Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Armenian News,,, A Topalian.,, Catholicos Aram I calls for Unity!

The Armenian Weekly
Catholicos Aram I Highlights Problems of Emigration, Lack of Confidence; Urges National Unity
September 18, 2017

Aram I at Sixth Armenia-Diaspora Conference: ‘Armenia Is Not Merely a Tourist Attraction, a Market for Business, or a Passport. Shame on Us If This Is How We Approach Armenia.’ 

YEREVAN (A.W.)—His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, stressed the importance of “confidence” as one of the three key phrases in the title of the Sixth Armenia-Diaspora Pan-Armenian Conference titled “Mutual Confidence, Unity, and Responsibility.” 

“Indeed, any type of cooperation in which confidence is lacking becomes false and harmful,” Aram I said after his preliminary remarks. The Catholicos then highlighted ways that mistrust has negatively affected Armenian life over the past 27 years of Armenian independence. 

The sixth installment of the pan-Armenian conference opened on Sept. 18 at Yerevan’s Karen Demirjyan Complex with the presence of delegates, guests, and dignitaries, including the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians. 

“We are at a critical crossroads of our history. Let us be realistic and honest. Armenia is emptying, and the Diaspora is wearing out. In the face of this dangerous reality, random initiatives cannot solve our troubles and heal our wounds. The signs of the time must be read correctly, the diagnosis must be made accurately, and the appropriate decisions and effective remedies must be applied properly,” the Catholicos stressed. 

Aram I noted that it is imperative to bring the Armenia-Diaspora partnership out of the realm of “random financial investments and touristic visits,” and to transform it into one of the most important foundations of Armenian national policy. 

“With the vision of a unified Armenia as the basis of our national ideology, a strong Armenia, resilient Artsakh, and an organized Diaspora must become the strategic and tactical guide to our national policy. The national policy put forth by this national ideology and vision will undoubtedly unite all of our people along its energy and potential, and become the driving force behind the formation and development of pan-Armenian thinking,” he said. 

The Catholicos then underscored Armenians’ need to develop a close relationship with Armenia. “The homeland is a land and its people, before it is a state and an economy,” he stressed, noting Armenia’s critical situation: a landlocked country surrounded by hostile neighbors. Aram I went on to say that it is absolutely crucial and necessary to slow the pace of emigration and to implement measures to secure population growth in Armenia. 

“It’s easy to merely talk about these issues. It’s also easy to criticize…. What is essential is to have the wisdom, will, and commitment to find solutions to our troubles. It is expected that now, under its reformed constitution, which will ensure more transparent and accountable structures and processes, Armenia will be able to find solutions to these and other issues through correctly taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Armenia-Diaspora partnership,” he said. 

The Catholicos noted that Armenia and the Diaspora are not merely partners but “the children of the same nation and homeland.” He went on to explain: “It is with this perspective that the Armenia-Diaspora cooperation should be planned and executed. Over the past 27 years, the bond that has developed between the two segments of our people, with its positive and negative aspects, must motivate our cooperation to improve and to grow. Stagnation means retreat, and retreat is unacceptable for our nation and our homeland, which are surrounded by trouble and challenges.” 

“Armenia is not merely a tourist attraction, a market for business, or a passport. Shame on us if this is how we approach Armenia. Armenia is the home of all Armenians around the world who consider themselves to be Armenian—a home of the past, the present, and the future. We must have much to do and say regarding our home. We must strengthen and flourish Armenia with all our abilities. This must be a sacred covenant for each Armenian.” 

The Catholicos noted the importance of Armenia’s political and humanitarian aid to the crisis-stricken Armenian community of Syria, and considered it a significant step. He went on to stress the importance of continuing and building upon the unity displayed at the worldwide commemorations of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, especially with the upcoming 100 th anniversary of the First Republic of Armenia, which, in his words, will “give new impetus to our national unity.” 

His Holiness then proposed the establishment of a unified and single orthography with “mutual concessions,” and urged the Armenian state’s support of the protection of Western Armenian. 

“Planning today means guaranteeing the future,” noted the Catholicos, underlining his approach that strengthening the foundation of our nation requires a consolidation of the people’s collective energy and the gaining of people’s trust. “Otherwise, we will continue to call out slogans within small, closed circles,” he said. 

Urging the Armenian people not to trust the friendship of powers with their own geopolitical interests, “let us trust in our own strength and unity, our faith, and our determination,” he counseled. 

The Catholicos concluded his remarks with a quote by famed Armenian poet Hovhannes Shiraz: “Armenians, enough of remaining separated, like fingers; become a fist… and you will make Armenia eternal.” 

Panorama, Armenia
Sept 18 2017
Diaspora plays major role in making Armenia more recognizable, tourism committee chief says 

Making a country more recognizable plays a key role in boosting its tourism, Zarmine Zeytuntsyan, Chairperson of State Committee for Tourism of Armenia's Ministry of Economic Development and Investments, said on Monday, meantime highlighting the major role of the Armenian Diaspora in making Armenia more recognizable to the world. 

“Even if we create an ideal country, it will give no significant results if our country lacks recognition. According to the unofficial data, only 10 percent of the Diaspora-Armenians have visited Armenia. Today the Diaspora is our primary target market, and we actively cooperate with the Diaspora organizations, aimed at presenting Armenia to the Diaspora-Armenians. They should visit their homeland not to fulfil their duty, but to spend time here and to get acquainted with the country as a tourist,” Ms. Zeytuntsyan said during the 6th Pan-Armenian Armenia-Diaspora Conference underway in Yerevan. 

According to the official, any information on Armenia is highly politicized in the Diaspora. “When you are abroad, there is an impression that there are only issues here. We are working with all the platforms, including the media to disseminate interesting information about Armenia,” Zarmine Zeytuntsyan said, adding that the Diaspora-Armenians today show increased interest towards the Armenian media. 

Stockholm Center for Freedom, Sweden
Sept 18 2017
Armenians leaving church in İstanbul stoned, threatened with death 

Armenians who were leaving Narlı Kapı Church in İstanbul on Sunday were stoned by a group of children who chanted “death to you,” the artigerçek news website reported on Monday. 

Recently an ultranationalist group attacked the funeral of the mother of jailed Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Aysel Tuğluk in Ankara saying that they would not let “Kurds, Alevis or Armenians be buried in the cemetery.” The body of Tuğluk’s mother was removed from the grave following the attack to be buried in Tunceli province. 

Religious and ethnic minorities have increasingly been the target of hate speech and racist attacks in Turkey. 

A racist graffiti, which read “May the Turkish race live,” was scrawled on the courtyard wall of an Armenian school in İstanbul last year in Sep. 

More anti-Armenian graffiti which read “Suffering to Armenians,” was painted on the wall of the same school on the ninth anniversary of the murder of Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. 

A similar message was also written on the wall of Surp Haç Ermeni High School in the Bağlarbaşı neighborhood of İstanbul. “Suffering to Armenians,” the message read. ( ) 

The Alabama Baptist
Sept 17 2017
Christians in Turkish city of Diyarbikir facing mass persecution 

Turkey — it sometimes slips out of view since it doesn’t make the Secretary of State’s “Countries of Particular Concern” list for human rights violations. 

But in the city of Diyarbikir for one, “entire neighborhoods” have disappeared. The Surp Giragos Church has been converted to an army base, the sanctuary desecrated with urine and garbage, the pews burned as firewood. 

Those are just a few things mentioned in the report “Turkey’s Mass Persecution of Christians and Kurds,” released Sept. 4 by the Gatestone Institute. Since 2015, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been attacking Kurdish-majority areas in the country, and Christians have been caught in the crossfire, according to the report. 

In Diyarbikir “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.” That expropriation plan included the Surp Giragos Church and others. Those ethnic groups haven’t been able to worship in their own churches for the past three years, according to the report. 
“We have been exposed to ethnic and religious discrimination for years,” said Ahmet Güvener, a pastor and the spiritual leader of the Diyarbakır Protestant Church, adding that not one church has been built since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. 

And the government isn’t the only source of “hatred,” the report stated. That sentiment is “widespread among the public as well and expressed extensively on social media.” 

It has spread even to mistreatment of Muslims who have refused to shun Christians or Kurds, said Gatestone Institute, a U.S.-based think tank and international policy group. 

Harassed by Turkish police 

“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. 

The situation has impacted journalists and American Christians too. Andrew Brunson, a North Carolina native who served as pastor of a church on Turkey’s Aegean coast, was detained in October 2016 as a “national security risk.” 

Watchdog groups, such as the American Center for Law and Justice, have accused President Erdogan of keeping Brunson in prison without cause, but in August, officials stated his charges as “gathering state secrets for espionage, attempting to overthrow the Turkish parliament and government, and to change the constitutional order.” ( TAB ) 

The Sun, UK
Sept 18 2017
Billionaire mate of Putin ties the knot with his VERY glamorous bride in a blingtastic ceremony in Moscow
Felix Allen 

Karen Karapetyan wed his bride Lilit in a cathedral decked with thousands of flowers and then treated VIP guests to a lavish reception with a 15ft wedding cake

A BILLIONAIRE's son's blingtastic Moscow wedding amazed guests with the level of sheer luxury on display.

Karen Karapetyan wed his bride Lilit in a cathedral decked with thousands of flowers and then treated VIP guests to a lavish reception with a 15ft wedding cake.

Karen Karapetyan and his bride Lilit wed in a lavish ceremony in Moscow

Karen is the son of Samvel Karapetyan, 52, Armenia's richest man who is worth £3.4billion, according to Forbes.

Mr Karapetyan Senior, said to be a pal of Russian President Vladimir Putin, heads the Tashir Group business empire that owns shopping centres and hotels across Russia.

The tycoon's brother, also called Karen, is the current prime minister of Armenia.

Karen Jnr’s wedding was at Moscow’s Cathedral of the Transfiguration of the Armenian Apostolic Church before a grand reception for 200 guests at the Safisa banquet hall, one of Moscow’s most prestigious venues.

The hall was decorated with thousands of flowers, candles and threads of dangling glass beads sparkling under the lights.

Notable guests included Putin’s spin doctor Dmitry Peskov, 49, his wife the Olympic ice dance gold medallist Tatiana Navka, 42, and starlet Vera Brezhneva, 35, once named as Russia’s sexiest woman.

Putin’s goddaughter Ksenia Sobchak hosted the evening, also attended by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, 63.

Bride Lilit had two dresses for the day: one with a gigantic pleated skirt for the ceremony and a simpler one for the cake-cutting and dancing under a ceiling covered with thousands of flowers.

The immense wedding cake towered as high as the hall and was also decorated with fresh flowers.

Fans were impressed by pictures posted on social media.

One said: "This is so cool! Fiancees of rich guys are so lucky, she got such a magical wedding."

Another said: "This was such a fantastic wedding. The bride is so pretty, her dress is a killer. Wishing you a lifetime of happiness."

Last month we revealed the fairytale Italian wedding costing millions after the couple redesigned a whole village for their lavish three-day nuptials.

For more photos and video ,  visit 4493221/billionaire-son- blingtastic-wedding-moscow/ 

Panorama, Armenia
Sept 18 2017
Mark Pritchard MP appointed as British Trade Envoy to Armenia and Georgia 

On September 12, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Mr. Mark Pritchard, MP, as a British Trade Envoy to Armenia and Georgia, the British Embassy Yerevan reported.

Trade envoys are a network of parliamentarians appointed by the Prime Minister, drawn from across the political spectrum. Trade envoys engage with one or more emerging markets where substantial trade and investment opportunities have been identified by UK government. They support the drive for economic growth by building on the UK’s existing relations with these markets and maximizing bilateral trade.

"I am honored to have been asked by the Prime Minister to be the UK's first Trade Envoy to Georgia and Armenia. My appointment underscores the importance of increasing the UK's trade and investment in Georgia and Armenia and Her Majesty's Government's commitment to a policy of commercial and business success between our respective countries. There are very many trade and investment opportunities to be realized," Mr. Pritchard said.

Georgia Today, Georgia
Sept 18 2017
Armenia's Difficult Position
Emil Avdaliani 
On November 8, the Yelk Coalition, a pro-Western group in Armenia's parliament, submitted a proposal for the country to leave the Eurasian Union. This spurred public debate about the Eurasian Union's strengths and weaknesses even as abandoning the Russia-led union remains unlikely.

Nothing substantial came out of this proposition. It could have been a clever strategy on the government’s part to show to Moscow that not everything goes well with Russia’s closest ally in the South Caucasus, or simply a parliamentary motion. In both cases, it nevertheless sparked some sort of debate in international analytical circles.

The growth of anti-Russian sentiment has been present in the country for the last several years. Armenians are worried that their military and economic over-dependence on Russia makes their strategic position vulnerable. Now and then, we encounter news from the Armenian defense ministry stating that Yerevan wants to establish deeper military ties with other major regional countries such as Iran. There were even statements about Armenia planning to increase gas supplies from Iran.

Still, these initiatives are dwarfed by the real power Russia holds within Armenia: its control over Armenia’s vital infrastructure and the role Russia plays in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Moscow’s indirect involvement in the conflict falls neatly within the Russian overall strategy of fostering and managing separatist conflicts across the Soviet Union. The Russia-influenced separatist “statelets” of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria have remained a cornerstone of the Kremlin’s foreign policy against the western military and economic encroachment. From Moscow’s perspective, Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine’s pro-western aspirations would be stopped, if not permanently then at least significantly hampered, if these conflicts continue to exist.

Although Moscow does not have its troops in Nagorno-Karabakh, it does have a military base, the 201st, in Armenia. Moreover, Russia’s influence in Armenia has increased over the past decade or so when the Kremlin-backed businessmen and companies such as Gazprom and others bought up vital electricity, communication and gas infrastructure in Armenia. Yerevan has also joined Moscow-led integration projects such as the Eurasian Union and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Russia is also supporting Yerevan militarily through providing separate multi-million loans to buy Russian military hardware.

Thus, Armenia’s overall dependence on Russia’s economic and military potential gives the Kremlin the ability not only to navigate Yerevan’s foreign policy vector and keep it strictly within the Russian sphere of influence, but also to impact the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Moscow also needs to be involved in the conflict as it fears Azerbaijan, with its rich energy resources and strong military capabilities, would be able to limit Russian influence on its foreign and internal political developments, while Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey cooperation would only grow. Losing any levers of influence to impact Azerbaijan’s foreign policy will be tantamount to the near collapse of Russia’s South Caucasus strategy, which includes not only denying Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia possibilities to join western integration projects, but also successfully limiting the export of rich deposits of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea through Georgian territory.

Any moves around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that may harm Russian interests will in turn strengthen Russia’s geopolitical contenders Turkey and Iran. Turkey could further solidify its cooperation with Azerbaijan (through Georgia, and I wrote on the positive sides of the Trilateral Format in the past), while Iran could potentially become more vocal about its broader interests in the South Caucasus.

For that reason, Moscow is increasing military hardware sales to both Armenia and Azerbaijan and thus trying to remain a major arbiter. For example, when in April 2016 a near full-scale war broke out in Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia was the power which stopped the fighting by brokering a ceasefire in Moscow between the Armenian and Azerbaijani military officials. Russia is also very careful not to let any of the competing sides gain ultimate military preponderance. It is true that statistically, Russia sells more armaments to Azerbaijan than to Armenia (and Yerevan is very much worried about that), but this deficiency is more to accentuate the Armenian weakness and the need to have Russia as its supporter. In other words, Armenia’s military dominance would negate any logic of needing Moscow as a military factor around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Armenia’s strategic position remains vulnerable and whatever the talks are regarding Armenia’s membership in Russia-led integration projects, Yerevan is unable to unilaterally change the course of its foreign policy: Russia simply has too many tools to strike back.

Emil Avdaliani teaches history and international relations at Tbilisi State University and Ilia State University. He has worked for various international consulting companies and currently publishes articles focused on military and political developments across the former Soviet space.

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