Monday, 12 September 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Promise of Reforms

RFE/RL Report
Sarkisian Promises Major Reforms
September 09, 2016
Emil Danielyan

President Serzh Sarkisian said on Thursday that he expects his
incoming new cabinet to embark on sweeping reforms that would "give
new impetus to economic development" as he commented on his decision
to change Armenia's prime minister.

Sarkisian said his choice of the new prime minister, Karen Karapetian,
has agreed to "lead a great wave of changes" designed to address
popular disaffection with the socioeconomic situation in the country.

"The new government must restore the broadest trust in the authorities
and find unconventional solutions for our economy and public life,
which will # bolster Armenia's positions in the region," he told
senior members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

Sarkisian said the main task of Karapetian's cabinet, which will be
formed in the next few weeks, will be to implement the kind of reforms
that would significantly improve the domestic business environment.

The outgoing prime minister, Hovik Abrahamian, promised to speed up
such reforms in May. Abrahamian, who was appointed prime minister more
than two years ago, defended his track earlier in the day. He
admitted, though, that his cabinet has failed to address many of the
country's socioeconomic woes.

Many Armenians have not felt any improvements in their lives despite
faster economic growth registered by the government during
Abrahamian's tenure. Some have been hit hard by a sharp drop in
remittances from their relatives working abroad and recession-hit
Russia in particular.

Both Abrahamian and Karapetian attended a late-night meeting of the
HHK's governing board that discussed "substantial" personnel changes
in the government promised by Sarkisian.

An HHK statement said Karapetian assured the board members that he
will present a plan of government actions that will consist of two
parts. "The first part will contain possible quick changes and
successes that could instill some [popular] trust and faith towards
the program, while the second party will lay out a vision for the
long-term development of our country," it said without elaborating.

The incoming premier was also cited as pledging to discuss the plan
with economists, Armenia's leading businesspeople, and "anyone else
interested in this topic." He declined to talk to journalists after
the HHK meeting.

Karapetian, 53, has mainly lived in Russia for the past six years,
holding senior executive positions in Russian subsidiaries of the
Gazprom gas giant. He had managed Armenia's Gazprom-controlled gas
distribution network before serving as mayor of Yerevan from

Armenians’ trust level in President plummets, that in army soars
September 12, 2016 - 16:05 AMT 

PanARMENIAN.Net - The Caucasus Barometer (CB) of the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC) on Monday, September 12 published data suggesting the level of trust in most political institutions has declined in Armenia since 2011.

Caucasus Barometer is the annual household survey about social economic issues and political attitudes conducted by CRRC. The Center, in turn, seeks to strengthen social science research and public policy analysis in the South Caucasus.

The largest decline can be observed in respect to the President . Trust dropped from 36% in 2011 to 16% in 2015. Trust in executive government and parliament also declined between 2011 and 2013, and has stabilized since at a rather low level, the survey said.

The results also show a slight decline in trust in courts between 2011 and 2015. Trust in the police, educational system and healthcare system remained largely unchanged, while trust in the army increased, up from 66% in 2011 to 78% in 2015. 
James Warlick: Conflict settlement supposes return of some territories, 
in exchange for Karabakh’s status

The settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict supposes the return of some territories to Azerbaijani control, in exchange for the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ambassador James Warlick, US Co-Chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, told the aforesaid to Interfax news agency. He noted this when asked what would be the perfect scenario for the Karabakh conflict settlement, for the US.

Warlick added that this scenario is the same also for Russia and France, the other co-chairing countries in the OSCE Minsk Group.

He noted that although this conflict still continues for a long time and numerous people have died within these 20 years, this conflict can be resolved; but there are respective conditions.

The Minsk Group US co-chair stressed that a perfect resolution supposes the absence of winners and losers, and that it shall be beneficial for the parties to the conflict. As per Warlick, negotiations are successful when both sides—i.e. the Armenian and the Azerbaijani—win.

The American diplomat noted that a new generation of Armenians and Azerbaijanis has grown up without knowing each other, and therefore they would like to see contacts between these people. And as a pacific resolution to the Karabakh conflict, they would like for Armenians and Azerbaijanis to coexist together.

Ambassador Warlick stated that the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict supposes the return of some territories to Azerbaijani control, in exchange for the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. As per the Minsk Group US co-chair, however, this is a condition for conflict settlement, but it is not the only one; the other conditions include the return of refugees to their homes, and the deployment of international peacekeeping forces at the conflict zone.

James Warlick also said they need to work with the conflicting parties to find a way to unite all of these conditions and achieve a peaceful settlement, and all the inhabitants of the region will benefit from this.

His Holiness Aram I elected as Honorary President of 
Middle East Council of Churches
On September 5, His Holiness Aram I and his delegation left for Amman to attend the Assembly of the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC). Catholicos Aram I, is one of the four Presidents of the Council representing the Oriental Orthodox Family.

The 11th session of the Middle East Churches Council opened In Amman on Tuesday. The conference brought together all 22 Leaders of Middle East churches from Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Cyprus, Lebanon, Egypt and Iran in addition to the four main eastern church families and other participants from Western churches and international institutions.

Catholicos Aram I, the head of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, urged speedy action to "confront challenges" expressing hope that the conference would come up with recommendations to ease the plight of the oppressed and the Christians in countries under the scourge of war.

Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Yonan of Antioch and all the East of the Syriac Catholics said the current situation is a historic moment that requires action through effective dialogue, moderation and mercy as well as a serious stand in cooperation with "our Muslim brothers in the face of all attempts to uproot us from our land".

During a meeting in Al Husseiniya Palace on Wednesday with members of the Middle East Council of Churches His Majesty King Abdullah II said that Arabs, whether Muslims or Christians, face the same challenges in light of the current situation in the region, and share the responsibility in addressing these challenges. Members of the council stressed that Jordan, under the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah, represents a unique model for co-existence between Muslims and Christians.

During its three-day meeting in Amman, the council discussed issues pertaining to Christians' presence in the region, challenges facing them in light of the current situation in the Middle East, as well as the role and future message of the council.

During the last session Catholicos Aram I was elected Honorary President.

Since its foundation in 1974, the Middle East Council of Churches has continuously sought to bring closer the theological and ideological views that led to the historic divisions among the churches.

Member churches of Middle East Council of Churches

Oriental Orthodox Churches

    • The Coptic Orthodox Church
    • The Armenian Apostolic Church - Catholicosate of Cilicia 
    • The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East

Eastern Orthodox (Chalcedonian) Churches

    • Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa
    • Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East
    • Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem
    • Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus

Catholic Churches

    • Maronite Church of Antioch
    • Greek Catholic Melchite Church of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem
    • Armenian Catholic Church of Cilicia
    • Syrian Catholic Church of Antioch
    • Coptic Catholic Church of Alexandria
    • Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
    • Chaldean Catholic Church of Babylon

Evangelical Churches

    • The Evangelical Synod of the Nile
    • Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East
    • National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon
    • National Evangelical Union of Lebanon
    • Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East
    • Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan
    • National Evangelical Church in Kuwait
    • The Synod of the Evangelical Church in Iran
    • Evangelical Church in Sudan
    • Episcopal Church in the Sudan
    • Presbyterian Church in the Sudan
    • Protestant Church in Algeria
    • Eglise Reformee de France en Tunisie
EU makes €7 million payment to the Government of Armenia 
to support agricultural and rural development
12 Sep 2016

In December 2014, the European Union confirmed financial support with
total value of €25 million to the Government of Armenia, within the
programme ENPARD (European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and
Rural Development) Armenia. This programme is being implemented over
three years, providing €20 million of budget support for the
Government of Armenia to sustain agricultural and rural development. A
further €5 million is being provided to support the Ministry of
Agriculture and to promote the development of farmers groups and value
adding chains throughout Armenia.

The budget support payments are being made over three years, and the
2016 payment of €7 million has just been transferred to the Government
of Armenia. In confirming the payment, Head of the EU Delegation to
Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, commented: “I very much welcome
the progress achieved in the implementation of this programme as a
whole, including the valuable role played by the complementary
assistance. I would therefore like to congratulate the Government and
the Ministry of Agriculture in particular for the achievements in the
context of this support.”

This support, in line with EU assistance priorities, contributes
directly to achieving the Eastern Partnership key objective of
reducing economic and social disparities. Given the high unemployment
and lack of livelihoods and income, poverty levels in Armenia remain
high, particularly in rural areas. Agriculture and subsistence farming
represent a broad-based opportunity for food security and informal
employment. Thus, there is a great need for agricultural and rural
development through improving agricultural institutions, strengthening
the capacity and performance of farmers associations and cooperatives,
increasing access to affordable food, and supporting the roll-out of a
general agricultural census. All of these areas are being supported
through ENPARD Armenia.

Within the framework of the programme, over €5 million has been
committed to UNIDO, UNDP and FAO to provide technical support to the
Government of Armenia in close cooperation with the Ministry of
Agriculture, local authorities and other stakeholders. UNIDO and UNDP
are working jointly to strengthen and establish producer groups and
engage them effectively in value chain development. FAO provides
technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture for institutional
development and policy harmonization, as well as the roll-out of the
national agricultural census. Beneficiaries of the programme are rural
communities, farmers, producer group members, employees in
agricultural value chains, and their families.

ENPARD is improving the lives of nearly 800 farmers directly, and
indirectly 3,200 people, through the creation of agricultural
cooperatives.  The cooperatives have been provided with the latest
equipment and technology, and their staff trained in the production of
high quality products. 55 cooperatives have been formed and
registration initiated under the Law on Agricultural Cooperatives. The
farmer groups are producing buckwheat, European type high value
cheeses, non-traditional vegetables such as broccoli, and dried fruits
and herbs. In every case value is added to the products before sale.
Members of the groups have invested nearly €240,000 of their own funds
in their cooperatives, while partner development organizations have
given or lent at favourable terms a further €150,000. All ENPARD
products (to be available in stores from November 2016) will meet food
safety standards, and will be certified. In addition, fourteen unique
brands are being developed and will be registered.

Pan-Turanism, not Islam, Motivated the Armenian Genocide
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

A recently published book “Remembering for the Future: Armenia, Auschwitz, and Beyond,” edited by Michael Berenbaum, Richard Libowitz, and Marcia Sachs Littell, is a collection of scholarly papers delivered at a conference held at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, March 8-11, 2014. 

In his paper, “The Armenian Genocide as Jihad,” Prof. Richard Rubenstein attributes the Armenian mass killings to Islamic fanaticism against Christians. This is an often misunderstood topic even by Armenians who proudly proclaim that they were the first nation to adopt Christianity as state religion in 301 A.D. There is a whole folklore based on the misconception that Armenians were martyred because of their faith and refusal to convert to Islam. Given the current anti-Islamic fervor in the United States and elsewhere, some people are misled by these false claims. 

Prof. Rubenstein starts his paper on the wrong footing when he describes a gruesome scene from “Ravished Armenia,” a 1919 Hollywood silent film which showed several naked Armenian women nailed to wooden crosses. Believing that “the Turks” intended to send a particular anti-Armenian and anti-Christian message with such horrifying images, Prof. Rubenstein mistakenly claims that the movie “could not have been filmed without the involvement and consent of Turkish authorities.” 

Prof. Rubenstein bases his assumptions of the religious motive behind the Armenian Genocide on the fact that “the Ottoman Empire was governed as a theocratic state at the apex of which stood the Sultan, both the supreme head of state and, for Sunni Muslims, the Caliph and, as such, the successor to the Prophet and supreme protector of Islam.” 

The Professor insists on stipulating a religious causal factor for the Armenian Genocide, even after quoting from the eminent scholar Dr. Vahakn Dadrian, who contradicts him. According to Dadrian, the members of the Committee of Union and Progress or Ittihad who gained power in 1908 and masterminded the Armenian Genocide, were not “followers of the tenets of Islam…. While the Ittihad continued to run the State largely as a theocracy, its leaders were personally atheists and agnostics.” It is difficult to believe that a devout Muslim would murder a single human being, let alone millions! 

Dr. Rubenstein emphasizes the central role of Islam in the Turkish mass killings of Armenians, even though he acknowledges that “[Ronald] Suny and other scholars have argued that the predominant motive for the murderous homogenization project was nationalism and there is no doubt that radical nationalism played a part.” Rubenstein dismisses the issue of Pan-Turkish nationalism, arguing that “the most important motivation for the monumental ‘ethnic cleansing’ projects was religious and specifically a consequence of the unchanging nature of certain aspects of Islam.” 

To demonstrate that religion was a major determinant in the Turkish leaders’ designs, Prof. Rubenstein states: “on November 2, 1914, the Ottoman Empire declared war on the Entente powers, Britain, France, Russia, and their allies. On November 13, the Ottoman Sultan, in his capacity as Caliph, issued an appeal for jihad. The next day, Mustafa Hayri Bey, the Sheikh-ul-Islam, and as such the chief Sunni religious authority in the Ottoman world, issued a formal (and inflammatory) declaration of jihad ‘against infidels and enemies of Islam.’ Jihad pamphlets in Arabic were also distributed in mosques throughout the Muslim world that offered a detailed plan of operations for the assassination and extermination of all ‘unbelievers’ except those of German nationality, the Empire’s wartime ally. Killing squads and their leaders were ‘motivated by both the ideology of jihad and Pan-Turkism influenced by European nationalism.’ While the practical influence of the jihad on the masses was limited, ‘it later facilitated the government’s program of genocide against the Armenians.’” 

Prof. Rubenstein misses the point that religious fervor, rather than being the cause of the Armenian Genocide, was exploited to inflame the passions of the fanatical Turkish mobs in order to provoke them against the Armenians.
Instead of religion, the primary motivation for the destruction of Armenians was their removal as an impediment to Turkification and an obstacle to the Turkish leaders’ grand scheme of establishing a Pan-Turanist empire reaching Central Asia. Even though they were Muslims, a large number of Kurds were also killed, simply because they were not Turks! 

Christian Armenians had no conflict with devout Muslims and their faith. In fact, large numbers of survivors of the Armenian Genocide were sheltered by Muslims in, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Armenians remember well The Sharif of Mecca, Al-Husayn ibn Ali, who issued an edict in 1917 ordering Muslims to defend Armenian survivors of the Genocide, as they would defend their own families. 

The Young Turks' plan to eliminate Armenians from Ottoman Turkey was motivated by Pan-Turkish fanatical nationalism rather than Pan-Islamic fervor!

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