Thursday, 20 October 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian...Music to my ears...

RFE/RL Report
Russian-Turkish Rapprochement `Not Risky For Armenia'
October 14, 2016
Artak Hambardzumian

An ongoing thaw in Russia's relations with Turkey is not fraught with
any geopolitical dangers for Armenia, an aide to Russian President
Vladimir Putin insisted on Friday.

Russian-Turkish relations deteriorated sharply following the downing
of a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border by Turkish forces in
November 2015. Moscow imposed trade and travel sanctions against
Turkey and Russian in retaliation.

The two nations began rapidly mending ties following a recent letter
of regret from Erdogan on the death of the Russian plane's
pilot. Putin highlighted the normalization process when he visited
Istanbul and met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier
this week.

The two leaders presided over the signing of an agreement to build a
gas pipeline from Russia to Europe. The expensive project was
suspended during the Russian-Turkish row.

The renewed Russian-Turkish rapprochement has raised fears among some
Armenian pundits and politicians that Russia might cut more deals with
Turkey and even Azerbaijan at the expense of Armenia's interests.

Sergey Glazyev, an economic adviser to Putin, dismissed such
speculation, as he spoke in Yerevan during an international conference
on "Eurasian partnership." "I do realize that this is a sensitive
topic in Yerevan," he said. "But I think concerns that the deepening
of Russian-Turkish relations could damage Armenia's interests are

"Our recently signed agreements with Turkey simply restore projects
that had been devised a long time ago," argued Glazyev. "We are
talking about the restoration of normal cooperation and revival of
projects that were discontinued for political reasons."

"I see no reason to think that Armenia's interests are harmed or
Russian-Armenian commercial ties are suffering in any way," added the
Russian official.

Armenia and Turkey have no diplomatic relations and open borders, with
Ankara making the normalization of bilateral ties conditional on a
resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict acceptable to
Azerbaijan. Yerevan rejects this precondition.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on Turkish-Armenian
relations on Friday as he accompanied Putin during a summit of the
Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) in Yerevan. He said
Moscow continues to support their unconditional normalization.

"But we have a sense that progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement
will be key to the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations," the
TASS news agency quoted Lavrov as telling Russian reporters.

Lavrov also said that Turkey could play a "positive role" in the
Armenian-Azerbaijani peace process by "unblocking Nagorno-Karabakh."
Armenian foreign ministry: Turkey should be kept away from 

Karabakh negotiation process 
YEREVAN, October 17. Turkey, with its openly biased stance taken on Karbakh conflict can have no place in negotiations and it should be kept away from the process, Shavarsh Kocharyan, Armenian deputy foreign minister, said Monday reacting to the statement made earlier by the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov.

On Friday, Lavrov said that Turkey could play a positive part in the process by ensuring the unblocking of Nagorno Karabakh and normal economic interaction in the region. In his words, this is an important factor that is always taken into account.

“With its obviously one-sided stance Turkey has no place in and should be kept away from the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiation process,” Kocharyan is quoted by the foreign ministry’s press office. “The only positive impact Ankara could have on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement is the opening of the border with Armenia and ceasing of encouraging Azerbaijan’s provocative and destructive steps.”

The deputy foreign minister said that the statement on the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh issue, adopted by the Presidents of the CSTO member-countries in Yerevan on October 14, expresses its support to the agreements reached in Vienna and St. Petersburg aimed at the prevention of escalation of situation in the conflict zone, stabilization of situation and creation of conditions for the advancement of peace process.
The exclusively peaceful settlement should be based on the three well-known principles of International Law - non use of force or threat of force, the territorial integrity of states and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

“The position of the Russian Federation on the settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is expressed by the abovementioned statement, not through the distortion of Sergey Lavrov’s words by the Foreign Ministry of Turkey as presented in the Azerbaijani media: a qualification, which previously was ascribed to the Azerbaijani side for its misrepresentation of the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiation process,” he said.
Armenia rated second by National Geographic Traveler Awards 2016
in category "discovery of the year' 
YEREVAN, October 17. An online voting conducted by the National Geographic Traveler Awards 2016 rated Armenia second in the category "Discovery of the Year", TurStat travel agency said.

With 8% of the vote Armenia is ahead of Iran (6%), and is second only to Georgia (32%). Armenia is also represented in the category "Best gastronomic tour."

According to TurStat, global Internet services, TripAdvisor and are among the most popular with travelers.
The online voting in 23 categories of the National Geographic Traveler Awards 2016 Prize is being held from September 8 to November 6, 2016. -0--
Legendary Armenian brandy launches new worldwide advertising campaign 

YEREVAN, October 17. 
 ARARAT, the legendary Armenian Brandy, is launching a new worldwide advertising campaign “Heart to Heart” or the ART to raise emotional toasts, the French owned Yerevan Brandy Company (YBC) said in a press release.

'Since ancient times people have been crowning the most convivial moments of life by raising a glass. Over the centuries a Toast was an _expression_ of eternal values such as love, friendship, family, prosperity, and triumph. The ability to offer a captivating toast is indeed an art which truly reflects folk wisdom and uniquely conveys cultural heritage of the nation,' the press release says.

'The eloquent toast needs a true Master who would find the right words to reveal and glorify the feelings that we all experience throughout our lives. And here is where the ART begins… Today the legendary Armenian Brandy ARARAT is pleased to launch a new advertising campaign “Heart to Heart”: very emotional campaign by the essence of the toasts “To those who fill our lives.” “To reunions with old friends.” and product oriented by the creative approach of the TVC campaign.;

According to the company, the campaign has been developed by the worldwide agency TBWA and realized by the calligrapher & illustrator Yuri Gordon. According to the creative concept, the toasts are visually outlining at the very moment of clinking two snifters. They flawlessly fill the space of the crossed shadows and let the brandy warm these words of Heart. The roll out of the new ad campaign has already started in key markets through a large trade activation at POPs, and a large media plan for the TVC campaign in Ukraine, Slovakia and Armenia.

The legendary Armenian brandy ARARAT is produced by Yerevan Brandy Company using traditional technology, the foundations of which were laid in 1887 by the brothers Nerses and Vasily Tairyants. ARARAT brandy is created using only local endemic high-quality Armenian grapes and crystal clear spring water. Precious ARARAT brandy is aged exclusively in barrels made of Caucasian oak, produced in their in-house cooperage plant.

In 1998 Yerevan Brandy Company became a part of Pernod Ricard, an international company and the world’s leader in the Premium spirits industry.'-0-
Crystals for Armenian lasers tested in France

YEREVAN. – Armenian crystals for lasers are being tested in France, at a layout of NPP with cold thermonuclear fusion, Samvel Gyulbudaghyan, representative of CJSC Laser Technology, toldArmenian

Crystals had already been patented in the United States. Each of them allows to get several tens of kilowatts of laser power in the synthesis reaction using low temperatures.

A layout of a nuclear power plant has been built in France to test similar reactions.

If it turns out that it is possible to have a desired laser power, the orders can increase, as one station may require about 500 crystals.

Know-how of the Armenian engineers is synthetic crystals of yttrium-aluminum garnet (YAG) activated by ytterbium elements. The company uses the Soviet method of getting crystals enabling to have crystals of the desired size and purity. The laser can get more power for the necessary reaction.

“We are also growing crystals activated by other rare metals, for example, neodymium. They have a great demand abroad, because laser technology is gradually becoming more widespread from medicine to engineering,” the engineer said.
Periscopes created in Armenia to protect soldiers from snipers

Periscopes have been created in Armenia to protect soldiers from snipers, representative of CJSC Laser Technology Samvel Gyulbudaghyan toldArmenian

The devices have already passed the necessary tests.

Given that Armenia is engaged in “a trench confrontation” you need to have a means of protection from enemy snipers.

“Now our border guards may have a direct view instead of hiding in a safer place,” the engineer said.

The device does not waste energy and is similar to other periscopes that are used, for instance, in the submarines.

Daily Mail, UK
Oct 16 2016
A rags to roubles fairy tale: Writer and ambassador's wife 
Nouneh Sarkissian on her journey from Soviet Armenia to Chelsea
By Charlotte Pearson Methven For You Magazine 

I am sitting in a sumptuous drawing room overlooking the Thames, enjoying watermelon slices and cherries from a silver salver. My hostess, Nouneh Sarkissian, 62, is the wife of Armenia’s ambassador to Britain.

She also has one of the world’s largest collections of David Linley furniture and numbers the designer himself – the Queen’s nephew – among her closest friends. A journalist by background, she is now a successful children’s author (Linley hosted the launch party for her latest book, The Magic Buttons, at his flagship store last December). But there is nothing showy about Nouneh.

Her exquisite furniture collection – bespoke Linley tables, chairs and bookshelves, alongside art deco treasures, antiques, rare pieces of Japanese art and old masters – is referred to with quiet appreciation.

Nouneh can’t tell me exactly how many Linley pieces there are, but they seem to be everywhere, blending in seamlessly in this immaculate Chelsea town house. ‘We met David at the wedding of Armenian friends in Beirut in 1995 and have been close to him and [his wife] Serena ever since. We like his style. If I buy a set of Russian Imperial chairs, he will build a table to match. We don’t consider our Linley collection to be furniture. We see each item as a work of art that will be passed down to future generations,’ she says.

Nuneh’s husband Armen – an astrophysicist and former prime minister of Armenia – is now serving his third stint as Armenian ambassador in the UK. As well as being a prominent diplomat and politician, he is one of Armenia’s most esteemed scientists and professors, and was, therefore, in a perfect position to broker oil and energy deals with the West when his country gained economic freedom from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Hence his wealth, and the seven-storey house at one of London’s best addresses (he’s also one of the creators of the cultishly popular tile-matching video game Tetris, which may have helped, too).

But Nouneh is too erudite and polite to talk about money. She and Armen met at school in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia (then communist, and a part of the Soviet Union since 1922), when she was 14 and he was 15.

In contrast to their current gilded existence, they grew up in the austerity of the Soviet regime – a life Nouneh remembers as repressive, but also secure and nurturing of creative talent.

‘My father was a journalist and my mother a teacher, so we were part of the intelligentsia. There were no classes in our society back then, just layers, and we were the second layer, after the nomenklatura – politicians and dignitaries who were allowed to travel and had access to foreign goods.

'We weren’t rich but we were educated, with enough money to feed and clothe ourselves. I never felt deprived. It wasn’t a bad childhood and I knew no different.’

Nouneh does, however, recall some sinister moments. ‘There was always a sense that we were being watched,’ she recalls. ‘My mother would say to us, “Be careful. Don’t tell jokes. The walls have ears.”

'And you felt it from a young age. It is something I will never forget. The fear was everywhere – that’s how the regime lasted so long.

'My father, as a journalist, had to be very careful to use the right words and phrases. When he became the editor-in-chief of the monthly newspaper World of Books, he had to make sure not to allow the “wrong” titles to be reviewed.

'You could lose your life for using the wrong word or picture. I remember a story of someone spilling tea on Stalin’s photo in a newspaper and having to go for an interrogation.

'The fear was even worse during his regime; I was born a year after his death – nine years after the Second World War ended – and can still remember seeing people who had lost limbs fighting in the war. It was very gruesome.’

But there was an upside to growing up in a communist regime: the huge emphasis that was placed on culture. ‘Our schools were amazing,’ says Nouneh, ‘and we were given tickets to theatre, opera, classical music and the best ballet in the world – all for free!’

Nouneh was a bright talent in her own right; her early promise evident when she got herself a job at a local radio station aged ten, which meant travelling half an hour on her own by bus every Sunday morning.

‘I was given children’s books to read on air. They would pay me some roubles, which I then gave to my mother, who needed them. I also wrote children’s stories and tried to get them published.’

It was at secondary school that she met – and fell in love with – her husband. ‘He is my first and my only,’ she smiles. ‘Armen was the best student at our school and I was the best actress. We did Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw plays – in English, because learning English was a big part of a communist education back then – and I always landed the main parts.

'Because of this, I had boys running after me. But I was an independent soul and always said no. Armen became curious and thought, “Who is this girl rejecting all the boys?”’ The two wound up at a Young Communists conference together, ‘which was very boring’, so she invited the other students back to her house.

Armen was wowed by her father’s book collection and asked to borrow a volume of poetry, ‘which was against the rules, as my father hated loaning his books’. Fearing her father’s wrath if the tome was not returned, Nouneh tracked down Armen at school to retrieve it, ‘and this was how our friendship started,’ she explains.

They went together to Yerevan State University – Armen to study physics and Nouneh languages. Upon graduating, Armen was offered a position at Cambridge University. ‘He was invited 13 times by different universities before the communists allowed it.’

By the time he arrived in the UK in 1984, he and Nouneh were married with two sons, Vartan, now 36, and Hayk, 32. ‘Wives were not allowed to go abroad with Soviet scientists. We were kept behind as hostages. It was right after Hayk’s birth, so that was difficult. Moscow only allowed me to visit him for one month in April 1985.

'I was 30 and when I arrived in London [en route to Cambridge] it was the first time I had ever been abroad. Before that, I had only travelled around the Soviet Union to places like Siberia, which are beautiful but, of course, all any of us wanted was to see London and Paris.

‘I fell in love with London. Armen and I said, “If only we could live here for the rest of our lives…” At the time it didn’t seem possible, but Gorbachev had just come to power and declared his glasnost and perestroika – loosening censorship and allowing greater communication. We had friends from the West who told us about chewing gum, bell-bottom jeans and Jesus Christ Superstar – and, slowly, people began to rebel.’

Once the communist regime collapsed in 1991 and Armenia became independent, the country’s first elected president asked Armen – by then a prominent academic – to open an embassy in London, and by 1992 Nouneh and the boys had joined him there. After several years as ambassador, Armen was appointed prime minister of Armenia in 1996.

Nouneh spent two years commuting between London (where the boys were at top public schools) and Yerevan to visit her husband, with her mother coming to London to stay with their sons while she was away.

After stepping down as prime minister because of illness (from which he has now recovered), Armen became ambassador for a second time.

He then gave up the role for a few years to focus on other projects, before taking it up again in 2013, this time on an honorary basis.

Nouneh points proudly to a framed photo of Armen bowing to the Queen when she gave her blessing to his most recent appointment in 1998. ‘She said, “Armen, you are the champion of all ambassadors. This is the third time you have come back to us.” I admire Her Majesty so much. She is such a gracious soul and so intelligent.’

Nouneh and Armen are also friends with Prince Charles: they gave him a private tour when he visited Armenia in 2013. ‘The prince and my husband share a passion for preserving heritage,’ explains Nouneh. ‘Armenia has some of the earliest Christian churches and our basilicas and sacred monuments have been beautifully preserved. Charles loved it.’

The Sarkissians have their own charity, Yerevan My Love, which restores ‘dilapidated and destroyed late 19th- and early 20th-century buildings’ and repurposes them as music, community and sports centres where disadvantaged children can develop their talents.

The charity has held events at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, as well as in Yerevan. ‘The Prince has supported all of these and our charity has partnered his Prince’s Trust project at Dumfries House [a Palladian mansion in Ayrshire, which was restored for the community].’

My book - the fairy tale - developed on its own,' says Nouneh, 'which is the magic of writing'

Art and culture have retained a major influence on Nouneh. The holiday she and Armen most look forward to each year is their annual pilgrimage to the Mozart Festival in Salzburg.

And she found a channel for her own creativity through writing – for many years as a freelance arts journalist for Armenian publications and now through her children’s books, which are beautifully illustrated, full of imagination ‘and each with a strong moral’.

The Magic Buttons is her 14th book and the first to be published in English. (She has written ten in Armenian and three in Russian.) It tells the story of a little girl called Pearl, who is sent to live with her grandparents in Spic-and-Span Town after a plague takes hold in their village; she spins off on an adventure to save everyone, picking up friends with names such as Tumbletash along the way.

It is inspired by Nouneh’s childhood and the close relationship she had with her grandmother growing up. ‘I sat down to write something that would reflect my own experience but when the words started to flow it became something completely different – a fantasy fairy tale. The story developed on its own, which is the magic of writing.’ Nouneh is now working on a sequel.


Reading John le CarrĂ©’s A Delicate Truth. I love intellectual crime fiction.

Favourite children’s books Anything by Dr Seuss or Roald Dahl – and the Armenian national fairy tales.

Watching Versailles was amazing – the script and acting were brilliant. Armen and I also watch Game of Thrones, but sometimes it gets too tense.

Go-to designer Jun Ashida, who has stores in Tokyo and Paris. Every time I go in, I buy a piece.

Holiday hotspot Other than my beautiful Armenia, I love Sardinia, which has the clearest water, and Japan, where the minimalist art and culture appeals to me.

Last meal on earth Something traditional and Armenian – red kidney bean soup with crushed walnuts, followed by lamb stew with slices of quince and tomatoes.

Most prized possession My English bulldog Kolo. He is a full member of the family. Bulldogs are easy as they sleep so much and are cuddly and friendly.

When she isn’t writing or playing the dutiful ambassador’s wife, Nouneh’s energy goes on her English bulldog Kolo – ‘my first dog, and I am totally in love with him’ – and her grandchildren, Savannah, four, and Armen, two, Vartan’s children with his American wife. ‘Savannah has such an imagination.

She loves books and loves us to sit down and write stories together. Many of my best ideas come from her. We write about little domestic problems that can seem very large to children, such as worrying about needing the loo on the way to school and whether this will make you late.’

Her sons feel British, she says, though they are still proud of their roots. ‘I miss the less formal relationship between people in Armenia – the way you can just ring someone’s doorbell, have a coffee, empty your concerns and come home feeling better.

'We have a home in Yerevan and my sister [her only sibling, a graphic designer] is there, so we visit often. But I love London as much now as I did the day I arrived. There is no other place like it.’

Nouneh admits that she has forfeited some of her potential to support Armen’s career, but she clearly relishes family life and feels any sacrifices she’s made have been worth it. ‘I adore being a grandmother. My younger son Hayk is still single. I keep saying to him, “Hurry up! I want more grandchildren while I am still young.”

'When I push too much, he says, ‘You find me a woman then. I have just three conditions: she must be beautiful, clever and kind,”’ she smiles wryly.

‘At least they live close to me. What I did to my mother by moving away!’ Her idea of a perfect Sunday is the family coming together at their house in Surrey.

‘I think I did sacrifice my own ambitions for the wellbeing of my family,’ she says. ‘But I never regret it. I have two beautiful children who are mentally strong and ambitious [Vartan runs his own cyber-security company and Hayk works with his father].

'If my life was ever frustrating, I tried not to show it. I was like “happy face”’ – she assumes an exaggerated smile that brings to mind the grinning emoji – ‘because this was what everyone needed from me…Happy Mum. Sad face never works.

'It’s difficult to find the right balance in a relationship. Armen is strong and I’m strong. That could have been a clash, but I let him be our leader and he appreciates me for it. He always says he couldn’t have done any of it without me.’

• The Magic Buttons is published by Quartet Books, price £12.50. To order a copy for £10 (a 20 per cent discount) until 30 October, visit or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15

No comments: