Thursday, 19 January 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... New agreement...

RFE/RL Report
EU, Armenia Inching Closer To New Accord
January 17, 2017
Artak Hambardzumian

The European Union and Armenia are close to concluding negotiations on 
a new agreement to deepen their political and economic ties, a senior 
EU diplomat said on Tuesday. 

Piotr Switalski, the head of the EU Delegation in Armenia, told 
RFE/RL's Armenian service ( that the two sides will hold 
another round of talks in Yerevan later this week. "These are the 
final moments of the negotiations," he said. 

The planned accord will serve as a substitute for an Association 
Agreement negotiated by Armenian and EU officials in the summer of 
2013. President Serzh Sarkisian precluded its signing with his 
unexpected decision in September 2013 to seek Armenia's accession a 
Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states. 

The framework deal is expected to contain the main political and some 
economic provisions of the cancelled Association Agreement. But it 
will have no free trade-related component due to Armenia's membership 
in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). 

Switalski would not be drawn on possible dates for the signing of the 
new deal reflecting Yerevan's desire to forge closer links with the 
West even after the 2013 U-turn. The diplomat did note, though, that 
an Armenian deputy foreign minister "was not far from the truth" when 
he said recently that it will likely be signed in the first quarter of 
this year. 

Switalski said the two sides only need to agree on "several issues" 
relating to the Armenia-EU cooperation framework. He declined to 
disclose those issues, saying only that some of them will require a 
"political decision." 

Asked which side needs to make such a decision, he said: "It's a 
process of mutual give and take. Nobody is talking about unilateral 

Sarkisian reaffirmed his government's commitment to deepen ties with 
the EU when he met with the EU's commissioner for European 
neighborhood policy, Johannes Hahn, in Yerevan in November. 

According to Armenian government data, the EU accounted for almost 24 
percent of Armenia's foreign trade in January-November 2016, making 
the 28-nation bloc the country's second most important trading partner 
after Russia.
Report reveals Azerbaijani deliberate assault on civilian population in Chinari village of Armenia

Report reveals Azerbaijani deliberate assault on civilian population in Chinari village of Armenia 

The Azerbaijani forces intended to deliberately target civilian population in Chinari village of Armenia’s Tavush region on the morning of December 29, 2016, while carrying out a sabotage infiltration attempt, Armenian Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan told reporters on Wednesday, presenting the results of the fact-finding mission conducted in the area after the assault. 

“I want to specifically underline that no military base or object is deployed in the vicinity of the village that could be recalled by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. Exclusively peaceful and civilian population reside in the area which unveils the adversary’s intention to deliberately harm the people’s lives and health,” Tatoyan stated. 

The Ombudsman informed that the representatives of his office have conversed with Chinari residents, the village mayor, members of the village council, RA Armed Forces representatives as well as visited the sites were cases of human rights violations had been recorded. 

Based on the fact-finding mission, an English-language report have been developed with geographic locations, mapped roads and schemes, depicting the details of the sabotage infiltration, particularly, when and how the two servicemen and the officer of the RA Armed Forces were killed. The report will be submitted to international structures. The ombudsman announced his upcoming visit to Strasburg next week where he plans to discuss the findings of the report with CoE high-ranking representatives, then in Brussels to raise the issue. 

In the words of the Armenian Human Rights Defender the mission members recorded also shelling on January 3 and 8 toward the school and the houses of the village. “Our observations revealed that deliberate targeted attacks have taken place toward the civilian population by the adversary with an ultimate intention to harm people’s lives and health,” Tatoyan maintained. 

At the press conference Tatoyan demonstrated footages taken at Chinari school and kindergarten, saying the facilities were under the target of Azerbaijani forces during the holidays, demonstrating the multiple bullet holes in the walls of those buildings as an evidence. 

“On January 8 the adversary shelled the village at night - at a time when civilian population is especially exposed to vulnerability,” Tatoyan explained. 

To remind, on the morning of December 29, 2016, Azerbaijani troops carried out a sabotage infiltration attempt from the Chinari village of the Tavush region of Armenia, towards the south-eastern portion of the state border. 

Armenian Armed Forces neutralized the activities of the Azerbaijani troops and repelled the opponent. Unfortunately, the Armenian side also suffered losses during the combat operations. During the battle for the defense of the state border of the Republic of Armenia, senior Lieutenant Shavarsh Meliqseti Meliqyan, private Edgar Grigori Narayan, and private Erik Gariki Abovyan passed away. The Ministry of Defense stated to be in possession of proof of illegal violation of the state border of the Republic of Armenia by the Azerbaijani side.
Armenians begin Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem
18 Jan 2017 

The Orthodox Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem, Nourhan Manougian, arrived Wednesday at Manager Square in Bethlehem, marking the start of Armenian Christmas and the Feast of the Epiphany, WAFA reports. 

Manougian’s procession started from the Armenian Patriarchate, located within the Monastery of St. James in the Old City of Jerusalem, and made its way to Manger Square via Jaffa Gate. It stopped at Mar Elias Monastery on the way to Bethlehem where he was greeted by the mayors of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour before proceeding to Bethlehem via a metal gate in the wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem. 

Israel opens the gate for the Christmas processions to allow them quick access to Bethlehem, surrounded by a wall and Israeli settlements. 

After reaching Bethlehem, Manougian was greeted by Bethlehem Governor Jebrin al-Bakri, Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun. 

The Patriarch was also greeted upon his arrival by the Armenian community notables before making a solemn entry into the Basilica of the Nativity and St. Catherine’s Church. 

President Mahmoud Abbas has already arrived in Bethlehem and is anticipated to attend the midnight mass. 

Orthodox Armenian Christians in Palestine celebrate Christmas nearly two weeks after the majority of the Greek Orthodox Church and other Eastern Orthodox denominations, who marked the feast on January 7, and more than three weeks after Roman Catholic Christians, who celebrated it on December 25. 

The differences in dates of Christmas feast are due to the use of different calendars. Roman Catholic Christians and other western denominations mark the feast using the Gregorian calendar, Orthodox Christians and most Armenian denominations celebrate the feast using the Julian calendar, while the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem marks Christmas and Epiphany together on January 19. 

Manchester Evening News, UK
Henrikh Mkhitaryan settling at Manchester United with help of Armenian restaurant
Jan 16 2017 

By Samuel Luckhurst 

Man Utd playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan has made his mark in recent fixtures and has found some home comforts in Manchester.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan has settled into life in Manchester with the help of an Armenian restaurant in the city centre.

After a difficult couple of months in the autumn, Mkhitaryan has established himself as a first-teamer in Jose Mourinho's United side and is residing in The Lowry Hotel - where Mourinho is also still holed up.

Mkhitaryan has been house-hunting in the north-west since he moved from Borussia Dortmund for £26.3million but he has located some home comforts just off Albert Square.

The Armenian Taverna, based on Princess Street, has hosted Mkhitaryan on numerous occasions since he moved over from Germany.

"Yeah, I have been there and I've been quite a lot," Mkhitaryan told Carling competition winners after he received his Goal of the Month award for December.

"He said he didn't really know much about the city itself before he came here," competition winner Paul told the M.E.N. "But he is starting to really like it, enjoys going out and says there's lots to explore and see here."

Mkhitaryan has started four of United's last six matches since he returned from an ankle injury, but earned his own chant as early as August and admitted he even sings along to it.

"Yeah, I've heard the song and I'm thankful to them that they create a song about me," he added. "Sometimes I do sing, yes. Sometimes it brings me pleasure as well."
Poll: Kim Kardashian and Cher top the list of most recognized Armenian celebrities
18 Jan 2017 

Aurora Humanitarian Initiative’s 2016 Opinion Audit is concluded and results reveal the degree to which a global audience is aware of Armenia, Armenians and the Aurora Prize.

The research, conducted by London-based New Place Consultancy with consultations by Brussels-based TNS Opinion, Kantar Group, shows that attitude towards the Aurora Prize is overwhelmingly favorable among those who have heard of it. Among reasons cited for the favorable attitude is that the prize recognizes people whose work wouldn’t be recognized otherwise, and, in the process, it promotes a positive image of Armenians.

The Opinion Audit explores global awareness and knowledge of Armenia and Armenians, as well. Responses show that the general public mostly knows about Armenian communities, Armenian food and history.

The survey also tracks similar metrics – knowledge, awareness, familiarity, engagement — within the global Armenian Diaspora. Responses show that there are certain similarities between how Armenians see themselves and how the general public perceives Armenians. The most frequently mentioned positive attributes are “proud, friendly and respectful.”

Interestingly, while almost a third of respondents think Armenian communities are important in their countries – whether at the national or local level – most respondents find that Armenian communities play little role in the life of their country. Rather, Armenian communities are seen to have the biggest impact in the intellectual, cultural, social and economic spheres. Kim Kardashian and Cher top the list of most recognized celebrities, and celebrities who are most recognized as Armenians, both among the general public and among Armenian respondents.

Questions about the Republic of Armenia generated a fair amount of interest in Armenia as a country and as a travel destination. However, among the general public, that interest does not translate into interest in the country as a place to do business. Armenians, on the other hand, are quite eager to learn more about Armenia as a place to do business. One in seven general public respondents, and one in two Armenians say they are likely to visit Armenia in the future.

The survey was carried out in two waves in March, 2016 and June-July, 2016, in 10 countries — the US, Canada, Australia, France, Argentina, Denmark, Norway, Greece, Germany and Russia.

This animated infographic highlights a few of the main findings. 

Saving Armenia from Armenians
Mirror Spectator
Editorial 1-21 Jan 2017 
Edmond Y. Azadian 

Armenians have lived in captivity for six centuries, with the next-door neighbor always an enemy. Similarly, on two historic occasions, when independence arrived in the 20th century, Armenia remained in a state of siege, always surrounded by enemies. That mindset has contributed to the development of a defensive mentality, always on the lookout for any potential existential threats.

But little heed has been paid to the enemy within because more often than not, the internal threat has been as destructive as the ones outside the borders, rendering Armenia helpless. Before delving into history, one can see many such examples in today’s Armenia when Armenians have caused more damage than a foreign enemy.

The country has been independent for a quarter century. We may boast as much as we wish that the Armenian people have struggled for that independence. But the truth is that independence was thrust on Armenia as a consequence of the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Understandably, people in Armenia were not ready to embrace independence and manage a free country.

When it was part of the Soviet Union, Armenia’s economy was based on a command system and was integrated into a huge economy, where raw materials were shipped from one end of the empire to the other, as did manufactured products. Therefore, being severed form a large economic unit did not allow Armenia to create or sustain its own manufacturing base. A case in point was the rubber factory and the complex of the chemical plants associated with it.

Therefore, upon independence, the new planners adopted a simplistic economic formula, where one size fits all, and they privatized the manufacturing base of the country without any further stipulations to preserve and operate medium- or small-sized manufacturing plants. In that scheme, being in the right place at the right time meant that overnight, factory managers became owners. Instead of running those operations well, they began dismantling the factories and selling them as scrap metal in Iran and Turkey and pocketing the revenue, after which they abandoned the country. Today’s economic woes are the direct outcome of that mentality. If Armenia is struggling with a poor economy, we should not look beyond the borders to find the culprits.

Once a country’s economy begins on this type of wrong footing, it is extremely difficult to course correct unless there is a real intention or appetite to remedy the situation. Sadly, this has not happened yet.

It is a shame that in 25 years, the country has not been able to develop a middle class to sustain the economy and to bring some stability in society. Small or medium business owners are the victims of the tax collector, whose duty is to tax businesses exorbitantly, extort bribes, and share them with their superiors on the upper levels of the government.

It is rumored that in a poor country like Armenia, the net worth of one of the sons of former President Robert Kocharian is $10 billion. The figure may not be accurate but the system is there for the government people to exploit and rob the country, and enjoy obnoxiously opulent lifestyles despite 60 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

Unemployment is rampant in Armenia. But why don’t we witness any revolt by the ranks of the unemployed? Because they leave. The unemployed people move to Russia, Kazakhstan or a European country and thus the crisis of unemployment is solved magically, at the expense of the depopulation of the country. And a member of parliament from the ruling Republican Party justifies this outcome by saying, “Of course, people will gravitate to wherever there are employment opportunities.” Rather than trying to correct the situation and stopping the hemorrhage, the ruling party comfortably watches the country’s population dwindle.

The diaspora minister calls for foreign investments, especially from overseas Armenians, while so many investors have been robbed, beaten or killed. That prospect is not much of an incentive for any potential investors.

A scandal also broke during the brief war with Azerbaijan, where Armenian soldiers faced the enemy with inferior weapons without bullets and tanks without fuel; the procurements had been diverted to fatten the pockets of the army brass. As a result, the minister of defense was sacked.

The death of every Armenian soldier killed by Azeri fire is met with a sense of fury and revenge. But what is there to say when Armenian soldiers are beaten or killed by their superiors? Or else, their families are extorted for bribes to ensure their safety in the barracks? What motivation would be there for a young soldier to defend a country which promises only misery for him?

In a country where the earthquake zone still needs investments to save 3,000 families from spending another bitterly cold winter in domiks, the oligarchs enjoy a lavish lifestyle without suffering from pangs of a guilty conscience.

History is replete with cases where Armenians have caused more damage to the country and their countrymen than their enemies.

The first and last Armenian Empire of Tigranes II collapsed because his son colluded with the invading Roman army. In 1375 the Cilician Armenian Kingdom was overrun by Mamluks and King Leo Lousignan V was taken prisoner by Egypt because his kingdom was weakened by internecine struggles of the princes and principalities.

Armenians lost the city of Kars in 1918 despite having received huge amounts of ammunition, food supplies and material and despite General Andranik’s pleas, because Eastern Armenians, caught in a sense of regional patriotism, refused to fight for a piece of land in Western Armenia.

All is not lost yet in Armenia; there is still a saving grace. Avetis Aharonian pondering in front of the statue of Moses in Italy, said that Moses saved the Jewish people in spite of the will of the people. It may sound ironic, but that is one of the riddles of history.

While the ruling party is entrenched in Armenia and plans to control it for the foreseeable future, many global thinkers have been helping Armenia to survive and thrive: Eduardo Eurnekian has built in Yerevan one of the most modern airports in the region, with the proviso that he should run the airport. Ruben Vardanyan has built an international, global magnet school in Dilijan, at a cost of $115 million, and the school is run without government interference. The Cafesjian Family Foundation has converted the Cascade in Yerevan into a world-class art showcase with a sculpture garden and museums without government participation. Sam Simonian’s Tumo Center is a cyber paradise for future computer designers and it is run without the participation or control of the government.

By contrast, government-run enterprises are hotbeds of bribery and corruption, without any regard for the outcome, if the public suffers at the end.

Armenians demonstrating global thinking have shown that there is a way to save Armenia from Armenians and shine a path of hope for the future.

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