Monday, 20 February 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Armenians settle patriarch election

Unlike Palestinians, Bedouins and Syrians who share between 

36-70 per cent of ancient Levantine ancestry, the Israeli Druze 
have only a minor Levantine component of 15 per cent and a 
significantly higher (80 per cent) ancient Armenian ancestry. 
Read about it: 

Daily Sabah, Turkey
Armenians settle patriarch election dispute: Report
Feb 18 2017 

Acting patriarch Ateşyan is under fire over stalling process.

A Turkish Armenian weekly reported that the election of the patriarch, a dispute that pitted the acting patriarch against others, is scheduled for May 28. The decision taken at a meeting on Thursday may not end the dispute but it signals the first time that the election process has progressed. Agos reported that Acting Patriarch Aram Ateşyan and Sahak Maşalyan, head of the Spiritual Council who earlier announced his resignation over frustration with the process, joined others to agree on a timetable for the election.

The seat of the patriarch of the Armenian Patriarchate has been empty since 2008 when Patriarch Mesrob II, suffering from an illness, went into a vegetative state. The failure to elect a new head has been frustrating members of the minority concentrated in Istanbul.

Acting Patriarch Aram Ateşyan serves as the leader of the church that, apart from its religious role, functions as an institution uniting the community.

Prominent figures of the community outside the church have noticeably rallied for the election of the new patriarch who would replace Patriarch Mesrob II but a persistent opposition by Ateşyan stalled the process according to some figures in the community.

Bishop Sahak Maşalyan announced his resignation earlier this week through a letter published in Agos. Maşalyan accused Aram Ateşyan of delaying the elections that would be held if the council and local authorities approve.

Maşalyan says Ateşyan resisted the election of a new patriarch and "acted alone" when he announced he would not apply to the authorities for permission for a new election last month. Maşalyan said in his letter that the election process could have been "accelerated" by cutting the red tape but Ateşyan had prevented it.

"Ateşyan used his position as acting patriarch to abuse his duty and caused the seat of the patriarch to be left empty for nine years, the first time in the history of the Armenian church," Maşalyan said.

The community members agreed to hold elections last year and seek permission from the local authorities, a red tape process for the elections but no timetable was set, to the chagrin of opponents of the post of acting patriarch instead of a permanent one.

Speaking to Daily Sabah last November, Markar Esayan, a Turkish Armenian lawmaker for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), has said that failure to elect a new head of the patriarchate "posed a problem for people" as the democratic structure of the Armenian church based in Istanbul is a rarity in the world.

Under the election process, an official will be elected to oversee the election. The community will elect delegates who will pick a candidate for the post in the later stages.

Like other non-Muslim communities whose population dwindled over the years due to a lack of rights and oppressive state policies in the past, the Armenian community saw a reinstatement of their rights such as the return of properties once seized by the state. However, the election of a new patriarch remained a thorn in the side of the community. Armenian groups even staged a rare protest for the elections last summer to protest the "made-up title of acting patriarch" and electing a new religious leader.

The Armenian patriarchate was established in Istanbul after the city's conquest by the Ottoman Empire, and oversees Armenian churches throughout the country. 
Catholicos Karekin II suspends the protocol and calls Ateşyan and Mutafyan to Etchmiadzin
Miran Manukyan 

After Maşalyan's resignation, a protocol was issued in a secret meeting that was held before the meeting of VADİP (Cooperation and Consultation Platform for Foundations), foundation chairs and executives. Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II made a statement on the recent developments. Catholicos stated that the protocol is against the traditional procedure.

The process of patriarchal election has accelerated after the resignation of Sahak Maşalyan , the head of the Clerical Assembly of the Patriarchate. On February 16, 13 people including General Vicar of Patriarch Aram Ateşyan, , Sahak Maşalyan, Dikran Gülmezgil, Erol Ergan, Melkon Karaköse, Hayk Aslanyan, Vasken Barın, Cezo Taş, Efrim Bağ, Kevork Okçu, Hrant Moskofyan, signed a protocol. It was announced that the election will be held on May 28 and Aram Ateşyan will continue to serve as the vicar throughout this process.

Patriarchal election: the date is set, chaos is growing

The secret meeting that was held before the meeting of VADİP (Cooperation and Consultation Platform for Foundations), foundation chairs and executives and the imposed protocol caused severe criticisms.

Lastly, Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II reacted against the the protocol that was signed during the secret meeting that was held with the participation of General Vicar of Patriarch Aram Ateşyan and Bishop Sahak Maşalyan. Stating that the item concerning the vicarship of Ateşyan is against the procedure, Catholicos was reportedly called Ateşyan and Mutafyan to his seat at Etchmiadzin.

According to the protocol, the Clerical Assembly was supposed to choose a değabah (trustee) today. It is reported that Ateşyan and Mutafyan are called to Etchmiadzin on February 21.

Here is the protocol signed in the secret meeting:

“Recent developments concerning the patriarchal election lead our society to conflicts with unpredictable outcomes. Wise people of our society, Their Eminences Archbishop Aram Ateşyan and Bishop Sahak Maşalyan came together and issued a protocol that will bring peace until the election.

1. A değabah (trustee) will be chosen among the esteemed clerics on February 17.

2. On February 18, Clerical Assembly and society leaders invited by the değabah will assign the Enterprising Committee, which consists of 15 people, 2 of them being clerics.

3. On February 20, değabah and the Enterprising Committee will write the proper letter and present it to the governor's office.

4. His Eminence Aram will continue to be the general vicar until the election, but he won't deal with and intervene in the election process.

5. May 28 is the day of our election.
With New Constitution, Is Karabakh Following in Azerbaijan's Footsteps?
Emil Sanamyan
Feb 18 2017
On February 20, the de facto republic of Nagorno Karabakh will hold a referendum on a new constitution that would change the form of government from semi-presidential to a fully presidential. It would also, as a result, allow incumbent president Bako Sahakyan to retain his post beyond the current limit of two five-year terms.

There appears to be sufficient public support for the new constitution. Most local political groups have endorsed it, with 20 of 33 members of parliament voting in favor. Proponents of the change emphasize the security imperatives governing the transition, in particular after last April's heavy fighting with Azerbaijan. According to its advocates, a fully presidential system is better suited to managing the continuing military stand-off with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has taken similar steps in recent years, eliminating presidential term limits and, last year , extending each term from five to seven years, effectively reducing the frequency of electoral distractions.

The change in Karabakh also calls for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held concurrently every five years. Since the local parliament was last elected in 2015, that would mean a three-year transition period, during which the president would be chosen by the parliament, until the new system kicked in. Few doubt that the parliament would elect Sahakyan to the post or that he could seek re-election in 2020.

Unlike past Karabakh leaders, Sahakyan has kept a low profile throughout his presidency. While he has genuine local support for addressing some of the many economic and social issues in Karabakh, as well as for his personal modesty, critics say this comes at the cost of excessive political loyalty to Armenia’s leadership. Unlike his predecessors, Sahakyan rarely represents Karabakh abroad and never publicly disagrees with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan on controversial subjects, such as negotiations with Azerbaijan.

No wonder, then, that Sargsyan would want Sahakyan to continue in office. Both the current Karabakh constitution adopted in 2006 and constitutional draft under consideration were reportedly prepared by Hrair Tovmasyan , Armenia’s former justice minister and current parliament staff director. (By coincidence or not, Tovmasian’s latest draft prepared last year bears strong resemblance to the constitutional proposal expected to be adopted this spring in Turkey.)

The constitutional change in Karabakh has so far elicited few reactions among Armenia’s political class. But Sahakyan’s retention of the presidency can become a precedent for Sargsyan after the latter's own second term ends in 2018. In Armenia, with its transition to a parliamentary system, this could mean Sargsyan becoming prime minister or simply remaining the leader of the ruling party and managing affairs behind the scenes, as Bidzina Ivanishvili is widely believed to be doing in Georgia.

Developments in Karabakh fit with broader illiberal trends worldwide, but they also seem to underscore another tendency prevalent in the post-Soviet conflict areas. Having effectively separated and seeking recognition of the status quo, leaders of the unrecognized republics – consciously or not – tend to follow precedents set by the states they broke away from. Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, like Moldova and Georgia and unlike their main sponsor Russia, have now all gone through series of leadership transitions via elections.

Karabakh officials like to point out their differences with Azerbaijan, pointing in particular to the latter's father-to-son succession and cult of personality politics. However, by bypassing constitutional term limits, they are now in effect following precedents set throughout the former USSR, Azerbaijan’s among them.

Interfax - Russia & CIS General Newswire
Referendum on Karabakh status only possible after areas around
Nagorno-Karabakh liberated - Aliyev
February 18, 2017 

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has named conditions needed for the
Karabakh settlement when meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio
Guterres, the Azerbaijani presidential website said.

Aliyev and Guterres held a meeting on the sidelines of the Munich
Security Conference on Saturday.

"Aliyev told about the conditions for the settlement: first, the seven
districts around Nagorno-Karabakh are liberated; then local residents
(refugees and forcibly displaced persons) return to their homes and
peacekeeping forces are deployed in the region. Only when this is
done, a referendum on the Nagorno-Karabakh status may be held," the
presidential website said.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization
Russia funds second phase of UNIDO project to upgrade Armenia's
export-oriented industries
Feb 17 2017

Vienna: United Nations Industrial Development Organization has issued
the following news release:

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the
Government of Armenia signed an agreement today to implement the
second phase of a project to boost the country’s textile, garment,
leather and shoe sectors. The Government of the Russian Federation
will provide US$2m to fund the second phase of the project which was
presented to the stakeholders and the media in Yerevan.

The three-year second phase of the project titled, “Improving
Competitiveness of Export-Oriented Industries in Armenia through
Modernization and Market Access”, will develop the industrial linkages
of the Armenian shoe and garment producers within regional value
chains. It will enhance local manufacturers’ productivity and
competitiveness, and promote business networking and institutional
partnerships between shoe and garment producers and designers. It will
also foster job creation, particularly for women.

UNIDO experts will support the beneficiary companies in designing and
marketing their products. They will also provide comprehensive
advisory services in all export-related matters.

During the presentation, Anahit Simonyan, UNIDO Representative in
Armenia, said, “The project will contribute to the revival of the
textile, garment, leather and footwear industries and will strengthen
Armenia’s position on the international market.”

In the welcome address, delivered on behalf of Ivan Volynkin, Russian
Ambassador to Armenia, by Andrei Ivanov, Minister Counsellor of the
Embassy, the ambassador remarked on the success of the first phase.
“In the framework of the project financed by the Russian Federation,
we managed to achieve significant results in the organization of small
and medium textile businesses in Armenia. It is not easy to run a
business in the current world economic conditions, but the project
managed to considerably improve the competitiveness and attractiveness
of the products of Armenian companies participating in the project.”

Suren Karayan, Minister of Economic Development and Investments of
Armenia, said, “I would like to stress the significant role of
international organizations, particularly the role of UNIDO, in the
sector’s development process.”

The two-year pilot phase of the project was implemented in 2014-2016.
During this phase, UNIDO experts trained representatives of eight
Armenian companies working under the single brand name, “5900BC”, to
develop and produce collections of fashionable clothes. One of these
collections was spotlighted at a fashion show during the UNIDO 50th
anniversary week in Vienna in November 2016.

Glass of Bubbly
Armenian Sparkling Wine Production Rises 8.4%
Feb 17 2017 

Armenia might not be the first place you think of when it comes to sparkling wine, but you may be surprised by this country’s long winemaking history which continues to this day.

According to ArmenPress, Armenia produced almost over 6 million litres of wine in 2016, of which 713 thousand litres were sparkling – an 8.4% rise in sparkling production.

Thanks to the country’s great terroir, history of grape-growing and native varieties, Armenian winemakers can create fantastic wines. Most wines are grown on the fertile soils of the South Caucasus.

In fact, Armenia has one of the oldest wine-producing histories in the world.

Since ancient times, Armenia has been renowned for its winemaking. During 1960-1986 production of sparkling wine increased by 10 times as during Soviet times, before Armenia became independent in 1991, mass grapes were planted for making Armenian brandy.

In 2011 Archaeologists discovered the world’s oldest-known wine production facility in the Areni cave complex. The facility dates back to around 4000 BC, 900 years before the earliest comparable wine remains were found in Egypt.

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