Monday, 4 September 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... The Times Diary

The Times Diary 
Story recounted by an Intern at the Spectator when the Eton educated 
and future-destined Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was its editor: 

Boris gets that sinking feeling 

The Armenian ambassador was at lunch and ‘BoJo’ discovering where the guest 
came from said “My great-grandfather worked for the last Ottoman Sultan. 
Did he have anything to do with Armenia?” 

The ambassador’s face turned to stone. “Yes” he said “they massacred thousands of my people”. 

A chill fell over the lunch before Boris tried to rescue things. 

“I’m the MP for Henley” he said “You know the regatta. Jolly boating weather and all that. 
Er…do you row in Armenia?” 

No wonder he became our chief diplomat. 

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
September 1, 2017 Friday
Every child is entitled to quality inclusive education: Henrikh
Mkhitaryan's UNICEF message
Armenia’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the midfielder of Manchester United, 

who is also a goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF, made an online address 
on the occasion of the new academic year, September 1, calling on the 
society to welcome children with disabilities in educational institutions 
and communities, emphasizing the significance of inclusive education 
for vulnerable children.

The video shows Mkhitaryan’s June meeting with a group of children,
who tell the football superstar about their education, dreams and

“Every child regardless of his or her abilities has the right for
quality inclusive education”, Mkhitaryan says in the video. “It is the
abilities of the child, and not the inability, that decide what
achievements the child can have in life”.

UNICEF Armenia representative Tanja Radocaj mentioned that Armenia has
reached remarkable results in expanding inclusive education.
Nevertheless, there are still many things to be done in increasing the
training of schools, parents and communities in this regard.

“In UNICEF, we know that children with disabilities can do wonderful
things, is they are given a chance. Like anyone else, they too have
the same right to education”, she said.

As of 2017, there are 208 inclusive schools in Armenia, and this
number is gradually growing. 

ARMINFO News Agency, Armenia
September 1, 2017 Friday
K. Karapetyan: I do not know any other country where agriculture
sector is so much supported

Alina Hovhannisyan. 

Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan at a meeting in
Armenian Government met with representatives of enterprises
engaged in the production of wine and cognac. According to the press
service of the Armenian government, during the meeting, the
participants discussed a number of issues related to the prospects for
the development of the industry, in particular, the process of
harvesting grapes, increasing vineyards, stimulating winemaking and
cognac production, further increasing export volumes, and improving
the legislative field.

Karen Karapetyan stressed that the Government has raised the level of
agricultural loans to 3-10 million drams under the state subsidy
program, interest rates for beneficiaries of border communities
receiving social assistance are set at 3%, and for the remaining 5%.
The harvesters, as he further explained, can get a loan of up to 150
million drams at an interest rate of 3% per annum. For processing
enterprises, gas tariffs have been reduced by 40%. "I do not know the
government of any other country that provides such financial
assistance or other support to agriculture. We are implementing this
program because we are confident of the great future of the
agricultural sector. Today we expect that you will apply the same
business approach, because in reality we believe that for the
development of your business we take steps exceeding our capabilities,
"the prime minister said.

From his part, Armenian Agriculture Minister Ignatiy Araqelyan
stressed that in the previous year, 110 thousand tons of grapes were
harvested, and this year the harvested grapes are expected to amount
to 141 thousand tons. At the same time, he stressed that, according to
the monitoring carried out by specialists, the harvest of grapes this
year will be 10% less due to the failure to cover the vineyards for
the winter and the cold winter. At the same time, he noted that over
the first half of the year Armenia increased export of cognac by 30%.
In particular, the minister called upon the representatives of the
procurement enterprises to streamline the production process and
conclude contracts with the farms before the procurements start.

According to Armenian Customs service data, in Q1 2017 Armenia
exported 228.2 tons of grapes, with an annual decline of 58.4%, with
decrease in customs value by 60.5% to $ 142.5 thousand. At that 80%
exports to the Iranian market, slightly less supplied in South Africa,
Peru, Russia, India, USA, etc.

The Tablet
Sept 1 2017
An Israeli Drone Scandal Exposes Moral and Strategic Hazards of the 
Country’s Burgeoning Arms Trade
An Israeli drone manufacturer performed a “live demonstration” in the
e middle of a conflict zone
By Armin Rosen 

An Israeli arms company and the Azerbaijani military teamed up for an appalling lapse in judgement last month. As Maariv and the Jerusalem Post reported, in the course of finalizing a sale of the Orbiter 1K armed drone, a team from the Israeli company Aeronautics Defense Systems was asked to demonstrate the craft’s ability’s by carrying out an attack on an Armenian army position in Karabakh, a Yerevan-backed separatist region inside of Azerbaijani territory. Two Armenian soldiers were lightly injured in the ensuing assault. This week, Israel’s defense ministry export controls agency wisely cancelled Aeronautics Defense System’s export permit for the Orbiter 1K—luckily, it was just $20 million in business, rather than actual human life, that was lost as a result of this misadventure.

Israel produces a lot of products that other countries want, and the Jewish state is on pace to surpass $100 billion in exports in a single year for the first time in its history. Defense exports will account for around $6.5 billion of that, and Israel was the world’s 10th-largest military exporter in 2016.

Having one of the world’s leading domestic arms industries buoys the Israeli economy and makes the country indispensable to some of its international partners—including Azerbaijan, a majority Shiite Muslim nation and the second-largest purchaser of Israeli weapons last year. Israel’s military-industrial complex also makes the Jewish state better equipped to independently face the diverse security challenges confronting it at a given time. Still, weapons are not quite the same as SodaStream machines or cherry tomatoes. Countries use military-grade weapons to threaten or deter their enemies or perceived enemies, or to undertake violence at a state-level scale of organization. Arms transactions thus always come with unknowable potential costs attached.

The Karabakh incident is a case in point. The “frozen” Ngarno-Karabkh conflict, which has been raging in some form since the late 80s, is at a hair trigger. Deaths have spiked over the past couple of years, with Armenia and Azerbaijan fighting their deadliest battle in over a decade in April of last year. The geo-politics of the dispute over these majority ethnic-Armenian regions of Azerbaijan are fairly Byzantine, with Russia backing both sides to varying degrees, despite having military bases in Armenia. Yerevan has a warm relationship with Iran, and it’s almost certainly in the wrong as far as international law goes. Nonetheless, Armenian-backed militants currently occupy about a fifth of Azerbaijan’s territory. The irony of Israel siding with Azerbaijan hasn’t been lost on some observers: “Politically, Israel’s insistence on maintaining the status quo in the West Bank is actually similar to the Armenians’ position,” retired IDF general Ephraim Sneh wrote last year. “Here too, when it comes to ending the conflict, nationalist populism supersedes national interests.”

Israel has sold some $5 billion in weapons to Azerbaijan, and last month’s incident suggests that Baku’s patronage has a potential dark side. It wouldn’t have been in Israel’s national interest for one of its companies to have accidentally ignited a deadly international powder keg hundreds of miles from the country’s borders. Incidents like these are thankfully rare, but it only takes one of them to expose the moral and strategic hazards of Israel’s flourishing arms trade.

Armin Rosen is a New York-based writer. He has written for The Atlantic, City Journal, and World Affairs Journal, and was recently a senior reporter for Business Insider.

RFE/RL Report
Government Sees Strong Growth In Armenian Brandy Industry
September 01, 2017

Armenia's wine and brandy companies will likely increase grape
purchases from local farmers by 28 percent this year after posting
sharp production gains in the last 18 months, Agriculture Minister
Ignati Arakelian said on Friday.

Arakelian spoke at a meeting with senior executives of those companies
held by Prime Minister Karen Karapetian. It focused on government
support for a major sector of the Armenian economy providing income to
tens of thousands of grape farmers.

According to Agriculture Ministry projections cited by Arakelian, the
country's 2017 grape harvest is on track to shrink by 10 percent due
to an unusually cold winter that severely damaged many
vineyards. Nevertheless, the ministry expects wholesale grape
purchases by Armenian distilleries to rise to 141,000 metric tons from
110,000 tons in 2016.

Arakelian implicitly attributed that to a nearly 30 percent rise in
exports of Armenian brandy which he said was registered so far this
year. Russia is the main export market for the alcoholic beverage.

According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), brandy and wine
production in Armenia soared, in physical terms, by 61 percent and 30
percent respectively in the first half of 2017. The NSS reported less
drastic but still double-digit production increases in 2016.

Output in the sector contracted in 2015 primarily because of a sharp
depreciation of the Russian ruble. Many local firms struggled to pay
grape farmers as a result. Some small manufactures also delayed
payments for grapes purchased from mostly subsistence farmers last
fall. Hundreds of such villagers staged angry protests this winter and

Arakelian, who managed Armenia's largest brandy producer until being
named agriculture minister last October, was reported to urge all
liquor firms to sign contracts with their grape suppliers "in order to
avoid problems."

Karapetian, for his part, promised continued government support for
the winemaking industry. He said his government is already subsidizing
loans extended to brandy and wine companies for grape purchases. It
also engineered late last year a significant cut in the price of
natural gas used by them, the premier said.

"I don't know of many other governments that provide so much financial
and other assistance to the agriculture sector," Karapetian added,
according to the government statement.

The statement said the industry executives presented their "problems,
proposals and observations" during the meeting.

Panorama, Armenia
Sept 2 2017
Serena Williams welcomes baby girl with fiance Alexis Ohanian 

Serena Williams has given birth to a baby girl. The 23 Grand Slam title winner Serena Williams welcomed the new arrival on Friday afternoon, Metro reported, reminding that Serena was induced at St. Mary’s Medical Centre in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Thursday.

Local news producer Chris Shepherd announced the news on his Twitter page, saying that the baby weighed 6lbs 13oz and adding: ‘Mom and baby doing well.’

According to the source, the baby is Serena’s first child with her fiance, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian – with the tennis ace revealing news of her pregnancy in April on Snapchat.

Public Radio of Armenia
Sept 2 2017
2018 World Cup qualifier: Romania 1-0 Armenia 

Ten-men Armenia conceded a late stoppage time goal from Alexandru Maxim in a 2018 World Cup qualifier held in Bucharest.

Armenia had defender Taron Voskanyan sent off for handball when conceding a penalty early in the second half, but Bogdan Stancu saw his spot-kick saved by Grigor Meliksetyan – only for Maxim to have the final word with a close-range finish.

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