Saturday, 16 September 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian...Election process of Istanbul's Armenian Patriarch

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
September 14, 2017 Thursday
Election process of Istanbul's Armenian Patriarch enters into
deadlock: Community expects a response from authorities

After the election of patriarchal locum tenens Archbishop Garegin 

Bekchyan, the process of election ofArmenian Patriarch of Istanbul 
again has entered into a deadlock. Till now the Turkish authorities 
didn’t respond to the official letter sent by the Patriarchate over 
holding the elections.

“On August 30 Turkey celebrated the Victory day. This is a state
holiday in the country and every year representatives of minorities
are invited to take part in the reception of that day. This year our
Patriarchate didn’t receive an invitation. The reception was attended
by representatives of Greeks, Assyrians, Jews, however, there were no
participants from the Armenian Patriarchate”, Bagrat Estukiansaid. He
said certain community circles started to comment on this fact as a
manifestation of denialist policy against the patriarchal locum

“There are some people who announce that they are in close ties with
the state, that state said in this or that way. The list of those
people is headed by Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Istanbul’s
Armenian St. Slavery hospital Pedros Shirinoglu who has an obvious
sympathy for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and expresses his
sympathy on any possible occasion. Moreover, he even announces that
the state transfers its own stance to the community thanks to him.
It’s difficult to say to what extent this phenomenon is acceptable. We
have submitted an official letter to the Turkish authorities and
expect an official response be it positive or negative. However, we
haven’t received any response yet”, he said.

Estukian said locum tenens Bekchyan and the Initiative group of the
election will wait until first week of October: if there is no
response at that time, they will appeal to the Governor’s Office to
talk about the issue face to face. “Our major interlocutor is the
interior ministry, however, the inquiries to the ministry are being
sent via the Istanbul Governor’s Office”, he said.

Bagrat Estukianstated that in such circumstances certain circles, in
particular, the supporters of former patriarchal vicar Archbishop Aram
Ateshyan spread many rumors that have nothing to do with the reality.
In particular, the talk is about Bekchyan’s resignation or expressing
no confidence towards the members of the Initiative group. “Shirinoglu
urged Bekchyan to resign, however, he refused to do that. And now he
wants the members of the Initiative group to resign, however, the
locum tenens announced that it is a normal working group, and he
doesn’t want to dissolve it”, Estukian said.

Estukian said the process of patriarchal election again is in
uncertainty. “The worst thing is that the situation has a tendency to
get worse. It’s a pity that there are people in our small community
who want to use this situation. We have a problem within us”, Bagrat
Estukian said.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Lawyers Go On Strike
September 13, 2017
Artak Hambardzumian
Karlen Aslanian
More 180 Armenian lawyers went on strike on Wednesday to protest
against controversial security checks on attorneys representing
radical opposition members in three ongoing trials.

The defense lawyers have been required to walk through metal detectors
and have their bags checked before entering courtrooms. They say this
procedure amounts to searches not allowed by Armenian law. Many of
them have refused to attend court hearings in the trials of Zhirayr
Sefilian, the jailed leader of the Founding Parliament movement, and
his three dozen loyalists who seized a police station in Yerevan last

"We hope that this one-day protest will be enough for state bodies to
look into the problem more thoroughly and find a solution acceptable
to everyone," one of the protesting lawyers, Tigran Atanesian, said at
a roundtable discussion in Yerevan. Or else, he warned, they will
continue to fight against the practice.

Armenia's Judicial Department insists that the security "inspections"
do not constitute searches and are therefore legal. The leadership of
the Chamber of Advocates, the national bar association, has sided with
the department.

The chamber's newly reelected chairman, Ara Zohrabian, reaffirmed that
position when he spoke during the discussion. "When nobody touches a
lawyer's bag there can be no talk of a search," he said.

Mushegh Shushanian, one of the lawyers representing the arrested
opposition gunmen, denounced that stance. "One has the impression that
the chairman of the Chamber of Advocates is tasked with campaigning
against independent lawyers," Shushanian charged.

The one-day strike disrupted the latest hearing in one of the two
trials of the gunmen. It was scheduled for Wednesday.

The presiding judge, Artush Gabrielian, cited the absence of 15
lawyers who joined the strike. "The court does not regard as positive
the lawyers' failure to attend today's hearing because they were
obliged to show up," Gabrielian said, adding that he could take fresh
disciplinary action against them.

Panorama, Armenia
Sept 14 2017
Imprisoned Turkish activists banned from receiving Armenian Agos newspaper 

Turkish opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) lawmakers have visited human rights activists held in Istanbul’s Silivri prison, who were detained on July 5 and jailed on “terrorism” charges during a digital security and information management workshop in Istanbul’s Büyükada Island.

As Ermenihaber reports, the inmates have been unable to receive copies of the Armenian weekly Agos because officials say it is published in “Armenian language.” Özlem Dalkıran the Founder of the Citizens’ Assembly NGO has noted the limitation is a clear violation of the constitutional right to receive information.

To remind, the activists are being accused of aiding armed terror organizations for communications with suspects linked to Kurdish and left-wing militants as well as the movement led by U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of orchestrating last year’s coup attempt. Gulen has denied the claim.

Their arrests have added to widespread concerns about the erosion of rights and freedoms in Turkey. More than 50,000 people have been arrested after the failed July 2016 coup, including journalists and politicians, while more than 140 media organizations and nearly 2,000 NGOs have been shuttered.

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
September 13, 2017 Wednesday
Pavilion representing Armenian food industry named the best at international exhibition
The pavilion, created by the Development Foundation of Armenia (DFA), has been named the best during the “WorldFood Moscow 2017” International Exhibition, held from September 11-14 in Moscow. 16 Armenian companies represent the Armenian food industry in the Moscow expo with the support of the Development Foundation of Armenia , the DFA told Armenpress.

The organizers of “WorldFood Moscow 2017” awarded the prize to the event manager of the Marketing Department of DFA Lusine Balayan during the tasting session arranged for international buyers and distributors at the Armenian pavilion. The selection was jointly made by the expert committee and visitors of the Exhibition.

“I see this as a good marketing result achieved by our team, and consequently expect more fruitful negotiations and larger export contracts from the companies attending the Exhibition”, noted the CEO of the Development Foundation of Armenia Armen Avak Avakian, who is currently in Moscow with the Armenian producers. The Armenian companies returned from the previous Exhibition with 12 export contracts with value of 570 million AMD.

The Minister of Agriculture of Armenia Ignati Arakelyan and the Ambassador of Armenia to the Russian Federation Vardan Toghanyan have also visited the Armenian pavilion. The Development Foundation of Armenia supports the local companies within the scope of the Export Promotion Strategy of the Armenian Government.

Panorama, Armenia
Sept 14 2017
The Pan-Armenian Orchestra performed at the most prestigious Gramophone Classical Music Awards 

The Pan-Armenian Orchestra, headed by Sergey Smbatyan, performed at the most prestigious Gramophone Classical Music Awards

On September 13 the Pan-Armenian Symphony Orchestra, headed by conductor Sergey Smbatyan, performed at the Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2017, the most famous and prestigious event. The glittering event took place in the stunning venue of Northumberland Avenue, London. During the concert the Pan-Armenian Orchestra presented compositions by Khachaturian, Shostakovich, Shor, Prokofiev and other composers. The performances of the orchestra and Sergey Smbatyan were warmly received.

The Pan-Armenian Orchestra was joined with some of the biggest names in classical music as Gramophone Award winners past and present take to the stage to celebrate the 40th anniversary of these prestigious awards. In previous years, Gramophone Awards ceremonies were conducted by famous conductors like Sir Colin Davis, Sir Antonio Pappano and others. This year’s honor was reserved for maestro Sergey Smbatyan, who studied with Sir Colin Davis in London.

For the second year running, the ceremony was live-streamed on , so classical music lovers from all around the globe had the opportunity to watch all of the performances, acceptance speeches.
James Jolly, Gramophone’s Editor-in-Chief, noted that they were delighted to be joined by the Pan-Armenian Symphony orchestra, comprised of the Armenian musicians from the best orchestras all over the world. During the evening Jolly thanked Sergey Smbatyan and the Pan-Armenian Orchestra for performing composition by British composer Gustav Holst.

The Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the State Youth Orchestra of Armenia, the conductor of the Pan-Armenian Orchestra Sergey Smbatyan in an interview with informed that the Pan-Armenian Orchestra had a concert on April 24, 2017 in Yerevan, performing headed by several conductors.
“We are very happy. It’s a great honor to be here. We have great classical music traditions in Armenia. You can find great Armenian musicians everywhere. The idea was to unite them, so they can perform together”,-Sergey Smbatyan noted.

Maestro Smbatyan added that the musicians of the Pan-Armenian Orchestra are playing at the world’s leading orchestras. They were born and raised in Armenia, studied at the same Conservatory, thus they bear the same traditions. And such projects show that the Armenians can be united. Maestro Smbatyan hoped that the orchestra will perform more often.

Gramophone is the most significant classical music award, the same as the Oscar is in the field of cinema, the Nobel prize is in the field of science and the Booker prize in the field of literature. Gramophone Awards celebrate the very best of the last year of classical music. This year it celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Students at Risk: 30% of Armenia’s Schools hetq.qm
Seismically Unsafehehetq.qm
Students at Risk: 30% of Armenia’s Schools Seismically Unsafe
Hrant Galstyan
Marine Madatyan 

If there’s ever a 5.5 magnitude earthquake in Armenia, numerous school buildings will partly or fully collapse, resulting in large numbers of casualties and material losses.

Taking this into account, Armenia’s government approved the Seismic Safety Improvement of the RA Public Schools Program for 2015-2030 in 2015. Since then, several changes have been made to the program and its action plan, the last one being in July of this year. This is when the list of Armenia's earthquake-prone schools was also approved.

According to the list, 425 schools are at risk in terms of seismic resistance. This is 30% of the country's schools.

Some of the schools in the list, however, have already been allocated millions of drams and dollars from the state budget, social projects and loans. The list includes formerly renovated schools

Some of the directors of 425 schools told us that their schools were seismically stable, and millions of drams had been spent from the budget for their rehabilitation.

#4 high school in Goris, for example, was rehabilitated and reinforced in 2007-2008. Director Armineh Shegounts said that the school had been renovated by the Social Investment Fund for 110 million drams.

Another school from the list, in the Shatin village of Vayots Dzor province, was rehabilitated and renovated in three stages in 2007-2008.

In 2010, Aygevit village school of Tavush province was rehabilitated.

Another listed school, the Vanadzor branch of the Polytechnic University, was rehabilitated in 2007-2009. University head Armen Kharatyan says that after the completion of the rehab, the high school moved from domiks (containers) to the university. He says the total rehab of several buildings, including that one, was done for around 300 million AMD.

In January 2017, the State Committee for Urban Development proposed to the project presenter to replace those schools in the list that had been recently rehabilitated.

Minister of Territorial Administration and Development Davit Lokyan didn’t accept this proposal, reasoning that "no alternatives were submitted".

The Ararat Provincial Administration and the Yerevan Municipality also suggested that changes be made to the list. They offered to replace several schools with others. Both proposals have been rejected. The author of the project replied to the Ararat Provincial Administration that "the seismic vulnerability level of the schools included in the list is high, while it’s medium level in case of the proposed schools." Yerevan Municipality's proposal was rejected without comments. Twenty "prioritized" schools

The government has outlined twenty out of 425 mentioned schools, which are "in urgent need of improvement". The program doesn’t specify why these twenty schools have been selected. It's also unclear what is meant by “improvement”.

According to one of the selection principles, Yerevan should "have a differentiated approach" and around 30% of the programs should be implemented in Yerevan, as around 30% of the country's schoolchildren study there. Despite this, 12 of 20 schools (60%) to be built or reinforced are in Yerevan.

According to another principle, when selecting the schools, schools with good technical conditions should have been omitted.

The State Committee for Urban Development noted that Yerevan #51 and Sevan #1 schools had been renovated in recent years with state budgets, but they were still in the list.

The Committee suggested to remove these schools from the list, but the proposal wasn’t accepted, with the reasoning that a new building was built with the state budget in case of the Yerevan #51 school in and it was the old building to be reinforced. As for Sevan primary school, the budget was provided for repair works, not reinforcement. After some back and forth with the Ministry of Finance, Sevan #1 school was removed from the list, while Yerevan #51 school is still there, though more than 500 million drams have already been allocated for its reinforcement.

It should be noted that a Seismic Safety Improvement Loan Agreement was signed between the Government of Armenia and the Asian Development Bank, with a total budget of $107 million, $88.5 million of which is provided by the bank, and $ 18.5 million is the government’s contribution.

The government's decision and its action plan don’t mention that the above-mentioned twenty schools will be renovated or rehabilitated by this loan, but it says that as a result of the adoption of the project, the number of students in seismically safe schools will increase by 13037, which is the same as the expected outcome of the Asian Development Bank loan agreement. Some schools in the list are being renovated by the World Bank loan program

Hetq earlier wrote about the World Bank's loan for renovating 17 high schools in Armenia, which may remain incomplete due to the insufficient funding.

Rehabilitation contracts have been signed for five of them - Noyemberyan high school in Tavoush Province, high school in Martouni, Gegharkounik Province, #1 high school in Hrazdan city, Kotayk Province, #2 high school in Metzamor, Armavir Province, and the one in Ararat town, Ararat Province.

Despite this, Hrazdan #1, Metzamor #2 and Ararat high schools, the total cost of rehabilitation of which by the WB loan program is more than $ 4 million, have also been included in the list of 425. Nine of twelve schools that were included in the list of the World Bank loan program, but are under the question, are also included in this government program. During July sessions, none of the authorities presenting objections and suggestions voiced this. The implementer of the WB's loan, the Ministry of Education and Science, was silent about this, too. Some schools with low seismic safety are out

The draft decision, by which the list of 425 seismic hazards schools was approved in July 2017, was submitted to the government by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development, represented by Deputy Minister Vache Terteryan.

In 2015, a list of 377 earthquake-prone schools of Armenia was compiled. These schools had a low level of seismic safety, according to the standards set by the UNICEF Yerevan Office. The initial cost of reinforcing them or building new ones was estimated at $ 617 million, of which $ 107 million was for 2015-2020.

However, 150 of these 377 schools are not included in the list of 425.

Of these 150 schools, only secondary school # 6 in Artashat doesn’t operate, according to the recent data published by the Ministry of Education. Two other institutions - Sisian's #1 and Goris #1 Special Secondary Schools - were reorganized as SNCOs by two different decisions. They are not schools any more, but they carry out educational activities for children in need of special education.

The rest of the educational institutions are included in the MOE's list of operating schools.

Among the above-mentioned 150 schools, there are schools that are considered unsafe.

Shirakavan school, built in 1896, was included in the 2015 list and removed two years later. Principal Juliette Mkrtchyan says the school has never been rehabilitated. In 2008, it underwent some cosmetic renovation financed by Hayastan All-Armenian Fund. Some windows have been replaced by the funds provided by the provincial administration.

The principal says that the school's seismic stability was checked in 2014 and it was said to be earthquake-prone. The director wasn’t aware that the school was left out of the list in 2017.

112 students attend the school and the pre-school. Its rehabilitation was estimated at $327,000 in 2015.

The Sarnaghbyour secondary school building, another one that was left out in 2017, was partially renovated in 2000-2001, by the Social Investment Fund project. The roof, doors and windows were replaced, but no attention was paid to the foundation.

Principal Hmayak Hakobyan says that when government experts visited the school in 2015, they said that although one of three buildings had been renovated, its foundation was too weak to keep the building open.

The school’s other two buildings have never been renovated and must be replaced with new construction.

Hakobyan says no one from the government has gotten back to him since., Azerbaijan
Sept 14 2017
Amendment to European Parliament resolution another political provocation against Azerbaijan 

The amendment was passed with 290 voting against and 349 voting for, while its longer discussion was not allowed.

The amendment on Azerbaijan introduced to the European Parliament's resolution dated September 13, 2017, is yet another example of traditional nonobjective policy and political provocation carried by some forces within the European Parliament against Azerbbaijan.

The submission of this amendment on September 7, just two days after the publication of nefarious allegations of corruption set forth against Azerbaijan by some biased media outlets that disseminate false reports and are guided by the Armenian lobby and the Soros Foundation is the indication of pre-production and simultaneous implementation of this unwanted and ugly campaign.

The author of this amendment is Petras Austrevicius, a native of Lithuania. This person has solid anti-Islam and anti-Azerbaijani ideological views. There is a phrase in Azerbaijani, translated as 'tell me who your friend is and I will tell you who you are.' His closest friend is former Ambassador to Lithuania Renatas Juska. The same Juska whose voice record with the voice record of another responsible officer of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Zenonas Kumetaitis came viral on youtube. In his voice record she expressed hate towards Azerbaijan and Muslims and his love for Armenia saying that Lithuania should support Armenians because they are Christian.

The amendment was passed with 290 voting against and 349 voting for. Its longer discussion was not allowed. This shows that there are pragmatic viewpoints in the European Parliament that work for the interests of Europe.

As it is stated in the general part of the resolution, while the volume of corruption in the European Union is EUR 179 bn annually, and its share in overall GDP makes EUR 990 bn, it is ridiculous and abusive to indicate Azerbaijan in the amendment to the resolution based on false information and slander.

The marginal person who is the author of this amendment consisting of several sentences and his close associates, being narrow-minded, traditionally pursue the anti-Azerbaijani policy .

They focus on discrediting international prestige of Azerbaijan, distracting the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from substantial negotiations, creating conditions for continued occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia, and undermining Azerbaijan's cooperation with EU ahead of the planned EU top summit of Eastern Partnership countries due in November of this year, and preventing the successful implementation of the TAP project. It should be taken into consideration that the adoption of the resolution comes at the time of the signing of the new agreement on the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field by 2050.

Unfortunately, the dubious cooperation between the Armenian lobby and other circles in these European groups has not been investigated yet.

Despite the attempts and provocations of such circles, Azerbaijan will continue its independent and successful domestic and foreign policy for the sake of the people of Azerbaijan.

Panorama, Armenia
Sept 14 2017
Armenian football team plummet 11 places in latest release of FIFA World Rankings 

Armenian national football team have fallen a staggering 11 places in the latest FIFA rankings to find themselves 83th in the world. Armenia has seen their 2018 World Cup qualifying hopes dealt major blows following back-to-back defeats to Romania and Denmark in early September in the FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E qualification matches.

According to the new ranking, the list is topped by Germany, followed by Brazil and Portugal.

Among Armenia’s competitors in the FIFA World Cup 2018 Group E Poland holds the highest 6th position, Romania is the 41st, Denmark - 26th, Montenegro – 37nd, and Kazakhstan is the 126th.

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