Friday, 28 October 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... Patriarch of Istanbul to be elected
New Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul to be elected
27 Oct 2016 

The Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul will apply to the Turkish authorities with a request to obtain permission to hold elections of a new Patriarch. The decision was made at the church meeting held on October 26, accoridng to the official website of the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul . 

The seat has been vacant since 2008 because of the illness of His Holiness Patriarch Mesrop Mutafyan, and Aram Atesyan has served as Patriarchal Vicar ever since. 

[how terrible that a church has to apply to a government to carry out its functions]

Vestnik Kavkaza
Oct 27 2016
Armenia commemorates victims of terrorist attack in Parliament
Oct 27 

Today Armenia is commemorating victims of the terrorist attack in the
Parliament, which took place 17 years ago.

Members of the National Assembly (NA) of Armenia on Thursday observed
a minute of silence to honor the victims of the terrorist attack.

During a regular session of the National Assembly on October 27, 1999
five armed men rushed into a conference hall of the National Assembly
of Armenia and shot the Chairman of the National Assembly Karen
Demirchyan, the Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan, the vice-chairmen of
the National Assembly Yury Bakhshyan, Ruben Miroyan, the deputies
Mikael Kotanyan, Heinrich Abramyan, Armenak Armenakyan and the
minister of operational issues Leonard Petrosyan.
Charles Aznavour to receive a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
October 25 

Renowned musician Charles Aznavour, who has written over 800 songs and recorded over 1,200, will receive a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame on October 27. Aznavour’s star will be in front of the Hollywood Pantages Theatre, where French singer of Armenian descent will give a concert on October 28. 

Kevin de León, President pro tempore of the California Senate will take part in the ceremony, Asbarez reports.
Two prestigious Italian clubs to compete for Mkhitaryan’s transfer
27 October, 2016 

Two Italian clubs “Juventus” and “Milan” will compete for midfielder of Armenia national team and “Manchester United” Mkhitaryan during the winter transfer window, “Armenpress” reports Calciomercato informs. 

According to the source, Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has wished to see the 27-year old player in his club for a long time, while “Milan” manager Vincenzo Montella sees the Armenian midfielder as the forerunner of his team. 

Mkhitaryan last played on September 10. Though his injury has recovered long before, Manchester manager José Mourinho does not play him. Several British periodicals have already announced that Mkhitaryan may leave the English club during the January transfer window. 

Al-Jazeera, Qatar
Oct 27 2016
Armenia: Divided Within? 

Could a faltering economy, corruption and public disaffection over its relationship with Russia lead to an uprising? 
By Glenn Ellis and Katerina Barushka 

In July 2016, Armenia experienced its biggest unrest for almost a decade when armed men seized the Erebuni police station in the capital, Yerevan, taking nine hostages, killing a policeman in the raid, and demanding the resignation of President Serzh Sargsyan. 

Thousands poured on to the streets to support the hostage-takers. But what was behind the raid? People & Power sent us to find out. 

The first thing you notice when you arrive in Yerevan is Mount Ararat, towering above the tin roofs and skyscrapers to the west. 

It's a national symbol, yet it's tantalisingly off-limits, being the other side of a closed border with Turkey, so that Armenians see it as a constant reminder of past glories and past atrocities - most especially the killing of around 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915/16. 

Such emblems, memories and history matter here, because they speak to years of complex relations with the other states of the volatile South Caucuses. 

The latest crisis to hit the country comes in the wake of last April's four-day flare-up in a semi-frozen conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan about Nagorno-Karabakh , a disputed region claimed by both parties and the subject of a bitter six-year war between the two nations in the late 1980s and early 90s. 

Having recently spent $5bn on state-of-the-art weapons, Azerbaijan made significant inroads and captured precious territory. To rub salt in the wound, the new arms that led to Azerbaijan's success had actually been bought from Russia - Armenia's long-standing regional ally. 

Yerevan-based political scientist Irina Ghaplanyan explained the relationship to Russia: "From its inception the Armenian political arena was saturated with ... a strong narrative that we need to survive at any expense, given the geopolitical situation, and talking about Russia as the only strategic partner to be trusted." 

But following the April flare-up, as this once "special" relationship suddenly seemed less reliable, many Armenians struggled to understand why President Serzh Sargsyan was still so determined to maintain close relations with a Kremlin that appeared to flirting with the idea of changing sides and supporting their old enemy. 

This unhappiness had been compounded by growing discontent among the country's army veterans. Armenia is intensely proud of its "victory" in the Nagorno-Karabakh war with the much larger Azerbaijan, and those who fought are generally venerated. 

They certainly make up an influential cross-section of public opinion. But now, with many veterans living in penury, political and strategic decisions that seem to negate their contribution and importance to the state's affairs, or indeed diminish the near-sacred significance of Nagorno-Karabakh, are taken badly amiss. 

The country's economy has been struggling for years and one third of Armenia's population live below the breadline. Allied to concerns about the current administration's apparent enthusiasm to cling on to power and the violent suppression of peaceful protests this summer, it's perhaps not surprising that many feel that even more turbulent times lie ahead. And the president's enemies are keen to capitalise on that sentiment. 

Alec Yenikomshian is a member of the Founding Parliament Movement, an ultra-nationalist group that includes many war veterans. 

"Since under this regime it is impossible to hold genuine elections, Founding Parliament considers that civic disobedience of the citizens of Armenia should topple the regime and establish a genuine democratic and sovereign country," he says. 

When this summer rumours spread that Moscow wanted Armenia to relinquish more lands around Nagorno-Karabakh and the president declared that the territories lost during the April war were of no tactical or strategic importance, it was too much for the charismatic leader of Founding Parliament, Jirair Sefilian. 

According to Yenikomshian, Sefilian, a veteran of the six-year war, said publicly: "OK, it is your responsibility as president of Armenia to be the guarantor of Armenian land. You do not do it, so I myself am ready to do it." And he reportedly called upon his ex-comrades in arms of the Karabakh war to retake those territories. 

A month later Sefilian was jailed on charges of possessing weapons and organising mass disturbances - as a prelude, the government claimed, to an attempted coup. 

Within weeks, the country was in the grips of the hostage crisis when armed men seeking Sefilian's freedom seized the Erebuni police station, killing one person and taking nine hostages. 

What surprised many was the outpouring of public support for the armed group's demands, not just the release of Sefilian but also the resignation of the president. Peaceful protests grew until some 20,000 people were demonstrating in the capital. 

State forces responded aggressively with stun grenades, indiscriminate beatings and mass detentions. 

According to a plethora of NGOs, 100 people were hospitalised after the police used excessive force; 33 civilians received fractures; 47 had shrapnel wounds; seven civilians had burns; and a teenager lost his eye. 

The siege ended after two weeks when the gunmen surrendered and the crowds dispersed. But the crisis is far from over and the wounds are taking a long while to heal. 

When we were granted an interview with President Sargsyan to ask him about these issues, we found him in no mood to compromise to those he clearly saw as disruptive elements. 

"Is there a country which does not have an aggressive minority?" he asked. "It's obvious that there are discontented people in our country, and maybe the most discontented are the representatives of civil society, and they have given their assessment, which does not mean it's objective." 

He was even more scathing about those behind Jirair Sefilian: "I need to tell you that their demand was not just about releasing the person you mentioned, but making him Armenia's dictator." 

Parliamentary elections are scheduled for next May. Although Sargsyan's final term as president will shortly end, a controversial new constitution changing Armenia from a presidential to a parliamentary democracy could in theory enable him to prolong his grip on the country by becoming its first prime minister. 

When asked, he refused to confirm whether he intended to run for PM, saying: "You know, I find it too early for these conversations." 

Time, as they say, will tell. 

Oct 25 2016
Pizza wars: flatbread becomes latest battlefield in Turkey-Armenia dispute
Author: Sibel Hurtas 

Earlier this month, a Turkish newspaper reported that a new crisis was brewing between troubled neighbors Turkey and Armenia. The disputed issue this time is a popular foodstuff called “ lahmacun ” in Turkish and “lamadjo” in Armenian. According to the report, the Armenians had launched an international drive to promote it as an Armenian dish, opening two restaurants in Russia. The report sparked indignation among Turks, who also claim ownership of the dish, which is a thin piece of dough, topped with minced meat, vegetables and spices, ideally baked on a wood fire. Some television programs even took it upon themselves to explain why it was Turkish food. 

The notion of food threatening diplomatic tensions may sound amusing, but Turkey and Armenia are already involved in a similar row on an international level over lavash, a thin flatbread similar to a tortilla. The crisis began after Armenia had lavash inscribed on UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as “an _expression_ of Armenian culture” in 2014. The decision drew protests from Turkey and other regional countries . Earlier this year, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan submitted a joint file to UNESCO , presenting lavash as a regional culinary heritage. The issue will be now discussed at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, scheduled to meet Nov. 28 in Ethiopia. 

Armenia’s lahmacun drive is also triggering counterattacks. Fatma Sahin, the mayor of Gaziantep, told Al-Monitor that the city, famous for its rich cuisine , had already won a spot on UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network in the field of gastronomy , and would lay claim to lahmacun as well. 

Ironically, lahmacun is contested not only internationally but also between several regions in southern Turkey. Gaziantep, Adana and Sanliurfa have been locked in a long-standing rivalry over ownership of the dish. These days, Gaziantep, which borders Syria and has been the scene of Islamic State attacks , seems to be ahead in promotion efforts. Struggling to shake off its newly acquired image as a violence-plagued region and in an effort to revive tourism, the city is promoting lahmacun as “Turkish pizza.” 

“To our foreign guests, we promote this delicacy as Turkish pizza. They like it very much, as it is both healthy and filling,” Sahin said. “This taste is utterly special to the Gaziantep cuisine, and what makes it different is the spices of the region. The lahmacun is otherwise consumed across Turkey, but ours is the most delicious one. You can’t have the same Gaziantep lahmacun anywhere else. I hope we’ll have it patented in the shortest possible time.” 

Turkey’s culinary tensions are not with Armenia only. With Greek Cypriots, for instance, tensions have surrounded halloumi cheese, a hallmark of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which has been divided between its Greek and Turkish communities for over four decades. In 2014, the Greek Cypriots applied to the European Commission to secure protected designation of origin status for halloumi, or “hellim" in Turkish, drawing angry reactions both from Turkish Cypriots and Turkey. A year later, the issue arose on the agenda of peace negotiations between the two Cypriot sides, and the EU hailed a “ common understanding ” reached on the issue as a sign of the parties’ willingness to “build confidence.” Similar disputes have taken place over baklava, raki and olives between Turkey and Greece. 

One easily notices that the food spats always involve nations with which Turkey has historical tensions. Haberturk’s diplomacy correspondent, Bahar Bakir — who reported about the lahmacun unease — stressed the commercial aspect of the disputes. 

“The problem of food registrations has become a new crisis domain between nations. Countries that have political disputes are competing in other realms as well. … Serious trademark wars are underway around the world,” Bakir told Al-Monitor. 

In Turkey’s neighborhood, she noted, the competition is especially heated as nations have a lot in common in their heritage. “The [contentious] products are actually regional products, meaning that the dishes belong to everyone. Yet, they are being registered by whichever nation takes action first,” Bakir said. “Turkey has a lot of registered trademarks, but some countries are leaving Turkey behind. And in a region where tensions are already running high, this leads to new crises — even if soft ones.” 

For Turkey, the culinary spats come atop heavy historical baggage, including wars and population exchanges with Greece and a genocide row with Armenia. Though trademark wars have emerged as a new realm of rivalry in modern times, one should note that the disputed dishes often serve as a vessel for cultural connection as well. Trademarks may be important, but in a region so closely intertwined in cultural terms, drawing lines between cuisines and other traditions is not easy after all. 

Turkish chef Murat Hayran, whose team of professional cooks often represents Turkey at culinary events abroad, says many dishes share the same name but often differ in their ingredients and taste. 

“Once, we took part in a Turkish Week event in Greece and put stuffed vine-leaves, baklava and mastic pudding as Turkish dishes on the menu. The Greeks said those were not Turkish but Greek dishes. And they were really the same dishes with the same names, but their ingredients and the way they were served were different,” Hayran told Al-Monitor. 

The chef’s trip had other surprises as well. “As we took a walk in the streets, I heard the sound of bagpipes. I was so surprised that we shared not only dishes but also music,” he said. “Then, I sat down at a cafe and a Greek man invited me to his table. When I told him I was Turkish he started talking about Istanbul, and it turned out we had even common acquaintances.” 

Hayran is fine with the shared heritage but believes Turkey should do more to promote its cuisine. “In a region with so many things in common, the common dishes are only natural,” he said. “The problem here is that Turkey lags a bit behind in promotion. We should be more aggressive in promoting our dishes, cheeses and other delicacies.”

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