would open.”

Then came the protests against Sargsyan, and he decided to go back to his hometown, Gyumri, and help organize the protests there. When they succeeded and the new government came to power, he changed his plans. “The revolution created hope, so I decided to stay here,” he says. He moved back permanently to Gyumri, changed schools (he’s now studying psychology) and started an NGO called Restart. “I felt a responsibility to do what I can to change the whole system in Armenia because the government can’t do everything.”

He says he had no illusions about change coming quickly: “I knew it would take five years, minimum, for the sick, rotten system that had developed since the fall of the Soviet Union, to be destroyed and to create a new one that would make a new Armenia.”

But over the past year, he’s become more pessimistic. He’s seen Pashinyan delay an aggressive prosecution of corrupt former officials – “a year has passed, and almost no one is in prison” – and take on a team of largely inexperienced young people. “I know that with time they’re gaining experience, but people can’t wait,” he says. “That inexperience is pushing the new Armenia even further away. Now I think it will be 10 years, 15 years.”

As a result, he worries that many Armenians, especially older ones, are falling prey to negative narratives about the revolution: “They say nothing has changed. I say it’s changing, but very slowly.” 

“I’m worried that in a year, in two years, Pashinyan and his team won’t be as popular as they are now,” he adds. “And if something can be changed, it needs to happen now, because in one or two years it’s going to be too difficult. New political forces are going to appear, people’s opinions will change, Pashinyan will lose his popularity. They need to act now and they’re very slow.”

“You can dig and dig and dig and find another problem and another problem.”
A year ago, Arevik Anapiosyan was doing a six-week fellowship in Washington, D.C. The head of an education policy think tank, she wasn’t directly involved in politics but was friends and colleagues with many of the people who organized the protests. She returned to Yerevan on May 13, and two hours after she landed, she was offered a job as deputy minister of education. “I wasn’t even given any time to think, there was an urgency, ‘we need you here,’” she says.
She took the job, becoming one of many young, Western-educated liberals who now occupy senior positions in the government, trying to implement the broad vision of a new Armenia in their particular fields. Under the previous government, Anapiosyan says, “it was about having a good quality education for a few. What we want, and it will require a systemic change, is to have quality education for all.”

Having worked in education in Armenia for 10 years, including regular close work with the ministry, “I thought I pretty much knew what the problems were and how they should be solved,” she says. “And then I came to the ministry and I found that it is endless. You can dig and dig and dig and find another problem and another problem, and you never get to the root of the problems. I think I never knew that the state bureaucracy could be this slow, and that to solve the systemic problem, it’s going to take me longer than I anticipated.”

She says she sees that, from the euphoric days immediately after the new government came to power, many Armenians’ sky-high expectations haven’t been met. “The level of enthusiasm has decreased in the public, and I understand,” Anapiosyan says. “Especially in the field of education, to have any changes it takes years, decades. And we need to have those fundamental, strategic changes along with some small, quick gains that the public can see.”
Some of those quick fixes will be popular: The government has already allocated money to boost preschool enrollment, with a target for 70 percent of children attending preschool within three years. The government also is working on improving vocational education to better meet the needs of employers, and working toward an American-style higher education system that combines research with teaching. 

But other reforms won’t go over as well: There are about 35,000 teachers employed in the country, and only 25,000 are needed. The ministry is now working out a testing program to measure teachers’ competencies, and will get rid of the ones who don’t meet the benchmarks. That process will start in September, and “we’ll start letting people go in 2021,” she says. “We’re going to be very unpopular among these families.” 

She believes it will bear fruit, though, and eventually “we can change the system itself to serve the vision of the country that we want to have in 10, 15, 20 years.”

“The most important thing is that he thinks only about citizens, our people.”
In the Soviet days, Albert Madatyan was the head of the collective farm in Berkaber, a village in northeastern Armenia famous for its fruit. “Under the Soviet Union this was a beautiful village,” he said. “Everyone knew us for our orchards – apricots, peaches, pomegranates, watermelons. Everyone had work, we were always busy.”

Now 72, he socializes with other retired men on a bench on the village’s dusty central square. He laments the decline that the village, along with the rest of Armenia, sunk into after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the war with neighboring Azerbaijan. But with the new government, he finally has hope again. 

“We were tired of the old leadership, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It’s been almost 25, 30 years. They just took, cheated, got rich,” he says. So when the protests began last year in Yerevan, then spread to other towns – including Ijevan, the regional capital here and Pashinyan’s home town – people in Berkaber joined in. “We have a small village, but people went to Ijevan and Yerevan to take part in protests,” he says. “All the young people, all of them, went.” 

Madatyan, like many others in this village distant from Yerevan and its politics, has trouble recalling Pashinyan’s name at first – “our new, what’s his name…” – before being reminded by a younger local. But the new prime minister is nevertheless a hero. “The first person to really do something [since the fall of the Soviet Union] was our local guy, Pashinyan,” he says.
Berkaber has seen some concrete benefits already: Farmers are buying livestock using a new government-subsidized loan program. The new authorities “pay a lot of attention to agriculture,” Madatyan says. 

More generally, the spirit in the village has lifted. “The mood has gotten better,” he says. “People started to trust the government … People now believe that our future will be good, that things will get better.”

“The most important thing is that [Pashinyan] thinks only about citizens, our people. He understands that corruption is a dangerous thing, he wants to eliminate it. Whether he will succeed, we’ll see. I think he will,” Madatyan says. “He’s a fair, principled man, and the most important thing – he’s smart. He’ll figure it out.”

“People don’t have work, there’s nothing for them to do.”
Ara Khazaryan, 49, is a construction worker by trade, but hasn’t held a proper job since 2003. Instead, he works as an informal taxi driver in his beat-up white Volga. With a smattering of English he offers “mini-tours” around Gyumri, Armenia’s second city, but can’t go further afield. “I have an old car, so I have to stay in the city.” Business is slow, and a sign in the back window of the Volga offers it for sale for $1,000.

When his home was destroyed in the massive earthquake that hit the area in 1988, he says corrupt officials demanded bribes for permits to rebuild it and then stole the land out from under him. “We had lived there for half a century!” But he’s seen a decrease in corruption over the last year. “There are a lot of changes,” he says. “The police already behave better toward people. Officials are afraid to take bribes.”

But the biggest problem in Gyumri – that there is no work – remains. “We need to restore industry here. The worst thing here is that there are no factories, industry doesn’t work. And people don’t have work, there’s nothing for them to do. That’s what they need to do. We’re hoping.”
He also worries about Armenia’s precarious international situation, in particular its difficult relations with Russia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The border with Turkey runs just next to Gyumri, but it has been closed since 1993 as a result of the war with Azerbaijan. “We’re surrounded by neighbors who don’t share our religion; there is animosity. And all the roads are closed. And we can’t resolve that issue, that has to be resolved in the international arena. Pashinyan can’t do anything about that.”

“The main thing is that people have become a little freer, they trust the government and that’s already good,” he says. “Give Armenians the possibility and they can do anything.”
“If you talk about something all the time, and now you have the opportunity to do something, you have to do it.”

A year ago, Arsen Karapetyan was an architect and urban development activist with a popular, opinionated Facebook page. But he wasn’t in politics himself. “I think people in arts or architecture have to be in opposition to any kind of government,” he says. 
“Before, it wasn’t so terrible to be in Armenia – it wasn’t North Korea,” he says. “But I like change, and for a long time I didn’t feel like anything was changing.” 

And then the changes in Armenia spread to the municipal government in Yerevan, and he was invited to join the city council. “It’s more that I have to do it, than want to,” he says. “If you talk about something all the time, and now you have the opportunity to do something, you have to do it.”

He is especially active in urban planning, and trying to eradicate the corruption that plagued Yerevan. “Corruption is a system, and it was working. It’s a way to solve problems, to manage the city. It was clear to investors – you come, you pay, you get your papers. Now we’re trying to do it more transparently and without corruption,” he says. “It was like a pyramid, but now it’s more horizontal and that makes it more difficult. But it’s the way it has to be done.”

He sees himself in government only for a short time. “I want to do something, and then leave. But I want to have some results first,” he says. In the new Armenia, “it’s not that I have found everything I wanted, absolutely not. But now I don’t see any problem to change it again. Now in a more organic way – without protests, without crowds, just to go to the election and elect another prime minister.” 
Joshua Kucera is the Turkey/Caucasus editor at Eurasianet, and author of The Bug Pit. 


Armenpress.am
6 May, 2019
Japan donates new batch of fire engines to Armenia – PM expresses gratitude for donation
 
Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan attended the presentation of the fire engines by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) at the Emergency Situations Ministry of Armenia. Japan donated 14 fire engines together with some other equipment. Ambassador of Japan to Armenia Jun Yamada and JICA representative Yukiko Ejiri were present at the ceremony.

“I want to express gratitude to the Government of Japan for the assistance to Armenia and technical and financial support provided to Armenia for years”, ARMENPRESS reports the PM as saying. He added that JICA’s support to Armenia has always been useful for the development of Armenia, particularly for the modernization of the energy system of the country and protection from natural disasters.

“Armenia is always interested in strengthening friendly relations and cooperation with Japan”, Pashinyan said, expressing confidence that the two peoples have a lot in common.  

Edited and translated by Tigran Sirekanyan


7 May 2019
Armenian-American General to Lead NATO’s Allied Air Command

U.S. Air Force General Jeffrey L. Harrigian assumed command of NATO’s Allied Air Command, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and U.S. Air Forces Africa. The proceedings transpired during a ceremony at Ramstein Air Force Base on Wednesday, May 1.

General Harrigian assumed command from U.S. Air Force General Tod D. Wolters, who has been at the helm of Allied Air Command since August 2016. In a ceremony attended by senior military and civilian personnel representing NATO, the United States, Host Nation Germany and local communities, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, conducted the handover of command.

Harrigian will be succeeding General Tod D. Wolters, who earlier this month was nominated to be the next NATO Supreme Allied Commander and commander of U.S. European Command, replacing U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti.

Having graduated from the Colorado Springs, Colorado service academy in 1985, Harrigian is a fighter pilot and U.S. Air Force Academy alumnus. He is the descendant of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide.

Harrigian has more than 4,000 hours flying the F-22, F-15C and MQ-1 Predator. He’s flown combat missions in support of operations Just Cause—the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, Desert Storm, and Inherent Resolve.


Foreign Policy
May 8 2019
Women Can Bring Peace to Nagorno-Karabakh
 They helped propel Armenia’s Velvet Revolution. Now, they’re turning their attention to diplomacy with Azerbaijan.
 By Anna Ohanyan

After decades of strife, leaders in Armenia and Azerbaijan in January announced in a joint statement that they are ready to “prepare the populations for peace.” The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group—the troika charged with mediating the conflict between the two over the Nagorno-Karabakh region—endures as one of the few remaining examples of U.S.-Russian cooperation. And in Armenia, a tiny, progressive opposition party recently rode a peaceful wave of popular discontent to a sweeping parliamentary victory last October.
 
Outside elite policy circles, though, Armenian and Azerbaijani societies remain as far apart as ever. In fact, they are diverging rapidly along ideological, cultural, and generational lines.

Women can help turn this tide.
Last month, Anna Hakobyan, Armenia’s new journalist-turned-first-spouse, touted a high-profile new public diplomacy effort, the “Women for Peace” initiative, in Washington, having launched the movement in Moscow last year. For inspiration, Hakobyan has reached back to Northern Ireland in the 1970s. There, with little formal effort to reconcile ordinary Protestants and Catholics, the shooting in Belfast of three children galvanized two women, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan, to spearhead a peace movement led by local mothers and women from across the political and religious divide. Their work built the foundations for the Northern Ireland peace process and for women’s peace movements around the world. In 1976, they earned the Nobel Peace Prize for their contributions.

That kind of peer-to-peer engagement is sorely lacking in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Although women’s rights advocacy groups are active in both countries, and in Nagorno-Karabakh itself, cross-conflict initiatives are small in number an lacking in funding, visibility, and political support. Women for Peace could help change all that.

In Armenia, women have started to show their power to make or break political campaigns. Largely left out from formal politics in the previous regime, women had mobilized in the country’s civil society. A Trojan horse against the regime, they ended up driving the Velvet Revolution in 2018.
During the Velvet Revolution in April of that year, the participation of women in large numbers helped keep the movement peaceful. Because it was peaceful, Armenians were comfortable coming out in large numbers. And because the revolution was so broad-based, the democracy it installed is more likely to last.

Yet even as Armenian politics has opened up, the absence of women from diplomatic efforts to resolve the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has persisted.

In part, that is because civilian efforts to bridge the divide have been lacking in general. Before the Velvet Revolution, the Armenian government was highly selective in its support of confidence-building measures as a way to maintain control over the peace process. And in Azerbaijan, people-to-people contacts were tightly controlled, with the space for civil society space shrinking since 2008. Azerbaijan has also viewed such initiatives with skepticism, believing that they will normalize the status quo, which tilts in Armenia’s favor. With neither country particularly interested in peace, diplomacy fell by the wayside.

But lately, with more international calls for confidence-building measures—and with a new government in Armenia—Baku and Yerevan have started to tentatively open up. As they do, women can emerge as natural leaders in peace-building initiatives. Evidence suggests that including women leads to better outcomes. The participation of civil society groups, including women’s organizations, makes peace agreements twice as likely to emerge and one-third more likely to last. Those signed by women delegates also include more provisions aimed at political reform and have higher rates of implementation for such provisions.


RFE/RL Report
Armenian Businessman Freed From Custody
May 06, 2019
Artak Khulian

The official owner of Armenia’s largest food exporting company accused of tax 
evasion has been released from custody after paying the government 1 billion 
drams ($2.1 million).

In a weekend statement, the State Revenue Committee (SRC) said a prosecutor has 
decided to set Davit Ghazarian free because there are no longer “grounds” for 
holding him in detention and because   The statement did not give further details.

One of Ghazarian’s lawyers, Arsen Sardarian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service 
that the businessman was released on Friday, just three days after Armenia’s 
Court of Appeals refused to grant him bail.

Ghazarian’s Spayka company reposted the SRC statement on its Facebook page but 
did not officially comment on the development as of Monday evening.

Ghazarian was arrested one month ago after the SRC charged that Spayka evaded 
over 7 billion drams ($14.4 million) in taxes in 2015 and early 2016. The 
accusations stem from large quantities of foodstuffs which were imported to 
Armenia by another company, Greenproduct. The SRC says that Greenproduct is 
controlled by Spayka and that the latter rigged its customs documents to pay 
fewer taxes from those imports.

Ghazarian has strongly denied any ownership links to Greenproduct. He said on 
April 5 that the SRC moved to arrest him after he refused to pay the alleged 
back taxes.

Sardarian told the “168 Zham” newspaper on Saturday that the tax evasion 
charges against his client have not been dropped and that he might have to make 
more payments to the SRC. “Calculations still need to be done,” the lawyer 
said. “The criminal proceedings will end only when they the calculations are 
over and they reach agreement on that issue.”

Spayka is Armenia’s leading producer and exporter of agricultural products 
grown at its own greenhouses or purchased from farmers in about 80 communities 
across the country. The company employing about 2,000 people also owns hundreds 
of heavy trucks transporting those fruits and vegetables abroad and Russia in 
particular.

In a series of statements issued last month, Spayka claimed that because of 
Ghazarian’s arrest its mainly foreign creditors are withholding further funding 
for the company. It said it may therefore not be able to buy large quantities 
of agricultural produce from Armenian farmers this year.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian dismissed those warnings on April 9. He said he 
is confident that the food giant will carry on with the wholesale purchases.

As recently as on March 26, Pashinian attended the inauguration of a cheese 
factory built by Spayka in Yerevan.

Spayka was already fined about 2.5 billion drams ($5 million) for profit tax 
evasion in July last year. Ghazarian said before his arrest that he agreed to 
pay the “unfounded” fine in order to have the company’s bank accounts unfrozen.


Panorama, Armenia
May 7 2019

The number of tourists visiting Armenia increased by 5.2% in first trimester of 2019
364,489 thousand tourists arrived in Armenia in the period from January to March in 2019, the Statistical Service of Armenia (NSS) reported, adding the number has increased by 5.2% to compare with the number in the indicated the previous year.

According to the newly released data, 317 891 people left Armenia for tourism purposes which is 9 5.7% increase against the number recorded in the same period of the previous year.


Panorama, Armenia
May 7 2019
Armenia’s permanent population on the decline

As of April 1, 2019, Armenia’s permanent population stood at 2 million 962.1 thousand which is 7.8 thousand less to compare with the data of the previous year.

To remind, Armenia’s permanent population was estimated 2 million 965.3 as of January 2019 and 2 million 972.7 in January 2018. According to the statistics released by the National Statistical Service,  1 million 893.4 thousand people live in the cities of the country and 1 million 68.7 people reside in rural communities.
 
In particular, capital city Yerevan has 1 million 81.6 thousand population, while Armavir province comes the second with 263.8 thousand population and Ararat marz with 256.6 thousand the third.
Vayots Dzor province is the least populated region of Armenia with 48.8 thousand residents.


Armenian Mountain Tea in the USA market

In Armenian market of herbal teas, Mountain Tea has distinguished itself as a lifestyle brand with its quality and interesting range of organic herbal teas, and gained the love and trust of customers.

As the company reports in a release, all the herbal teas of the Mountain Tea have European organic certification, are being exported to Germany and Russia, and sold in specialized shops.

Now, Mounatin Tea is being sold in the USA, too. Herbal teas of wild mint, thyme, pomegranate flowers and other herbs of exceptional quality from Armenian mountains are already available in Glendale, Hollywood, and Burbank. In coming days these high-quality trending herbal teas will also be possible to obtain in John's Supermarket grocery chain.


The Spectator, London
Books
4 May 2019
Would Turkey exist as a nation if it hadn’t annihilated its Christians?
James Robins

The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of its Christian Minorities, 1894–1924 Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi
Harvard, pp.636, £25

Terrified of their republic disintegrating, Turks have not hesitated to massacre any minorities perceived to be traitors or fifth columnists

Turkey greets you with a chilly blue eye, a flared eyebrow, a cliff-like cheekbone. The face of the republic’s founder glares imperious from almost every office wall, shopkeeper’s kiosk and airport terminal.

Turkish citizens regard Mustafa Kemal reverentially: the nation’s first president, courageous leader of the 1919–1922 war of independence, deliverer from the great powers’ imperial cleaver. An impenetrable cultish mythos envelops him. Even for Istanbul’s young cosmopolitans, any word against Kemal spurs a visceral reaction.Recep Erdogan, the current president, whose politics are anathema to Kemalist ideology, still has to invoke him for the purposes of propaganda. To an American intelligence officer who met the man in the fraught summer of 1921, however, Kemal was a  ‘clever, ugly customer,’ with the look of ‘a very superior waiter’.

It’s little wonder that an American would view Kemal in such a way. His nationalist movement was waging a quasi-guerrilla insurgency against the victors of the first world war, who sought to carve up the moribund, defeated Ottoman empire. In the process, Kemal completed what his predecessors had already begun: the definitive slaughter and removal of the empire’s remaining Christian population: Pontic and Ionian Greeks, Assyrians and, of course, Armenians.

In their expansive and detailed new volume The Thirty-Year Genocide the historians Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi depart from well-established accounts of the Armenian genocide which often consign earlier and later frenzies of slaying to introductions and conclusions. They roll three crimes into one. First, the Hamidian Terror (1894–96) under the sclerotic rule of Sultan Abdülhamid II. Secondly, the obliteration carried out by the formerly liberal Committee of Union and Progress (1914–18). And finally, the Kemalist ‘cleansing’ campaigns during and after the war of independence (1919–24).

Morris and Ze’evi document each period well, if often gruellingly. They include a distressing but accurate summary:

An Armenian woman from eastern Anatolia, born in the 1880s, would likely have seen her parents killed in 1895 and her husband and son massacred in 1915. If she survived, she probably would have been raped and murdered in 1919–1924. Certainly she would have been deported in that last genocidal phase.

They are right to draw a link between all three in the sense that, no matter the ideological motive, the result was the same: a complete eradication of ethnic and religious minorities, leading to a death toll that approaches two million. But it is the ideological motives that the authors encounter trouble with. To their credit, they admit that ‘the bouts of atrocity were committed under three different ideological umbrellas’. Yet for their thesis to work, there must be unity of purpose. And they’ve picked the wrong one.

They find an ‘overarching… banner’ in Islam, which, they say, ‘played a cardinal role throughout the process’. Partly, their misreading is down to relying extensively on the accounts of Allied officers or western missionaries quick to attribute bouts of savagery to ‘fanatical Mohammedanism’. This skips over the fact that ‘Christians lived in relative security under Ottoman rule for centuries’. What changed?

The only theory that could explain all three fits of carnage is this: a siege mentality. Abdülhamid II, the Committee of Union and Progress and Mustafa Kemal (also a CUP member) were all gripped by a fear of the state’s disfigurement and collapse, and they directed apocalyptic violence against those they perceived as traitors or fifth columnists.

Indeed, only this could explain something Morris and Ze’evi consign to a desultory footnote: the Turkish republic’s 94-year-long campaign against the Kurds. They are Muslim, too, by majority, but from 1925 engaged in rebellions and resistances against the state — and have suffered dearly for it. In a way, paranoia about partition is the galvanising politics of the Turkish elite to this day.

The authors also withdraw from a bitterly ironic point made by pioneering writers such as Taner Akçam, Ugur Üngör, and Hrant Dink, a very confronting and uncomfortable idea indeed: contrary to the miraculous or messianic view of Mustafa Kemal, there would not be a Turkish nation without the destruction of its Christian peoples. The very foundation of republican Turkey is an abattoir of mud and blood.