Thursday, 12 April 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... BBC Travel Show, Missing Pages... And more:

BBC Travel Show -- Transcaucasian hiking trail
9 April 2018 

The Missing Pages
The Modern Life of a Medieval Manuscript, from Genocide to Justice
Stanford University Press
INTERVIEW (in Armenian)

Aram Ateshian is more real estate broker then patriarchal vicar 
says Dikran Altun 
to coincide with the new President's inauguration - other way round!]b
April 7 2018
Azerbaijani forces violate ceasefire regime nearly 300 times in Artsakh line of contact 

During the period from April 1 to 7 the Azerbaijani forces violated the ceasefire regime in the Artsakh-Azerbaijan line of contact by nearly 300 times firing more than 3000 shots at the Armenian positions, the Artsakh defense ministry reported.

The Defense Army forces mainly refrained from taking countermeasures and continued confidently conducting the military service.
Dr. Armen Sarkissian Sworn in as President of Armenia 

YEREVAN—Dr. Armen Sarkissian on Monday took the Oath of Office of President of Armenia during a special session of the Armenian Parliament convened at the Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex, as Armenian transitioned to parliamentary system of government.

During the special inauguration ceremony, Sarkissian placed his right hand on the original constitution and a 7th century Bible and recited the presidential oath, becoming the fourth president of Armenia.

“By assuming office of President of Armenia, I swear to uphold the Constitution of Armenia, to be impartial during fulfillment of my powers, to be guided solely by state and pan-national interests and to contribute my entire strength for the strengthening of national unity. May Gold help me,” Sarkissian said, reading the oath of office.

The oath ceremony was followed by a blessing by His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of the All Armenians.

Ahead of the noon ceremony, President Sarkissian and his wife, Noune attended a reception with the outgoing President Serzh Sarkisian at the 26 Bagramyan Avenue, the once presidential offices, which will now become the official residence and complex for Armenia’s Prime Minister, who will, according to the new constitution, be the head of state.

In his inauguration speech, Dr. Sarkissian called for the creation of “a new, young Armenia,” saying that only a powerful Armenia and a strong Artsakh can guarantee a peaceful resolution to the Karabakh conflict. He called on all Armenians to come together and work to stabilize the socio-economic and political landscape of Armenia, vowing to fight corruption and elevate Armenia’s standing.

“Today the peaceful and negotiated resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict remains a key issue for our country and the entire Armenian people. Its first guarantees are a powerful Armenia and a strong Artsakh. In order to achieve a fair solution and to protect the inseparable rights of the people of Artsakh, we must continue building a strong, economically advancing and a powerful Armenia. For such an Armenia we must provide the best environment for self-_expression_ to our citizens,” said President Sarkissian in his inaugural address.

In shifting his focus to domestic issues, President Sarkissian said that it was imperative to collectively fight against all negative and destructive elements that exist in the state system, starting with corruption to social injustice, from indifference to irresponsibility. “It is necessary,” he said “for each of us to act in this uncompromising and fair fight. We will succeed if we not only criticize, but also propose to unite and work jointly instead of creating divisions.”

In referencing Armenia’s heroic past, Sarkissian said the Armenian have demonstrated that the history of Armenians is most of all a history of spirit, with which, he said, it would have been impossible to advance from the days of antiquity to current realities, making global contributions and progress along the way.

“We have been at the forefront of modern universal values, beginning from the Ancient Roman and Greek classical period, the birth of Christianity until present day. We can truly be proud that we are descendants of a unique and special civilization which was formed and established on the Armenian Plateau throughout millennia,” said President Sarkissian.

“We have proven with our entire history that we are a creative, peace-loving and peaceful people. This is why Armenia is consistently promoting the policy of peaceful and negotiated solution to all conflicts and political problems. It is advancing the policy in the direction of preventing genocides and other crimes against humanity,” he said, adding that the Armenian Genocide must become a lesson in vigilance for all.

“Today the recognition of the Armenian Genocide isn’t an end in itself. The international recognition and condemnation of this horrendous crime against humanity is an important step in the prevention [of such a crime] anywhere in the world,” added the newly-inaugurated president.

“For the sake of pan-national goals and implementation of these goals, the comprehensive strengthening of the Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora unity and further effective utilization of its potential must be among our priorities. The Church is the most important pillar of our national unity: a global, national structure within which our people have gathered for centuries. We must do everything possible to eliminate artificial barriers and understand the real power of our unity. We need to develop new effective mechanisms for solving pan-national issues with a common agenda, resolve and a united effort,” explained Sarkissian.

He also advocated for economic development and growth in the science and technology as a means to advance Armenia

“We are living in an ever-changing world full of various dangers, threats and challenges. But it is also full of new and attractive opportunities for us. And whether we will be able to use these historic opportunities depends on us. And it depends on us as to what kind of Armenia we want to shape in the 21st century. An Armenia, which will be able to withstand the century’s challenges and take a worthy place among advanced nations. This, certainly is an historic opportunity,” Sarkissian said.

“We must shape a new, young Armenia. A dynamic, flexible and creative Armenia. A country which will embody the wisdom and talent of our people, which will be in line with the aspirations of all of us and will become the source of pride and excitement of all. A homeland for all Armenians of the world,” concluded the Sarkissian.
Presidnet Armen Sakissian with Defense Minister Vigen Sagsyan at Yerablur National Cemetery following the inauguration

Following the inauguration ceremony, which was attended by several dignitaries from foreign countries and Diasporan leaders, Sarkissian, accompanied by Defense Minister Vigen Sargsyan, visited the Yerablur National Cemetery and paid his respects to those who have given their lives for the homeland.

He then met with Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan and accepted the resignation of the government, in line with constitutional provisions. The Parliament is set to nominate a candidate for the office of prime minister in the coming days, with an election by the legislature set for April 17.

ARKA, Armenia
April 9 2018
British queen congratulates Armenia’s new president
The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Elizabeth II congratulated today Armen Sarkissian on assuming the office of President of Armenia, the press service of the head of state reported.

Sarkissian became the first president of Armenia, elected by the parliament, after the country's transition to a parliamentary form of government. The inauguration ceremony was held on Monday during a special meeting of the National Assembly.

"I would like to express my sincere congratulations to you in connection with the assumption of the office of the President of the Republic of Armenia. I address my warm wishes to you and the people of Armenia and expect that excellent relations between our two countries will continue," says Her Majesty's congratulation.

The Armenian parliament elected Armen Sarkissian as the fourth president of Armenia by a vote of 90 to 10 on March 2, 2018.

After the constitutional reforms adopted in Armenia in 2015, the country switched to a parliamentary form of government. After the inauguration, the Armenian government is to resign. The new prime minister will be elected by the parliament on April 17., Armenia
April 9 2018
UK minister in Yerevan, congratulates new Armenia President 

Sir Alan Duncan, UK Minister for Europe and the Americas, on Monday arrived in capital city Yerevan for a brief visit for the inauguration of the President of Armenia.

“Limbering up for the imminent inauguration of President [Armen] Sarkissian of Armenia,” Duncan tweeted. “The first Foreign Minister to congratulate newly inaugurated President Armen Sarkissian of Armenia - Congratulations sir!”

Inauguration of the fourth President of Armenia, Armen Sarkissian, was held Monday at the special session of the National Assembly.

Armen Sarkissian has assumed his respective duties, whereas Serzh Sargsyan’s tenure as President has concluded., Armenia
April 7 2018
Newspaper: Is the shadow of US sanctions falling on Armenia? 

The United States of America has included in the list of sanctions around three dozen Russian oligarchs and officials who are considered close associates of Putin, Zhamanak newspaper writes on Saturday.

“They, in fact, are contenders for sanctions, included in the so-called Kremlin list, consisting of 200 people. The list also includes Armenians, among them billionaire Samvel Karapetyan, the only one of the three Armenians, who is directly involved in the events in Armenia and who in is also an actor in Armenia. 
Of course, the US will unlikely apply sanctions against Karapetyan, but beyond all doubt, the process itself will affect him as much as it impacts the Russian elite and the economic situation.

On the other hand, several months ago, Samvel Karapetyan presented his investment plans in Armenia in the energy sector in the presence of the US Ambassador. These plans include cooperation with a well-known American company, which will become an example of large US investments in Armenia.

The economic importance of this cooperation is not so important for Samvel Karapetyan, as a political component, since it is obvious that Karapetyan is trying to create a platform for dialogue with the American side in Armenia to neutralize risks in Russia.

In this context, it is interesting to what extent this affected the elections of the Prime Minister in April, as well as the role and ambitions connected with Karen Karapetyan, since he had obvious ambitions with Karen Karapetyan’s premiership a year ago, and during the election campaign announced the creation Investors’ Club in Armenia.

It is noteworthy that on the day when the Karapetyans in Armenia announced the Investors’ Club, in Artsakh Serzh Sargsyan made a counter-statements saying he would always be there where he will be in demand for solving security problems. Afterwards, Serzh Sargsyan also participated in the presentation of a $1-billion investment program of Samvel Karapetyan, and the US ambassador was also present, but not Karen Karapetyan.

Samvel Karapetyan, of course, was included in the list of candidates for US sanctions after the events described above, but it is possible that this is aimed at controlling his activities in Armenia in order to rule out any deviation from the reached agreements, otherwise the sanctions of the Kremlin list will also be applied against him.

This is one of the scenario of further developments when it will become possible to stop the immediate engagement of a big business in politics. First it was done in February 2015, with the involvement of Samvel Karapetyan,” Zhamanak writes.

Christianity Today
April 2 2018
Turkey’s Churches, Famous for Historic Schism, Finally Agree on Doctrine
Joint book project by Orthodox, Catholics, and Protestants follows efforts to present accurate information about Christianity in Muslim-majority country.

A joint commission of Turkey’s major Christian denominations has published a historic book of concise Christian doctrine, receiving the unprecedented endorsement of all the nation’s Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Syriac, and Protestant churches.

According to Armenian Bishop Sahak Masalyan, keynote speaker at the formal book launch in Istanbul of the English edition in February, the “most spectacular aspect” of the book is in fact its first page of endorsements, which he declared “akin to a miracle.”

This book “expresses the shared beliefs of the churches in Turkey. We approve its publication and recommend that it be widely read,” the statement says.

Undersigned are the ecclesiastical leaders of all mainstream branches of the Christian faith in Turkey: the Orthodox patriarch, Armenian archbishop, Syriac metropolitan, chairman of the Catholic bishops, and the church leader chairing the Turkish Association of Protestant Churches.

“For churches that have ostracized each other for centuries, leaving a legacy of deep divisions and resentments,” the back cover explains, “to sign their names to such a work is no small step toward Christian unity.”

Entitled simply Christianity: Fundamental Teachings , the slim 95-page volume was first released in Turkish in 2015 by the Bible Society of Turkey. Its purpose is spelled out clearly in the preface: “To help every Christian in Turkey understand their own faith doctrines … held in common by all Christian churches.”

Turkey was key to the history of the global Christian church through many centuries. Its significant cities such as Ephesus were visited by the apostle Paul, himself born in Tarsus, and several New Testament books are named after its towns and regions.

Istanbul, until 1453 known as Constantinople, became the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and home of the medieval world’s largest church, Hagia Sophia, now a mosque and national museum. It was also where the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches broke communion during the Great Schism of the 11th century.

Today, Turkey’s tiny Christian communities add up to less than 100,000 citizens in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey, among a population of 80 million.

“We owe the birth of this book to the Turkish state,” said Masalyan. Back in 2002, complaints had reached Ankara that some of Turkey’s school textbooks contained misinformation about non-Muslim religious beliefs. In response, government officials asked representatives of Turkey’s churches to participate in a joint commission to prepare basic texts to explain Christian beliefs for the country’s schoolbooks. Over the next year, the incorrect texts were replaced with accurate information written by the Christians themselves.

But as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew observed in his address at the book launch celebrations, the government-launched project had brought the various church representatives “closer to each other, to discover and recognize the fundamental beliefs that unite us … to realize that much more unites us than divides us.”

So the churches agreed to set up an 11-member joint commission, including representatives of all five Christian denominations, who were determined to produce a concise but complete book outlining the basic common doctrines of Christianity upon which they could all agree.

“They were not merely theologians who had sound knowledge,” explained Masalyan, who authored the final draft of the text, “but active ‘shepherds,’ pastors, religious teachers and catechists.”

For a decade, they worked together to write and rewrite, critiquing and revising again and again, until by 2015 all the church leaders had endorsed the final text for publication.

In 12 concise chapters, the book explains fundamental Christian teachings: ranging from the nature of God and the doctrine of salvation in Jesus Christ to the inspiration of the Bible, the activity of the Holy Spirit, and the role of the church.

“You cannot find another page like this in church history,” the bishop stated, referring to the “thorny” problems of “theological addictions” which had disrupted church unity down through the ages.

“Through this book, we declared to the whole world with a mighty voice that, without hesitation, we see every church and believer who approves of the fundamental principles and doctrines of faith in this book as fellow heirs of salvation in Jesus Christ, considering them as our ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters,’” Masalyan emphasized.

Once the Turkish edition was printed, a subcommission including native English speakers was set up to translate it into meticulous but fluent English, to make it available to the wider Christian world.

“Our common wish is that through the English translation, this book may be like a stone thrown into a lake, its waves reaching out to the most remote parts of Christendom,” the bishop concluded.

Now available in hard copy through the Istanbul website of the Bible Society of Turkey, the English edition will also be released as an e-book. 

ArmenPress, Armenia
April 6 2018 

Alfred Schnittke's Concerto with original text of St. Gregory of Narek's Book of Lamentations performed in Vatican
VATICAN. Composer Alfred Schnittke's ConcertoforMixedChorus in classical Armenian version (Grabar) was performed for the first time in Vatican on April 5. He composed the Concerto in 1985 after reading St. Gregory of Narek’s Book of Lamentations. A part of the Concerto was performed by deacon Hovhannes Nersesyan with the Mirzoyan Quartet, Armenpress correspondent reports from Vatican.

Artist Sona Azaryan, founder of the Mirzoyan Quartet, told reporters that the Quartet this year marks the 5th anniversary of establishment. “In this jubilee year for us, also on this symbolic day, Schnittke’s Concerto originally in Russian composed for the choir was performed by our accompaniment. Vache Sharafyan made a respective development for the Mirzoyan Quartet on this important day. And as you noticed, we returned the classical Armenian text”, she said.

Sona Azaryan said Schnittke’s Concerto by Gregory’s original text was performed for the first time. “I hope this initiative will continue”, she added.

On the same day dinner on behalf of Armenia ’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta Mikayel Minasyan was organized at the Doria Pamphiljpalace in the evening of April 5 in honor of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II and Catholicos Aram I of the Great House of Cilicia. The reception was attended by more than two hundred guests.

The reception was held on the symbolic day when the statue of St. Gregory of Narek was inaugurated in the gardens of Vatican. 

The Essential Daily Briefing, UK
April 6 2018
Essential Yerevan guide: five local favourites in the Armenian capital 
Dimitris Hall 

It’s curious how little exposure there is for Yerevan, capital of Armenia. This former Soviet city is older than Rome and is full of ancient and modern culture interacting in interesting ways. Follow locals Sofia, Arpi and Alan and discover the hidden gems in their Yerevan guide.

Noy Wine Factory ( ) 
Armenia’s best brandy and wine Ararat is one of Armenia’s best-known brandy makers, but is by no means the only one, nor the most noteworthy. In fact, the Noy Wine Factory is built on the foundations of a 16th-century fortress, the walls of which are accessible from the cellar. If that’s not enough to warrant a visit, Noy’s brandy and wine are some of the best in the country, at least according to local Sofia.

Cold comfort in a leafy location 
It’s not just that Achajour serves café glacé – coffee with ice cream – which hits exactly the right spot in summer; it’s the location that makes this cafe in Lovers’ Park a Yerevan institution. It’s right in the city centre, a quiet oasis close to all the important government buildings and sights, such as the Government Palace and the National Assembly, and is surrounded by fountains, plants, flowers and statues.

Radio Yerevan memorial 
One of Yerevan’s most important claims to fame is the jokes connected to Radio Yerevan and its public radio company from the days of the USSR. The popularity of these jokes across the Iron Curtain during the Cold War brought the East and West closer together, and they can still be heard in some countries to this day. A Singing Sculpture was created to commemorate Radio Yerevan’s 90th anniversary as well as the 60th anniversary since the first public TV broadcast. It has a hidden radio receiver always tuned to the Public Radio of Armenia.

The genius of Eduard Khazaryan 
The man known as the “Armenian da Vinci” was the creator (and player) of the world’s smallest violin. Eduard Khazaryan passed away in 2012 and was a polymath sculptor that worked to extraordinarily microscopic levels, often creating works of art smaller than a grain of sugar or containing elements hundreds of times thinner than a human hair. His work was exhibited in the US, where it was dubbed an “8th wonder of the world”. Get to know his art up close at the Yerevan Museum of Folk Art.

A mysterious lake 
Yerevanian Lake, an artificial reservoir in the outskirts of the city, hides secrets in its depths. In 1968, Paleolithic obsidian tools were discovered in a flooded cave on its shores, now belonging to the US Embassy in Armenia and currently out of bounds. Only 8 years later, in 1976, a trolleybus fell into the reservoir carrying 96 passengers, most of which did not survive. Amazingly, world record-breaking fin-swimming champion Shavarsh Karapetyan was jogging along the lake at the time and made history by heroically diving in and managing to save 20 of the trapped passengers from a depth of 10 metres. His sports career was ruined, and the tragedy, too negative for the USSR’s image at the time, was censored within the country, but that only made this lake’s reputation greater.

Dimitris Hall is the editor of Spotted by Locals, city guides featuring insider tips by locals in nearly 70 cities around the world. Guides for iOS/Android cost $3.99 each and include free regular updates and offline maps.

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