Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Advert for wine


Charles Masraff has been trying to import Armenian wines to sell 
in the UK for over a year and finally(after overcoming the barriers 
of customs in Yerevan,Brussels and Dover) has received a first 
(small) shipment a couple of weeks ago. 

The business(and the wine) is based in Scotland but there's free 
delivery (minimum 12 bottles) anywhere in UK in 48 hours 
(weekends excluded).

Please take a look at his website .
There has been a vast improvement in the Armenian wine-making 
industry in the last few years with a lot of experienced diaspora 
involvement and the quality of some of the new wines (like Keush, 
Karas & Koor) is really exciting while some of the older wineries 
have seen big investments in modern technology. 

RFE/RL Report
Police Halt March To Seized Office In Yerevan(UPDATED)
July 18, 2016

Armenia - Riot police detain a protester in Yerevan's Liberty Square,

Riot police stopped more than 100 people from marching to a police
station in Yerevan on Monday evening in support of armed opposition
activists that have seized it to demand the release of their jailed

The small crowd gathered in the city's Liberty Square amid a
continuing standoff between security forces and the gunmen holding
four police officers hostage at the police compound in the southern
Erebuni suburb since Sunday morning.

Davit Sanasarian, a well-known opposition activist, and several other
young men were detained on the spot moments after urging the
protesters to march to Erebuni. The protesters tried to do so even
after the detentions but were stopped by riot police just outside the

General Hunan Poghosian, the first deputy chief of the Armenian
police, arrived at the scene to urge the crowd to avoid "imprudent"
actions. "Please do not create unnecessary tension," he said.

Poghosian argued that security forces are continuing to negotiate with
the dozen or so members of the radical opposition group Founding
Parliament to try to resolve the hostage crisis.

He assured the protesters that the Armenian authorities have no plans
to use force against the hostage takers. The latter are demanding that
the authorities release Zhirayr Sefilian, the Founding Parliament
leader arrested last month on charges of illegal arms possession. They
also want President Serzh Sarkisian to resign.

The protesters reluctantly agreed to walk back into the square moments
later. Tension eased further after Poghosian ordered his officers to
immediately release two of the detained activists. He said all other
individuals taken into police custody will be set free later in the

More than a dozen other people were detained early in the afternoon
when they tried to demonstrate near the seized Erebuni compound
cordoned off by security forces. An RFE/RL reporter was hit by a
policeman in the chest while covering the proceedings.

The police allowed the evening march from Liberty Square only after
other activists promised to confine it to downtown Yerevan and steer
clear of Erebuni.

"They are not terrorists," one of those activists, Maxim Sargsian,
said of the Founding Parliament gunmen that killed one police officer
and wounded four others during Sunday's attack.

"The authorities must understand that they forced those people to take
such a step," Sargsian told the crowd before it marched through the
city center, chanting "Freedom!"

Sargsian and Avetik Ishkanian, a prominent human rights activist who
also addressed the protesters, demanded that law-enforcement
authorities avoid forcibly retaking the seized police building and
freeing the hostages.

Ishkhanian also condemned as illegal the brief detentions of more than
100 members and supporters of Founding Parliament carried out on
Monday and Sunday.

Several dozen protesters, most of them young men, managed to reach the
cordoned area in Erebuni at around midnight. They chanted "Sefilian!"
as they approached a row of policemen in full riot gear. The commander
of Armenian interior troops, General Levon Yeranosian, and other
senior security officials could be seen standing behind the policemen.

The protesters did not attempt to break through the police cordon.
Armenian community gathers for a Mass in memory of Nice victims
19 Jul 2016

Members of the Armenian community came together at St. Philip Church
in Nice, where the Primate of the Armenian Church of France and of
Europe, Bishop Vahan Hovhannisyan celebrated a Holy Mass in memory of
victims of the attack in Nice, Nouvelles d’Armenie reports.

He was accompanied by Father Krikor Khachatryan the parish priest and
the deacons and cantors.

The faithful then went to the Promenade des Anglais to pray. “We came
to honor the victims and show our solidarity, our compassion and share
the pain of Nice. To pray is an act of faith but also of resistance,
because there must be hope in life,” Bishop Vahan Hovhannisyan said.
Import of Turkish goods to Armenia may shrink by 20%

YERĐ•VAN, July 19. If Armenian government bans the import of 50
varieties of Turkish commodities, imports from Turkey may shrink 15-20
percent, Vazgen Safaryan, the head of the Union of Domestic Commodity
Producers, told journalists on Monday.

In recent days, Artsvik Minasyan, Armenian economy minister, unveiled
the government’s intention to put new requirements to the quality of
Turkish commodities imported into Armenia.

Today Armenia imports from Turkey some 700 varieties of goods, of
which 50 names have been chosen initially. There are not raw materials
or goods of social necessity.

“We import commodities worth $130-150 million, on average, from Turkey
every year, and in some years the amount reached $200 million,”
Safaryan said. “Along with that, our exports total only $1.5-1.8

Safaryan said that knitted fabric, washing powders and other chemical
products will be among the banned imports.

The economic entities which imported these products should be
attracted to appropriate local industries to prevent vacuum at market
and not to leave business people without profits, he said.

In his opinion, the government has created maximally beneficial
conditions for producing goods inside the country.

“Time has come to mobilize the economic policy and use domestic
resources more effectively,” he said.

According to the National Statistical Service, Armenia-Turkey trade
turnover amounted to about $50 million in Jan-May 2016 showing a 1%
year-on-year decline. 
6th Armenian Street Festival held in London
18 Jul 2016

Armenians from all over the UK gathered in London Sunday for the the
6th Armenian Street Festival in London, Naira Hairapetyan reports from

The London Armenian Street Festival is an annual celebration of
Armenian culture and heritage that takes place at St. Sarkis Armenian
Church in Kensington/Chelsea. The family-friendly event features
Armenian cuisine, live street entertainment, special guests and
vendors, and a concert at the church.

Attending the events were a number of foreign guests, British
officials, clergymen, representatives of the Armenian Embassy in the
UK and guests from Armenia.

The Iverna Gardens in South Kensington had turned into a small
Armenian district with traditional songs and dances.

“The festival aims to bring together Armenians from different parts of
Great Britain at least for one day,” said Bishop Hovakim Manukyan,
Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Great Britain. He attached special
importance to the involvement of young people. “This year is special,
as we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of Armenia’s independence,”
he said.

The festival featured performances by violinist Levon Chilingaryan,
the Komitas choir, the Akhtamar folk ensemble and others. Duduk player
Gevorg Karapetyan and singer Iveta Mukuchyan were special guests at
the festival. 
Russia maintains parity in arms supply to Armenia, Azerbaijan
19 Jul 2016
Russia is taking efforts to maintain parity both in absolute terms and
in the quantity and quality of the basic weapons systems it supplies,
TASS reports.

Russia is committed to maintaining parity in the supply of military
equipment to Armenia and Azerbaijan in the conditions of the
intensified Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Director of the Russian Federal
Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Alexander Fomin
said in an interview with Izvestia daily published on Monday.

“Conflicts begin regardless of the fact that one side may be armed
better than the other,” Fomin said. “However, it is necessary to seek
parity, so Russia is taking efforts to maintain parity both in
absolute terms and in the quantity and quality of the basic weapons

Fomin also said that the main purpose of military-technical
cooperation is to preserve peace and stability in a given country, in
a region and in the world in general. “Russia’s military-technical
cooperation system is organized in such a way as to cause no harm,
including to a particular region. We make all the decisions on the
delivery of arms to one or another country invariably with taking into
account such acute regional situations,” he added. 

Iran Daily
July 17, 2016 Sunday
Qara Kelisa Complex to hold Badarak religious ceremony

Qara Kelisa Complex in Chaldoran, West Azarbaijan Province, will host
annual religious ceremony of Armenians known as Badarak in late July.

5,000 Armenians from Iran and other nations including Armenia, Syria,
Lebanon, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Germany and Canada will
take part in the three-day event.

The ceremony will be held to mark the martyrdom anniversary 
of Saint Thaddeus — one of the apostles of Jesus Christ 
(Peace Be Upon Him).
During the ceremony, the worshippers perform religious practices,
including sacrificing sheep, lighting candles, baptism of infants,

Various organizations such as West Azarbaijan Cultural Heritage,
Handicrafts and Tourism Department, Chaldoran Governor's Office, Law
Enforcement Forces and West Azarbaijan Red Crescent Society will
render services to the participants.

Director General of West Azarbaijan Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and
Tourism Department Jalil Jabbari said the province is ready to
implement the Armenian religious ceremony.

He recalled that Qara Kelisa Complex, which includes the three
churches of Qara Kelisa, Saint Stepanous and Zoorzoor, was registered
on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2008.

It is highly respected by domestic and foreign tourists, he added.

Qara Kelisa (Black Church), or Thaddeus Church, which has been
registered as the ninth international work, is known among the
Armenians worldwide as Saint Thaddeus. The church is the oldest in the
Christian world and dates back to the seventh and 12th centuries.

Chaldoran is situated 220km north of Orumieh, capital of West
Azarbaijan Province.

The Sunday Times (London)
July 17, 2016 Sunday
In Armenia, the hills are alive with butterflies, flowers and the
sound of music. Even the conservationists are dancing
Simon Barnes

At the bottom of the Cascade in Yerevan, Armenia, all 572 steps of it,
there is a generous square - oblong, rather - crowded with funky
sculptures and lined with cafes. At one of the tables, five glasses:
two of red wine, two of beer, one of Coke. Emptying them were Ruben,
Manuk and Eva from the Armenian NGO the Foundation for the
Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FWPC), John from the
British-based World Land Trust, and me. We were all off our heads. Not
from the drink, but the beauty.

Yesterday, in the mountains, we had a gloriously overwhelming
encounter with the richness of life, and its vulnerability. This was
beauty expressed as place: a chunk of land, a sacred combe, an Eden.
So how could we make it safe for ever? The glasses clinked, for
Armenians are big on toasts."To the alpine meadows, and what we can do
for them."

Across the square, people were setting up an oversized loudspeaker. A
mutter of drums, the lowest deep enough to thump you in the gut. And
then a great cry: the double-reed Armenian wind instrument, the duduk,
was wailing skywards and the drums fell in behind it.

For me, plants are normally background. Furniture. But not in those
lofty meadows. Up there, the floral diversity confounded perceptions,
scrambled the wits, made you doubt your own sense and your own senses.
It looked as if a child with a first paint box had tried out every

Up there was everything that ever grew: immense rarities, local
specialities, banks of orchids, slopes and dips and hollows and rises
of colour and colour and colour. Often the colour took wing and flew:
an expert identified 65 species of butterfly in a single day; in
Britain we have 59 in total.

The mountains hold the endemic Armenian mouflon, the bezoar goat,
porcupines, wolves, bears and even the near-impossible Caucasian
leopard. But there are threats all around and preserving such a place
is hard, even though the FWPC has a magnificent track record in the
Caucasus Wildlife Refuge.

In the square, giant human circles were www.forming.No one was telling
anyone what to do, but within five minutes several hundred people were
linked shoulder to shoulder, all dancing the traditional dances of

I'm a wildlifer; I count stuff. So using hard-won field skills I
counted more than 1,000 dancers: leap, turn, hop, skip, clap and that
old Armenian double shuffle. Average age: early 20s. Here was
something real people really value, and are prepared to do something
about and for. Joy filled the square.

At the conservationists' table the talk turned to whether or not the
World Land Trust could raise the funds that would allow the Armenian
organisation to acquire this incomprehensibly lovely land and manage
it righteously with the local community. There are problems, but
goodwill has already been established It was now raining with some
intent, and yet the dancers danced on. Who cares about problems? The
joy of the dance is all that matters. The music at the Cascade stops
at 11pm, but as I left there was still one last great ring of
revellers, a hundred or more of them, dancing on and on in the pouring
rain, even though there was no music to measure their steps - slaves
to the dance as conservationists are slaves to the beauties and joys
of the wild.

Conservationists will dance for ever to save the last square inch of
the world's wilderness. But the music hasn't stopped yet. You can hear
it in the world's ubiquitous love for nonhuman life. It's part of the
human condition; something that real people really value and are
prepared to do something about and for. One more toast: to a land
worth saving ¦ ¦ @simonbarneswild; 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Dramatic Armenian News... A Topalian... Calls to give up police hostage

July 18 2016
Authorities in Armenia call on police hostage takers to give up
YEREVAN | By Hasmik Mkrtchyan

Authorities in Armenia called on gunmen holed up in a police station
in the capital Yerevan to lay down their arms on Monday and release
four people they were holding hostage.

The gunmen seized the police station and hostages on Sunday, killing
one police officer and wounding two others in the process before
demanding Armenians take to the streets to secure the release of
jailed opposition politicians.

They released two hostages on Sunday and three more on Monday, the
security service said.

Negotiations to end the situation peacefully are underway.

The hostage takers' main demand is to free Jirair Sefilian, an
opposition leader whom the authorities have accused of plotting civil
unrest. Sefilian was jailed in June over allegations of illegally
possessing weapons.

The security service said talks were deadlocked so far.

"The armed group is refusing to release other hostages, including high
ranking officials, to lay down their weapons, or to surrender," the
National Security Service said in a statement, saying the group posed
a direct threat to society.

Yerevan's deputy police chief, Valery Osipyan, was reported to be
among the hostages as was Vardan Yeghiazaryan, the country's deputy
police chief.

The security service said the outcome remained uncertain.

"Law enforcement agencies are doing everything they can to end this
peacefully, but in the circumstances it might not be enough," it said.

"That's why we again appeal to the members of the armed group ... to
end their armed resistance. For now, there is still time and the
opportunity to do that."

(Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Andrew Osborn) 

Georgia Today
July 18 2016
Standoff with Gunmen Continues as Armenian Police Crack 
Down on Activists
By Karen Tovmasyan
Edited by Nicholas Waller

YEREVAN - The situation in the Armenian capital Yerevan remains tense
as negotiations between the police and a radical armed opposition
group that attacked and seized a police station in a daring raid

The group remains barricaded inside the Erebuni District police
station with four hostages that include Armenia’s Deputy Police Chief
Vardan Yeghiazaryan and Yerevan’s Deputy Chief Valery Osipyan.

Armenia’s First Deputy Police Chief General Hunan Poghosyan said one
police colonel was killed and two other officers were wounded during
the attack.

The militants – a radical splinter group of the Himnadir Khorhrdaran
(Founding Parliament) party – have demanded the resignation of
President Serzh Sargsyan and the release of prominent opposition
leader and a noted commander during the 1988-1994 Nagorno-Karabakh
War, Jirayir Sefilyan.

Sefilyan was arrested in late June after being accused of planning an
armed coup with the gunmen's leader Varujan Avetisyan.

In a video released via social media the gunmen – most of whom,
including Avetisyan, are Karabakh war veterans – called on the
Armenian population to organize anti-government protests and demand
Sargsyan’s ouster.

National Security Service (NSS) officials – Armenia’s intelligence
agency – briefly blocked access to Facebook on Sunday and police
officials quickly started limiting journalists’ access to the location
of the standoff. Unconfirmed reports by independent news sources in
Yerevan claim that NSS officers have arrested dozens of opposition
activists without explanation.

The reports also claim that several homes of civic and opposition
activists in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor were raided by police units.

According to unconfirmed sources, Yerevan’s police broke up a small
gathering of opposition members on the city’s central Freedom Square
and detained up to 400 people. Armenia’s human rights ombudsman
confirmed that 50 people arrested in connection to Sunday's events had
been released.

According to a Facebook post by 17-year-old activist Shahen
Harutyunyan, he and others were arrested by riot police and accused of
"supporting an armed group" while demonstrating on Freedom Square.

Police sharpshooters, special-forces units and armored personnel
carriers have been dispatched to the scene.

NSS officials have warned the group that it must immediately turn over
the heavy weaponry seized during the original attack on the station
and surrender to security services, or face the possibility of a raid.

TASS, Russia
July 18 2016
One more hostage released in Yerevan — Armenian Security Service

About 30 opposition supporters riding a truck rammed into the gates of
the Armenian patrol and inspection police regiment in Yerevan early on
Sunday and burst into the regiment’s territory

YEVERAN, July 18. /TASS/. Armed terrorists who seized a patrol and
inspection police regiment in Terevan have released one more hostage,
a spokesman for Armenia’s National Security Service told TASS on

"As a result of comprehensive measures taken by the republic’s law
enforcement agencies, including negotiations, one more hostage has
been released," the spokesman said.

"Nevertheless, such encouraging episodes, do not rule out possible
tragic developments and the organizers of the attack will be held
responsible for them," the spokesman stressed.

"Terrorists must be aware that they have on other option than to
fulfill of the demands of the authorities the soonest possible," the
spokesman said. "Armenia’s law enforcement agencies still hope that
the members of the armed group will be guided by common sense in

Armenian Police First Deputy Chief, Lieutenant-General Unan Pogosyan
said earlier that "the police’s demands remain the same: to release
all hostages, halt the standoff and destabilization and surrender to
the authorities."

"The situation remains the same: the negotiations are continuing and
an officer as a contact person is negotiating with a representative of
the armed group," Pogosyan said.

The general also said that "the police, other law-enforcement bodies
are continuing search and operational and preventive work." During the
night, the armed group released two hostages - a policeman and the
driver of an ambulance, the general said. 
Live: Demonstrators start march in Yerevan 
July 18,2016 

20.55 Activists have started a march from Liberty Square through the
central streets of the Armenian capital.

No decision will be taken in connection with armed group unless they
take unwise steps

20.54 In reply to demands posed by human rights ctivist Avetik
Ishkhanyan, General Hunan Poghosyan said the police will conduct an
investigation against all policemen who broke the law after studying
the video material.

the Deputy Chief of the Armenian police added that people gathered at
Liberty Square should not forget that a few hours ago policemen had
lost one of their friends during an armed attack on the Erebuni police

Speaking about the gunmen, Mr Poghosyan said, “We continue to
negotiations with the hostage takers. The negotiations are conducted
in a civilized manner. At first they had nine hostages, now they have
four. They were released as a result of ongoing negotiations and, why
not, as ‘a sign of goodwill’ by the attackers. The police also
demonstrate goodwill. No decision will be taken in connection with the
group as long as they take an unwise step.”

Policemen leave Liberty Square at the request of activists

20.44 Addressing people at Liberty Square, human rights activist
Avetik Ishkhanyan offered to present three demands to the Deputy Chief
of the Armenian police [Hunan Poghosyan].

“First, they should give a clear guarantee that the law enforcement
bodies will not use force against the armed gunmen [who seized the
Erebuni police building on Sunday]. Second, they must arrest all those
arrested today and finally, all policemen responsible for those
illegitimate actions should be published,” he said.

20.30 Deputy Chief of the Armenian police, General Hunan Poghosyan has
left the area of the Opera House. Policemen gathered at the square
followed suit at the request of the activists.

Activists injured at Liberty Square

20.15 While human rights activist Avetik Ishkhanyan was trying to
explain to deputy chief of the Armenian police Hunan Poghosyan in the
central part of Liberty Square that the police had interfered with the
peaceful  gathering,  numerous ‘red hats’ showed off at the square and
chained the citizens.

20.12 Activists Levon Zakaryan and Artush Chibukhchyan were rushed to
hospital after clashes between demonstrators and police at Liberty

“I tell deputy chief of the Armenian police Hunan Poghosyan that the
police used violence against people inflicting injuries on them, he
says there is no such thing,” activist Rima Sargsyan told A1+.

She says after violating people’s right to freedom of speech, police
officers began punching and hitting those gathered at the square.

Demonstrators return to Liberty Square

20.00 As a result of talks between citizens and General Hunan
Poghosyan, the first deputy chief of the Armenian police, Northern
Avenue was re-opened for the demonstrators who returned to Liberty

Police unable to stop the flow of people

19:53 The situation is very tense at Liberty Square the flow of people

Some time ago, police officers detained activist Davit Sanasaryan who
called the participants of public hearings to head for the Erebuni
police department which has been seized by and armed group affiliated
with the radical opposition movement [Founding Parliament ] for the
second day.

Chief of Yerevan Police Ashot Karapetyan urged Sanasaryan to avoid
illegal calls. Police officers cordoned off the area disallowing
people from entering the square. Citizens were able to break through
the police cordon and drive them away from the square.

At present, people gathered at the square are moving along the nearby
streets and opposite pavements calling everyone to join them.

First Deputy Chief of Police Hunan Poghosyan sys some people are
unnecessarily exciting passions instead of preventing further
bloodshed. He labeled it a reckless step.

Human rights activist Avetik Ishkhanyan told Poghosyan that people
were holding a peaceful rally when police officers attacked them.

Before the start of the discussion, those gathered at the square
honoured the memory of the police officers who was killed yesterday. 

Al-Jazeera, Qatar
July 18 2016
Armenian hostage standoff and political implications

The violent act of hostage-taking is a manifestation of 
significant discontent within Armenia.

By Richard Giragosian, the founding director of the 
Regional Studies Centre, an independent think tank 
in Yerevan, Armenia.
Early in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning, a small group of
well-armed gunmen stormed a local police station in Yerevan, forcibly
taking several police officers hostage.

After an initial assault on the first day by police seeking to retake
the police station and rescue the hostages failed, the crisis quickly
turned into a standoff.

The crisis also rapidly escalated as a senior police officer was
killed and several wounded, including at least three critically, in
the failed assault.

The gunmen, comprising members and supporters of a small, fringe, yet
radical, political opposition organisation known for its hard-line
policies over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, demanded the immediate
release of their jailed leader and called for the resignation of
incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian.

In addition to demanding the release of their leader, Jirair Sefilian,
who remains in custody following his arrest on weapons charges in
June, the gunmen also defended their act as a preliminary move to a
nationwide "rebellion", although with no sign of popular support or
political standing.

A hostage standoff

More than a dozen people seized the police station, taking hostage
several police officers, including the deputy head of the national
police, Vartan Yeghiazarian, and Yerevan's deputy police chief, Valeri

The two senior police officials were reportedly taken hostage,
willingly or involuntarily, after coming to the scene to negotiate
with the group. One police hostage was subsequently released,
reportedly for health reasons.

Although the gunmen may have genuinely expected some sort of popular
support, they were quickly disappointed. Moreover, the incident and
the lack of any popular reaction only confirmed the marginal standing
of this radical fringe group within Armenian society.

Yet, this hostage standoff was serious, for two reasons. First, this
particular police station was targeted for a reason - as one of the
largest depositories of police weapons in the capital, with an onsite
arsenal that was seized by the attackers.

This absence of any military role in Armenian politics also greatly
diminishes any risk of a coordinated coup d'etat.

Second, the gunmen were veterans of the Karabakh war, with little to
lose and with extensive experience in handling the weapons at their

And after an initial police assault to retake the police station on
the first day failed, the gunmen were better prepared, and
strengthened their positions, using the hostages as human shields,
making any rescue operation especially difficult.

And with police snipers and special police paramilitary units deployed
to surround the building, the risk of further deaths in any renewed
assault was seen, at least in the first 24 hours, as an unacceptable

The deeper implications

Aside from the radical, yet amateur, nature of this crisis, there are
several deeper, more significant implications, however.

First, although the takeover of the police station is in itself a
criminal act of desperation, there are undeniable political overtones
to the crisis.

The now commonly used and abused use of pre-trial detention and
questionable moves by the Armenian authorities against the opposition
group's leader tended to undercut the standing of the government.

Policemen block a street after a group of armed men seized a police
station along with an unknown number of hostages [Reuters]

And a demonstrable "political paranoia" within the country's ruling
elite has only fostered an inherently dangerous record of overreaction
by the police, with the targeting of far too many civic activists and
political opponents well beyond any real threat.

Yet, the criminal actions by this group have only reinforced the
Armenian government's position, helping to bolster and even justify
its crackdown on this fringe group.

But the deeply rooted political issues of entrenched corruption, a
record of falsified elections and a general perception of an
"arrogance of power", defined by a political elite committed to ruling
but not governing the country, are also symptomatic of the more
significant political backdrop to this crisis.

No military threat

A second deeper implication stems from what did not occur. More
specifically, unlike its neighbours, Armenia enjoys a fairly
impressive degree of stable civil-military relations, with no record
of any involvement in politics by the army.

Although in the country's violent post-election crisis of March 2008,
in which unarmed demonstrators were killed in clashes with the police,
former President Robert Kocharian deployed special military units from
Nagorno-Karabakh, with no significant involvement of the Armenian
armed forces in that tragic episode.

OPINION: Nagorno-Karabakh is not a localised conflict

This absence of any military role in Armenian politics also greatly
diminishes any risk of a coordinated coup d'etat.

Even the forced resignation of the country's first President, Levon
Ter-Petrosyan, was a constitutional crisis which the country
successfully overcame, rather than a trigger for outright civil war or
domestic discord.

A third factor revealing the broader implications from this crisis is
the political context. Notably, the silence and passivity of the
country's traditional opposition parties only magnifies their place as
largely discredited and popularly dismissed forces on the Armenian
political landscape.

Rather, the emergence of new opposition forces was only confirmed in
the move by opposition parliamentarian Nikol Pashinyan - one of the
leaders of the "Civil Contract" political party - who was the only
person accepted by all sides as an interlocutor during this crisis.

Pashinyan was able to open personal negotiations with the hostage
takers, seeking to persuade them of the futility of their actions and
urging them to surrender.

Thus, as the course of this crisis demonstrates, the violent act of
hostage-taking is not only a manifestation of significant discontent
within Armenia, but also confirms the reality that the risk of a coup
d'etat in Armenia is only more remote and unlikely.

Richard Giragosian is the founding director of the Regional Studies
Center, an independent think-tank in Yerevan, Armenia.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not
necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Armenian News... A Topalian... 1 Killed in armed group
1 killed as armed group seizes police HQ in Armenian capital, 

demands release of opposition head
17 Jul, 2016 

One person has been killed and at least two wounded as an armed 
group seized the headquarters of the police and interior troops in 
Yerevan, Armenia. Several hostages have been taken.

The broadcaster that first reported the news hasn’t identified the 
victims of the attack, but other media outlets stated later that the 
local police chief, Valery Osipyan, is being held hostage.

Troops have been dispatched to the building, and the head of the 
country’s security forces, Vladimir Gasparyan, is on the scene as 

The attack began when an armed group in trucks rammed through 
the gates of the police headquarters and took control of the building.

One policeman was killed and two were injured in the attack.

Two hostages have been freed by special forces, Armenia’s National 
Security Service said in a statement.

“Law enforcement is in full control of the situation and doing everything
necessary to achieve a resolution.”

The attack is thought to have been launched to demand the release 
of Armenian opposition figure Jirair Sefilyan, who was detained on 
June 20 after authorities allegedly uncovered a plot to seize several 
buildings and telecommunication facilities in Yerevan.

Representatives of the authorities have entered into talks with the 
attackers, according to an official statement from Armenia’s National 
Security Service.

“Today in the morning, a group of armed attackers stormed an 
Armenian police patrol regiment headquarters, and they are holding 
people hostage there at gunpoint,” it reads.

“At the moment, we’re carrying out negotiations with the armed 
group to ensure their peaceful surrender to the authorities,”the 
statement continues, adding that supporters of the attackers have 
been spreading false information about “an armed rebellion” via 
social networks.

“This information being spread isn’t consistent with reality. State 
 government bodies are working in standard operating mode, and 
law enforcement authorities are conducting activities to ensure public 
order and state security.”

People are being evacuated from apartment buildings near the scene, 
local media report.

Sefilyan’s supporters had declared earlier that they intended to 
“change the state of things in Armenia” by inciting “an armed rebellion.”

“We have already seized one of the main police hubs in Yerevan and 
are in control of the Erebuni,” their statement said, referring to an 
area in the south of the Armenian capital.

Last October, Jirayr Serfilyan and his opposition movement, “New 
Armenia,” announced that they would launch a “process of the civil 
disobedience and change of power.”

“Achieving the shift of power only through elections is impossible; it 
can be achieved only by an armed rebellion of the people,” Sefilyan 
said at a public demonstration at the time.

Video of Demands being made;
Armenian businessman and his wife killed in Nice attack

An Armenian man was killed in a terrorist attack in Nice on
July 14, his relative wrote on Facebook.

Businessman Roman Yekmalyan, Armenian by origin, was a citizen 
of Georgia who moved to Belgium several years ago.

Yekmalyan and his wife went missing after a terrorist attack. Their
family asked to help them find the couple. On Saturday evening 
they found out that Yekmalyan and his wife were dead.

Earlier it was reported about Armenian citizen killed in a Nice
attack. The young woman moved to France several years ago, 
she had an underage child. 

ARY NEWS, Pakistan
July 16 2016
Ruined Armenian city in Turkey becomes World Heritage

ISTANBUL: The UN’s cultural agency on Friday added a ruined 
Armenian city inside Turkey’s closed border with the ex-Soviet 
state to its World Heritage list, as it elevated eight other sites 
across the world to the list ranking.

The site of Ani, which lies outside the Turkish city of Kars, was 
the capital of an Armenian kingdom around the end of the first 
millenium, before its conquest in 1064 by Seljuk forces hastened 
a decline then completed by the Mongol conquest and an 

In another sensitive inscription, UNESCO elevated to World 
Heritage status caves once inhabited by Neanderthals in Britain’s 
overseas territory of Gibraltar, which is claimed by Spain. 

They joined seven other sites including in Iran, India, China, 
Micronesia and Spain in being added to the World Heritage list at 
the meeting of UNESCO in Istanbul.

The ruined churches and secular buildings of Ani are a hugely 
sensitive site, lying directly on the other side of Turkey’s completely 
closed border with Armenia.

Ankara has no relations with Yerevan with the two countries mired 
in a dispute over the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces 
during World War I which Armenians and several Western parliaments 
regards as genocide.
Mkhitaryan optimistic after Man Utd debut
16 Jul 2016

One of the positives from Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Wigan
Athletic was the first-half performance of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jose
Mourinho’s summer signing from Borussia Dortmund who impressed
supporters with a menacingly creative display at the DW Stadium.

The 27-year-old Armenian started the match as a no.10 and quickly
created an excellent opportunity for Memphis Depay, before missing the
target himself when meeting a cross. He was taken off at half-time as
one of seven planned substitutions and Mourinho praised his unofficial
debut after the match, describing him as a “top-class player” with a
“magnificent” brain.

Mkhitaryan spoke exclusively to MUTV following the final whistle and
discussed his first match with United.

“I would say it was a good game,” declared Henrikh. “The first half
was a little bit difficult because we couldn’t score a goal. But
whatever, we made a good game and thank you to my team-mates. I was
trying to feel comfortable. I think day by day it will be better.”

Asked about how he is settling in with his new club, Mkhitaryan spoke
optimistically about the future: “I am trying, because the first days
are always very difficult. You have to get to know your team-mates and
their qualities, so I am trying to learn everything very quickly. Game
by game it will be better and better. Of course we’re getting ready
for the new season so we are trying to do everything the coach is
asking from us.”

Saturday’s 2-0 win in Wigan was cheered on by around 7,000 United fans
at the DW Stadium and Mkhitaryan was grateful to play in front of such
support. “It’s always a pleasure to see the United fans during the
away games so I am happy and I say thanks to them for coming,” he

Dr D Abrahamian...

Bigger War Possible

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Bigger War Possible

 Editorial, 17 July 2016
Political observers who follow the Armenia/Azerbaijan conflict agree that Baku launched its surprise attack on Nagorno-Karabagh in early April to drag Yerevan to the negotiation table and to force Armenians to hand Karabagh and the surrounding buffer zone to Azerbaijan. Baku achieved the first part of its objective as Russia, the United States and France—co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OECE)—scrambled and arranged meetings to stop further fighting and to find, yet again, a permanent solution to the conflict. Since the mini-war the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have met in Moscow, Vienna and in St. Petersburg.

The Vienna meeting, attended by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia and US Secretary of State John Kerry, and Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault of France, shepherded Armenia and Azerbaijan to agree to halt cease-fire violations although it is Azerbaijan which has violated the ceasefire countless times since 1994. The St. Petersburg meeting saw an agreement to increase the number of observers on the conflict line and to arrange high-level monthly meetings between the two warring states. But before the ink was dry on the agreements, Azerbaijan got into a diplomatic trouble when President Ilham Aliyev and his chief foreign policy aide (Novruz Mammadov) made a mockery of what Baku had agreed to at the international meetings. ....Read more >>
To Eastern Europe in the 10th Century
The earliest traces of Armenians in what is now Romania and Moldova date from 967. The early Armenian Diaspora stemmed in the fall of the Pakraduni rule and other disasters, including the Mongol invasions. The Armenian settlers were awarded tax exemption at different times in the Danubian Principalities’ history. Encouraged to settle as early as the 14th century, Armenians became a familiar presence in towns as the main entrepreneurs of the community. Armenian guilds were awarded political representation and degrees of self rule. Full citizenship was bestowed on them only the decision taken by the international protectorate over the two countries, instituted after the Crimean War and the ensuing of Treaty of Paris to extend civil rights to all religious minorities. See More
The Poll question is located on front page in the right column
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lead to a permanent solution to the Artsakh conflict?
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Dr. Dikran Abrahamian · 15 Bridle Rd. · Penetanguishene, On L9M 1J5 · Canada

Armenian News... A Topalian... Nice Attack
Nice attack: Armenian woman dies, but saves her child
15 Jul 2016

The Armenian woman killed in Nice attack saved her baby by covering
the carriage with her body, witness to the attack Susan Mkhitaryan
(maiden name Davtyan) told Public Radio of Armenia.

She said almost the whole city gathers to watch the fireworks on
National Day. “The lorry ploughed into the crowd immediately after the
fireworks. The Police were shooting to stop it. We managed to drop in
at the nearest restaurant and hide there,” Susan said.

According to her, the driver ploughed on for 2km, leaving dozens
killed. “It was a horrific scene, the situation in the city is
terrible,” she said.

Susan said she he heard a lot of Armenian exclamations during the incident.
Armenian witness tells about the events in Nice
July 15, 2016

Yerevan.  There are Armenians among the brutal terrorist
attacks in Nice yesterday.

Nice resident Vahik Sahakyan told Mediamax that currently there is
information about 2 Armenian victims.

“One Armenian young man is known to be killed, he had been right at
the scene at that time. I am informed that he tried to cover his
family members with his body when the terrorist started shooting at
people. The other possible victim is a woman called Arevik. She was
working at my house. My acquaintances are telling me that she also was
at the firework scene”, Vahik Sahakyan told Mediamax.

Armenian Foreign Ministry informs that an Armenian was killed during
Nice terrorist attack. Armenian Consulate in Marcel is in contact with
the victim’s relatives.

Vahik Sahakyan has been living in Nice for 9 years. About a month ago
he opened a restaurant in Commander Raffali Street. It is 50-70 meters
away from the scene of terrorist attack in Nice.

“What happened yesterday was awful. I have never seen anything like
that before. We had a lot of customers at the restaurant as we were
celebrating French national holiday. Some of them wanted to go see the
firework and come back for coffee. The street that has many small
restaurants is near the scene. 15 minutes after customers had gone to
see the firework, hundreds of people started running down that narrow
street. People were running over tables, chairs. People were running
as fast as they could and as far as they could”, Vahik Sahakyan said.
He remained in the restaurant at that point and gave shelter to a
number of people.

“People were running down the street for a couple of minutes shouting
that shooting is going on. I haven’t heard gunfire, we saw a video
online after and understood what had happened. Some of the customers
fainted, one of them had to be hospitalized”, Armenian witness said.
Missile explodes next to Armenian Church in Aleppo
14 Jul 2016

A missile fired by terrorist groups exploded next to the Armenian St.
Astvatsatsin Chucrh (Church of the Holy Mother of God), destroying one
of the nearby houses, the Aleppo-based Armenian Kantsasar newspaper

According to the source, the church and the adjacent Gertasirats High
School have not been damaged in the attack, only the windows are

The Church of St. Astvatsatsin is the only Armenian Church in Aleppo
that has escaped losses.

Years ago the terrorists set the St Gevorg Church on fire. The Church
of Gregory the Illuminator often comes under rocket attack. The Holy
Trinity (Zvartnots) Church of the Catholic community and the adjacent
college have also suffered as a result of shelling. 

RFE/RL Report
Armenia, Azerbaijan Inch Closer To Peace, Says Russia
July 12, 2016
Emil Danielyan

After recent meetings of their presidents, Armenia and Azerbaijan are
now closer to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict than ever
before, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a visit to
Baku on Tuesday.

"We have grounds to think that this time around we are moving much
closer to the prospect of success than we did before," he told a joint
news conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov.

In remarks publicized by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov
described as "very useful" his talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham
Aliyev held on Monday evening. "This will help us move forward in
implementing the understanding reached by the presidents of Russia,
Armenia and Azerbaijan at their meeting in Saint Petersburg on June
20," he said.

Mammadyarov echoed Lavrov's cautious optimism. The TASS news agency
quoted him as saying the Azerbaijani leadership hopes that "the
intensification of the negotiation process" will yield a breakthrough.

In a joint statement issued after the Saint Petersburg summit, the
three presidents said Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh
Sarkisian reached common ground on unspecified "issues" hampering a
peace accord on Karabakh. It is not clear whether they referred only
to measures to strengthen the ceasefire around Karabakh or also a
comprehensive settlement of the conflict.

Lavrov refused to go into details, saying that Aliyev, Sarkisian and
Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed not to publicize them for now.

In a further indication of progress in the protracted peace process,
Putin telephone U.S. President Barack Obama on July 6 to brief him on
the Saint Petersburg talks. According to the White House, Obama
expressed readiness to "intensify" Washington's joint efforts with
Russia and France to broker an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to travel to Moscow on
Thursday. Kerry held separate talks with Aliyev and Sarkisian late
last week on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw.

The United States, Russia and France have co-chaired the OSCE Minsk
Group on Karabakh since the late 1990s. French President Francois
Hollande has reportedly offered to host the next Aliyev-Sarkisian
meeting expected later this year.

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian indicated on
Monday that Yerevan continues to regard a framework accord advanced by
the U.S., Russian and French mediators over the past decade as the
basis for the conflict's resolution. He singled out a key element of
the mediators' so-called Basic Principles stipulating that Karabakh's
status will be determined by its predominantly Armenian population in
a future referendum.

In that context, Kocharian brushed aside Aliyev's recent calls for a
"phased" settlement that could only give Karabakh the status of an
autonomous region in Azerbaijan.

Aliyev and Sarkisian most recently came close to agreeing on the Basic
Principles at a 2011 meeting held in Kazan, Russia. Armenian and
Russian officials have said that Aliyev scuttled the deal with
last-minute additional concessions demanded from the Armenian side.

It is not yet clear whether Russia or the two other mediating powers
have made major changes in the Kazan document in recent months. They
ramped up their peace efforts following the April 2-5 heavy fighting
around Karabakh which nearly escalated into an all-out
Armenian-Azerbaijani war. 

RFE/RL Report
Karabakh Defenses `Bolstered After April War'
July 12, 2016
Hovannes Movsisian
Nagorno-Karabakh has built new defense fortifications following last
April's heavy fighting with Azerbaijani forces, a senior official in
Stepanakert said on Tuesday.

Karabakh's government and military began fortifying Armenian positions
immediately after a Russian-brokered agreement halted the four-day
hostilities that left at least 190 soldiers from both sides
dead. Virtually all local construction firms were mobilized for the

RFE/RL correspondents witnessed some of that construction work when
they visited various sections of the "line of contact" around Karabakh
in April.

"The enemy's military operations showed that the kind of military
engineering structures that are needed for classic warfare are not
sufficient," said Artur Aghabekian, the deputy prime minister of the
unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). "The only way to counter
enemy airstrikes is new and adequate fortifications."

"You can say that a big task has been accomplished: the entire
frontline is now fully equipped in the engineering sense," Aghabekian
told RFE/RL's Armenian service ( Karabakh Armenian
forces deployed there have also been provided with more modern night
vision and communication equipment, he said.

Shortly after the "four-day war" with Azerbaijan, Aghabekian launched
on behalf of the Karabakh leadership a fundraising campaign primarily
aimed at buying new weapons for the NKR's Armenian-backed Defense
Army. It has raised about $10 million so far, mostly from ordinary
Armenians in Karabakh, Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora.

Aghabekian admitted that the relatively modest sum is not enough to
finance a military buildup planned by the authorities in
Stepanakert. But he said half of that money has already been
efficiently used for bolstering Karabakh's defenses.

Other Karabakh officials said in April that the Defense Army will soon
receive more weapons from Armenia's armed forces, with which it is
closely integrated. 

Extract from
July 13 2016
Bottle stops: 15 wine trails worth getting sidetracked on
By John Malathronas

(CNN)The Italians say that "a meal without wine is like a day 
without sunshine."

Indeed, for many cultures, wine is an essential part of a meal and
wine production has spread from the Mediterranean region to every
Appreciation of wine on its own is on the increase and has led to the
establishment of wine routes ever since Germany inaugurated its own
Weinstrasse in October 1935.

Today, the choice of wine routes and tours from the essential
(Bordeaux) and the scenic (Cape Town) to the historic (Armenia) or the
unexpected (Brazil) is greater than ever.

Vayots Dzor, Armenia

According to the Bible, Armenia was the first wine-producing region in
the world, since it was on the slopes of Mount Ararat that Noah
planted the first vine after the flood.

Archaeologists agree -- at least on the long tradition: a
6,100-year-old winery was discovered not long ago.

The local Areni variety has been unchanged for centuries, being highly
resistant against disease with a thick skin that helps shield it from
cold extremes.

The easiest wine-growing region to get to from the capital, Yerevan,
is Vayots Dzor, where a microclimate ensures 300 sunny days a year.
Most organized tours zoom in on the Areni Noir, an incomparable red
that put Armenia on the map when it was launched internationally in

Areni Wine Factory, 3604, Vayots Dzor Marz, Areni Armenia;

John Malathronas is a London-based travel writer and photographer.
He's written or co-written 15 books. 

Red Herring
July 13 2016
Armenia’s TUMO Center Looks Beyond the Caucasus
July 13, 2016

On a hot day in Yerevan, Armenia’s compact capital, a new generation
of tech professionals is being put through its paces at the city’s
flagship education center. Some kids are running a typography
exhibition, showcasing new fonts for Armenia’s ancient alphabet.
Others are recording pop tunes, 3D-printing marionettes, creating
robots or simply logging onto their account on a colorful in-house
operating system.

All in all, an average day for students at the $20 million TUMO Center
for Creative Technologies, which has become the envy of the education
and tech worlds. Since its inception five years ago the center has
become a model which countries and foundations from Sweden to South
Korea are desperate to replicate. 7,000 kids are now enrolled at its
Yerevan campus, with many more in three other locations. It’s a
staggering growth one founder never imagined.

“We thought we’d have maybe 500, 1,000 students,” Pegor Papazian,
advisory board member and husband of Marie Lou Papazian, the center’s
director, says over a thick local coffee. Marie Lou was headhunted
online by TUMO benefactor Sam Simonian, a Dallas-based
telecommunications magnate, “to develop something which would be
philanthropic but also kind of a progressive, future-oriented project
that would serve Armenia’s kids on the global market.”

Simonian is also a member of the approximately seven million-strong
spyurk, or Armenian diaspora, that is located almost everywhere on
earth. The lion’s share of that diaspora – which far outweighs
Armenia’s 3 million domestic population – was created by the Armenian
Genocide of 1915, an event which resonates throughout Armenian
identity and politics to this day.

Turkey, which as the Ottoman Empire carried out systemic killings,
famine and death marches, continues to refute the term ‘genocide’. Its
border with Armenia has been closed since 1993 in solidarity with
Azerbaijan, with whom Armenia is still locked in conflict over the
disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. It, too, is off-limits to Armenian
citizens and businesses.

With very few export options, Armenia is looking to reinvent itself as
a knowledge-based economy. “Armenia is so small that we cannot afford
to go the commodity route,” said Papazian. “Outsourcing – India would
be much more competitive, not to mention Bangladesh and Egypt which
are both going that way. So we focus on content creation, art skills,
etc, because that’s more value-added and that’s where a smaller
population can be competitive.”

Part of that value, according to several people in the building, is to
breath added confidence into Armenian children. Every room is decked
out with the latest technology, software and decor. In main halls
students check their progress on iMacs propped up on ‘TUMObile’
furniture, futuristic chair/desks that are tethered to the ceiling
like dodgems and movable depending on whether a task is collaborative,
or not.

Those, and the transparent, open layout – both created by Lebanese
architect Bernard Khoury – reflect TUMO’s welcoming, non-hierarchical
nature, Papazian, who has worked in IT in Spain, the U.S. and Lebanon,
said.  “They can see us working, and we can see them. Everything is
totally transparent. It helps them see what they can do with their own

“We want the kids to have access to whatever they may have imagined
someone in Brussels, or New York, has access to – that they don’t
doubt for a minute that it’s all up to them now to reach their full
potential rather than having what used to be called ‘appropriate
technology’ – computers that are appropriate for the country,” he
added. “We want the best computers.”

Students, who are aged 12-18, study four major disciplines:
filmmaking; game development; web design and animation. A network of
mentors, many of whom have been selected from the diaspora, or who
have arrived in Armenia as part of its Birthright movement, teach for
a minimum of two weeks. One class I visited was designing public
service posters. Others were updating Armenian folk songs.

Graduates do not receive official certification but rather a “living
diploma” accessible via the web, in which they can “show what they
did, and hide what they don’t want to be available,” Zara Budaghyan,
the center’s head of communications, said.

“We’re not competing with school, we’re completing it,” she added.
“What we teach is not taught at school, and we take kids starting at
12. We need school, and school needs us as well, because we motivate
them, and sometimes through these unusual classes they learn physics
or maths or history better, because their thinking changes.”

“Our relationship with the government has been healthy, but at arm’s
length,” Papazian said. “Because we thought that we needed to move at
a fast enough pace and have enough flexibility to achieve what we
wanted to achieve, given it’s not something that has been tried
before. So we didn’t feel like coordinating very closely with the
government at this point.”

In addition to Yerevan TUMO now has centers in Gyumri, Dilijan and
Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. Funding has been largely
philanthropic – whether from the government, benevolent funds or, in
the case of Dilijan, a small town famed for its bucolic surroundings,
the Central Bank of Armenia.

But Papazian doesn’t want to keep it that way. The center already
rents out space to startups, including photo firm Picsart, one of
Armenia’s best-known startups. Recently it conducted a design overhaul
for a local fruit juice firm, running focus groups and competing
designs at a fraction of the cost of regular design companies.

More importantly, however, is a crescendo of interest in the center’s
model from outside Armenia’s borders. “There is a third expansion
thing going on, which is that non-Armenian demographics are
interested, so we’re speaking with people from the Middle East, the
Gulf states, Moscow – so we could franchise the TUMO model and use
these franchise fees to subsidize opening another Armenia location,”
said Papazian.

“So it would be more sustainable than these philanthropic models,
which I don’t like.”

Funding revenues aside, TUMO’s success has been phenomenal. By 2020 it
estimates that ten per cent of Armenia’s teenagers will have passed
through the system, an incredible achievement that reflects a nation
moving quickly to capitalize on the wealth of its diaspora, and a
growing domestic economy.

State-backed efforts to promote intellectualism are evidenced in
Armenia’s being the only country in the world to make chess mandatory.
TUMO is working alongside that movement, and tooling young Armenians
for the digital revolution. That cerebral race is being run for
several reasons, Papazian explained.

“Again, one: we’re small so we can add more value if we go for higher
rather than lower tasks, or jobs,” he said, as students filed in for
the afternoon’s classes. “The other thing is this Armenian self-image,
for whatever it’s worth, is about that. It’s about inventing an
alphabet, being an early adopter of a new religion – so this early
adopter, creator mentality is part of our – not physical DNA in
relation to race – but at least our mental DNA, cultural DNA.”

With TUMO, that cultural DNA is being backed by some world-renowned
education – and technology.