Saturday, 12 March 2016

Armenian News... Armenag Topalian...BBC FOCUS ON ARMENIAN CHURCH DESTROYED 

March 10 2015
Ruth Gledhill

Its architecture speaks of Christian history going back many centuries.

The church, in Aleppo, Syria, was built to commemorate those martyred
in the 1915 Armenian genocide. It contained a shrine made of the bones
of some of the slaughtered. The church was only consecrated in 1991.

Just 23 years later, in 2014, it was blown up by Islamic State.

Now it features on the BBC's Museum of Lost Objects series that traces
stories of sites looted or destroyed in Iraq and Syria.

British-Armenian writer Nouritza Matossian, whose family was caught
up in the persecution of the Armenians, told the BBC how she felt
on seeing the desert shrine for the first time when she visited the
church in 2001.

"I was so shocked. I just stood and looked at the bones. Everybody
was hushed, it was silent in there. We were all lost in our thoughts.

It was really quite an isolated moment. It wasn't pulling at you to
cry or weep. It was just very simple and dignified and noble."

She said her people had been driven across the deserts starving,
without water, stripped naked, their clothes torn off their backs.

Heghnar Watenpaugh, Lebanese-Armenian historian at the University of
California, said: "Deir al-Zour was the end of the road, it was the
last Ottoman outpost into the desert in the eastern part of Syria.

Beyond that there's really nothing, no settlements. Very few people
made it there, and once they made it they were killed outright,
or just succumbed to disease and starvation."

Turkey has always denied that the massacre of the Armenians was

Matossian was shocked that it had been destroyed so soon in its life.

"It's a very dark moment in our life, in our history. I never thought
this could be repeated," she said.

She still owns a small box containing a tiny cross she bought at
the shrine.

"The priest told me that that is the earth of Deir al-Zour. Some
people take earth from where they're born and they spread it on their
grave when they die. This soil has that significance. I always keep
this box within eyesight, on my desk. I never expected that one
day I would be looking at this box and that church would be gone,
destroyed. It's very hard to accept."

Click for the report on the BBC website: 

RFE/RL Report
Women In Charge Of Armenian Village Hit By Male Migration
Armenia -- Local Council meeting in Antarashen, 08Mar2016
Ruzanna Gishian

Seasonal labor migration of men in an Armenian village has left women
in control of the local administration body.

For two years now all members of the local council in Antarashen are
women. The only man in the village administration is mayor Rafik
Kharatian. In a country where women have limited representation in
government bodies, the male official says working with only women in
running the community is a lot easier.

"They understand things better, they attend the [council] sessions and
really work," says the leader of a community in Armenia's northern
Lori province, which is home to approximately 260 residents.

Outmigration of particularly adult male population is a problem common
in many villages and towns in Armenia's economically depressed
northern provinces. In Antarashen, however, the sex ratio appears to
be particularly extreme.

Kharatian, a man in his sixties, says he'd like to make presents to
all councilwomen on the occasion of International Women's Day, which
is marked on March 8 and is a public holiday in Armenia. "But there is
no extra money in the community budget for that purpose," he regrets.

Residents in Antarashen say their village used to be prosperous during
the Soviet times as they raised animals with valuable hides. In the
post-Soviet reality and market relations, however, animal husbandry
does not appear that profitable an industry, while the soil around the
mountainous village is not fertile enough for farming. As a result, an
estimated half of all community residents, virtually all working-age
men, are now in Russia doing seasonal migrant jobs. Local families
mainly live off the remittances wired back home by their male
relatives from abroad.

Members of the all-women council of Antarashen complain that despite
all their efforts they still can't find solutions to even the most
vital problems of the community where there is no school or
kindergarten. The village situated some 16 kilometers from the
regional center of Vanadzor does not even have a store of its own
where the locals could buy essential goods. Antarashen residents have
to walk several kilometers down a rundown road every day to the
neighboring village of Lermontov to buy bread and other staples.

Sessions of the village council in Antarashen are held inside a
dilapidated building, which hasn't been repaired for two decades
now. Only a relevant sign prompts that it is a local administration
building. Guests are extremely rare in Antarashen and government
officials do not normally visit this area. Still, the village's head
and several members of its council are affiliated with the ruling
Republican Party of Armenia. 
09 Mar 2016
Siranush Ghazanchyan

'Historic Armenia After 100 Years,' the historical guide to Western
Armenia by author Matthew Karanian, is a finalist in the INDIEFAB Book
of the Year Awards for best travel book of 2015. Foreword Reviews,
the sponsor of the awards, announced the finalists this week.

'Historic Armenia' was published in 2015 and is the first-ever
historical guide to the cultural sites of Western Armenia. The book
features 125 color photographs and maps, including antique images
and maps from one century ago.

The INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards honors independent publishers
and university presses. Stone Garden Press, the publisher of 'Historic
Armenia,' is an independent publisher in Pasadena, Calif.

A panel of more than 100 volunteer librarians and booksellers
determined the award finalists in numerous categories of fiction and
non-fiction books.

Author Matthew Karanian said he is pleased with this recognition
for Historic Armenia. "One of the objectives of publishing 'Historic
Armenia' was to shine a bright light on the often-forgotten cultural
heritage of the Armenians in their ancient homeland [of Western
Armenia]," said Karanian. "This honor furthers that objective."

Foreword Reviews will celebrate the winners during a program at the
American Library Association Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida
in June.

'Historic Armenia After 100 Years' is sold at independent bookstores
and at Barnes and Noble in the US, and is available for purchase online
from the publisher, Stone Garden Press, at 

Russian-Armenian fashion designer Alexander Siradekian has presented
his collection of tailed shoes in the Paris, which these days is
hosting a fashion week show.

The Haute Couture collection, which the talented designer has named
Val de Loire, includes 10 pairs of unique hand-made shoes, of which
two are for kids, according to

The publication says that it took specialists nine weeks of painstaking 
work to complete each single pair. 

Express Online, UK
March 8, 2016

by Sean Martin

Professor Stephen Hawking has given an emotional tribute to his late
mathematics teacher Dikran Tahta, stating that he wouldn't be where
he is today without his childhood tutor.

Stephen Hawking has paid tribute to his former teacher

The famed theoretical physicist paid homage to Tahta, who died in
2006, by saying that he changed him and ultimately our understanding
of the universe.

In an emotional video which comes ahead of the Global Teacher Prize
2016, Prof Hawking described the impact that Tahta had on his life.

The 74-year old said: "It all starts, with the seed of love.

"The love of music, the love of history, for me it was the love
of science.

"At Saint Albans School, there was an inspirational maths teacher,
Mr Tahta.

"He opened my eyes to the blue print of the universe itself,

"I wasn't the best student at all. My handwriting was bad, and I
could be lazy.

"Many teachers were boring. Not Mr Tahta, His classes were lively
and exciting.

"Everything could be debated. Together we built my first computer,
it was made with electro mechanical switches.

"Thanks to Mr Tahta, I became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge,
in a position once held by Isaac Newton.

"I have spent my life attempting to unlock the mysteries of the

"When each of us thinks about what we can do in life, chances are,
we can do it because of a teacher.

Tahta inspired Hawking to study the universe

"Behind every exceptional person, there is an exceptional teacher.

"Today, we need great teachers more than ever.

"We must always remember, teachers matter."

Dikran "Dick" Tahta, who was of Armenian decent, first encountered
Hawking when the young genius moved to St Albans, Hertfordshire,
with his family in 1950 when Hawking was just 8-years old.

By the time Prof Hawking was 16, the pair had built a computer together
using the remains of old clock parts and a telephone switch board.

On 2 December 2006, Dikran Tahta died at the age of 78 with Hawking
regularly saying since that the mild-mathematician was the catalyst
for his success. 

AGBU Europe
On May 2, the European Parliament will host a conference entitled "A
Europe of Diasporas". This conference concludes a year of exchange and
coalition-building between organizations, academics and activists
connected with the Jewish, Roma, Armenian and Assyrian diasporas in

The conference will feature four panels addressing such topics as the
educational needs of diasporas and developing a new narrative for
Europe that is inclusive of diasporas.

The conference will also discuss issues relating to discrimination and
hate speech, remembrance, heritage, the fate of refugees, and more. A
concluding panel will provide an opportunity for a high-level debate
with policy-makers.

The conference will provide an unprecedented opportunity to engage
with European leaders, policy makers, activists and experts on the
role, place and vision of diasporas in Europe in the years to come.

Finally, the conference will also feature the award ceremony of the A
Europe of Diasporas Photo Competition. The competition is open for
participation until March 31.

About the project. `A Europe of Diasporas' is a European project and
is a first step towards the establishment of a network of diasporas in
Europe. This network aims to help affirm the notion that diasporas
have been part of the European story for many centuries and that they
are an asset for Europe. It promotes exchanges and joint advocacy
between diasporas.

AGBU Europe coordinates and develops the pan-European activities of
the Armenian General Benevolent Union. Established in 1906, AGBU is
the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization.  AGBU Europe
runs numerous programmes in fields relating to academic research, the
preservation and promotion of heritage, education and culture as well
as awareness raising, advocacy and leadership training.

Phiren Amenca is a network of Roma and non-Roma volunteers and
voluntary service organizations creating opportunities for non-formal
education, dialogue and engagement, in order to challenge stereotypes
and racism.

The European Union of Jewish Students is a pluralistic, inclusive and
non-partisan umbrella organization that supports Jewish student unions
throughout Europe and represents its members in international
institutions and organisations. 

RFE/RL Report
Armenia Reaffirms Support For Russia On Syria

Armenia firmly supports the position of Russia on the Syrian issue,
the country's President Serzh Sarkisian stated at talks with his
Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday.

During their meeting the two leaders reportedly discussed "key issues
of Russian-Armenian cooperation, prospects of integration processes in
the Eurasian space and the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement."

Both expressed satisfaction with the "successful development" of
Armenian-Russian relations, with Putin defining them as "strategic

Armenia is a key military and political ally of Russia in the South
Caucasus. It hosts a Russian military base and is a member of the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-led defense
pact of six post-Soviet nations.

In early 2015 Armenia also joined the Eurasian Economic Union, which
besides Russia also includes Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

#Putin and Sarkisian dwelled on the fact that Armenia currently holds
the rotating presidency in the CSTO. "It is this organization that is
responsible for security issues, for fighting terrorism and organized
crime and for calm on our borders," Putin emphasized in remarks
reported by the Kremlin press service as well as Sarkisian's official

Sarkisian, for his part, said that Armenia, as the currently presiding
country, "pays great attention to the implementation of the decisions
made at the September and December summits of the CSTO."

"We are, of course, concerned over the situation in the regions
adjacent to the zone of CSTO responsibility. Like I said during the
December session [of the CSTO] and in my other speeches, I once again
openly declare that we firmly support Russia in the Syrian issue. And,
of course, we welcome the agreement that you have reached with the
United States on the cessation of hostilities [in Syria], which may
become a key to the political solution to the problem," the Armenian
president stated.

Sarkisian also thanked Putin for Russian efforts on finding a solution
to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. "We remain
committed to a peaceful resolution of this conflict," he emphasized.

Along with the United States and France, Russia is a key international
peace broker in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in which the settlement
process has stalled recently, with both sides accusing each other of
hampering progress.

Despite its mediatory role, Russia has supplied both Armenia and
Azerbaijan with weapons. In late February, a Russian Foreign Ministry
representative said that in doing so Russia, however, was careful to
maintain a "balance of forces" in the region.

During today's meeting with Putin, Sarkisian spoke about "full mutual
understanding in the political, economic, military-technical and
humanitarian spheres." "These relations are developing very well," he

Putin, on his part, said: "Of course, there are also problems of
objective nature, I mean first of all our economic cooperation, even
though here we understand that on the whole we can be satisfied with
how we have built the basis of our relations. I have no doubts that
basing on our joint decisions of previous years we will be developing
[our relations] also in this direction."

The price of natural gas that Armenia receives from Russia is one of
the issues on the economic agenda of the two countries. In January,
Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian said Armenia had asked Russia
to cut the price of natural gas delivered to the country and hoped for
a positive response.

Gazprom, which supplies at least 80 percent of Armenia's gas, already
lowered the price from $190 to $165 per thousand cubic meters for
Yerevan in 2015.

In February, Abrahamian publicly pressed Armenia's Russian-owned gas
distribution network to help his government convince Russia to further
cut the gas price, but Armenian officials did not report any progress
on the matter since.

At today's session the Armenian government, however, gave its consent
to the price of gas at $165 for the first quarter of 2016. The
short-term agreement on this account was also expected to be approved
by Putin and Sarkisian during their meeting in Moscow. But neither the
press office of the Armenian president or the press office of the
Russian head of state specifically reported on discussions regarding
the gas price issue.

Earlier on Thursday, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, who
was on the delegation headed by President Sarkisian, held a meeting
with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov to discuss cooperation
between the two countries' foreign policy departments.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry's press service, the two
diplomats exchanged views on current international and regional

At the end of the meeting, Nalbandian and Lavrov signed a plan of
consultations between their ministries for 2016-2017. The plan
envisages about three dozen consultations in the next couple of years
on international and regional issues, issues of information provision,
consular and other matters.

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