Monday, 29 December 2014

Armenian News - Catch on on news from over Christmas 


Paris Meeting: Hollande-hosted Armenian-Azeri talks differ from other
rounds of Karabakh negotiations

Putin signs Armenia's Eurasian Union deal

Sargsyan invites his Turkish counterpart to Armenia on Genocide
Centennial Day

2014 has become a crucial year for Armenia in terms of foreign policy
developments. It was marked by escalation of tensions in the Karabakh
conflict zone in summer against the background of Armenia's moving
towards membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

On the year marking the 20th anniversary of Karabakh ceasefire the
situation along the Line of Contact in the conflict zone almost got
out of hand amid repeated Azeri incursions and commando raids in late
July-early August. Azerbaijan lost dozens of troops in its attempts to
break Karabakh defenses at some sections of the heavily militarized
frontline, and the Armenian side also suffered several casualties
in repulsing the attacks. Relative calm came only after a Russia
President Vladimir Putin-mediated meeting between the presidents of
Armenia and Azerbaijan on August 10.

With the next three months or so Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev
would meet two more times (on September 4, upon the initiative of U.S.

Secretary of State John Kerry, and on October 27 - upon the initiative
of French President Francois Hollande) and when it seemed that progress
in the peace talks was as tangible as ever, within days after the Paris
talks, on November 12, the Azerbaijani side shot down an Armenian
helicopter, which, according to the Armenian side, was operating a
training flight along the Line of Contact with Azerbaijan.

The Armenian side managed to recover the bodies of the three pilotswho
were killed in the incident only due to a special operation in no man's
land 10 days later. This became the most serious incident after the
1994 ceasefire and the international mediators voiced concern over
increased violence in the conflict zone.

Tensions at the border with Azerbaijan also remained high throughout
the year as Armenia was completing its process of membership in the
EEU. Some experts also blamed Russia for the tensions considering
that Armenia's number one military and political ally continued to
sell weapons to Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, another hotly debated topic in Armenia was whether there
will be a customs checkpoint at the border between Armenia and
Karabakh after Armenia's become an EEU member. Authorities in both
Yerevan and Stepanakert deny any such checkpoints will be installed.

On October 10, Armenia finally signed the treaty to formally accede
to the EEU, an emerging trade bloc of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

And in late December Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law
according to which from January 2, 2015 Armenia will become a full
member of the Union.

Towards the centennial of the Armenian Genocide the year was full of
preparations for the commemorations to take place on April 24, 2015.

Meanwhile, on April 23, 2014, the eve of what was marked by Armenians
around the world as the 99th anniversary of the first genocide of
the 20th century committed by Ottoman Turkey, the-then Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a first-of-its-kind statement on
the "Armenian Issue" addressing "shared pain" endured during the
"1915 events" and expressing condolences on behalf of the Turkish
state to the grandchildren of Armenians who lost their lives "in the
context of the early 20th century."

In what was perhaps a response to Erdogan's statement, Armenian
President Serzh Sargsyan officially invited his Turkish counterpart
to Armenia for the anniversary of the Genocide on April 24, 2015.

Erdogan, who was elected president of Turkey in August, has not yet
replied to the invitation.

Meanwhile, on November 26, both chambers of the Plurinational
Legislative Assembly of Bolivia unanimously passed a resolution
recognizing the Armenian Genocide and condemning its denial. In
September the Greek Parliament adopted a bill criminalizing the
rejection of the Genocide.

Pension Protest: Activists stage demo near Presidential Palace,
PM meets them

Protest Leads to Arrests: Police detain 27 activists in action over
electricity tariffs

"Freedom Fighter" Fights: Attacks on veterans said to be act of

This year the Armenian society had numerous occasions to fight for
its rights, for cultural heritage, creating a new culture of struggle,
and actually managed to register some victories.

The year started and continued by a campaign that created
a new culture of civil movements. The civil initiative's activists
were opposing controversial pension reforms for months holding street
protests, they even caused a number of political parties to turn to
the Constitutional Court and their demands were partially satisfied.

In summer civil fight heated up, especially when it became clear that
the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) plans to approve
the increase in the electricity tariffs by 10 percent from August
1. Let's Stop Increasing Electricity Tariffs initiative members held
protests during which some were detained by police.

Summer was hot in the center of Yerevan as well as dismantling
of a 130-year-old building known as Afrikyans Club continued. For
days hundreds of activists fought for preserving the building. Jazz
pianist, the winner of the 2006 Monk international jazz competition,
Tigran Hamasyan joined in the fight.

Another civil initiative, Out of Our Pockets, organized protests
in Yerevan demanding elimination of the so-called red lines for
paid parking and reducing the size of penalties for traffic rules
violations that are now also recorded by numerous surveillance and
speed cameras in the city.

The part of the society that found Constitutional changes unnecessary
said "You Won't Pass" and formed a civil initiative trying to foil
that process.

Hundreds of small and medium-sized business owners in Armenia took
to streets, complaining against the changes in the tax legislation
that were enforced from October 1.

And women proved capable of uniting and fighting for their maternity
leave benefits. Their fight yielded results. The government's
legislative initiative of cutting significantly working women's
pregnancy and maternity leave benefits, which is considered by many
as a violation of a number of rights of working women, made hundreds
of women to go into the street and picket government offices. Their
fight ended in a partial success after the government and the National
Assembly decided not to cut benefits for most categories of women.

The 'Reporters Without Borders' international organization has released
its annual freedom of press index, where Armenia, as compared to last
year, improved its position by three points, reaching rank 78 among 180
nations and becoming a leader in the region. Meanwhile, according to
Freedom House rankings, even though Armenia had some progress in terms
of development, it regressed by one point in terms of press freedom.

Armenia is ranked as a "free" country in the Freedom on the Net 2014
report that was released by the Freedom House on December 4.

Armenia is ranked 103rd among 142 countries in the Global Gender Gap
Report 2014 released by the World Economic Forum on October 28.

According to Transparency International's (TI) 2014 data on the index
of corruption perception in the world, Armenia did not improve its
position in the list of 175 countries, however, compared to last
year the index of corruption perception among the Armenian society
increased by one point becoming 37 (on a scale from 0, perceived to
be highly corrupt, to 100, perceived to be very clean).

On March 24, the judge presiding over the trial of six persons accused
of beating to death a customer at the Harsnakar restaurant, military
doctor Vahe Avetyan, in an incident that happened in June 2012, read
out the verdicts in the court of the general jurisdiction of Yerevan's
Avan and Nor Nork districts, finding all the six defendants guilty
as charged and sentencing them to 12 years in prison and 100,000
-dram (about $250) fines each - one year less than demanded by the
prosecuting attorney.

The trial of Shant Harutyunyan and his friends, which lasted for
almost a year, ended in October in a verdict passed by a Yerevan
court, according to which Shant Harutyunyan - the initiator of the
"I am starting a revolution" protest, his underage son and 12 other
friends were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 1 to 7 years.

In 2014, there were also different attacks on political activists,
as well as Karabakh war veterans.

In the educational sphere, the United World Colleges opened the
Dilijan International School that is currently attended by nearly
100 students from different parts of the world.

Some of the heroes and villains who visited us this past year are
perennials while others made the scene for the first time. Some will
probably leave the stage sometime next year or the year after but
they will have made an impact--positive and negative, large or small
on issues of concern to most Armenians. Here it is: our--admittedly
subjective--choices of 12 villains and 12 heroes who made a difference
on the Armenian nation in 2014. The list is not in descending or
ascending order. We invite you to add your choices to the list. Please
send your candidates to below this article.--Editor

Picks of


Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, Baron Killyeagh, Knight Companion 
of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight of the Grand Cross 
of the Royal Victorian Order, de jure Prince of Greece(although Greece 
is not a kingdom), and Rear Admiral. 
The second son of the queen and the former husband
of the notorious Sarah Ferguson, continued to play footsie with the
brutal Aliev regime in Azerbaijan so as to feather his already fat
nest with easy--but dirty--petrodollars. The queen's third issue has
met Baby Aliev no less than 15 times in the past few years. A friendly
fellow, the prince was also chummy with Saif al-Islam, son of Moammar
Gaddafi, was close friend of convicted gun smuggler Tarek Kaikuni,
and the crooked son-in-law of Kazakhstan's dictator.

11. ARMENIAN OLIGARCHS The greedy, violent, and criminal parasites
who are strangling Armenia's economy as they lower the standard of
living in the republic through their network of monopolies, artificial
pricing and influence on Serge Sarkissian's government. Of course,
many citizens of Armenia believe Sarkissian himself is the head honcho
of one of the bigger oligarchic ziggurats while Robert Kocharian is
the Corleone of the second-largest.

10. ISIL/ISIS/IS/DA'ESH For their brutalism, fanaticism, obscurantism
and for persecuting non-Sunni Muslims and Christian minorities in
Iraq and in Syria.

9. ABE FOXMAN, PRESIDENT OF ADL The head of the Anti-Defamation
League in the United States who was, for years, the ringleader of the
Armenian Genocide-denying cabal. This apologist of Turkey believes
white-washing criminal Turkey is more important than acknowledging
Turkey's holocaust of Armenians. Foxman's agenda is no secret: he
would sleep with the devil if he thinks it would benefit Israel.

Luckily for Armenians, this reprehensible blowhard retires, at long
last, in next June.

8. THE RENT-A-SCHOLAR SET These are mostly American and some British
"scholars" who are jobbers deft at inventing purpose-written "historic"
tracts about Armenian/Turkish relations. The usual suspects Justin
McCarthy, The Rent-a-Scholar Set. Guenter Lewy, Bernard Lewis, et
al were joined this year with two brand-new hired guns: Christopher
Gunn and Tal Buenos. The latter is the hirsute gofer of Hakan Yavuz
(University of Utah) while the former teaches in a small Southern town
at the third-rate Coastal Carolinas University. These two juveniles
have joined the veteran liars in the custom-made scholarship run as
unacknowledged propagandists for Ankara. They should be extra busy
this year churning further banalities as Armenians commemorate the
slaying of 1.5-million Armenians.

7. CATHOLICOS KAREKIN II For continuing his execrable ways in Armenia
and in the Diaspora. The recent ambition of the oligarch- catholicos
is to forcibly turn the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem into an
Echmiadzin diocese so as to better control the Diaspora and pocket
the assets of Armenian Diaspora churches. In his spare time, KII
continues to throw his weight around, arbitrarily firing clergymen
and checking the bottom line of a Yerevan bus company he partly owns
with other birds of the flock.

fronting the Gulen movement, these associations, Anatolian "heritage"
organizations, friendship and business groups have one goal in mind:
to diffuse Armenian condemnation of Turkey and perhaps polish the
traditional negative image of Turks in North America.

5. PRESIDENT ILHAM ALIEV, aka Aliev Jr., aka Baby Aliev, aka Baku
Al Capone numbskull who--to divert the attention of Azeris from
their miserable lives--orders border provocations with Armenian and
Nagorno-Karabakh almost on a daily and spends millions of dollars
to persuade the world that the battle of Khojalu was genocide by
Armenians. So far, nobody--except Turkey--takes lumbering Baby Aliev

DAVUTOGLU, aka Dynamic Duo, aka Batman and Robin,
aka Tom and Jerry.
Where does one begin listing the follies of the Neo Caliph-Sultan-Qaid
-Padishah Ottomaniac and his eager-beaver understudy Davutoglu?
Despite Davutoglu's boast about "no problems with neighbors" not one
of Turkey's neighbors is enamored with Turkey, except mercenary

Even Ankara's long-time patron Washington is disenchanted with the
Erdogan's cantankerous, boastful, provocative rants. At the end of
the year the long-misunderstood Erdogan made a delightful present to
world cartoonists and satirists when he announced that Muslims--read
Turks--discovered America centuries before Columbus was born. You

it was all a Crusader plot to take the credit for everything.

3. HAKAN YAVUS Reputedly to be connected to Turkish Military
Intelligence, Yavuz is ensconced, thanks to Ankara's piggy-bank, at
University of Utah's Middle East department. From his desert aerie,
Yavuz spends his time manufacturing fairy tales and organizing symposia
(funded by Ankara, naturally) to prove Turkey's innocence in the ethnic
"misunderstanding" a century ago when lots of Turks died.

Yavus has a perfervid imagination bordering that of Salvador Dali. He
will continue churning out fantasies with decreasing credibility
despite his largesse.

2. BRENDA SHAFFER Political-science professor at the University of
Haifa hid the fact that he had worked as an adviser "for strategic
affairs" for the Azeri state-owned company SOCAR when she paraded in
the U.S. as an objective scholar and wrote articles bolstering corrupt
Azerbaijan's image in the U.S. In one article she claimed Azerbaijan
was an "important security partner" of the U.S. To persuade Americans
to support the Aliev kleptocracy, she wrote that Nagorno-Karabakh
might become "Russia's next land grab." With her mask ripped, Shaffer
should return to Haifa and focus her energies on importing watermelons
from Azerbaijan.

1. SENATOR ANNE COOLS OF CANADA A former arsonist-terrorist and now
a Canadian senator, Ms. Anne Cools advocated earlier this year the
repeal of Canada's recognition of the Genocide. For details about
this wild woman of Canada's Senate, see our previous issue titled
"Senator Cools Blow Hot Air... As Usual".


12. GEOFFREY ROBERTSON, QC For his extensive scholarship of genocides
and his recent book on the Genocide.

11. ROBERT FISK , foreign correspondent "The Independent" For not
forgetting--unlike most Western foreign correspondents--the plight
of the Middle Eastern Christians, especially in Syria and in Iraq.

10. YAER AURON and ISRAEL CHARNY, Israeli historians and authors. For
indefatigably continuing their many years' work to persuade Israeli
politicians, media, and citizens that refusing to recognize the
Genocide of Armenians--the prelude to the Jewish Holocaust--is an
unforgivable omission.

9. ZORYAN INSTITUTE The Diaspora Armenian think thank which goes
around quietly hammering further nails to the Turkish government's
coffin of denial.

The prime minister of Canada, Mr. Kenney, Minister of
Employment and Social Development and Minister of Multiculturalism,
and the Canadian Government continued to resist unrelenting pressure
(blackmail, threats, positive business inducements) from Foreign
Affairs, from certain Canadian business lobbies, from Ankara and
Turkey-hired lobbyists to soft pedal, if not reverse, Canada's
recognition of the Genocide. The Canadian-Armenian community owes
big time to these politicians of courage, principle, and integrity.

7. MARK GIRAGOS The California lawyer and TV personality who has
familiarized million of American viewers with the justice of the
Armenian Cause.

6. PRE-PARLIAMENT in ARMENIA For telling it as it is in Armenia's
lawless governance and for spreading the word that unless the rule
of law is made supreme Armenia is going nowhere fast. Pre-Parliament
should also get extra points for advocating peaceful and democratic

sacrifice, and love of our nation in the face of untold physical and
economic suffering.

in challenging the false and harmful narrative of their country's
history vis-a-vis the Armenians.

3. SHEIKH SULTAN BIN MOHAMMED AL QASIMI, the ruler of Sharjah; For
donating $1.7-million to restore the Haghartsin Monastery in northern
Armenia. The 10th century architectural jewel was in a dilapidated
state when the sheikh rescued it.

2. ARGENTINA For being the largest investor country in Armenia,
for recognizing the Genocide, for giving the brush-off to Turkish
anti-Armenian lobbying, and for giving us Eduardo Eurnekian.

1. KIM KARDASHIAN The controversial--to put it mildly--media
personality did more for the Armenian Cause with a simple tweet than
countless Armenian projects have managed to do over the decades. Viva
social media.

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