Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Pushkin House 5a bloomsbury square, London wc1a 2ta ILLUSTRATED TALK WITH TOBY BROMIGE: ARMENIAN BYZANTIUM: FROM 950 TO 1084 AD

[sent a second time as first seems to have gone wrong ]

• Monday , December 12 , 2016
• 6:30pm 8:30pm

The role of the Armenians in the Byzantine Empire has been often understated, and in some cases entirely ignored. The most common interpretation of Byzantium as a manifestation of Medieval Hellenism has meant no room for the Armenian element within the Byzantine state to be recognised. Toby Bromige has been conducting a revisionist work to restore the Armenian element in Byzantium to its rightful state. In English. This is a GB Russia event and all are welcome .
France’s newly appointed Interior Minister in Azerbaijani black list for visiting Artsakh
07 D ec 2016

The newly-appointed Interior Minister of France, Bruno Le Roux, is on the blacklist of Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry, ministry spokesman Hikmat Hajiyev told APA .

Le Roux visited Nagorno Karabakh as member of the French National Assembly in September 2015 and was subsequently blacklisted by Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry

Le Roux is a member of the French-Artsakh friendship circle.
M onitoring: Azerbaijan fails to lead OSCE mission to its front-lines
08 Dec 2016

On December 8, 2016, in accordance with the arrangement reached with the authorities of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic, the OSCE Mission conducted a planned monitoring of the Line of Contact between the armed forces of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan in the direction of the NKR Askeran region, north-east of Kengerli settlement.

From the positions of the NKR Defense Army, the monitoring was conducted by Field Assistants to the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ghenadie Petrica (Moldova) and Khristo Khristov (Bulgaria).

From the opposite side of the Line of Contact, the monitoring was conducted by Personal Assistant to the CiO Personal Representative Simon Tiller (Great Britain), Field Assistant to the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Jiri Aberle (Czech Republic), and staff member of the Office Peter Svedberg (Sweden).

The monitoring passed in accordance with the agreed schedule. No violation of the cease-fire regime was registered. However, the Azerbaijani side did not lead the OSCE mission to its front-lines.

From the Karabakh side, the monitoring mission was accompanied by representatives of the NKR Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense.
Fidel Castro’s Blood in Armenia
December 7, 2016

Fidel Castro, one of the most influential men of the 20th century, has died, but a part of him still lives in the veins of an Armenian citizen. The Cuban revolutionary donated his blood to a victim of the Spitak earthquake in December 1988 . Sputnik tells the story.

December 7, 2016 marks the 28th anniversary of the Spitak earthquake. Sputnik Armenia columnist, Dmitri Pisarenko, in a recent article, recalls the story of a survivor of this terrible earthquake, whose life was saved thanks to the Cuban leader.

“I do not remember well, but in the late 1990s, or perhaps in the early 2000s, I heard an interesting story from the local press about a young woman from the city of Gyumri. My cameraman Oganés Akopian and I went to visit her to do a report for NTV (Russian TV), with which we collaborated at the time,” the journalist recalled. The story she told the journalists was very surprising as well as exciting.

Days after the catastrophe, which destroyed the city of Gyumri, and in the ruins of one of the buildings of the city, the rescue teams found this woman in critical condition. Doctors had to amputate one leg. To make matters worse, she needed a blood transfusion to survive.

After the surgery, she began to recover. The doctors informed her that the bag of blood she had received had the name of Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz on it. Years after the tragedy, during the interview, she remembered with a smile the jokes of her relatives about their ‘blood ties’ with the commander. As reported by the columnist, this lady even joked that once she examined herself closely in a mirror to see if she had a beard like Fidel.

“With the death of the revolutionary, an entire era is gone, but his blood continues to give life to a person,” Pisarenko concludes in his article.

The 7.2-magnitude Spitak earthquake is considered to be one of the most destructive in the history of mankind. The earthquake reduced the city of Spitak to ashes, the second largest city in Armenia, and damaged the locality of Gyumri – Leninakán at the time.

As a result, some 25,000 people lost their lives, 140,000 were injured and half a million were left homeless. All the republics of the USSR participated in the reconstruction of the region. Some 20,000 soldiers and Soviet Army officers, as well as hundreds of volunteers, including foreigners, took part in the rescue operations. In addition, 111 other countries provided humanitarian assistance in the form of equipment, food, drugs and rescue workers.

At that time, a large number of people assisted the Armenian people, from ordinary citizens to leaders of some world powers. One of them was the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, who donated his blood to the victims. Thousands of Cubans followed suit.

The government of Cuba also sent a group of doctors equipped with the most modern equipment to Armenia. Fidel Castro personally was in charge of the organization of the delivery of aid to the victims of the earthquake.

Sputnik’s team, meanwhile, wants to express its gratitude to all those who helped then the victims of the tragedy. If you worked as a rescuer, volunteer or doctor in the disaster area in 1988, the agency Sputnik calls you to share your memories with us. Send us your stories
Armenia’s external debt cause of concern – economist

The government debt-to-GDP ratio in Armenia has exceeded 50% this year.

Next year, Armenia’s national debt is expected to reach US $5.217bn (45.8% of the GDP), economist Mesrop Arakelyan told

Armenia’s increasing national debt has been a cause of serious concern in recent years. Armenia’s external debt has shown a 3.5-4-fold increase since 2008.

“In terms of US dollars, it increased from about US $1.9 up to US $6bn,” Mr Arakelyan said.

Borrowed funds will mostly be used to reduce the budget deficit.

“Borrowed funds are not used for specific purposes. Rather, they are intended for such budget expenditures as wages, pension and other expenses. No added value has been created. It is like a person borrowing money for family needs,” Mr Arakelyan said.

Next year, over AMD 100bn is expected to be spent on serving Armenia’s national debt, nearly as much as the health and education budget.

“The budget is so small that actual implementation of programs and reforms, which requires funds, imposes restrictions on the government. For example, no rise in wages or pensions is expected next year. Without substantial economic growth, Armenia’s national debt will be served at the cost of other expenditures,” Mr Arakelyan said.

The economist said the concerns grow against the expectations for decreasing foreign investments in 2017.

“The confidence crisis is deepening. No investor, whether a rural farmer or a major international company, favorable conditions for investments, citing corruption, monopolies, as well as the situation in Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh] as serious reasons,” he added.

Commenting on the government steps to recover the economy, the economist said they are unlikely to secure progress in the current economic context.
Armenians were donating to charity and social projects more
often than citizens of other CIS countries
December 7

Citizens of Armenia were donating to charity and social projects more often than citizens of other former Soviet republics making the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), although in lesser amounts, Yandex. Money reported, citing the findings of a study. More than 600 non-profit organizations use Yandex.Money tools to receive donations.

According to the study, in the last 12 months Armenian citizens have donated 60 times more money than in the previous 12 months with the number of people willing to help others having surged by more than 20 times.

The average donation was about 1,984 drams. It was less than in other CIS countries: for example, in Russia the average donation size was the equivalent of 5,742 drams, in Kazakhstan – 3,204 drams, in Belarus – 2,518 drams. The largest donation that was made by using Yandex.Money was 1.85 million drams.

The most generous donators live in the capital Yerevan, Gyumri, Hrazdan and Abovyan: On average the largest donations were made by residents of Yerevan – 5,188 drams and the lowest by residents of Hrazdan – 1.221 drams.

Most of the donations - 75% - Armenian users send from the e-wallet, 25% - by using their credit cards. The study involved donations made from 2015 autumn to 2016 autumn and the same period a year earlier. Donators used Yandex.Money wallet, Yandeks.Kassa and yasobe.ruservice. ($ 1 - 481.62 drams).
Prices of certain food in Armenia increase considerably
By Smbat Grigoryan

According to official data, deflation in Armenia continued in November, and amounted to 0.6 percent.

Moreover, food prices in the country fell an average of 0.5 percent while those of non-food products—by 3.5 percent.

Food prices, however, have not fallen across the board in the country; this group had exceptions, including in essential food items. As case in point, egg prices rose by 10.2 percent while sugar prices—by 14.8 percent in November.But the prices of alcoholic beverage and tobacco products in Armenia went up by 0.6 percent, and those of services—by 1.1 percent.

Also, fruit prices in Armenia went up by 17.7 percent in the past month, on a yearly basis.
Mark Toner: I don’t want to get into terminology, 1.5 million Armenians were massacred
07 Dec 2016

“President Obama and his Administration, as have past administrations, have repeatedly mourned and acknowledged that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred or marched to their deaths in the final days of the Ottoman Empire,” Spokesperson for the US Department of State Mark Toner told a daily briefing.

“We also called for a full and frank acknowledgement of the facts of what happened around those deaths. And that remains our policy. I don’t want to get into terminology or how we referred to it. We acknowledged that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred, as I said, and we want to see a full historical accounting of those events,” the Spokesman said.

The comments come after UN Ambassador Samantha Power’s remarks at an event honoring the Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel’s life and work.
Passenger traffic through Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport grows
11% in Jan- Nov 2016
December 7

Passenger traffic through Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport grew 11% in January- November 2016 , compared with the same period a year earlier, to 1,916,522 people, the press office of the General Department of Civil Aviation of Armenia reported on Wednesday .

In November 2016 , compared with November 2015 , the passenger flow grew 29%.

In Jan- Nov 2016 , compared with the same period a year before, cargo traffic increased by 84.1% to 15,848 tons.

Zvartnots Airport is being run by the Armenia – International Airports in accordance with a 30-year concessional management agreement sealed with Armenian government in 2001.

The company belongs to American International Airports, an Argentine company owned by Eduardo Eurnekian, an Argentine entrepreneur of Armenian descent. -

RFE/RL Report
Armenia To Launch Free Economic Zone With Iran
December 06 , 2016
Emil Danielyan

Armenia has reaffirmed its plans to create a "free economic zone"
along its border with Iran amid ongoing efforts by the governments of
the two neighboring states to expand bilateral commercial ties.

Iran's First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri and Energy Minister Hamid
Chitchian reportedly spoke of Tehran's strong interest in closer
economic cooperation with Yerevan when they met with Armenia's
visiting Minister for Energy Infrastructures Ashot Manukian on Monday .

Manukian flew to Tehran to co-chair, together with Chitchian, a
regular session of an Armenian-Iranian intergovernmental commission.

Chitchian was reported to announce that the two sides signed a
"comprehensive cooperation document" at the end of the two-day
meeting. "The document envisions cooperation in the fields of energy,
electricity exchange, natural gas, banking and insurance, and trade,"
the Mehr news agency quoted him as saying.

In particular, Iran "will establish a free trade zone in Armenian
territory," the Iranian minister added without elaborating. He noted
that the document was signed on the eve of Iranian President Hassan
Rouhani's visit to Armenia.

Chitchian appeared to refer to what the Armenian Ministry for Energy
Infrastructures and Natural Resources described as a joint memorandum
of understanding adopted by the Armenian-Iranian commission.

In a statement on the commission meeting, the ministry said: "The
Iranian side showed a great interest in and readiness for cooperation
on the planned creation of a free economic zone on the
Armenian-Iranian border."

In Abrahamian's words, Iranian entrepreneurs will be able to set up
manufacturing firms in the zone and engage in duty-free exports of
their products to Russia and other members of the Eurasian Economic
Union (EEU).

According to Armenian government data, Armenia's trade with Iran stood
at $276 million in 2015 and is on course to shrink this year.

Jahangiri lamented these modest trade volumes when he met with
Manukian on Monday . "The obstacles hampering economic cooperation
between Tehran and Yerevan must be removed," he said, according to
another Iranian news agency, Fars.

"Unfortunately, economic ties and trade have failed to keep up with
the excellent level of political relations and the goodwill of senior
Iranian and Armenian officials. So the joint commission should be more
active in this regard," added Iran's first vice-president.

Armenian-Iranian trade should rise significantly after the
construction of a new power transmission line connecting the two
countries. The $120 million facility, slated for completion by 2019,
will allow for a sharp increase in exports to Iran of Armenian
electricity generated by Iranian natural gas.

According to the Armenian Ministry for Energy Infrastructures, the
joint commission discussed the possibility of accelerating the
transmission line's construction.

Armenia apparently plans to increase imports of Iranian gas even
before that construction is complete. An Armenian government
delegation held talks for that purpose with representatives of Iran's
National Iranian Gas Export Company in Tehran on October 31 and
November 1. One of Manukian's deputies, Hayk Harutiunian, said
afterwards that they discussed not only the cost of additional Iranian
supplies but also possible transit of Iranian gas via Armenia.

Armenia currently imports up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian
gas annually through a pipeline built in 2008. By comparison, its gas
imports from Russia total around 2 billion cubic meters

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