Friday, 30 December 2016

Armenian News... A Topalian...Armenian and Azerbaijani forces clash on border 
Attacks are a sign that international efforts to mediate conflict have stalled 

An Armenian serviceman guarding an area near the village of Movses, close to the border with Azerbaijan in February. Armenia and Azerbaijan said at least three soldiers were killed in a clash on their border on Thursday © AFP 


by: Kathrin Hille in Moscow 

Armenia and Azerbaijan said at least three soldiers were killed in a clash on their border on Thursday, in a sign that international efforts to mediate one of the longest-running conflicts between former Soviet republics have stalled. 

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Yerevan and Baku accused each other of an incursion at the border far north of Nagorno-Karabakh, the territory at the heart of the two South Caucasus countries’ bitter dispute. 

The Armenian defence ministry said its army had repelled a “sabotage attack” from Azerbaijani forces at the border south-east of the village of Chinari. It said an Armenian officer and two soldiers were killed. A ministry spokesman claimed that seven Azerbaijani soldiers also died in the attack. 

“The military-political leadership of Azerbaijan carries the responsibility for the provocation,” the ministry said in a statement. 

Azerbaijan rebuffed the Armenian version of events. It said an Armenian military reconnaissance group crossed the border and was then ambushed by Azerbaijan’s army. 

“The adversary was forced to retreat with big losses as a result of the subsequent gun battle,” Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said. 

Their accounts could not be independently verified. The conflict is monitored by observers under an arrangement set up by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an international body. But the monitoring process has been criticised as toothless because it does not allow for unannounced missions. 

Observers said they were alarmed by the clash on a section of the border that has long been quiet, despite heavy fighting in erupting in Nagorno-Karabakh in April. 

The territory’s population is predominantly Armenian, but Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognised as being a part of Azerbaijan. The dispute has poisoned the two republics’ relations ever since Nagorno-Karabakh’s Armenians sought to break away from Azerbaijan in the last days of the Soviet Union. 

“This incident is really very strange and surprising,” said Olesya Vartanyan, South Caucasus analyst at the International Crisis Group. “Although tension is always high along the border, there have been very few incidents outside Nagorno-Karabakh this year.” 

The fighting by Armenia and Azerbaijan forces in Nagorno-Karabakh in April was the worst escalation of the conflict since a 1994 ceasefire. But violence has been concentrated in that territory. The last time the region around Chinari was hit by clashes was in 2014, according to a database curated by Saferworld, the non-governmental group. 

Since April, Russia, several other countries and the OSCE have been trying to reduce tensions by hosting the two countries’ presidents for talks. But their efforts have produced few results. Most recently, bilateral talks about a potential international monitoring mission on the border ended in failure. 

“It is notable how Armenia is publicising this. It may be related to the negotiations earlier this month where the Armenians pushed very hard for a deal to deploy international monitors along the border but failed,” said Ms Vartanyan.
CSTO calls Azerbaijani diversionary incursion against Armenia ‘provocation’
December 29.

The Russia-controlled Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) expressed today its deepest concern over an armed incident reported near the Armenian village of Chinari on the border with Azerbaijan today morning.

CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha said in a statement that the organization considers these actions on the territory of a CSTO member state as a provocation, especially against the background of an unprecedented upsurge of violence in Nagorno-Karabakh in April when heavy weapons and armored vehicles were used.

According to the CSTO Secretary General, it seemed, given the efforts that have been made on both sides, as well as by the leaders of a number of states, that the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process would finally gather momentum.

"However, the reports from the region about regular violations of the ceasefire, and especially the incident on 29th of December, resulting in death of servicemen, are causing serious concern," – the statement said.

Armenian defense ministry reported earlier today that Azerbaijani troops attempted a diversionary incursion in the early hours of December 29 southeast of the village of Chinari in Tavush province. It said Armenian armed forces neutralized the aggressive action of Azerbaijani troops, driving them back into Azerbaijani territory.

According to Artsrun Hovhannisyan, a spokesman for Armenian defense ministry, Azerbaijan’s casualties amounted to seven servicemen. During the fighting, three Armenian soldiers were also killed.

The Azerbaijani attempted attack made Armenia’s foreign ministry call on the international community asking it to condemn Azerbaijan's military adventure.

‘We condemn in the strongest terms today’s the diversionary incursion attempt by Azerbaijan on the state border with Armenia, which resulted in human loses. We express our deepest condolences to the relatives and fellow servicemen of the fallen soldiers,’ the statement reads.

‘While the most serious damage caused to the settlement process in the result of the Azerbaijani aggression against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) this April has not been overcome yet, Baku embarks on a new adventurism grossly violating the agreements reached at the Vienna and St. Petersburg summits and the commitment to settle the issue through peaceful means. This is how Baku responds to the Foreign Ministers of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries who urged in Hamburg to adhere strictly to the 1994/95 ceasefire agreements.

On numerous occasions the international community, via the Co-Chairs, has called to maintain the ceasefire, especially during the holidays. By undertaking military diversionary incursion on the Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Baku acts against the universal human values.

The international community, first and foremost the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries should take immediate steps to sober up the Azerbaijani leadership, who has lost the sense of reality, ignores and opposes with defiance to their calls and demands,’ the statement says.

A recommendation from Christopher Walker
26 December 2016 

The best book on the history of Edessa is J.B. Segal's Edessa: 'The Blessed City' , 1970 and reprints. Segal was so highly regarded as a scholar that in 1979, despite his being Jewish, he was appointed visiting professor at Ain Shams university, Cairo. He was also given the freedom of the city of Urfa in 1973, though what he would have made of the present situation, goodness knows.

RFE/RL Report
More Armenians Said To Leave Syria
December 27, 2016

More ethnic Armenian citizens of Syria have decided to relocate to Armenia soon, a Yerevan-based charity assisting in their resettlement said on Tuesday.

The Initiatives for Development of Armenia (IDeA) foundation, which was set up by the Russian-Armenian philanthropist Ruben Vardanyan, allocated in October $250,000 to support Syrian Armenians gravely affected by the bloody conflict in the Middle Eastern state.

The funding is aimed, among other things, at helping them settle and find employment in Armenia through three local non-governmental organizations. One of those NGOs called Halep (Aleppo) unites Syrian Armenians living in their ancestral homeland.

In a statement, IDeA said 37 Armenians from Aleppo have already moved to Armenia thanks to its project. Eighteen others have told Halep representatives that they want to follow suit, it said.

The announcement follows the capture by Syrian government troops of all districts in Aleppo remaining under rebel control. The city was home to the majority of an estimated 80,000 Armenians who lived in Syria before the civil war.

According to Armenian government estimates, only about 7,000 ethnic Armenians remain Aleppo at present. Virtually all of them live in the city's western government-controlled districts that were for years shelled by rebel forces.

Up to 20,000 Syrian Armenians are thought to have fled to Armenia in the last five years. Many of them have been struggling to find jobs in a country that has long suffered from high unemployment.

IDeA said that starting from next month another Yerevan-based NGO, Mission Armenia, will use its funding to cover housing expenditures of some of those migrants.

The charity hoped to also obtain funding from other organizations and individuals in Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora when it launched the aid scheme two months ago. It has raised only about $22,000 so far. 
How Ancient Volcanoes Created Armenia’s Pink City
In the capital city of Yerevan, volcanic rock flows pink
By Jennifer Billock
December 28, 2016 2:59PM 

As you approach the Armenian capital of Yerevan, you can look up and see Mount Ararat towering in the distance, casting its shadow on a city shrouded in pink. Yerevan has come to be known as Armenia’s Pink City for exactly this view: its Soviet-era buildings constructed out of pink stones from the surrounding landscape. The color is brightest at sunrise and sunset , and changes throughout the day based on where the sun hits it.

Yerevan itself its one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world , though it’s been known by many other names over the years. It was founded in 782 B.C.E. by Urartian King Argishti I, who named it Erebuni, though the territory had been settled and was actually in use since the 4th century B.C.E. . From that time, 11 cities have come and gone on the same spot, evolving into present day Yerevan, the 12th capital of Armenia.

In November 1920 , the Soviet regime made its way to Armenia. Yerevan then became the capital of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, one of 15 member states of the Soviet Union. Under Soviet leadership, the city was transformed from a small town to a modern metropolis of more than one million people. Russian-born architect Alexander Tamanian rebuilt the city in a circular layout, destroying many of the old buildings and replacing them with contemporary Soviet-style buildings made from the same local pink stone. The stone was abundant in the region and created a uniform and symmetric appearance that differed in shade from the grays seen in most Soviet cities. Ultimately the Soviet Union fell in 1991, at which point Yerevan took its place as capital of the Independent Republic of Armenia—its pink buildings intact.

Yerevan’s unique building stone is actually lava rock, though not the typical black hue found in far-flung destinations like Iceland and Hawaii; rather, this lava rock bears various shades of pink, ranging from light pastels to bright with a hint of orange. Scientifically, it’s known as tuff, a rock made of compacted volcanic ash that was ejected from a vent during an eruption. Though a similar rock type can be found in pockets in Turkey and parts of the U.S. southwest, pink tuff is rare outside of the region and Yerevan is the only major city built out of this stone.

Jack Lockwood , a volcanology consultant and author who was an exchange scientist in the USSR, said the difference in color is due to both the speed of the lava flow, where it ends up, and the oxidation. “Pink rock is oxidized ignimbrite, or welded tuff, from the upper portion of thick pyroclastic flows widely present in this part of Armenia,” he told

That means the original flow from the volcano was dense and destructive, an explosion of hot ash, gases, and lava fragments that poured downslope very quickly. “Pink is the original oxidation color, formed as the pyroclastic flows cooled. But it's not the quick emplacement that counts [for the color]. It's the building up into a thick deposit on flat terrain, sometimes far from volcanic source.”

By contrast, Lockwood said the black lava rocks found throughout the world are basalt , or hard crystalline volcanic lava, resulting from a slow flow and a mixture of plagioclase and pyroxene minerals .

Despite its widespread use throughout Yerevan, Lockwood points out that the welded tuff is not very strong by nature, and it cannot support immense structural loads. So instead, basalt was commonly used on the lower floors, and the pink tuff—which has an even texture and can be easily cut into blocks and carved—was relegated to the upper two or three floors.

In recent years, new construction materials have begun to vary, breaking up the uniform pink tones, but stroll through the Republic Square at sunset to bath in the city's unique rosy glow.

The Times
Martyrdom of the Armenians
15 December 2016 
Dec 14, 1916 The Times, UK

The Blue-book published today upon the treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire tells the story of the tragic destruction of an inoffensive and intelligent race during the year 1915. The documents form a long catalogue of horrors for which hardly any parallel can be found in ancient or modern history. There were perhaps 1,800,000 Armenians dwelling within the Turkish Empire at the beginning of 1915. A process of "deportation" was inaugurated, and the Armenians in Asiatic Turkey were torn from their homes. It is estimated that about 600,000 are still alive, though under wretched conditions, in exile within Turkish territory; 600,000 were either forcibly converted to Islam, or are hiding in the mountains, or have escaped beyond the Turkish frontier, and about 600,000 have been done to death under circumstances of almost inconceivable brutality. The Blue-book, which is terrible reading, teems with examples of the awful treatment meted out to the Armenian women and girls.

One fact alone will suffice to show the callous thoroughness with which the dispersal and partial extirpation of the Armenians was conducted. Last year there were about 580,000 Armenians in the vilayets of Erzrum, Bitlis, and Van. When these areas passed into Russian hands only 12,100 Armenians were found alive. The rest were dead or driven forth.

The massacres were systematic and deliberate. They were planned far in advance at Constantinople. District after district was dealt with in turn, until throughout Asiatic Turkey the Armenian quarters in towns and villages had been depopulated. The gendarmerie and local administrators, the Kurds and other tribesmen who wrought the worst crimes, were all culpable; but the guilt rests primarily upon the leaders of the Young Turks. The Turkish Government conceived the scheme, yet the guilt does not end in Constantinople. "The Times History of the War", in its chapter on these atrocities, declared that Germany "signified in the clearest manner that the Young Turks' attempt to exterminate their Armenian subjects was right in German eyes." No protest has gone forth from Berlin. Herself stained with innumerable barbarities, Germany has found in the authors of these massacres comrades entirely to her liking.

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