Saturday, 23 December 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Armenia 22 on Barometer for freedom, Armenia
Dec 21 2017
Armenia ranked 22 in Freedom Barometer 

Armenia is ranked 22rd out of 30 European countries in the Freedom Barometer list released by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

According to the report, Armenia has improved its positions, and the total score of the country has increased. The report measures economic, political freedom and the rule of law from a liberal perspective.

The report says that Armenia has low score on the fight against corruption. There are high corruption risks with judiciary, police, customs and taxing administration, as well as in public procurement.

Among Armenia’s neighbors, Georgia showed better performance being ranked 13th. Turkey and Azerbaijan are in 26th and 28th place respectively. Russia is the last., Armenia
Dec 20 2017
Fodor's: Armenia is in top ten most interesting countries to visit in 2018 

Armenia was included in the list of the top ten most interesting countries for tourists to visit in 2018. The list was made by the famous publishing house of tourist guides Fodor's.

This tiny Caucasus country has an outsize wealth of history, culture, and hospitality,” the article reads.

It was noted that Armenia’s rugged mountains and fertile valleys, full of ancient monasteries and traditional villages, are an eco-tourist’s dream, and new hiking trails and apps are making it easier to explore the country’s great outdoors.

“Though it’s nearly 3,000 years old, capital Yerevan has a youthful energy, with new cafes, wine bars, boutiques, and restaurants opening by the day,” the website noted.

Fodor's experts noted that the best time to visit Armenia is spring or autumn, when festivals are held in the country in the open air.

Fodor's Travel Magazine
Nov 15 2017
Fodor’s Go List 2018
Jeremy Tarr, Digital Editorial Director & Rachael Levitt, Managing Editor
Extract of Armenia Entry
This tiny Caucasus country has an outsize wealth of history, culture, and hospitality. 

Why It’s Wonderful: Armenia’s rugged mountains and fertile valleys, full of ancient monasteries and traditional villages, are an eco-tourist’s dream, and new hiking trails and apps are making it easier to explore the country’s great outdoors. Since a 6,000-year-old winery was discovered by archaeologists in Areni village in southern Armenia a decade ago, the area’s winemaking—and wine tourism—has been experiencing a rebirth. An Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown segment filmed in Armenia and set to air in spring 2018 is sure to set mouths watering over culinary specialties such as khorovats (barbecue) and tolma (stuffed grape leaves). Though it’s nearly 3,000 years old, capital Yerevan has a youthful energy, with new cafes, wine bars, boutiques, and restaurants opening by the day. 

Where to Stay: The guesthouse-style Villa Hotels , with rooms in restored historic buildings decorated with local crafts, offer warmly hospitable places to stay in Yerevan and Gyumri. Newly opened Messier 53 is a sleek and contemporary addition to Yerevan’s accommodation offerings. Luxury property The Alexander , Starwood’s first hotel in Armenia, is set to open in central Yerevan in April 2018. 

Insider Tip: Download the Inside Yerevan map (or pick up a print copy for free at one of the establishments listed) for young locals’ opinionated suggestions of where to eat, drink, shop, and explore. 

When to Go: Spring and fall are best for outdoor exploration and regional festivals, such as the autumn wine harvest in Vayots Dzor. Yerevan’s 2,800-year-anniversary celebrations in October 2018 are sure to be exuberant. 

What to Read: The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian 

La Croix International
December 19, 2017 Tuesday
Heads of Churches in Jerusalem united in need for status quo

 "Jerusalem is a sacred gift; a tabernacle; hallowed ground to the
entire world," says thirteen religious leaders in a joint statement.

 A UN-brokered status quo should remain in Jerusalem until a just
peace agreement has been reached between the Israelis and
Palestinians, patriarchs and heads of Churches in the ancient city
said on December 14.

The religious leaders issued the joint statement as the ancient city
prepared for Christmas rites under the shadow of US President Donald
Trump's decision to recognize it as Israel's capital.

"Jerusalem is a sacred gift; a tabernacle; hallowed ground to the
entire world," said the religious leaders.

They warned that any exclusive political approach to Jerusalem would
deprive the city of its real essence and trample on the mechanism that
has maintained peace.

"The Christians of the Holy Land, know that their presence and witness
is strictly related to the holy sites and their accessibility as
places of meeting and encounter for unity between peoples of different
faiths," said the thirteen signatories.

The statement was signed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos
III; Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarch Nourhan Manougian;
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Apostolic Administrator of
Latin Patriarchate; Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land;
Archbishop Anba Antonious of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate;
Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate;
Archbishop Aba Embakob of the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate;
Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey of Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate;

Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate; Archbishop
Suheil Dawani of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle
East; Bishop Munib Younan of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and
the Holy Land; Bishop Pierre Malki of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchal
Exarchate; and Msgr. Georges Dankaye', Armenian Catholic Patriarchal

RFE/RL Report 
Envoy Dismisses Anti-Armenian Comments Aired By Russian TV
December 20, 2017
Satenik Kaghzvantsian

The Russian ambassador to Armenia downplayed on Wednesday harsh
criticism of Armenia's pursuit of closer ties with the European Union
that has been voiced during talk shows hosted by Russia's
state-controlled television.

At least two such TV channels aired recently extensive programs
featuring criticism of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership
Agreement (CEPA) signed on November 24. Analysts and commentators
invited to their studios charged that the deal undermined Armenia's
traditionally close relationship with Russia. Some of them went as far
as to compare Armenia to a wife cheating on her husband.

Those comments prompted angry rebuttals from senior members of the
ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). They also raised questions
about the Russian government's reaction to the CEPA, which has been
cautiously positive in public.

Ivan Volynkin, the Russian ambassador in Yerevan, emphasized that it
was not the Russian broadcasters that attacked the EU-Armenia
deal. "It was criticized by certain individuals who have nothing to do
with Armenia and Russian-Armenian relations," he said during a visit
to Gyumri.

"These people are specialists, experts, political analysts but they
deal with other issues and don't specialize in Russian-Armenian
relations," Volynkin told reporters. "For example, I personally
wouldn't comment on the work of a plumber or a turner because I know
and understand nothing about that."

"So what they commented on is not their area of expertise and [their
comments] should not be taken seriously," added the diplomat.

Volynkin said ahead of the signing of the CEPA that its provisions do
not run counter to Armenia's membership in the Russian-led Eurasian
Economic Union (EEU). "Armenia is a sovereign country and it has the
right to enter into any agreements or blocs that do not contradict
obligations assumed by it earlier," he told the Arminfo news agency.

Armenian leaders have repeatedly stated that the alliance with Russia
remains the cornerstone of Armenian foreign and security policy
despite their efforts to forge closer ties with the EU. "We do not aim
to build and strengthen those relations [with the EU] at the expense
of our cooperation with any other country or structure," parliament
speaker Ara Babloyan said on December 1.

President Serzh Sarkisian visited Moscow and met with his Russian
counterpart Vladimir Putin just over a week before attending the CEPA
signing ceremony in Brussels. 

Earthquake in Armenia 
December 21,2017 

On December 21, c.y., at 1:40 local time, the RA MES Seismic Protection Survey Seismological Network registered an earthquake at the northern latitude 40.33 0 and eastern longitude 44.89 0 geographic coordinates (Armenia, 20 km west from the City of Gavar), with 2 7 magnitude and 5 km depth. 

The tremor measured magnitude 3-4 points at the epicenter area. 

ARMINFO News Agency, Armenia
December 18, 2017 Monday
The Center of the Goethe Institute is opened in Yerevan
Mariana Mkrtchyan. 

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian took
part in the opening of the Goethe Institute Center in Yerevan.

As the press service of the Armenian Foreign Ministry told ArmInfo,
during his speech the Armenian Minister noted that the opening of the
center is evidence of the existence of strong friendly relations
between the peoples of the two countries, as well as fruitful
cooperation in the scientific, educational and cultural spheres.
"Goethe considered Ararat to be one of the cradles of mankind, and it
is symbolic that this cultural center, named after Goethe, found its
shelter at the foot of Ararat." I am convinced that the opening of
this center will significantly enrich the activities of international
scientific and cultural centers in Yerevan to increase the recognition
of Germany in our country, the German language and the spread of
German culture. This center is a good basis for the opening in Armenia
of a full-fledged Goethe Institute in the future. I hope that in the
review this important step will be taken by the Goethe Institute in
its activity proves that culture does not recognize borders. In 98
countries there are 159 Goethe Institutes, there are centers on almost
all continents, from North America to Australia," the Armenian FM

The Goethe Institute is a German non-governmental organization whose
mission is to popularize the German language abroad and promote
international cultural cooperation. The most important task is to
teach the German language as a foreign language. Also the aim of the
Institute is to strengthen intercultural interaction with Germany,
which includes not only the exchange of films, music, literature, but
also public values. 

Iranian Government News
December 18, 2017 Monday
Persian language center opens in Yerevan

Tehran: The official news agency of Iran (IRNA) has issued following
news: A Persian language center was opened in a school in Armenian
capital city, Yerevan, in a ceremony attended by Iranian Ambassador to
Yerevan Kazem Sajjadi. Addressing the gathering, Sajjadi encouraged
the Armenian students to learn Persian language.

 He said that the rising trend of ties between Tehran and Yerevan in
different areas as well as the large presence of Iranian tourists in
Armenia have augmented the significance of learning Persian in that

Touching upon the inauguration of Free Economic Zone by Armenian Prime
Minister Karen Karapetyan at Meghri region in Armenia-Iran border
point on Friday (Dec 15), the diplomat underscored that the zone would
pave the way for expansion of mutual transaction.

He added that the presence of Persian translators can facilitate
flourishing of mutual trade between the two countries in the
newly-inaugurated free economic zone.

The envoy stressed that Iran Embassy in Armenia would do its best for
preparing necessary facilities for teaching Persian language and
introducing the Iranian-Islamic civilization and culture. 

MediaMax, Armenia 
Dec 19 2017 
Armenia to be fined USD 50,000 for doping violations 

The International Weightlifting Federation is set to make the final decision on possible reduction of the ban term for Armenia, China and Turkey on January 15, 2018. 

Secretary General of the Armenian Weightlifting Federation Pashik Alaverdyan has announced that athletes from the mentioned countries committed no violations in the last four years. 

“Our weightlifters passed 1200 doping tests in the last four years without any violations. I am very strict in this matter and after many years in this sport, I am certain we can have success without doping, which has been proved in recent times,” said Alaverdyan. 

The Armenian national weightlifting team had been banned from international competitions for a year, but that term might be reduced, allowing Armenia to compete in the 2018 European Championship. 

“We made commitments and our athletes must take doping tests for at least 3 times before every tournament. They may participate only in Armenian tournaments and in training camps during this period,” he noted. 

As a punishment for doping violations committed by three Armenian athletes during Beijing and London Olympics, Armenia has to pay USD 50,000 fine. 

The disqualified athletes can resume competing in May 2018. According to Alaverdyan, Hripsime Khurshudyan is training and preparing to get back into international tournaments, but Tigran Martirosyan has ended his career as an athlete. 
What is Happening With Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Manchester United? 
Special to Asbarez 

In light of our favorite Armenian soccer player’s recent plight, many have jumped to conclusions and speculation has run rampant across both the footballing and Armenian communities. 

Conjecture aside, it is evident that Henrikh Mkhitaryan has fallen out of favor with Manchester United’s manager Jose Mourinho, having been absent from the 18-man roster in eight of the last nine matches. 

With the January transfer window nearly approaching, there has been much talk of whether the Armenian international will remain with Manchester United by the end of the transfer window. 

Much of the discussions have included Henrikh Mkhitaryan departing the English side with many suitors available who covet his intricate style of play for he would be an immediate asset to essentially every club in Europe’s top leagues. Italian sides Inter Milan and Juventus are leading the chase for the Armenian, however the likeliest destination for Mkhitaryan seems to be the playmaker’s former club Borussia Dortmund, who are eager to have their former star and number 10 return to top form at the Signal Iduna Park. 

However, with recent news linking the Armenian to his former club in Germany, Manchester United’s manager in his latest press conference revealed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan may be given a chance to impress at Ashton Gate in a league cup fixture against Bristol City on Wednesday, December 20th. 

Having not started a match since November 5, the Armenian is licking his lips at a chance to re-establish himself within the starting lineup in an attempt to return to his early season form. 

The time seems ripe for Mkhitaryan, as December is what all Premier League football fans look forward to, where many of the teams have up to eight fixtures during the Christmas season, including four games within the next 10 days for Manchester United. Hopefully Jose Mourinho will shuffle his roster and as a result we will see lots of the crafty Armenian playmaker. 

It is evident Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s talent and skillset are there, with the player being the most dominant footballer, technically and tactically in all the respective clubs and leagues he has played in whether it be Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian Premier League or Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga. 

Simultaneously, to completely understand the circumstance, one must comprehend the style of play and tactical approach of Jose Mourinho, the renowned Portuguese manager in charge at United. Mourinho, one of the most decorated manager’s in the history of football is known for his win-at-all-odds approach, much of which includes a largely defensive and counter-attacking system which has frozen out several extremely talented and skillful offensive players in the past such as Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne and Kaka. 

One reason as to why the Armenian has fallen out of favor is the lack of opportunities and chances created during play for United. Mkhitaryan’s fall from grace can be traced to the injury of fellow midfielder, Paul Pogba. Mkhitaryan and Pogba, arguably two of the best in the world at their trade, have been instrumental to the team’s victories and success at the start of the season. With the injury to the French midfielder, the pressure of playmaking and creating fell solely on the shoulders of the Armenian. With all this said, there have been many players under-performing and it seems as if the Armenian is being scapegoated for the lack of production on the attacking end. Belgian forward, Romelu Lukaku’s form has also suffered but due to his hefty £75 million price tag and the manager’s hubris, he has not been subject to the same criticism the Armenian has from the manager. 

We hope Mkhitaryan will be able to regain his form and make his return to starting lineup as soon as possible to help the club do what the club does best, creating stars and winning trophies. Free Mkhitaryan!

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