Thursday, 30 June 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Pope on his way to Armenia...

USA Today
June 23 2016
Pope travels to Armenia after genocide flap
Associated Press 

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is making his first foray into the former Soviet Union with a weekend visit to Armenia, a year after he riled Turkey by declaring the Ottoman-era slaughter of Armenians genocide and amid fresh tensions with rival Azerbaijan. 

The Vatican has long cheered the Armenian cause, holding up the poverty-wracked nation of 3 million mostly Orthodox Christians as a bastion of faith and martyrdom in a largely Muslim region, and the first nation that established Christianity as a state religion in 301. 

During the visit starting Friday, Francis will pray at Armenia's genocide memorial, release a dove of peace near Armenia's closed western border with Turkey and pray for peace in the region during an ecumenical prayer service with the Oriental Orthodox patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Karekin II. 

Even though Catholics represent a tiny minority, Armenians across the board seem thrilled that Francis is visiting and sided with them in terming the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians a century ago genocide. 

"Everyone is looking forward to and preparing for his visit," said Roza Karapetyan, a resident of northwestern Gyumri where Francis will celebrate the only Catholic Mass of his trip. "Same with me, I am very much looking forward to his arrival and counting the days." 

The trip was originally planned as a peace-building mission to Armenia and Azerbaijan but was split up amid fighting that flared this spring in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Now, Francis will only visit Armenia and will "complete" the Caucasus trip after a two-month layover in Rome, visiting Azerbaijan and Georgia Sept. 30-Oct. 2, according to the Vatican. 

The tensions stem from the longstanding dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh, which is officially part of Azerbaijan, but since a separatist war ended in 1994, has been under the control of forces that claim to be local ethnic Armenians but that Azerbaijan claims include regular Armenian military. 

The sides are separated by a demilitarized buffer zone, but small clashes break out frequently. About 75 soldiers from both sides, along with several civilians, were killed in April in the worst violence since 1994. 

In a video message released on the eve of his trip, Francis said Armenia's tortured history is one of admiration and pain, "admiration because you have found in the cross of Jesus and in your own ingenuity the strength to always get up, even from the sufferings that are among the most terrible that humanity has known; pain for the tragedies that your fathers have known in the flesh." 

But in a hint that his three-day trip is not meant to dwell on the past, the pope also urged Armenians not to be beholden to ancient hatreds but look forward with hope. 

Francis is likely to make an appeal for a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict during an ecumenical prayer for peace on Saturday in Republic Square of the capital, Yerevan. The Vatican said tens of thousands of Armenians are expected in what will be the biggest crowd for Francis' visit. 

Another highlight will be Francis' visit to Armenia's genocide memorial, where he will meet with descendants of some of the 400 Armenian orphans taken in by Pope Pius XI and housed at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo in the years after the massacres. 

At the memorial museum, Francis will see the letter Pius' predecessor, Pope Benedict XV, wrote to the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet V in 1915 begging him to stop the atrocities. 

In a Mass celebrated in April, 2015 in St. Peter's Basilica, Francis called the slaughter the "first genocide of the 20th century" and urged the international community to recognize it as such. 

Turkey, which disputes the description, immediately responded by recalling its ambassador and accusing Francis of spreading hatred and "unfounded claims." It says the death toll has been inflated and considers those killed victims of a civil war and unrest. 

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, bristled when asked whether the pope would repeat the word "genocide" during the trip, suggesting that the Vatican had moved beyond the politically-loaded term while still recognizing the grave injustices done. 

"Why is there this obsession of using the word 'genocide?'" Lombardi asked. "We know what happened. No one denies that there were these horrible massacres. We know it well and we recognize them." 

Francis' trip comes 15 years after John Paul visited Armenia and signed a joint declaration with the head of the Apostolic Church, Karekin II, calling the slaughter genocide. 

Francis and Karekin were supposed to sign a joint declaration this time around about improved ties between the Apostolic and Catholic churches. But at the last minute, the declaration was scrapped, apparently over internal divisions within the Apostolic Church where some bishops have opposed increasingly close ties with Rome. 

The Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches split in a theological dispute over the divine and human natures of Jesus Christ, arising from the fifth-century Council of Chalcedon. But the Armenian church has established friendly relations with both the Vatican and other Orthodox churches.
Garo Paylan files lawsuit against “Best Armenian is Dead Armenian” Turkish nationalist propaganda
22 June, 2016 

YEREVAN, JUNE 22.  Armenian MP of the Turkish Parliament Garo Paylan filed a lawsuit against the Turkish Nationalist “Idealists centers” (Ülkü ocakları) organization. 

Immediately after the Bundestag vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide, members of the organization rallied outside the German consulate in Istanbul. The nationalists waved the flags of Azerbaijan and Turkey and shouted:”The best Armenian is a dead Armenian”. 

“Similar calls are hate crimes carried out publicly, are obvious threats against Armenians. I have filed a lawsuit in Istanbul’s Republican Prosecutor’s Office against this hate crime and threats”, Paylan said. 

Daily Sabah, Turkey
June 22 2016
Armenians in Turkey call for election of new patriarch in rare protest

Protesters from the Armenian community staged a rare protest outside
the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul on Wednesday to protest acting
patriarch Aram Ateşyan and eight years without a patriarch to lead
their religious congregation.

Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II has been in a vegetative state since 2008
after being diagnosed with dementia. Aram Ateşyan was installed as
acting patriarch, but dissidents within the community have opposed his
election and have called for a new election.

A group of Turkish Armenians convened in front of the historic
patriarchate building in Istanbul's Kumkapı district. Speaking on
behalf of demonstrators, Jaklin Çelik said the patriarchate
represented a post that dated to early Ottoman times, and which had
remained empty for eight years. "We could not elect a new patriarch
for a variety of reasons. Instead, we have until now the post of
acting patriarch, a made-up title to stall the debate for a new
election." She said the patriarchate has long suffered from the lack
of a permanent legal status, and the Armenian community was "deceived"
into accepting a fait accompli. "We have a freedom of faith and right
of election and we don't want it to be taken from us with ridiculous
excuses. We do not have an acting patriarch and the patriarch should
be elected by people," she said, before leaving a black wreath in
front of the building with a message reading, "We want to elect our

Turkish law bans the election of a new patriarch while his predecessor
remains alive. A patriarchal election is required to be held by the
synod of bishops, and the synod has to apply to the Interior Ministry
after approving the election. The government ruled out an election of
a new patriarch, but a group of Armenians has filed a lawsuit for the
removal of the regulations blocking the election. The legal process is

Tatyos Bebek, a prominent figure from the Armenian community among the
protesters, told Anadolu Agency that they had no post called "acting
patriarch" and they should be able to elect a new patriarch. He said
the Armenian state had promised to allow the election, but had not
fulfilled this promise. 
Armenia’s 2016 fruit and vegetable exports have already 
exceeded 63,700 tons
YEREVAN, June 23. Armenia’s 2016 fruit and vegetable exports
have already exceeded 63,700 tons, while only 76,700 tons were
exported over entire 2015, Armenian Agriculture Minister Sergo
Karapetyan said Wednesday as visited Spayka Company to see the process
of exporting fresh fruits and vegetables.

“We are planning to retain such high indicators before the end of this
year,” he said.

In his words, fruit crops are expected to be rich in the country this year.

Some 80 to 100 tons of cherries are being exported from the country
every day. The total volume of cherry exports has already exceeded
2,010 tons, while only 2,000 tons were exported over entire 2015.

Karapetyan also said that 600 to 800 tons of apricots are being
exported now every day.

Armenia exports fresh fruits and vegetables to Russia, Georgia,
Switzerland and Iraq.

According to the National Statistical Service, the country’s
agriculture output totaled over 1 002.2 billion drams in 2015 showing
11.7% growth. --0----
Armenian IT sector lacks 3-4 thousand qualified specialists

YEREVAN, JUNE 22. Armenian IT sector lacks 3-4 thousand
qualified specialists. Jobs offered by the private sector exceed the n
umber of university graduates, “Armenpress” reports director of
Synopsys Armenia Hovik Musayelyan told, presenting the development
issues of the IT sector to the Minister of Education and Science Levon

“It is impossible to talk about positive results unless students get
quality education at schools and higher educational institutions. If I
have to point out three problems, I will mention education and only
education. If this issue is solved, transnational corporations will be
more interested in Armenia and the local IT sector will develop, as
well as the start-ups will become more”, Musayelyan said.

Minister Mkrtchyan also referred to the issue of ensuring high quality
education, mentioning that it is necessary to do everything to
reinforce science-university-business links.
Chatham House: A full-blown renewal of the Nagorno-Karabakh 
conflict would jeopardize Russia's position in Azerbaijan and 
by David Stepanyan
Wednesday, June 22, 16:29

A full-blown renewal of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would jeopardize
Russia's position in Azerbaijan and Turkey, particularly if the
Armenians required military assistance, says Chatham House in a
briefing paper: "The Long Goodbye: Waning Russian Influence in the
South Caucasus and Central Asia."

 "Pipeline security would also be affected, and Russia prioritizes
energy security and financial profit over conflict manipulation,"
Chatham House writes. " It is an open question whether Russia would
support Armenia militarily should Azerbaijan decide to retake the
territory by force. It is conceivable, however, that this uncertainty
is a factor in Azerbaijan's restraint so far."

According to the briefing paper, "Russia's support of Armenia in the
Nagorno-Karabakh dispute has been based on several interests: limiting
Turkish influence, countering a Russophobic Azerbaijan in the early
years of independence, and long-standing cultural ties reflected in
the large Armenian diaspora in Russia. Russia's positioning has given
it a powerful lever of influence over Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well
as external parties.  However, its backing of Armenia's stance has
changed in recent years: during his presidency, Medvedev invested more
effort in mediation than his predecessors and the Azerbaijani first
family has strong interests in Russia. But there are forces deriving
financial profit and political leverage from continued tension and the
status quo. Russia sees its mediation over Nagorno-Karabakh in terms
of its influence and may not be genuinely interested in a resolution.
This is shown by Russian objections to an international peacekeeping
force and to changes in the make-up of the Minsk Group, which has been
mediating on the conflict since 1992. Russia has proposed deploying
its own troops instead. This would strengthen its position, but seems
unlikely to be accepted by Azerbaijan."
June 22, 2016 Wednesday
Why Manchester United target Mkhitaryan will appeal to the 
Old Trafford fans
by Stuart Mathieson

Man Utd want Borussia Dortmund midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan 
 and he
has history with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

He has turned down Liverpool in the past and thinks Jurgen Klopp is a
"madman" so Manchester United's midfield target Henrikh Mkhitaryan
should go down a storm with the Reds support.

Jose Mourinho is keen to have the Armenian international in his squad
for the new season and add the 27-year-old as his second signing of
the new Old Trafford era following the arrival of Villarreal defender
Eric Bailly .

The Reds are reported to have had a £19m initial offered rejected by
Borussia Dortmund and are said to have upped that to £28m.

Mkhitaryan was bought by Liverpool boss Klopp for Borussia Dortmund in
2013 from Shakhtar Donetsk. It cost him a club record fee of £23.6m to
keep him from the clutches of his future Merseyside club.

Typically Klopp had a colourful quote for the German media when he
signed the Armenian saying: "Mkhitaryan fits us like an a*** in a
bucket. What he offers is exactly what we need."

The midfielder struggled in his first season but admitted that Klopp
helped him through the apprenticeship at the Westfalenstadion and in
the Bundesliga.

"It's true that Klopp helped me a lot in this regard. He told me that
a transfer sum has nothing to do with what a player wants or asks for,
it's just a thing between two clubs," said Mkhitaryan.

"I realised he was right and just forgot about the money. I also
stopped thinking about other things that used to bother me. Against
Frankfurt, in our last home game before the winter break, I missed an
open goal from two yards out. In the past, it would have haunted me.
Now I forget about it and get on with the game.

"I just think to myself: this is football. One day you score three
goals, another day you don't score at all."

Read more: Ed Woodward and United gearing up for ANOTHER transfer
battle with Borussia Dortmund

Klopp was a big fan saying: "There is no doubt in my mind that he is
one of the most talented players in the world.

"He possesses an incredible combination of speed and technique.
There's very, very few you can say that about.

"There's a reason why the world's best chess players come from Armenia
like Mkhitaryan. Yes, other countries product chess players, but
Armenia produces far more than could reasonably expect.

"They're thinkers, they're hard workers, they graft. And if things
aren't working out, then the problem lies with you somewhere - you
start to blame yourself."

The mutual appreciation, however, took a nosedive after Klopp left for
Anfield last season with Thomas Tuchel succeeding him at Dortmund.

Tuchel's style suited Mkhitaryan better.

"With Klopp, he was a football madman: pressure and counter-attack," he said.

"Instead, Tuchel has changed our lives. Now we command the game and I
have more freedom to attack. Thanks to him I now make myself more
useful. Because of the changes I got a lot of confidence."

Confidence that turned him into a serious target for Mourinho's Old
Trafford rebuilding work.

Talks are cheap in Nagorno-Karabakh – Stratfor


The latest talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders over the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict show some promise. An official statement
issued after the June 20 meeting, held in St. Petersburg and mediated
by Russia, called for more international observers in the conflict
zone and noted that all parties involved in the negotiations were
satisfied with the existing cease-fire agreement. Still, despite such
diplomatic strides toward peace, the issues underlying the conflict
remain unresolved.


At the St Petersburg summit, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian and
his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, met for the second time
since conflict escalated in Nagorno-Karabakh in early April. A mid-May
meeting in Vienna, mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov,
US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc
Ayrault, had already produced an agreement to reduce cease-fire
violations along the line of contact. That agreement has actually
proved effective, but Armenia and Azerbaijan still remain
fundamentally at odds over the disputed territory. On May 31, the
co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in
Europe's Minsk Group, along with the foreign ministers of Armenia and
Azerbaijan, arranged the June 20 discussions mediated by Russian
President Vladimir Putin. During the meeting, Sarkisian and Aliyev
expressed a mutual desire to resolve the conflict and agreed to
continue their high-level meetings over Nagorno-Karabakh on a monthly

Nonetheless, the meetings probably do not portend an imminent
breakthrough in the long-standing disagreement. Despite the leaders'
pacific promises, Armenia wants to maintain its de facto political
control of the region, while Azerbaijan, in whose borders the
contested territory falls, wants to challenge it. By reviving the
dormant dispute in April, Azerbaijan brought it back to the world's
attention. Although the renewed fighting won Baku relatively little
territory, it heated up a frozen conflict and intensified the
diplomatic mediation process surrounding it.

Russia's position in the conflict adds another complication. Russia,
though strategically aligned with Armenia, has pursed closer ties with
Azerbaijan in recent months and did not intervene in the April
escalation on Armenia's behalf. Indeed, Moscow has sided with neither
country in the dispute, devoting itself instead to negotiations to
resolve it. Russia's apparent objective is to shape Nagorno-Karabakh
into a manageable crisis, in which Moscow can preside as arbiter over
a conflict that simmers without boiling over. The strategy serves a
dual function, at once curbing the influence of other external powers
— namely Turkey and the West — and reaffirming Moscow's importance to
Armenia and Azerbaijan.

So far, the intensified mediation efforts have worked. Cease-fire
violations have declined, and the fighting has been contained. But
this relative peace is not guaranteed to last. Though the negotiations
have bought some time and breathing room, Azerbaijan may grow
impatient if it feels that the talks are dragging on to no avail.
Unless the peace talks can bridge the strategic divide over the
disputed territory, there will still be potential for further violence
in the region.

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