Saturday, 8 April 2017

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France Diplomatie
Armenia - Azerbaijan – First anniversary of the truce following the “Four-Day War” (5 April 2017)
April 5 2017
A year ago, the hostilities that had broken out in Nagorno-Karabakh between April 2 and 5, to the grief of the people of the region, were suspended. As co-chair of the Minsk Group, France worked actively with its Russian and American partners to end the fighting and resume negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

France reiterates its conviction that the current status quo in Nagorno-Karabakh is untenable and that there can be no military solution to the conflict. It calls on the parties to abide by the commitments taken at the Vienna summit on May 16, 2016, and the Saint Petersburg summit on June 20, 2016: to respect the cease fire, establish trust-building measures, and resume negotiations.

As President Hollande noted at recent meetings in Paris with his Armenian and Azerbaijani counterparts, France remains fully committed to achieving a negotiated, lasting solution to this conflict that promotes stability and prosperity throughout the region.
Armenian Parliamentary Elections Followed by Inflation: Press
April 5, 2017 

Following the April 1 parliamentary elections, the prices of bananas in Armenian stores have been increased from AMD 650-700 ($1.3-1.4) to AMD 730-750 ($1.55) a kilogram, the local Zhoghovurd newspaper writes, reminding that the sole banana importing company in Armenia, Catherine Group, belongs to newly-elected Republican MP Mihran Poghosyan.

Besides bananas, the paper adds, gasoline has also risen in price, a liter of which now costs AMD 380 instead of the previous AMD 330. The price of premium gasoline has increased from AMD 350 per liter to AMD 400, and that of super gasoline – from AMD 400 to AMD 420. The price of diesel fuel has gone up by 10 drams and now stands at AMD 360 per liter.

“The main wave of inflation will hit Armenia after the Yerevan Council of Elders elections in May. After all, bribes will again be distributed, there will be expenses, and the time will come when they will have to collect their money back,” Zhoghovurd writes.
Turkey starts mine-clearing along the borders with Armenia, Iran and Azerbaijan
05 Apr 2017 

Efforts to clear mines have been launched on Mount Ararat in Turkey’s eastern province of Igdir as part of a project financed by the European Union and Turkey in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

According to the source, the project aims to clear Turkey’s eastern border of mines to increase Ankara’s ability to control the border and provide socio-economic development. As part of the project, mines along the borders with Armenia, Iran and Azerbaijan will be cleared within two years.

South African firm DENEL-MECHEM will conduct the mine-clearing works as part of the project. Company officials said a total of 15 square kilometers will be cleared of 222,000 mines in 511 areas near the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Iranian borders within two years.

The locations of mines will initially be determined by scanners and dogs before clearing works will begin. The disposal of the mines discovered will be conducted with armored vehicles.

Speaking at the ceremony, the head of the EU delegation in Ankara, Ambassador Christian Berger, said hundreds of innocent people, including children, die each year after stepping on mines. Berger also said land mines produce serious societal and financial effects and prevent development, as well as killing individuals.

“This project aims to reduce these effects by taking plenty of precautions including clearing the area of mines and helping the victims. The support given by the EU to mine activities is a part of our support for border management. The mines were planted between 1984 and 1999 for border security. Turkey, the EU and the U.N. are jointly working to clear the area of mines, as well as creating a modern, humanitarian and strong border security,” Berger said on April 4.
Gift from Armenians: Bust of Yousuf Karsh to be installed in Ottawa
05 Apr 2017 

The bust of Canadian Armenian photographer Yousuf Karsh will be installed in Ottawa, Mr. Armen Yeganian, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Armenia to Canada, informed in a Facebook post.

The bust is a gift from grateful Armenian people to the Canadian people on the occasion of the occasion of the 150 th anniversary of Canada and the 25 th anniversary of Armenian-Canadian diplomatic relations.

Photographer Yousuf Karsh captured portraits of everyone from Albert Einstein to Martin Luther King during his career – as well as some of the century’s greatest artists, musicians and actors.

Armenian-Canadian Karsh escaped genocide to move to Quebec and become one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of the 20th century.

In 1921, Karsh’s family escaped the Armenian genocide into Syria, with a single donkey their only real possession. Karsh’s uncle, who lived in Quebec, wrote to the family to ask for help in his photography studio – the 16-year-old Yousuf embarked on a 29-day trip to get there.

His apprenticeship led to Karsh training in portrait photography in Boston, studying old masters painters and their approach to light and perspective. He moved to Ottawa, and began photographing visiting dignitaries. His breakthrough came with a portrait of Winston Churchill that ended up on the cover of Time magazine. Another photograph from the same session with Churchill graces the UK’s new £5 banknote.

Karsh would go on to photograph the most famous people in the world, and among other accolades, has a crater on Mercury named after him. 
Lebanese Armenian army colonel is appointed as Commanding Officer of National Security Inspection
April 05, 2017 

Head of Lebanon’s State Security Brigadier General Tony Saliba has appointed Lebanese Armenian army colonel George Balikian as Commanding Officer of National Security Inspection.

The Lebanese State Security is the Lebanese National Security Agency, directly attached to both, the Lebanese president and prime minister.

The General Directorate of the Lebanese State Security was established in 1985 and it’s major functions include collecting information concerning internal state security by the means of special networks covering the Lebanese territories, surveillance and counter-espionage of enemy activities, Coordinating tasks with other security services, such as the General Directorate of General Security, Internal Security Forces and Army Intelligence Directorate, in matters concerning inquiries and information exchange.

Business Monitor Online (Fitch Group)
Growth To Rebound, But Structural Problems Remain
April 4, 2017 

The Armenian economy will recover in 2017 and 2018, after GDP
contracted in H216. Improving economic conditions in Russia, its
largest trading partner, and rebounding commodity prices will provide
tailwinds to growth. Nevertheless, the country's high reliance on
remittances and poor labour market dynamics will prevent the economy
from growing at a faster clip.

BMI View: The Armenian economy will recover in 2017 and 2018, after
GDP contracted in H216. Improving economic conditions in Russia, its
largest trading partner, and rebounding commodity prices will provide
tailwinds to growth. Nevertheless, the country's high reliance on
remittances and poor labour market dynamics will prevent the economy
from growing at a faster clip.Real GDP growth will accelerate in 2017
and 2018, but structural inefficiencies will prevent the Armenian
economy expanding at a faster clip. The Armenian economy weakened
significantly towards the end of 2016, with the economy contracting by
1.8% y-o-y in H216, bringing annual growth to just 0.9%. The main
point of weakness was a continued sharp contraction in fixed
investments and household consumption growth, tipping back into
negative territory. Remittances inflows failed to rebound, which
partly explains continued weakness in household consumption, as
workers' transfers account for over 18.0% of GDP. On a more positive
note, government spending and net export growth both accelerated,
positively contributing to headline GDP growth. We forecast Armenian
economic growth to accelerate in 2017 to 2.0% and in 2018 to 3.0%, and
thus recover in tandem with the Russian economy and the wider
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region. In combination with
recovering commodity prices, stronger CIS growth will provide
tailwinds to Armenia's external sector.

Headquarters of the Mekhitarist Order
San Lazzaro, Venice
Announcement From the Mekhitarist Congregation
April 5, 2017 

VENICE — The announcement by the Mekhitarist Congregation, on May 31, 2016, informed the public that H.H. Pope Francis had named H.G. Levon Zekiyan, Archbishop of Catholic Armenians of Istanbul and Turkey, as the pontifical delegate for the Mekhitarist Congregation. The Holy See of Rome, beginning in the year 1977, periodically named an assistant, named “Visitator,” to assist the Congregation in resolving various problems, including those of financial and other natures. These persons, known at the international level for their administrative, cultural or scholarly achievements, were religious figures or priests of non-Armenian descent, belonging to various religious orders or to different degrees of ecclesiastical status. Unfortunately, this periodic assistance did not produce the expected results. Hence, on April 30, 2016, H.G. Mgr. Zekiyan was nominated as pontifical delegate.

The basic problems that the Congregation has faced can be summarized in three categories: a. vocational crisis; b. financial crisis; c. the abandoned, and hence unproductive, status of some immovable properties, which are also due to a lack of financial and human resources. Currently, some projects are being developed to address the vocational crisis and to preserve firmly and continuously, in whatever circumstance, the Armenian identity of the Congregation.

We must admit that the vocational crisis is today a general phenomenon, especially in Western countries and in the Middle East, which was the main fount of clergy for the Mekhitarist Congregation and has been, for more than a half-century, the center of devastating civil wars.

To the second point, in the course of the past ten months, the Congregation’s debt was reduced enough after donations and the sale of some land, abandoned for several decades and without the concrete possibility of construction in the near future, given the circumstances.

A few months before the nomination of H.G. Zekiyan, much confusion arose over the eventual sale of a large property situated at Hazmieh in Lebanon, where a small school is also active. His Grace, immediately after his nomination, officially declared to the Mekhitarist monks that no institutional immovable property (e.g., the College Moorat-Raphaël in Venice and the College Samel Moorat at Sèvres in Paris) would be sold. It is pointless to even mention here the absolutely inalienable character of both San Lazzaro and the monastery of Vienna, since these are the symbols and guarantees of perpetuity of the Congregation itself. He also declared that Hazmieh too should be considered inalienable and ruled out for sale, in the given context.

It is the objective of the present press release to inform the public about some projects which are now in progress, also in order to dissipate eventual misunderstandings.

I. Moorat-Raphaël (Venice) and Samuel Moorat of Sèvres
These are two properties of an inestimable value where, for more than a century and a half, schools of the highest level functioned, nourishing and enlightening chosen Armenian youth. Specifically, the former College of Venice has held the most influential role in the cultivation of the outstanding achievements of the Awakening period in modern Armenian culture, both in worldwide colonies and in the Homeland. Those buildings, for many years, have remained in unfavourable conditions and face serious risks of different natures.

It is an absolute necessity that these properties be restored and restituted to their proper use, at the earliest convenience, according to international standards of restoration and reutilisation of historic and artistic monuments, and to their unique function in Armenian culture of the modern age.

The Congregation is now carrying out negotiations with various societies, following a basic guideline that a part of those properties be duly converted into spaces which may produce income, and a part of them be exclusively dedicated to systematically pursuing cultural activities in the centuries-long tradition of the Congregation.

It is well known that our forefathers, as a rule, endowed the churches and academic centres they founded with structures producing an income, so that those structures might be able to carry out their religious and cultural activities. The College of Moorat-Raphaël itself possessed until the 1970s many buildings in Padua and in other areas of the Veneto region that provided resources to distribute full scholarships to many needy students.

The foreseen expenses for restoration and reutilisation are of a high amount. The annual canon of location foreseen must be such that it may allow the Congregation to preserve decently and duly its huge cultural heritage (manuscripts, paintings, antique objects) and develop fully and freely its cultural and educational activities.

We also make use of this present opportunity to declare that all kinds of proposals by individuals and societies are welcome and will be taken seriously into consideration, on the condition that those who propose them take responsibility for all expenses of restoration and re-utilization and may pay also an annual canon of location, according to the aforementioned criteria. The deadline for such proposals is set for June 30, since time is of the essence and when the means become available, the process to obtain licenses etc. will require a significant amount of time. All are kindly requested to approach the question with due seriousness, without unnecessary and not productive rhetoric, as is clear from our recent history.

II. Hazmieh
The property in Hazmieh already enjoys the professional care of a real estate agency, one of the best known in the Middle East. Here, our aim is to transfer to Raouda the small school working at Hazmieh, enlarging and developing it according to high standards, and to build at Hazmieh new structures whose income may sustain the activities of the Congregation in Lebanon and in the Middle East.

The present press release is published for the information of our national communities and of all friends and benevolent people, both individuals and groups, who are interested in the Armenian culture.

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