Sunday, 29 April 2012

Armenian News

An Armenian folk song (Aravodun Temin: At the Break of Dawn, compiled by Arusyak Sahakian), arranged by Ayşe Tütüncü and performed by 42 musicians. In memoriam April 24. GENOCIDE COMMEMORATED IN TURKEY asbarez Thursday, April 26th, 2012 ISTANBUL--Hundreds gathered in Taksim Square Tuesday to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, reported Today's Zaman. A sit-down gathering organized by the Say No to Racism and Nationalism initiative in Taksim Square was attended by a group of public figures, including wife of murdered journalist Hrant Dink, Rakel Dink; Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Istanbul deputies Sırrı Sureyya Onder and Sebahat Tuncel; former Freedom and Solidarity Party (ODP) head Ufuk Uras; journalists Oral CalıÅ~_lar, Huseyin Hatemi and Hilal Kaplan as well as other intellectuals. Protesters laid carnations in front of a banner that read, "This pain belongs to all of us." ZiÅ~_an Tokac, who made a statement on behalf of the protesting group, said Armenians were sent into exile to places where they could not survive, recounting atrocities committed at that time. Uras told reporters that Turkey will face its history and "shared pain" in building a 21st century democracy. He added that people from all walks of life were present at the sit-in protest. Dink said Armenians had gone through things that she cannot even say aloud and that they are still facing similar problems. Meanwhile, two nationalist groups protested the gathering; however, police didn't allow them to approach the group. RFE/RL Report Armenia, Azerbaijan Report Fresh Casualties Naira Bulghadarian, Nare Stepanian 27.04.2012 Three Armenian soldiers and one Azerbaijani army officer have been shot dead in separate incidents reported by the military authorities in Yerevan and Baku on Friday. The Armenian Defense Ministry said the soldiers were fatally wounded when a car carrying them came under fire near a western section of Armenia's border with Azerbaijan in the early hours of Friday. It said the car belonging to one of them was found riddled with bullets on a road connecting two border villages in the northeastern Tavush region. Andranik Aydinian, the mayor of one of those villages, Aygepar, said he heard gunfire coming from Azerbaijani army positions in the area shortly after midnight. `The Azerbaijani positions are close to the road,' he said by phone. Aydinian cut short the phone interview, alleging renewed Azerbaijani gunfire and saying that he needs to tell villagers to take cover. In a statement, the Defense Ministry did not say whether it thinks the three servicemen were shot and killed by Azerbaijani troops. It said only that military investigators have launched an inquiry. But President Serzh Sarkisian did implicitly blame Azerbaijan for the deaths and pledge retaliation later in the day. `Our territory continues to be shot at from Azerbaijani positions these days,' Sarkisian said during an election campaign trip to another northern province, Lori. `You are aware of the latest incidents,' he told local residents. `First a kindergarten [in Tavush] came under fire, then an ambulance, and last night we lost three contracted soldiers in Tavush.' `I don't think anyone in our country doubts the inevitability of our appropriate reaction,' he said. `I don't think anyone doubts the power of our defense forces.' Sarkisian seemed to accuse Azerbaijan of trying to capitalize on the parliamentary election campaign going on in Armenia. `Let nobody think that they can take advantage of processes taking place in our country and that it's election time here and we are distracted by it.' Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry, meanwhile, reported that an Azerbaijani army lieutenant was killed by Armenian forces deployed east of Nagorno-Karabakh on Thursday. Azerbaijani news agencies cited the ministry as saying that the 24-year-old Vagif Abdullayev died as a result of an Armenian ceasefire violation. There was no immediate reaction to the report from the military authorities in Yerevan and Stepanakert. Karabakh's Armenian-backed army on Thursday accused the Azerbaijani armed forces of intensifying truce violations in recent days. It said two Karabakh Armenian soldiers were wounded on Tuesday. The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group expressed serious concern over the latest shootings. `Such senseless acts violate the commitment of the parties to refrain from the use of force and to seek a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and contradict the spirit of the January 23, 2012, joint statement of Presidents [Ilham] Aliyev, Sarkisian, and [Dmitry] Medvedev,' they said in a joint statement. `The Co-Chairs strongly condemn any loss of life, and reiterate that there is no alternative to a peacefully negotiated settlement of the conflict. The Co-Chairs urge all sides to respect the 1994 ceasefire and to abstain from retaliatory measures that would lead to further escalation,' added the mediators. YEREVAN NAMED WORLD BOOK CAPITAL IN 2012 ITAR-TASS April 23, 2012 Monday 03:26 AM GMT+4 Russia Yerevan was named the World Book Capital in 2012 after Buenos Aires in the previous year. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Association of Book Publishers and the international alliances of book traders and library associations named the Armenian capital as the World Book Capital this year. "It is symbolic that the Armenian capital became the 12th World Book Capital particularly in 2012," Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan stated on Sunday. He recalled that the 500th anniversary of book printing on the Armenian language is celebrated this year. "For the nation, which marks the 500th anniversary of book printing, this is a great honour, the high evaluation of the merits to the world culture," the president said. "The first Armenian printer Akop Megapart published four printed books on the Armenian language in the remote city of Venice in 1512. After two centuries of roaming over various cities in the world the book printing on the Armenian language settled in the homeland in 1771," Sargsyan recalled. Then the first Armenian printing office was founded in Etchmiadzin and the first book was printed, he recalled. "Our people had a deep love to the native language, manuscripts and the knowledge always, even when it seemed that it is even impossible to think about it," the president pointed out. Sargsyan believes that numerous events, which will be held under the program of Yerevan as the World Book Capital, pursue "one goal is to note again the importance of the role of the book in our life, and show once again one place on the world map." These events should "state again that we are the nation with the spirit that can value, preserve and enrich not only Armenian, but also world and common human spiritual and cultural heritage." The officials from the Bangkok Mayor's Office (Thailand), as this city will become the next world book capital, also attended a ceremony to name Yerevan as the World Book Capital at the Yerevan's Mayor's Office. The Armenian post issued a souvenir sheet, which was franked on the occasion on Sunday. Talented children from the Yerevan secondary schools showed their pictures and asphalt graffiti on the central Square of Republic in Yerevan. Not only residents of the Armenian capital, but also numerous guest from 30 countries were watching the drawings. The grandson of a famous English poet George Byron, Lord Robin Byron was among the guests. The book exhibition Armbook Expo opened at the Yerevan cultural and recreational centre. Armenian and foreign publishing houses, which print the books on the Armenian language, presented their produce at the exhibition. Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli gave an open-air concert on the square in front of the Yerevan Opera Theatre. About 20,000 people are expected to attend this free concert. POVERTY IS THE MAIN ENEMY OF ARMENIAN SOCIETY, SERZH SARGSYAN IS SURE ARMENPRESS APRIL 26, 2012 NOYEMBERYAN NOYEMBERYAN, APRIL 26, ARMENPRESS: The main enemy of our society is poverty, and we cannot be indifferent to that issue, Chairman of Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), President Serzh Sargsyan told the residents of Noyemberyan town in frame of the campaign. As Armenpress reports, the RPA Chairman stressed that the key to solution of the poverty is in the joint work and mutual trust. "The local residents are singled out for their diligence and preservation of national characteristics. But it is pity that the money some people earn is not enough for meeting their family needs. For this purpose we try to encourage businessmen to make investments in remote regions of Armenia," said Serzh Sargsyan, adding that it will contribute to the growth of the country's economic indexes and opening of working places for the residents of remote regions of Armenia. "Sure, we want the issues to find a solution in one day. But we do not have such a magical receipt and nobody has. But we have an idea that will work in the upcoming 5 years. In numerous developed countries of the world that process has taken decades, as that path is tortuous and complicated. To our happiness, we have already passed the main - most complicated part," said RPA leader, noting that the most part of those programs are underway, and the others need relevant investments. "We believe that we will manage to accomplish them," he underlined. Within the frameworks of the election campaign in Tavush province, Serzh Sargsyan also met with the population of Vazashen, Aygehovit, Sarigyugh and Varagavan communities. ARMENIAN CHURCH IN TURKEY IS USED AS GARBAGE DUMP April 27, 2012 | 12:38 The 11th-century Armenian church in Yenipinar village of Turkey's Batman Province is used as a garbage dump by the locals. Village resident Ali Ucar noted that he is very troubled that the villagers are taking the ruined church's stones and using them in their stables, Haberler news agency of Turkey informs. He stressed that this shows how the residents do not value historical treasures. Ucar claimed that solely four of the church's eight columns have remained erect. In his turn, Batman University Rector Abdulselam Ulucam noted that a project will soon be implemented, with the support of Batman Provincial Hall, along the lines of which the Province's historical treasures-irrespective of their religious belonging-will be registered. The Rector informed that the registered historical monuments will be restored and introduced to tourism. IWPR Report AZERI FILM FEST CAUSES STORM IN ARMENIA Attempt to build cultural bridges sparks anger, though it’s unclear whether protests were genuine or stage-managed. By Sara Khojoyan A controversial festival of Azerbaijani films has finally taken place in Armenia, but not before the venue had to be switched following angry protests. The Caucasus Centre of Peacemaking Initiatives, CCPI, an Armenian organisation, was planning to show the films in several towns in the north of the country on April 12 and 17. CCPI director Giorgy Vanyan said the screenings were intended to promote tolerance and peace. Relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been consistently poor since the war over Nagorny Karabakh, which ended in 1994 with a truce but no lasting peace deal. Feelings of mistrust and resentment run so high in both countries that most forms of engagement with the neighbouring state are seen as akin to treason. The four short films included in the festival were made in 2007-08 by different directors, and did not touch on the Karabakh conflict. “The films address social problems and human rights issues in Azerbaijan,” Vanyan said. After the screenings were announced, however, protesters took to the streets of Gyumri and then Vanadzor. In Gyumri, Vanyan was forced to cancel the April 12 showing at the Asparez Press Club, to get the crowds outside to disperse. Video footage posted on YouTube showed him surrounded by heated protesters.One man tries to attack him but is dragged away by others. In Vanadzor, some 200 people held a march against the April 17 screening and its hosts, the Helsinki Civil Assembly, HCA, throwing eggs and stones at the proposed venues. Demonstrators and other opponents of the festival accused its organisers of betraying Armenia by showing films from Azerbaijan. “I believe that no normal Armenian with a sense of decency and clear view of things will want to see a festival of Azeri films in our country,” Yury Ghulyan, a lecturer at Vanadzor’s teacher training institute, said. “In Azerbaijan, they abuse and slander our country and our good name. So it’s just pointless bringing Azeri films to show them here.” Karen Vrtanesyan, who blogs on Azeri-Armenian relations, has long opposed the festival. On his Facebook page, he claimed that peace-building events of this kind were unilateral, and that in Azerbaijan, “hate propaganda” directed at Armenians was on the increase. Referring to events in the village of Maraga during the Karabakh war in April 1992, he said that “on the eve of the 20th anniversary of mass killings of civilians, no country would allow a ‘cultural event’ by the side that conducted these pogroms. The issue here is not tolerance, but a premeditated assault on the public’s feelings.” The reactions were to be predicted. This film festival was supposed to have taken place in late 2010, but the strength of public opposition meant no venue could be persuaded to host the screenings. CCPI eventually succeeding in rescheduling the Gyumri screening, holding it before a small audience in a restaurant outside town. After the April 16 scuffles in Vanadzor, the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch urged the Armenian authorities to investigate the “mob attack” on HCA’s office. The CCPI said it had been the victim of a “campaign of intimidation, slander and disinformation”, and said the protests were not spontaneous, but staged by local government officials. “This public opposition was incited,” Vanyan told IWPR. “There is no constitutional order in Armenia – it has been replaced by a ‘patriotic’ court martial.” Artur Sakunts of the Helsinki Civil Assembly, who took the decision to call the Vanadzor screening, said police had been notably absent when his office was besieged by protesters. “Although we called them, police took no action to prevent threats to our employees’ safety, or to stop the incitement to violence and public disorder, despite the fact that we called them,” said a statement from his office. Sakunts said that in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, “the regimes use cheap populist devices to divert public attention away from the real problems facing their countries”. Officials in the two towns denied any connection to that protests. Gagik Simonian of the Vanadzor municipality said the local authorities were only informed of the planned protest on the morning of April 16, shortly before it took place. “They were acting in line with the law, so there wasn’t anything we could do about it,” he said. “But we are in no way connected with these events.” Opponents of the festival insisted they were acting on their own. Tigran Kocharyan, a blogger, said Azerbaijanis “at the highest level” insulted Armenians with no come-back, whereas “tolerance is demanded only from the Armenians”. “You need two sides to hold a dialogue,” he added, noting that in the last two decades, Azerbaijan had never held an analogous festival of Armenian films. Since making concessions would be seen as a sign of weakness in Azerbaijan, he said, then “yes, we must give an appropriate response to everything they do.” Levon Barseghyan of the Asparez Press Club said the protesters may well have had genuine concerns about the festival, but he pointed out inconsistencies in the level of outrage. “These same people who were protesting, shouting, and punching Vanyan never complained about the Turkish and Azeri films that were shown in Armenia as part of the Golden Apricot festival, or indeed other screenings. Nor did they protest against cultural exchanges,” he said. Sara Khojoyan is a reporter for

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