Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian .... Discrimination Against Armenians

July 5 2017
Russia Complains To Azerbaijan About Discrimination Against Armenians
Joshua Kucera          

Russia has formally complained to Azerbaijan about "ethnic discrimination" against Russian citizens of Armenian origin, saying that 25 Russians so far this year have been denied entry to Azerbaijan because they had Armenian names.

"Russian citizens arriving in Azerbaijan are truly discriminated against on ethnic grounds," the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs  said in a statement  on July 5. "We demand the cessation of this outrageous ractice, inconsistent with the friendly relations between our two countries." 

Azerbaijan has long denied entry to citizens of all countries, not just Russians, whose names end in the standard Armenian surname suffixes -ian or -yan. So why did Russia decide to complain publicly about it just now?

It could be a coincidence, but the statement came just after the  start of a trial  in Baku of a Russian citizenfor illegal entry into Nagorno Karabakh, the territory that is de jure part of Azerbaijan but administered by an unrecognized, de facto Armenian-led government.

Azerbaijan complains, not without justification, that travelers who visit Karabakh are breaking international law. But the extreme measures taken to prosecute this blogger -- including extraditing him from Belarus -- have  struck many as excessive . 

Moscow's geopolitical whataboutism skills are unmatched, and the Russian MFA statement is a crafty way to call attention to Azerbaijan's own unprincipled border entry standards. 

The Russian-Armenians who try to enter Azerbaijan are often detained for several hours without food, water, or medical attention, the MFA noted. It said that the reason usually was an Armenian last name, but it also noted that there have been cases "when people with Russian last names, first names, and patronymics have been interrogated for the purpose of detecting 'Armenian ancestors.'" 

The spokesman for Azerbaijan's MFA, Hikmet Hajiyev,  responded  to Russia's complaint by countering that "Azerbaijan is proud of the traditions of multiculturalism, which is an example for the whole world."

Hajiyev added that Azerbaijan was forced to bar entry to Armenians because some of them are hostile: "Unfortunately, some people of Armenian nationality display hostility on ethnic grounds. Therefore, we take some measures."

The Russian statement was "tendentious and prejudicial," the director of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of Azerbaijan, Farhad Mamedov,  said . "Recently we have seen increasing numbers of tourists from Russia to Azerbaijan, the positive impression of which contrasts sharply with the Russian MFA's statement," Mamedov said.

And Mamedov tried a bit of whataboutism himself. "Unfortunately, we have observed ethnic discrimination on the part of the Russian MFA on the part of their own citizens," he continued, noting the case of Dilgam Askerov, a Russian citizen who was arrested in Karabakh and  accused of  "an attempt of a diversion-scouting penetration into the Azerbaijani territory." 

"We have not seen such a tone taken with Armenia, in whose captivity Russian citizen Dilgam Askerov remains," Mamedov said.

RFE/RL Report 
Armenian-Azeri Talks Still Planned Despite Fresh Tensions
July 06, 2017
Ruzanna Stepanian    
. Hovannes Movsisian 
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said on Thursday that he may still
hold a planned meeting with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar
Mammadyarov this month despite the latest upsurge of ceasefire
violations around Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Armenia has never avoided meetings both at the ministerial and
highest levels," he told reporters. "As I said a few days ago, it's
possible that there will be a meeting of the foreign ministers in

The U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group said in
a June 19 statement that they plan to meet Nalbandian and Mammadyarov
soon to discuss "modalities of the forthcoming work." They issued a
joint statement at the end of their latest tour of the Karabakh
conflict zone which was aimed at reviving the Armenian-Azerbaijani
peace process.

The planned ministerial meeting was called into question by Tuesday's
skirmishes along the Karabakh "line of contact" which left an
Azerbaijani woman and her 2-year-old granddaughter dead. The victims
lived in Alkhanli, an Azerbaijani village adjacent to the frontline.

The Azerbaijani government says that Armenian forces deployed there in
the deliberately targeted Alkhanli and its civilian
residents. Karabakh's Armenian-backed military strongly denies this,
saying that its frontline troops fired back after coming under rocket
fire from an Azerbaijani army position in the village. It has accused
Baku of using civilians as a "human shield."

The Karabakh Defense Army publicized on Wednesday video purportedly
showing rockets fired from Alkhanli.

"If you put a cannon in a house backyard and open fire from it, you
must realize that there will be a response," Artsrun Hovannisian, the
Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman, told RFE/RL's Armenian service
( "Especially given that we now have quite powerful
video surveillance systems in the air and on the ground which can
easily detect that."

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, however, that there
are no Azerbaijani military facilities in Alkhanli. "The village was
deliberately shelled by Armenian forces," the ministry spokesman,
Hikmet Hajiyev, was quoted by Azerbaijani news agencies as saying.

Hajiyev said on Wednesday that despite the deadly incident Baku does
not plan to cancel Mammadyarov's talks with Nalbandian. According to
some news reports, they could be held as early as next week. , Armenia
July 6 2017
Karabakh President to Baroness Caroline Cox: You have always stood by the Armenian nation 

President of the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic/NKR), Bako Sahakyan, on Thursday sent a congratulatory letter to the member of the UK House of Lords, Baroness Caroline Cox, in connection with her 80th birthday.

“Dear Baroness, 

“Let me congratulate You on behalf of the Artsakh people, the authorities and personally myself on Your glorious jubilee, the 80th birthday anniversary.

“You have always stood by the Armenian nation, shared their pain and anguish, supported in every possible way our righteous struggle for freedom and independence, voiced against human rights abuses and violence. Due to Your efforts many people from all corners of the world learnt about Artsakh and obtained credible information on the Karabagh case.  

“The life You lead and Your entire activity deserve upper estimate and could be reckoned among the best manifestations of love for mankind.

“Thank You for Your allegiance and commitment to panhuman values and democratic principles, for Your long-standing fundamental and consistent work, for the heartfelt attitude and tender friendship You nourish towards Artsakh people. 

“I once again congratulate You and wish peace, robust health, success and all the best to You and all Your family and relatives,” reads the letter by the NKR President.

Public Radio of Armenia
July 7 2017
Bombed-out Armenian cafe reopens in Aleppo
07 Jul 2017
The Aleppo Armenian Society’s open-air cafe has reopened in Midan, Aleppo’s main Armenian district after being shuttered for four years after violence reached the city in 2012,  AFP reports.

It reopened in June, six months after the government recaptured all of the city.

Relaxed laughter and giggling children have replaced the boom of explosions in the restaurant, nestled between the Armenian Society and the St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic church.

The cafe opened in 2007, and quickly became a favoured haunt for residents of Midan because of its family atmosphere and leafy terrace, where plastic chairs and tables are illuminated by hanging lanterns.

Second city Aleppo was home to the largest contingent of Syria’s Armenian community: 150,000 out of 350,000 across the country, according to Syria specialist and geographer Fabrice Balanche.

Now, no more than 10,000 are left in Aleppo, after thousands fled to Armenia, neighbouring Lebanon or even

TERT, Armenia
July 7 2017
After 23 years in wagon, Armenian family gets apartment thanks to VivaCell-MTS
Official press release by VivaCell-MTS 

A housewarming was celebrated in Tatul village of Aragatsotn region
after active construction works of three months. VivaCell-MTS General
Manager Ralph Yirikian and the “Fuller Center for Housing Armenia”
team shared the happiness of Karapetyan family.

Over the 23-year-long uncomfortable life in wagon, the family has
tried to create decent conditions and to change the situation. The
efforts, however, were limited; they were only able to
end up with a small half-built structure, which served as a living
room, a kitchen and a bedroom. Owing to the housing project launched
in spring, and with the support of VivaCell-MTS and “Fuller Center
Housing Armenia”, the dream of the Karapetyan family, having passed
through many hardships, has come true. As a result of the three-month
construction works a comfortable living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen
and a bathroom were built.

“This day seemed so far and hazy early in spring. My brother has
mobility problems, my mother was ill and passed away recently; my
father and I hardly can earn a living and could not even think of
finishing the
construction of the house. Your help was a miracle that scattered the
dark clouds hanging over our family. Our happiness is indescribable.

"Thank you,” said Nonna Karapetyan, the daughter of the family.

By the end of the year, in four regions of Armenia, the construction
of seven half-built houses will be finished. Altogether, the housing
problem of 146 families has been solved as a result of successful

“They say problems make us stronger and force us to fight. But they
may as well weaken the will to reach the goal if they stretch through
years. This program is one of those, which block the path to despair.
Here we have another family saying goodbye to the wago, which has
caused them so much inconvenience for 23 years – a whole youth. Yet
another family, which has gone through years of hardships, will
finally live in the house of its dreams. It is also a success of the
partnering organizations,” said VivaCell-MTS General Manager Ralph

“The numbers make sense in many cases, but sometimes it is impossible
to fit the transformed fortunes and the future success of the family
in the arithmetic. The construction of this house is different from
only the father of the family was able to do construction works, but
the community people voluntarily helped them to sooner finish the
construction. Now the family has a decent home with all basic housing
conditions,” said “Fuller Center for Housing Armenia” President Ashot

For the implementation of the housing program VivaCell-MTS has invested
AMD 25 million (over US $52,000,000) in 2017.

RFE/RL Report
EU Promotes Solar Energy In Armenia
July 07, 2017
Artak Hambardzumian 

The European Union has installed first-ever solar-powered bus stops in
Yerevan as part of its efforts to foster Armenia's greater use of
renewable energy.

The head of the EU Delegation in Armenia, Piotr Switalski, reaffirmed
the EU's commitment to the country's energy security as he inaugurated
and tested one of the two such facilities placed in the city
center. "The message is very clear: the EU is promoting cheaper and
cleaner energy and contributing to Armenia's energy independence,"
Switalski told reporters.

The bus stops will enable residents and visitors of Yerevan to charge
their mobile phones and other digital gadgets with free solar
energy. Each facility can fully charge up to 24 phones a day.

The bus stops were inaugurated at the end of EU Energy Days in the
Armenian capital which the Delegation organized to showcase EU-funded
reforms in Armenia's energy sector. According to Switalski, the EU has
already allocated more than 30 million euros ($33 million) for that

Most of that assistance is being spent on the ongoing construction of
a new electricity transmission line that will connect Armenia to
neighboring Georgia. The EU is also financing renewable energy
projects in the Armenian towns of Spitak and Vayk.

Solar and wind power currently make up only a tiny share of
electricity produced in Armenia. The Armenian government has declared
the spread of these renewable energy sources a priority.

Just last week, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian attended the official
opening of Armenia's first-ever factory manufacturing solar panels
used for power generation. A private company claims to have invested
so far $2 million in the factory currently employing around 50
people. The government exempted equipment and raw materials imported
by the company from customs duties earlier this year.

Most of Armenia's electricity is generated by natural gas and nuclear
fuel imported from Russia. Also, the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom owns
the country's gas distribution network and one of its largest thermal
power plants.

Asked whether the EU assistance is aimed at easing Armenia's
dependence on Russia for energy, Switalski said: "We don't think in
political or geopolitical terms as such. We think about ordinary
Armenians so that they have cheaper and cleaner energy."

"We believe that energy efficiency, new technologies simply improve
the quality of life of ordinary Armenians," added the diplomat.

Richard Mills, the U.S. ambassador in Yerevan, said last month that
Armenia can attract billions of dollars in investments from
U.S. energy companies if it liberalizes its energy sector. In his
words, U.S. investments could also be channeled into renewable energy.

One U.S. firm, ContourGlobal, completed a $250 million acquisition of
Armenia's largest hydroelectric complex over a year ago.

Panorama, Armenia
July 6 2017
Passenger flow rises by 29.3% in Armenia’s airports Jan.-June 201

The passenger flow into Armenia’s airports rise by 29.3% from January to June 2017. Namely, the passenger flow in Armenia’s two airports amounted to 1,094,007 people, showing an increase of 29.3% compared with the same period of the previous year, the press service of the General Department of Civil Aviation told

In June 2017 the passenger flow in Yerevan Zvartnots Airport comprised for 211 252 people, exceeding the figure of June 2016 by 20.5%. A 26.1% rise in passenger flow was recorded at Zvartnots Airport in January-June 2017 to compare with the same period of 2016. The cargo transportation in the mentioned period comprised for 10 912 tons of goods, thus increasing by  70.4% compared with January-June 2016. 

In June 2017, passenger flow to Gyumri's Shirak Airport totaled to 7744 people, exceeding the figure of the same period of 2016 by 1558%. Within January-June 2017, the passenger flow grew by 402.1% at the airport compared to the same period of the previous year.

The arrivals and departures increased by 24.5% at Zvartnots and Shirak Airports in Armenia.

Public Radio of Armenia
July 7 2017
Armenian violinist Ani Batikian performs with London Phoenix Orchestra
07 Jul 2017

On Thursday 29th June 2017, the talented and award-winning Armenian violinist Ani Batikian performed in a concert with the London Phoenix Orchestra, conducted by Lev Parikian at the prestigious venue of Cadogan Hall near London’s Sloane Square. Themed as “The Art and Folk Music of Eastern Europe”, the evening consisted of pieces selected to convey how folk dances and art inspire a composer’s music.

The works included the “Little Suite” by Polish composer Witold Lutosławski, based on dances from the south of Poland, followed by Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D Minor, which uses thematic elements from Armenian folk melodies, and Modest Mussorgsky’s orchestral arrangement of “Pictures at an Exhibition”. The concert also included the world première of a commissioned orchestral piece with violin solo written by Ani Batikian’s composer husband, Roland Roberts, inspired by marine painter Hovhaness Aivazovsky’s most famous painting “The Ninth Wave”.

It was dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the artist’s birth being celebrated this year. Batikian’s performance of Khachaturian’s violin concerto was inspiring and flawless, showcasing her remarkable skill and art as a violinist. Throughout Khachaturian concerto Ani was able to hold the audience’s attention, enthralling them with her enchanting performance and captivating with the sweet sound of Montagnana violin, worth almost £900,000 and lent by Ingles & Hayday, Sotheby’s violin experts.

Roland Roberts’ composition, in the Russian Romantic style with Armenian elements, beautifully conveyed the story of Aivazovsky’s painting, taking the listener on a journey from the calm before the storm to a dynamic crescendo as the sailors face the battering waves. The symphonic orchestra powerfully displayed a palette of colours and possibilities alongside the expressive beauty of a solo violin. Aivazovsky’s most famous painting now has a dedicated composition to accompany it.

The audience was enraptured by the piece with the composer taking stage beside his wife at the end. The musicians of the London Phoenix Orchestra, founded in 1924, played with much passion and skill under Parikian’s guidance as conductor. The event was sponsored and co-organised by the Tekeyan Cultural Association of London

ARMINFO News Agency, Armenia
July 4, 2017 Tuesday
Fitch improved forecast for GDP growth in Armenia in 2017 from
previous 2.1% to current 3.4% with acceleration to 3.6% in 2018
Karina Melikyan.

Fitch Ratings has improved the forecast for GDP
growth in Armenia in 2017 from the previously expected 2.1% to the
updated 3.4%, with the acceleration of the rate in 2018 to 3.6%. This
was announced on July 4 at the conference in Yerevan by the director
of the department of sovereign ratings of Fitch Ratings Erik Eraisp.

According to him, the share of national debt in GDP under the updated
forecast will increase from 56.6% in 2016 to 57.6% in 2017, with the
continuation of growth in 2018 to 58.2%. After deflation of 1.3% in
2016, inflation will follow 1.6% in 2017, with further growth to 3% in
2018. The current account deficit to GDP after 2.7% in 2016 will begin
to decline - to 2.2% in 2017 and 2.1% in 2018. The deficit of the
state budget in GDP will make up 3.3% in 2017, with a further decrease
in 2018 to 2.8%, against the actual 5.5% in 2016.

At the same event, the permanent presentation of the IMF in Armenia,
Teresa Daban Sanchez, in her speech noted that the GDP growth of
Armenia, according to the updated forecast is expected at 2.9%.

According to the National Statistical Service of Armenia, Armenia's
GDP in 2016 was 5.068 trillion AMD ($ 10.5 billion), the GDP deflator
index in 2016 fell to 100.5% from 101.2% in 2015 per capita, according
to the results of 2016, 1.7 million AMD of GDP or more than $ 3.5
thousand/3.2 thousand EUR, and from the national debt per capita load
reached $ 2 thousand by the end of 2016, and only $ 1.6 thousand from
external debt. The population of Armenia, according to statistical
data, decreased in 2011-2016 from 3.274 million to 2.987 million.
Experts believe that taking into account the high level of migration,
the population of Armenia is much lower than the statistical data,
which means that the per capita load on both the GDP and the state
debt is much higher than the statistical figures. According to the
IMF, Armenia ranked 115th position ($ 3511) in the ranking of
countries in terms of GDP per capita in 2016, published in April 2017.

According to statistical data, in January-May 2017 economic activity
grew by 6.4% per annum, and the drivers are industry, services and the
trade sector. Foreign trade turnover in this period increased by
23.1%, in particular, exports by 20.9%, and imports - by 24.4%.
Armenia's national debt reached $ 6.1 billion by June 2017, of which
external debt was $ 4.9 billion and domestic debt $ 1.2 billion. In
the annual analysis, Armenia's national debt grew by 15.1%, including
external debt by 11.4%, and domestic debt - by 50%.

To note, the World Bank predicts GDP growth in Armenia in 2017 by 2.7%
with the acceleration of the rate in 2018 to 3.1%, in 2019 up to 3.4%.
According to the IMF forecast, Armenia's GDP growth in 2017 will be
2.9%, according to the EDB forecast - 2.9% and the Asian Development
Bank - 2.2%. The state budget of Armenia for 2017 laid the GDP growth
by 3.2%, but the government voiced a 5% growth. According to the
updated forecast of the Central Bank of Armenia, the GDP growth of
Armenia in 2017 will be 3.2-4.4%.

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