Saturday, 3 February 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... Dogs in Ancient Armenia

Dogs in Ancient Armenia
Macron, Paylan Invigorate French-Armenian Community During Gala 

PARIS—The Coordinating Council of Armenians Organizations in France (CCAF) held its annual gala on Tuesday, which was attended by French President Emanual Macron and Garo Paylan, the outspoken Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), both of whom elevated the need to uphold human rights in Turkey and around the world. 

In his remarks, Macron pledged to add an Armenian Genocide commemoration day to the French calendar, which according to Agence France Presse was a campaign promise during France’s last contentious presidential elections. 
CCAF co-chair Mourad Papazian welcomes President Emanuel Macron to the gala

CCAF co-chair Mourad Papazian welcomes President Emanuel Macron to the gala 

“The fight for justice and recognition is our fight, we are leading it by memory by supporting the Republican calendar of a day for the commemoration of the genocide,” said Macron, who stressed that it was “essential that the national representation recovers from this subject in the coming months.” 

Macron, who during a meeting with President Serzh Sarkisian last week said he will visit Armenia in October to attend the Francophonie Summit, was the guest of honor at the CCAF’s annual gala, which brought together 500 community members and political officials to fete the accomplishments of the Armenian community. 

Also in attendance were Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, the President of the Île-de-France region Valérie Pécresse, the French elected officials of Armenian origin as Patrick Devedjian or the Mayor of Lyon Georges Képénékian, as well as Jewish community leaders. 

In their remarks, CCAF Co-Chairs Ara Toranian and Mourad Papazian urged Macron to condemn Turkey, which they accused of threatening minorities, including Armenians, and also called on him to visit Artsakh. 
Garo Paylan and President Emanuel Macron hold a discussion during the CCAF gala

Garo Paylan and President Emanuel Macron hold a discussion during the CCAF gala 

“I hope to come with you [to Karabakh] the day we have resolved all this,” Macron said to roaring applause from the crown when addressing the CCAF leaders’ invitation, adding that he were to visit Artsakh now it would diminish the role France is playing in the mediation process. 

“I will not accompany you to Karabakh” because “I will lose all the good France has done for this conflict as a mediator,” Macron said about visiting Artsakh. 

Commenting on the statement, CCAF co-chair Papazian, who is a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau, told Public Radio of Armenia in an interview that “this is an important remark, because it indicates that Mr. Macron sees only a pro-Armenian solution to the issue.” 

“On Turkey, I engaged in a regular and demanding dialogue with President Erdogan, sometimes away from the media,” replied the head of state. “On terrorism, the migration crisis,” we need allies, including those who do not share our values,” he said. 

“Of course we agree [on dialogue with Erdogan], but we want issues of democracy, human rights and Armenian Genocide recognition to be put on the table. Macron said he was planning to have a comprehensive dialogue with Erdogan and pledged to raise the Armenian Genocide issue at the meetings,” Papazian told Public Radio of Armenia. 

Macron warmly greeted Paylan and said that France “supports the courageous voices that rise.” 

The two held a brief meeting during which they discussed issues of human right in Turkey, as well as Turkey’s recent military campaign in Syria with both expressing concern over the recent developments. 

Papazian characterized Paylan’s meeting with Macron as very important since he said “Paylan’s life is danger in Turkey.” 

Pan Armenian, Armenia
Feb 1 2018
Turkey reacts to Macron’s Armenian Genocide remarks 

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has reacted to French president Emanuel Macron 's remarks about designating a special day in the French national calendar for the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide . 

In response, Cavusoglu slammed the French president’s statement and advised him against making comments that damage diplomatic relations between the two countries. 

Cavusoglu also stated that Macron is in no position to “teach a lesson” to Turkey over its latest offensive in Afrin, as "France invaded Algeria in the mid-1900s." 

Macron, who will visit Armenia for La Francophonie summit in October, was the guest of honor at the dinner hosted by French-Armenian songwriter and jazz musician André Manoukian, which brought together 500 representatives of the Armenian community. 

European Union News
January 31, 2018 Wednesday
Foreign travel advice Azerbaijan

London: UK Government has issued the following news release:

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel
to: Nagorno-Karabakh and the military occupied area surrounding it
within 5km of the Line of Contact within 5km of the border with

Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh
continue. Several ceasefire violations along the Line of Contact
separating the opposing forces and elsewhere on the inter-state border
between Azerbaijan and Armenia have taken place in 2017, resulting in
a number of deaths and casualties. See Local travel

Anyone who has visited Nagorno-Karabakh without the permission of the
Azerbaijani authorities will be refused entry to Azerbaijan.

All British nationals travelling to Azerbaijan must get a visa in
advance. See Visas

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Azerbaijan. See Terrorism
Around 7,000 British nationals visit Azerbaijan every year, mainly on
business. Most visits are trouble free.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government,
contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance, including cover
for medical evacuation, before you travel. 

Public Radio of Armenia
Feb 1 2018
Western Armenian assigned the “hyw” language code 

SIL International, the ISO 639-3 registrar decided on January 30, 2018 to provide a separate “hyw” language code for to Western Armenian. The initiative is a result of joint effort by Wikimedia Armenia Scientific-Educational NGO and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Eastern Armenian and Western Armenian are two separate branches of modern Armenian language that have developed in different directions and structures, in separate places and in separate literature that are not always read or understood by the other side. After Armenia’s independence, Eastern Armenian, Middle Armenian and Grabar received separate linguistic codes, but Western Armenian did not have one by now.

Three years ago Wikimedia Armenia Scientific-Educational NGO and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation partnered to promote Western Armenian. Within this framework, representatives of Western Armenian communities created content in Wikipedia in Western Armenian.

Though Western Armenian is widely used, in 2010 it was included in the UNESCO map of world-endangered languages.

PanArmenian, Armenia
Jan 31 2018
Armenia to install internationally accepted road signs 

Armenia will switch to internationally accepted road signs , deputy minister of transport, communication and information technologies Gagik Grigoryan said at the sitting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defense and Security on Wednesday, January 31.

According to him, by joining the Convention on Road Signs and Signals, Armenia is assuming the responsibility to accept traffic signs, signals and symbols, as well as the road marking system as described in the convention and introduce it as soon as possible, reports.

Grigoryan said within four years after the convention takes effect in the country, Armenia will have to replace or complete any signs or markings applied not in the meaning provided for in the convention.

Besides, he said, the installation of billboards and posters which may distract the attention of road users will be prohibited.

The Convention on Road Signs and Signals, commonly known as the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals, is a multilateral treaty designed to increase road safety and aid international road traffic by standardising the signing system for road traffic (road signs, traffic lights and road markings) in use internationally.

The convention has about 70 state parties as of August 2016.

RFE/L Report
Ex-PM Sees Major Presidential Powers January 31, 2018
Karlen Aslanian

Former Prime Minister Armen Sarkissian, who is tipped to become Armenia's
next president, has dismissed suggestions that he would play a largely
ceremonial role as head of state because of the country's impending
transformation into a parliamentary republic.

The switch to the parliamentary republic will make the Armenian prime
minister the most powerful state official with wide-ranging executive
powers, including those of commander-in-chief. Those powers have until
now been wielded by President Serzh Sarkisian and his predecessors.

In an interview with the private Shant TV channel aired late on Tuesday,
Sarkissian again stated that he has yet to decide whether to accept the
outgoing president's proposal to succeed him as head of state in
April. But he also pointedly disagreed with those who believe that the
next Armenian president will be "without powers."

"If they read the constitution carefully they will see that it envisages
not a limited monarchy but more powers than are enjoyed by the presidents
of many European parliamentary republics," said the ex-premier currently
serving as Armenia's ambassador to Britain.

"Obviously, the president of the republic will have to stick to the
letter and the spirit of the constitution during their tenure," he went
on. "But you and I know very well that with the same letters and the same
words one can write different sentences and express different thoughts."

Sarkissian did not specify policy areas on which he believes the
president could exert strong influence.He said only that he would "make
every effort to develop the economy and create jobs" if he is elected

Under Armenia's controversially amended constitution, the next president
of the republic will be elected by the parliament for a seven-year term
and be primarily tasked with ensuring "observance of the constitution" by
various branches of government. In particular, he or she will be able to
send parliament-approved bills to the Constitutional Court for
examination in case of objecting to their provisions. The bills will have
to be signed into law if the court certifies their conformity with the
basic law.

The president will also be empowered to appoint members of the
government, Armenian ambassadors abroad and the Armenian army's top brass
nominated by the prime minister. In addition, he or she can sign
international treaties recommended by the ruling cabinet.

Sarkissian, 64, has lived and worked in Britain for nearly three
decades. He is thought to have made a big fortune there in the 2000s when
he worked as a consultant and adviser for major Western corporations as
well as lending institutions. , Armenia
Feb 1 2018
Cable car to be build in Armenia’s Shahumyan town will transport 2,400 people in one hour 

The construction of an 8-kilometer aerial tramway will get underway this year in Shahumyan town, in the Lori Province of Armenia.

Lori Governor Artur Nalbandyan said the respective planning is expected to be completed within two months, construction will get underway between July and August, and the ropeway construction is planned to be completed within nine months.

In his words, the plan to construct this cable car system was transferred from Vanadzor town to Shahumyan because the duration of snow cover is longer in Shahumyan than in Vanadzor, and the path in Shahumyan will be 8 kilometers, whereas solely about 4 kilometers were planned in Vanadzor.

The aerial tram will transport 2,400 people in one hour, and it will be longest sky tram in the region.

A total of 150 hectares of land will be allocated for the construction of this cable car, as well as two hotels and two restaurants.

The entire project will be completed by 2020.

RFE/RL Report
Armenia Aims To Use Less Russian Gas For Power Generation
January 31, 2018
Emil Danielyan

The Armenian government has reaffirmed its pledges to significantly
increase the share of hydropower and other renewables in domestic
electricity production at the expense of natural gas mostly imported from

According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), hydroelectric plants
accounted for about 30 percent of electricity generated in Armenia last
year. By comparison, thermal power plants using gas had a 37 percent
share in the total. Virtually all of the remaining 33.7 percent of energy
was generated by the Metsamor nuclear power station, NSS data shows.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Ashot Manukian reiterated on
Tuesday that his ministry is keen to ensure that renewable sources meet
at least half of Armenia's energy needs within the next few years. That
is essential for boosting the country's "energy security," he said at a
meeting with Prime Minister Karen Karapetian.

A government statement cited Karapetian as telling Manukian and other
senior Energy Ministry officials, also present at the meeting, to
continue these and other activities "with greater momentum."

Hydropower provided only one-fifth of Armenia's electricity a decade
ago. Its share in overall power generation has increased substantially
since then thanks to more than 150 small hydroelectric plants built on
fast-flowing mountainous rivers. According to Manukian, 36 more such
plants with a combined capacity of 69 megawatts will be built by private
investors in the next two or three years.

The minister also cited the planned construction of a 76-megawatt plant
on the Debed river flowing through the northern Lori province. The $150
million project is led by Samvel Karapetian, a Russian-Armenian
billionaire businessman. The Robbins Company, a U.S. manufacturer of
giant tunnel-boring machines, announced in October plans to participate
in its implementation. Work on that facility court start by the end of
this year.

The government hopes that solar energy will become another major source
of electricity supply. It called last year an international tender for
the construction of a 55-megawatt solar power plant in the eastern
Gegharkunik province which will be financed by the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Deputy Energy Minister Hayk Harutiunian announced on Wednesday that ten
foreign companies have been shortlisted for the final phase of the
tender. "This plant will make a serious contribution to the development
of renewable energy," he said, according to the Armenpress news agency.

Three much smaller solar plants were already built in various parts of
the country late last year. Work on several others is reportedly in

Harutiunian said at Tuesday's meeting that ACCIONA Energy, a Spanish
company specializing in renewables, has started exploring the possibility
of building large wind farms in Armenia that could have a combined
capacity of at least 100 megawatts. Prime Minister Karapetian met with
top ACCIONA executives on January 24 on the sidelines of the World
Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

In Manukian's words, the Energy Ministry also expects that the volume of
natural gas used by Armenian thermal power plants will fall by at least
20 percent by 2021 thanks to their greater efficiency. The minister
singled out the ongoing construction by an Italian company of the second
block of one such plant located in Yerevan. The plant's existing power
generating unit will be modernized by the U.S. giant General Electric, he

In addition, Manukian predicted a sizable increase in electricity
production by the Metsamor nuclear plant. The Soviet-era facility is
currently undergoing capital repairs aimed at extending the life of its
420-megawatt reactor by 10 years, until 2027. The Russian government
provided Yerevan with a $270 million loan and a $30 million grant for
this purpose in 2015.

Russia is also Armenia's principal gas supplier. The government statement
on Karapetian's meeting with the top energy officials said imports of
Russian gas rose by 7 percent last year.It said nothing about the scale
of a fall in Russian gas supplies which would almost certainly result
from greater reliance on renewable energy planned by the government.

New Biography Portrays Kirk Kerkorian, Not Trump, as ‘the Greatest Deal Maker’
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier 

William Rempel, a veteran investigative reporter, just wrote a comprehensive biography of industrialist and philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian published by Harper Collins. The book is titled, “The Gambler: How Penniless dropout Kirk Kerkorian became the greatest deal maker in capitalist history.”

Rempel has meticulously pieced together the details of Kerkorian’s phenomenal and extremely private life through war records, business archives, court documents, recollections and recorded memories of longtime friends and associates.

Although both are Billionaires and casino owners, Kerkorian and Donald Trump had very little in common. Rempel wrote: “Fellow casino owner Donald Trump called Kirk ‘the king’ and told friends: ‘I love that guy.’ However, Kirk was Trump’s polar opposite in style and temperament. Kirk was soft-spoken and understated with a paralyzing fear of public speaking. He wished, he said, that he ‘could talk like Trump.’ Kirk also wanted his name on nothing -- not on buildings, not on street signs, not even on his personal parking spot at MGM Studios. And Kirk never defaulted on a loan and always regarded his handshake as a binding contract.”

When Kerkorian’s new multi-billion dollar ‘CityCenter’ hotel-casino complex at the heart of Las Vegas ran into financial trouble in 2009, Rempel wrote that Trump initially expressed some sympathy: “I love Kirk and hope it works out for them.” Trump then turned around and called the ‘CityCenter’ project “an absolute catastrophe” during an interview on CNN’s Larry King Show. Trump later stated: “It will be the biggest bust in the history of real estate…too bad.” Of course, Trump was wrong in his prediction. Kerkorian, once again, bounced back on his feet and ‘CityCenter’ became a great financial success!

While Kerkorian was on the Forbes magazine’s billionaires list in 1989, Trump was also initially on that list. However, soon after, Forbes dumped Trump from its list of billionaires explaining that “they had been misled by incomplete information provided by Trump…. The future U.S. president’s net worth was then, said the editors, ‘within hailing distance of zero.’”

A press release issued by Harper Collins described Rempel’s biography of Kerkorian as the “rags-to-riches story of one of America’s wealthiest and least-known financial giants, self-made billionaire Kirk Kerkorian -- the daring aviator, movie mogul, risk taker, and business tycoon who transformed Las Vegas and Hollywood to become one of the leading financiers in American business.”

One of the key advantages of this biography is the extensive coverage of Kerkorian’s philanthropy for the Armenian-American community and the Republic of Armenia. In the past two years, I spent several hours with author William Rempel to brief him about Kerkorian’s contributions to American-Armenian charitable organizations and major projects in Armenia. Rempel described me in the book as: “Publisher of the California Courier, an English-language Armenian weekly based in Glendale, California, was also president of the United Armenian Fund [now Armenia Artsakh Fund] and the driving force behind Kirk’s Armenian charity efforts.” In reality, Kerkorian himself was the driving force behind his charitable giving! He really cared about the Armenian community’s well-being and Armenia’s prosperity.”

Although Kerkorian remains a very well-known and highly respected name among Armenians worldwide, many non-Armenians are unaware that he was an Armenian-American. Fortunately, Rempel’s biography devotes three chapters to Kerkorian’s Armenian heritage and philanthropy.

Chapter 12 of the book is titled: “The Armenian Connection.” It describes Kerkorian’s chance meeting in Las Vegas with Manny Agassi in 1963, a waiter at Tropicana hotel and a fellow Armenian originally from Tehran, Iran. Manny became a close friend of Kerkorian and named his future son, Andre Kirk Agassi, who became a famous tennis player. Rempel also described Kerkorian’s business dealings with George Mason (Elmassian), his longtime stockbroker, and the founder of the California Courier newspaper in 1958.

In chapter 31, Rempel described the tragic earthquake of December 7, 1988, in Northern Armenia and how Kerkorian agreed to join the United Armenian Fund in sending over 150 airlifts for the next 25 years to transport $700 million of humanitarian aid initially to the survivors of the earthquake, and subsequently to the entire population of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh). The biographer Rempel also described how the United Armenian Fund was founded, a coalition of the seven largest Armenian-American charitable and religious organizations, including Kerkorian’s Lincy Foundation. Alex Yemenidjian was Chairman of the United Armenian Fund and Harut Sassounian was its President.

Chapter 36 is titled: “Genocide and Generosity.” It described Kerkorian’s first-ever visit to Armenia in 1998 on his private jet accompanied by Harut Sassounian. The chapter relates conversations about Turkey and the occupied Armenian lands during the flight to Armenia and discussions to fund new projects by Kerkorian’s Lincy Foundation. I was subsequently appointed Vice Chairman of the Lincy Foundation to oversee $242 million of infrastructure projects in Armenia and some in Artsakh. This revealing book also includes amusing anecdotes about Kerkorian’s uncomfortable stay in an old Soviet-style mansion which forced him to switch to the Marriott Hotel, and his traumatic visit to the Armenian Genocide Museum in Yerevan!

Kirk Kerkorian’s biography is the fascinating story of a unique human being. He was a brilliant businessman, an extremely modest philanthropist, a true American as well as a true Armenian. As a last indication of his kindness and generosity, he departed this world in 2015 at the age of 98, leaving his entire fortune of $2 billion to charity, in addition to the $1 billion he had already donated to American and Armenian charitable causes through the Lincy Foundation.

I recommend that every Armenian buy a copy of Kirk’s biography and suggest it to their non-Armenian neighbors, friends and colleagues. Kerkorian’s incredible accomplishments bestow a great honor upon Armenians worldwide!

No comments: