Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Armenian News... A Topalian...25% of manuscript stock of Matenadaran

Armenpress News Agency, Armenia
December 20, 2017 Wednesday
25% of Matenadaran's manuscripts digitized
25% of manuscript stock of Matenadaran - The Mesrop Mashtots 

Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, is digitized, acting director of the 
Matenadaran Vahan Ter-Ghevondyan told ARMENPRESS.

“Seems it’s a small percentage, but large-scale works have been done
for that. The digitization process continues every year. I would like
to add that the digitization is directly linked with the restoration
works. After the restoration the new manuscript is sent for
digitization”, he said.

During this year the Matenadaran got a new equipment by the support of
the State Science Committee. “Before the new technologies, microfilms
were used. This device was working slowly. But today we have a new
device which digitizes any microtape”, he said.

He informed that next year the German partners will donate a device
which will allow to read the manuscripts on the parchment.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Government Expects Strong Growth In 2017
December 21, 2017
Emil Danielyan
Sargis Harutyunyan

Armenia's economy will grow by more than 6 percent this year after
stagnating in 2016, President Serzh Sarkisian said on Thursday.

A senior Armenian government official forecast even faster economic
growth earlier in the day.

"Only ten days remain until the end of the year, so let's wait and see
[macroeconomic data,]" Deputy Minister for Economic Development Tigran
Khachatrian told reporters. "A growth rate exceeding 7 percent is

Speaking after a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Khachatrian said
growth is driven by upswings in manufacturing, trade and other
services as well as rising exports.

"I don't want to make predictions but think that we are going to have
economic growth of more than 6 percent," Sarkisian told leading
Armenian businesspeople at a traditional year-end reception held in
the presidential palace in Yerevan.

The Armenian government forecast a 3.2 percent growth rate for 2017 a
year ago. Official statistics showed the country's Gross Domestic
Product increasing by around 5 percent in the first half of this year
on the back of a double-digit rise in industrial output.

Finance Minister Vartan Aramian said in September that full-year
growth will likely come in at 4.3 percent.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian said
the domestic economy will expand even faster but gave no numbers

Both Sarkisian and Karapetian also touted a 23.5 percent rise in
Armenian exports which they said passed the record-high $2 billion
mark in January-November 2017. "We have never had such an indicator,"
the president said.

"For the first time in a fairly long time, our dear Armenian dram is
not feeling any [downward] pressure in December and is on the contrary
trying to gain ground," he added.

In its most recent World Economic Outlook released in October, the
International Monetary Fund said that Armenian growth will reach 3.5
percent this year. The IMF forecast a 3 percent growth rate in June.

For its part, the international rating agency Fitch revised its 2017
growth projection for Armenia from 3.4 percent to 4.3 percent last
week. "The economy is experiencing a strong recovery following a large
external shock in 2014-15, driven by a structural improvement in
export performance, firmer external demand conditions and recovering
remittances, and supported by a credible monetary policy framework,"
it said.

Fitch also upgraded Armenia's economic outlook from "stable" to
"positive" and gave the country a "B+" credit rating.

According to official statistics, the Armenian economy grew by only
0.2 percent last year not least because of a recession in Russia,
Armenia's leading trading partner and main source of migrant worker
remittances. Russia has posted modest growth this year.

Panorama, Armenia
Dec 22 2017
Armenia voices its disagreement with unilateral decisions by backing UN resolution rejecting Trump's decision on Jerusalem – expert 

Making unilateral decisions over the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital is wrong, as it is inappropriate to make one-sided decisions on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement process, an Armenian expert said on Friday.

Speaking to Panorama.am, Tevan Poghosyan, who also heads the International Center for Human Development NGO, stated such issues need to be negotiated in a comprehensive manner, with an agreement reached between all the sides, as he commented on the newly adopted resolution by the United Nations General Assembly on the status of Jerusalem.

The UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution that will make US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital have no legal effect.  The draft resolution tabled by Turkey and Yemen was adopted 128-9 with 35 abstentions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed satisfaction over the decision.

Touching upon the fact Armenia voted for the mentioned resolution, the expert highlighted by backing the measure the country did not voice its support to Turkey, but rather expressed disagreement with the process of adopting a one-sided decision  to be imposed later to the entire world.

“Armenia’s vote should be viewed more globally. Dealing with the Artsakh conflict, we have to condition any voting with that issue, taking into the effects it can leave on ourselves. A similar approach was adopted when voting on the issue of Ukraine. The thing refered to an initiative where it was impossible to oppose the right to self-determination and to put the Ukrainian-Armenian community at risk,” Tevan Poghosyan said.

The expert noted that the consequences of Armenia's voting in the UN will largely depend on how our country will support its vote to the American and Israeli sides. Moreover, Armenia should immediately explain this step, instead of waiting for various comments to release.

“If we do not delay, there will be no consequences, but if we defer we will be reminded of our vote, as we are reminded of a number of previous votes. If any pressure is exerted on Armenia our vote will certainly be recalled at that time,” he added.

Summing up, Mr. Poghosyan stated the UN resolution will no way affect the policies pursued by the US and Israel, as evidenced by a series of UN-adopted decisions against Israel, which however did not hinder that country to move forward.

As far as the US is concerned, the country, according to the expert, will run a policy of self-interest towards those 128 countries, which backed the UN General Assembly’s resolution.

RFE/RL Report 
European Body Calls For More Anti-Graft Measures In Armenia
December 21, 2017

An anti-graft arm of the Council of Europe on Thursday urged the
Armenian authorities to make "further significance progress" in
combatting corruption and boosting judicial independence in the

The Strasbourg-based Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) said
so far they have fully taken only five of the 18 policy measures that
were recommended by it last year. "Of the remaining recommendations,
twelve have been partly implemented and one has not been implemented,"
it said.

In a February 2016 report, GRECO described corruption as an "important
problem for Armenian society." The 18 recommendations contained by it
concern independence of judges and prosecutors as well as corrupt
practices among them and members of Armenia's parliament.

GRECO assessed the authorities' response to those proposals in a
follow-up report. The five recommendations which it says Yerevan has
"implemented satisfactorily" relate to the work of judges, the
appointment and dismissal of prosecutors and mandatory asset
declarations by these and other state officials.

"GRECO notes that further significant progress is necessary in order
to achieve an acceptable level of compliance with the [other]
recommendations within the next 18 months," reads its latest report.

Most of the "partly implemented" recommendations also involve
mechanisms for boosting judicial independence and preventing "improper
political influence" on Armenian prosecutors. In particular, they call
for restricting the Armenian president's role in the selection and
dismissal of judges.

In that regard, GRECO welcomed relevant constitutional amendments that
were enacted in Armenia in 2015. It stressed, though, that the
authorities in Yerevan have yet to put in place "effective rules
against undue interference" in court cases.

Despite having undergone frequent structural changes over the past two
decades, Armenia's judicial system is still regarded by many people as
corrupt and dependent on the government. Armenia's former human rights
ombudsman, Karen Andreasian, highlighted the problem in a 2013 report
that accused judges of routinely taking bribes.

At least four Armenian judges are known to have been arrested and
prosecuted on charges of bribery over the past year.

News.am, Armenia
Dec 24 2017
Bekchyan: 11 priests were invited to participate in elections of Patriarch of Constantinople
Eleven priests were sent proposals regarding the participation in the election of the Patriarch of Constantinople, but not all responded, Archbishop Garegin Bekchyan, the patriarchal locum tenens of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, told Armenian News-NEWS.am .

“The head of the Shirak Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Bishop Mikael Ajapakhyan, Bishop Sahak Mashalyan, the Primate of the Gagark Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Bishop Sepuh Chuljyan, Archbishop Aram Ateshyan and several others have already responded that they are going to participate in the elections. There are still no response from the rest,” Bekchyan said.

The elections were first set for December 13, but they did not take place, since there is no written permission from the Turkish authorities. 
Asked how Bechchyan himself assesses his capabilities, the locum tenens replied: “You should ask people what they think about me”.

Public Radio of Armenia
Dec 22 2017
Armenian church in Kayseri to be renovated 

The Armenian Surp Grigor Lusavorich (Gregory the Illumination) Church in Kayseri, Turkey, will be restored, Hurriyet reports. The municipality will allocate 3.5 million liras (over $900 thousand) for the purpose.

Metropolitan Municipality Deputy Secretary General Hamdi Elcım said that the restoration and repair works will start at the beginning of 2018 after the permission from Kayseri Regional Protection Board of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The project is expected to be completed within 4.5 months.

According to the source, the church was first mentioned in 1191. The demolished church was rebuilt in 1859. In 1885, the church was renovated with the support of the people in a short time.

The city of Kayseri has an important place in the history of the Armenian church. With a population of 400,000 in 250, Kayseri is where St. Gregory the Illumination grew up, was educated and became Christian.

Dec 21 2017
Iconic Armenian church survives war but not plunder in Turkey
Mahmut Bozarslan  

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — In the 1950s, the Turkish state returned the centuries-old Surp Giragos Armenian Church in Diyarbakir to the city’s Armenian community, after having used it as a warehouse for years. Armenian writer Migirdic Margosyan, a native of Diyarbakir, describes how ironsmiths, carpenters, painters and goldsmiths from the city’s “Infidel Quarter” joined hands to “ revive that wreck ” and reopen it quickly to worship, keen to preserve “the legacy of their ancestors.”

Little could the volunteers have known then that the ordeal involving the largest Armenian church in the Middle East was far from over. By the early 1980s, Surp Giragos was a church without a congregation as Diyarbakir’s Armenians dwindled away. Abandoned to its fate, the church fell into decay. When a new restoration began in 2008, only its walls were standing, with the windows broken, the roof collapsed and the interiors filled with soil.

During the three-year restoration , every corner of the church was meticulously repaired. An expert craftsman — one of only three left in Turkey — was brought to Diyarbakir and worked for half a year to renovate and complete the seven altars. The overhaul was crowned with a new church bell , brought from Russia. As services resumed , the church became a meeting point for Armenians — natives of Diyarbakir but now scattered across the world — and an attraction for tourists visiting the city.

This new atmosphere, however, was short-lived. In the fall off 2015, security forces cracked down on urban militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party, who had entrenched themselves behind ditches and barricades in residential areas in Sur , the ancient heart of Diyarbakir, where the church is nestled. Only months before the clashes erupted, UNESCO had put Sur on its World Heritage list .

The militants used the church as an emplacement and infirmary to treat their wounded, as evidenced by the medical waste found later inside. As the security forces advanced, the militants left the church, and this time the security forces used it. After the monthslong clashes , the church emerged with its yard walls ruined and riddled with bullets. Still, the Armenian community took solace in the fact that the church itself was standing. The authorities promised to repair the church and return it to the community.

The church was presumed to be under protection since the area remained sealed off even after the clashes ended in March 2016. Since then, however, the church has become the target of thieves , who broke in twice and stole various objects. How the thieves managed to sneak in remains a mystery, for even members of the church board need official permission to enter.

Most recently, a more malicious intruder — or intruders — broke into the church, apparently with a sledgehammer that was used to smash altars and reliefs. Armen Demirciyan, who used to work as a caretaker at Surp Giragos, said the news of plunder and desecration “cut him to the bone.”

He told Al-Monitor, “We had one place here and it is now gone. I am devastated. We had so many valuable things — they are all gone. We had an antique rifle — they have stolen it. They have broken the altars and stolen the books. In short, the place has been ravaged.”

For Demirciyan, the loss is not only about a church, but also about a meeting point for a community scattered across the world. “We worked so hard to restore it and now all our efforts have gone down the drain. It was a place that brought us [Armenians] together,” he added.

After news of the latest assault, Aram Atesyan, the Istanbul-based acting patriarch of Turkey’s Armenian community, flew to Diyarbakir in late November to inspect the damage . Visibly shaken after the visit, he said, “They have broken everything with a sledgehammer. It had taken three years to make those handmade ornaments. The altars are all broken to pieces.” What was ravaged, he stressed, is not solely an Armenian house of worship but a historical monument that belongs to Turkey. “Those monuments are the riches of the entire country,” he said. “This place does not belong only to us — it belongs to this state and these lands.”

Gaffur Turkay [note name], a member of the church board and a resident of Diyarbakir, witnessed how the church fell into decay in the 1980s and then was reborn half a decade ago. “We were so moved, so full of hope after we brought the church … back into magnificent shape. We would go there every day just to sit and take care of it,” he told Al-Monitor.

Turkay was among those who inspected the damage after the clashes. “The church was on its feet. At least its basic elements — the walls, the roof and the tower bell — were intact,” he said. Despite some damage in the interior, the board was content that the edifice survived the clashes in much better shape than the Armenian Catholic Church and several mosques nearby, he noted.

Turkay said that as the uncertainty in Sur dragged on and the area remained off-limits to residents, “We got permissions from time to time to check on the church. In the past three or four months, we began to discover new damage each time we visited the church. We informed the authorities several times and asked them to find a solution but, unfortunately, the rings of the columns were ripped off first and then the altars were shattered with hammers. All figurines, reliefs, paintings and other materials were ransacked.”

For Turkay, the fact that hammer-wielding vandals could enter and damage the house of worship while members of the church board could only go there after receiving permission is a bitter pill to swallow. 
Journalists, for instance, need permissions from various institutions in both Diyarbakir and Ankara to take pictures or film inside Surp Giragos, and sometimes even those permissions are not enough. Last year, this reporter witnessed how policemen standing on guard at the corner of the church turned away a foreign television crew, although it had obtained permission to film in the area. Curiously, the intruders are able to elude the security measures.

“Only construction workers can enter [Sur]. A very limited number of people can go and they are all under the control of the authorities,” Turkay said. “If this beautiful structure is going to be missing something else each time we go, this is a very serious problem.”

Mahmut Bozarslan is based in Diyarbakir, the central city of Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. A journalist since 1996, he has worked for the mass-circulation daily Sabah, the NTV news channel, Al Jazeera Turk and Agence France-Presse (AFP), covering the many aspects of the Kurdish question, as well as the local economy and women’s and refugee issues. He has frequently reported also from Iraqi Kurdistan. On Twitter: @ mahmutbozarslan

Pan Armenian, Armenia
Dec 23 2017
Sitcom about Armenian, Azerbaijani students coming to YouTube in 2018
A group of like-minded people in Germany have started production of a sitcom about three students from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia who, by coincidence, come to settle in the same apartment in Berlin and are forced to live and study together.

The comedy series will be available to viewers as early as 2018, BBC reports.

According to one of the creators of the series, Oliver Musser, they already have the script, while the first season of the show will be available on YouTube in 2018.

“Dolma Diaries” is the the first option of the title.

“Armenians and Azerbaijanis disagree about territory, history, food, international influence, and we thought that food could be used for the title of a comedy series,” Musser said.

Despite the fact that dolma is a purely Armenian dish, it was registered as a “traditional Azerbaijani dish.” 
The Express, UK
Dec 24 2017
Man Utd in talks with Inter Milan for January Henrikh Mkhitaryan deal
INTER MILAN want to take Manchester United outcast Henrikh Mkhitaryan on loan in January, according to reports in Italy.
By James Cambridge 

Henrikh Mkhitaryan started the season strongly for Manchester United with one goal and five assists in his first five Premier League games.

However, since September the Armenia international’s form has taken a nosedive and he has fallen out of favour with Jose Mourinho.

He has not been in the United squad for five of the last six league matches amid reports Mourinho is unhappy with his fitness levels.

But the 28-year-old could soon be offered an escape route from Old Trafford with Inter Milan said to be keen to take him on loan.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport claim Inter are looking at Mkhitaryan to bolster their attacking options for the season run-in.

The San Siro club are having a stellar campaign and are just five points off league leaders Napoli.

And Inter boss Luciano Spalletti has reportedly identified the United outcast as a perfect addition to his squad.

The report says the Italian side have made contact with the Red Devils about a loan and are also keen to include a clause for a permanent move.

However, United are reportedly demanding £35million for Mkhitaryan which could put him out of Inter’s reach.

The Serie A giants would need to offload players first to meet Financial Fair Play guidelines before bringing in the midfielder permanently.

Mkhitaryan is under contract at Old Trafford until June 2020, having signed from Borussia Dortmund last summer.

He has made 19 appearances in all competitions this term, scoring two goals and providing six assists.

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