Monday, 18 July 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Nice Attack
Nice attack: Armenian woman dies, but saves her child
15 Jul 2016

The Armenian woman killed in Nice attack saved her baby by covering
the carriage with her body, witness to the attack Susan Mkhitaryan
(maiden name Davtyan) told Public Radio of Armenia.

She said almost the whole city gathers to watch the fireworks on
National Day. “The lorry ploughed into the crowd immediately after the
fireworks. The Police were shooting to stop it. We managed to drop in
at the nearest restaurant and hide there,” Susan said.

According to her, the driver ploughed on for 2km, leaving dozens
killed. “It was a horrific scene, the situation in the city is
terrible,” she said.

Susan said she he heard a lot of Armenian exclamations during the incident.
Armenian witness tells about the events in Nice
July 15, 2016

Yerevan.  There are Armenians among the brutal terrorist
attacks in Nice yesterday.

Nice resident Vahik Sahakyan told Mediamax that currently there is
information about 2 Armenian victims.

“One Armenian young man is known to be killed, he had been right at
the scene at that time. I am informed that he tried to cover his
family members with his body when the terrorist started shooting at
people. The other possible victim is a woman called Arevik. She was
working at my house. My acquaintances are telling me that she also was
at the firework scene”, Vahik Sahakyan told Mediamax.

Armenian Foreign Ministry informs that an Armenian was killed during
Nice terrorist attack. Armenian Consulate in Marcel is in contact with
the victim’s relatives.

Vahik Sahakyan has been living in Nice for 9 years. About a month ago
he opened a restaurant in Commander Raffali Street. It is 50-70 meters
away from the scene of terrorist attack in Nice.

“What happened yesterday was awful. I have never seen anything like
that before. We had a lot of customers at the restaurant as we were
celebrating French national holiday. Some of them wanted to go see the
firework and come back for coffee. The street that has many small
restaurants is near the scene. 15 minutes after customers had gone to
see the firework, hundreds of people started running down that narrow
street. People were running over tables, chairs. People were running
as fast as they could and as far as they could”, Vahik Sahakyan said.
He remained in the restaurant at that point and gave shelter to a
number of people.

“People were running down the street for a couple of minutes shouting
that shooting is going on. I haven’t heard gunfire, we saw a video
online after and understood what had happened. Some of the customers
fainted, one of them had to be hospitalized”, Armenian witness said.
Missile explodes next to Armenian Church in Aleppo
14 Jul 2016

A missile fired by terrorist groups exploded next to the Armenian St.
Astvatsatsin Chucrh (Church of the Holy Mother of God), destroying one
of the nearby houses, the Aleppo-based Armenian Kantsasar newspaper

According to the source, the church and the adjacent Gertasirats High
School have not been damaged in the attack, only the windows are

The Church of St. Astvatsatsin is the only Armenian Church in Aleppo
that has escaped losses.

Years ago the terrorists set the St Gevorg Church on fire. The Church
of Gregory the Illuminator often comes under rocket attack. The Holy
Trinity (Zvartnots) Church of the Catholic community and the adjacent
college have also suffered as a result of shelling. 

RFE/RL Report
Armenia, Azerbaijan Inch Closer To Peace, Says Russia
July 12, 2016
Emil Danielyan

After recent meetings of their presidents, Armenia and Azerbaijan are
now closer to resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict than ever
before, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said during a visit to
Baku on Tuesday.

"We have grounds to think that this time around we are moving much
closer to the prospect of success than we did before," he told a joint
news conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov.

In remarks publicized by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Lavrov
described as "very useful" his talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham
Aliyev held on Monday evening. "This will help us move forward in
implementing the understanding reached by the presidents of Russia,
Armenia and Azerbaijan at their meeting in Saint Petersburg on June
20," he said.

Mammadyarov echoed Lavrov's cautious optimism. The TASS news agency
quoted him as saying the Azerbaijani leadership hopes that "the
intensification of the negotiation process" will yield a breakthrough.

In a joint statement issued after the Saint Petersburg summit, the
three presidents said Aliyev and his Armenian counterpart Serzh
Sarkisian reached common ground on unspecified "issues" hampering a
peace accord on Karabakh. It is not clear whether they referred only
to measures to strengthen the ceasefire around Karabakh or also a
comprehensive settlement of the conflict.

Lavrov refused to go into details, saying that Aliyev, Sarkisian and
Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed not to publicize them for now.

In a further indication of progress in the protracted peace process,
Putin telephone U.S. President Barack Obama on July 6 to brief him on
the Saint Petersburg talks. According to the White House, Obama
expressed readiness to "intensify" Washington's joint efforts with
Russia and France to broker an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace deal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to travel to Moscow on
Thursday. Kerry held separate talks with Aliyev and Sarkisian late
last week on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Warsaw.

The United States, Russia and France have co-chaired the OSCE Minsk
Group on Karabakh since the late 1990s. French President Francois
Hollande has reportedly offered to host the next Aliyev-Sarkisian
meeting expected later this year.

Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian indicated on
Monday that Yerevan continues to regard a framework accord advanced by
the U.S., Russian and French mediators over the past decade as the
basis for the conflict's resolution. He singled out a key element of
the mediators' so-called Basic Principles stipulating that Karabakh's
status will be determined by its predominantly Armenian population in
a future referendum.

In that context, Kocharian brushed aside Aliyev's recent calls for a
"phased" settlement that could only give Karabakh the status of an
autonomous region in Azerbaijan.

Aliyev and Sarkisian most recently came close to agreeing on the Basic
Principles at a 2011 meeting held in Kazan, Russia. Armenian and
Russian officials have said that Aliyev scuttled the deal with
last-minute additional concessions demanded from the Armenian side.

It is not yet clear whether Russia or the two other mediating powers
have made major changes in the Kazan document in recent months. They
ramped up their peace efforts following the April 2-5 heavy fighting
around Karabakh which nearly escalated into an all-out
Armenian-Azerbaijani war. 

RFE/RL Report
Karabakh Defenses `Bolstered After April War'
July 12, 2016
Hovannes Movsisian
Nagorno-Karabakh has built new defense fortifications following last
April's heavy fighting with Azerbaijani forces, a senior official in
Stepanakert said on Tuesday.

Karabakh's government and military began fortifying Armenian positions
immediately after a Russian-brokered agreement halted the four-day
hostilities that left at least 190 soldiers from both sides
dead. Virtually all local construction firms were mobilized for the

RFE/RL correspondents witnessed some of that construction work when
they visited various sections of the "line of contact" around Karabakh
in April.

"The enemy's military operations showed that the kind of military
engineering structures that are needed for classic warfare are not
sufficient," said Artur Aghabekian, the deputy prime minister of the
unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR). "The only way to counter
enemy airstrikes is new and adequate fortifications."

"You can say that a big task has been accomplished: the entire
frontline is now fully equipped in the engineering sense," Aghabekian
told RFE/RL's Armenian service ( Karabakh Armenian
forces deployed there have also been provided with more modern night
vision and communication equipment, he said.

Shortly after the "four-day war" with Azerbaijan, Aghabekian launched
on behalf of the Karabakh leadership a fundraising campaign primarily
aimed at buying new weapons for the NKR's Armenian-backed Defense
Army. It has raised about $10 million so far, mostly from ordinary
Armenians in Karabakh, Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora.

Aghabekian admitted that the relatively modest sum is not enough to
finance a military buildup planned by the authorities in
Stepanakert. But he said half of that money has already been
efficiently used for bolstering Karabakh's defenses.

Other Karabakh officials said in April that the Defense Army will soon
receive more weapons from Armenia's armed forces, with which it is
closely integrated. 

Extract from
July 13 2016
Bottle stops: 15 wine trails worth getting sidetracked on
By John Malathronas

(CNN)The Italians say that "a meal without wine is like a day 
without sunshine."

Indeed, for many cultures, wine is an essential part of a meal and
wine production has spread from the Mediterranean region to every
Appreciation of wine on its own is on the increase and has led to the
establishment of wine routes ever since Germany inaugurated its own
Weinstrasse in October 1935.

Today, the choice of wine routes and tours from the essential
(Bordeaux) and the scenic (Cape Town) to the historic (Armenia) or the
unexpected (Brazil) is greater than ever.

Vayots Dzor, Armenia

According to the Bible, Armenia was the first wine-producing region in
the world, since it was on the slopes of Mount Ararat that Noah
planted the first vine after the flood.

Archaeologists agree -- at least on the long tradition: a
6,100-year-old winery was discovered not long ago.

The local Areni variety has been unchanged for centuries, being highly
resistant against disease with a thick skin that helps shield it from
cold extremes.

The easiest wine-growing region to get to from the capital, Yerevan,
is Vayots Dzor, where a microclimate ensures 300 sunny days a year.
Most organized tours zoom in on the Areni Noir, an incomparable red
that put Armenia on the map when it was launched internationally in

Areni Wine Factory, 3604, Vayots Dzor Marz, Areni Armenia;

John Malathronas is a London-based travel writer and photographer.
He's written or co-written 15 books. 

Red Herring
July 13 2016
Armenia’s TUMO Center Looks Beyond the Caucasus
July 13, 2016

On a hot day in Yerevan, Armenia’s compact capital, a new generation
of tech professionals is being put through its paces at the city’s
flagship education center. Some kids are running a typography
exhibition, showcasing new fonts for Armenia’s ancient alphabet.
Others are recording pop tunes, 3D-printing marionettes, creating
robots or simply logging onto their account on a colorful in-house
operating system.

All in all, an average day for students at the $20 million TUMO Center
for Creative Technologies, which has become the envy of the education
and tech worlds. Since its inception five years ago the center has
become a model which countries and foundations from Sweden to South
Korea are desperate to replicate. 7,000 kids are now enrolled at its
Yerevan campus, with many more in three other locations. It’s a
staggering growth one founder never imagined.

“We thought we’d have maybe 500, 1,000 students,” Pegor Papazian,
advisory board member and husband of Marie Lou Papazian, the center’s
director, says over a thick local coffee. Marie Lou was headhunted
online by TUMO benefactor Sam Simonian, a Dallas-based
telecommunications magnate, “to develop something which would be
philanthropic but also kind of a progressive, future-oriented project
that would serve Armenia’s kids on the global market.”

Simonian is also a member of the approximately seven million-strong
spyurk, or Armenian diaspora, that is located almost everywhere on
earth. The lion’s share of that diaspora – which far outweighs
Armenia’s 3 million domestic population – was created by the Armenian
Genocide of 1915, an event which resonates throughout Armenian
identity and politics to this day.

Turkey, which as the Ottoman Empire carried out systemic killings,
famine and death marches, continues to refute the term ‘genocide’. Its
border with Armenia has been closed since 1993 in solidarity with
Azerbaijan, with whom Armenia is still locked in conflict over the
disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. It, too, is off-limits to Armenian
citizens and businesses.

With very few export options, Armenia is looking to reinvent itself as
a knowledge-based economy. “Armenia is so small that we cannot afford
to go the commodity route,” said Papazian. “Outsourcing – India would
be much more competitive, not to mention Bangladesh and Egypt which
are both going that way. So we focus on content creation, art skills,
etc, because that’s more value-added and that’s where a smaller
population can be competitive.”

Part of that value, according to several people in the building, is to
breath added confidence into Armenian children. Every room is decked
out with the latest technology, software and decor. In main halls
students check their progress on iMacs propped up on ‘TUMObile’
furniture, futuristic chair/desks that are tethered to the ceiling
like dodgems and movable depending on whether a task is collaborative,
or not.

Those, and the transparent, open layout – both created by Lebanese
architect Bernard Khoury – reflect TUMO’s welcoming, non-hierarchical
nature, Papazian, who has worked in IT in Spain, the U.S. and Lebanon,
said.  “They can see us working, and we can see them. Everything is
totally transparent. It helps them see what they can do with their own

“We want the kids to have access to whatever they may have imagined
someone in Brussels, or New York, has access to – that they don’t
doubt for a minute that it’s all up to them now to reach their full
potential rather than having what used to be called ‘appropriate
technology’ – computers that are appropriate for the country,” he
added. “We want the best computers.”

Students, who are aged 12-18, study four major disciplines:
filmmaking; game development; web design and animation. A network of
mentors, many of whom have been selected from the diaspora, or who
have arrived in Armenia as part of its Birthright movement, teach for
a minimum of two weeks. One class I visited was designing public
service posters. Others were updating Armenian folk songs.

Graduates do not receive official certification but rather a “living
diploma” accessible via the web, in which they can “show what they
did, and hide what they don’t want to be available,” Zara Budaghyan,
the center’s head of communications, said.

“We’re not competing with school, we’re completing it,” she added.
“What we teach is not taught at school, and we take kids starting at
12. We need school, and school needs us as well, because we motivate
them, and sometimes through these unusual classes they learn physics
or maths or history better, because their thinking changes.”

“Our relationship with the government has been healthy, but at arm’s
length,” Papazian said. “Because we thought that we needed to move at
a fast enough pace and have enough flexibility to achieve what we
wanted to achieve, given it’s not something that has been tried
before. So we didn’t feel like coordinating very closely with the
government at this point.”

In addition to Yerevan TUMO now has centers in Gyumri, Dilijan and
Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh. Funding has been largely
philanthropic – whether from the government, benevolent funds or, in
the case of Dilijan, a small town famed for its bucolic surroundings,
the Central Bank of Armenia.

But Papazian doesn’t want to keep it that way. The center already
rents out space to startups, including photo firm Picsart, one of
Armenia’s best-known startups. Recently it conducted a design overhaul
for a local fruit juice firm, running focus groups and competing
designs at a fraction of the cost of regular design companies.

More importantly, however, is a crescendo of interest in the center’s
model from outside Armenia’s borders. “There is a third expansion
thing going on, which is that non-Armenian demographics are
interested, so we’re speaking with people from the Middle East, the
Gulf states, Moscow – so we could franchise the TUMO model and use
these franchise fees to subsidize opening another Armenia location,”
said Papazian.

“So it would be more sustainable than these philanthropic models,
which I don’t like.”

Funding revenues aside, TUMO’s success has been phenomenal. By 2020 it
estimates that ten per cent of Armenia’s teenagers will have passed
through the system, an incredible achievement that reflects a nation
moving quickly to capitalize on the wealth of its diaspora, and a
growing domestic economy.

State-backed efforts to promote intellectualism are evidenced in
Armenia’s being the only country in the world to make chess mandatory.
TUMO is working alongside that movement, and tooling young Armenians
for the digital revolution. That cerebral race is being run for
several reasons, Papazian explained.

“Again, one: we’re small so we can add more value if we go for higher
rather than lower tasks, or jobs,” he said, as students filed in for
the afternoon’s classes. “The other thing is this Armenian self-image,
for whatever it’s worth, is about that. It’s about inventing an
alphabet, being an early adopter of a new religion – so this early
adopter, creator mentality is part of our – not physical DNA in
relation to race – but at least our mental DNA, cultural DNA.”

With TUMO, that cultural DNA is being backed by some world-renowned
education – and technology.

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