Saturday, 18 March 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Archbishop Karekin Bekclyan elected
Archbishop Karekin Bekciyan elected as Locum Tenens of Istanbul’s Armenian Patriarch
15 Mar 2017 

The Clerical Assembly elected Archbishop Karekin Bekciyan, Primate of the German Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church as Locum Tenens —a patriarchal alternate today, reports.

The voting is seen as the first step of patriarchal elections.

Thirty members of the Clerical Assembly participated in the elections. Elected by clerics, the Locum Tenens will be responsible for managing the process of electing the Armenicn Patriarch of Istanbul.

General Vicar of the Patriarch Aram Atesyan, Bishop Sahak Masalyan and Armenian Primate of Germany Archbishop Karekin Bekciyan were initially named as candidates. However, Masalyan, in a statement before the election, declared that would withdraw and support Bekciyan.

Aram Atesyan will now step down as General Vicar.

The Clerical Assembly is expected to form a commission comprising clergymen and secular figures to organize the transfer of power from the General Vicar to the Locum Tenens.

The elections of the initiative group will be organized within 10 days after the election of the Locum Tenens. The group will, in turn, organize the elections of the Patriarch of Istanbul within a six-month period. 
Tensions Escalate at Istanbul Patriarchate as Ateshian Refuses to Step Down
Ara Khachatourian
“His Eminence Aram’s [Ateshian] resignation would solve everything,” Says Patriachate Religious Council Chairman .
The refusal by the Patriarchate’s Vicar General Archbishop Aram Ateshian to step down following Wednesday’s election of a Locum Tenens and his apparent collusion with the Istanbul Governor’s office, which deemed the process illegal, have escalated tensions within the Patriarchate.

Immediately after the Patriarchate’s Clerical Assembly elected Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian as Locum Tenens—Patriarchal alternate—Ateshian produced a letter signed by Istanbul’s deputy governor charging that the election process for a new patriarch, which began in October of last year, was “legally impossible.” Soon after the vote Thursday, the governor’s office release its letter to the press.

The decision for Ateshian to step down after the alternate’s election was agreed to last month at Etchmiadzin, where His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, had summoned Ateshian and the Patriarchate’s Religious Council chair Bishop Sahak Mashalian, who had resigned earlier as a protest to Ateshian’s interference in the electoral process.
Bishop Mashalian (left) and Archbishop Ateshian

In an interview with Agos, published on Thursday, Mashalian said that the notice from the governor’s office had rendered the Patriarchate dysfunctional. He added that a meeting should be held at the governor’s office immediately, a sentiment echoed by the newly-elected Locum Tenens, Archbishop Bekdjian.

Mashalian also raised the possibility of collusion between Ateshian and the governor’s office, saying that the fact that the notice was revealed after the election raises unanswered questions.
“There are two possibilities,” Mashalian told Agos. “Either it [the governor’s notice] came earlier and it wasn’t going to be revealed if Ateshian were elected; or it was designed as a notice that would be revealed if Ateshian lost. We don’t know. However, the problem is that this notice caused a storm in our church once again.”

Mashalian said that the situation should be handled in a calm manner to prevent clashes with the state and to restore “our freedom to worship.”

However, the events of the last 24 hours have created a situation whereby the Patriarchate does not have a religious leader, according to Mashalian.
“His Eminence Karekin is our elected deghabah [Armenian word for Locum Tenens]. And according to the same law, His Eminence Aram is no longer the vicar. Now, after this improper and untimely interference, we have a vicar who is not a vicar and a deghabah who is not a deghabah,” stressed Mashalian.

“His Eminence Aram’s resignation would solve everything,” added Mashalian who cited the meeting in Etchmiadzin last month, when all sides agreed to a smooth transition toward the election of a Patriarch in Istanbul.

Meanwhile, more revelations have come to light about Thursday’s tense meeting and the election.

According to Agos, after the votes were counted and it became clear that Bekdjian had won, Ateshian made the announcement and stormed out of the room, only to return a few minutes later with the governor’s notice in hand.
After the revelation of the notice, Mashalian, Ateshian and Bekdjian reportedly retreated to a nearby office, from where shouts were heard.

Sources who overheard the heated exchange between the top clerics at the Istanbul Patriarchate told Agod that Mashalia urged Ateshian to accept the results of the election and go to the governor’s office to explain the decision of the Clerical Assembly.

“They [the state] are trampling on our religious life. This is interference. This election happened. We have to go to the governor’s office and tell that Bekdjian is our deghabah. You are the one who should do it,” Mashalian reportedly told Ateshian, to which the latter responded “I am holding my seat until the state gives permission.”
Azerbaijani refugees may return by accepting the citizenship of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. 

Davit Babayan, Head of the Central Information Department of the Office of the Republic of Artsakh President and Deputy Dead of the NKR President’s Office, stated the abovementioned. 

He noted this commenting—at the request of—on the Azerbaijani deputy FM’s statement regarding their “Great Return” plan. Babayan recalled, however, that this is not the first such statement.

“Actually, the return is very easy to implement; it’s enough to become a citizen of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic,” he noted. “We [i.e. Artsakh] do not discriminate between the citizens of different nationalities. We are a developed democratic state, by contrast to Azerbaijan, where people are persecuted solely for belonging to the Armenian nation.”

At the same time, Davit Babayan stressed that Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan also need to be considered when discussing the matter of refugees.

“Furthermore, the ancient Armenian lands—Shahumyan, Northern Karabakh—remain under the control of Azerbaijan,” he added.

Also, Babayan recalled that capital city Baku and the majority of the cities of Azerbaijan were built by Armenian architects.

Construction.RU, Russia
Russia invested more than $3 billion in Armenia's economy 
Tatiana Kanunnikova

The volume of Russian investments in Armenian economy amounts to more than $3 billion, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said following the negotiations held with President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, in Moscow.

“Russian investments in Armenian economy exceeded $3 billion,” — Vladimir Putin said.

We should remind you that on the 15th of March, a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin with his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan was held in Moscow. Over the course of the negotiations, the parties planned to discuss key issues of bilateral cooperation in political, trade-economic and cultural-humanitarian areas, as well as prospects of the development of integration cooperation and the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh. 
Construction of third solar power plant kicks off in Armenia
March 15

Construction of a third integrated solar power plant with a capacity of up to 1 MW kicked off a few days ago in the southern Armenian province of Vayots Dzor, the Ministry of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources said today.

At the end of last year, acting on a proposal of the Ministry of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources, Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) set a tariff for solar power plants with a capacity of up to 1 MW. The decision, according to officials in the ministry, has increased interest in this sphere significantly.

It is expected that in the near future the number of such power plants will grow. According to preliminary calculations, construction of a power plant takes up to a year. The investment cost is estimated at $1 million. Interest in building solar power plants in Armenia is shown by both local and foreign investors.

A $58 million worth program designed to boost alternative energy sources in Armenia kicked off in 2015 summer. The 6 year program is being handled by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Foundation with the support of the Climate Investment Funds, the ministry of energy infrastructure and natural resources, as well as with the assistance of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

The main stage of activities will start in 2017. When it is completed Armenia is expected to have solar power plants with the total capacity of 40-50 MW, which will be ready for operation by 2020.

RFE/RL Report
Report Reveals Increase In Armenian Prison Population
March 14, 2017
Naira Bulghadarian

The number of people held in Armenia's prisons has risen by 38 percent
over the past decade, bucking trends in most European countries, the
Council of Europe said in a report released on Tuesday.

According to the Strasbourg-based organization's latest Annual Penal
Statistics (SPACE), almost 3,900 persons served prison sentences or
were under pre-trial arrest in Armenia as of September 2015, up from
less than 3,000 in 2005.

The figure translates into a prison population rate of almost 130 per
100,000 people, which is significantly higher than in countries like
France, Germany or the Netherlands. But the Council o of Europe
reported much higher incarceration rates in neighboring Azerbaijan
(249) and Georgia (275) as well as Russia (439).

"The number of people held in European prisons decreased by 6.8
percent from 2014 to 2015," reads the extensive report covering all
Council of Europe member states.

An Armenian defense lawyer, Ara Gharagyozian, said the relatively
large size of Armenia's prison population reflects, in part, the fact
that law-enforcement authorities there usually seek to keep criminal
suspects in pre-trial detention.

Armenian courts rarely agree to release them on bail, something which
has long been criticized by human rights groups. The latter also
regularly highlight harsh conditions in Armenian prisons and detention

According to the report, 38 inmates died in Armenian prisons in
2014. Ruben Sargsian, a member of an Armenian civil society team
monitoring prison conditions, said such deaths primarily result from
what he called a lack of adequate and quick medical aid.

"It's no secret that there is a lack of skilled medical personnel in
our penitentiary institutions," Sargsian told RFE/RL's Armenian
service ( The quality of food provided to prisoners also
leaves much to be desired, he said.

"They don't get adequate nutrition there," agreed Gharagyozian. This
is why, he said, many inmates receive food parcels from their
relatives on a regular basis.

RFE/RL Report
Police General Blamed For Pre-Election Violence
Ruzanna Stepanian
March 15, 2017
Samvel Babayan, a retired army general close to former Defense
Minister Seyran Ohanian's ORO opposition bloc, on Wednesday accused a
controversial deputy chief of the Armenian police of orchestrating
violent attacks on its supporters.

The violence followed a weekend election campaign rally held by ORO in
Jrarat, a village 20 kilometers southwest of Yerevan. A police officer
living there fired gunshots while clashing with several ORO
sympathizers shortly after the rally.

On Tuesday, one local opposition backer was wounded in the leg and two
others beaten up by a large group of men said to be close to the
village mayor related to the police General Levon Yeranosian. One of
those men was arrested later in the day amid ORO allegations that the
Armenian authorities are spreading an "atmosphere of fear" ahead of
the April 2 parliamentary elections.

Babayan claimed that Yeranosian personally led the "bandit gang" that
assaulted the three Jrarat residents. "He must be immediately fired
and this criminal case must be fully solved, if our laws are valid,"
Babayan told RFE/RL's Armenian service (

"If they are not in force and if every faction can do whatever it
wants, then we # must say: `Dear people, take up arms and shoot back
at those who shoot you," warned the former commander of
Nagorno-Karabakh's army.

Yeranosian, who commands Armenian interior troops, is notorious for
violent conduct. The policeman who fired gunshots in Jrarat on Sunday
is his brother Lernik.

Babayan charged that Yeranosian and his relatives acted on government
orders in the village. He said the authorities are thus trying to
bully Armenians and make sure that they vote for the ruling Republican
Party (HHK) in the elections.

Armen Ashotian, a deputy chairman of the HHK, dismissed such
allegations on Tuesday. Ashotian accused ORO of exploiting the
tensions in Jrarat to boost its electoral chances.

Babayan, who is critical of Armenia's current leadership, led the
Karabakh Armenian army from 1993-1999. Ohanian was the chief of the
army staff during most of his tenure.

The once powerful Karabakh general claimed that he supports ORO but is
not involved in its election campaign. Earlier, Babayan did not deny
media reports that he played a major role in the selection of the
bloc's election candidates. 

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation offers Western Armenian camp

The Armenian Communities Department of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is launching an educational project titled “Zarmanazan” in La Bourboule, France as part of its Western Armenian revitalization program.

The creative and playful summer camp is designed for the children between the ages of 10 and 15 with the purpose of encouraging the practice of Western Armenian. As part of this project, a training internship is also designed for Western Armenian teachers or teachers-in-training leading to university certification by the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris (INALCO).

In the camp, children and teenagers will live with 15 experienced facilitators for 25 days. They will create, discover, learn, and have fun in Western Armenian through engaging workshops in music, arts, theater, dance, as well as various sports and games.

Organized in partnership with the Mille et un Mondes organization in Lyon, Zarmanazan camp welcomes all children and teenagers from Armenian Diaspora. The number of places is limited to 40 and there is no requirement for a minimum level of proficiency in Armenian. The teacher training program will host 15 teachers (or teachers-in-training). They will follow an intensive program combining expert direction with practical training, interactive lectures, and the latest pedagogic approaches and materials.

The deadline for applications is March 25.

Transportation Monitor Worldwide
Some $95 million to be invested in Tatev Gate project
March 15, 2017
During a working visit to the southern province of Syunik last
Saturday Armenian prime minister Karen Karapetyan visited the site of
Tatev cableway to have a consultative meeting with the representatives
of the Foundation for Armenia Development, who presented to him the
Tatev Gate investment project, the governments press office said.

It said as part of the program, the Tatev Gate complex will be built
next to Halidzor station of Tatev cableway, which will feature
information, entertainment and service infrastructures and quality
services designed to increase the flow of visitors.

The already finalized general development plan calls for establishing
a visitor hub, a national kitchen and catering outlets, as well as a
center of national traditions, ancient Armenian games and other
entertainments. The project implies investment of USD 95 million in
six strategic directions that will result in about 1,500 jobs and
increased influx of tourists up to 400,000 annually.

The project may be implemented in a public-private sector partnership.
Several infrastructure-related problems need to be addressed at
Halidzor station. International financial organizations may be engaged
in the project. Welcoming the idea, Karapetyan urged those responsible
to finalize the project and begin substantive discussions in the

The 5.7-kilometer-long Winds of Tatev ropeway in the south of Armenia
, built by Austrian-Swiss Dopplemayer/Garaventa transports visitors
from the village of Halidzor across the Vorotan gorge to the village
of Tatev, within walking distance of the monastery, allowing tourists
and visitors to bypass a 90-minute drive on a road in and out of the
Vorotan River Gorge.

The cable car travels at a speed of 37 kilometers per hour (23 miles
per hour) and a one-way journey takes 11 minutes. At its highest point
over the gorge, the car travels 320 meters (1,056 feet) above ground
level. It has two cabins, each capable of carrying up to 25
passengers. The cable car is part of a $45 million-dollar
public-private effort to develop tourism at Tatev and in the overall
region of Syunik. The aerial tramway was officially registered by a
representative of the Guinness World Records as the worlds longest
aerial tramway built to transport visitors. 2017 Global Data Point. 
USD 80 mln invested in ServiceTitan, founded by Armenians
March 16 2017
U.S.-based ServiceTitan, the leading provider of business management software for home service businesses, founded by Ara Mahdessian and Vahe Kuzoyan, announced that it had completed an $80 million Series B funding round, led by ICONIQ Capital.

ServiceTitan provides a state-of-the-art software platform that allows home service businesses of any size to effortlessly manage and streamline their operations, improve customer service and grow their business.

“Home service providers are critically underserved when it comes to advanced technology that can dramatically improve their operations and meet the specific needs and demands of their businesses. With this investment, we are looking forward to further enhancing our platform and continuing to work closely with business owners and partners to deliver the very best technology that equips our clients with the necessary tools to succeed,” Co-founder and CEO of ServiceTitan Ara Mahdessian said.

ServiceTitan noted that this latest funding round would enable the company to expand and strengthen its capabilities across the ServiceTitan platform.

“It takes significant investment to stay at the forefront of technology, and we are committed to hiring the best developers and team members to continue improving and expanding the tools available to our clients,” Co-founder and President of ServiceTitan Vahe Kuzoyan said.

“We are excited to partner with ServiceTitan and support this great team as they continue to achieve significant growth and strengthen their position as the leading provider of business management software to the home services industry,” Partner at ICONIQ Will Griffith commented. 

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