Sunday, 14 May 2017

Armenian News...A Topalian... Armenian song goes viral in Turkey
Armenian song goes viral in Turkey
An Armenian song goes viral in Turkey and Azeris are outraged.
The pop song from rapper Super Sako featuring Hayko titled Mi Gna, 

went viral all over Turkey in the recent months. 
American musician John Denver once famously said the following:

“Music does bring people together. It allows us to experience the same emotions. People everywhere are the same in heart and spirit. No matter what language we speak, what color we are, the form of our politics or the expression of our love and our faith, music proves: We are the same.”

This quote immediately came to my mind when I first discovered that recently a certain song from the Rabiz genre by Super Sako titled Mi Gna (meaning “don’t go”), went viral all over Turkey, with remixes and even covers being produced in Turkish.

Rabiz music is often played in Armenia during parties and celebrations. Some people consider it tasteless, but it is marked with playful humor and isn’t suppose to be taken seriously. It’s a type of guilty pleasure music that has parallels in every culture. Perhaps the closest parallel in European music would be the Schlager genre, which is defined in wikipedia as “a style of popular music which is generally a catchy instrumental accompaniment to vocal pieces of pop music with less demanding, often sentimental lyrics.” So perhaps this joyful side spoke to the Turkish audiences as well in this case.

Popular singer Özcan Deniz filmed dancing to Mi Gna during his make up session: 

I think it’s safe to assume that most Turkish audiences probably don’t realize that this song is actually Armenian and this is perhaps a bigger testament to the irrationality of the animosity against Armenians. After all, without the label “Armenian” or as Turks say “Ermeni”, Turks are very capable of enjoying Armenian culture, which has many parallels with their own due to centuries of cohabitation within the Ottoman empire, to which the Armenian contribution has been remarkable to say the least. With everything from the developments in architecture , military, alphabet or in this case music.

Armenians have played a huge role in both classical Turkish music and contemporary Turkish music. For example Tatyos Efendi is considered among the most prolific composers in Turkey. Hampartsoum Limondjian developed the Hampartsoum notation system, which became the main music notation for Ottoman classical music. Karnik Garmiryan composed over 135 popular songs in the Ottoman empire. Kemani Serkis Efendi composed several famous classical Ottoman musical pieces including “Kimseye Etmem Şikayet”. And the list goes on and on… The Ottoman-Armenian history is quite rich, unfortunately due to well known events and subsequent mutual hostilities it has largely been either forgotten, lost or deliberately hidden. As for recent history, Udi Hrant for example introduced the modern oud to contemporary Turkish music. Onno Tunç was behind some of the greatest contemporary Turkish songs. Cem Karaca was also Turkey’s biggest rockstar and one of the most important figures in the Anatolian rock movement. And many more…

Nevertheless, I think it is clear that there are many cultural similarities between Turks and Armenians and I am not even talking about the obvious genetic similarities .

As often the case though, when Turks display even the faintest affection for anything Armenia related, Azeris are there to cry wolf. Even though one could probably make a good case for Anatolian Turks having closer historic ties to Armenians than Azeris, despite their language or self-designation.

At at the end of the day music remains a unifying art-form. Turkish-Armenian quarrels are far from over and a viral song won’t make much difference in this respect. Eventually however both of our nations will have to come to terms with the past tragedies and attempt to build some forms of lasting relations. After all, both of our nations share more history than we’d perhaps like to admit.

The Armenian Mirror-Spectator
May 10 2017
Stalemate at Istanbul Patriarchate
By Edmond Y. Azadian 

Sultan Erdogan’s ambitions to govern an empire extend from his contempt for the NATO alliance to negotiating a missile deal with Russia to micromanage the internal religious affairs of the miniscule Armenian community.

His April 24 message that no Armenian should feel like a second-class citizen in Turkey is contradicted by his actions in intruding in a cruel manner in the patriarchal elections in Istanbul. To snub the Armenian community, he has delegated the patriarchal issues to the deputy governor of Istanbul — not even the governor.

Last March, the Religious Council held a meeting and elected Archbishop Karekin Bekjian as locum tenens to supervise the election process of the patriarch. In his turn, Archbishop Bekjian appointed Bishop Sahak Mashalyan as his deputy. The election would technically terminate Archbishop Aram Ateshyan’s authority as vicar general, a position which he had wrested from the same council by coercion.

The council members are beholden to Archbishop Aram and the community believed that the council would fail to demonstrate its independence and vote for Archbishop Ateshyan. But the opposite happened with the election of Archbishop Bekjian, demonstrating the lack of confidence in Archbishop Ateshyan.

A subsequent visit to the office of the deputy governor of Istanbul turned everything upside down. In no uncertain terms, the deputy governor told the visiting delegation, which included Ateshyan and Mashalyan, to hell with your election and regulations, we still recognize Ateshyan as the representative of the patriarchate.

The reason given for this intrusion was that no permission was sought to hold the election. Neither the Treaty of Lausanne nor any code of conduct in a civilized country allow such arbitrary and contemptuous behavior. Therefore, Ateshyan returned from that visit victorious to his throne. At the same time, the Catholicos of All Armenians in Echmiadzin was caught in an inadvertent faux pas by sending a congratulatory message to Archbishop Bekjian.

Ever since, confusion has reigned in the Armenian community, a situation created by the government by design and not by default.

All three archbishops have been making contradictory pronouncements which indicate how tense the situation in the community is. Ateshyan is posing as the unofficial voice of the government, which scares some people into accommodation. Mashalyan seems to be a loose cannon, who continues his animosity towards Ateshyan. Bekjian had announced his desperation concerning the situation and his intent to resign but in a recent statement he has denied that intention.

On the other hand, the Turkish media is having a field day by playing up the controversies in the Armenian community. Recently, a contributor to the local paper Milliyet, Mert Inan, interviewed Bishop Mashalyan who has announced that “the reason for the delay in the election is not the incompetence of the leadership but because Ateshyan intentionally extends this situation, knowing full well that he will not be the winner if the election were held today. The church is paralyzed and no organization is capable of functioning. Karekin, who was elected as locum tenens, cannot perform his duties, because his powers are taken from him. Karekin and myself are trying to quiet the community by our pacifying pronouncements, but this silence cannot last forever. The election must be held soon to have the patriarchal seat occupied.”

Archbishop Bekjian seems to be restless. He is flying from Istanbul to Germany and from there to Echmiadzin. And now, he is planning to attend the extended session of the Supreme Spiritual Council, which the Catholicos has planned to hold in Moscow in the coming days.

Bekjian is a member of the Supreme Council in his capacity as the Primate of the Diocese of Germany. In Ateshyan’s absence from the session, he will also be representing the Istanbul Patriarchate, by default. This may indicate Echmiadzin’s preference towards Bekjian, while the Catholicos’ official position was to observe an equal distance from the candidates.

In Echmiadzin’s Easter message, Bekjian’s name was mentioned reflecting the general sentiments in the Istanbul community but contradicting the Turkish government’s diktat.

The community and the two bishops besides Ateshyan are trying to cling to Echmiadzin’s authority, which will prove to be counterproductive.

In his statement, Bedros Shirinoglu, the head of the Armenian community in Istanbul, has applied for a visit with President Erdogan to set a meeting date for the election. He hopes that during a forthcoming meeting of charity organization (Vakifs), which will be presided by Erdogan, Shirinoglu can meet the president for a brief chat.

Incidentally, the Jewish community is also planning to elect a chief rabbi. But they do not have the same controversy as there is only one candidate, Rabbi Haleva.

Archbishop Ateshyan reigns supreme in this chaos and continues to make his pronouncements as if with government authority. Countering Mashalyan’s statements, he has told the daily Zhamank in Istanbul: “As religious people we have not and cannot have personal issues. As two high-ranking clerics, we bear the entire burden of the Patriarchal seat on our shoulders. …. I do not avoid the elections, but getting ahead of the developments will not bring any solution to our problems. If we work in collaborations with the respective bodies, everything will go on easier and smoother.”

Ateshyan knows like everybody else that no one in his or her right mind would intend to oppose the “respective bodies.” Of course, all procedures have to be approved by the heavy hand of the government. But Ateshyan’s last sentence contains some code words meaning that by now the readers will understand that “I am the government’s choice so you better comply with that and drop your objections.”

This mentality is gaining traction among some pragmatic leaders of the community. Agos weekly is adamantly and vocally opposed to Ateshyan, expressing the prevailing sentiments of the community. The other papers and leaders have soft pedaled the issue so as not to be caught by surprise.

The Turkish government is not accountable to the international community. By all intents and purposes, it seems to have decided to impose on the community a man in religious garb functioning as a state employee in the Armenian community. We must not be frustrated if the inevitable happens. In the meantime, the other clergy may act more responsibly not to aggravate an overheated situation.

It is interesting to wait and see how long will this stalemate in Istanbul Patriarchate last.
May 11 2017
Armenia among most religious and USSR-nostalgic nations 

Facts and figures

Nostalgia for the USSR is common among Armenians, and the majority identify themselves as followers of the Armenian Apostolic Church, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey of 18 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to religious identity, beliefs and practices, and national identity, the survey explores respondents’ views on social issues, democracy, the economy, religious and ethnic pluralism, and more.

According to the survey, a median of 86% across the 18 countries surveyed say they believe in God . This includes more than nine-in-ten in Georgia (99%), Armenia (95%), Moldova (95%), Romania (95%) and Bosnia (94%).

In countries such as Armenia, Serbia and Ukraine, many people regard the national patriarchs as the main religious authorities.

Roughly a quarter in Georgia and Armenia say they would be willing to accept Jews as family members. Acceptance of Muslims is even lower in these countries – 16% of Georgian Orthodox Christians say they would be willing to accept a Muslim family member, even though about one-in-ten Georgians (9%) are Muslim, and just 5% of Armenian Orthodox Christians say they would be willing to accept a Muslim in their family.

82% of respondents in Armenia said it is important to be Orthodox (Apostolic Christian) to truly share the national identity of the country. The figure is record high, with Georgia coming in the second with an 81% share. 62% of Armenians think that the national church should receive financial support from the government

Noteworthily, 45% of Armenians pray each day, and only 9% attend church weekly.

In Armenia, 98% of respondents said that humosexual behaviour is morally wrong. The survey goes on to say, however, that younger people are about as likely as their elders to favor legal gay marriage (4% and 3%).

84% of Armenians expressed the view that their culture “is superior to others,” describing themselves as “very proud” of their national identity.

Many Orthodox Christians – and not only Russian Orthodox Christians – express pro- Russia views. 83% of Armenians, for example, expressed support for a strong Russia as a counterweight to the West. In the country, 13% the public take the position that under some circumstances, a nondemocratic government is preferable, 53% say democracy is preferable to any other form of government, while 32% said “for someone like me, it doesn’t matter what kind of government we have.” Also, 79% of Armenians say the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a bad thing for the country.

The Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries in Europe, with nearly three-quarters of adults (72%) describing their religion as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”

Asbarez Armenian News
May 11 2017
London Surgeon Travels to Armenia to Save Infants’ Sight 

Dr. Sui Chien Wong joined the team of EyeCare Project Physicians in 2014, when the London-based ophthalmologist got a call from the EyeCare Project’s Founder Dr. Roger Ohanesian . 

Dr. Ohanesian shared with Dr. Wong the overwhelming number of babies in Armenia who were going blind due to a debilitating eye disease called Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) that affects premature infants.

Knowing of Dr. Wong’s expertise in this field, Dr. Ohanesian urged the exceptional ophthalmologist to get involved with the EyeCare Project and save infants in Armenia from a lifetime of blindness.
Dr. Sui Chien Wong treating an infant with debilitating eye disease, a condition that causes blindness (Photo: Armenian EyeCare Project/YouTube Screenshot)

Dr. Sui Chien Wong treating an infant with debilitating eye disease, a condition that causes blindness (Photo: Armenian EyeCare Project/YouTube Screenshot)

“It’s not right for babies to go blind when there is potential treatment,” Dr. Wong said when talking of his decision. “I couldn’t refuse that request.”

Dr. Wong made his first trip to Armenia in 2014, and has now made 11 visits (and counting) to the country to perform surgery and train Armenian physicians — he makes the trip from London about every three months .

When in Armenia, Dr. Wong performs sight-saving surgeries on particularly complex cases and visits the AECP Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Childhood Blindness in Yerevan and trains Armenia’s leading doctors and surgeons to treat babies and young children with blinding retinal disease, including ROP.

“I keep coming back because it’s the right thing to do,” Dr. Wong says. He also jokes that part of the reason he continues to return to Armenia is because of the delicious kebab and coffee.

RFE/RL Report 
China To Donate More Ambulances To Armenia
May 11, 2017

China will donate 200 new ambulances to Armenia soon as part of its
continuing economic assistance to the country, the Armenian government
said on Thursday.

The government announced the impending donation as it approved a draft
Chinese-Armenian agreement on "technical-economic cooperation" at a
weekly session in Yerevan chaired by Prime Minister Karen Karapetian.

"After the delivery of these vehicles, the Armenian side will be able
to fully satisfy domestic demand for ambulances," read a government
statement issued after the meeting.

The statement noted that the Chinese government already provided
Armenia with 88 such vehicles several years ago.

Armenia has received Chinese economic aid on an annual basis ever
since 1999. It totaled $37 million between 2012 and 2014, according to
the Armenian Foreign Ministry. That included an $11 million grant
provided in 2013 for the construction of a Chinese school in Yerevan
and the purchase of equipment for the Armenian customs service.

In 2012, Beijing also donated 250 brand new Chinese-manufactured buses
to Yerevan's public transportation system.

China's President Xi Jinping and his Armenian counterpart Serzh
Sarkisian agreed to deepen ties between their nations then they met in
Beijing in 2015. In a joint statement, they noted "mutual
understanding on issues relating to pivotal interests and concerns of
the two countries."

A high-ranking Chinese military official visited Yerevan last month,
holding talks with Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian and the chief of
the Armenian army staff, Lieutenant General Movses Hakobian. The
Armenian Defense Ministry said they reached agreements on "expanding
cooperation and implementing a number of mutually beneficial

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
May 11, 2017 Thursday
MP of Kurdish origin to chair first session of Armenia's newly elected

 The first session of the newly elected Parliament of Armenia will be chaired 
by representative of Kurdish community Knyaz Hasanov who received a 
deputy mandate with the ruling party’s list, reports Armenpress.

“Knyaz Hasanov is the oldest MP of the 6th convocation Parliament”,
Head of PR department of the Parliament Arsen Babayan said.

The parliamentary election was held on April 2. 4 representatives of
national minorities became members of the new Parliament based on the
election results. The newly elected Parliament will hold the first
session on May 18.

RFE/RL Report 
Republicans, Dashnaks Sign New Coalition Deal 

Just over one month after winning Armenia's parliamentary elections,
President Serzh Sarkisian and his Republican Party (HHK) formally
extended their power-sharing agreement with the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) on Thursday.

Top representatives of the two parties, the HHK's Armen Ashotian and
Dashnaktsutyun's Aghvan Vartanian, signed a relevant coalition deal at
the presidential palace in Yerevan. Both Sarkisian and Prime Minister
Karen Karapetian attended the signing ceremony.

The joint declaration calls for better governance and "new impetus to
the fight against corruption" but says nothing about the government
posts that will be given to Dashnaktsutyun as a result. Ashotian and
Vartanian also declined to specify them when they held a joint news
conference after the ceremony.

Dashnaktsutyun is represented in the current Armenian cabinet by
Environment Minister Artsvik Minasian, Local Government Minister Davit
Lokian and Education Minister Levon Mkrtchian. The three men said
earlier this month that they will not take up their seats in the newly
elected parliament, suggesting that they will retain their current

Dashnaktsutyun received three ministerial portfolios as well as a
number of other senior government posts line with a similar
power-sharing agreement signed with the HHK in February 2016. The
ruling party expressed readiness to extend that deal after the April 2
parliamentary elections in which it won 58 of the 105 parliament seats
that were up for grabs. Dashnaktsutyun will control only 7 seats in
the new National Assembly.

"This agreement will be valid during the entire tenure of the new
parliament, namely until 2022," Vartanian told reporters. He spoke of
the two parties' "joint resolve to effect radical and qualitative
changes." He singled out the need to boost the country's security and
speed up its economic development.

Vartanian claimed that Dashnaktsutyun's year-long presence in the
government has created "grounds for optimism" about such changes.

The new HHK-controlled parliament will hold its inaugural sitting on
May 18. It will almost certainly give a vote of confidence to a new
Armenian cabinet which is due to be formed soon. The HHK leadership
has made clear that Karapetian will be reappointed as prime minister.
Friday, May 12, 2017


In May, the AGBU Nubar Library in Paris launched the English-language version
of its website, offering a wealth of information, photos and documents about
Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian diaspora.

A major highlight of the website is an extensive virtual exhibition-now
available in English and French-on the history of the Ottoman Armenians and the
Armenian Genocide, entitled Armenia 1915. The exhibition is based on the
Arménie 1915 exhibition initiated by the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and
shown at City Hall in Paris on the occasion of the commemoration of the
centenary of the Armenian Genocide.

The virtual exhibition first evokes the everyday structures of Ottoman Armenian
society at the end of the nineteenth century and shows the ideological
radicalization of the leaders in power between 1908 and 1914, which led to the
genocide. It then presents the implementation of the genocide with its major
phases in 1915 and 1916, before taking a human and political assessment at the
end of World War I. The final section is dedicated to the reactions in France
about the fate of the Armenians.

"Arménie 1915 was the largest exhibition about the Armenian Genocide ever made
possible in Europe with more than 500 photos, documents and various pieces.
Here we have condensed the main thematic entries, completely reedited the text
and are now delighted to make it accessible in English for people around the
world," said Boris Adjemian, director of the AGBU Nubar Library.

The website, which will continue to be updated with digitized materials, is
also home to a full list of the library's periodical collection; photos of
prominent Armenian leaders and of Armenian life in the Ottoman Empire and early
diaspora; portions of the Andonian archive of Armenian Genocide testimonies as
well as portions of the archives of the Armenian Patriarchate of
Constantinople, the Armenian National Delegation and AGBU; digitized copies of
the French-language Constantinople-based journal Renaissance published from
1918-1920; back issues of the library's journal Revue d'histoire arménienne
contemporaine to order; and a full collection of Études arméniennes
contemporaines, the library's current print and online journal.

The AGBU Nubar Library was established in 1928 by AGBU founder and president
Boghos Nubar. Over the course of its history, the library has become one of the
main research centers in the Armenian diaspora. In its early years, the library
was directed by Ottoman Armenian writer and journalist Aram Andonian under whom
the library's collection expanded dramatically thanks to major donations by
Armenian politicians and men of letters in the first half of the twentieth
century. Conceived of as a center for Armenian and Near Eastern studies and as
a site for Armenian intellectuals to exchange ideas, the library has sought to
develop a diverse archive on Armenian affairs and remains an indispensable
resource for scholars, journalists, documentarians, researchers, students and
individuals interested in Armenian history.

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