Friday, 9 June 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... New aid sent to Syria

Public Radio of Armenia
June 7 2017
Armenia sends 18 tons of humanitarian aid to Syria 

Armenia has sent a new batch of humanitarian aid to Syria, the Armenian Defense Ministry reports. 

The aid including 18 tons of necessities, mostly food, has been carried to Syria by Il-76 aircraft of the Russian air force. 

“With warm wishes from Armenia,” reads a note on the packages. 

Representatives of the Armenian Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Emergency Situations have also left for Syria to organize the delivery of the humanitarian aid on the ground. 

Panorama, Armenia
June 8 2017
Many Syrian-Armenians back to Aleppo as the situation returns to normal - Shahan Gantaharyan 

These days the situation in Syria is relatively calm as the population, mainly from Lebanon, are gradually moving to their places of residence, especially to Aleppo, Shahan Gantaharyan, Editor-in-Chief of the Lebanon-based “Azdak” Daily told a press conference in Yerevan on Thursday. 

Gantaharyan noted that Syrian-Armenians constitute significant number among the repatriates. Although the process is far from naming a mass migration, the trend is underway with many people decisive to get established in their homeland. 

The speaker pointed out that Lebanon was the first destination for the Syrian refugees fleeing the country amid the deadly conflict, saying it provided safe haven to around 10 thousand Syrian Armenians. 

“The situation is calm in Syria. Terrorist attacks has moved to neighboring Iraq, Egypt, and even Iran. The world major powers – Russia and the U.S. - has started the operation to liquidate the ISIS terrorists,” Gantaharyan said. 

Public Radio of Armenia
June 7 2017
Armenia has exported 32,500 tons fruit and vegetables this year 

About 32,500 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables have been exported from Armenia this year, of which 31,500 tons have been sent to the Russian Federation, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Robert Makaryan told reporters today. 

He said the rest has been exported to Georgia and the United Arab Emirates. 

“Armenia has exported about 17 tons of tomato. The export of apricots will start within 10-15 days,” Robert Makaryan said. 

The Deputy Minister expects exports to be on a due level if weather conditions allow. 

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
June 6, 2017 Tuesday
Exports and imports rise in Armenia

The volumes of exports from Armenia from
January-April 2017 comprised 608 million 381.2 thousand USD.

As “Armenpress” was informed from the National Statistical Service,
the volumes increased by 16.1% compared to the same period of 2016.

Imports to Armenia for the period of January-April have also
increased, with volumes rising by 17.9% - comprising 1billion 80
million and 692.2 thousand USD.

Trade turnover amounted to 1 billion 689 million and 10.4 thousand USD
in January-April 2017 – a 15.1% increase.

In terms of foreign trade turnover, Russia remains the leading partner
of Armenia. Trade turnover worth 474 million 721.4 thousand USD was
realized between Armenia and Russia in January-April 2017 – increasing
by 17.2%. The second largest trade partner for Armenia is China – with
152 million 242.3 thousand USD worth trade being realized – increasing
by 28.3% against the same period of 2016.

The other large-volume trading partners for Armenia are:

Switzerland – 109 million and 836.5 USD against 27 million and 840.3
thousand of 2016 – 3fold increase

Germany – 88 million 398.5 thousand USD – decline of 11.1%

Bulgaria – 86 million and 767.7 thousand USD - 34.1% increase

Georgia – 68 million and 831.3 thousand USD – decline by 9.5%

Iran – 64 million and 831.3 thousand USD – decline by 14.5%

Switzerland – increase of over 27.8 % – comprising 15 million 55.7 thousand USD

The volumes of trade turnover between Armenia and the UAE also
significantly increased amounting to 14 million 868.6 thousand USD –
an increase of 2.5fold. 

Panorama, Armenia
June 7 2017
Foreign investments in Armenia cut down in Jan-March 2017 – economist 

In the period from January to March 2017, the foreign investments in Armenia cut down by 9 billion AMD to compare with the same period of 2016, economist Vahagn Khachatryan said at a press conference on Wednesday. 

The economist explained that Armenia saw a capital outflow in the mentioned period, i.e. the funds invested by Armenia in abroad exceeded the investments made in the country. “If prepayments are made now, they will turn into real investment in the coming three months,” Mr. Khachatryan added. 

In the economist’s words, the major part of the capital outflows from Armenia goes to Russia. 

Vahagn Khachatryan also noted that a record growth of $127 million in personal remittances have been registered in Armenia in March of this year, which is 20% rise compared with the previous year. 

“Whereas the personal remittances amounted to $109 million in April of this year to compare with $104 million registered in April 2016. In addition to this, assets amounting to $86 million were moved out of Armenia through personal remittances. In other words people move the assets out of the country not only in the form of capital, but also in cash, which shows that that they sell their property and transfer the sums from Armenia to abroad,” the economist highlighted. 

Mr. Khachatryan also noted that he has no expectations in terms of positive developments in economy., Armenia
June 7 2017
2017 to be economically difficult year for Armenia - opinion 

2017 is going to be an economically difficult year for Armenia against the backdrop of the decreasing investments, an economist said today, citing recent findings by the National Statistical Service.

Speaking at a news conference, Vahagn Khachatryan, a member of the opposition Armenian National Congress, highlighted also a decline in investments to 7.336 billion Armenian Drams (AMD 482 = USD 1) in the first quarter.

“They said companies would not hamper investments, but they did – as we had actually predicted. We have an outflow of capital. What’s surprising though is that the highest share of the capital flow falls to Russia, which means they withdrew after receiving the investment amounts. It is quite possible that individuals owning capital in Armenia sold [their assets] and left permanently, squaring, so to speak, their accounts with the country,” he told reporters.

Khachatryan said he also observed an increase in the private transfers to 127 million Drams (20% against the AMD 107 in 2017).

“As early as in April, they amounted to 109 million, which is 5% higher compared to the 104 million last year,” he said, citing political motives as possible factors accounting for the incomparably higher difference.

“A total of US $86 million was transferred from Armenia in April. I never observed [such dynamics] before 2007 given that April is the period marking an average outflow. That’s a signal people are not willing to keep their money in Armenia,” the economist said.

Human Rights Watch
June 7 2017
Armenia: Death Threats Against Rights Defender
Authorities Should Immediately Investigate, Ensure Protection
(Berlin) – A prominent human rights defender in Armenia has received
death threats, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should
immediately investigate the threats, made on the rights defender’s
Facebook page, and ensure that he gets the protection he needs.

Artur Sakunts, the director of Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor
Office (HCA-Vanadzor), reported that on June 2, 2017, a Facebook user
threatened to kill Sakunts in a comment on his Facebook page.  The
threat appeared to be in response to Sakunts’ Facebook post the same
day criticizing the Armenian government. The death threat was followed
by a threat from another Facebook user. HCA-Vanadzor is a leading
human rights organization in Armenia.

“The Armenian authorities should waste no time in meeting their
obligations to investigate the death threat against Artur Sakunts and
provide him with the protection he needs,” said Jane Buchanan,
associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “No
one should fear death for publicly criticizing the government.”

The June 2 Facebook post from a user named Ashot Avanesyan said,
“Sakunts, I’ll kill you… [traitors] like you must have their heads
[cut] off. Wait for me any moment. I am not one who shoots from the
back; I’ll shoot from the front, two to three meters, with a 9mm
caliber bullet. Wait for me, Sakunts.” Following Avanesyan’s post, a
second Facebook user named Artur Ghazaryan also threatened Sakunts
saying that, “The country should be cleaned of him.”

On June 5, Sakunts reported the death threat to the general
prosecutor’s office, which is examining it to determine if there are
grounds to initiate a criminal investigation.

Sakunts told Human Rights Watch that he has received threats in the
past, but the June 2 threat alarmed him because it was very specific
in terms of method, even to the caliber of the bullet.

Armenia’s human rights ombudsman also raised concerns about the
threats and called for an investigation.

HCA-Vanadzor, operating since 1998, is based in Vanadzor, Armenia’s
third largest city. The organization provides legal aid to victims of
human rights abuses, makes policy recommendations to the government,
monitors elections, and carries out peace-building activities.

ITV News, UK
June 7 2017
Why are children in Armenia being given compulsory chess lessons?
By ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner
It's 8.30am at primary school number two in the centre of Yerevan and I am sitting at the back of a classroom of seven-year-olds, who are bursting to answer the next question and listening to their teacher with rapt attention.

I can't quite believe that this enthusiasm is for the game of chess.

The children are the first generation of Armenian pupils to be given compulsory chess lessons - and they seem to be totally immersed.

Their teacher, Hayk Azizbekyan, a chess champion himself and still studying for his degree in archaeology, says they took just six months to learn how to play.

This isn't just about becoming competent chess players, it is a government driven and funded national project to promote chess as essential part of national life.

The president is convinced chess is a way of steering this poor country towards a more prosperous future
The president is convinced chess is a way of steering this poor country towards a more prosperous future Credit: OA

The president is so keen to promote chess and the many advantages it can bring, which it's claimed include improving creativity, strategic thinking and leadership, that he granted us an interview.

He's convinced chess is a way of steering this poor country towards a more prosperous and positive future. Basically, a way of shaping the minds of a nation.

A grandiose idea you may think?

I assumed we would find parents and children who resented having this cerebral pursuit forced upon them in a rather Soviet manner. But we didn't. This is a country that really does seem to believe in chess.

They have one of the highest number of chess grandmasters per capita than any other country in the world.

Armenia's current leading player Levon Aronian arrives at a chess tournament for children being held in the capital and is surrounded by dozens of young fans and their parents wanting selfies with him.

Of course, Aronian can earn more than half a million pounds a year from tournaments alone, in a country where the average monthly wage is around £325 a month.

But this passion for chess genuinely seems to be about more than a way to fame and fortune.

For the Armenians, a nation that has felt blighted and victimised by the Ottoman empire and then the Soviet Union, it is a way of demonstrating superior intelligence and a talent for winning.

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