Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Armenian News...A Topalian... Croydon Advertiser - UK

Croydon Advertiser, UK
June 18 2017

Kind-hearted students have started a fundraising page for a 
Croydon lecturer who lived in the Grenfell Tower and lost of 
all his possessions in the fire, including research for his PhD. 
Mesrob Kassemdjian, known as Robbie to his students, managed to escape his 17th floor flat with his girlfriend and elderly auntie before the fire engulfed the building.

So far 30 people are confirmed to have died in the disaster but the death toll is expected to rise above 70.

The teacher of criminology at University Centre Croydon (UCC), based at Croydon College, watched as the building "caught fire like a candle".

Now, his students, who describe Robbie as "much-loved" are trying to collect £1,500 for him to replace his extensive book collection, laptop and equipment he used to teach and for research into his PhD, which were all lost in the blaze.

On the JustGiving website, one of the organisers of the fundraiser wrote: "We want to try raise money for Robbie so that he can replace these things in order to carry on learning, teaching and researching.

"If you can make a contribution to help Robbie get back on his feet please do, any contributions will be greatly appreciated."

Robbie was watching a movie when he heard the sirens of the fire trucks, and says he didn't hear any fire alarms going off.

Speaking outside the tower block on the American Today programme earlier this week, Robbie said: "I went outside to check the lifts to see if there was any activity. It seemed quiet but I smelt the smoke.

"I went inside and looked out the window and I could see the flames coming out from beneath.

"I woke up my auntie and with the help of my girlfriend we moved fast so that we could move slowly down the stairs. I tried to warn my neighbour. Him and his wife were right behind us by a couple of minutes."

He said "chaos" broke out behind them on the stairwell and he felt like they were minutes away from "real disaster".

Robbie said: "When we got outside the initial fire that I saw underneath me, by the time we got down, which took about 10 to 12 minutes, had risen along the whole length of the building.

"The building caught fire like a candle. We were outside and looking up and we could see people inside waving at us.

"We were telling them to come down but they were waving back which makes me feel like maybe they couldn't because there was already smoke when we were going down the stairwell but maybe the smoke got worse and people were scared to take the risk of I suppose suffocation.

"I don't know everybody in the building by name but we know each other by face. We see each other every day, everyone in the building is really nice.

"It's full of families and children and I've seen a lot of people, I'm so happy to see them, we've all come together but there's a lot of people I haven't seen either. I don't want to think the worst but it's really worrying."

To donate, visit 

BBC News
Grenfell fire: Families given £200,000 from emergency fund 

Armenian Weekly.
June 19 2017
Four Armenians Elected to French Parliament 

PARIS, France (A.W.)—Four ethnic Armenians—Danielle Cazarian, Nadia Essayan, Guillaume Kasbarian, and Jacques Marilossian—were elected to France’s National Assembly on June 18. All four Members of Parliament (MP) represent newly elected President Emmanuel Macron’s La République en Marche (LREM), which won 308 seats with 43 percent of the vote.

According to preliminary results, the LREM and its centrist ally MoDem will control at least 355 of the 577 seats in the French National Assembly. Three-quarters of the Parliament are new members and a record 223 of the 577 MPs are women.

Pascal Chamassian, A fifth French-Armenian candidate (LREM) was defeated by the pro-Armenian Valérie Boyer of the Republicans. On Dec. 2011, the National Assembly of France adopted a bill presented by Valérie Boyer, penalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Patrick Devedjian, the 72-year old veteran member of the Republicans and the only ethnic Armenian in the outgoing Parliament, did not run for reelection.

Around half a million ethnic Armenian live in France—one of the largest Armenian Diasporas in the world. Ahead of the May Presidential elections, Macron and other front-runners appealed to the Armenian community for their support.

The Coordination Council of Armenian Organization in France (CCAF) officially endorsed Macron on April 27, ahead of his run-off election against Marine Le Pen of the French National Front (FN) party. On April 24, Macron visited Paris’ Armenian Genocide memorial to 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and told reporters that the memory of the victims “must be fully recognized.”

ARKA, Armenia
June 19 2017
About 22,000 Syrian refugees live in Armenia now 

About 22,000 refugees from Syria live in Armenia today, according to Levon Antonyan, the head of the Near and Middle East Department at f the Ministry of Diaspora.

Speaking to reporters today, marked as United Nations World Refugee Day, he said most of them are of Armenian descent. He also said since the beginning of this year 75 people have moved from Syria to Armenia. In his words, the low number of refugees is because of what he described as ‘relative lull in military operations in Syria.’

Petros Aghababyan, the head of a department on asylum issues at f the State Migration Service, said it has received this year a total of 52 asylum applications. Most of the petitioners are citizens of Syria, followed by citizens of Iraq and Ukraine. The bulk are Armenians by birth, but there are also ethnic Arabs, Russians and Ukrainians.

According to him, from 2000 to this day about 4000 foreign citizens have applied for refugee status in Armenia and some 3000 have been granted it. Of them only 75 people are not Armenian by origin.

Naira Marutyan, an employee of the UNHCR Office in Yerevan, in her turn, noted that a record 65.6 million people worldwide were forced from their homes due to conflict or persecution by the end of 2016. This included 22.5 million refugees, 40.3 million uprooted within their countries and 2.8 million asylum seekers. Children under 18 make up just over half the refugee population. More than half of refugees globally come from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan, which have been war-torn for years. -0-

Tert, Armenia
June 19 2017
Istanbul-Armenians need proper attention to community institutions 
– Armenian MP on patriarchal elections
Hripsime Hovhannsyan 
In an interview with, an Armenian member of Turkey's Grand National Assembly commented upon the upcoming elections to the Istanbul-Armenian patriarchate, sharing her expectations from the new religious leader.

Selina Doghan (Peoples' Democratic Party) said she will back the candidate who demonstrates a commitment to stand by the community to assist in its development.

“I have no idea for now who the candidates will be. What we need is a proper care of our schools, institutions, and our foundations. So I will support anyone who will be equal to the task of handling those problems in Turkey,” she said.

Archbishop Aram Ateshyan, the general vicar who stepped down in May, is likely to field his candidacy too, though he has little chances of election after the wide discounted he stirred up among the local Armenians over the period of his tenure, Ms Dogan added.

In the election for the vicar general on March 15 (held according to a decision passed in St Echmiadzin in February), the primate of the Armenian Diocese in Germany, Archbishop Karekin Bekdjian, gained an overwhelming advantage over Ateshyan. But the Istanbul Provincial Administration unexpectedly intervened in the process. In a notice sent to the Patriarchate, a deputy provincial governor said they considered the election legally impossible. Ateshyan submitted the document to the local clergymen shortly after the voting, insisting on his decision to remain in office

All the liturgies served, and addresses delivered by, the defeated vicar general were later boycotted by the community which also urged for his resignation. 

Ateshyan officially stepped down on May 25, leaving the position vacant for Archbishop Bekchyan (who took over the patriarchate’s leadership after returning to Istanbul). 

Ms Dogan said she considers the recent developments very positive and inspiring for the community.

“I now really hope that the elections will eventually take place. But all this needs to be considered also in the realm of the Turkish politics. We do not virtually know what is going to happen. All we are aware of is that the country is in a state of emergency,” she said, adding that thet are planning demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankra to protest the arrest of several fellow party members.

The Turkish-Armenian MP also stressed the importance of adopting a community legislation to address the activities of not only the Patriarchate but also the other Armenian institutions. , Armenia
June 19 2017
Armenia to raise minimum wage by 25% in 2017-2022 

Armenia is going to raise the minimum wage by 25 percent in 2017-2022, as per the officially published program of the Armenian Governments, whose discussion will soon be held in the parliament.

It is planned to reduce the poverty level by 12 percentage points (now it amounts to about 30 percent in Armenia).

The first program of Armenian PM Karen Karapetyan published in October 2016 mentioned no target indexes on labor payment and poverty reduction.

ArmBanks, Armenia
June 19 2017
Armenia’s external reserves up 2 percent in one month to $1.982.2 billion 

Armenia’s external reserves in May 2017 amounted to $1.982.2 billion, having increased by 2% or $42.7 million from the previous month, the Central Bank said. It said also foreign reserves in freely convertible currency in May 2017 stood at $1.974.5 billion.

According to the regulator, the country’s special drawing rights (SDR) at the IMF stood at $7.8 million at the end of the reporting period ($ 1 - 481.77 drams). -0-

ARKA, Armenia
June 19 2017
Tax inflow into Armenia’s government budget exceeds projected amount – finance ministry 

Tax inflow into Armenia’s government budget intensified in the first quarter exceeding the projected amount by AMD 13 billion, Vardan Aramyan, Armenian finance minister, told journalists on Friday.

In his words, this year’s tax revenue is believed to be larger than projected.

The April and May tax receipts, he said, give ground for thinking that Armenia continues building up its tax revenue, which is projected at AMD 1 trillion 197 billion in the government budget.

Aramyan said AMD 107.5 billion came to the budget in April against AMD 97 billion in April 2016, and in May 2017 AMD 92.4 billion was transferred to the budget against AMD 91.9 billion in the same month a year before.

”In fact, we have increased tax collection indicator by AMD 10 billion,” he said. “As a whole, the projected annual indicator is quite ambitious and we will make every effort to achieve it, though it seems already now that this ambition is quite achievable.”

Speaking about budget spending, the minister said that the budget saved AMD 26 billion in the first quarter, in April and May it was performed as projected and in June it is planned to be increased.

In April, the Armenian government decided to increase capital spending by AMD 50 billion by using the increased tax revenue.

In the 2017 government budget, tax revenue is projected at AMD 1 trillion 135 billion, of which AMD 77.6 billion was planned to be collected in January, though actually the tax inflow was by AMD 3 billion larger than projected, and in February the government budget received AMD 83.6 billion instead of the projected AMD 80 billion. ($1 – AMD 481.77). --0-----

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