Tuesday, 28 April 2015



In his workshop in the suburb of Yerevan, Shant Khayalian carefully
slices the soap he made himself. One would think Shant has been
in the soap business all his life. But he just started it here in
Armenia and the way of doing business in Yerevan is very different
from that in his native Aleppo. Syrian Armenians, like Shant, are not
refugees here. The government considers them citizens returning to
their homeland after hundreds of years of displacement. The Armenian
government is trying its best to help them, the reportage of BBC
correspondent Reda El Mawy says.

Over 15,000 Syrian Armenians fleeing the war in their country have been
welcomed by the Armenian authorities who have given them citizenship
and helped with their resettlement.

"We've allocated a fund of half a million dollars to help Syrian
Armenians to start small and medium enterprises. We also amended
some of our laws to accommodate them," Minister of Armenian Diaspora
Hranush Hakobyan tells BBC.

It is noted in the reportage that Armenia is the first place of refuge
for those returning from Syria. But there might be other opportunities
as well. Up to forty Syrian-Armenian families have been welcomed in
Nagorno Karabakh as settlers.

"They gave us a house, they gave others farmland but the resources
are limited here," Ara Kashashain, one of the settlers, says.

The reportage also says that confrontations are frequent in the line
of contact with Azerbaijan. Ara's family is trying to start a new
life here but the looming conflict is a constant reminder of what
they left back home in Syria. "Every time my children see a plane
they are scared. They say 'o Mommy there is a plane' and they rush
hiding inside," Ara's wife, Vano Kashashain, says. 

RFE/RL Report
Syrian Armenians `Desperate To Flee Aleppo'
Naira Bulghadarian

Ethnic Armenians remaining in Aleppo are increasingly desperate to
leave Syria's largest city ravaged by continuing fighting between
Syrian government troops and rebels, according to some former members
of their community now based in Armenia.

Hrayr Akvilian, a Syrian Armenian who took refuge in Yerevan three
years ago, said on Monday that he and his friends are now exploring
possibilities of evacuating them to Armenia without the assistance of
the Armenian government and the leadership of the Aleppo community. He
said they could specifically seek to raise funds needed to finance
expensive journeys out of Syria.

Akvilian said that he keeps in touch with many Aleppo Armenians by
phone and through social media. "Every day I get several appeals to
get people out of there," he told RFE/RL's Armenian service
(Azatutyun.am). "People say they have no money, no means for getting
out on their own."

"The pleas addressed to me are really heartbreaking," he said. "I
sometimes can't sleep at night after hearing them."

Fighting in and around Aleppo, the center of the once thriving
Syrian-Armenian community, has intensified in recent months. The
mostly government-controlled city districts populated by many
Armenians and other Christians have reportedly been shelled and
seriously damaged.

Hranush Arakelian, a local Armenian woman, was contacted by RFE/RL's
Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) by phone as she tried to retrieve some
personal belongings from the ruins of her home which she said was
destroyed by heavy artillery fire overnight. Arakelian and her family
have been sheltered by one of their neighbors for the past few weeks.

"I'd love to come but I have no money to reach Armenia," the
middle-aged woman said. "My whole body shivers all the time. I can't
stand it anymore."

The Armenian government said, meanwhile, that it still has no plans
for a mass evacuation of Aleppo Armenians despite the worsened
security situation in the northern Syrian city. Firdus Zakarian, a
senior Diaspora Ministry official dealing with Syrian Armenian
refugees, reiterated that the government would try to help evacuate
them only at the request of community leaders in Syria.

Zhirayr Reisian, the spokesman for the Aleppo diocese of the Armenian
Apostolic Church, a key community structure, said earlier this month
that local Armenians members are free to flee the city. But he made
clear that the leadership of the beleaguered community will not help
them take refuge in other parts of Syria or abroad. "We are not intent
on dissolving the community," Reisian explained.

Akvilian criticized that stance, saying that the fighting in Aleppo is
increasingly putting the lives of many Armenians at serious risk. "The
situation there is hellish," he said. "It's time to see the reality
and stop living with dreams."

"Should we preserve the Armenian community in Syria and especially
Aleppo at any cost?" asked the Syrian Armenian activist. "No, we
shouldn't. I don't think that we will ever see the good old Aleppo

Syria was home to an estimated 80,000 ethnic Armenians, most of them
descendants of survivors of the 1915 genocide in Ottoman Turkey,
before out the outbreak of the bloody conflict in the Arab state four
years ago. The community is thought to have shrunk at least by
half. Some 13,000 Syrian Armenian refuges currently reside in Armenia

RFE/RL Report 
Azeri Prisoner Operated On In Karabakh
Ara Harutiunian

An Azerbaijani man imprisoned in Nagorno-Karabakh on charges relating
to the murder of an Armenian teenager has undergone urgent surgery at
a hospital in Stepanakert, it emerged on Monday.

Shahbaz Quliyev's Karabakh Armenian lawyer, Arkady Israelian, and
local human rights activists said he has already been discharged from
the hospital and sent back to prison.

"The operation was successful and he is fine now," Karen Ohanjanian,
head of the Stepanakert-based group Helsinki Initiative-92, told
RFE/RL's Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Ohanjanian said that Quliyev complained of abdominal pains when he
recently visited the 46-year-old Azerbaijani prisoner. The latter was
then examined by Karabakh doctors and diagnosed with chronic
gallbladder disease that required surgery, he said.

Quliyev was one of three armed Azerbaijani men who secretly crossed
last July into the formerly Azerbaijani-populated Kelbajar district
sandwiched Armenia and the former Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous
Oblast. One of those men, Dilgam Askerov, and Quliyev were separately
captured by Karabakh Armenian forces shortly afterwards.

The third Azerbaijani, Hasan Hasanov, was gunned down several days
later after reportedly killing an Armenian army officer and gravely
wounding a civilian woman.

The shootings were reported four days before Smbat Tsakanian, a
17-year-old Armenian resident of Kelbajar, was found dead near his
family's farm. The Karabakh authorities believe that he was kidnapped
and killed by the Azerbaijani "saboteurs."

Askerov was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment, while Quliyev
received a 22-year prison sentence. A Karabakh court convicted them of
illegal arms possession, espionage and kidnapping. Askerov was also
found guilty of killing Tsakanian.

The defendants claimed to have had no part in the boy's killing when
they went on trial in Stepanakert in October. They both appealed
against the verdict. It was upheld by a Karabakh appeals court in
March, however.

The Azerbaijani government has denounced the trial as illegal and
demanded the release of the two men. It says that that they had a
legitimate right to visit what is an internationally recognized part
of Azerbaijan that has been under Karabakh Armenian control since
1993. The authorities in Stepanakert have repeatedly ruled out the
possibility of their early release.

Davit Babayan, the spokesman for Bako Sahakian, the Karabakh
president, on Monday portrayed Quliyev's surgery as further proof that
the two Azerbaijanis have not been ill-treated by the Karabakh
authorities. "Every prisoner has the right to medical treatment if
their health is at risk," he said. "This is natural."

"Unlike the Azerbaijanis, we don't kill healthy people or inject them
with some substances," Babayan added, alluding to recent years' deaths
of several Armenian civilians who accidentally crossed into

Hrant Galstyan
April 27, 2015

Kamo Hovsepyan is a lucky man.

A few days ago the 23 year-old Armenian soldier from the Lori village
of Dsegh repelled an Azerbaijani incursion attempt and sustained a
hand grenade wound to the arm.

"I can't describe what I felt at the time. I thought I was about to
die. Grenades were constantly raining down," says Karo who, along
with fellow soldiers, repelled the dawn incursion.

Karo and Mira were hunkered down in a frontline position in Artsakh
when the attack occurred. A hand grenade knocked Mira unconscious
and Karo was left to fend for himself.

Almost out of ammunition, he kept firing at the advancing Azerbaijani
unit until reinforcements arrived.

Karo estimates that there were at least seven in the Azerbaijani unit.

According to the Artsakh Ministry of Defense, one Azerbaijani soldier
was killed in the firefight and many others wounded.

The following morning, while being treated at a military hospital,
Karo was visited by his parents and bride to be.

27 Apr 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

The words 'Armenia' and 'Armenian Genocide' have been the most demanded
on Google over the past few days, information security expert Samvel
Martirisyan told reporters today.

Articles covering the visit of reality star Kim Kardashian, the concert
of the System Of A Down rock band, the participation of world leaders
in the events commemorating the Armenian Genocide centennial were on
top of world news, he said.

According to the expert, the interest towards Armenia was
unprecedented. Google has not yet summed up the search results
for April, but according to preliminary assessment, the search for
"Armenia," "Where is Armenia?" and "Armenian Genocide" grew 2-4 times.

The events of April 24 were a top topic in France, Germany, the US,
Russia and even in Turkey, which denies the genocide.

What Armenia gained from this flow of information on the web? "This
left the Turkish propaganda in a crisis," he said. "Besides, the
fact of the Armenian genocide is no more a question. Today there is
only one issue on the political agenda - to what extent this or that
country is prepared to recognize the Armenian Genocide, jeopardizing
its relations with Turkey."

"Today we have nothing to argue about, while a few years ago we still
had to prove there was genocide. I think the ice is now broken,"
Samvel Martirosyan said.

He said the Armenian internet security experts managed to protect the
websites against the Turkish-Azerbaijani hacking attacks. The dozen
of Armenian websites hacked were not among the most popular ones,
and this did not prevent the coverage of centennial events by most
acclaimed local and foreign media.

By Johan BODIN , Achren VERDIAN

In 1915, during World War I, the Ottoman Empire ordered the
extermination of the Armenian people. One and a half million
were killed in the first genocide of the 20th century. But up to
200,000 women and children survived, forced to convert to Islam and
assimilated into the Kurdish and Turkish communities. Today, their
descendants are discovering their Armenian roots that had lain hidden
for generations. Our reporters followed them on their difficult search
for identity.

We meet Armenak and his friends, who thought they were Turkish or even
Kurdish until a few years ago. After discovering their Armenian roots,
they decided to learn more about their heritage in their ancestral
homeland in eastern Turkey.

We also meet Armen, who discovered his origins while rummaging through
some old family photos. Raised as a Muslim, he now plans to convert
to Christianity. It's a decision that his wife, a devout Muslim,
has difficulty accepting.

Their stories are typical of descendants of Armenians who survived
thegenocide. Many of those who managed to escape were forced to erase
all traces of their identity, adopting Turkish or Kurdish names. A
century later, their descendants have opened a Pandora's box that
was locked by previous generations.

By Johan BODIN , Achren VERDIAN 

by David Stepanyan
April 27, 15:18

Having internationalized Azerbaijan's establishment as a state in
1990s, the oil industry simultaneously internationalized the consensus
in the issue of preventing resumption of military actions threatening
it, Laurence Broers, SOAS University of London, Centre of Contemporary
Central Asia and the Caucasus, Department Member, told ArmInfo.

"In this context, the Azerbaijani oil is an integral element of the
status-quo and it holds from resumption of the military actions.

However, oil is not the major problem connected with the territories
and security, though the oil factor played a huge and controversial
role in building of the destroyed Azerbaijani state," he said.

Broers said it was the "deal of the century" that at a critical moment
internationalized the idea and legitimacy of Azerbaijan's statehood.

The oil dollars enable Azerbaijan to consolidate the acting elites,
re- arm and inspire Baku with self-confidence.

"In this sense, he said, the oil can be considered as the key factor
of Azerbaijan's refusal to accept the status-quo, though oil will run
out sooner or later, but the Karabakh conflict will remain," he said. 

Russia's southern periphery is closer to open war than at any time
since the 1990s. Hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia are
mounting 21 years after a cease-fire froze a conflict that flared
in the dying days of the Soviet Union. During the relative calm,
companies including BP Plc poured billions of dollars into producing
oil and gas in Azerbaijan and building pipelines to link the country
with southern Italy, says an article by Bloomberg.com.

"A May 3 election looming in Nagorno-Karabakh, the region Armenians
took over in the war more than two decades ago, may trigger a wider
confrontation, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc said. The vote
"could further escalate the tensions, increasing the risks of a wider
confrontation over the disputed territory," Anna Tokar, an analyst
at RBS in London, said in an e-mailed note on April 16. That risks
"putting the oil and gas pipelines in the South Caucasus in danger,"
the article says.

At the center of the conflict, which has simmered with shootouts and
other incidents ever since the truce, is Nagorno-Karabakh. The first
four months of the year have been the deadliest, according to the
Caspian Defense Studies Institute in the Azeri capital, Baku. There
have been 31 confirmed deaths so far this year in clashes on the
front line, according to Jasur Sumarinli, head of the research group,
the article notes.

With the world focused on the conflict in Ukraine, the escalation is
rattling a region crisscrossed by pipelines after BP and its partners
invested more than $50 billion in Azeri energy projects. Azeri
incursions into the Armenian-controlled areas surrounding
Nagorno-Karabakh are raising pressure along the disengagement line
separating the adversaries, torn apart by religion and international
alliances. Armenia's Defense Ministry is accusing its foe of waging a
"hybrid war" of "micro-activities" from information attacks to armed
forays. President Serzh Sargsyan, told France 24 on March 21 that
all-out war may resume "at any time." 

On April 24 English Wikipedia's picture of the day was dedicated 
to Armenian Genocide
On April 24, the picture of the day of English Wikipedia was dedicated
to the Armenian Genocide. It was a picture of an Armenian woman
kneeling beside a dead child during the Armenian Genocide by the
Ottoman Empire in 1915, Zhamanak reports.

"The inscription under the picture read: "The genocide is
conventionally held to have begun on 24 April 1915, when Ottoman
authorities arrested and later executed some 250 Armenian
intellectuals and community leaders. Much of the remaining Armenian
population were deported into the deserts of Syria, where most died
from starvation, exhaustion, and systematic massacres. The total
number of people killed has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5
million. Though the events are widely recognized as a genocide by
historians, the Turkish government rejects such a description," the
newspaper says. 

Expert concerned over economic situation in Armenia

This January-March saw a 2.5% year-on-year rise in the index of
business activity, according to Armenia's Statistical Service.

In an interview with Tert.am, economist Vahagn Khachatryan said it
does not reflect the reality. A rise in business activity should not
be linked to economic growth.

Mr Khachatryan, according to the National Statistical Service, this
January-March saw a 2% increase in industrial output, and a 4.5%
increase in gross agricultural output, with an 0.8% increase recorded
in the construction sector. What is your explanation?

I am worried about more figures. A rise in the index of economic
activity should not be linked to economic growth. The system may have
recorded some progress, but it does not mean it has ensured economic
growth. If speak of statistical data, we can see a 30% decrease in
foreign trade. We see decreased trade turnover, the most important
index showing the economic situation. It means  a decline in either
Armenia's population or the population's purchasing power.

As regards business activity, reality and figures on the paper always
arouse doubts. Even the agricultural growth included in the GDP always
arouses doubts because the figures have nothing to do with real
agriculture. The Statistical Service and other government bodies
receive data from local communities. And if no incidents have been
recorded during the year, the communities as a rule report higher
figures. But in this season nothing is clear yet.

What about industrial output?

When industry records growth, with the energy sector not recording any
growth, it is quite strange. But there is a factor showing that growth
will be recorded. I mean high technologies, whose share in the
industrial output is not so large. However, some doubts arise as well.
How is not industrial growth accompanied by increased gas and energy
consumption? We may get an explanation in a few days, after all the
data are available. The general picture arouses concern. Money
transfers are one of the main instruments of our economic progress,
which has direct influence on commodity turnover and purchasing power.

Armenia's Minister of Economy Karen Chshmarityan commented on the
decline in the commodity turnover and exports. He said that Armenia's
trade with the other Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member-states had
not yet been calculated. And Armenia's Statistical Service cannot
compare data.

Without ruling out the fact that Armenia's foreign trade is not 30%
down, it should be noted that we have no progress either. Armenia's
foreign is obviously down. And other comments are, to put it mildly
not serious. It is common knowledge that Armenia's exports to the
other states, especially to Russia are down, and imports from Russia
are down as well. We must tell the truth and think of ways out of the

Mr Khachatryan, are Armenia's authorities taking steps to resolve the problems?

Regrettably, they are not. If they were, you can be sure that I would
not voice my concern. Rather, I would speak of effectiveness of the

Glamorous grandmother discovers link to the Kardashians, marks
Armenian Genocide centennial
25 Apr 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

A GLAMOROUS grandmother has found she has a shared heritage with her
daughter's favourite reality TV stars - the Kardashians - after
embarking on a voyage of discovery into her own past, the Grimsby
Telegraph reports.

Annemarie Leake, 56, of Louth, decided to find out more about her
natural parents after her adopted mum Emily Lindley, 93, of
Cleethorpes, began reminiscing about her own father, who served in the
First World War.

Mrs Lindley said her dad, Alfred Thompson, was one of the Grimsby Chums.

And, having never known anything about her natural parents or family
tree, the recollections inspired her to find out more.

Annemarie, who was the 2013 UK Glamorous Grandmother winner, said she
had found "peace of mind" thanks to a DNA match, which revealed her
natural mother was an Armenian woman.

And, as a mark of respect to her new-found heritage, yesterday the
family held their own commemorations to the genocide of millions of
Armenians 100 years ago, as part of a global day of remembrance of
those who died in the atrocities.

Annemarie said: "I have never had a birthday, nor a place of birth or
a family line that was my own.

"I wanted to know what my heritage was. At last I have found it and it
has given me peace of mind."

The grandmother of two said: "It is so nice to have a point of origin.

"I would love to meet any other Armenian people living in the area."

Annemarie added her daughter Katarina had always been an avid follower
of the rich Kardashian family in the US - including famous socialite
Kim, pictured - who have proudly showcased their Armenian ancestry.

Annemarie said: "I can feel there is more of a connection to The Kardashians."

Annemarie told how she first met her adoptive mother 56 years ago at
Jews' Court in Lincoln - where they return on the same day each year
to celebrate becoming a family. Yesterday, they visited St James'
Church to light a candle to her ancestors and displayed red, blue and
gold flowers - the national colours of Armenia - in her home.

Annemarie said she was proud of her heritage and said her homeland was
the fabled place where Noah built his ark.

An ark is inscribed on Armenian currency.

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