Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Turkish MPs at Parliament, Very Civilised

Armenian and Turkish MPs come to blows at Turkish Parliament

Major scuffle again took place at the Turkish parliament Monday. The
incident took place during the discussion of the Constitutional
Committee on lifting politicians' immunity from prosecution.

The MPs from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Kurdish
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) took part in the scuffle. This is the third physical fight in Turkish parliament while discussing lifting the immunity of the Kurdish MPs, Erdogan's AKP members attacking and beating up HDP Kurdish MPs. An AKP member shouts at a female Kurdish MP, 'if you continue recording, I will shoot you later' 

The video, which has appeared in the Internet, shows Garo Paylan,
Armenian MP from the Kurdish Party, again appear in the center of the
fight. He struggles with his fists against the attacking Turkish MPs
until his party members hurry for help.


Concentration of Azerbaijani forces observed

Although the verbal ceasefire agreement was mainly maintained on the
Line of Contact between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan on the night
of May 1-2, concentration and active movement of the Azerbaijani
forces was observed on different parts of the line, reports NKR
Defense Army press service.

“Defense Army frontline units follow the further moves of the
Azerbaijani forces and are ready to resort to appropriate operations
if necessary. At this point, no violation is observed on the Line of
Defense Army frontline units completely control the situation on the
line,” reads Defense Army statement.

Karabakh: More Armenian soldiers killed over weekend
May 2, 2016

Three Armenian soldiers were killed in separate incidents in
Nagorno-Karabakh over weekend as Azerbaijan was accused of continuing
to violate the terms of an April 5 verbal agreement on ceasefire.

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Defense Ministry said 19-year-old Garik Movsisyan
and 48-year-old Vazgen Harutyunyan were fatally wounded early on
Saturday in the northern direction of the line of contact of
Azerbaijan (Talish).

Ashot Zohrabyan, 25, was reportedly killed the next day in the eastern
direction of the line of contact (Martuni).

Nagorno-Karabakh’s Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijan of firing at
Armenian positions along the entire perimeter of the line of contact
using firearms of different calibers as well as mortars of the 60-,
82- and 120-mm calibers, and grenade-launchers.

It said the Defense Army’s frontline units “took measures adequate to
the developments to suppress the enemy’s activity.”

Meanwhile, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) President Bako Sahakyan
continued to tour the regions of the country and hold consultations
there. On April 30, together with former NKR President Arkady
Ghukasyan, Sahakyan visited the villages of Tonashen, Mataghis,
Talish, the town of Martakert and, according to his official website,
held there working consultations on “issues relating to the army’s
activity and implementation of operational tasks by the Martakert
regional administration’s departments in this sphere.”

President Sahakyan reportedly gave concrete instructions towards
“proper fulfillment of the discussed issues.”

The NKR’s deputy defense minister, head of the Artsakh Union of
Freedom Fighters Samvel Karapetyan, a group of volunteers, and other
officials partook in the consultations. 

RFE/RL Report 
Aliyev Vows Stronger Pressure On Armenia

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has pledged to step up "diplomatic,
political and economic pressure" on Armenia with the aim of restoring
Baku's control over Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenian-controlled districts
surrounding it.

Visiting Azerbaijani troops and civilian settlements close to the
"line of contact" around Karabakh over the weekend, he again blamed
the Armenian side for the April 2 outbreak of heavy fighting there. He
claimed that the Azerbaijani army went on a counteroffensive in
response to Armenian "armed provocations."

"Azerbaijan's territorial integrity must be restored," Aliyev told
military personnel in the Terter district bordering northeastern
Karabakh. "Nagorno-Karabakh and the other occupied lands are our
historical territory."

"We will try to convince Armenia through negotiations," he said,
according to Azerbaijani news agencies. "We will increase diplomatic,
political and economic pressure and reinforce our positions on the
Line of Contact."

"If the Armenians again resort to an armed provocation against us,
they will get an appropriate response and the outcome will be the same
because the Azerbaijani army is now one of the strongest in the
world," he added.

Official Yerevan and Karabakh's leadership maintain that the April 2
Azerbaijani assault at several sections of the frontline was
unprovoked and aimed at achieving significant territorial gains that
would force the Armenian side to make far-reaching concessions to
Baku. They say Aliyev announced a unilateral cessation of hostilities
on April 3 because of failing to achieve his goal. The fighting, which
left at least 170 soldiers from both sides dead, was largely stopped
by a Russian-brokered agreement on April 5.

Aliyev claimed that the United States, Russia and France -- the three
world powers trying to resolve the Karabakh conflict -- are now
exerting "serious pressure" on Armenia because it has been obstructing
a peaceful settlement.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian claimed the opposite
during a visit to Finland on Monday. Nalbandian argued that Aliyev and
other Azerbaijani leaders have repeatedly lambasted the mediating
powers for not pushing for Karabakh's return under Azerbaijani rule
and proposing instead confidence-building measures that would bolster
the ceasefire regime.

"Having failed in negotiations, Azerbaijani tried a military option
and failed in that endeavor as well," Nalbandian said in a speech
delivered at University of Helsinki.

Nalbandian also reiterated that Yerevan will not agree to resume
direct peace talks with Baku unless the latter accepts specific
safeguards against truce violations that have for years been advocated
by the U.S., Russian and French mediators. Those include a mechanism
for an international investigation of such violations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on April 22 that the two
sides should accept the proposed confidence-building measures without
"further delay." Unlike the Armenian side, Aliyev's government has
opposed them until now. 

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Exports To Russia Soar

After falling sharply in 2015, Armenia's exports to Russia more than
doubled in the first quarter of this year as the Russian ruble gained
back some of the value it lost since 2014, according to government

The National Statistical Service (NSS) reported over the weekend that
Armenia's total export revenue rose by more than 26 percent year on
year to almost $376 million in January-March 2016. Russia generated
most of this increase, buying $67.7 million worth of Armenian goods,
up from $31.2 million in the year-earlier period.

First-quarter Armenian exports to the European Union were up by only
4.3 percent, at $107.3 million.

Armenia mostly exports agricultural products, prepared foodstuffs,
brandy and wine to Russia. NSS data shows significant rises in overall
export revenue from these products, which exceeded a total of $93
million in the three-month period. The Russian market may have also
contributed to a more than 72 percent surge in exports of textiles,
precious metals, refined diamonds and other jewelry items. The NSS put
their combined value at about $95 million.

Armenian exports to Russia plummeted by nearly 27 percent in 2015
primarily because of the ruble's sharp depreciation caused by the
collapse of world oil prices. The much weaker ruble more than offset a
drastic increase in the physical volume of Armenian fruits and
vegetable exported last year. Russia was their principal destination.

Armenian brandy and wine companies, traditionally oriented towards the
Russian market, were hit particularly hard. Some of them even
suspended their operations a year ago.

The NSS figures show that brandy production in Armenia soared by more
than half in physical terms in the first quarter of 2016. The bulk of
the most important alcoholic beverage distilled in the country was
sold in Russia.

With oil prices beginning to rally in January, the Russian currency
has strengthened by nearly 20 percent against the U.S. dollar since
the start of this year, translating into more revenue for Armenian
exporters. The ruble had lost more than half of its value from June
2014 through the end of 2015.

Surp Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakir 
‘Expropriation Means Closing Down of Surp Giragos’

(Agos)— Surp Giragos Armenian Church Foundation filed an
annulment action against the expropriation in Sur province of
Diyarbakir. In the petition for annulment, it is pointed out that the
expropriation is against the law.

The Council of State decided for an “urgent expropriation” in Sur,
where curfews continue. According to the decision published in the
Official Journal on March 25, 6,300 plots of land in Sur are

Surp Giragos Church, the largest Armenian church in Middle East, Surp
Sarkis Chaldean Church, Armenian Catholic Church, St. Mary Syriac
Church and Protestant Church are among the places that are
expropriated. Syriac and Protestant churches had filed annulment
actions before. Surp Giragos Armenian Church Foundation appealed to
Council of State for stay of execution and annulment of the

In his petition, lawyer of the church foundation Ali Elbeyoğlu, stated
that, in addition to the church and other immovable properties
belonging to the church foundation, 80% of Sur province is in the
scope of the expropriation and the reasons for “urgent expropriation”
are not clearly stated, even though the law requires it.

“Against the law”

In the petition, it is noted that Surp Giragos Armenian Church is one
of the expropriated immovable properties of Surp Giragos Foundation.
“Churches, monasteries are cultural properties that must be protected.
In expropriation of such immovable properties, Law on the Conservation
of Cultural and Natural Property should be enforced. The decision that
was taken by cabinet is against this law.”

It is also pointed that Sur province is added to World Cultural Heritage List.

“Against the Treaty of Lausanne”

In the petition, it is stated that the urgent expropriation is also
contrary to the international conventions and the Treaty of Lausanne
is referred.

“In the Treaty of Lausanne, minorities are given equal rights for
founding, administrating and controlling religious, charitable and
social institutions. Especially in Article 42, Turkish government
guaranteed that it will protect the churches and religious
institutions belonging to the minorities. Urgent expropriation is
against the Treaty of Lausanne and Article 90 to the Turkish
Constitutional Law.

This Means Closing Down of the Church

It is also noted that Surp Giragos Church is open to worship and hosts
religious ceremonies. “Surp Giragos church is the largest Armenian
church in Middle East. Restored rather recently, the church is golden
for the Armenian people. By virtue of its importance, Armenians from
all around the world visit the church and hold ceremonies. The church
is maintained by the foundation.”

“Taking over the church from the foundation means closing down. The
restoration was financed by the millions donated to our foundation.
The Ministry of Culture made a nominal contribution. It is impossible
to keep the church open only by the contributions of the state.”

There have been some statements about the “urgent expropriation”
indicating that the province will be brought down completely and a
whole new city will be built. Such statements caused people worry that
the church might also be brought down. “In case the high court permits
the urgent expropriation, the demolition of the church will be at the
disposal of the government. Even if the church isn’t demolished, and
since it is legally impossible for state to pay the salaries of the
religious officials and priests and covering other expenses of the
church, the church would become virtually dysfunctional. A church is
not a museum; it is a living place of worship that is open all the
time. This expropriation is against the Treaty of Lausanne, the
Constitutional Law and regulations and would have on people’s

Legal Action for Lots

The expropriation includes almost 80% of Sur. Along with the
Diyarbakir Bar Association, Diyarbakir Metropolitan Municipality and
Chamber of Architects, locals of Sur also filed annulment actions
against the expropriation. A platform consisting of various
institutions follows the annulment actions.

Member of the Law Committee of the platform, Devrim Barış Baran,
informed Agos about the actions. Stating that almost 600 people
initiated legal actions through their committee, Baran said: “There
are almost 20 files for annulment only by us. Besides that, the title
owners also filed actions. There is a legal action for almost each
lot. We primarily demanded stay of execution. We wait for the decision
of the Council of State.”

The curfew and clashes have been going on in Sur since December 2. The
photos revealed that many structures, including Kurşunlu Mosque and
Armenian Catholic Church, are damaged. It is said that Surp Giragos
Church, which is caught between the clashes, is not severely damaged.

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