Friday, 14 April 2017

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Cher criticises UK refusal to recognise 1915 Armenian killings as genocide
April 13 2017 

The singer joined Kim and Kourtney Kardashian at the US premiere of The Promise.

Cher has called on the UK Government to recognise as genocide the mass killing of Armenians during the First World War.

The 70-year-old star, whose father was Armenian-American, criticised Britain’s refusal to use the term to describe the 1915 atrocities when she attended the Los Angeles premiere of The Promise.

The film, starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac, is set during the period Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed by the Ottoman Empire – a figure Turkey disputes.

Cher said she believed the UK and US governments had not recognised the deaths as genocide because Armenia has “nothing to give them”.

She told the Press Association: “We’re small. Armenia is landlocked. We have no oil. We have nothing to give them. How much would it take (to recognise the genocide)?

“Armenians are a small group of people and we have nothing that they’re interested in.

“You’d think they’d do it out of the goodness of their hearts.”

Asked if she was hopeful President Donald Trump would recognise the killings as genocide, Cher replied: “No!”

The US singer was joined at the premiere by Kim Kardashian, who also has Armenian heritage and has previously called for the US to use the term to describe the mass killings.

The dispute about whether the deaths caused by the Ottomans represented genocide centres on the degree to which the killings were orchestrated.

According to the UN, genocide involves acts intended “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”.

Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Russia and Uruguay are among the countries which recognise the conflict as genocide.

The UK and US use different terminology to describe the events.

Turkey has apologised for the deaths but claimed the number of fatalities was much smaller than Armenian estimates.

Last year Kim criticised an advert published in the Wall Street Journal by a group of Armenian genocide deniers, branding it “reckless, upsetting and dangerous”.

In an essay for Time magazine in 2015, the reality TV star said she would “continue to ask the questions and fight for the genocide to be recognised for what it was”

RFE/RL Report
EU Expects `Deep Reforms' In Armenia
April 10, 2017
Artak Hambardzumian

The European Union stands ready to help Armenia's government implement
significant reforms following this month's parliamentary elections, a
senior EU diplomat said on Monday.

Piotr Switalski, the head of the EU Delegation in Yerevan, declined to
comment on the official results of the April 2 elections that gave
victory to the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

"I was hoping that during the election campaign I will hear
interesting ideas on how to reform the education system in Armenia,"
Switalski told news conference. "I didn't. But it's never too late."

"Now I am hearing from all sides that Armenia is entering a period of
deep and comprehensive reforms. The country's economy and governance
need to undergo serious reforms. We are ready to assist Armenians in
conducting deep reforms," he said. The reforms should include a
tougher fight against corruption, added the diplomat.

The EU cautiously praised last week the conduct of the Armenian
elections, while echoing the findings of around 300 European monitors
deployed in the country. The OSCE-led monitoring mission reported
"credible information about vote-buying" and voter intimidation.

"The election result nevertheless reflects the overall will of the
Armenian people," a spokesperson for Federica Mogherini, the EU
foreign policy chief, said in an April 4 statement.

The statement insisted that electronic equipment installed in
Armenia's polling stations prevented other, more serious
irregularities such as multiple voting. The EU allocated over $7
million for the purchase of that equipment earlier this year.

Mogherini's office also said the EU will work closely with Armenia's
"democratically elected new parliament and government" in an effort to
"strengthen our political dialogue and continue our support to
economic and social reform." It cited the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and
Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which was initialed in Yerevan
two weeks before the elections.

Echoing a statement by President Serzh Sarkisian, Switalski said the
agreement is likely to be signed in November. Armenia and the EU will
also finalize two other cooperation agreements this summer, added the

The CEPA is a less ambitious alternative to an Association Agreement
negotiated by Armenian and EU officials in the summer of
2013. Sarkisian scuttled that deal with his unexpected decision in
September 2013 to make Armenia part of the Russian-led Eurasian
Economic Union (EEU).

Switalski addressed the press as he announced the release of 1.5
million euros ($1.6) in fresh EU grants to Armenian non-governmental
organizations. He said the recipients of the funding will monitor the
government to gauge the efficiency of its use of economic aid provided
by the EU. 
Ethnic minorities elected to Armenia’s parliament optimistic about future work

The ethnic minority representatives elected to the National Assembly of Armenia have serious expectations from their future work in the legislative.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Knyaz Hasanov, a Kurdish community member elected from the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), said he intends to be a vocal about their rights, raising education-related and other problems.

He added that they all, as citizens of Armenia, will be decision-makers in parliament while also giving a special attention to community-specific issues (water irrigation in the regions, school text-books in corresponding languages etc).

Arsen Mikhalkov, an ethnic Assyrian also elected from the Republican Party, thanked, on behalf of their community, to the Armenian authorities and people for a caretaking attitude.

“It is an historic landmark given that the first ever Assyrian community representative has presence in the National Assembly of Armenia. It is a big event for not only the Assyrians in Armenia but also our community abroad,” he added.

Milkhalkov said he expects the National Assembly to be a good platform for them for raising community problems, making their voice better heard by corresponding government bodies.

Asked why ethnic minority representatives choose affiliation with the political majority, Mr Hasanov said their status requires loyalty to the government.

“Ethnic minorities must be loyal to the government in absolutely any place. All our problems must be resolved in collaboration with the authorities. We cannot oppose to the Armenian authorities as we seek the state’s support in practically any affair. Therefore, I believe ethnic minorities must maintain close ties with the government bodies, and the Republican Party of Armenia which has been a governing political force for many years, having smart and knowledgeable members,” he added.
Relationships between Armenia and the Arab world 

The limited opportunities for the foreign policy of Armenia impacts the development of relations of the countries of neighboring Black Sea-Baltic, Central Asian and the Near East regions.

Armenia has set up diplomatic representations in the key countries of those regions but it is not enough for the protection of interests of Armenia.

Azerbaijan and Turkey consistently implement a policy of geopolitical and economic blockade of Armenia, and overcoming the blockade depends greatly on the policy of Armenia in those three regions where many countries are interested in the development of relations between Azerbaijan and Turkey, evidence to which is the failure of recognition of the Armenian genocide in Bulgaria and the extradition of the criminal by Hungary, weapon supplies to Azerbaijan by Ukraine, the dual policy of Georgia on Armenia and so on.

The Arab states which make up the Islamic world have not demonstrated a hostile or negative attitude to Armenia except Saudi Arabia which conducts a specific foreign policy which carries out a specific geopolitical role at the crossing point of four countries Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia – with which the Arabs have both mutual interests and serious controversies.

Armenia has success towards the development of relations with Egypt, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq, the “junction” state of the Arab world Lebanon.

Armenia has set up close relations with Iran which can be considered as strategic. Armenia is reserved about the development of relations with Israel with which it has serious political issues.

The vassal and humiliating “cooperation” with Russia and its political-military bloc limits the policy of Armenia towards the European Union and NATO. It may seem strange but this is an important circumstance for the Arab countries with regard to the observation of the role and possibilities of Armenia.

On the whole, the relations between the Arab countries and Armenia have mostly failed and it is clear that Armenia has wasted precious time. It was impossible to establish a strong bloc in the Near East, the Armenian embassies were cautious and did not even make statements about the security of the Armenian population of the region.

At the same time, this period could become a broad market, including for weapons. Even the small efforts of Armenia could lead to serious change in national security.

Armenia has already tried to establish diplomatic relations with Iraqi Kurdistan, which became the only attempt to become involved in the political developments in the region.

Armenia follows the developments, constantly falling behind and tries to keep within the framework of Russia’s activity. This has led the country to the state of political outsider.

Armenia was very passive regarding the destiny of the Syrian Armenians, leaving them in a caotic displacement. Thus Armenia has not done anything essential to involve the efforts of the United States and France in saving the Armenian communities of the Near East.

Frightened steps are presented as active political actions. In fact, all that Armenia is trying to do in the Near East is subject to the interests of Russia.

It is time to admit that the Armenian communities in the region are over and now what is happening is “side effects”.

It should be noted that the Armenians from the Arab countries have an important position in the United States and France. In Armenia they became just blue collars. Apparently, the Armenians who moved to Armenia from the Arab countries do not hope to become permanent citizens of their historical homeland.

Currently the Arab countries have a lot of problems and do not demonstrate interest in the South Caucasus aside from the Islamic states. However, this motivation has not become part of the active state policy.

It should be noted that the Egyptian services control a lot in the region and are trying to understand what intentions other major Arab states, as well as Iran and Turkey have in the South Caucasus. Some of the Arab countries provide enough information to Egypt on this.

The Armenian systemic special service does not have and does not plan any “Arab topic”. And the Armenian embassies in the Arab countries are busy with “cutouts” of the Arabic press.

Many Arab states are critical about Turkey and Azerbaijan, and strange though it may seem, the Arabs are cautious that the current Turkish propaganda involves Islamic ideas. It is clear that the Arab countries of the Persian gulf beware Turkey due to the possible intensification of the Turkish Islamic propaganda.

The Arab states are well-informed about the relations of Armenia with Turkey and Azerbaijan. Those Arab countries view Armenia as a country which will appear under the U.S. influence in the nearest future.
Daron Acemoglu: Active Democratic Processes Armenia’s Last Hope:
April 11, 2017 | 15:29 

In many ways, Armenia was much more outward looking and had the support of the Diaspora as a bridge to the Western world, as a conduit of ideas and practices of democracy and the market economy, and connections to the export markets and technologies of the West. But it didn’t work […] and I think that at a very high level the biggest issue is that in the transition economies where the former communist elites were totally cast aside, the transition worked much better. And in places like Russia, Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan, where the communist elites control the process, thing work really badly. In Armenia, unfortunately, we are much closer to the second type of transition. So I think that what could have been is that Armenia could have looked much more like the Czech Republic or Estonia, and what we got instead is a country that looks much more like Azerbaijan, or Uzbekistan, which is a real shame, Daron Acemoglu, world renowned economist and author of Why Nations Fail, said during his Skype talk at a conference – entitled “END OF TRANSITION: Armenia 25 Years On. Now What?” – hosted by the University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies in Los Angeles on April 9, Civilnet reports .

“What makes it even more depressing is that in some sense even in some of the worst transitions, like Kazakhstan, things have been getting better. Today Kazakhstan is very far from being a democratic country but there are at least some movements towards strengthening institutions, whereas in Armenia, I think, the beginning was stronger and it’s been getting worse and worse, and I have really come very close to losing all hope for Armenia in the last few years, because the degree of corruption, the degree of political control of politicians that are really set on sort of closing the system rather than on opening the system has been quite systematic, and civil society organizations, which were very active early on and in the middle, have I think become tried because the opposition against them from the state has been so strong,” Acemoglu said.

According to the economist, there have been many unsuccessful governments in Armenia, but for a variety of reasons – partly patronage, partly not enough civil society opposition to it – those governments have not been systemically voted out; the future therefore can only be brighter in Armenia if the democratic process works better; ““Of course, Armenia did not have the European Union to act as an anchor, to act as a model; it was supposed to have the Diaspora, but I think the effect of the Diaspora has been mixed in that, first of all, Diaspora has been a source of easy money for Armenia, and easy money is really what breeds the worst kind of corruption in a weak institutional environment as Armenia.”

The war and the increasing tensions with Azerbaijan, Acemoglu continued, haven’t helped the political process either; “But there are no two ways about it: we have to build on the same strengths that are crucial for the emergence of democracy everywhere – civil society, freedom of press, organizations ranging from student organizations to trade unions to professional business organizations, and political parties that are free and are not just conceived as patronage machines. […] When you are locked into an existential struggle against Azerbaijan, it’s much easier for politicians and perhaps part of the public to bring out the more nationalistic and the more hostile traditions in the past rather than the ones that are more about openness and forward-looking aspects of the country. We have seen throughout the Middle East and throughout the Central Asia how destructive, how dangerous the nationalist, war-based, aggressive rhetoric can be, and I think there is no reason for Armenia to succumb to that.”
Irates. Armenian “Ararat” defeats “Philip Morris” in court 

According to “Irates” newspaper on March 22, 2017, The Moscow Arbitration Court finally issued its final decision about “Marlboro” vs “Ararat” case. The court completely rejected “PhilipMorris BrandsSarl” company's suit against “Grand Tabak OJSC”.

This means that according to the court, there is not confusingly similar design of “Marlboro” cigarette with “Ararat” cigarette design. This in turn means that outlets can freely sell “Ararat” cigarettes in Russia. This is another victory for Armenian manufacturing.

According to newspaper, the claimant of “PhilipMorris BrandsSarl” that the trademark of “Ararat” cigarettes misleads consumers because it is confusingly similar to the “Marlboro” trademark is baseless.

Ararat cigarette packs visual element is stylish image of the sacred mountain and the semantic structure of lexical word “Ararat”.

The court also noted that according to federal Law article 19. “Rights and Obligations of Citizens in the Protection of Health from the Effects of Tobacco Smoke and the Consequences of Tobacco Product Consumption’’ the purchaser cannot see the cigarette’s pack and therefore the cigarette box image. Cigarettes should be elected exclusively by the list, which is presented by the shop.

“GrandTobacco” company lawyer Nikolay Hakobyan believes that “PhilipMorris BrandsSarl” tries to put artificial obstacles in order to prohibit the circulation of the Armenian cigarette in Russian market.

According to Hakobyan, the reason is that, as “PhilipMorris BrandsSarl” representative noted, “Ararat” cigarettes sales are high, than “Marlboro’s”.

“PhilipMorris BrandsSarl” sought to present it as a loss for the company. Thus, this sentence once again proved that the manufacturer has the right to have its place under conditions of fair competition in the Russian market.
April 11, 2017 
Azerbaijan raises hysteria as Karabakhi vodka appears in Duty Free 
The Moscow office of the Azerbaijani news agency has “emotionally” responded to the sale of grape and apricot, as well as other types of “Karabakh” vodkas in St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport’s Duty Free zone.

Although the same article mentions that the manufacturer is the Yerevan branch of Stepanakert’s brandy factory, therefore the producer is a company operating in Armenia, and there is no obstacle for its sale in international markets, nevertheless the Azerbaijani news agency concluded that fake vodka is being sold in the Duty Free, which was produced in an “illegitimate territory”, by an “illegitimate company”.
Newspaper: Armenia ex-FM Vartan Oskanian flies to US, he is leaving politics

YEREVAN. – According Hraparak (Square) newspaper of Armenia, opposition Consolidation Party Chairman and former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian—who one of the leaders of the Ohanyan-Raffi-Oskanian (ORO) Bloc also comprising former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan, and opposition Heritage Party Chairman and ex-FM Raffi Hovannisian—picked up his “overcoat” and flied to the US, exactly one day after the parliamentary election on April 2.

“His office informed that, ‘He is in the US on personal matters; in all likelihood, he will be back in three weeks.’ The ORO sources claim that, ‘He will come [back]; we will continue our political activities.’

“However, according to our sources, even before the elections, when a broad consolidation (…) of the opposition did not happen, Oskanian had said among close circles that he was leaving politics after the elections.

“According to our information, [US-born] Raffi Hovannisian (…), who likewise has serious personal problems, also has left for the US,” wrote Hraparak. 
Paper on the Hidden Armenians in Azerbaijan
Over the past decade the topic of Turkey’s ‘ hidden Armenians ‘ has received considerable academic and media scrutiny. The term generally refers to those Turkish citizens, whose ethnic Armenian ancestors adopted Islam and Turkish and Kurdish identities to escape persecution, particularly at the time of the Armenian genocide, but also in earlier periods, as with the more isolated communities, such as Hemshins .

Much less has been written of ethnic Armenians assimilated in Azerbaijan. One paper by sociologist Sevil Huseynova has looked at people of full or partial Armenian descent, almost all of them women, who remained in post-Soviet Baku under non-Armenian identities. Even less is known of Azerbaijani rural communities that went through Islamization as recently as in the 18th century and have since largely assimilated into Azerbaijani mainstream.

In a recent paper delivered at an Armenian Academy of Sciences conference, Samvel Meliksetyan reviews 18th century archival sources that witnessed Islamic conversions of ethnically Armenian and Udi communities of Sheki-Qebele area in northern Azerbaijan in the 1720s. At the time, insurgents against Persian empire led by an ethnic Lezgin Haji Davud , sought to establish an independent state in what is now northern and northeastern Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan, and forced both Shiites and Christians to convert to Sunni Islam.

According to estimates gleaned by Meliksetyan, tens of thousands of Christians in dozens of villages converted (see map). Today, a Christian Udi community survives in only one of the area villages, Nij in Qebele (former Kutkashen) district; there are also Muslim, but ethnically Georgian communities further north in Kakh district. In the late 1980s, Armenian and Udi populations fled other nearby localities, including Sheki (former Nukha) and Oguz (former Vartashen), as well as the Ismailly and Shamakhi districts further to the south. While most of Azerbaijan is traditionally Shiite, the rural areas of Sheki-Qebele area remain majority Sunni Muslim.

One of the key contemporary sources cited by Meliksetyan is Johann Gustav Gerber , a German-born officer in the Russian service, who surveyed the area in 1728. According to Gerber, forced conversions of Christians, particularly in the Qebele area, “where all Armenians have been forced to become Muslim,” were still taking placed just a year earlier. Some of these converts later reverted to Christianity, but most others remained Muslim.

According to Nukha (Sheki)-born Azerbaijani scholar and educator Rashid-bek Efendiyev , also cited by Meliksetyan, memories of the 18th century conversions were fairly fresh in Sheki-Qebele area in the late 19th century. At the time, local residents still referred to the area as Gavurstan (country of infidels or non-Muslims) and local nobility, the khans of Sheki , traced their lineage to an Armenian priest who converted to Islam. 

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