Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian...2 billion to Armenia

Kerkorian left USD 2 billion to Armenia: V. Oskanian
October 20,2016 |

Chairman of “Hamakhmbum” (Consolidation) party Vartan Oskanian on his Facebook page touched upon the will of billionaire Kirk Kerkorian.

“Today I have read the will of Kirk Kerkorian. I understood that USD 2 billion was bequeathed, which exclusively will be provided to one or more charitable organizations, which have U.S. tax service’s so called 501(C)3 privilege. The will must be disposed by three mentioned individuals, only one of whom is Armenian. In three years after Kirk Kerkorian’s death (one year has already passed) those three individuals must finish the distribution of that sum.

Though there is no limitation on the decision of these three people, except that the decisions should be made on the principle of majority, I, nevertheless, think these persons carry moral responsibility, which derives from the priorities of charitable donations by Kirk Kerkorian especially during the recent 20 years.

Kirk Kerkorian made charitable donations in three main directions:

    1. American institutions, especially educational
    2. Armenian organizations- educational, cultural, publishing etc.
    3. The largest part of his donations- to Armenia.

I am sure that this factor puts some responsibility on the persons disposing the will in connection with their choice.

It would be right to establish a 5-7 member committee including individuals, who enjoy the absolute trust of Armenians as soon as possible, so that the committee by holding consultations with larger groups, including Armenian government, present a package of proposals to those three individuals. The committee will aim at justifying the provision of large amounts of the will to Armenia, as well as noting the organizations and projects, which should be provided those sums.

This issue shouldn’t be left to the mercy of fate. It will also be unacceptable if individuals or individual organizations, separately by their means, with contradicting proposals, serving their own interest, eliminate those three individuals, who dispose the will,” writes Mr Oskanian.

WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton intended to raise money for campaign from Azerbaijan’s lobbyists
The US presidential candidate,Hillary Clinton, and her campaign chair, John Podesta, discussed the appropriateness of fundraising from foreign lobbyists for campaign, including from people lobbying for Azerbaijan, Russian Today reports citing Clinton’s emails with Podesta published by WikiLeaks.

According to the article, particularly long email thread discusses what the campaign might do about donations from “foreign agents” – people acting on behalf of foreign entities such as governments. It is highlighted that in April of last year,John Podesta was in an email chain along with a number of key campaign figures over whether to allow those lobbying on behalf of foreign governments to raise money for the campaign.

It was also noted that Tony Podesta – John’s brother, who lobbies for Iraq, Egypt and Azerbaijan among many others – was included in the list of people, with whom Clinton’s campaign figures wanted to collaborate in raising money.

Brothers Tony and John Podesta head the lobbying organization “Podesta Group”, which is Azerbaijan’s main lobbyist in the USA. In February 2015, Azerbaijan’s embassy in the USA increased the organization’s monthly fee from $50000 to $75000.

Reportedly, “Podesta Group’s” registration documents uncovered hundreds of contracts with the US Congress offices, executive agencies, media outlets, and research centers, as a result of which Azerbaijan could “buy influence” in Washington, and many congressmen started to issue statements in favor of the official Baku. At the same time, the well-documented violations of the presidentIlhamAliyev’s regime towards its citizens were not mentioned in any statement.

RFE/RL Report
New Armenian Cabinet Gets Vote Of Confidence
October 21, 2016
Karlen Aslanian

In what amounted to a vote of confidence, the Armenian parliament
approved on Friday a policy program submitted by Prime Minister Karen
Karapetian and his newly formed cabinet.

The National Assembly dominated by government loyalists backed the
action plan by 85 votes to 7, with 6 abstentions, after a two-day

"I want to assure you that we are conscious of the burden which we are
going to have to carry," Karapetian told lawmakers after the vote.

The 33-page document commits Karapetian's cabinet to speeding up
economic growth through a tougher fight against corruption, better tax
administration and "equal conditions" for all businesses. It says that
"conventional approaches" can longer address Armenia's socioeconomic

Opposition lawmakers dismissed these reform pledges during the
debate. "We can't support any government formed by the ruling party
because [the experience of] the past years gives us no reason to do
that," Levon Zurabian, the parliamentary leader of the opposition
Armenian National Congress (HAK), said before the vote of confidence.

Zurabian suggested that the recent government reshuffle was a ploy by
President Serzh Sarkisian designed to "mitigate widespread popular
discontent with and hatred of the authorities" ahead of the April 2017
parliamentary elections.

"We can't share political responsibility for this program because we
are not in government," said Mikael Melkumian of the Prosperous
Armenia Party (BHK), the second largest parliamentary force. Most BHK
deputies boycotted the vote.

Deputies representing another opposition faction, Orinats Yerkir,
abstained. As their leader, Heghine Bisharian, explained, they want to
let the new cabinet "work" despite having misgivings about its
declared objectives.

Predictably, the parliamentary factions of the ruling Republican Party
and its junior coalition partner, the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), defended the cabinet. Dashnaktsutyun's
Aghvan Vartanian said its program can lay the groundwork for country's
"long-term development."

Construction of North-South Highway May Be Discontinued
20 October 2016, 17:38 

Today the minister of transport, communication and IT Vahan Martirosyan did not rule out that the construction of North-South Highway may be discontinued in an interview with journalists at the prime minister’s office.

“We will evaluate its effectiveness, then we will figure out what we continue, and whether we continue or not,” the minister said.

In answer to the question whether the program may be stopped, he said: “I am not ready to answer that question because this is not final.”

He said they are evaluating the project and the construction.

In answer to rumors on the criminal case relating to construction the minister said it is beyond his scope. “Currently the effectiveness is being evaluated, we check and we will let you know about any new development,” he said.

Vahan Martirosyan also stated that he will do anything during his office against misuse.

The Halo Trust Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Clear Artsakh Minefield

The first crowdfunding campaign of its kind aims to clear a minefield in Myurishen village, Martuni Region

MYURISHEN, Nagorno-Karabakh—In a global first, The HALO Trust, an international non-profit, has launched a $30,000 crowdfunding campaign to clear a minefield in Myurishen village, Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is a 1.8-acre minefield that endangers 500 people in Myurishen and the neighboring village of Vazgenasheg in Martuni Region, Nagorno-Karabakh. Clearance would prevent accidents and allow the community to use the safe land to gather wood, graze their animals and forage without fear.

There have been at least five people injured in landmine accidents in Myurishen since 1995. The HALO Trust cleared three minefields in the village between 2007 and 2011, removing 38 anti-personnel mines, two anti-tank mines and three other explosive items. The minefield being cleared through crowdfunding is the only minefield remaining.

The crowdfunding appeal is part of a larger campaign – Safe steps for the people of Karabakh– to clear all the landmines in Karabakh with an impact on civilians by 2020. An anonymous donor has pledged half of the $8 million required – if The HALO Trust can raise matching funds.

Mikhail Merjumian, a landmine victim and a resident of Myurishen whose house is located half a mile from the minefield said “I am very grateful that the minefield is being cleared. It means that there is hope for the village, that the next generation can live in safety.”

Andrew Moore, The HALO Trust’s Regional Director, said “We are taking this new approach to fundraising because Karabakhi Armenians have suffered from landmines for over 22 years. They are more likely to be victims of landmines than inhabitants of almost any country in the world – a third of the victims are children. Landmines also cripple the economy by denying families the use of their land for farming.”

The HALO Trust, the world’s largest humanitarian mine action organization, has worked in Karabakh since 2000. It is the only agency clearing landmines and cluster bombs with a staff of 170 men and women who were recruited locally.

German historian reveals documents of 1100 pages in 
Vatican archives linked with Armenian Genocide
21 October, 2016 

YEREVAN, OCTOBER 2. German historian and author of a number of works on the Armenian Genocide Michael Hesemann revealed documents of 1100 pages linked with the Armenian Genocide in Vatican’s open and secret archives. “Armenpress” reports the German historian told the reporters that he plans to write a book based on the findings, while the copies of the documents he handed to the director of Armenia’s National Academy of Sciences. Hesemann informed the book will be not only in German, but also English and other languages. The scientist is ready to share his experience with other scientists and researchers studying Armenian Genocide.

Referring to the content of the document, Michael Hesemann noted that they are mainly the correspondences of Popes with their representatives in the East, as well as with the representatives of the Capuchin and Franciscan orders. The documents are mainly in Italian and French.

“The studies manly reveal that extermination of the Christian element, and particularly Armenians, took place in the Ottoman Empire. It was a well planned state policy. The Young Turks believed that only homogeneous states are powerful, and for reaching that goal ethnic cleansings were necessary”, the scientist said.

According to him, the documents show that the Catholic Church had tried to influence the German position on the Armenian Genocide. “Vatican tried to influence Germany through Austria-Hungary aiming to stop the genocide. But Germany wished to keep Turkey under its influence, even at the expense of the fate of Armenians”, Michael Hesemann said. He thinks that the feeling of guilt coming from this act made the German parliament adopt a relevant decision and recognize the Armenian Genocide.

The German historian also mentioned that the documents examined by him contain precise evidences about the number of Armenian victims amounting to 1.5 million. “The letter of a Capuchin representative also documents this fact, who mentions that 1.5 million out of 2.3 million Armenians have been killed by November, 1918”, the scientist said.

Demoyan Warns of Dire Situation in Armenia 
OCTOBER 20, 2016 
By Aram Arkun 

BELMONT, Mass. — On October 13, Hayk Demoyan delivered a lecture ominously entitled “The End of the Third Republic? Or, What to Expect for Armenia’s Future” at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) in Belmont, as part of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Lecture Series on Contemporary Armenian Issues. The title did not mislead, as Demoyan delivered what might be considered a “wake-up call” for the diaspora.

Demoyan has been director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan since 2006, and from 2011 to 2015 served as the secretary of the State Commission on Coordination of the Events Dedicated to the Commemoration of the 100 th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. He is the author of twelve books on topics ranging from aspects of the Armenian Genocide to Armenian sports in the Ottoman Empire.

Demoyan is a public figure in Armenia who, although sometimes associated with the political establishment because of the positions he has held, has not been a stranger to controversy. He presented himself at NAASR on a more basic level, saying, “I am not going to provoke anything. I am a scholar and I am a citizen. I feel myself obliged to share with you some thoughts and anxieties as a person, an Armenian, from Armenia.” He declared that he is not and has never been a member of any political party.

Demoyan identified himself as an eyewitness and survivor of the cataclysms and changes of the past 25 years of Armenian independence, and he showed 25 photographs in slides accompanying his talk to remind the audience just what the people in Armenia have passed through. In other words, the quarter-century anniversary of the Republic of Armenia should serve not only as a festive occasion but an opportunity to examine the challenges and threats facing Armenia’s future.

He proceeded to present several issues, both internally and externally, which are threats to the existence of the Republic of Armenia. In foreign policy, the relationship with Russia is fraught with problems. The decision of Armenia to join the Eurasian Economic Union in September 2013 and give up serious efforts at integration into the European Union was problematic, he said. Demoyan called this Russian-dominated environment “USSR 2.0.”

The unprecedented escalation in hostilities which led to the April War this year with Azerbaijan, Demoyan observed, triggered renewed discussion over the value to Armenia of its strategic relationship with Russia. Many Armenians wondered how Russia could sell arms to Azerbaijan which were then used to kill Armenians. This in turn domestically contributed to a deepening gap between Armenian society and government, which, Demoyan said, was “truly disturbing.”

A further complication or challenge is an attempt to frame the Soviet legacy in a positive manner. In Russia this is evident in bookshops which have whole shelves of expensively-printed volumes praising Stalin, Beria and Lenin, he said. Armenia to a degree is part of a joint cultural “space” with Russia and there are similar efforts to rebuild Soviet memories there, but this phenomenon is dangerous. Demoyan exclaimed that you cannot — after 25 years — restore what was broken apart. An attempt to do this without the necessary resources would lead to a new tragedy, he added.

Demoyan gave one example of his opposition to the creation of a statue honoring Anastas Mikoyan, the Armenia-born former chairman of the Supreme Soviet. Mikoyan, he explained, was involved in mass purges of Polish officers as well as Armenian officials regarded as suspect by the USSR.

Relations with another one of Armenia’s hostile neighbors, Turkey, remains stuck in a quagmire. Despite Armenia’s signing the Protocols with Turkey, the border between these two countries remains closed without effective efforts by Russia, the US or Europe to change this situation, which constitutes a semi-blockade for Armenia. Whether Russian-Turkish relations are tense or friendly, he noted, the Turkish-Armenian border remains closed.

The destruction in Syria today and the consequent flow of Syrian-Armenian refugees to Armenia poses another problem for Armenia.

Domestically, Demoyan feels that after Armenia voted for a parliamentary system of government last December, the forthcoming April parliamentary elections will be “a crucial landmark date for Armenians and for all of us—this is the fate of the Republic that we will secure for future years.”

He said that the armed attack and hostage situation by the fringe political group Sasna Tsrer (The Daredevils of Sasoon) for two weeks over the summer was part of “new disturbing developments.” He noted that the majority was protesting and sided, actively or passively, with the attackers though their actions were illegal and resulted in fatalities. He concluded that “if former combatants will try to solve issues in Armenia, this will be just starting the end of statehood.”

The gap between the government and society is really dangerous, Demoyan said, as the government remains silent. Its only means of communication with the people is the police.

Demoyan openly declared that government corruption is rampant, but he said that “a little hope” exists with the new government and its appointments. Yet there are still some of the same people remaining in government. Aside from corruption, Demoyan pointed out that the external debt is huge and the economic situation is “very, very serious.”

The most serious threat facing Armenia, according to Demoyan, is the depopulation of Armenia through emigration. He said that nearly one and a half million Armenians have left already, and if the economic situation is not ameliorated, this could trigger new emigration and endanger the existence of the country.

Demoyan said that the main weapon in Armenia’s hands is its human resources, which are now leaving the country. Secondly, Armenia must be strong internally. Demoyan once told the Armenian president that the problem with Azerbaijan cannot be solved with more or better weapons. The only way is for Armenia to become a more democratic state, respecting human rights and with rule of law leaving no room for corruption. This will make it a more powerful country than authoritarian and corrupt Azerbaijan, he said. One hope for the future is a new generation of Armenian decision makers, but it is not clear how they will overcome the entrenched present system and come to power, he added.

Demoyan concluded by examining what the diaspora can do. The situation in Armenia was important for Armenians living in the republic as well as those abroad. He said that recent efforts of several individuals to criticize with public letters or petitions were not sufficient. The diaspora should be a form of leverage or a factor in triggering change in a positive direction in Armenia. He stressed that involvement is necessary to help create change, but not efforts to control. In other words, agendas from the US or Russia should not be imported.

One way, Demoyan said, would be by involving diasporan structures in Armenia through a permanent pan-Armenian commission as the successor to the Armenian Genocide centennial commission.

Demoyan elaborated on his ideas during the extensive and freewheeling question-and-answer session. He pointed out that there was no serious political opposition in Armenia, but for the most part temporary opposition figures who disappear after the elections. He said, with his typical humor, that “we don’t want people sitting in parliament with nicknames.” Those with nicknames are usually criminal or Mafia-type figures. If these people are reelected next year, this will be a big problem, he said.

He added that election fraud is a common occurance. He feared greater violence if the upcoming elections were seen as fixed and unfair as the preceding ones.

Corruption, he told another questioner, emanates not just from the Soviet legacy, or the influence of former Karabagh combatants. A lack of official punishment for misdeeds is combined with tolerance or acceptance in common society, Demoyan said. Demoyan declared that he did not want to either target or praise the government, but rather to show directions which could help resolve the situation as well as prevent violence.

The audience generally responded in a sympathetic manner to Demoyan’s talk. Some praised his openness. A few gave positive examples of change in Armenia, but most seemed pessimistic about the possibility for change. A handful called for drastic action. One suggested total withdrawal of diasporan support to Armenia until the government changes, while another felt that armed violence was necessary to carry out a revolution, including the assassination of Armenian “traitors” as in Operation Nemesis after the Armenian Genocide.

After answering many audience questions, Demoyan made a final statement: “I am here to give a bold and serious message…for all of us. I am one of you. I am not an extraordinary person who can identify or make historical predictions. That is not my task. … But I feel I fulfilled one minimum obligatory task. I raised the issues, I broke the silence. … We have to raise our voices, at the least, and then to act.”

He concluded, “We have to draw this roadmap for bringing Armenia back from that swamp that we are now in after 25 years. If not, the final result will unfortunately be predictable. We can lose our state. This is not an exaggeration…. All the possibilities are in our hands, individually or on a group level.”

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