Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Airports handled 1.7 million

ARKA, Armenia
Sept 5 2017
Armenian airports handled about 1.7 million passengers in 8 months 

Armenia’s Zvartnots airport in the capital Yerevan and Shirak airport in the second-largest town of Gyumri handled 1,667,173 passengers in the first eight months of 2017, up 25.4% from the year before, the Main Civil Aviation Department said. 

It said in August alone, the passenger traffic through two Armenian airports was 293,317 people, exceeding the same indicator for 2016 August by 14.9%. Zvartnots airport is said to have handled 281,345 people in 2017 August, which is 10.2% more than in the same month last year. When compared to the first eight months of 2016 the passenger traffic through Zvartnots airport was up 21.9%. 

Cargo transportation through Zvartnots in the first eight months of 2017 amounted to 14,985 metric tons, which is 54% more than the same indicator in 2016. The agency said also that the passenger traffic through the Shirak airport in August 2017 amounted to 11,972 people. In the first eight months of 2017 it handled 56,243 people, against 7,065 people for the same period last year. 

The number of take-offs and landings at Zvartnots and Shirak airports in the first eight months of 2017 increased by 22.1% when compared to the same period in 2016. 

Armenia has two operating airports – Zvartnots in Yerevan and Shirak in Gyumri, both run by Armenia - International Airports company in accordance with the 30-year concession management agreement signed with the Armenian government in 2001. Armenia - International Airports is owned by Eduardo Eurnekian, an Argentine entrepreneur of Armenian descent.  

Vestnik Kavkaza
Sept 4 2017
EBRD to continue projects in Armenia 

Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan told today the visiting President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Suma Chakrabarti that EBRD-financed projects implemented in Armenia are of great importance in the context of the government reforms. In his words, the bilateral cooperation package includes 158 projects worth a total of 1.1 billion euros, Arka news agency reported. 

According to the head of government, EBRD is currently assisting in the implementation of solid waste management, improvement of water supply upgrading the Yerevan metro and urban lighting projects. The head of the government attached also importance to the consistent assistance of the EBRD in the reformation of Armenian Tax Code reforms, which will make it possible to make the legislation on corporate bankruptcy procedures more comprehensive. 

Chakrabarty, in his turn, stressed the fact of effective cooperation with the Armenian government and noted that EBRD wants to see investment funds in a larger number of projects, involving private companies and the government. According to him, EBRD has a new “quantity and quality" agenda for Armenia and is ready to continue its assistance in the implementation of projects and initiatives. 

The two sides discussed also introduction of the business ombudsman institution, development of corporate governance, as well as issues related to digital Armenia agenda. 

Christian Post
Sept 5 2017
Turkey's Mass Persecution, Abuse of Christians Detailed in New Report
By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter

The severe persecution and widespread "hatred" that Christians and other minorities experience in Turkey has been detailed in a report by a U.S.-based nonprofit international policy council and think tank. 

The Gatestone Institute wrote in a report released Monday that Christians are persecuted by government officials and are severely abused by the public on social media. 

It listed a number of articles, such as one from August 2017 in the Armenian-Turkish weekly Agos , which reported that "Armenian, Syriac and Chaldean Christians have not been able to worship in their churches for the last three years." 

"This is because virtually the entire town — and all Christian properties belonging to the indigenous Armenian, Assyrian (Syriac), Chaldean and Protestant communities — was included in an expropriation plan adopted in March 2016 by the Turkish cabinet," it pointed out. 

"Among the Christian properties expropriated are the Armenian Catholic, the Chaldean Mor Petyun and the Armenian Surp Giragos churches." 

What is more, even Muslims who have refused to shun Christians or Kurds have been targeted, the think tank said. 
"For instance, a 76-year-old Muslim grandmother in Diyarbakır who is active in a Kurdish political movement has been harassed by Turkish police for being a 'hidden Armenian,' simply because she reads the Bible as well as the Quran," Gatestone reported. 

Christian pastors have been imprisoned, such as the case of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested last October. 

Watchdog groups, such as the American Center for Law and Justice, have accused the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of keeping him in prison without any cause. 

Turkish officials finally announced the charges against Brunson at the end of August, however, accusing him of "gathering state secrets for espionage, attempting to overthrow the Turkish parliament and government, and to change the constitutional order." 

The Gatestone report noted that Yazidis, Alevis and women in the region have also been abused by Turkish authorities, while dozens of Kurdish journalist have been imprisoned. 

"This hatred of Christians and Kurds in Turkey is not restricted to government officials. It is widespread among the public, as well, and expressed extensively on social media," Gatestone explained. 
It pointed to Twitter abuse, where Armenians and grandchildren of survivors of the 1914 Armenian Christian genocide are called "infidels," "vile and treacherous," with some saying that all Armenians "must die." 

"The situation of minorities in Turkey and their persecution by Turkey — a member of NATO and perpetual candidate for EU membership — must be told as often and as loudly as possible," the report urged in conclusion. 

Amnesty International has slammed Erdogan's government as well, accusing the president of having a " human rights meltdown " after the arrest of the group's Turkey director Idil Eser. 

"This is not a legitimate prosecution," Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary general, said in a statement in July following the arrest. "This is a politically motivated persecution that charts a frightening future for rights in Turkey." 

RusData Dialine - BizEkon News
September 4, 2017 Monday
Armenia vows not to erase Soviet-era history
Yury Bogdanov, Alexei Zabrodin

Armenia's ruling Republican Party has spoken out against renaming its
streets, schools and other institutions bearing Soviet names. This
'renaming' proposal was earlier put forward by the country's main
opposition force - the Elk opposition bloc.

According to Gagik Melikyan, Secretary of the Republican Party's
parliamentary faction, the opposition's initiative will not be
supported by the parliament. "I believe that even in the Elk party,
many do not share this view. This is just a politically biased step,
which will not get serious support from either the population or the
political parties in Armenia's parliament," the lawmaker said.

Meanwhile, a high-ranking source in the Armenian presidential
administration who talked to the paper on condition of anonymity
stressed that the country's leadership will not allow a campaign to
change the names of urban infrastructure facilities.

However, Leonid Kalashnikov, Chairman of Russia's State Duma (lower
house) Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations
with Compatriots said in an interview that Russia should not ignore
such initiatives.

"If this happens, or, at least, there are debates on the issue, Moscow
will, of course, respond to such hostile moves," the MP noted.

Kalashnikov added that the opposition's objective is to whip up the
discussion itself and grab the limelight.

"Neither the parliament nor the government will support this
initiative. However, the fact that these conversations have begun is a
source of concern. When this is done in the Baltic states or in
Ukraine, it is understandable. At least, we have gotten used to that.
Armenia received maximum assistance from the Soviet Union and has
always been friendly towards Moscow," he emphasized. 

The Guardian, UK
Sept 5 2017
Azerbaijan hits back over 'scandalous' money laundering claims
Baku attacks Guardian reporting as smear as National Crime Agency looks at evidence and considers investigation
Rowena Mason , Rajeev Syal and Luke Harding 

The government of Azerbaijan has responded angrily to revelations that it ran a secret $2.9bn (£2.2bn) fund which was used to pay prominent Europeans , run lobbying operations, and launder money via a group of opaque British companies. 

Azerbaijan’s presidential aide, Ali Hasanov, said the stories by the Guardian and other media partners were a smear. In the first official reaction from Baku, Hasanov said the regime was the victim of a “scandalous” campaign organised by British intelligence, the Armenian diaspora and the US. 

“When did the Guardian write about the truth about Azerbaijan? This newspaper has been known for decades for being against Azerbaijan,” Hasanov told the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet. The reports were “biased, groundless and provocative,” he said. 

On Tuesday, the authorities blocked access from inside Azerbaijan to the website of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) . The OCCRP published details of the scheme, nicknamed the Azerbaijani Laundromat, following a leak of data to the Danish newspaper Berlingske . 

The use of British companies in the Laundromat has prompted calls for Theresa May to investigate. On Tuesday May’s official spokesman said that the National Crime Agency would now examine the information from the Guardian and other media sources. The agency will “look at whether they would need to progress [to] an investigation”, the spokesman said. 

This is the second time this year that British corporate entities have been found to be at the heart of a large-scale money laundering operation run from a former Soviet state. In March, a similar scheme run from Moscow, the $20bn Global Laundromat , was exposed. 

RFE/RL Report 

Aliyev Blames `Armenian Lobby' For Fresh Corruption Scandal
September 05, 2017

Azerbaijan on Tuesday blamed American philanthropist George Soros and
the worldwide "Armenian lobby"
 for a new investigative report that
found the country's elite used a $2.8 billion slush fund to pay off
European politicians, buy luxury goods, and launder money.

The report, released by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting
Project (OCCRP) on Monday, says thousands of payments were channeled
through four shell companies in Britain between 2012 and 2014 to buy
"silence." It found millions of dollars from the slush fund ended up
in the accounts of companies and individuals across the globe.

A collaborative effort between the OCCRP and several media outlets in
Europe, Russia, and the United States, the report said the origin of
the fund was unclear "but there is ample evidence of its connection to
the family of President Ilham Aliyev."

Aliyev rejected the corruption allegations through his press
office. "Neither the president, nor members of his family have any
relation to the charges contained in the report by the Organized Crime
and Corruption Reporting Project," the office said in a statement.

The statement charged that the corruption investigation is the work of
Soros and his "henchmen." "The dirty deeds of George Soros need to be
investigated," it said. "The Armenian lobby working in concert with
him has been waging a smear campaign against the president of
Azerbaijan and members of his family."

Aliyev's office pointed to the apparently ethnic Armenian origin one
of the three authors of an extensive article on the OCCRP
investigation that was published by Britain's "The Guardian"
daily. "The fact that one of the authors of the article in `The
Guardian' is an Armenian, Dina Nagapetyants, once again proves that
these blatant accusations are the latest dirty actions taken by the
Armenians of the world.

Aliyev has for years blamed Armenia and its worldwide Diaspora for
mounting Western criticism of his regime's poor human rights
record. In 2012, he described "the Armenian lobby" as his nation's
number one enemy. The Azerbaijani government has since toughened its
crackdown on dissent, jailing dozens of opposition members, civic
activists and journalists. They included Khadija Ismayilova, an
investigative journalist with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service.

The OCCRP report, titled "The Azerbaijani Laundromat," says at least
half of the $2.8 billion came from an account held in the
International Bank of Azerbaijan by a shady shell company allegedly
linked to the Aliyevs. The next two biggest contributors to the fund,
according to the report, were two offshore companies with direct
connections to a "regime insider."

Those close to, or part of, the regime not only handed out slush-fund
cash, according to the report, but pocketed money for themselves,
including Yaqub Eyyubov, Azerbaijan's first deputy prime minister.

According to the report, some of the money went to pay off at least
three European politicians, one journalist, and businessmen in a
lobbying effort aimed at deflecting criticism of Baku. "This intensive
lobbying operation was so successful that Council of Europe members
voted against a 2013 report critical of Azerbaijan," wrote "The

Banking records leaked to the Danish newspaper "Berlingske," which
sparked the OCCRP investigation, show multiple payments to several
former members of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly
(PACE), The Guardian reported.

The Council of Europe, Europe's top rights watchdog, is investigating
alleged corruption over the vote, according to the BBC.

Aliyev swept into power in 2003 following the death of his father,
Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and Communist-era leader who had
ruled Azerbaijan with an iron fist since 1993.

Lord Ara Darzi Joins Aurora Prize Selection Committee 

Lord Ara Darzi has been appointed to the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative reported.

The Selection Committee is comprised of a select group of humanitarians, human right activists and former heads of state, and is chaired by Academy-award winning actor and director, and a humanitarian in his own right, George Clooney.

Professor Darzi is Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London. He also holds the Paul Hamlyn Chair of Surgery at Imperial College London, and the Institute of Cancer Research and is Executive Chair of the World Innovation Summit for Health in Qatar. He is a Consultant Surgeon at Imperial College Hospital NHS Trust and the Royal Marsden NHS Trust. In 2002, he was knighted for his services in medicine and surgery, and was introduced to the United Kingdom’s House of Lords as Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham in 2007. He has been a member of the Privy Council since June 2009 and was awarded the Order of Merit in January 2016.

Vartan Gregorian, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, welcomed Lord Darzi. “We are delighted to have Lord Darzi join our selection committee. He is a man of great integrity, distinction, and tremendous accomplishments who has dedicated his life and career to doing good,” he said. “The selection process and the Aurora Gratitude in Action movement will greatly benefit from Lord Darzi’s experience and knowledge. He understands the value of good public policy and has invested his energies in providing for the common good.”

“I am extremely excited and deeply touched. I look forward to the great responsibility and opportunity I will have as a part of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee to celebrate the work of brave and committed humanitarians,” said Lord Darzi. “I am looking forward to receiving the nominations for the 2018 Aurora Prize and learning about the inspiring stories of modern day heroes and changemakers.”

Lord Darzi’s family has had experience with life-saving heroes. His family was from the northeastern city of Erzurum, Turkey. His father’s grandfather and his sons were executed by Ottoman forces during the Genocide. Lord Darzi’s paternal grandmother and great grandmother were the family’s only survivors. “They walked barefoot for weeks from Erzurum to northern Iraq and ended up in Mosul in Iraq, thanks to the help of a friend of my father’s grandfather,” explained Lord Darzi to Aurora’s 100 LIVES project. “So, I understand personally the significance of ‘gratitude in action’. This is a very meaningful way for me to publicly advocate for the need to recognize humanitarian kindness and generosity everywhere.”

Lord Darzi joins current Aurora Prize Selection Committee members including Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; human rights activist Hina Jilani; President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group and former foreign minister of Australia, Gareth Evans; Vartan Gregorian; and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney.

The nomination period for the 2018 Aurora Prize is still open. Anyone can nominate a candidate who they believe has risked their life, health, freedom, reputation or livelihood to make an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes. A description of the Prize criteria and selection process can be found here. Nominations for the 2018 Aurora Prize will close on September 8, 2017.

The finalists will be announced in Armenia on April 24, 2018, when the world commemorates the Genocide of Armenians in 1915. The Aurora Prize was established on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors. The $1 million Aurora Prize will be awarded for the third time on June 10, 2018 in Armenia. The laureate is invited to share $1million with organizations which inspire their work. The award ceremony is a culmination of the weekend of special events that will take place on June 8-10, 2018. Pre-eminent humanitarians, academics, philanthropists, human rights defenders, government officials, journalists and business leaders from around the world will gather for the purpose of galvanizing action to address today’s most pressing humanitarian challenges and to celebrate the best of humanity.

The Armenian Weekly
Sept 5 2017
Bedros Sevadjian’s Gold Tray on Display at Buckingham Palace
By R.P. Sevadjian  

In “ Jeweler to an Emperor: Bedros A. Sevadjian (1918-1917) ,” (Armenian Weekly, Aug. 15, 2016), I wrote about the gold tray that Emperor Haile Selassie commissioned from my father, Bedros Sevadjian, as a gift to Queen Elizabeth during her state visit to Ethiopia in 1965.

That tray is now on display at Buckingham Palace. It forms part of an exhibition featuring gifts from around the world that Her Majesty has received during her long reign. The tray features in the accompanying catalog by curator Sally Goodsir.

I was just 10 years old when Queen Elizabeth II of England visited Ethiopia. In Addis Ababa, we were given the day off school when she arrived, so that we could line the streets and cheer, armed with little Ethiopian and British flags. Some Armenian girls, from The English School, went in Armenian dara z (national dress).

The visit was eagerly awaited. The Emperor had a very special relationship with the Queen of England—having lived in exile in the United Kingdom during the years of Italian fascist occupation of Ethiopia, and the British having helped in the liberation of his country. In 1954, Haile Selassie I made a state visit to the U.K., and in 1965 Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were warmly welcomed on their state visit to Ethiopia.

My father was commissioned to make the gold tray to be presented to the Queen during her visit. He designed it and made it, using pure gold from the Adola Mines in the south of Ethiopia. It measures about 50 x 80 cm. [20 x 30 in.] and weighs about 14 kg. [30 lbs.].

The picture taken when the tray was completed is a good record, except that it does not do justice to the color of the gold. At the exhibition, it just held my gaze, almost magnetically—Ethiopian gold, a beautiful dark buttery yellow, and at 22 carats glowing like the sun. Looking at it one can understand how King Midas felt!

This amazing object, presented by the Emperor of Ethiopia to the Queen of England, was made by Bedros A Sevadjian—an Armenian of Ethiopia. It is yet another example of how different communities can come together and share in a beautiful legacy.

A detailed image and description of the tray may be viewed at https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/50103

The Royal Gifts exhibition at Buckingham Palace runs until Oct. 1.

ARKA, Armenia
Sept 6 2017
Armenian shoe-making companies secure 300 million drams worth orders 

With the support of the Development Foundation of Armenia (DFA), 8 shoemaking companies are jointly representing Armenia at MosShoes-2017 fair, taking place in Moscow 5-8 September. Following the previous fair in March Armenian companies received export orders worth more than 300 million drams (around $627,000), DFA said in a press release today.

MosShoes, the biggest exhibition of footwear and leather accessories in Russia and Eastern Europe, is conducted four times a year, engaging more than 10-12 thousand visitors, such as wholesale buyers, specialists and distributors. The DFA representatives assist the Armenian producers in finding partners and holding meetings with potential buyers and costumers during the exhibition.

“The Foundation represents Armenia and its competitive products at their best at various international platforms. It also creates all the necessary conditions enabling the attending companies to hold meetings with international buyers and suppliers. I am hopeful that Armenian companies will seize this opportunity to the maximum and will conclude new export contracts”, noted the event manager of the Marketing team of DFA Lusine Hovhannisyan.

The Armenian “Zenni”, “Babinni”, “K&K Shoes”, “Simar”, “Arma Leather” companies and Arsen Badikyan, Karen Tarverdyan, Tigran Simonyan independent entrepreneurs have received assistance for attending the 73rd MosShoes exhibition within the scope of the export promotion policy aimed at enhancing recognizability of the Armenian products. More than 500 leading shoes and leather accessories companies, including world famous brands, attend the MosShoes 2017.

Panorama, Armenia
Sept 6 2017
Best sommelier of Europe Franck Thomas praises the Armenian wine 

Best sommelier of Europe in 2000 French winemaker Franck Thomas who attended a wine tasting event and delivered master class in Yerevan days ago, has praised the Armenian wine after tasting the products with his unique method, ministry of agriculture reported on Wednesday.

“Armenia is an interesting country for me as it is one of the homes of wine making with rich traditions and history. Armenian wine can occupy a decent place in the world wine market due to locally grown organic sorts of grapes.” the sommelier has noted.

To note, Franck Thomas visited Armenia at the initiative the Vine and Wine Foundation of Armenia with the support of organizations such as “Dynamic Development Group International,” TOVMASYAN Exceptional Food and Beverage,” “Fine Food.” The invitation was extended by the aide to the minister of agriculture Armen Mehrabyan.

RFE/RL Report
Another Wildfire Rages In Armenia
September 06, 2017
Anush Muradian

Hundreds of firefighters, forestry workers and civilians battled a
massive wildfire in central Armenia for the fourth consecutive day on

The fire raged in a partly wooded area near Byurakan, a village 35
kilometers northwest of Yerevan. It is located on the southern slope
of Mount Aragats, the highest in the country.

Residents of Byurakan and nearby communities as well as more than a
hundred soldiers and a military helicopter joined the firefighting
efforts this week. As was the case during two other major wildfires
that erupted in other parts of the country last month, rocky terrain
made it practically impossible for the Armenian Ministry of Emergency
Situations to deploy heavy fire engines near the blaze.

Thick plumes of white smoke continued to rise above the burning
pastures, trees and bushes around Byurakan on Wednesday afternoon.

"We have modern fire engines but they can't approach such terrain,"
complained the head of the ministry's Civil Defense Department, Artak
Nahapetian. He said his emergency teams are only able to use some of
their outdated Soviet-made machinery.

"As of noon, there was no active fire in this particular area, there
were only small smoldering sources," Nahapetian told RFE/RL's Armenian
service (Azatutyun.am) at the scene. "But as you can see, 200-300
square meters of forest is burning down there and we are doing
everything to contain it."

The official estimated that the fire has burned 200 hectares of
woodland and grass since erupting on Sunday.

The authorities similarly struggled to extinguish the August wildfires
that broke out in the Vayots Dzor province and the Khosrov Forest
State Reserve southeast of Yerevan in the space of two days. They
followed weeks of unusually high temperatures that have continued into
this month.

The Khosrov blaze was particularly serious. It was put out with the
help of a heavy water-dropping aircraft sent by the Russian Ministry
of Emergency Situations at the Armenian government's request.

Åge Hareide: Armenians gave us a lot of free space (video)
September 5,2017 

After Armenia vs Denmark FIFA World Cup 2018 Qualifier on Monday, the head coaches of the two teams expressed their opinions on the meeting.

“I think we did not deserve such a crushing defeat. We started the game well. In any case, we were not ready or could not fight till the end. The first goal was our mistake. We should have been more attentive, but we allowed [our Danish rivals] to equalize the score. We were ready for the match, but we missed goals due to unnecessary mistakes,” said Artur Petrosyan, Head Coach of the Armenian national team.

“Naturally, I’m pleased with the result. We played with the same footballers who had won Poland. The team had rested for two days before the game, though they trained occasionally. That is why we had some difficulty in starting game in the first 15 minutes. Armenians simply gave us a lot of free space, which we used the opportunity. In the secnd half, we fully controlled the game,” said Åge Hareide, Denmark’s national team head coach.

Denmark’s team beat Armenian national football team 1-4 during Monday’s 2018 World Cup qualifier.

No comments: