Thursday, 14 December 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian... Armenia unforgettable memories

Armenia: The country of unforgettable memories 

New Year's Eve Dinner Dance
see attachment

RFE/RL Report
Armenian, Azeri FMs Hold `Positive' Talks On Karabakh
December 07, 2017
Emil Danielyan
The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan held late on Wednesday
what they both described as "positive" negotiations on the unresolved
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov met in Vienna in a bid to
build on progress that was reportedly made at a recent
Armenian-Azerbaijani summit. The meeting apparently lasted for several

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, the two men began the
talks in the presence of the U.S., Russian and French mediators and
then spoke in a tete-a-tete format. A ministry statement said they
discussed ways of implementing agreements reached by the Armenian and
Azerbaijani presidents at their last three meetings.

"Yesterday's meeting with my Azerbaijani counterpart took place in a
generally positive mood," Nalbandian told on Thursday an annual
session of the OSCE's Ministerial Council also held in the Austrian
capital. "Let's see what developments will follow it."

An Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry spokesman said, for his part, that
Mammadyarov and Nalbandian engaged in "intensive and concrete
discussions on existing proposals" to resolve the Karabakh
conflict. "Elmar Mammadyarov said that the meeting was positive and
constructive," the official, Hikmet Hajiyev, was quoted by Azerbaijani
news agencies as saying.

Hajiyev also said that Mammadyarov and Nalbandian agreed to meet again
"in the second half of January 2018." The Armenian Foreign Ministry
likewise reported that their next talks will take place early next

Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev most recently met in
Geneva on October 16. They pledged to intensify the Karabakh peace
process and bolster the ceasefire regime in the conflict zone.

The U.S., Russian and French diplomats co-chairing the OSCE Minsk
Group held separate follow-up talks with Mammadyarov and Nalbandian in
Moscow on November 16. In a joint statement, they said they discussed
"concrete steps to implement the agreements reached" at the Geneva
summit. They added that the chief Armenian and Azerbaijani diplomats
will meet in early December to look into "substantive issues of the
political settlement as well as specific measures to reduce tensions
on the Line of Contact" around Karabakh.

In what appeared to be a related development, Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov visited Baku and Yerevan later in November. Speaking in
the Armenian capital, Lavrov sounded encouraged by Aliyev's and
Sarkisian's "positive mood." But he also cautioned against excessive
optimism about a Karabakh settlement, saying that the long-running
Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations "will not end quickly."

Lavrov said in March that the conflicting sides are still far apart on
"two or three" elements of a framework peace accord that has been
advanced by the mediating powers for the past decade. Still, he said
they broadly agree on the peace formula envisaging Armenian withdrawal
from "districts around Karabakh" and a decision on Karabakh's status
which would "take into account the opinion of the people living

Aliyev and Sarkisian came close to cutting a peace deal along these
lines at a 2011 summit in Kazan, Russia.

Nalbandian reiterated that the proposed settlement is largely
acceptable to Yerevan when he addressed the OSCE meeting in Vienna on
Thursday. "We are convinced that there is no alternative to peace
talks and that it is necessary to conduct intensive negotiations based
on the proposals of the co-chair countries," he said.

Nalbandian claimed that Baku "rejects those proposals" in line with
its "intransigent and maximalist position."

The mediators have specifically advocated a future referendum in which
Karabakh's predominantly ethnic Armenian population would determine
the disputed territory's internationally recognized status. Yerevan
and Baku are thought to have disagreed, at least until now, on
practical modalities of such a vote as well as a timetable for the
liberation of formerly Azerbaijani-populated districts around

Sarkisian said in late October that a peaceful resolution of the
Karabakh dispute could only be "painful" to both sides. The remark
prompted concern from some of his hardline critics opposed to
territorial concessions to Azerbaijan.

The Armenian leader, whose final presidential term ends in April 2018,
has repeatedly ruled out any settlement that would restore Azerbaijani
control over Karabakh itself. By contrast, Aliyev has stated that Baku
will never recognize the territory's de facto secession from

RFE/RL Report
Karapetian Vows To Ease Hardship In Gyumri
December 07, 2017
Satenik Kaghzvantsian

Prime Minister Karen Karapetian promised to improve the dire
socioeconomic situation in Gyumri on Thursday as Armenia marked the
29th anniversary of a catastrophic earthquake that ravaged the city
and other parts of the country.

But he declined to specify when the protracted reconstruction of the
vast earthquake will be completed or how many new jobs will be created
there in the near future.

"I can't respond with time frames, but the quality of life in Gyumri
will definitely change," Karapetian told reporters after laying
flowers at a local memorial to some 25,000 people that were killed by
the 1988 calamity.

"We must work very hard every day so that life here changes, and it
will change," he said. "The problems facing Gyumri, our people are
surmountable. We just need to look at them with optimism and work

"Every day we work on creating conditions for business to come here
and create jobs, and we have a special infrastructure project," he

Karapetian has frequently visited Gyumri since he became prime
minister in September 2016. Early this year he initiated a $10 million
reconstruction of its old town aimed at attracting many tourists to
and stimulating economic activity in Armenia's second largest city.

Gyumri is still beset by very high unemployment and poverty rates,
however. According a local non-governmental organization, almost 2,400
local families still live in rundown "domiks," supposedly temporary
shacks that sprung up there following the earthquake.

Government officials say in this regard that 21,185 families in Gyumri
have received new and state-funded housing in the past 29 years. They
argue that this figure actually exceeds the number of families whose
homes were destroyed by the 1988 quake. More than 700 families
currently remain on waiting lists for new apartments drawn up by the
municipal administration.

Artur Khachatrian, the governor of Armenia's northwestern Shirak
province, of which Gyumri is the capital, suggested on Thursday that
most people huddling in "domiks" are former residents of nearby
villages that relocated to Gyumri after 1988. The state is not obliged
to give them new homes, he said.

Levon Barseghian, an opposition member of Gyumri's municipal council,
insisted that that would not place a heavy financial burden on the
state. He said that the government is able to solve the grave housing
problem of those families within four years. RFE/RL Report
December 08 2017
Erdoğan takes gloves off, Greeks caught off guard

In the first official visit of a Turkish president to Greece’s capital in 65 years, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has taken off his gloves and caught the Greek leaders off guard by opening up a debate on the 94-year-old Treaty of Lausanne.

The debate took place live on TV when Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos opened up the subject during his reception of President Erdoğan, referring to an earlier interview his Turkish counterpart gave to the Greek media. In that interview, Erdoğan spoke about a debate in Greece over claims of violations of the Lausanne Treaty regarding the Aegean islands and said that Lausanne was not only about the Aegean but also covered the minority rights of Muslim Turks living in Greece, suggesting that perhaps the treaty should be revised.

When Pavlopoulos said a revision of the Treaty of Lausanne was out of question, Erdoğan insisted in front of the cameras that the treaty was not only between Turkey and Greece, but involved 11 countries, which could be changed and that it could be implemented in full and not partly.

The Treaty of Lausanne, signed on July 24, 1923, was the foundation treaty of Turkey, followed by the declaration of the republic later in the year on Oct. 29. The republic emerged after an independence war was fought against the invading Greek, British, French, Italian, Armenian and Georgian armies.

In the joint press conference, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also said revising the treaty was out of question, and Erdoğan did not repeat his comments regarding its revision but urged the Greek leader to implement fully the minority rights of some 150,000 Muslim Turks. Inevitably, journalists asked him about the full implementation of the religious-minority rights of the Greek Orthodox minority living in Turkey. But Erdoğan had already made his point.

It wasn’t only the Greeks who were surprised by Erdoğan’s Lausanne move, Turks were too.

Erdoğan drew Turkey’s attention to the 90-year-old issue with Greece at a time when the world is occupied with another crisis: U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which Erdoğan warned about by saying the city was a “red line for Muslims.”

Today is the first Friday after Trump’s decision and millions of Muslims are expected to take to the streets across the world after Friday prayers by midday. One could expect Erdoğan to step up the tone of his reaction as a sign of putting pressure on the U.S. prior to the Islamic Cooperation Organization’s emergency meeting on Dec. 13 in Istanbul, which he called for as the term president, but instead he chose to focus on Lausanne, showing his mastery on how quick he could change the agenda.

Perhaps thanks to this maneuver he tried to maintain a degree of control over the potential anti-U.S. protests that would erupt - which should not go out of control to avoid unwanted consequences - and at the same time caught the Greeks off guard, unanticipated by them as they wanted to focus on migration cooperation and trade instead.

It seems that Erdoğan’s visit to Greece is likely to be discussed with many aspects in the near future, leaving aside the question on whether it will bring out any political results.

ARKA, Armenia
Dec 8 2017
Armenian border rural communities to continue receiving government assistance 

The Armenian parliament adopted today a set of amendments to the law "On social assistance to border communities" in the second and final reading. The amendments provide for compensation for utility payments for residents of rural communities located on the border with Azerbaijan and which are being shelled by Azerbaijani troops on a regular basis.

The law provides for partial compensation for payments for consumed natural gas, electricity and irrigation water. Compensations are provided also to those residents of the border regions, who use alternative sources such as wood and coal.

The amount of compensation is determined by the government decision. Under the law those residents of border communities who lose their homes as a result of shelling by Azerbaijani armed forces, must be provided with housing by the government in the same community within a month.

"The law first came into force on January 1, 2015 and was to be effective until January 1, 2018, but taking into account its effectiveness and the need to continue providing assistance to border regions, it was decided to extend it by three years more - from 2018 to 2020,” said deputy territorial administration minister Vatche Terteryan.

According to the latest data, the law in question applies to 37 rural communities, which are provided annually a total of 928 million drams in aid. ($ 1 - 485.33 drams). -0-
Armenia Adopts Law Against Domestic Violence at Last
From The Armenian Weekly 

YEREVAN—The National Assembly of Armenia on Friday adopted legislation aimed at combating domestic violence by introducing criminal and administrative liability against those found guilty of the newly defined crime.

The law was passed with 73 votes for and 12 against, with 6 abstentions, after debate and some resistance from a few parliamentarians.

Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan’s government pushed the bill through despite opposition from some of his fellow Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) members. The 12 parliamentarians who voted against the bill, however, were all members of the Tsarukian bloc—a self-described opposition party.

Critics of the bill argued that government interference in family affairs would run counter to Armenian traditional values and undermine the fabric of Armenian society.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary bloc in Armenia, a coalition partner in Armenia’s RPA-led government, first voiced support for the adoption of the bill in October. ARF went on record to say it viewed the proposed bill as an essential part of a societal value system, and necessary for a healthier society.

“The heated discussions and the many opposing views—even regarding our society’s value system—are evidence that problems exist within our society. Any manifestation of violence is reprehensible, especially if it is taking place in the family,” ARF Supreme Council representative Aghvan Vardanyan noted at the time during an interview with Yerevan-based Yerkir Media.

Some Armenian organizations, such as the pan-Armenian Armenian Relief Society (ARS), also voiced support for the proposed bill. “As a country that takes pride in having given women the right to vote during the Independent Republic of 1918—and also having appointed a woman to a diplomatic post at a time when women in most of the developed world did not have the right to vote—this bill comes at an important stage for gender equality in today’s Armenia,” read a part of a statement released by the ARS on Oct. 24.

A petition calling for the Armenian government to pass a law criminalizing domestic violence emerged in late October on the website The petition, addressed to Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, was the result of a grassroots effort by some in the Armenian Diaspora to have a say in the debate taking place in Armenia.

The author of the petition, Annette Moskofian, an active member of the ARF, called for people to sign the petition to help pioneer what she called “a more just Armenia.”

“[We] had strong, progressive legislation and respected equality of genders [during the first Armenian Republic of 1918]. Our present Republic needs to be even more progressive and democratic than the previous one,” she told the Armenian Weekly’s Karine Vann in an interview.

The petition received nearly 3,000 signatures from supporters around the world.

Separately, a statement released by a group of Diaspora Armenian artists, scholars, and writers a little over a week after the petition was released called on the Armenian authorities to adopt the law. The more than 50 signatories included artist and activist Serj Tankian; actor and playwright Eric Bogosian; novelists Chris Bohjalian, Micheline Aharonian Marcom, and Nancy Kricorian; artist and author Vahe Berberian; photographer Scout Tufankjian; and journalist David Barsamian.

Armenia’s Justice Ministry amended the initial draft of the bill, expanding the name from “Prevention of domestic violence and protection of victims of domestic violence,” to “Preventing violence in the family, protecting the victims of violence in the family, and restoring harmony in the family.”

Several groups, including the Yerevan-based Coalition to Stop Violence against Women, criticized the changes to the name and certain parts of the bill. “From the new title of the law, it is obvious that the draft law underwent conceptual changes, shifting from the protection of an individual into ‘family harmony,’ which not only lacks a legal definition but also contradicts local and international legal norms,” read a statement released by the coalition last month. The group also expressed concern that one of the basic principles under the bill’s second article enshrined the protection and maintenance of the “traditional Armenian family.”

“To tell you frankly, it’s a matter of semantics,” Yerevan’s Women’s Support Center Executive Director Maro Matosian told the Armenian Weekly. “For us practitioners, we understand that this is something to appease the opponents to the law. I don’t think the title itself will create much damage. I think that the content of the law is what we should be focusing on,” Matosian said.

The law is not perfect, Matosian said: “It never is the first time.”

“In Georgia, for example, amendments were made two years after the passage to improve it. So we’re hoping for the same thing in Armenia,” Matosian explained, describing the passage of the law as a good step forward for Armenia: “It was very much necessary for Armenia to be in line with international commitments and the conventions that have demanded domestic violence laws.”

Matosian said the new law unfortunately does not criminalize domestic violence right away—that it refers instead to the penal code, which is currently in draft form. “The law also insists on reconciliation, which could be considered a negative point. In cases of domestic violence, this is not accepted practice—because there is an imbalance of power and the victim is dominated,” Matosian said.

The reconciliation clause could be damaging, since, according to Matosian, a police officer or social worker can ask a victim to return to the home and try to reconcile with an abusive husband.

According to the law, however, Armenian law-enforcement authorities will be required to stop violence within families that threatens the lives or health of their members. Police could also force a violent spouse to leave the victim’s home and stay away for as long as 20 days. Courts will be able to extend those bans for 18 months.

The law also specifies that the definition of domestic violence is not limited to physical violence but also sexual, psychological, and economic violence.

Matosian said the passage of the law is significant because it has certain provisions did not previously exist in the country: “These provisions include the training of service providers; confidentiality of the victims; protecting orders; removing the abuser from the homes for a certain period; police accompanying victims to the home to retrieve belongings; and so forth.”

“These were always needed but never in place before,” she said. “In addition, there will be an effort to open new shelters and assist existing shelters.”

For Matosian, the passage of the law sends a strong message to sectors of Armenian society that continue to deny that domestic violence exists in Armenia. “This is proof that it does actually exist and that something should be done about it,” Matosian said.

Many have argued that implementation will be difficult. Matosian said securing proper practices will, in fact, be an uphill battle. “Civil society must be very diligent in this regard, because we are really the only ones monitoring and practicing the support and assistance based on international standards. It’s not going to happen overnight,” she admitted.

Matosian also explained that it is imperative for the law to be accompanied by mechanisms. “The police, for example, will have its own mechanisms put in place regarding implementation—what to do, what not to do. The same goes for legislators, social workers, and so forth,” she noted, “We’re waiting to hear about these mechanisms to be put into place.”

Matosian’s Women’s Support Center will be “keeping an eye out” to see how the law is implemented. “We will try to identify some of the gaps, some of the necessary measures not being taken, and based on that we will make our recommendations and amendments,” she said.

The Women’s Support Center will likely be able to make these recommendations in about a year or a year and a half, after properly identifying the problems, she said: “We can monitor, we can observe, we can draw conclusions based on the evidence.”

A 2011 survey on domestic violence in Armenia, conducted by Proactive Society with support from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), found that almost 60% of survey respondents said they had been subjected to some sort of domestic violence in their lifetime.

xmas 2017 flyer.jpg

No comments: