Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Show us your guts!

Will Donald Trump have the guts to call the Armenian genocide what it was?
Robert Fisk

Well, it’s now Trump’s moment of masculinity. Will he – or will he not – have the guts to call the 1915 Armenian genocide a genocide? A small matter for a guy who’s shooting from the hip across the Muslim world, you may say. But he congratulated the Caliph Erdogan on winning his dictatorial referendum and I doubt that Trump has the courage to offend him this month by telling the truth about the slaughter of one and a half million Armenian Christians during the First World War.

After all, Bill Clinton didn’t call it a genocide. Nor did George Bush. Nor did Obama. They all promised they would before they were elected. But my guess is that Donald Trump will be as cowardly as them, bowing towards the sensitivities of Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wretched generals, those of them who still have jobs after Erdogan’s post-attempted-coup purge of the last nine months.

Yet the deliberate mass slaughter of the Christians of the Turkish Ottoman Empire – the victims had their throats cut, Isis-style, or were shot or tied together and thrown into rivers – was the first industrial holocaust of the 20th century. The women were raped or sold into slavery or starved to death. There were thousands of eyewitness testimonies to these atrocities, including the burning of babies by Turkish gendarmes. And Trump, as we all know, cares very much about “beautiful babies”.

But under no circumstances will the President of the United States, I suspect, have the honour to admit that the Armenian Holocaust – and Israelis use this same word in Hebrew for the Armenian genocide, even though their government does not acknowledge it – was a fact of history. Indeed, it even taught Hitler how to commit the Jewish Holocaust. And quite by chance this April, when the Armenians commemorate the start of their genocide – a word coined by the Polish Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin after the Second World War for the Armenian massacres – up comes more fool-proof evidence of the atrocities committed by Erdogan’s Turkish predecessors in the Ottoman Empire which he admires so much.

A copy of the original Turkish pamphlet on the genocide presented to the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919 – when the Turkish state and parliament actually acknowledged the massacres – has been unearthed by Armenian researcher Missak Kelechian, whose earlier work disclosed the existence of a Turkish orphanage for Armenian children in Beirut who were “Turkified” and forced to adopt the Muslim religion after the 1915 massacres. The text of the 1919 document proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the genocide happened, calling it “a great crime” committed at “a time when by the operation of war the laws of humanity in their general acceptance were suspended.”

The same document, sent to Versailles by the Turkish government of the time, refers contemptuously to the “Committee of Union and Progress” which ruled Turkey during the First World War and declared itself an ally of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire during the conflict, as “the Unionist organisation” and states that the “guilt” of the three pashas who ran the committee is obvious because it “conceived and deliberately carried out this internal policy of extermination and robbery…”

The paper even admits that the Muslim population of Turkey joined in the extermination of the Armenians with “savagery”, adding that those officials responsible for the massacres had been “arrested”. Alas, most were later freed and when Turkey declared itself independent under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923 all thought of punishing the murderers of the century’s first holocaust disappeared. But the 1919 document, when the Allied powers still controlled Constantinople (now Istanbul) shows clearly that the Turks of that period knew and fully admitted the terrible crimes which had been committed under Ottoman Turkish rule.

At one point in the text, the Turkish government actually refers to “these manifestations of human wickedness surpassing in horror the worst that has been committed in Turkey still fresh in the minds of all.” In another passage the document says that “true it is contended that Musulman [sic] population joined on its own account the massacre of Armenians collectively or individually and therefore that the Turkish people is responsible for the terrible tragedy conjointly with the Unionist organisations and this not only indirectly and materially but directly and morally”.

Turkish and Armenian scholars have referred in the past to the 1919 booklet but with no specific references to the text – which led the Polish-Jewish lawyer Lemkin to his creation of the word “genocide”. But alas again, an American president who doesn’t read books cannot be expected to weep over the million and a half Armenian men, women, children and “beautiful babies” murdered in that 102-year old genocide – a mass slaughter carried out in some of the lands which Isis currently controls. So will Trump have the courage to use the word “genocide”? Like most bullyboys, I think he is a coward. So I have my doubts. 

No, he does not! 

Office of the Press Secretary
April 24 , 2017 

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Armenian Remembrance Day 2017

Today , we remember and honor the memory of those who suffered during the Meds Yeghern, one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century. Beginning in 1915, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. I join the Armenian community in America and around the world in mourning the loss of innocent lives and the suffering endured by so many.

As we reflect on this dark chapter of human history, we also recognize the resilience of the Armenian people. Many built new lives in the United States and made indelible contributions to our country, while cherishing memories of the historic homeland in which their ancestors established one of the great civilizations of antiquity. We must remember atrocities to prevent them from occurring again.

We welcome the efforts of Turks and Armenians to acknowledge and reckon with painful history, which is a critical step toward building a foundation for a more just and tolerant future.

Have you encouraged your family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, club members ..
to see The Promise?

The Times of Israel
March 23 2017
Our Obligation to See ‘The Promise’
by Simon Hardy Butler
Piles of dead bodies. Men, women and children stuffed into boxcars. Forced slave labor.
Does any of this sound familiar?

If, on Yom HaShoah, these records of villainy hit close to home, then we, as Jews, should also remember another genocide that included these horrors yet preceded our own: that of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish regime starting in 1915.

The great film The Promise , now in theaters, highlights all of these occurrences from that era.

I just saw it last night in Manhattan, at a big theater more often known for blockbusters and crowd-pleasing entertainment. But The Promise is no such film; it had a large budget, for sure, and is important in that it is the first mainstream Hollywood film to call attention to the Armenian genocide, yet there’s more to it than that. It’s extraordinarily moving. It has scenes that are unforgettable: atrocities beyond scope, humanity beyond reason. It is powerful. It is essential.

All of my fellow brothers and sisters in the Jewish faith should watch it.

We say: “Never again.” And “never again” is what we should adhere to. Still, that mantra didn’t exist in its present form when Armenians were being massacred by Ottoman Turks, when they were being removed from their homes, when their villages were decimated, when their children were murdered.

We say: “Never again.” We must mean it.

To do so, we must understand all genocides, all holocausts, anti-Semitic and otherwise. The Armenian one is particularly crucial, as it took place only a few decades before our own and extinguished 1.5 million Armenian lives. There is no place for such villainy in the world. We cannot just say that, however. We must exemplify it.

So we must educate ourselves further on the subject. We must watch films such as The Promise to make sure we never forget. It is not only a work of art, but it is also a teaching tool. Like Schindler’s List , another cinematic masterpiece. In many ways, The Promise is very similar. It has a terrific score, by Gabriel Yared. It has brilliant performances, especially by Oscar Isaac, who will touch your heart in the picture like few will. It has superb cinematography, editing, production design. It has fearless direction. It even must be subject to the minor quibbles I had with Schindler’s List … that it didn’t show the full, vile extent of the violence and heinous crimes perpetrated by those who orchestrated the genocide. Yet both showed enough. Both made their point well. Both made the terror clear.

That’s why both are critical movies in the history of the silver screen. That’s why both will live forever.

As with Schindler’s List , The Promise is hardly one-dimensional. It is not didactic. Characters are fully developed. Heroes exist on both sides … including Henry Morgenthau, Sr., the Jewish-American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, whose portrayal during a scene with a government official might bring you to tears. On this day of remembrance, the people who fought for justice need to have their names recognized. We, as a people, should know why we do this. We, as a people, should be able to see the import.

I urge every Jewish man and woman who can to see The Promise . I do it with a warning: You may be upset. You may cry. Yet I do it also with the reminder that watching this film ensures a better world for us and all who surround us. It makes us better people. It makes us better rememberers.

Surely, not all memories are the same. The exceptional ones, however, must never be forgotten.

The Promise makes sure of that. We must do so as well.
Editorial: World Events Raise Urgency of Justice for Armenian Genocide
2017 Armenian Genocide Special Issue
The elections in Turkey on April 16 reversed what one expert called the country’s 100-year experiment in democracy and cemented the fact that successive Turkish governments will continue to deny the Armenian Genocide.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dream of architecting a Turkey in the 21stcentury based on its barbaric Ottoman past won narrowly during Sunday’s referendum, effectively giving him carte blanche to continue his persecution of minorities and violent breach of human rights. The stage is being set for a repeat of the 1915 events, as once again world powers turn a blind eye to this situation.

Here in the United States, the new administration’s actions, or lack thereof, raises the uncertainty over any official action regarding the Armenian Genocide, despite bi-partisan Congressional calls on the Trump administration to recognize that crime.

The passage of a resolution last June in the German Budenstag that not only recognized the Armenian Genocide but also highlighted German complicity in its genesis brought Europe a step closer to advancing justice and human rights in the face of resistance by Turkey and the United States.

Having said that we are far from proclaiming victory on this front. Other world events, such as the war in Syria, are shifting the balance in the region and affecting the posturing of world powers toward Turkey.

At the same time, the tenuous and fragile situation on the frontlines of Artsakh following last year’s “Four-Day War,” continues to threaten the security of Armenians in Armenia and Artsakh. At the same time, the international community’s refusal to properly condemn Azerbaijan for its heinous actions, only emboldens Baku—and by extension Ankara—to continue its barbaric policies toward Armenians.

Outside of world capitals and power centers, however, a new wave of Armenian Genocide recognition has emerged, continuing a trend that started in 2015, with the centennial, when major media outlets in the United States and around the world began urging Turkey to recognize the Genocide. This, coupled with the pope’s reaffirmation of the Genocide not only in 2015 at the Vatican, but also during his visit to Armenia in June 2016, as well as an urgent interest by members of the entertainment community has created a groundswell—and even more popular—of support for the just recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

This year, the premiere of the film “The Promise,” which was produced by Kirk Kerkorian’s Survival Pictures, has turned the conversation from denial to absolute recognition, with Hollywood A-listers lending their voice to the cause of advancing justice for the Armenian Genocide.

The climate that efforts like “The Promise” have created, and the resulting crescendo on social media, should not take the place of activism and the proper articulation of our just demands, which include reparations and restitution for the crime of the Armenian Genocide, the advancement of which requires recognition by Turkey, which can be hastened by the United States stepping up.

On April 24, Armenians around the world will commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, with most Diasporan communities focusing their protests at Turkish embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions. The target of our demands is the Turkish government and we must continue our demands for justice.

World events, especially developments in the region, have raised the urgency of Genocide recognition and advancement of justice. Each and every Armenian must pledge to fight for this not just on April 24 but every day of the year in order to guarantee that the just aspirations of the Armenian people are realized.

April 21, 2017 Friday 3:31 PM GMT
Armenian archbishop says genocide of Christians underway 
in Syrian land

HIGHLIGHT: The situation in Syria where thousands of people have died
in recent years testifies to the fact of an ongoing genocide of
Christians in the war-torn country, Archbishop Yezras Nersisyan, the
head of the Russian and New Nakhichevan diocese of the Armenian
Apostolic Church said on Friday at a news conference hosted by TASS.

The situation in Syria where thousands of people have died in recent years 
testifies to the fact of an ongoing genocide of Christians in the war-torn country, 
Archbishop Yezras Nersisyan, the head of the Russian and New Nakhichevan 
diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church said on Friday at a news conference 
hosted by TASS.

He addressed reporters on the occasion of commemoration of the
Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire and the 300th anniversary
since the foundation of the Armenian diocese in Russia.

"I wouldn’t shy away from saying the genocide of Christians is
underway in Syria today," the Most Reverend Nersisyan said when a
reporter asked him about the events in Syria.

He recalled that more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians, all of the
disciples of Christianity, had lived in Syria before the outbreak of
the civil war in 2011 but their number has reduced by a factor of
almost ten now.

"Many Armenians died without water on the way to the Dayr az-Zawr
desert without water and under the scorching sun," the Most Rev.
Nersisyan said. "The numeric strength of the Armenian community has
reduced to 10,000 to 15,000 persons. Of the 32 Armenian churches that
functioned previously, only one is functioning now, while the number
of Armenian schools has fallen from 40 to a maximum of five."

The archbishop said the genocide of the World War I era was a tragedy
for the whole world, not only for the Armenian people. "Not only did
we lose brothers, sisters, parents, and ancestors. We lost spiritual
treasures that belonged to the entire humanity, including 22,000
manuscripts, and more than 3,200 churches and monasteries that simply
vanished from history."

The Most Rev. Nersisyan paid special attention to preparations for
celebrating the 300th anniversary since the establishment of the
Armenian Church diocese in Russia. Festive events will be held in many
Russian cities and especially in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Astrakhan,
and Nakhichevan.

The archbishop recalled that the Russian and New Nakhichevan diocese
was the largest in terms of size in the Armenian Apostolic Church.

"The Russian diocese embraces a territory from Vladivostok to (the
Baltic exclave region of) Kaliningrad and it also includes the eastern
Baltic states, the Central Asian countries, Moldova and Belarus, the
Most Rev. Nersesyan said.

"This diocese has 48 churches and we also plan to consecrate another
seven this year," he said.

At the news conference, the Russian musician, composer and producer
Stas Namin presented a show commemorating the victims of the 1915

The Day of Memory of Armenian genocide is marked annually on April 24.
Deportation of Armenian intellectuals from Constantinople began
exactly on that day in 1915.

The mass deportations and extermination of Armenians in the Ottoman
Empire lasted through to the end of World War I.
Armenian peacekeepers not hurt in Taliban attack
22 Apr 2017 

Armenian peacekeepers are safe after the Taliban attack on an army base on Friday, Spokesman for the Ministry of Defense Artsrun Hovhannisyan reports.

“No of the Armenian peacekeepers has been hurt in the attack on the Mazar-e Sharif in northern Balkh province. they continue service in another base,” Hovhannisyan said in a Facebook post.

More than 100 Afghan soldiers were killed or wounded in a Taliban attack on an army base on Friday.
Armenian Minister Urges Protesting Farmers to Rob Winery Owner’s House
April 20, 2017
A group of grape farmers from the Ararat province village of Kaghtsrashen gathered again Thursday outside the Armenian government’s offices to demand a meeting with prime minister Karen Karapetyan and talk with him about the millions of drams they are still owed from 2015 harvest.

Nonetheless, protester Nerses Ghazaryan said in conversation with the farmers no longer believed that state officials would take any steps to solve the issue. “We are fighting for money we’ve earned with our own sweat and toil, but they keep lying to us. Our prime minister talks big on TV but he won’t come out and speak with us personally. His predecessor Hovik Abrahamyan, at least deigned to meet with us and sent 50 million [drams] which was distributed among some of the farmers. If the current prime minister followed suit, the entire debt would be covered. We have even appealed to the president, but to no avail. It is all a lie; they only pretend to work,” Ghazaryan said.

The farmers did not get to meet with the head of the government today after all; however, they managed to stop agriculture minister Ignaty Arakelyan on his way to a Thursday government sitting. Arakelyan, for his part, insisted that he had no relation whatsoever with the issue at hand since the villagers have been deceived by the Vinar winery. The minister further insisted that he has done his best to help the farmers by referring the matter to the office of the Prosecutor General.

As the conversation went on, however, Arakelyan began offering the protesters alternative ways of settling the issue. The minister, for example, proposed that the farmers should enter Vinar co-owner Avet Galstyan’s house and take his property. “He has taken something that belongs to you; he is not giving you your money. You have to go to his house and take away whatever catches your eye; there is no other way,” Arakelyan urged.

The protesters, in turn, replied that they would only resort to such a step if the minister guaranteed that they would not be arrested afterwards. “We are not afraid of Avo, we are afraid of these guys in uniform. Who the hell is Avo to eat my money? We are afraid that [the police] will come and say to us. ‘Who the hell are you to lay a finger on Avo?’ Where did Avo come from? The government has brought him around, not my father. Let someone from the government then come and take responsibility of him,” one of the protesters told the minister.

Arakelyan, in response, insisted again that he had no authority over such matters, said he was late for the meeting and hurried to the government building.

Deputy agriculture minister Robert Makaryan also came out today to speak with the protesters and told them that Avet Galstyan has promised to distribute 10 million drams among the farmers in the coming days. When asked by a reporter where Galstyan was going to get the money from – since he has been constantly claiming that he has no money to pay the villagers – Makaryan replied; “It is not our responsibility to establish the source of the funds. But today he is coming to the ministry, and we will decide when and how we will give out the 10 million drams he has promised.”

The protesters, for their part, claimed they would begin taking extraordinary measures if they were lied to again. 
State Tourism Committee of Armenia launches campaign within “Clean Armenia” program

the basis of Armenian Prime Minister’s instruction made at the Cabinet Session on 20 April, the State Tourism Committee of Armenia of the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments announced about the launch of a campaign aimed at actively involving the Armenian citizens in the “Clean Armenia” program.

The Tourism Committee told that any citizen can take a picture of areas full of garbage at the country’s tourist attractions, send it to the Facebook page of the State Tourism Committee of Armenia, noting the community, city and the province, as well as the day the photo was taken.

To make the activities more effective, you can use the #CleanArmenia hashtag. The results well be presented online, in the public platform.

The source notes: “Let’s make Armenia’s tourist attractions more attractive together for the tourists visiting our country.”

Finally, in contrast to the mentioned, we present photos of the clean Armenia, when the man is in harmony with the nature and the environment.
Armenian Government notifies the critical situation with the garbage removal
April 20 2017
Naira Badalyan 
The Government head reminded that based on results of Clean Armenia Project launched on February 16, 2017 it was discovered that only waste disposal sites occupy up to 430 ha. " the absence of proper control, incomplete work on garbage removal in cities and towns and at road sectors - the situation is close to tragic. I think everybody noticed that," the Prime Minister accentuated. According to him, this situation is the result of long and wrong organization of the waste removal works, and mistakes of regions governors and communities heads, "who perform their duties in imperfect manner and sometimes even fail performing those properly". They are liable not only for the proper organization of waste removal, but for correction of the situation formed," Karapetyan stated.

"The Clean Armenia Project implementation starts today," Karen Karapetyan summarized, instructing the regions and communities to develop and to submit in two months terms an appropriate program on cancellation of the problems mentioned. According to the Prime Minister, the situation is unacceptable for today.
The Independent: Football and hope in the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
21 Apr 2017
By Robert O’Connor
The Independent 

High up in the mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh, the tiny de facto republic at the crossroads of the Eurasian continent, hope is a priceless currency. Few people appreciate its value more than Samuel Karapetyan.

Inside the offices of the Artsakh Union of Freedom Fighters, the Head of the Artsakh Football Association (AFA) uses carefully chosen words to explain how his organisation has begun the long process of winning UEFA recognition for a region which has spent 30 years living in the shadow of war.

“All this war and conflict is temporary”, he says lighting a cigarette. “One day soon, the Artsakh national team will participate in the World Cup or European Championship”.

“We are hopeful”, reiterates Karapetyan. “In fact we are convinced that recognition will come soon, because all the world is interested in establishing peace in this region. Sooner or later Azerbaijan will recognize Artsakh, then we will participate not just in football but in every aspect of international life”.

The preliminary discussions with Uefa over the AFA’s membership began in November 2016. The dialogue remains embryonic, but Karapetyan says it represents a crucial first step in eventually bringing the territory out of isolation.

“The process is underway. We are confident that the Artsakh team will participate in international tournaments, and that it is coming soon. If we were not confident in our success then we wouldn’t live here”.

“Before 2006 there was no organised football in Artsakh” says Slava Gabrielyan, the Uefa Pro-license coach with responsibility for selecting the nascent NKR national team. March 1st of that year saw the establishment of FC Artsakh, the region’s only formal football club, but there has never been a national championship here for the team to compete in. “We have some friendly games against teams from Armenia and sometimes from Georgia”, he says. “But we never have competitive games. It’s not possible for us”.

“In Crimea, Uefa have recognised that the territory is neither part of Russia nor Ukraine” says Gabrielyan. “They have put measures in place to allow football there to prosper. We hope and expect that Uefa will do the same here in Artsakh”.

“The problem is that we don’t have the means to show the world that we can play”, says FC Artsakh coach Levon Mkrtchyan. “We only play here for ourselves, but our aim is to show outsiders what we can do. We want the world to know about Karabakh and Karabakh footballers”.

One of the realities of living in a region stalked by conflict is that security measures trump most other considerations. When Artsakh men reach 18 years-old they are whisked away for two years of military national service. Gabrielyan and Mkrtchyan believe footballers should be exempt from the rule but the status quo holds, meaning FC Artsakh’s players have their development interrupted a delicate stage.

The AFA does what it can to limit the disruption. Much of the funding it receives from the Ministry for Sport is reinvested in training up local coaches to international standard; Mkrtchyan currently holds a UEFA B-license, and plans to match his colleague’s Pro-license soon. With the NKR a non-entity in world football, both coaches are registered with Uefa via the FFA in Yerevan

“We take coaching seriously here”, says Karapetyan. “This year we will have some international coaches from other countries coming to Stepanakert to work with our players. However, we mostly have to use retired coaches so as not to cause problems for other national football associations”.

Internationally, the AFA’s work continues largely under the radar. In 2010 FC Artsakh competed in a tournament in France organized by the Armenian diaspora, and later this year they will travel to Catalonia as part of a similar arrangement.

For Gabrielyan’s national team, their most conspicuous foray into the international scene remains the 2014 ConIFA World Cup in Ostersund, Sweden, where defeats to the County of Nice and the Isle of Man’s Ellan Vannin saw them eliminated in the first round. A formal protest made to ConIFA by the AFFA in Baku over Karabakh’s involvement went unheeded by the organizers.
Fitch: Armenian banks have stronger capital buffers, growth prospects moderate
22.04.2017 14:11 
Fitch Ratings said Armenian banks have strengthened capital buffers following recapitalization during 2015-2016. However, prospects for growth remain moderate as credit demand is yet to recover along with improving macro trends.

The recapitalization process has triggered M&A activity and sector consolidation, which we think is likely to continue over 2017 as competition in the market intensifies. The sector structure has changed moderately, with the top 10 banks gaining market share, due to both M&A activity and rapid expansion by some domestically-owned banks in 4Q16. However, the latter was largely driven by operations with non-residents rather than financing of domestic growth, and we expect new lending to remain moderate in 2017.

Achieving improvements in profitability remains a challenge and will likely depend on loan growth and stabilization in asset quality metrics. The stock of problem assets decreased in 4Q16, in part due to balance-sheet clean-up activity accompanying recent M&A deals. Borrower performance remains highly sensitive to recovery in domestic demand and stability of the dram, as lending dollarization remains high.

In late 2014, Armenia’s Central Bank decided to raise the minimum amount of the total capital of commercial banks from 1 January 2017 to 30 billion drams instead of 5 billion drams. The decision prompted mergers and acquisitions. As a result, out of 21 banks there remain now 17. ($ 1 - 486.09 drams).

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