Thursday, 1 December 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian... How absurd, for wearing a Cross!!!
France MP is criticized for wearing Armenian cross

French National Assembly member Valérie Boyer, who is also the press secretary of ex-PM François Fillon who has won the primaries of the French right-wings and centrists, found herself in a scandal. 

France 2 TV invited Boyer to comment on Fillon’s victory, according to Le Figaro daily of France. She went on the air wearing a chain with an Armenian cross; but this caused a heated reaction on the Internet. 

In accordance with French legislation, the public display of religious symbols is prohibited in the country. 

Many Internet users accused the MP of violating the laws of the country and breaking the rules of the secular state. 

On that day, Valérie Boyer commented on François Fillon’s victory on the air of several other TV channels as well. 

Some time after her interview with France 2, she was on the air of BFM TV, but this time without the Armenian cross.
Eastern Aleppo freed: historic days for local Armenians

This week has brought a breakthrough for the Russian-backed Syrian operation to retake eastern Aleppo, allowing humanitarian relief to be brought to tens of thousands of civilians living in the captured districts, reports quoting the Russian Defense Ministry as saying. 

The Armenian population in Aleppo was happy to hear the news after after waiting for four years and a half. During this period, the Armenian population in Aleppo went through the hardships that proved to be the cruelest since 1915, with numerous emigrants. Armenians from Aleppo mostly emigrated to Armenia, Lebanon, Europe and Canada. 

“This is certainly a historic day for Armenians, if not for the whole population of Aleppo. We received regular reports on liberation of the districts before, but later evidence disproved them. I could not believe until I saw the Syrian flag waving in the districts. I have many friends in the Syrian army and I am in touch with them, and the terrorists are running out of their arms and ammunition. They are not getting as much supplies as before, which is the reason for the crushing defeat they have suffered,” Hakob Kupelian, who came to Yerevan from Aleppo a year ago, told 

Zarmik Boghikyan-Chilaposhyan, Editor of the Aleppo-based Gandzasar periodical, said that peace and stability can be observed in the eastern part of Aleppo, where the Armenian population is concentrated. Shelling and sniping continues in the districts under terrorists’ control. 

Armenians may return to the liberated districts, but mass repatriation is too early to speak of. 

Yahoo! News
Armenia Is Literally Joining Forces With Russia
Emily Tamkin
Foreign Policy Magazine 
November 29, 2016
The drama between soft and hard power is about to play out on the stage of Armenia.

The U.S. Embassy in Armenia announced this week that the United States, along with the European Union and the governments of the United Kingdom and Germany, will provide financial support for a new voting process in Armenia. The new processes are meant to decrease electoral fraud. According to a statement, posted Monday on the U.S. Embassy’s Facebook page , American envoys will help “strengthen trust in the Armenian electoral process via same-day voter authentication and the publication of signed voter lists after the elections.” The statement concludes by noting that the United States was the first country to recognize Armenia’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, stressing the strength of the relationship between the two countries, and that Washington remains “strongly committed to being a part of Armenia’s ongoing democratic growth and in helping it become the independent, secure, and prosperous nation its people deserve.”

Is this, then, a sign that Armenia is to tighten ties with the United States and Western Europe?

Not quite.

Armenian Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan is currently in Moscow, where he and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu are expected to sign an updated military task force agreement this week. Under this agreement, Russia will legally be able to use its military to ostensibly protect Armenia. In an interview with Izvestia prior to his Russian rendezvous, Sargsyan said Russia and Armenia have between them not only a long-term alliance, but also centuries of friendship and brotherhood.

That Russia is pulling Armenia ever closer is upsetting to some in Azerbaijan, where some lawmakers are asking for reconsideration of their country’s close relations with Russia. Azerbaijan’s relationship with Armenia is fraught over, among other things, the frozen conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, in which Russia has played peacemaker, and from which it has therefore sometimes been accused of benefiting .

But before Western watchers get too excited: If it is unlikely that Armenia forsake Russia for America’s electoral embrace, it is even less likely that Azerbaijan would turn away from Russia and toward true democracy . 
Armenian economy declines by 2.6 percent in third quarter
November 30

Armenia’s economy in the third quarter of 2016 saw a 2.6% drop, according to preliminary data of the National Statistical Service (NSS). It said the GDP in the third quarter was worth 1.518.3 trillion drams or about $3.1 billion. (the average exchange rate of USD in quarter 3 was 475.36 drams).

According to the NSS, the decline in GDP in the third quarter was prompted by an 8.5% decline in construction sector and a 2.6% drop in the agriculture. At the same time energy sector saw a 4.5% growth, and trade and services grew by 4.9%.

According to official data, in the first and second quarters Armenia’s economy expanded by 4.3% and 1.6% respectively.

Economic activity in the first 10 months of 2016 was 0.4%. The growth of economic activity began to slow in the second half of the year. Thus, in the first 6 months it grew by 4.8%, slowing to 3% in the first seven months and to 1.6 percent in the first nine months.

The government’s projection of GDP growth for 2016 is 2.2%. The World Bank’s and IMF’s forecast is 1.9%.

RFE/RL Report
French Loan To Finance Armenian Budget Deficit
November 30, 2016

A senior diplomat spoke of France's "growing engagement" in Armenia on
Wednesday as it allocated a 40 million-euro ($44 million) loan that
will be used for financing the Armenian government's budget deficit.

The French Development Agency (AFD) formalized the disbursement with
an agreement which one of its senior officials, Jean-Claude Pires, and
France's ambassador to Armenia, Jean-Francois Charpentier, signed with
Finance Minister Vartan Aramian in Yerevan.

A statement by the French Embassy said the funding will support the
Armenian government's efforts to reduce poverty, improve the domestic
business environment, and implement other economic reforms.

"The agreement marks France's growing engagement in favor of the
country's social and economic development," it quoted Charpentier as
saying. "This funding will help to boost economic growth and job

The disbursement raised to approximately $140 million the total amount
of AFD funding provided to Armenia since 2013. The French government
agency's previous loan worth $82 million was made available in
January. It is being used for refurbishing and expanding Armenian
irrigation networks.

A separate statement by the Armenian Finance Ministry also said that
the French loan, repayable in 20 years, will support the
implementation of the recently reshuffled government's "reform
program." It did not specify whether the loan will be channeled into
the Armenian state budget for this or next year.

The government is expected to fail to meet its 2016 budgetary targets
because of a shortfall in its anticipated tax revenue. Aramian warned
recently that the budget deficit could reach almost 6 percent of Gross
Domestic Product because of that.

Prime Minister Karen Karapetian's cabinet plans to reduce the deficit
next year through spending cuts and better tax collection which is
envisaged by its draft 2017 budget. The Armenian parliament began
debating the spending bill on November 17.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian President Defends Track Record
Karlen Aslanian
November 28, 2016
President Serzh Sarkisian strongly defended his track record at the
weekend, saying that living standards in Armenia have improved
"substantially" during his rule.

Sarkisian also made clear that the recently appointed Prime Minister
Karen Karapetian will retain his post if the ruling Republican Party
of Armenia (HHK) wins parliamentary elections due in April. But he
again declined to clarify what he himself will do after completing his
second and final presidential term in 2018.

Sarkisian insisted that his administration is committed to holding
"spotless" elections as he presided over an HHK congress in Yerevan
that saw Karapetian elected to the party's new governing board. "We
need that kind of a vote of confidence," he declared in an extensive

"In case of [the HHK] winning a vote of confidence in the upcoming
elections Karen Karapetian will again head our government to continue
implementing the already planned program," he said.

The April vote will take place one year before Armenia completes its
transition to the parliamentary system of government. This means that
the prime minister will technically be the country's most powerful
official after 2017.

It is not yet clear whether Sarkisian will seek to occupy that post
after serving out his final term. His political allies have indicated
only that he will remain HHK chairman.

The president on Saturday reaffirmed his support for Karapetian's
ambitious economic reform agenda and reiterated that Armenia will
undergo "sweeping" changes in the coming years. He also claimed that
despite widespread discontent with the economic situation, the country
is better off now than it was in 2007.

The 9-year period repeatedly cited by him in his speech encompasses
the final year of former President Robert Kocharian's rule, during
which Sarkisian served as prime minister.

"The welfare of the population has improved substantially," said
Sarkisian. "In the past we were satisfied with fewer things, while
today we have greater needs. This is the essence of human beings:
people stop noticing many existing things such as 24-hour electricity
or water supplies, well-lit streets decorated with flowers and the
like, but immediately notice the absence of others."

The Armenian economy expanded at double-digit rates in the years
leading up to Sarkisian's presidency, which just began in April 2008
shortly before the onset of a global financial crisis that plunged
Armenia into a severe recession. Economic growth in the country has
been relatively slow since 2010, with the official poverty rate still
remaining below pre-crisis levels.

Sarkisian downplayed the double-digit growth and a resulting drop in
poverty under his predecessor, saying that it was mainly driven by
soaring remittances from Armenians working in Russia and other
countries. Remittance inflows totaled $1.63 billion last year, sharply
down from $2.3 billion in 2008.

Sarkisian insisted that his administration has managed to diversify
the domestic economy and make its growth more export-driven. "Whereas
Armenia's exports stood at $985 million in 2006, they reached $1.485
billion in 2015 and $1.3 billion in the first nine months of this
year," he told hundreds of HHK congress delegates, among them many
central and local government officials and businesspeople.

Citing official statistics, the president also argued that average
wage in Armenia has more than doubled and pensions have grown more
than threefold since 2007.

Sarkisian's political opponents are bound to dismiss his latest
statements. They have for years accused his government of
mismanagement, corruption and excessive external borrowing.

Kocharian has also increasingly criticized Sarkisian's economic record
in recent years. "It is evident that the authorities and the society's
assessments of the state of affairs in the country are diametrically
opposite," he said last year.

Karapetian described the current economic situation as "very grave"
and pledged to embark on "systemic changes" to improve it when he took
over as prime minister in September. 

[in today's BBC Radio News Sports Report, Henyykh was 
one of the few names specifically mentioned as he offered 
good support to the strikers in the West Ham game. 
Mourinho was banned from the touchline]

Manchester Evening News, UK
Henrikh 'just needs chance' at Old Trafford
November 28, 2016
IF Tom Jones had his way, Henrikh Mkhitaryan would have had an even
rougher introduction to English football before his move to United.

In 2006, the former Armenia assistant manager recommended the
17-year-old to Hull City manager Phil Parkinson.

Mkhitaryan, who was playing with FC Pyunik in his homeland, had left
an impression on Jones during his time as Ian Porterfield's right-hand

But, such was the state of affairs at the time, securing a work permit
for England's second tier was out of the question - with Armenia
nowhere near the top 70 of the FIFA rankings.

Armenia, sitting in 134th place, had won just three games in three
years and had a succession of managers obsessed with keeping the score

Porterfield sought to change that culture, but it was Jones who
demanded Mkhitaryan's inclusion after spotting him playing for
Armenia's under-21s.

"I was with Vardan Minsayan, the other Armenian coach, and there was a
couple of players that stood out - Henrikh being number one," he told
M.E.N Sport.

"I just said, 'Get him in the full squad'. He was a class player.

"His energy...when he picked up the ball, he was one of those boys
that ran at people. That's what shone with him."

Bringing an energetic pressing game to Armenia, Jones began to plant
the seeds that would bring about a turn in the country's fortunes.

Mkhitaryan, even as a teenager, would become central to that and Jones
soon bonded with the youngster - who is fluent in six languages.

"I got quite close to Henriklh talking to him," he remembers.

"He was very confident because he could communicate; a lot of the
Armenian players couldn't and had broken English.

"He was the baby of the squad but he was one of those confident lads
you could count on and that sort of gave him that confidence and edge
on the older ones."

After historic wins against Kazakhstan and Poland - the first time
Armenia had ever won back to back games - tragedy was to strike in
September, 2007.

Porterfield, the man who had fired Sunderland to a famous win over
Leeds United in the 1973 FA Cup final, died at the age of 61 after a
short battle with colon cancer.

Having previously worked with his mentor at Busan l'park in South
Korea, Jones was left to pick up the pieces alongside Minsayan.

Armenia would go on to draw with Portugal and Serbia before Jan
Poulsen eventually came in as permanent manager.

Minaysan would soon get another crack at the job, winning nine
competitive internationals.

With Mkhitaryan long established as one of Europe's hottest talents,
having impressed at both Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund,
Armenia's fortunes hit new heights.

Under Minaysan's guidance, by February 2014, Armenia had risen to 30th
in the rankings after wins over Denmark, Slovakia and Czech Republic.

Long established as Armenia's talisman, captain and record goal
scorer, Mkhitaryan made history when he became the first Armenian to
play in the Premier League.

But, since that £26.3m move to Old Trafford, the 27-year-old has
struggled for form and fitness and has made just one start under Jose

The Armenian was handed a rare opportunity against Feyenoord in the
Europa League and Jones feels he can still prove himself in England.

"Playing in the Premier League is hard enough, but playing at Man
United is another level," he feels.

"He's had a few injuries - that maybe knocked his confidence a bit.
The expectation, the fee that Man United paid for him, maybe that's
affected him a bit too.

"He's got to find a way to please Mr Mourinho. I just hope he does it.

"They bought him for a purpose and the only way they can find out is
by giving him a chance."

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