Friday, 16 March 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... Entertainment, Dickran Tahta, and much much more!!!....

Tigran Hamasyan at the Barbican, London
Another high flying Armenian musician with an international

following who will fill this hall 

(as we bid farewell to an extraordinary physicist, let's remember 
that his school maths teacher was an inspirational Armenian)
Scientist Stephen Hawking Pays Tribute to his Armenian Teacher
Dikran Tahta
March 9, 2016 
LONDON(BBC News) — Scientist Stephen Hawking has paid tribute to the teacher who inspired his early steps into scholarship. Dikran Tahta was a British-Armenian mathematician and teacher who was one of Hawking’s teachers in his youth at St. Albans School in Hertfordshire, England.

He says that Tahta opened his eyes to maths, which he describes as the “blueprint of the universe.”

“My handwriting was bad, and I would be lazy. Many teachers were boring. Not Mr. Tahta,” said the physicist.

Professor Hawking was speaking ahead of this weekend’s award of the Global Teacher Prize.

The award-winning scientist has recorded a video commending his teacher, who died in 2006.

“His classes were lively and exciting. Everything could be debated. Together we built my first computer, it was made with electro-mechanical switches,” said Professor Hawking.

“Thanks to Tahta, I became a professor of mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by Isaac Newton.”

Hawking said that “behind every exceptional person, there is an exceptional teacher.”

Tahta’s family settled in Manchester after the Armenian Genocide. Much of his childhood, and the influence of his Armenian religious upbringing, is reflected upon in his penultimate book Ararat Associations, in which he notes how his parents were keen for their children to have an English education, yet made sure that they spoke Armenian at home. He was christened by Bishop Tourian in the Armenian Church in Manchester, and his name Dikran was shortened to Dick, but he never forgot his Armenian roots. 
Armenian priest's confession about Holy Fire causes scandal in Jerusalem
12 Mar 2018

On the eve of Christian Easter celebration, Samuel Agoyan, the priest who represents the Armenian Patriarchate in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, told 'Hadashot 2' about the miracle of the Holy Fire - to the great indignation of the representative of the Coptic church who demanded to stop the shooting immediately.

As NEWS.IsraelInfo writes in the article ' the Jerusalem priest unearthed a mystery of the Holy Fire at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre ', the Holy Fire ceremony which takes place on the last Friday on the eve of Orthodox Easter annually attracts thousands of Eastern Christians to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. According to the belief supported by the Orthodox churches, a miraculous, non-burning flame "descends from heaven" into the hands of the Greek patriarch, who, along with the patriarch of the Armenian church, distributes it to believers gathered around the church.

The priest Agoyan, who has attended the Holy Fire ceremony in the Edicule of the Tomb three times, honestly told the reporter Igal Mosko that the patriarchs lit the bundles of wax candles from an oil lamp inside the empty tomb, adding that there was nothing mysterious about the Holy Fire. "God works miracles, but not for the amusement of people," the clergyman explained.

These words angered a Coptic clergyman, who was standing next to him. "Stop the shooting, he lies!" the clergymen cried. Agoyan objected that the Copts, unlike the Armenians, do not attend the Holy Fire ceremony, but this irresistible argument did not convince his brother in Christ who continued to convince the Israeli journalist that a miraculous fire descends from the sky, and the crafty Armenian tells lies.

The Holy Fire is delivered from Jerusalem to Moscow, Athens and other Orthodox capitals by special planes, about which the author of the report about the strife, "secrets and lies" in "the main shrine of the Christian world" had not failed to inform the Israeli audience. Foreign medieval prejudices always look funny - and harmless, unlike own voracious "holy cows".

But a real miracle at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was a recent strike, when representatives of three mutually hostile Christian denominations were able to unite in the struggle against Jerusalem's mayor's office.
March 12 2018
Nearly 300 grape varieties to have certificates in Armenia 
Nearly 300 wild and local grape varieties will have certificates in Armenia. The program, carried out for the first time in Armenia, is realized for the varieties included in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ collection and demonstrative garden, head of the Winemaking and Viticulture Foundation Zaruhi Muradyan told ARMENPRESS. She said that the UN’s food and agriculture organization has passed on the maintenance function of the garden to the foundation.

“We’ve collected approximately 298 wild and local varieties, we are carrying out phenotypic and genotype research with experts from the cytology institute in order to create certificates for each variety. An electronic database will also be created. This is the first time when a similar work is being done in Armenia”, she said.

The garden is located in Vagharshapat., Armenia
March 13 2018
Seekers of Armenians’ “treasures” detained in Turkey
Police in Turkey have detained the seekers of “treasures” hidden by Armenians, in Kayseri town.

Kayseri law enforcement received a report that some persons were secretly drilling in a place, and with the hope of finding treasures, according to Cumhuriyet newspaper of Turkey.

The police officers who arrived at the scene detained three persons, who confessed that they wanted to find a treasure because they had heard that there are a large number of treasures that were hidden a long time ago in that place.

On the way to being taken to court, a reporter asked them whether they had found the treasures; and one of these treasure-hunters responded: “We were looking for a king’s crown, but we found pieces of bone.” 
Armenia’s President-elect Encourages Open Dialogue with Diasporans as the Way Forward
On March 12 , 2018, Armen Sarkissian, who will be sworn in as the new President of the Republic of Armenia in April, visited AGBU's Central Office in New York for a candid conversation with young professionals in the Armenian community. His purpose was to initiate and foster a renewed engagement with the homeland, as the way forward for Armenia's future success.

Mr. Sarkissian contended that after 26 years of war, financial setbacks and social hardships, Armenia is now poised to achieve the dream of having "a small republic but a global nation." This was a recurring theme throughout the evening, along with other concepts such as good citizenship, engaging Armenians who are not connected to their heritage with real success stories and, most important, achieving unity of Armenia and diaspora.

Moderator Lara Setrakian, CEO and Executive Editor of News Deeply, framed the discussion as the start of an ongoing dialogue, a forum for the exchange of ideas with the new president. "This is a potential turning point for the Republic of Armenia," she said. "We feel very fortunate to be having this conversation now."

When she opened the floor to questions for the President-elect, Mr. Sarkissian turned the tables by saying "I am here to listen to you rather than to tell you. I am here to understand what are the expectations of the next generation of Armenians." He addressed the audience: "How do you see Armenia today ? What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Armenia? If you were elected president of Armenia, what would you like to change?"

These provocative questions sparked a lively and freewheeling interaction with the audience, which covered the gamut of issues from doing business in Armenia, social justice, emigration, and an independent judiciary to womens' rights, diasporan representation in the Parliament, and many related topics.

On the subject of diasporan engagement, for example, the President-elect was emphatic: "You have to keep a passport in your soul and believe you are a citizen of the country. You have to believe that you are Armenian and Armenia has to believe that you are Armenian. Armenia has to be your homeland and it has to take care of you," he stated.

Referring to a comment about lost Armenians in far flung places who have no connection to the homeland or their identity, Mr. Sarkissian said that Armenia had to have more success stories to attract these outliers. "It's amazing what we have achieved as a nation", referring to the great victory of Arstakh. "After hundreds of years we showed that we can be victorious. The other way around is very damaging...Bringing back the sweet feeling of victory is fantastic," he added.

Addressing concerns about Armenia's business environment, the President-elect injected another theme into the discussion—good citizenship. "We've seen many successes and we see new projects every day, but we've also lost the great feeling of citizenship." He suggested that fighting corruption is not only a matter of governance and passing laws but also developing responsible citizens. "That is the way forward and the president is the one to use his office to lead the way. A president must lead by example as a good citizen." he underscored.

He also asserted that, unlike the past, Armenia is a unique country as it is both a member of the Eurasian Economic Union and the European Union. He explained what it means to have access to the financial support, liquidity and technology from relations with Europe, applying those inputs to Armenian talent and ingenuity and selling that output to a huge market of 200 million without custom barriers. "We are the only country that has good relations with both the European Union and Eurasia. It's a fantastic opportunity...if we are smart we will use it..." Emphasizing the critical time to act on this exceptional position, he noted "Armenia has to have friends everywhere."

Talking about gender equality, Mr. Sarkissian noted that although traditionally Armenian women did not have many rights, the young generation is excelling in many fields and "more women are now in the current Parliament than before." But he is also confident that more equality could be reached. "Of course, at the end of the day the natural ratio should be 50/50," he opined, also calling on the diaspora to not hold back from being part of the ongoing conversations inside Armenia about domestic abuse and selective abortions. "It's a national problem and everyone from here is to contribute," he added.

For Mr. Sarkissian, poverty is a big issue which jeopardizes the well-being of women, children, and families. "There are several problems that we are to handle in the country, and one of them is poverty. Poverty is connected to the demographic issue and is related to other issues, including rights," he noted and added that women and children become more vulnerable in the face of emigration, especially when men go abroad for employment opportunities.

At the same time, the President-elect does not deem poverty as the primary cause of emigration. The lack of hope and injustice make people seek a better future on foreign lands. He suggested that Armenia should become more attractive both for its citizens and the diaspora. "It is important to return that hope to those who live in Armenia and create hope for those who live outside of Armenia so that they see the potential life in Armenia," said Sarkissian.

According to the President-elect, locals can do a lot to help their own country prosper economically, and internal tourism is one way of doing it. He proposed to instill the culture of internal tourism which would not only bring economic benefits to the country but also help locals discover their culturally and geographically diverse homeland. This does not require much investment, he noted. "If we have 250,000 people visiting Artsakh, its budget will be doubled," he said.

He acknowledged that the model of success is something we all knew over 100 years ago, that our strength is our unity. He said he believed that the next ten, twenty years will be favorable for Armenia if we invest in the future of our children, our country, and new technology.

President-elect Armen Sarkissian with journalist Lara Setrakian moderating.For the President-elect, the opportunity for collective forums like the one held in New York are crucial to achieving the outcomes Armenians we envision. He described the current relationship between Armenia's national citizens and diaporans as somewhat problematic, likening it to an "invisible Berlin Wall"—one that needed to fall down in order for the global Armenian nation to face the challenges of the 21st century. Having open, free dialogues such as the gathering at AGBU was a groundbreaking step in that direction.

He concluded the evening by saying "I have the feeling that I am becoming president of a country at a good time. There are many ingredients to success and one of them is luck. I think I am lucky. Because I am becoming president at a time when there is a big opportunity for our nation."

Terminated Armenia-Turkey Protocols
Should be a Lesson for Armenia’s Leaders
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier 

Finally, the Armenian President officially declared null and void the infamous Armenia-Turkey Protocols during a meeting of the National Security Council last week. President Serzh Sargsyan had made several announcements since 2009, warning that he would remove the Protocols from the Parliament’s agenda unless Turkey ratified them shortly. Sargsyan’s most recent such warning was made last September during his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly, stating that he would declare the Protocols null and void before the Spring of 2018. 

The Protocols were signed by Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on October 10, 2009, in Zurich, Switzerland. Also present at the signing ceremony were the Foreign Ministers of Russia, France, Switzerland, U.S. Secretary of State, and high-ranking officials of the European Union. 

The lengthy text of the Protocols called for the opening of the borders between Armenia and Turkey, and establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Protocols also included many other unrelated matters, such as recognizing the existing Armenian-Turkish border, and the establishment of a historic commission to examine problems between the two countries, meaning the Armenian Genocide. 

As a result, there was a worldwide outcry against adoption of the Protocols with protests both in Armenia and many Diasporan communities. Shortly before the signing of the Protocols on October 10, 2009, Sargsyan embarked on a worldwide tour of major Armenian communities in Paris, New York, Los Angeles,
Beirut, and Rostov-on-Don (Russia) ostensibly to listen to their concerns regarding the Protocols. However, it was clear from his remarks at these meetings that he had made up his mind to go ahead with the Protocols, and the intent of the tour was to persuade Diaspora Armenians to give up their objections. During his visits overseas, Sargsyan was greeted with angry protests and confrontations making his propaganda tour a failure. 

During Sargsyan’s stop in Los Angeles on October 4, 2009, he met with leaders of 60 Armenian organizations with the overwhelming majority criticizing the pending Protocols, while thousands of Armenians demonstrated outside the hotel where the meeting was taking place. 

In my remarks at that meeting, I cautioned Sargsyan that Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s President, by objecting to the Protocols would block their eventual ratification by Turkey. Ironically, such an outcome would mean that Azerbaijan’s President, not Armenian’s President, would be inadvertently defending Armenia’s interests. 

It was clear to many Armenians, both inside and outside of Armenia, that Turkey had no intention of opening its mutual border. The Protocols were a Turkish ploy to pressure Armenia to make territorial concessions to Azerbaijan on Karabakh (Artsakh). 

In fact, the signing ceremony in 2009 was delayed by several hours when it became known that Turkey’s Foreign Minister, in his remarks, would link the unrelated subject of the Karabakh conflict to the Protocols. Only the last-minute intervention by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton temporarily resolved the dispute and the two sides proceeded to sign the Protocols. 

However, in the years following the signing ceremony, the Turkish leaders made repeated statements that they had no intention to ratify the Protocols unless Armenia made concessions on Karabakh. Indeed, Azerbaijan had vigorously protested the signing of the Protocols and warned Turkey not to proceed with ratification. Azerbaijan intended to pressure Armenia to make territorial concessions on Karabakh by keeping Armenia’s borders with Turkey closed. 

Armenia’s leaders had allowed major foreign powers to pressure them into making a decision that was contrary to the Armenian people’s interests. As a small state, it is understandable that Armenia could not act like its larger and more powerful Turkish neighbor which repeatedly flouts the wishes of the international community. Nevertheless, Armenia’s leaders could at least make an effort to keep foreign intervention to a minimum. 

Another lesson Armenia’s leaders should learn from the Protocols’ debacle is that before they embark on initiatives that affect Armenian interests worldwide, they should hold serious consultations to make sure that the majority of Armenians in Armenia and the Diaspora are on board with their decisions. Naturally, internal matters affecting those living within Armenia’s borders are their prerogative, however, issues that affect all Armenians, such as the Armenian Genocide, Armenian territorial demands from Turkey, and the final settlement of the Artsakh conflict are major concerns to all Armenians. Long before signing any documents on these subjects, Armenia’s leadership should ensure that most Armenians agree with them. Otherwise, we shall see the repetition of ugly confrontations in Armenia and the Diaspora with Armenian authorities. 

I raise these concerns in response to Sargsyan’s two statements last week.
“When we started the negotiation process, we naturally predicted two outcomes — positive or negative.”
“If we get proposals tomorrow, or the next day, we will be ready to discuss them.” 

Sargsyan’s statements indicate that Armenia’s leaders have not recognized their mistaken approach to Armenian-Turkish issues. It is not true that Armenia did not lose anything. Turkey manipulated the Protocols to ensure that no foreign country meddled in the Armenian Genocide issue. In fact, Obama also exploited the Protocols to refrain from using the term Armenian Genocide in his April 24 statement of 2009 and in the subsequent seven years. 

Furthermore, Sargsyan’s statements indicate that Armenia is apt to make the same mistake again. For years, he had been declaring that Armenia is ready to ratify the Protocols the same day that Turkey ratifies them. Fortunately, Turkey never ratified the Protocols, preventing Armenia from taking an action contrary to its own national interests!

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