Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Armenian News... A Topalian... 9 editorials

PanArmenian, Armenia
July 10 2019
Armenia calls on Turkey to cease drilling in Syprus 

The Foreign Ministry of Armenia has condemned Turkey’s attempt to conduct a new drilling operation in Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.

"We express our deep concern over Turkey’s attempt to conduct a new drilling operation in the northeast of Cyprus. Turkey’s continued provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean put the security and stability of the region at risk, .

"We reiterate our full support and solidarity with the Republic of Cyprus and its people and call on Turkey to cease all activities within Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and respect the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and rights of people of Cyprus to pursue their political, social and economic development without external pressure." 

PanArmenian, Armenia
July 10 2019
Armenian Christians in East Jerusalem “don’t enjoy equal rights” 

Although the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate has had a presence in Jerusalem since the fourth century, church leaders are disturbed that Armenian Christians in East Jerusalem “don’t enjoy equal rights”, says the chancellor, Father Koryoun Baghdasaryan, according to an article published by The Art Newspaper.

The Patriarchate wishes the police would treat it as a hate crime when its clergy, students and teachers are spat on by the Old City’s Haredi Jewish population, and that clergy who have lived in the Armenian monastery for decades would be granted residency.

 Without it, they must pay as tourists for public services such as healthcare.

“The most shameful thing”, Baghdasaryan says, is that a memorial to the Armenian Genocide on church property remains closed to visitors because the municipality has delayed approving construction of the entrance. An official in the mayor’s office says
 a proper plan has not been submitted, but according to the Patriarchate, all the necessary papers have been repeatedly filed over many years.

Israel has never officially recognised the Genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turks from 1915, likely because of concern for diplomatic relations with Turkey. Baghdasaryan says there is a “moral obligation” for Israel, being home to around 200,000 Holocaust  survivors, to recognise the Genocide.

Sabah, Turkey
July 10 2019
Refusing new Armenian patriarch election violates religious freedom, Turkey’s top court rules

An administrative decision dating back to 2017 that refused two initiatives to elect a new patriarch for the Armenian Orthodox Church was a violation of the right of religious freedom, Turkey's Constitutional Court said in a detailed ruling Wednesday.

The issue that pitted different groups within Turkey's Armenian community and the Istanbul Governorate began in the summer of 2007 when late Patriarch Mesrob II, commonly known by his civilian name Mesrob Mutafyan since he succeeded Karekin II in 1998, fell ill due to dementia, which was diagnosed in 2008.

Under Turkish laws and patriarchate rules, a new patriarch cannot be elected while his predecessor is alive, and Mesrob II's case was the first instance that left the Armenian community puzzled about how to proceed with replacing a living religious leader
 especially one that was also viewed as a uniting figure and a representative of the community. Archbishop Aram Ateşyan was appointed to serve as the Patriarchal Vicar in 2008 as the 84th patriarch had to withdraw from his duties.

However, this marked the beginning of a new debate within the Armenian community as two conflicting views emerged since the post was unprecedented. One group centered on Ateşyan appealed to the Istanbul Governorate for an election of a new leader with
 the title of "co-patriarch." The other group, however, called for a new patriarchal election and also appealed to the governorate.

In June 2010, the Istanbul Governorate tacitly rejected the second group by not responding to their appeal while also rejecting the first group's appeal, arguing that the post of patriarch was not empty, and hence an election for a "general acting patriarch" could be held instead. The Clerical Committee of the patriarchate voted 25-1 to elect Ateşyan to the acting patriarch post in July 2010, and a cabinet decision in August confirmed this appointment.

However, the move was not viewed legitimate by a significant portion of the Armenian community since whole community has participated in the patriarchate election since 1863, when a code of regulations concerning the Armenian "millet" in the Ottoman Empire  was introduced. According to the document referred to as the Regulation of the Armenian Nation, or the Armenian National Constitution, which was transformed into a cabinet decree in 1961, first civilians vote for the delegates who then vote for the patriarch.

Following heated debates and even protests, which were mainly aimed at Ateşyan, the Clerical Committee finally decided to "retire" Mesrob II in late October 2016 based on ancient laws and church traditions that enable the annulment of the vows of religious  leaders if they "disappear" for seven years, and declared the patriarch's post vacant, which paved the way for a patriarchal election. Earlier in March, a court had assigned Mesrob II's mother Mari Mutafyan as his legal guardian due to his illness.

In March 2017, the Clerical Committee elected the Primate of the German Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church Archbishop Karekin Bekçiyan (Bekdjian) as deghabagh (locum tenens), a trustee that leads the patriarchate until the election. However, Ateşyan did not resign from his post and a petition filed to the Ministry of Interior to hold the elections was left unanswered. Bishop Sahak Maşalyan, who was serving as the head of Clerical Committee, announced his resignation in February, accusing Ateşyan of delaying the elections that would be held if the council and local authorities approved, although he later retracted his resignation. Ateşyan finally bowed to the pressure from the community and resigned on May 24, 2017.

In the meantime, the Istanbul Governorate said in a statement that the deghabagh election was invalid since Mesrob II was still alive. This view was reiterated in February 2018 in the governorate's written statement addressed to the patriarchate, in which  Bekçiyan was referred to as the "so-called" deghabagh and Ateşyan was referred to as the acting patriarch. Shortly after, Bekçiyan returned to Germany, saying he did not want to be involved in a debate that could tear down the community.

During this process, the governorate's decision was brought to an administrative court, arguing that the Clerical Committee alone had decided on the election of an acting patriarch although the election itself should have been held by the Assembly of the
 Delegates, a body that consisted of 20 clergymen and 120 civilians. The administrative court rejected the case in March 2012, and a subsequent appeal to Turkey's top administrative court, the Council of State, was also turned down in November 2015.

Two Turkish-Armenian citizens used their rights to individual application to the Constitutional Court in October 2014 and later in February 2016, saying the administrative rulings breached their right of religious freedom. The court ruled in favor of the
 applicants on May 22 in an 11-4 vote. In its detailed ruling released on July 10, the court said that the Ministry of Interior misinterpreted the Ottoman-era regulation, which required an election not only for death or resignation of a patriarch but also for
 other "various reasons", without specifications. The court noted that there had been previous cases when a patriarch had abandoned his seat without resigning and an election was held afterwards. The court also said in the elections of 1950, 1961, 1990 and 1998 during the Republican era, civilians had a say over clergymen, and the postponement of the elections ignored their will. The fact that the ministry decided on which conditions the patriarch could be elected also breached the freedom of religion and faith enshrined in the constitution, the court said.

Meanwhile Mesrob II, a respected figure within the Armenian community and in general Turkish public opinion, died on March 8, ending this decade-long debate. His funeral at the Surp Asdvadzadzin Church in Istanbul was attended by thousands of Turkish-Armenians  and dignitaries. The election process for a new patriarch was relaunched after the mourning period ended in mid-April, and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu visited the patriarchate on May 13 to discuss matters related to the elections. The process was briefly  postponed due to the re-run of the Istanbul mayoral elections on June 23, but on July 4, the Clerical Committee elected Bishop Maşalyan as the deghabagh with 13 votes against Ateşyan's 11. The patriarchate is now expected to reveal the election date and its final conduct soon.

Like other non-Muslim communities whose population has dwindled over the years due to a lack of rights and oppressive state policies in the past, the Armenian community has seen a reinstatement of their rights, such as the return of properties once seized  by the state, in recent years.

The Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate has the largest congregation in the community and its roots can be traced back to the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottomans and Mehmed II (Mehmed the Conqueror) who is credited with paving the way for the establishment  of a patriarchate. Before the sultan granted them religious freedom, Armenians were forced to pray in the Byzantine churches of other communities in the city. The patriarchate was an influential religious authority for Armenian communities around the world  until the early 20th century, but its influence has decreased over time, especially after the Armenian population in Turkey diminished following World War I and after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Mutafyan was born in Istanbul and studied sociology and philosophy in the U.S. before returning to Turkey. He was ordained by the priesthood in 1979 and appointed pastor to Kınalıada, an island near Istanbul where a small Armenian community lives. He was
 hailed as a uniting figure for the Armenian community during his short tenure and was vocal in his efforts to suppress divisive rhetoric between Turks and Armenians. In one of his last speeches, the patriarch called upon Turkey to develop relations with Armenia  and the Armenian diaspora, despite a dispute over the World War I deaths of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, which the diaspora and the Armenian government brand as "genocide." Like Hrant Dink, a prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist who was assassinated by  an ultranationalist in 2007, the patriarch had advocated dialogue between Turkey and Armenia for mutual understanding.
8 July, 2019
UK’s Minister of State Sir Alan Duncan offers condolences over death of Armenia’s Ambassador  

Sir Alan Duncan, Minister of State of UK for Europe and the Americas at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, offered his condolences over the death of Armenian Ambassador to the UK Arman Kirakossian, Armenpress reports citing the UK government’s website.

“I was saddened to learn of the death of H.E. Dr Arman Kirakossian, the serving Ambassador of Armenia and a great friend to the UK. I have spoken to the Foreign Minister of Armenia H.E Zohrab Mnatsakanyan to pass on condolences on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government and have offered our assistance at this difficult time. Our thoughts are with the late Ambassador’s family and friends”, Alan Duncan said.

Armenia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland Arman Kirakossian died on July 6 at the age of 63.

Edited and translated by Aneta Harutyunyan
9 July, 2019
92% of Armenians satisfied with relations with EU

62% of Armenians have positive perception of the EU and 61% trust the EU.

As ARMENPRESS was informed from the Office of the EU Delegation to Armenia, the EU-funded ‘EU NEIGHBOURS east’ project has conducted the 2019 opinion poll in the six countries of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

 The survey took place between February and April 2019 and was based upon face-to-face interviews among a representative sample of 1,000 people per country. The annual surveys are now into their fourth year, with the first wave having been carried out in 2016. The results from the six countries are presented in national reports and a consolidated regional overview report.

Here below are the key findings in Armenia.

 62% of Armenians have a positive image of the European Union (EU), compared to 48% in 2018. The number of persons with negative opinions of the EU is just 6%. · 92% of Armenians (up 12% on 2018) feel relations with the European Union are good - well ahead of the EaP regional average (67%). · 61% of people in Armenia trust the EU compared to 48% trusting in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). · 71% of Armenians (up 2% on 2018) are aware of the EU’s financial support to the country, and two thirds feel that  EU support is effective (72% - up from 62% in 2016 and compared to a regional average of 54% in the EaP countries).

Edited and translated by Tigran Sirekanyan
8 July, 2019

The official welcoming ceremony of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and spouse Anna Hakobyan was held at the Istana governmental residence of Singapore, the Armenian  PM’s Office told Armenpress.

The PM of Singapore welcomed his Armenian counterpart’s visit to Singapore and stated that it will give a new impetus to the cooperation between the two states at various directions. According to him,

 Armenia and the Armenian people enjoy great respect in Singapore and his government is interested in cooperating with the Armenian side. Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the mutual cooperation in the economic sector and the need to develop and expand the commercial ties.

The Armenian PM thanked for the warm welcome and expressed confidence that the Armenian-Singaporean ties will consistently expand based on the results of effective bilateral talks. Pashinyan said the whole world is impressed with Singapore’s development experience, and Armenia as well considers it as exemplary. “We are interested in deepening the political, economic and humanitarian cooperation and intensifying the ties between the two peoples”, the Armenian

 PM said, highlighting the development of cooperation between the Armenian and Singaporean business. Touching upon the government’s priorities, the Armenian PM said they aim at making Armenia a country with a technological economy. In this sense, Pashinyan   specifically attached importance to the development of cooperation in IT sector.

During the meeting the two PMs discussed issues relating to the implementation of joint investment programs, increasing trade turnover volumes, as well as touched upon the cooperation opportunities in high technologies, tourism, aviation and other areas.

Pashinyan introduced the ongoing actions in Armenia directed for institutional reforms and improvement of business climate.

The PM of Singapore welcomed the ongoing systematic changes in Armenia, adding that they will contribute to the country’s economic development and progress.

The PMs also touched upon the signing of a free trade zone agreement between Singapore and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). The sides expressed confidence that this agreement will contribute to increasing  the trade turnover volumes.

At the same time they agreed to hold Armenia Cultural Day in Singapore with the goal to expand the ties in tourism sector.

Regional issues were also discussed during the meeting.

Based on the meeting results, Armenia and Singapore signed a number of documents relating to the cooperation in various fields. In particular, they signed the agreement on excluding the double taxation of incomes and preventing tax evasion between Armenia and Singapore. A memorandum of understanding on strengthening the cooperation in tourism sector was si

Edited and translated by Aneta Harutyunyan

July 9 2019
Poll shows high, but declining, support for Armenian government
Joshua Kucera

On a wide variety of issues, a new IRI poll shows that the optimistic mood engendered by last year’s “Velvet Revolution” is fading.

A new poll shows declining, if still strong, support for the new authorities in Armenia, as well as increasing pessimism over the prospects of a peaceful settlement of the conflict with Azerbaijan.

About 28 percent of Armenians reported viewing last year’s change of government “very positively,” down from a figure of 41 percent in October 2018, according to the poll from the International Republican Institute, conducted in May and released to the public on July 8. 
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan became wildly
popular when he managed to topple the long-hated former government last spring in what he dubbed the “Velvet Revolition,” and his “My Step” alliance won an overwhelming  victory in parliamentary elections in December, giving them a five-year mandate to implement the sweeping changes Pashinyan has promised. 

“The goodwill expressed by the Armenian people presents the Armenian government with an unprecedented opportunity to undertake fundamental reforms that strengthen the country’s democracy and improve the economic well-being of its people,” said Stephen

 Nix, IRI Regional Director for Eurasia, presenting the new poll. “The government’s speedy delivery on reforms will be key to maintaining its strong public support and the momentum to press on with its agenda." 

The new poll suggests that, across a variety of measures, the optimism engendered by the new government remains  relatively high, but down substantially from last year. 

The proportion of Armenians who see the country going in the right direction declined to 60 percent from 72 percent in October. The number who saw the country going in the wrong direction nearly doubled, from 11 to 20 percent. Asked about the “prevailing
mood of the population,” 29 percent reported that the mood was that the future would “definitely” be better, down from 44 percent in October. 

Asked if “people like you can influence decisions” made in Armenia – one of Pashinyan’s signature themes – 20 percent said yes, down from 31 percent in October. Young people, however, were significantly more likely to say that people like them could have influence; 29 percent of those aged 18-29 answered the question positively, compared 14 percent of those 50 or older.

The relatively well-off also see the changes in the country more positively. Asked about how their household finances have changed in the last six months, 29 percent of those with an income of 250,000 drams or more a month (about $530) said theyhad improved, while only 16 percent of those with an income of 150,000 drams ($320) or less agreed. 

Asked “what the biggest success of the new government” was, by far the most common answer was “reducing corruption,” with 27 percent of respondents naming that. Behind that were more diffuse accomplishments: the “improved psychological state of people,” the “failure of the Republican Party” (the former ruling party), and “brought democracy.”

On the conflict with Azerbaijan over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the number of Armenians who said the conflict could be solved without the use of force significantly declined over the last several months: in October 27 percent said that it “definitely” could be solved, which dropped to 16 percent in the newest poll. 

And security issues remained at the top of the list of Armenians’ concerns: asked an open-ended question about what they worry most about for their country, the top three answers were “war,” “the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,” and “national security  issues.” 

BBC News, UK
July 8 2019
Armenia's iconic lake faces algae threat
Reporting by Martin Morique

Sevan is one of Armenia's main tourist destinations 

Armenian environmentalists are warning that the country's largest lake is facing a serious threat from algae and falling water levels.

They told reporters that unless the authorities take action "the  lake will turn into a swamp" through waterlogging, the Aysor news site reports.

The group is led by Karine Danielyan, a veteran ecologist and head of the Environmental Committee of the government's advisory Public Committee.

It was the government's publication of satellite images of the algae earlier this month that prompted public concern.

'Gone in a fortnight'
Environment Minister Erik Grigoryan tried to put the algae bloom in the broader context of climate change, noting similar phenomena in Russia's Lake Baikal and the Black Sea.

He said it would "be  gone within a fortnight", but campaigners insist that specific local factors are at play in Armenia. 

Sevan also saw an algae bloom last year, prompting the health ministry to advise swimmers against venturing into the lake, and Mr Grigoryan recalled an algae scare back in 1964, but this year's satellite images show almost half of the lake coloured green.

Satellite images show the algae bloom

Water resources analyst Knarik Hovhannisyan puts the blame firmly on drawing too much water for agriculture irrigation, which has led water levels to fall on four registered occasions since 2012 when they should have risen.

She also told Radio Liberty's Armenian Service that pollution from booming tourism resorts on the shore, as well as dumping wastewater into tributary rivers, "could mean losing the only freshwater basin in the region".

The immediate measures she proposes are installing modern wastewater treatment plants at lakeside hotels and restaurants, as has been a legal requirement since 2006, and carefully monitoring water levels. "I am sure that the 170 million cubic metres (37,395 milliongallons) of water flowing into the lake annually is now an over-estimate, given global warming," she told Radio Liberty.

Mr Grigoryan assured the public that a tender is under way to clean up the shore and rivers, so that "by 2020-2021 this whole area will be completely clean" and water levels should rise again.

Water Committee Chairman Vardan Melkonyan also told reporters that significant less water has been drawn from Sevanso far this year - 29 million cubic metres (6,380 million gallons) - than the 43.5 million in the same period of 2018.

But campaigners still doubt the government's sense of urgency.

"We warned them about this two months ago. All the measures may be in place, but we are still destroying Lake Sevanthrough our thoughtless actions," Karine Danielyan told Aysor.

To see picture, click on:

The Wire, India
July 9 2019
The Armenian Population in India Is Growing Again, After Centuries
Andrew Whitehead

One family's story highlights the revival of people-to-people ties between the two countries.

One of India’s old trading communities, the Armenians, is growing in numbers for the first time in many years. Former BBC correspondent Andrew Whitehead attended an Armenian church service in Chennai and met some of the worshippers. This is an expanded version of a piece he wrote for the BBC radio programme From Our Own Correspondent.

I didn’t expect to see a baby in his mother’s arms among the congregation. India’s Armenian community – once conspicuous in commerce, though always modest in number – has been fading away for many decades. In Chennai, they are barely clinging on.

The city’s serene 18th-century Armenian church holds just one service a year. It stands on Armenian Street and is the oldest church in what was once called Black Town – the place that became home for those not allowed to live in the British fort at the heartof what was then Madras. The place was one of Asia’s commanding ports in that earlier era of globalisation and Empire. And the Armenian traders had money – that’s reflected in the stylish design of this pocket-sized church, its large grounds,

 striking plaster cherubs and their bugles, and a separate tower complete with church bells cast in Whitechapel in London.

Kolkata, the second city of the British Raj, remains the main base of India’s Armenian community, who were once prominent merchants, financiers and hoteliers. 

There are 25 families of part-Armenian descent in the city, and the Armenian College and Armenian

 Sports Club are continuing testament to the community’s influence. Sunday service rotates around the city’s three Armenian churches – and the congregation can reach the heady heights of 100 or more worshippers at Christmas time.

The Armenian church in Chennai is the only one in India outside West Bengal which still holds services, albeit one a year. There were once Armenian chapels in Mumbai (the building still stands) and Surat. Further afield, Dhaka also has an Armenian church  – as does Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, where regular services are still conducted.

The Armenian population of Chennai probably never exceeded a few hundred. Over the decades, integration and emigration – to Australia in particular – has reduced the community to single figures.

Two priests based in Kolkata took the two-hour flight to Chennai to conduct the annual mass. They are from Armenia, on a tour of duty in India which can stretch for as long as seven years. The clerics brought with them the incense, ornate clerical headgear, capes  and crucifix wh ich are such essential parts of Orthodox worship. Even counting well-wishers and the curious – and I suppose I fit both descriptions – the number attending just touched double digits.

So the young family made up I guess a quarter of the congregation. The baby’s name is Suren. His father, Kapilan, is an architect – Chennai-born and, he insists, 100% Tamil; his mother Ashkhen, with red hair and pale complexion, describes herself as Armenian through and through.

As is often the case with marriages across the frosted boundaries of race, religion, language and nation, there is a heart-warming measure of coincidence in this love story. Kapilan was so often told when a postgraduate student in Canada that his surname,
  Jesudian, sounded Armenian that his interest in the country was aroused; Ashkhen performed so well in Hindi lessons when she was at school in Armenia, a scheme supported by the Indian government, that she won a study trip to India and on her return took on  a  role promoting links between the two countries.

When Kapilan travelled to Armenia as a tourist, Ashkhen showed him round. “He asked me if Armenia is safe,” she recounts, with feigned shock and amusement. “He’s from India – and he asks if my country is safe!” When she was, in turn, invited to Chennai, she was wary. “Don’t think I’m coming there to get married,” she insisted. But a day before her return home, they got engaged. A white wedding followed, held in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

Ashkhen found her first year in Chennai tough. She was hit by south India’s ferocious heat and humidity. She missed her family, her language, her food, her favourite kind of coffee. Her husband is a Christian but the services at his Protestant church in
  Chennai didn’t sound – or smell – anything like the orthodox worship she had grown up with.

Over time, she came through and adapted. She started teaching Russian and – with admirable entrepreneurial flair – worked as a business coach, offering Indian businesses advice on branding and on commercial etiquette when dealing with the Russian-speaking world.

That’s just one story. But there are more. Hundreds of Indian students now attend medical schools in Armenia. Ashkhen reckons that 60 or more Armenian women have married trainee doctors and accompanied them back to India. Suren is not the only youngster in Chennai with an Armenian mum and an Indian dad. He will be brought up to respect his Armenian heritage as much as his Tamil identity.

Not all the new Armenian migrants to India cleave to the church as a marker of their identity – but they do network, and Ashkhen is now the regional coordinator of the India-Armenia friendship group. She’s worried about her son growing up in a culture  where inter-racial marriages are still rare, and where anyone with fair skin is likely to be seen and treated as an outsider. Chennai is no longer the cosmopolitan city it once was – but Ashkhen is determined to (as she put it) make herself comfortable there.

So for the first time in a couple of centuries, the Armenian community in India is growing. “If you want to find the bad things about India, you will,” Ashkhen counsels her friends – and her clients. “If you want to find the opportunities for business, you can. There are plenty.”

Then she checks herself – looks at her husband – and declares with a laugh in her voice: “I sound just like one of those Armenian traders who came here back in the 1780s, don’t I?”

It’s difficult to disagree.

Armenian News... A Topalian... 9 editorials

Rare Earth
The Country The World Says Doesn't Exist

MediaMax, Armenia
July 12 2019
Turkey is a security threat to Armenia, says Armenian FM
Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan has stated that "Turkey is a security threat to Armenia”.
“My security concern is Turkey. This is where that security threat comes to Armenia. 27 years of blockade, 27 years of denied justice, denied relations, is creating a serious security threat to us,” Mnatsakanyan said, while speaking at the 16th
 Batumi International Conference dedicated to the Eastern Partnership.
He also stated that 2018 was a year of important progress for Armenia, which concerned solely Armenia and had no geopolitical connections. Mnatsakanyan noted that the situation was not easy to introduce to partners.
“So we have been quietly and patiently explaining this to our partners, who have doubts about whether democracy is a geopolitical tool. No one should search for foreign subtext in Armenia’s domestic political affairs, because they won’t find any.
 Last year I asked this question to my friends in Europe: “Are we not sufficiently democratic to you because we are not sufficiently anti-Russian?”. This is not how we want to think. This is not how we think,” said Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. 

JAM News
July 12 2019
Armenia is ageing: UN experts on the country’s demographic problems by 2050

On the bright side, one of the factors is improved living standards 

By 2050, the population of Armenia will have aged considerably, Anna Hovhannisyan, coordinator of the programme “Population and Development” of the Armenian UN Population Fund, said at a press conference yesterday on July 11. 
Hovhannisyan says this is largely due to migration, but also the growth in the quality of medical care is of great importance, thanks to which, life expectancy in Armenia will be longer.

“By 2050, the number of Armenian residents over 65 will double and make up 22 percent of the republic’s population. The number of people over 80 will also grow significantly,” said Hovhannisyan.
Hovhannisyan says that many developed countries face similar challenges, where people are living longer and giving birth to fewer children.

Public Radio of Armenia
July 11 2019
Catholicons Aram I visits Armenian historic sites in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus
Siranush Ghazanchyan 

His Holiness Catholicos Aram I of the Armenian Church of the Holy See of Cilicia took the risk and crossed the border to the Northern Cyprus occupied by Turkey and paid a visit to the Armenian historical spiritual centers.
Accompanied by Vartkes Mahtesian, Armenia’s Representative in the Cyprus Parliament, His Holiness the Armenian Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church, the Saint Makar Monastery the National Prelacy and the Melikian-Ouzou

Public Radio of Armenia
July 13 2019
Jerusalem’s Armenians calling attention to increasing marginalization

Jerusalem-based master tile artist Neshan Balian is preparing two exhibitions marking the centenary of Armenian ceramics in the city in September—one in Armenia and one at Jerusalem’s Rockefeller Archaeological Museum,  The  Art Newspaperreports. 

 His grandfather and namesake was one of three artisans invited in 1919 by Mark Sykes of the British Mandate government to repair the tiles of the Dome of the Rock Islamic shrine and to introduce a new art to Jerusalem, author Lauren Gelfond Feldinger reminds. 
Balian has also been commissioned by the municipality to renovate the city’s calligraphy-tiled street signs in English, Arabic and Hebrew. Hand-painted tiles with motifs designed by his late mother, Marie Balian, can be seen on murals, doors and wares across

But despite recognition, Balian, like his East Jerusalem neighbors, is still ethnically profiled and often subjected to full-body searches by Israeli airport security, he tells The Art Newspaper. 

“I just turned 61, you get tired of pulling down your trousers to a 21-year-old [guard] who knows nothing of the sacrifices you have made to the Israeli art scene,” he says. 
“More and more I feel like a second- and third-class citizen. There is a lot of emphasis on making Jerusalem as Jewish as possible. I’ll never be fully part of this city or country… I don’t think the elections make any difference,” he says.

Armenian church leaders say Christians in East Jerusalem “don’t enjoy equal rights”, although  the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate has had a presence in Jerusalem since the fourth century.  

Chancellor, Father Koryoun Baghdasaryan says “The most shameful thing is that a memorial to the Armenian genocide on church property remains closed to visitors because the municipality has delayed approving construction of the entrance.”
According to the source, the mayor’s office says a proper plan has not been submitted, but the Patriarchate assures all the necessary papers have been repeatedly filed over many years.

Israel has never officially recognized the genocide of Armenians by Ottoman Turks from 1915. Baghdasaryan says there is a “moral obligation” for Israel, being home to around 200,000 Holocaust survivors, to recognize the genocide.

Still, the Armenian Patriarchate continues to honor its own history. A fundraising campaign is under way to renovate its Armenian Museum before 2020 and to open a new gallery space in the Armenian Quarter, raising awareness about the community’s history
 in Jerusalem.

Panorama, Armenia
July 11 2019
PM: Pensions to rise in Armenia from January 2020

State pensions will increase in Armenia by 10 percent starting from 1 January 2020, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a government meeting on Thursday.

The PM said the decision was made on Wednesday when the government approved the medium-term expenditure program for 2020-2022 at a closed meeting.
Pashinyan said the salaries of teachers are set to increase from 1 September this year.

“The government will also attempt to resolve the housing issue of the citizens who have lost their homes as a result of the 1988 earthquake as part of the same program,” he said, adding 3 billion drams will be allocated in this regard.
The Armenian leader said the details of the program will also be clarified during further discussions.

Also, Pashinyan reminded that the salaries of military have already been increased since June this year.

The PM said yesterday’s meeting also addressed another important issue. “Our key task is to have a roadmap for achieving inclusive high economic growth. We believe the main solution to this problem is through the development of reprocessing, technological
 industry and tourism,” he said.

Pashinyan said he has discussed the matter during his Vietnam and Singapore visits. He stressed the need to set up a working circle including companies engaged in reprocessing industry and specifically those companies that make a finished product from raw

ARKA, Armenia
July 11 2019
Armenian government to allocate AMD 3 billion for final solution to housing problem in quake-stricken areas

 The Armenian government intends to solve housing problem in the quake areas stricken by the 1988 powerful earthquake, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told journalists on Thursday before a regular Cabinet meeting.  

Earlier, Vahan Vermishyan, head of the Urban Planning Committee, said that the remaining 453 families will have their housing problem solved in 2020.  

Nikol Pashinyan said AMD 3 billion (around $6.2 million) will be earmarked for this purpose. 

In his words, a methodology of this problem solution will be decided in further discussions. 

Last December 7 Armenia marked the 30th anniversary of a catastrophic earthquake that killed more than 25,000 people and left hundreds of thousands of others homeless. The magnitude 6.8 quake struck northwestern parts of Armenia which then was a Soviet Republic  of 3.5 million residents. 

The earthquake’s epicenter was near Spitak, a small town that was razed to the ground. Gyumri (known as Leninakan then), Armenia’s second biggest city, was also hit hard. The huge death toll was widely blamed on violation of seismic safety standards. --0----

July 10 2019
Colombian Town of Armenia Confused by Turkish-Funded Ottoman Mural
Frances Martel

Armenia, the capital city of Quindío, Colombia, is boasting a new mural of a man wearing Ottoman-era garb on the side of its city council building, an image with no historical correlation to the city that is confusing, and angering, many residents, Colombian
 media reported Tuesday.

The mural, by artist Hollman Henao Díaz, is the product of the city’s mayor opening cultural bonds with the state of Turkey after the administration of Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited him and several council members to Ankara this year for
 a summit to tell the  municipal officials “the other side” of the story of the Armenian genocide, according to the Colombian magazine Semana. While the debate lives on regarding  any concrete ties linking Armenia the city to Armenia the country, in honor of its namesake, the Colombian city has formally recognized the genocide as such, something neither the federal governments of Colombia or Turkey have done.

Erdogan has expressed a personal belief that Muslims explorers reached the Americas before Christopher Columbus and thus the Muslim world should get the credit for expanding the Eurasian map of the world. To that end, he has attempted to invest in Turkish cultural centers in friendly countries in the region. After years of attempting to build a mosque in communist Cuba, where he once claimed Columbus had seen a mosque upon landing, he shifted gears to Venezuela, where he found the impoverished socialist dictatorship  of Nicolás Maduro more willing to allow the construction of a new religious center than the Castro regime.

The Turkish government has not explicitly connected its newfound relationship with the government of the city of Armenia to Erdogan’s belief in Muslims discovering America.
The regional newspaper La Crónica de Quindío reported Wednesday
 that locals appear baffled, and some outraged, by the expensive mural, which they find irrelevant to their heritage.

“I don’t really understand what Armenia [the Colombian city] has to do with Turkey. I think that what they need is to pay back favors for that little trip they took,” a woman named Maricela Montes told the newspaper, referring to the trip to Turkey the mayor
 and some council members made in February. “It is not logical that something like this would be painted on such a pretty department.”

The newspaper quotes another resident who says he is not angry, merely “confused.”
“We Quindianos are confused because we don’t understand what a sultan has to do with Armenia [the city],” Jorge Jaramillo said. “What is happening to us? Please, serious statesmen have to take the reins of this city. This is truly horrible for our capital.”

The president of the city council, Diego Torres Vizcaino, said in  a statement that the mural is part of a cultural exchange with Turkey that will go both ways, according to Colombia’s El Tiempo.

“It was agreed with the administration of Armenia that we would structure commercial and tourism projects to be evaluated by the public and private sector of Turkey,” Torres said. “Just like that, [we also approved] cultural support initiatives with efforts
 for the municipal game room and the Armenia School of Music, which are already in development.” The cultural exchange plan, he also claimed, would include postage stamps in both countries featuring the heritage of the other.

El Tiempo notes that the council is not only considering cultural favors to Turkey. They are now openly debating amending the 2014 declaration the city passed recognizing the Armenian genocide.

The genocide saw the extermination of 1.5 million Armenian Christians, along with Assyrians, Greeks, and other Christian ethnic minorities, by Turkish forces in 1915. Despite decades of pleas by the government of Armenia for the world to recognize what experts
 consider the first modern genocide, many states have not weighed in, including Colombia. The Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the genocide, claiming that many Armenians died in World War I as a result of ongoing conflict. During his remarks this April  on the anniversary of the beginning of the genocide, Erdogan called it
 “the most reasonable action that could be taken in such a period.”

Local media reported at the time that the original trip by the Colombian politicians to Turkey in February was prompted by the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, even though the anniversary is typically observed in April and known to have begun
 in 1915. One councilman returning from the trip said of the Turks, “truly, we were surprised, we didn’t think they would know so much about us,” beaming that the Turkish officials referred to the city as a “hidden treasure.”

At least one councilman  Luis Guillermo Agudelo, expressed outrage about the trip, describing it in an interview with Colombia’s Noticias Uno at the time as “not important” and “of little benefit to the city.”

“Whether the genocide of the Armenian people by the Turkish government existed or was really a product of war in 1915, that [debate] doesn’t benefit us,” Agudelo argued.

Speaking to El Tiempo this week, he called the mural “an absurdity.”
“This is a public building that has a very important connotation,” he said. “This is where our gallery was, and now they are totally changing its identity.”

The Turkish cultural push appears to have expanded to Colombia from Venezuela, where in 2017 Erdogan announced he  would invest in a major mosque and Turkish cultural center in Caracas. The project seemed similar to one that he attempted to sell to Havana for years. The Cuban communist regime, wary of the expansion of religion, rejected the

Energy Reporters
July 12 2019
Armenia probes power shutdown 

Armenia’s Infrastructure Ministry has blamed massive power outages and voltage drops this week on a voltage drop in the national grid.
“There are no frequency fluctuations in the system, stability has been restored,” the ministry said. “Efforts continue and the power supply is gradually being restored.”
The ministry said an investigation would identify the cause of the blackout.
“The public will be informed about the results,” the ministry said.
The director of Armenia’s National Security Service, Artur Vanesyan, has been instructed to report on the erratic supply and find if it was an act of sabotage.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said: “I would like to express my gratitude to our partners in Iran and Georgia, who provided operational support and it was possible to avoid a long-term collapse of the power grid.
“We can record that our energy system has demonstrated sufficient flexibility and vitality. We just need to understand the causes of the accident,” the prime minister said.
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian posted on Facebook that outages were “possible across the republic” because of a failure within the grid.
Power was also cut in the Yerevan subway this week.
Yerevan Deputy Mayor Hakob Karapetian said the “power supply along the entire length of the subway was interrupted due to voltage drops in the network”.
“At some sections, trains were stranded inside the tunnels. Then the power supply was partially restored, and the trains that stopped between stations managed to arrive at the stations where passengers were evacuated,” Karapetian said.
“The situation is under control. The work of the subway has been suspended until the resolution of the power-supply problem,” he added.
In November 2013, Armenia suffered its worst power outage in nearly two decades after what the authorities called a disruption in electricity supplies from neighbouring Iran.
A new 250-megawatt power station in Yerevan would cut the electricity price by around 1-1.5 drams (1,000 drams=€1.9), said the head of the Public Services Regulatory Commission Garegin Baghramyan.
He said it would replace the ageing, inefficient Hrazdan plant.
Baghramyan said the new plant would be 4 per cent more efficient.
About US$250 million is expected to be invested in the project by Italy’s Simest and German giant Siemens, as well as international financial institutions.
The authorities said the new generating capacity would be used in regional programmes through the “gas for electricity swap” arranged with Armenia and Iran.
Armenia’s Soviet-era infrastructure is creaking. Picture credit: Flickr 

[another Armenian hits the heights]
Daron Acemoglu named Institute Professor
10 July 2019
Versatile economist awarded MIT’s highest faculty honor.
Peter Dizikes 

Economist Daron Acemoglu, whose far-ranging research agenda has produced influential studies about government, innovation, labor, and globalization, has been named Institute Professor, MIT’s highest faculty honor.

Acemoglu is one of two MIT professors earning that distinction in 2019. The other, political scientist Suzanne Berger, has been  named the inaugural John M. Deutch Institute Professor. Acemoglu and Berger join a select group of people holding the Institute Professor title  at MIT. There are now 12 Institute Professors, along with 11 Institute Professors Emeriti. The new appointees are the first faculty members to be named Institute Professors since 2015.

“As an Institute Professor, Daron Acemoglu embodies the essence of MIT: boldness, rigor and real-world impact,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “From the John Bates Clark Medal to his decades of pioneering contributions to the literature, Daron has built an exceptional record of academic accomplishment. And because he has focused his creativity on broad, deep questions around the practical fate of nations, communities and workers, his work will be essential to making a better  world in our time.”

In a letter sent to the MIT faculty today, MIT Provost Martin A. Schmidt and MIT Chair of the Faculty Susan Silbey noted that the honor recognizes “exceptional distinction by a combination of leadership, accomplishment, and service in the scholarly, educational, and general intellectual life of the Institute and wider community.” Schmidt and Silbey also cited Acemoglu’s “significant impacts in diverse fields of economics” and praised him as “one of the most dedicated teachers  and mentors in his department.”

Nominations for faculty to be promoted to the rank of Institute Professor may be made at any time, by any member of the faculty, and should be directed to MIT’s Chair of the Faculty.

A highly productive scholar with broad portfolio of research interests, Acemoglu has spent more than 25 years at MIT examining complicated, large-scale economic questions — and producing important answers.

“I’m greatly honored,” he says. “I’ve spent all my career at MIT, and this is a recognition that makes me humbled and happy.”

At different times in his career, Acemoglu has published significant research on topics ranging from labor economics to network effects within economies. However, his most prominent work in the public sphere examines  the dynamics of political institutions, democracy, and economic growth.

Working with colleagues, Acemoglu has built an extensive empirical case that the existence of government institutions granting significant rights for individuals has spurred greater economic activity over the last  several hundred years. At the same time, he has also produced theoretical work modeling political changes in many countries.   

He has researched the relationship between institutions and economics most extensively with political scientist James Robinson at the University of Chicago, as well as with Simon Johnson of the MIT Sloan School  of Management. However, he has published papers about political dynamics with many other scholars as well.

Acemoglu has also been keenly interested in other issues during the course of his career. In labor economics, Acemoglu’s work has helped account for the wage gap between higher-skill and lower-skill workers; he  has also shown why firms benefit from investing in improving employee skills, even if those workers might leave or require higher wages. 

In multiple papers over the last decade, Acemoglu has also examined the labor-market implications of automation, robotics, and AI. Using both theoretical and empirical approaches, Acemoglu has shown how these technologies  can reduce employment and wages unless accompanied by other, counterbalancing innovations that increase labor productivity.

In still another area of recent work, Acemoglu has shown how economic shocks within particular industrial sectors can produce cascading effects that propagate through an entire economy, work that has helped economists  re-evaluate ideas about the aggregate performance of economies.  

Acemoglu credits the intellectual ethos at MIT and the environment created by his colleagues as beneficial to his own research.  

“MIT is a very down-to-earth, scientific, no-nonsense environment, and the economics department here has been very open-minded, in an age when economics is more relevant than ever but also in the midst of a deep  transformation,” he says. “I think it’s great to have an institution, and colleagues, open to new ideas and new things.”

Acemoglu has authored or co-authored over 120 (and still rapidly counting) peer-reviewed papers. His fifth book, “The Narrow Corridor,” co-authored with Robinson, will be published in September. It takes a global  look at the development of, and pressures on, individual rights and liberties. He has advised over 60 PhD students at MIT and is known for investing considerable time reading the work of his colleagues. 

As a student, Acemoglu received his BA from the University of York, and his MSc and PhD from the London School of Economics, the latter in 1992. His first faculty appointment was at MIT in 1993, and he has been at the Institute ever since. He was promoted to full professor in 2000, and since 2010 has been the Elizabeth and James Killian Professor of Economics. 

Among Acemoglu’s honors, in 2005 he won the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded by the American Economic Association to the best economist under age 40. Acemoglu has also won the Nemmers Prize in Economics, the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award, and been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. This month, Acemoglu also received the Global Economy Prize 2019, from the Institute for the World Economy.