Saturday, 26 December 2015

Armenian News ... A Topalian ... Azeri Action in Karabakh

RFE/RL Report 
Azeri Defense Chief Vows Stronger Military Action In Karabakh

The Azerbaijani army will step up its "strikes" against Armenian
forces in an effort to restore Azerbaijan's control over
Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding Armenian-controlled districts,
Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov said on Tuesday.

"Our armed forces are carrying out devastating strikes against the
enemy, as a result of which the enemy is suffering numerous
casualties," Hasanov said as he inaugurated new army barracks in an
unpublicized location.

"We will carry out even more devastating strikes against the enemy,"
he added, according to Azerbaijani news agencies. "The enemy will then
feel the might of the Azerbaijani armed forces with greater pain. Our
objective is to deal devastating blows to the enemy and chase it away
from our lands. We will now be doing that in an even tougher fashion."

The remarks followed a fresh upsurge in fighting along "the line of
contact" around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border
increasingly involving mortars and other heavy weaponry. Several
soldiers on both sides have been killed there since the beginning of
this month.

Tensions on the frontline escalated even after a December 3 statement
by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov urging the conflicting parties "in the strongest
possible terms" to respect the ceasefire regime.

The Armenian military said last week that an Azerbaijani tank fired
live rounds on its frontline positions near Karabakh for the first
time since 1994. Its representatives insist that Baku will not achieve
any military objectives despite ratcheting up the tensions.

In recent days, the military has released, through unofficial
channels, drone footage that purportedly shows several Azerbaijani
army bases located near the Karabakh frontline coming under intense
Armenian mortar fire. Some of those facilities sustained heavy damage
as a result.

The U.S., Russian and French mediators hope that the presidents of
Armenia and Azerbaijan will defuse the tensions at their face-to-face
meeting expected later this month.No dates and venues for the meeting
have been announced yet. 

RFE/RL Report 
Sarkisian of Armenia meet in Vienna

The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet in Switzerland's
capital Bern on Saturday for talks which international mediators hope
will ease tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, official
Yerevan said on Thursday.

President Serzh Sarkisian's office announced the date and venue of his
meeting with Azerbaijan's Ilham Aliyev in a short statement. It
indicated that the U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-heading the
OSCE Minsk Group will also be present at the Armenian-Azerbaijani

The announcement was not immediately confirmed by Aliyev's office or
the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.

The mediators have for months pressed for the summit amid growing
ceasefire violations along heavily militarized "line of contact"
around Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. In a joint
December 3 statement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and France's European Affairs Secretary
Harlem Desir said they look forward to the upcoming Aliyev-Sarkisian
meeting. They urged the two sides to "dispel any misperceptions that
they are not serious about reaching a negotiated settlement."

Sarkisian and Aliyev most recently met in Paris in October last
year. Both leaders gave positive assessments of those talks.

However, tensions on the frontlines were reignited in November 2014 by
the shooting down of an Armenian combat helicopter near Karabakh. And
there was a renewed upsurge in deadly truce violations in January.

Fighting in the conflict zone, involving mortars and other heavy
weapons, again intensified early this month and seems to be continuing
unabated. Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov said on Tuesday
that his forces will launch "even more devastating strikes against the

The Azerbaijani military has reported two more combat casualties
within its ranks since then. It said that one of those soldiers,
Rashad Jafarzade, was killed by Armenian mortar fire late on

The Defense Ministry in Baku said on Thursday morning that Armenian
forces breached the ceasefire regime with mortars, heavy machines and
other automatic weapons for 84 times over the past 24 hours.

Karabakh's Armenian-backed army, for its part, said Azerbaijani forces
fired more than 260 mortar shells on its frontline positions on the
night from Wednesday to Thursday. In a separate statement, it also
claimed that Azerbaijani commando units attempted overnight
unsuccessful incursions at three sections of "the line of contact"
east of Karabakh.

"The retreating enemy left behind a number of military hardware pieces
designed for special operations," said the statement. "The [Karabakh]
Defense Army suffered no losses in the resulting firefights." 
16 Dec 2015
Siranush Ghazanchyan

Turkish policemen have broken the door of Sourp Kevork (St. George)
Armenian Church in Mardin, Turkey, reports, quoting
Turkish Democrathaber website.

Hatun Jajur, who has voluntarily undertaken to clean the church, had
left for a while and found everything turned upside down upon return.

"No only the main entrance, but also all other doors of the church
were broken," Jajur said.

The Church is one of Europe's seven most endangered monuments. For
15 centuries the Church of St. George was the spiritual home of the
large Armenian community in the Turkish city of Mardin. This Grade
I registered historical building was founded in 420 AD and was in
use until the Armenian genocide of 1915. In spite of its outstanding
historical and cultural importance, this monument is currently in an
advance state of decay. 

The year 2015 did not prove a favorable period for Armenian wine- and
brandy-manufacturers, Avag Harutyunyan, the chairman of the Armenian
Association of Winemakers, said today, summing up the annual results.

"We do not yet have the official statistics, but our estimates suggest
that the brandy export volumes have dropped by minimum 15%-20%;
as regards the cost, we have a 25% decline," he said, citing the
unchanged brandy prices on the Russian market and the depreciation of
the Russian Ruble as the major reasons accounting for the low dynamics.

Harutyunyan added that the manufacturers not only were unable to
secure profit but also incurred losses.

"If our [brandy-makers] had tried to stop supplying brandy to the
Russian market, they would have lost their place, secured through
painstaking work over the past 5-7 years," he said, noting that French
and Azerbaijani brandy appear to be serious rivals to the Armenian
product on the international market.

Harutyunyan said that the same problem exists also on the wine market.

"The export volumes have decreased by 10%-15%, and also the Ruble
has depreciated. So our exporters have suffered damage here too."

Harutyunyan said the villagers have not even buried their vine
orchards, not having the necessary means, and also feeling desperate
without any expectation to secure profit from their yield in the
next season.

"The Government was aware of the expected situation back in October
last year, and it didn't take any measure. So it is necessary to
undertake steps not to reduce the grape harvest which is already 20%
less than last year. The Government must announce plans for granting
subsidies for next year's harvest, and it must partially cover the
costs, exempting [wine and brandy] factories from the excise tax and
making the market more intense 

YEREVAN. - Government of the Republic of Armenia (RA) is not
particularly optimistic in terms of developments expected in the next
year, Haykakan Zhamanak daily reported.

"But in recent days, the government has become more pessimistic in the
expectations for next year's state budget and the state of the economy.

"According to the forecasts by the analysts at renowned American Bank
of America Merrill Lynch analytical center, the future of Russia's
economy, which depends on the expected decline in global oil prices,
is pretty grim.

"Accordingly, the RF [i.e. the Russian Federation] Government will
have to either drastically cut costs or substantially devalue the
Russian ruble.

"And the RA economy will get a powerful blow in both cases, since
our economy 'revolves' around the private remittances received from
Russia. Their reduction has a direct impact on the purchasing power
of our population, [and] therefore also on the economy and budget
revenues," Haykakan Zhamanak wrote. 
16 December, 2015

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 16. Confronting the 100th anniversary
of the Armenian Genocide was an important moment for the Turkish
Republic. Leaving aside the apology, compensation, the state could
not even respect the pain of the Armenian people. But did Armenian
people have a loss from all of that? No. Turkey was again the one to
lose. As "Armenpress" reports, prominent Turkish intellectual Ragıp
Zarakolu writes about the aforesaid.

"The Republic of Turkey, which persists not to be changed, took
confident steps not towards democracy but - totalitarianism during the
100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Throughout the history of
the Republic, the denial of the Armenian Genocide became an integral
part of totalitarian ideology. For this reason, the main conditions
for the democratization of Turkey are the recognition, apology and
compensation of the Armenian Genocide," Zarakolu mentions in his
statement, emphasizing that the recognition of the Armenian Genocide
is important, not for its victims, but in terms of the existence of
the Turkish state.

"This country keeps repeating the same mistakes and it causes
instability and a threat not only for the country but also in terms
of neighboring countries," the Turkish intellectual wrote.

He notes that the Genocide launched 100 years ago, is going on in Syria
and Iraq already in 2015, where 3rd and 4th generations of Armenians,
Assyrians and Yazidis are under target.

"The victims stopped being just victims; they are martyrs after the
Canonization ceremony of Armenian Genocide victims in Etchmiadzin on
April 23. Their graves are not already open; they were buried in the
heart of the people. They are already in hearts of the world people.

But Turkish Republic will continue to remain under heavy burden of
the implemented heavy crime against humanity. It could not found
a peaceful society for 100 years, as it was not able to say "never
again" but continued to threaten saying "I'll do again."

And as long as this mentality has not changed, there has been no
confrontation with history, apology and compensation culture is not
formed, and while impunity continues, these bloody land will not find
their peace.

The struggle for the reality will continue and conscience will win
in the end." Zarakolu concluded the statement. 


An application to Istanbul Court of Peace is made for appointing a
guardian for Patriarch Mutafyan.

The request of Tatyos Bebek, Artin Mezedur, Nazaret Binatlı and Harut
Ozer was presented to the court by lawyer Arin Manca. In the petition,
there are three explanatory items. The petition which stated that
Patriarch Mutafyan has been under incapacity for 9 years because of
his illness is accepted by the court.

A medical report certifying that the Patriarch is suffering from
"Frontotemporal dementia" is also presented to the court. This
development was covered by the international media and resonated
with the Armenian community. We asked Tatyos Bebek what the purpose
of this demand is and he said that they have been considering it for
a long time.

Bebek said: "The lawyers say that a guardian should have been appointed
when our Patriarch was diagnosed with this illness. We don't know
why this hasn't been done so far. Lately, people began to say that if
a patriarch cannot perform his duty for 7 years, the seat should be
considered as vacant and this set us in motion to make this application
which we have been considering for a long time. With this application,
the health condition of our Patriarch will become official."

"An action should have been taken"

In 2010, Archbishop AteÅ~_yan applied for a "co-Patriarch" election
and the Ministry of Interior rejected it on the grounds that "there
cannot be an election as long as the Patriarch is alive." Reminding
this incident, Tatyos Bebek said, "First of all, when a guardian is
appointed, this argument become invalid, because a person with a legal
guardian cannot be considered as alive." He also added: "Of course we
are not happy with this situation, but an action should have be taken,
because this concerns the future of our community."

In the petition, Mutafyan's mother is pointed as the most eligible
guardian and if she doesn't accept it, the court appoints a guardian.

Tatyos Bebek also stated that a guardian and a trustee are two
different positions and a guardian can have a right of disposition
if only there is a court order. 

Harpers Bazaar
Dec 16 2015

The Amal Clooney Scholarship will help young Lebanese women study
for a degree at a college in Armenia

By Rebecca Cope 16 December 2015

Amal Clooney hopes to help the next generation of Lebanese girls get
a university degree with her new scholarship, 100 Lives.

The partnership will see the lucky recipients studying for a degree
at the United World College in Dilijan, Armenia. 100 Lives is an
initiative that hopes to raise awareness of the Armenian Genocide.

"This scholarship will give young women from Lebanon the opportunity
of a lifetime," Clooney said. "Cross-cultural learning and studying
abroad can be transformative. I am grateful to 100 Lives for helping
to open doors for these bright and talented young women."

"As a leading human-rights barrister and campaigner, Amal Clooney is
an inspirational role model for young women around the world. She
exemplifies integrity, compassion and dedication - and typifies
what it means to be a global citizen across all cultures," said
Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of 100 Lives and UWC Dilijan College,
an international co-educational boarding school hosting students from
64 countries. "100 Lives recognises the need for future generations
to have greater cross-cultural understanding. The college strives to
make education a force for peace by bringing together aspiring young
leaders from all over the world."

The Clooneys both have close ties to 100 Lives, with George Clooney
being a co-chair of the inaugural Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity,
an award he will present in Armenia next April.

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