Monday, 11 April 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Pope to visit Armenia etc...

Travelling In Armenia - Pantheon
31 March 2016 

Catholic News Agency
April 9 2016
Pope to visit Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan

Vatican City, Apr 9, 2016 (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis
will journey this summer to Armenia, and will visit Georgia and
Azerbaijan later in the year, the Vatican announced Saturday.

The visit to Armenia will take place June 24-26, following the
invitation of Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians,
Karekin II, the nation's civil authorities, and the Catholic Church,
according to the April 9 statement from the Holy See press office.

Francis himself had expressed his wish to go to the Caucasus nation in
his Nov. 30 press conference in the flight from Central Africa. In
2014, he said: “I promised the three (Armenian) Patriarchs that I
would go: the promise has been made. I don’t know if it will be
possible, but I did promise.”

Armenia is the site of the 1915 Armenian genocide in the Ottoman
Empire which targeted Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Christian
minorities. Some 1.5 million Christians, most of them Armenians, were
killed, and millions more were displaced during the genocide.

Speaking during a Sept. 7 Mass, the Pope called it “one of many great

Francis will be the second pontiff to visit Armenia, after St. John
Paul II's 2001 visit to the nation.

From Sept. 20 – Oct. 2, the Pope will visit the Caucasus nations of
Georgia and Azerbaijan, having accepted “the invitations from His
Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, Catholicos Patriarch of All Georgia,
and the civil and religious authorities of Georgia and Azerbaijan,”
the Vatican statement said.

Georgia and Azerbaijan had previously been visited by St. John Paul II
in 1999 and 2002, respectively. 

The New York Times
April 7, 2016 Thursday
Rival Christians Unite to Fix Perils at Jesus' Tomb

JERUSALEM -- It was a typical day at the shrine around what many
believe is the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem's Old City. A Greek Orthodox
choir sang inside a room facing the baroque structure. But the voices
were drowned out when chanting Armenian priests and monks circling the
shrine raised theirs.

''Sometimes they punch each other,'' Farah Atallah, a church guard
wearing a fez, observed with a shrug.

Mr. Atallah is a seasoned witness to the rivalries among the Greek
Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox and Roman Catholic communities that
jealously share -- and sometimes spar over -- what they consider
Christianity's holiest site, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Amid the rivalry, the unsteady 206-year-old structure, held together
by a 69-year-old iron cage, is an uncomfortable, often embarrassing
symbol of Christian divisions, which have periodically erupted into
tensions. In 2008, monks and priests brawled near the shrine, throwing
punches and pulling one another's hair not far from the tomb where
Christians believe Jesus was resurrected.

But in recent weeks, scaffolding has gone up a few feet from the
shrine in the gloomy shadows of the Arches of the Virgin, the first
step in a rare agreement by the various Christian communities to save
the dilapidated shrine, also called the Aedicule, from falling down.

The March 22 agreement calls for a $3.4 million renovation to begin
next month, after Orthodox Easter celebrations. Each religious group
will contribute one-third of the costs, and a Greek bank contributed
50,000 euros, or $57,000, for the scaffolding, in return for having
its name emblazoned across the machinery.

The idea is to peel away hundreds of years of the shrine's history,
clean it and put it back together. Simple enough, but delayed for
decades because of the complicated, centuries-old rules and minute
traditions -- called the status quo -- that define the way Jerusalem's
holy sites are governed, in which the very act of repairing something
can imply ownership.

''One of the serious issues in the church is that the status quo takes
place over every other consideration, and it's not a good thing,''
said Athanasius Macora, a Franciscan friar. ''Unity is more important
than a turf war.''

The inspiration for this unity was the threat of losing the shrine
altogether. Alarmed by reports that the shrine was at risk of
collapse, the Israeli police barricaded it for several hours on Feb.
17, 2015, throwing out the monks who guard it and preventing hundreds
of pilgrims from entering.

The message was clear: Fix it, or else.

So after a year of much study and negotiation, monument conservation
experts plan to first remove the iron cage that Jerusalem's colonial
British rulers built in 1947 in a prior effort to keep the Aedicule
from collapsing, after a 1927 earthquake and rain left the structure
cracked, its marble slabs flaking.

They will take apart, slab by slab, the ornate marble shell built in
1810, during Ottoman rule of Jerusalem. The conservationists will then
tackle the remains of the 12th-century Crusader shrine that lies
underneath. That was erected after the Shiite ruler of Egypt,
al-Hakim, destroyed the first Aedicule in 1009. The original was built
by Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, the Christian Roman
emperor who did much to elevate the status of Christianity through the

Finally, the workers will repair cracks in the remains of the
rock-hewed tomb underneath, where most Christians believe Jesus was
placed after he was crucified. (There is a rival Tomb of Christ just
outside the Old City walls, patronized mainly by Protestants. But that
is another story.)

Antonia Moropoulou, the conservation expert heading the project, said
the shrine would remain open to visitors during most of the
painstaking process.

Hundreds of pilgrims waited to enter one recent day as Catholics said
Mass near the Aedicule, blocking the entry with wooden pews. The
shrine is topped with a large gray cupola, and it is decorated with
gold, icons, pillars, candles, heavy bronze lamps, inscriptions and a
large painting of Christ.

''This is a very super experience of my spirit,'' said Anil Macwan,
30, a lay Catholic preacher from India. ''The world cannot give me the
feeling I get from this tomb, this place. It is a very sacred place.''

Two women from the Eternal Sacred Order of the Cherubim and Seraphim,
in Nigeria, wearing matching blue dresses and head scarves, walked
shoeless into the Aedicule, crossing the Chapel of the Angel, with its
walls of elaborately carved marble and proclamations in Greek. They
bent through the low door into the Chapel of the Holy Sepulcher,
where, under oil lamps, two white marble slabs denote the location of
Jesus' rock tomb.

The two women fell to their knees, raised their arms in supplication
and fervently whispered prayers. They wiped their hands and
photographs of children on the slabs.

Another day, a line of Indian Muslims squished against South Korean
tourists, Indian nuns and Arab-American Christians stretched past the
Chapel of the Copts, a room attached to the back of the Aedicule,
where a monk guarding the site was engrossed in his smartphone.

The three Christian communities vigilantly guard the property they
already control to an extent that can feel baffling to outsiders
coming to the Holy Sepulcher, a cavernous jumble of Byzantine and
Crusader architecture, with soaring domes, sunken rooms, gloomy light,
heavy bronze lamps, squat buttresses and elegant arches.

In the church entryway is a gaudy gold mosaic on a wall, owned by
members of the Greek Orthodox Church, that distracts from the nearby
Stone of Unction, the marble slab covering the site where Jesus was

Beside the mosaic is a ladder owned by Catholics, who will not move
it. It is next to an Armenian-controlled walkway of a few feet leading
to the Aedicule, where non-Armenian priests in vestments may pass, but
not stand, because that would suggest they are challenging Armenian

The last significant renovation began in the 1950s, when the Jordanian
authorities who controlled East Jerusalem at the time pushed Christian
representatives into forming a technical bureau to address the 1927
quake damage. But the process broke down more than a decade later,
according to Father Macora.

After the last embarrassing dust-up, in 2008, which was captured on
YouTube, the rival communities began trying to fix their relations in
earnest, repairing the toilets as a good-will measure. In 2014, Pope
Francis met the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople,
the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians, at the Aedicule, to
promote unity.

Still, ''somebody had to push us,'' said the Rev. Samuel Aghoyan, the
Armenian Patriarchate's representative at the Holy Sepulcher, who took
to fisticuffs with a previous Greek Orthodox patriarch, Irineos I,
inside the Aedicule on Holy Saturday, before Easter, in 2002. ''If the
Israeli government didn't get involved, nobody would have done

Ms. Moropoulou, the conservationist leading the renovation, said she
hoped it would maintain the intangible spirit ''of a living

''This tomb is the most alive place,'' Ms. Moropoulou said. More so,
she added, ''than anything I have seen in my life.''

She continued, ''The greatest challenge is to preserve that.'' 

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
April 8  2016
Postcards of Turkish-Armenian history

A new exhibition opened on April 6 at Istanbul’s Tophane-i Amire
Culture and Arts Center sheds light on 800-year-old shared history of
Turks and Armenians in Istanbul and Anatolia.

Organized by Turkish Foreign Ministry, the exhibition, titled
“Unutmanın Değil Hatırlamanın Zamanı” (Time To Remember But Not To
Forget) opened with a speech by Deputy Minister Naci Koru said, “With
this exhibition, our purpose is to remember the elements of our 
common culture and the experiences that made us us.”

Speaking of the importance of approaching Turkish-Armenian relations
with humane dimensions, Koru said, “With its rich content, the
exhibition offers visitors the importance and position of Turkey’s
Armenians in Anatolian culture. The Ottoman Empire had lots of pains
under the World War I conditions.
 It is so wrong to freeze the flow of
history by focusing on a moment and incite conflict instead of peace
and dialogue. Those who use the historical events for their own goals
harm both Turks and Armenians.”

Koru also said the exhibition focused on the elements belonging to
Turks’ and Armenians’ shared culture.
The curator of the exhibition, architect Güzin Erkan, said 150
postcards were the highlights of the exhibition, and continued:

“[The postcards] prove to us how two societies lived together.
Visitors can see the historical development of Turkish-Armenian
relations on the panels. Another section shows the documents from the
Ottoman archive.”

About the pomegranate theme of the exhibition, Erkan said,
“Pomegranate [represents] the new day. New hope, new life, and the
symbol of abundance. Those who have good will will continue keep these
relations alive in the future, just like in the past.”

The exhibition includes a special selection from the largest Ottoman
postcard archive, the Orlando Carlo Calumeno collection of nearly
4,000 postcards collected between 1895 and 1914. The postcards,
featuring Armenian neighborhoods, churches, monasteries, schools,
orphanages and hospitals, have been created by Armenian editors or

The exhibition will run through April 29. 

Report Russia Cuts Gas Price For Armenia
Sargis Harutyunyan

Russia has agreed to a 9 percent reduction in the price of its natural
gas supplied to Armenia, it was announced during Russian Prime
Minister Dmitry Medvedev's official visit to Yerevan on Thursday.

The chairman of Russia's Gazprom giant, Alexei Miller, and Deputy
Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky signed corresponding agreements with
Armenian officials after taking part in Medvedev's talks with his
Armenian counterpart Hovik Abrahamian.

Abrahamian told reporters afterwards that the wholesale price of
Russian gas for Armenia will fall from $165 to $150 per thousand cubic
meters. But he would not say whether the gas tariff for Armenian
consumers will also go down by 9 percent. "We will discuss this issue
with relevant bodies and inform our public," he said.

Yerevan asked for a gas price cut early this year, citing the collapse
in international oil prices. Gazprom's market-based tariff for
European countries has plummeted from an average of $350 to around
$200 per thousand cubic meters in the last 18 months, making the
Russian discount for Armenia much less significant.

President Serzh Sarkisian reportedly discussed the issue with Russian
President Vladimir Putin when he visited Moscow last month.

Armenia receives roughly 80 percent of its gas from Russia. 
ANC: Entire Armenia opposition and civil sector are for 
publication of voter lists

The entire opposition and civil sector of Armenia are for the
publication of post-election voter lists.

Chairman of the Armenian National Congress (ANC) faction Levon
Zurabyan stated the aforementioned in the parliament on Saturday at
the 4+4+4 format discussion of the draft Electoral Code of Armenia (4
representatives from authorities, opposition and civil society).

No legal act of Armenia bans the promulgation of those lists. The only
reference the Armenian Government makes is to the decision of the
Council of Europe Venice Commission. But this decision is only of
consultation character, he added.

Apart from this, the republic has no other political power or NGO
besides the authorities, which would protect the confidentiality of
voter lists.

Thus, it turns out that the authorities want to protect the
confidential voting of the citizens, but instead they protect the
right which nobody wants to protect. Moreover, the opposition and the
civil society demand the opposite, i.e. to publish these lists, he
Henrikh Mkhitrayan wears Armenian armband in Europa Liga 
match against Liverpool
08 Apr 2016
Siranush Ghazanchyan 

Henrikh Mkhitrayan wore an Armenian armband during Borussia 
Dortmund’s Europa Liga match against Liverpool.

“Played plenty of thoughts for my motherland tonight ‪#‎Armenia,” 
Henrikh wrote on social media after the match.

Liverpool held Borussia Dortmund to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the 
Europa League quarterfinal as Jurgen Klopp made an emotional 
 return to Signal Iduna Park.

Divock Origi opened the scoring for Liverpool. The hosts’ equaliser 
 came within three minutes of the restart when Mats Hummels was 
 allowed a free run at Mkhitaryan’s right-wing cross to power a header 
 past Mignolet.

Rights and wrongs in Nagorno-Karabakh
Friday 8 April 2016 

I agree with the points raised in Simon Tisdall’s article (Azerbaijan
 -Armenia conflict is a reminder of Europe’s instability, 4 April) and 
 very much appreciate the author’s insight into the history of Karabakh 
and the region.

It is long overdue that the international community comes up with a 
plan to produce a peaceful and full solution to the conflict. However, 
the continuing presence of Armenian armed forces in the internationally 
recognised territories ofAzerbaijan remains a key hurdle on the way 
to the peace. What makes the situation even more complicated is 
that international mediation, in the format of OSCE Minsk Group, has 
turned into an ineffective mechanism, leading to a stalemate.

As a gesture of goodwill, and heeding the calls from the international 
community, Azerbaijan has acted responsibly and declared a unilateral 
halt to military operations. However, the refusal of Armenia to abide 
by this ceasefire is a clear reminder of the need for the heightened 
international pressure on Armenia.

The break-up of the ceasefire in place since 1994 risks turning into 
full-blown military operations in the region, threatening Europe’s 
stability. As you have rightly highlighted, this is happening against 
the backdrop of many other challenges facing Europe. It is therefore
in the best interests of both Europe and the wider international 
community to put pressure on Armenia to withdraw its armed forces 
from the territories of Azerbaijan, getting us closer to the eventual 
 long overdue peace.

Tahir Taghizadeh
Azerbaijan ambassador, London

• Simon Tisdall’s article makes some very important points concerning 
the cross-border violence currently being suffered by the inhabitants 
of Nagorno-Karabakh and the well documented evidence of aggression 
from Azerbaijan that has the potential to ignite a conflagration in the 
south Caucasus.

I feel that it is important to state that neither Armenia nor Nagorno-Karabakh 
have any territorial ambitions in respect of Azerbaijan and that anyone 
who has visited the area will see indisputable evidence of an Armenian 
presence in the region from at least the third century.

By breaching the 1994 ceasefire, President Ilham Aliyev may achieve 
his aim of distracting attention from the profound problems that exist 
in Azerbaijan, but he risks the creation of yet another war zone in a 
region that has already seen far too much bloodshed.

Stephen Pound MP
Labour, Ealing North 

• The unravelling of multinational entities is usually messy. Wasn’t 
 Northern Ireland, for instance, less a land grab by London and more 
an instance of a young Irish state not commanding the allegiance of 
the Protestant north? A similar situation applies to some of the states 
that emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union. Azerbaijan is no 
exception, in that the Christian Armenians of the Nagorno-Karabakh 
 enclave object to Azeri rule.

Other examples abound. The Slavs of Transnistria, which abuts Ukraine, 
don’t feel any affinity with the Romanian-speaking Moldovan authorities 
and they furthermore fear that Romania will eventually absorb Moldova.
Then there are the Abkhazians and South Ossetians of Georgia who 
distrust Tbilisi rule. Ukraine also springs to mind with its Russian-speaking 
east pitted against the Ukrainian-speaking west.

The west should resist the temptation to use these disputes as an 
opportunity to bait the Russian bear. Nor should it treat communistt
-drawn administrative lines as sacrosanct. Remember Sykes-Picot. 
The west needs to tread carefully. Don’t make a bad situation worse. 

Yugo Kovach
Winterborne Houghton, Dorset
The Smithsonian
April 7 2016
 Tastes of Memory: How to Bake an Authentic Armenian Lavash
Preserving Armenian culture, memory and identity in the kitchen
By Rebecca Wall

Light filters in from an open window over mounds of dough resting in
Rima Timbaryan’s kitchen. Kindling crackles as it turns to ash in the
tonir, and the sounds of women singing drift into the room.

Rima, Arev Yenokyan, and Gema Simonyan have been awake for hours,
mixing dough forlavash, the fire-baked flatbread that is a staple of
life in Armenia. They combine the dough, prep the oven, and prepare
their workspace for the day’s work, occasionally breaking into songs
like “Im Anoush Mayrig” (“my sweet mother”). They come together a few
times each month to bake the bread, a slow and deliberate process that
involves at least two bakers.

This scene takes place in Rind village, Vayots Dzor province, sixty
miles south of the Armenian capital, Yerevan. Rima, Arev, and Gema are
part of a centuries-old tradition led by women that has evolved and
sustained itself through loss and joy, historical triumphs and
tragedies. Around the hearths of Armenian homes from Yerevan to Los
Angeles, women preserve and celebrate Armenian culture, memory, and
identity through the production and sharing of lavash.

As in many cultures of the Caucasus and Middle East, bread and wheat
are important elements of Armenian lifecycle events and festivals.
Families offer bread and salt to their houseguests to welcome them.
Hosts of births and weddings serve or display wheat kernels and
special stews and breads. A new bride has a piece of lavash placed on
her shoulders, signifying luck, wealth, and the new life she will
bring into the family.

To break bread with someone is to share a common experience, and to
experience Armenia you have to witness the baking and enjoy the simple
pleasures of lavash. Many Armenian words and expressions derive from
the simple, yet significant, act of breaking bread. For instance, the
word for a gathering or party, utel-khmel, literally translates to
“eat-drink.” The word for friend, enker, means “eating together.”
Foods create and mark relationships and identity—wife and husband,
family, community, nation.

Making lavash requires flour, water, sometimes yeast, the wood-fired
tonir oven, and time, but preparations differ almost from village to
village. Just as Armenia’s mountainous South Caucasus terrain creates
multiple distinct microclimates that nurture diverse plant and animal
species, so too did the mountains create a historic diversity in
cultures and foods. Neighboring villages were isolated by cliffs and
gorges, so each developed different ways of baking this seemingly
simplest of foods.

This culinary range traveled with Armenians around the world. Armenian
American writer Doug Kalajian recalls of his mother’s variation: “Her
lavash was tremendously different from other lavash, even from the
lavash baked in the next village where my father’s family was from.
Hers was rich, buttery, and flaky.” Doug and his co-author Robyn
Kalajian write the blog The Armenian Kitchen, chronicling food and
memory through Armenian recipes from around the world.

In the United States, preparing and enjoying lavash was one of the
most important ways Doug and his family expressed their Armenian
identity. He remembers an aunt who refused to compromise her lavash
with a modern oven:

My mother’s aunt lived in Massachusetts, where she baked her lavash in
the traditional way, baking bubbly, white lavash in a wood stove. Her
stove looked like a locomotive engine, it was huge. She would bake her
lavash in that oven and it was fabulous. When she was older, her son
and daughter-in-law surprised her with a new kitchen and an electric
stove. They congratulated her that she didn’t need to build the fire
anymore, just use the electric oven. She was furious. They had put the
old wood stove in storage in the basement, and she went down to that
basement every day to bake lavash with the traditional wood-fired
stove, because that was the only way to get the same flavors and
textures, the real lavash.

For the sourdough version of lavash that Rima and her friends prepare
back in Rind, each batch is produced from a fermented remnant of the
previous batch called ttkhmor. This yeasty starter lends lavash a
slightly tart flavor and a charred, bubbly appearance.

The ttkhmor, the fuel used to feed the fire, and the methods of the
baker all lend unique flavors to each batch. Each piece represents a
present-day connection to the past; without the remnant from the
previous baking, today’s lavash would not taste quite the same.

Once the dough is ready, they roll it thin and lay it across the batat
or rabata, a wool- or hay-filled cushion used to stretch the dough and
quickly transfer it to the smoldering oven.In many parts of Armenia,
the oven is still stoked with bricks of cow dung and straw, which has
the added benefit of repelling insects.

The baker plunges her torso and the batat with the rolled dough into
the oven, smacking the dough against the hot oven wall. The lavash
immediately begins to bake and bubble, puffing into its final shape.
She removes it with an iron rod, then enjoys it hot and fresh or, more
commonly, stacks and stores it to be eaten in the next few weeks.

Lavash is wrapped around khorovats (barbecued meats) and spicy peppers
for lunch, filled with salty cheese for a snack, or topped with fresh
cheese curds and sweet rosehip jam for breakfast. In a pinch, it
doubles as a spoon, a napkin, a plate, or a serving bowl. Above all,
it is a part of Armenian memory, identity, and culture.

Mom’s Lavash Recipe

In case your kitchen didn’t come with a wood-fired oven, you can also
produce a passable version of lavash in a standard home oven. Here is
a soft and buttery version from Doug Kalajian’s mother. Adapted from
The Armenian Kitchen by permission of the authors.


8 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp salt
1 heaping tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 cups warm water
1 egg mixed with a little water for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Sift the salt, baking powder,
and sugar into the flour. Stir well.
Add the melted butter and most of the water.
Mix well until dough forms. If the dough seems too dry, add some of
the remaining water and continue to mix.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide the
dough into 5 or 6 balls.
Working with one ball at a time, roll dough into a rectangle shape
that will fit on a 16”x12” baking sheet.
Fold the rectangle-shaped dough into thirds, then in thirds again,
creating a little bundle.
Roll this bundle into a large rectangle a second time (this will
create flaky layers). Place rolled dough on an ungreased 16”x12”
baking sheet.
Brush the surface with egg wash.
Bake on the lower oven rack for 15 minutes, or until bottom starts to brown.
Move the tray to the upper oven rack for another 5 to 10 minutes,
until the top becomes a golden brown.
Remove from oven. Cool completely. Cut into 12 or 16 pieces.
Repeat this process until all balls of dough have been shaped and baked.
Store in an airtight container for two weeks or serve immediately with
cheese and fruit.

This article originally appeared on the Smithsonian Center for
Folklife and Cultural Heritage's "Talk Story: Culture in Motion" blog.
For further reading on Armenia, check out the "My Armenia" project. 

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