Tuesday, 30 June 2009

ARMENIAN GOLGOTHA - Vartkes Sinanian

I was a little boy living in Nicosia, the capital of the Island of Cyprus. Hagop Oshagan, the famous Armenian novelist and literary critic was a close friend of my father and was a frequent visitor to our house. At that time Oshagan was working on his novel "Remnants" which was based on the Armenian deportations and massacres in the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Oshagan wanted to include my mother's ordeal during the Smyrna holocaust in his novel but my mother tearfully resisted his pleas. At one point Oshagan turning to my father remarked that the enormity of the crime perpetrated by the Turks was so overwhelming that he doubted if ever anyone would have the courage to attempt to depict that catastrophe of such magnitude with all its disastrous consequences. Gregoris Balakian's "Armenian Golgotha" translated from the original Armenian to English by his grand nephew Peter Balakian with Aris Sevag comes as the closest documentation of that darkest period in our people's history. It opens a window into a disturbing country during World War I when the world was oblivious of the tragedy unfolding in the Ottoman Turkish Empire. It is also a strong reminder of a terribly frightening chapter of our bloody history. The memoir is a comprehensive account of the killing fields and the bloodbath that followed as well as the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population as seen and miraculously endured by a victim who was arrested and exiled on that dreadful night of April 24, 1915, in Constantinople along with hundreds of intellectuals and clergy. Among those well-known intellectuals who were arrested that fateful night were Krikor Zohrab, Vartkes, Daniel Varoujan and Siamanto who were later murdered. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were wiped out - Anatolia became a nightmare landscape littered with human skulls and limbs of men, women and children. This diabolical plan was the work of the Interior Minister Talaat and his henchmen Enver, Jemal and Behaeddin Shakir. The once prosperous and vibrant Armenian population of the towns and villages were deported to Der Zor "that graveyard without tombstones "in the north of Syria." The Ittihad government had caught us in one net in a single night" he writes "We move towards our graves, nameless and unknown to be buried forever."
The author of the book Gregoris Balakian was born in 1876. He was one of the outstanding clergymen of his generation. Educated at Sanasarian College in Erzerum he later went to Germany for higher studies. He was ordained a priest and served as an emissary of the Holy See in Europe. After surviving the Armenian Genocide he was elected prelate of Marseilles in the south of France until his death in 1934. His escape through the killing fields in disguise as a German is a suspenseful narrative which he wrote as a fugitive in a vineyard in Cilicia.
Unfortunately the Armenian leadership considered the Ittihad government as their ideological comrades who had come with the ultimate aim of democratising the entire country. They were unaware of the murderous plan which was unfolding around them. Writing about Khachadour Maloumian (Agnouni) the political leader who was one of the early victims he writes "The unfortunate Agnouni being idealistic and honourable man, could not comprehend how Talaat could plot against him cynically - the same Talaat whom he had sheltered in order to save Talaat's life while risking his own during the counter revolution". Yet another incident which comes to our mind is the case of the prominent member of the Turkish Parliament Krikor Zohrab who expressed disbelief about Talaat's hand in his arrest. Zohrab was at Talaat's home the night before his arrest playing cards with him and to Zohrab's astonishment Talaat had kissed him goodnight before departing. Even when the death's shadow was chasing them they were naive of the danger lurking around them. Talaat had issued an order which precisely said "It is necessary to eradicate the Armenians. For if 1,000 Armenians are left alive by some misfortune before long they will become 100,000 and again they will be trouble for the Turkish government." Talaat had a mission to accomplish in most heinous way.
Balakian is witness of the hundreds of thousands of his countrymen sent by carts and by foot to the scorching Syrian desert to be raped, decapitated and die from hunger and thirst. He writes "Hundreds of chetes (irregulars V.S.) attacked from all sides, cutting and hacking off legs and arms with axes and hatchets, ripping them off partly or entirely and crushing heads with rocks. Then the bodies were thrown half alive, or in the throes of death into prepared ditches and covered with lime. Those were partly sticking out of the dirt and the lime made the heavenly arches resound with their cries of agony; more dirt was poured on them until they were buried alive." It is the horrific story of blood and tears, death and mourning all over. It is mind-numbing in its brutality and savagery. It reminds us of Dante Alighieri's classic "Inferno" - the journey through different levels of hell encountering all forms of chaos in each, which precisely reflects our people's Golgotha. In "Inferno" though the sinner reaps what he saws while in our case the "open wound" is left unhealed.
"Armenian Golgotha" is a memoir of horror and endurance. About a century later our grief and outrage have not diminished and we are so traumatized that the past is still very present in our lives. It reveals the enduring power of the Armenian people and its faith in resurrection even under critical circumstances. It is also the ultimate rebuke to those who deny the Armenian Genocide.



On Monday 22nd June 2009 , the TURKISH VERSION of the book "Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire 1915-1916" (commonly known as the "Blue Book") was launched in the House of Lords of the British Parliament by its Sponsor (Lord Avebury) and its Author (Ara Sarafian), during a Press Conference for the Turkish Media. The event was extensively reported by the "Hurriyet" Newspaper.
The "Blue Book" originally written in 1915 and commissioned by the British Government to the Historian Arnold Toynbee, has been sponsored by Lord Avebury, reviewed, researched and re-written by Ara Sarafian, published by Gomidas and recently, translated into Turkish.
Lord Avebury (Vice-Chairman of the British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group) and Ara Sarafian (Member of the Advisory Board of the BAAPPG) will travel to Ankara and the Turkish Version of the Blue Book will be launched in Ankara on Friday 26th June 2009 in the Turkish Grand National Committee (the Turkish Parliament).
This Turkish translation follows the Turkish Parliament's 2005 petition to the British Parliament, labelling this work "a war propaganda publication". British Parliamentarians discussed the Turkish petition and rejected it in 2006, inviting their Turkish colleagues to a meeting to discuss their differences. Turkish Parliamentarians refused the meeting.
The Turkish edition of the "Blue Book" includes an introduction by Lord Avebury.
For further information please contact bluebook@gomidas.org

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

3 reasons to help Krikorian for Congress today

Dear Reader

Congressional Candidate David KrikorianDavid Krikorian's fundraising deadline is just days away.

On June 30th the Krikorian campaign will report how much he's raised to face U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, the genocide-denying darling of the Turkish lobby.

Armenian American financial support before this Friday will show David's financial strength, help keep others out of this Southern Ohio Democratic primary, and leverage the national party into pouring its own resources into this race after the primary.

Which brings me to my 3 reasons for sending your secure on-line donation today to David's campaign for the U.S. Congress.

1) David is a great Armenian American: David's a proud son of the Armenian American community. He's the past Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Ohio, a devoted family man, and a self-made business owner who's given back to his community.

2) Jean Schmidt has got to go: Jean Schmidt is a tireless enemy of Armenian issues and an equally energetic apologist for Turkey's sins (see her lay a wreath at Ataturk's tomb). She's even filed an official complaint against David for speaking honestly about how she's taken tens of thousands of dollars from Armenian Genocide deniers.

3) David is going to win: The race to defeat the highly vulnerable Schmidt, who squeaked by in 2008 with the lowest percentage of any member of Congress, has already been picked by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee as one of their top 8 races for 2010. Polling shows David, who received the highest percentage of any independent last cycle, as the top candidate to take her seat.

David's perfectly positioned to win as a conservative Democrat who is in sync with his local party, has proven appeal among independents, and enjoys crossover support among Republicans.

This is our chance, our "perfect storm" to beat a genocide denier AND send a powerful new Armenian American voice to Congress. So please take a moment to send your secure on-line donation today. Whether you send $20, $200, or $2000, every dollar you send before the June 30th deadline will make a vital difference.

With warmest regards,

Aram Hamparian
Executive Director

P.S.: Beating Schmidt would be crucial even if David weren't running. With David in the race this is our community's top priority for the 2010 elections. So please send your secure on-line donation to David's campaign by the June 30th deadline.

If you'd rather not give online, please make your check out to Krikorian for Congress and send it to:

Krikorian For Congress

"Citizens for Krikorian" Initiative

PO Box 43372

Cincinnati, OH 45243

1711 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 775-1918 ~ Fax: (202) 775-5648 ~ anca@anca.org ~ www.anca.org

Avedarani Khosdoum-ue‏


Friday, 19 June 2009

ARMENIAN INSTITUTE Bechstein AT THE GULBENKIAN music series~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~#~



music series


Vocal training workshop with Lydia Kazarians

Sunday, 21 June 2009, 3 – 6 pm, N Gulbenkian Hall, Iverna Gardens, W8

(Tube: High Street Kensington)

Admission: £7 (£5 for Friends of AI)

Following the success of our first Trust your Voice workshop on May 17th , the Armenian Institute is pleased to announce that Lydia Kazarians will give a follow-up session. This will be for both old and new participants of all abilities interested in exploring and enhancing their natural vocal potential and boosting their confidence through fun activities and heart-warming Armenian popular songs. We will continue with the songs begun last time and learn new ones. If you have a song you would like to present or work on, do bring it along. Wear comfortable clothes and bring an exercise mat if you have one. Please book by 17 June as places are limited.

For more information, please call 020 7978 9104 or write to info@armenianinstitute.org.uk.

Lydia Kazarians began studying voice and music in Vienna and continued exploring different techniques in London. She has operatic experience and has performed as a soloist with the Morley College Choir and with Armenian choirs in London and Vienna. Lydia conducts the student choir at the Kevork Tahta Armenian Sunday School.

The Armenian Institute is a London-based registered charity dedicated to making Armenian culture and history a living experience, through innovative programmes, educational resources, workshops, exhibits and performances. Its work is supported by friends, patrons and voluntary donations. For more information about the Armenian Institute or to find out about supporting the important work of the Institute, please visit our website at www.armenianinstitute.org.uk, contact us at info@armenianinstitute.org. or call 020 7978 9104. If you would like your email address to be removed from the list, please send an email with "remove" in the subject heading to info@armenianinstitute.org.uk


What would you ask Ambassador Yovanovitch?‏

June 17, 2009

State Dept's Phil Gordon Voices Support for Turkey's Proposed Historical Commission

Watch Video

Amb.Yovanovitch to Visit Armenian Communities in U.S.

Top 5 Concerns

What would you ask her? Tell us.

House Panel Maintains
Aid Level to Armenia; Reverses Administration Push to Tilt Military Aid Balance to Baku |
Read Release

Azerbaijani Embassy Disinformation Campaign Targets ANCA | Read more

Regional Round-up:

-- MA: Court Dismisses Lawsuit Demanding Inclusion of Genocide Genocide in Schools | Read more

-- CA.: KFI Apologizes for Genocide Comment Read more

Profiting from Genocide Denial: Read the AP Report Chevron, Goodyear, among lobbyists against H.Res.252

Amb. Marie Yovanovitch: Town Halls
in Massachusetts, New York, California and Washington, DC

MA: Fri., June 19 at 7 p.m.
Armenian Cultural Foundation
441 Mystic Street, Arlington, MA 02474

NY: Mon., June 22 at 7 p.m.
Diocese of the Armenian Church Haik and Alice Kavookjian Hall
630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016

CA: Thurs., June 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Western Diocese of the Armenian Church
3325 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank, CA 91504

CA: Fri., June 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Western Prelacy of the Armenian Church | 6252 Honolulu Avenue, La Crescenta, CA 91214

CA: Sat. June 27, 9:00am to 10:30am
USC Davidson Conference Center, 3415 S Figueroa St LA 90089
RSVP - armenian@college.usc.edu

DC: Tues., June 30 at 12:30 p.m.
Library of Congress, Mumford Room | 1st Street SE, Washington D.C. 20543

Can't attend these events? What would you ask her? Tell us.

Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) Rep. Mark Kirk
Rep. Adam Schiff

House Appropriations Subcommittee Allocates $48 Million for Armenia; $10 Million for Karabagh

WASHINGTON, DC - The House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for U.S. foreign aid policy, this morning, voted to maintain U.S. economic assistance to Armenia at last year's level of $48 million and to increase humanitarian assistance to Nagorno Karabagh to an unprecedented annual allocation of $10 million, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

The Subcommittee voted to maintain military assistance parity to Armenia and Azerbaijan, keeping foreign military financing to both countries at $3 million. The panel chose not to accept President Obama's proposals, included in the FY10 budget that he released earlier this year, to reduce economic aid to Armenia by 38%, from $48 million $30 million, and to tilt the military aid balance in favor of Azerbaijan.

The Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, which is chaired by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), also strengthened language governing the President's authority to waive Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, a provision of law that restricts aid to Azerbaijan due to its blockades and other offensive actions against Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. The new language, according those close to the work of the subcommittee, will require closer Congressional consultation prior to any future waivers of this law.

"We value Chairwoman Lowey's leadership and the efforts of Rep. Adam Schiff, Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Mark Kirk, Representatives Steve Rothman, Jesse Jackson Jr, Betty McCollum, Barbara Lee, Steve Israel, and our many friends on the Subcommittee for constructively working to address our community's foreign aid priorities," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We are gratified that the panel restored military aid parity, met the Armenian Caucus request of $10 million for Nagorno Karabagh, and strengthened the waiver language for Section 907. We will, in the coming days, seek to build on this progress by working with our friends on the Senate side to bring the economic aid figure to Armenia up to the $70 million level requested by the Armenian Caucus." Read More. . .

Azerbaijani Embassy Disinformation Campaign Targets ANCA

WASHINGTON, DC - The Azerbaijani government responded today to the Armenian National Committee of America's (ANCA) reports of an emerging United States foreign aid policy double standard toward the countries of the Caucasus countries by circulating a press release bitterly attacking the ANCA and spreading misinformation about aid levels to the region.

According to a news release placed on the PRNewswire earlier today, the Azerbaijani Embassy set its sights on the ANCA's recent criticism of the Obama Administration's proposed reduction in U.S. assistance to Armenia in the face of proposed increases for Azerbaijan and Georgia, accusing the Armenian American grassroots group of misrepresenting aid figures to the states of the Caucasus.

"Either Azerbaijani Ambassador Yashar Aliyev is out spreading falsehoods around Capitol Hill or he really needs to brush up on his fourth grade math skills," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "These publicly available figures are really rather simple and should be easy enough for even a schoolchild to easily grasp: a proposed 38% reduction in U.S. assistance to Armenia in the face of a 20% increase to Azerbaijan, despite that country's ongoing blockades of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh and President Aliyev's continued threats of renewed war." Read more. . .

Mass. Court Dismisses Lawsuit Demanding Inclusion of Genocide Genocide in Schools

Judge Mark Wolf

WATERTOWN, MA -- In a major setback for genocide denial, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf today dismissed a case initiated at the prompting of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) that would have compelled the inclusion of historically inaccurate Armenian Genocide denial materials in the Massachusetts education curriculum, reported the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts (ANC of MA).

"Today's judgment sends a clear message that the federal court system cannot be abused by genocide deniers to spread their lies across America's classroom," said ANC of MA Chairperson Shari Ardhaldjian. "We welcome this decision and the powerful precedent its sets for the future of genocide education here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and throughout the nation."

The ATAA, according to media accounts, solicited the assistance of two local teachers, a student, and his parents to file the case against the state of Massachusetts in 2005. In February of 2006, the Armenian National Committee joined the Armenian Bar Association, Irish Immigration Society, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, and the NAACP in filing an amicus brief in support of the Massachusetts Commonwealth's calls to dismiss the case. The brief was filed and presented by attorney Gabrielle R. Wolohojian, then of Wilmer, Cutler, Hale and Dorr LLP, who championed the case pro-bono. The Armenian Assembly of America also filed an amicus brief.

In his opinion, Chief Judge Wolf dismissed the case stating that the plaintiffs are "are not entitled to relief in federal court." The dismissal at this early stage of the proceedings is viewed in legal circles as meaning the cased lacked even minimal merit. Read more. . .

KFI Apologizes for Genocide Comment

Glendale, CA -- The Armenian National Committee-Western Region (ANC-WR), joined by community organizations and activists, met with KFI640-AM radio show host Bill Handel and station management today regarding offensive comments that aired on Handel's radio show on May 13 and 14 during a discussion between Handel and Lara Hermanson. Acknowledging that a line had been crossed, Handel, KFI and Clear Channel management apologized to the Armenian American community. With Handel himself being a descendent of Holocaust survivors, he also made it clear that recognition of the Armenian Genocide is something he has been aware of and passionate about throughout his career and promised to continue raising awareness about the issue.

"We deeply regret the inappropriate comments that were made on Bill Handel's show last month which deeply hurt the Armenian American community. The comments were wrong," said Robin Bertolucci, KFI Program Director. "We take responsibility for this offense as any genocide, including the Armenian Genocide, are serious topics that should not be used as the basis for humor." KFI will be issuing an on-air apology on June 12 at 6:30am. KFI also released a video apology from Hermanson and Handel.
Read more. . .

Were you, your family or someone you know forced out of your homes in Azerbaijan 1988-1991? Tell us your story. . .

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Search the web with www.goodsearch.com and money from Yahoo advertisers will go to the ANCA without you spending a dime. A penny per search! Use www.goodshop.com for online purchases from hundreds of popular sites and a percentage comes back to the ANCA.

When you GoodSearch & GoodShop - Choose the ANCA !

Published by the Armenian National Committee of America
1711 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 775-1918, Fax: (202) 775-5648, E-mail:
anca@anca.org, Web: www.anca.org

Armenian News‏

18.06.2009 13:18 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ The earthquake that shook Armenia an hour ago
measured 5.0 on Richter scale. The epicenter was 10 km northward from
Garni settlement, the Armenian National Survey for Seismic Protection
(NSSP) told PanARMENIAN.Net.

The tremors in Yerevan and neighboring settlements measured 3-4.

There are no victims or damages.
Noyan Tapan
June 17, 2009

decided to empower the Armenian community of the country to elect
a Co-patriarch.

According to the Marmara daily, which cites the Turkish Hurriyet
daily, the decision was made taking into account the health problems
of Armenian Patriarch in Istanbul Mesrob Mutafian.

The Turkish newspaper wrote that thus the Armenian Patriarchate
receiving the permission to elect, is to apply to the government
during the coming months for doing the election, because the
Patriarch's position has vital importance for the Armenian community
in Turkey. After the appeal the government is to amend the law about
the election of the Patriarch which was used during the elections of
1998. After this amendment the Armenian Patriarch in Turkey should
be elected as a Co-patriarch. According to the Marmara daily, he will
be empowered to wear Patriarch's clothes, but Archbishop Mesrob will
retain his primary position.

Bangladesh News 24 hours
June 17 2009

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (bdnews24.com/Reuters) - The future of a US House
resolution calling the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks
genocide appeared in doubt on Wednesday after House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi said whether it would come to the floor for a vote "remains
to be seen."

Support for the resolution has eroded sharply since it was passed
by the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week. Critical Iraq war
ally Turkey warned it would damage relations with the United States
and President George W. Bush condemned it.

"Whether it will come up or not, what the action will be, remains to be
seen," Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters on Wednesday. She
previously had vowed it would get a vote of the full chamber sometime
this year.

Pelosi said on Wednesday she had always supported the nonbinding,
largely symbolic resolution, but she would be working with other
advocates to see what they wanted to do now.

Lawmakers from both political parties have been withdrawing their
names from the resolution in recent days in the face of criticism from
Turkey and Bush. Some key Democrats as well as Republicans oppose it.

Turkey calls the resolution insulting and rejects the Armenian
position, backed by many Western historians, that up to 1.5 million
Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of Ottoman Turks during
World War One.

The United States is highly dependent on Turkey's Incirlik air
base. About 70 percent of the US military air cargo into Iraq transits
that base, according to the Defense Department.

.U.S. Cuts Aid To Armenia Over `Democratic Governance'
U.S. -- The U.S. Government's Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)
logo, undated
Emil Danielyan

The United States has effectively axed nearly one third of a $235.6
million aid program for Armenia, citing its government's deteriorated
human rights record and democratic practices.

The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) indicated late on
Wednesday that the $67 million project to reconstruct and repair about
1,000 kilometers of Armenian rural roads will not be implemented anytime

The agency, which administers the U.S. Millennium Challenge Account
(MCA) program, froze the project following a harsh government crackdown
on the Armenian opposition sparked by the disputed presidential election
of February 2008. The MCC board of directors has extended the freeze
during quarterly meetings held over the past year.

In a statement issued after its latest meeting in Washington chaired by
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the board said MCC ` will not resume
funding for any further road construction and rehabilitation.' `The
responsibility for this outcome remains with the government of Armenia,
whose actions have been inconsistent with the eligibility criteria that
are at the heart of the MCC program,' Rodney Bent, the corporation's
acting executive director, was quoted as saying.

`I do not anticipate that the Board will revisit this issue in the
future,' added Bent.

The move came one day after the U.S. State Department reiterated its
discontent with Yerevan's human rights record in an annual report on
U.S. efforts to promote freedom and democracy around the world. It again
described the February 2008 ballot as `significantly flawed' and
criticized the ensuing government crackdown on the opposition.

`Authorities used harassment and intrusive application of bureaucratic
measures to intimidate and retaliate against government opponents,' said
the report. `Police beat pretrial detainees and failed to provide due
process in some cases ¦ Courts remained subject to political pressure
from the executive branch, with the selective prosecution of political
opponents and absence of due process reflecting the judiciary's lack of

`U.S. officials repeatedly have warned the government that MCC funding
is contingent upon its progress in democratic practices and in meeting
the MCC indicators,' added the report.

U.S. assessment of the May 31 municipal elections in Yerevan promises to
be just as negative. U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Marie Yovanovitch said
on Tuesday that U.S. Embassy officials who observed the vote witnessed
irregularities `throughout the city.' Yovanovitch said a report based on
their findings will be released shortly.

The U.S. aid suspension led the Armenian government in July 2008 to
allocate about $17 million of its own funds to rural road construction
envisaged by Armenia's MCA compact. The current economic recession and a
resulting major shortfall in tax revenues preclude more such funding
this year. Instead, the government secured in February a $25 million
loan from the World Bank for rural infrastructure rehabilitation.

The MCC decision will not affect the main $160 million segment of the
aid package approved by Washington in 2006. It is due to be spent on
rebuilding and expanding Armenia's irrigation networks.

17:43:28 - 11/06/2009

During yesterday's session of the board of directors of the Millennium
Challenge Corporation, the decision to stop financing the program on
the road construction was made. This decision does not concern the
irrigation subprograms of the program, the Radio Liberty informs.

As the Radio Liberty informs, the reason for this decision is the
fact that the steps of the Armenian government do not coincide with
the measurements of the democratic governance of the Millennium
Challenge Corporation.

The executive director of the Corporation Rodni Bent stated that it
is the Armenian government to bear responsibility for this decision,
as the actions of which do not coincide with the necessary indexes
of the Corporation.

In accordance with the contract signed with the Armenian government,
the Millennium Corporation allocates 235, 6 million dollars to
Armenia, 68 million of which was planned to be allocated for the road
constructional works and more than 160 million for the implementation
of the irrigation subprograms.

The corporation has the right to stop the whole program all its
subprograms if the country does not provide for necessary democratic
progress, which is freedom of media, corruption, transparency of the
governmental actions; the radio Liberty reports.

Noyan Tapan
June 9, 2009

Minister Vardan Barseghian met with the delegation led by UK House
of Lords Deputy Speaker Caroline Cox, who had arrived in Stepanakert
on a cognitive visit.

Issues regarding the settlement process of Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict
were discussed at the meeting. In particular, it was mentioned that
Azerbaijan uses all resources to carry out anti-Armenian agitation
and to misrepresent the essence of the Nagorno Karabakh problem,
which needs active counteraction. In this connection a proposal was
made to publish and to spread books and information materials based
on real facts and exposing Baku.

V. Barseghian said that by carrying out independent foreign policy
and striving for international recognition, NKR pursues a goal to
establish good-neighborly relations with its international partners,
countries, organizations, and private persons.

Baroness Cox, in her turn, said that at each visit she tries to bring
new people with her, thus expanding the circle of NKR's friends hoping
that they will become Artsakh's "ambassadors" and will assist the
Nagorno Karabakh settlement.

According to the NKR Foreign Ministry Press Service, at the end of
the meeting the guests were given compact disks Unpunished Crimes
made by the NKR Foreign Ministry, which present Azerbaijan's crimes
against the peaceful Armenian population.
Armenia Removed From U.S. Human Trafficking Blacklist
U.S. -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds up the the ninth
annual Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report, Washington,
DC, 16Jun2009
Emil Danielyan

Citing `significant' steps taken by the Armenian authorities, the
U.S. State Department has removed Armenia from a list of countries
which it believes are not doing enough to combat human trafficking
and aid its victims.
The department had for years kept Armenia on the embarrassing `watch
list' in its annual reports on cross-border transport and illegal
exploitation of human beings around the world.

The Armenian government has scrambled to get the country out of the
blacklist with a range of measures against the illegal practice and
its most frequent manifestation: the recruitment and transport of
women for sexual exploitation abroad. The government approved its
second anti-trafficking program in late 2007 and upgraded the status
of an inter-agency government council coordinating its implementation
a year later. The council is now headed by Deputy Prime Minister
Armen Gevorgian.

The authorities in Yerevan have also substantially toughened
punishment for human trafficking and cracked down on local
prostitution rings sending women abroad and the United Arab Emirates
in particular. The number of relevant criminal cases opened by the
Armenian police has risen in recent years.

`The Government of Armenia does not fully comply with the minimum
standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making
significant efforts to do so,' the State Department said in its
latest Trafficking in Persons report presented by Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. The report scrutinizes the efforts of 175
countries to tackle the problem over the period of April 2008 to
March 2009.

The report notes that Armenian law-enforcement bodies prosecuted
eight individuals for trafficking last year, the same number as in
2007. Four of them were convicted and sentenced to between 2 and 7.5
years in prison. None was given a suspended sentence.

U.S. officials have complained in the past that the Armenian police
and courts are too lenient toward such individuals. In its 2008
report, the State Department stressed that Yerevan should ensure that
convicted traffickers `receive and serve adequate jail sentences.'

One of the apparent reasons for Armenia's removal from the `watch
list' is state prosecutors' decision last December to reopen a
criminal investigation into the 2006 escape from prison of a
convicted trafficker, Anush Zakhariants. There is widespread
suspicion that Zakhariants, who is an Armenian-born Uzbek national,
fled the country with the help of senior law-enforcement officials.

`This was an important step forward and results of this investigation
warrant future monitoring,' the State Department said, referring to
the prosecutors' decision. It called for a `vigorous investigation,
prosecution, and conviction of complicit officials' in this and other

The department report praised the Armenian government for allocating,
in its 2009 budget, $55,000 to one of the country's two shelters for
trafficking victims run by non-governmental organizations. Still, it
said the government made only `modest progress' in protecting and
helping victims.

`The government identified 34 victims in 2008 and police referred 20
victims for assistance, an increase from 17 victims referred in
2007,' said the report. `Foreign-funded NGOs assisted 24 victims in

Turkey and its army‏

Turkey and its army

Restive colonels and generals
Jun 18th 2009 | ISTANBUL
From The Economist print edition

New evidence of old anti-government conspiracies within the army

OLD habits die hard. No institution in Turkey lives up to that adage more than its meddlesome army, which is embroiled in yet another row with the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party. The latest mischief-making concerns an alleged plan that was hatched last April to overthrow AK and to incriminate Turkey’s largest and most influential Islamic brotherhood, led by a moderate preacher called Fetullah Gulen.

A copy of the “Plan to Combat Islamic Fundamentalism” was published by Taraf, a liberal daily newspaper, on June 12th. It promptly sparked a political storm that has left the army on the defensive. Signed by Dursun Cicek, a colonel serving in the army’s psychological warfare unit, the plan calls for “mobilising agents” within AK to discredit the party through their actions and words. Worse, it speaks of planting weapons in the homes of members of Mr Gulen’s movement, with a view to demonstrating that they are “terrorists” with links to separatist Kurdish PKK rebels.

Another aim of the plan was apparently to use the media to galvanise nationalist support against Armenia and Greece. And the authors also wanted to clear the names of officers who are being prosecuted for past coup plots against AK as part of the so-called Ergenekon conspiracy.

Skulduggery of this kind is not exactly new in Turkey. The army, which has seized power three times directly, used similar tactics to unseat the country’s first Islamist-led government in 1997. In 2004 a group of generals cooked up various schemes to overthrow AK on the grounds that it was seeking to introduce religious rule. Yet for once the government is fighting back. It has laid a formal complaint with public prosecutors, calling for a full criminal investigation into an attempted coup. Colonel Cicek, who protests his innocence, has been called to testify before prosecutors dealing with the Ergenekon case. “If the allegations are true, the situation is dire,” declared Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, after a 70-minute meeting with Ilker Basbug, the chief of the general staff.

The general denies all knowledge of the affair, but he has promised to punish any of his men who are guilty. The general staff has launched its own investigation. But army prosecutors have rushed to declare that there is no evidence that the plan was devised at its headquarters, even if they could not refute its existence. “This statement has only reinforced suspicions,” sneered Bekir Bozdag, an AK whip.

If the plot was really conceived without General Basbug’s knowledge, it was probably the act of a group of renegade officers within the army. This theory was buttressed by a recently retired general, who told Taraf that he knew of “five or six people” who were bent on unseating AK, adding that he had warned General Basbug of their plans. Another less likely story is that the police, heavily penetrated by Gulenists, forged the document to embarrass the army.

Certainly there is little trust between the army, the government and the security services. Many hope the affair will give Mr Basbug a chance to prove his democratic credentials and root out rogue elements once and for all. Yet the signs are not encouraging. Colonel Cicek has not been suspended during the inquiry. And army prosecutors have slapped a legally dubious ban on any coverage of it.

The onus is now on Mr Erdogan to insist to the generals that they must take orders from him and not the other way round. His meeting with General Basbug suggests that he may be more interested in cutting deals. That is what he supposedly did with the general’s predecessor, Yasar Buyukanit, who had issued a statement on the internet in April 2007 threatening to seize power. Soon afterwards Mr Erdogan met General Buyukanit for two hours. Both vowed secrecy, prompting speculation of a truce.

This new scandal suggests that, no matter how many conspiracies it survives, AK will remain a target of those who resent its encroachment on their traditional bastions of power. Ominously, the prosecutor who launched the court closure case against AK in 2008 has now made the bizarre complaint that the government is focusing “too much on economic growth” at the expense of secularism. He has also spoken against proposed constitutional changes that would make it more difficult to ban political parties. Mr Erdogan needs to stick to his guns and push through these changes. The best response to an attack on democracy is more democracy.


Canadahay Temi Arachnort Pakrad Yeb. Kalsdanian


Veramshagvadz Dzrakir RAG-i‏


20 for murder - 28 for murder book !‏

Gibrahayer e-magazine www.gibrahayer.com
The largest circulation Armenian e-magazine on the Internet
Circulates every Wednesday - Established in 1999

"Nothing is settled until it is settled right." Rudyard Kipling


Hurriyet June 11 2009 - More than two years after Agos editor Hrant Dink was shot dead, a reporter stands trial for writing about the circumstances surrounding the murder. For his alleged crimes, he faces 28 years in prison, eight years more than what the murder suspect would serve if convicted.
reporter who wrote a book about the intelligence failures before and after the murder of Hrant Dink, the editor-in-chief of Armenian weekly Agos, is facing a prison term of 28 years if found guilty. The chief murder suspect in the case could serve a maximum of 20 years if convicted.
Milliyet daily reporter Nedim Sener's book "Dink Murder and Intelligence Lies" focused on the intelligence deficiencies by security agencies before and after Dink was shot dead, leading to a police officer and three senior Police Department intelligence chiefs filing complaints against him.
Dink, who was prosecuted for insulting Turkishness, was killed in front of Agos's office. The chief suspect, a teenage nationalist, is currently on trial along with several alleged accomplices who are accused of influencing the culprit.
Milliyet daily reported that the complaints have led the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office to charge Sener with publication of secret information and turning anti-terrorism officials into targets. The reporter faces a maximum prison term of 28 years if found guilty.
Sener, speaking to Anatolia news agency on his way to the opening hearing yesterday, said he is facing a total of 28 years in prison if convicted in two cases on charges of obtaining classified documents and insulting government officials.
Sener has two trials pending as a result of the complaints. The trial at the Istanbul Second Court was on violating official secrets. Sener, who faces up to eight years in jail on this charge, defended himself by saying that the information in his book was from phone conversations that were made public on televisions and newspapers months before his book was printed. "These
conversations are also on the Internet and can be found when one searches Google," he said.
Sener said the trial aimed at preventing the public from learning the facts about Dink's murder and press freedom. He asked the court to find him not guilty. The judge decided to postpone the trial to another date for the defendant's lawyers to prepare for the prosecutor's case.
Milliyet Editor-in-Chief, Sedat Ergin, told Anatolia news agency his presence at court was to support not only Sener but also press freedom in Turkey. "We are showing this solidarity in order to ensure press freedom in respected," he said. The Turkish Journalists' Association, or TGC, released a statement on the case, seeing it as "worrying" and a problem for democracy.
After the book's release in January of this year, Muhittin Zenit, a police officer working at the intelligence division at Trabzon at the time Dink was assassinated, filed a criminal complaint about Sener for "targeting personnel in service of fighting terrorism, obtaining secret documents, disclosing secret documents, violating the secrecy of communication and attempting to influence fair trial" through his book.


Gibrahayer - 16 June, 2009 - 20 graduates of Nareg elementary school (18 from Nicosia and two from Limassol) and six from the Nareg Gymnasium will receive their diplomas in the annual traditional ceremony that will take place at 6:30 pm today. The event will be followed by a cocktail reception organised by the Parents Association.
Also "graduating" is Nareg Headmaster Artin Aivazian, who retires after nine years at Nareg's top position.
GIBRAHAYER e-magazine It is an end of an era for the Hokapartsoutiun as well, whose term ends at the beginning of the 2009-2010 school-year. The community awaits from the Armenian MP Vartkes Mahdessian to recommend to the Cyprus Ministry of Education, the new members of the Hokapartsoutiun, who have an increased responsibility - more than ever - to restore calamity between the faculty, parents and administration.
To that end the role of the new Headmistress Vera Tahmazian will be crucial, who inherits a to-do-list, bigger and more complex than any top administrator of the school has ever undertaken in the recent history of Nareg.
The direction of the school must be clearly defined, explained and understood while the community is expected to support the new Hokapartsoutiun, the Headmistress and their undertakings, to accomplish the national and educational objectives that are imperative for an Armenian school in the Diaspora, much so for an outpost in the Mediterranean like Cyprus.

(link in Armenian language)

Hrayr Jebejian's article on the "Continued demands of the Armenian people" appeared in Aztag Daily in Lebanon, on Thursday 11 June 2009.

To read it please click here


Letters to the Editor Who really won the elections in Lebanon? Dear Simon,
After your last week’s article about the Lebanese parliamentary elections (taken from the Masis Weekly) created some controversy in the Gibrahay community and after I was approached several times to explain who had really won the elections (as far as the Armenian seats are concerned), please allow me to comment on some of the points mentioned in the Masis article.
I would like to start with the title of the article, because the uninformed reader could get the impression that the Armenians “won” 6 seats in the parliament, which is not true because these 6 seats are given to us by the Lebanese constitution.

Now the question is: who won these 6 Armenian seats?
The answer is not what the article claimed but the following:
- The ARF Dashnaktsoutiun won 2 seats: MP Hagop Pakradouni and MP Arthur Nazarian
- The Social Democrat Henchagian Party won 1 seat: MP Sebouh Kalpakian
- The Future Movement (non-Armenian movement) won 3 seats: MP Serge Torsarkissian, MP Jean Oghassapian and MP Chant Chinchinian.

It is true that the Ramgavar Party adopted the candidacy of MP Jean Oghassapian a few hours before the deadline for nominations and the Henchagian party adopted the candidacy of MP Serge Torsakissian, but honestly, and please let us not fool ourselves, where does their loyalty rest? The Future Movement or the Armenian parties that adopted them?
I, personally, know the answer to that question, as I have followed the course of action or should I say “lack of action” of our honourable MPs, starting with ex-MP Hagop Kassardjian (Ramgavar Party), ex-MP Yeghya Djeredjian (Henchagian Party), MP Serge Torsarkissian and MP Jean Oghassapian, who was the most active to be honest, for the past 9 years (since they were first elected MPs in the year 2000 as Future Movement candidates).
I hope they prove me wrong for the sake of the Armenian community, and change their faces (YERES-POKHAN) and hold on to their Armenian roots, specially the 2 new ones. But until then, as I clearly see it, the only winner is the Future movement and the only loser is the Armenian Community of Lebanon.
Finally, to assure the Gibrahay Community, I would like to say that having only one or two MPs in the Parliament, MPs who really represent the Armenian community (the whole community or at least 80 % of it) and fight for its rights, MPs like Hagop Pakradouni and Arthur Nazarian, is more than enough."

Sevag Gurunlian, Nicosia


The Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia and the organisational committee of the first Pan-Armenian Forum of Lawyers would like to inform all Armenian lawyers that the first Pan-Armenian Forum of Lawyers will be held in Yerevan on September 19-20, 2009.
The aim of the forum is to record and consolidate the potential of Armenian lawyers around the world, develop steady and productive mechanisms for lawyers’ involvement in Armenia’s domestic life, as well as to create a pan-Armenian lawyers’ association and a pan-Armenian professional network based on the database.
We call out to all Armenian lawyers across the globe and ask all interested candidates to apply to the RA Ministry of Diaspora at Vazgen Sargsyan 26/1, 5th floor or call us at 58-56-01 (1-16). Interested candidates may also e-mail us at lawyersforum2009@mindiaspora.am.
If you know other lawyers or have any information about them, we ask you to please send us that information.
We will be waiting for your replies.

Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia
Organisational committee of the first Pan-Armenian Forum of Lawyers

Analysis of Erdogan's recent speech‏

by Shane Hensinger
Daily Kos
June 10 2009

In a little-noticed (outside Turkey anyway) speech the Prime Minister
of Turkey said something shocking (by Turkish standards) when he
questioned the way Turkey has treated its ethnic and religious
minorities in the past.

Shane Hensinger's diary :: :: "For years, those of different identities
have been kicked out of our country.... This was not done with common
sense. This was done with a fascist approach
," Erdogan said on May
23, during the annual congress of the Justice and Development Party,
held in the western province of Duzce.

"For many years," Erdogan continued, "various facts took place in this
country to the detriment of ethnic minorities who lived here. They
were ethnically cleansed because they had a different ethnic cultural
identity. The time has arrived for us to question ourselves about
why this happened and what we have learned from all of this. There
has been no analysis of this right up until now. In reality, this
behavior is the result of a fascist conception. We have also fallen
into this grave error.

I can't begin to tell you how shocking these words are to those who
have studied and/or lived in Turkey. If there is one topic which is
considered off limits in Turkey, even in private conversations, it
is Turkey's treatment of Turkish citizens who happened to be Greek or
Armenian or Kurdish. Even amongst friends this subject is incendiary
and generally considered off-limits.

The statement is just vague enough to allow each person to come up
with exactly which event Erdogan was speaking of.

Hurriyet (A Turkish daily) feels he was speaking of this:

Erdogan's speech is seen as a reference to the Sept. 6 and 7 events
in Istanbul in 1955 when many Greek shops and houses were pillaged
by crowds after false news reported that founder of Turkey Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk's house in the Thessaloniki neighborhood of Greece was
burnt down. After the events, many ethnic Greeks, who were born and
lived in Istanbul, left the city.

While Asparez (an Armenian daily) felt he was speaking about an
earlier event, one which presaged the anti-Greek riots in 1955:

Some commentators viewed Erdogan's remarks as a reference to the
expulsion of 1.5 million ethnic Greeks from Turkey to Greece in
1923. The large-scale population exchange between the two countries
also included the transfer of more than 500,000 ethnic Turks from
Greece to Turkey.

Regardless of which particular event the Prime Minister was speaking
about his words had the effect of a bombshell in Turkish public life -
where criticism of the state is usually considered off limits.

>From Asbarez again:

Onur Oymen, vice president of the main opposition Republican
People's Party (CHP) said that associating Turkey's history with
terms like fascism based on hearsay was not right. He also said that
no Turkish citizen had ever been expelled because of his or her
ethnic background. Oktay Vural of the opposition MHP party added:
"Erdogan's words are an insult to the Turkish nation."

But others felt differently, including members of Turkey's tiny
(less than 2,000 people) Greek minority:

>From Hurriyet:

"This is a historical speech. The prime minister criticized history
on behalf of the state," Rıdvan Akar, editor-in-chief of news program
"32. Gun," told daily Vatan yesterday.

Words alone do not solve the current problems the communities face
in Turkey, according to Mihail Vasiliadis, editor-in-chief of the
Apoyevmatini, a Greek-language Istanbul newspaper. Self criticism
is good, but not enough, Vasiliadis told the daily Vatan. "I have
heard things like that before and have gotten excited, but now the
continuation of those speeches should come," said Vasiliadis.

And finally, from Zaman, which is a more pro-Islamist newspaper than
most, comes this, which I find very poignant and moving:

The problem of our beloved nation is that it is subjected to the
teaching of a fabricated history in which we Turks are always right
and often the victim of foreign and domestic "enemies." The end result
of this ideology-laden history teaching is ignorance of the historical
facts and the truth about what we have done...

The 1923 population exchange with Greece that forced two-and-a-half
million people of Greek origin to migrate was a successful ethnic
purification that was necessary to build a nation-state. The 1934
intimidation that forced the Jewish citizens out of Thrace (European
Turkey) was a measure to secure the western lands from minorities in
preparation for the world war that was approaching. In 1941 and 1942,
non-Muslim males were drafted on short notice to work as laborers
in what were called "labor battalions." They were also subjected to
exorbitant taxes in order to force them to sell their property and
abandon businesses. This was a measure to Turkify the entrepreneurial
class, which was thought to be the right thing to do under the shadow
of Fascism and Nazism, then the fashion of the day. The (officially
organized and provoked) events of Sept. 6-7, 1955 saw the destruction
and looting of non-Muslim businesses and shrines in Ä°stanbul and
Ä°zmir with a number of casualties. This formidable threat drove
the point home that they were not welcome in this country. Greek
citizens mainly left for Greece and Jewish citizens, by and large,
went to Israel. These things were all done against the principles
of the constitutive Treaty of Lausanne (1923) that gave birth to the
Turkish Republic...

In short, the prime minister was telling the truth... all the
institutions of the state have taken part in the discrimination
against minorities, limiting their property rights through systematic
confiscation to force a change of proprietorship. The judiciary (e.g.,
Council of State) deems non-Muslim minorities as "domestic aliens"
and treats their endowments as foreign institutions in order to limit
their rights to property. Both the bureaucracy and the judiciary have
been instrumental in implementing the two principles that have been in
effect since the last decade of the Ottoman Empire: 1) to get rid of
the minorities, and 2) to transfer their properties to Muslim citizens.

However, the usurpation of property has not made this nation any
richer. Entrepreneurship is not the same as proprietorship, and
ethnic or religious purity does not create problem-free and
nations. These truths have been realized after so much human suffering
and loss. What a pity.

It is indeed an amazing thing we're seeing in Turkey - a nation where
the ice is slowly cracking and through these cracks we can see the
beginnings of a national effort to seek to understand the past and
perhaps more importantly to look at how the continual degradation of
Turkey's minorities has harmed the Turkish state itself.

Armenian News‏

Armenian Reporter

Long-lost Armenian ship, the stuff of legend, to become a “living museum” in the Caribbean
Explorers unravel mystery of the “Quedagh Merchant” hijacked in 1698
by Emil Sanamyan
Published: Friday June 05, 2009

Near Catalina Island, Dominican Republic - This has been a mystery three centuries in the making.
Burned and scuttled off the coast of this former Spanish colony, an Armenian merchant ship captured by
British privateer Captain William Kidd has since become the stuff of legend and an elusive prize for treasure
Since it was accidentally found in December 2007, the researchers involved have called Quedagh Merchant
an unprecedented discovery of its kind in recent history. They are now working on ascertaining the vessel's
identity and on the creation of a unique museum.

An international mystery
According to British records, Kidd captured the Quedagh Merchant (also known as Cara Merchant) in
January 1698 from Armenian traders near the coast of India and then sailed on it to the Caribbean.
In 1701, after a two-year public trial in London, Kidd was hanged to his death on charges of murder and
piracy - charges based in main part on testimony from the Armenian vessel's owners.
Seeking to bury the evidence after looting much of its precious cargo, Kidd's associates set the ship on
fire and sunk it in 1699. Subsequent efforts sanctioned by the British Crown to find the vessel and its cargo
and compensate the Armenians proved fruitless.

The story of the missing ship became an obsession for numerous historians and explorers in the West.
Among Armenians, however, the Quedagh Merchant - like much of the Armenian maritime heritage - has
remained virtually unknown.

To this day, few Armenian studies of the subject have been attempted. One of these few was a Russian
-language paper by Yuri Barsegov, a Moscow professor with expertise in maritime law, published in an
obscure academic journal in 1984.

"When I first heard of this Armenian ship in early 2007, I thought to myself: right, this is just another fable
that Armenians like to brag about among themselves," recalled Pavel Galoumian, who together with his wife
Isabella Agad, was recognized at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo on June 1 at an event dedicated to
the discovery of the shipwreck.

But after checking British sources, Mr. Galoumian learned that the Armenian provenance of the vessel was
well-documented. Having since gone through a mountain of literature on the Quedagh Merchant, he argues
that its significance goes far beyond public excitement about pirates and treasures.
"Much sought-after internationally, this vessel represents a highly significant but little-studied chapter of
Armenian history," Mr. Galoumian told the Armenian Reporter.

In fact, from the 17th century and well into the 18th, at the dawn of the modern era, Armenian diaspora
communities in Iran and India dominated commerce between Asia and Europe that, in its significance for
the world economy, can be compared to trade between the United States and China today.
(See a forthcoming story on the subject in the Armenian Reporter.)

A search for Armenian treasure
Passion for Armenian history and adventure turned the Galoumians - he a physicist who had worked at the
European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva and she a professional translator - into born-again
sea explorers.

Natives of landlocked Armenia and Switzerland, respectively, Mr. and Mrs. Galoumian purchased a yacht
and decided to embark on a fresh search for the elusive Quedagh Merchant.

They joined with sea enthusiasts from Yerevan's Ayas Nautical Research Club led by Karen Balayan, who
in 2004-6 had sailed around Europe in a replica of the 13th-century Armenian vessel Kilikia.
In a sketch, "The Quest for the Armenian vessel: Quedagh Merchant," prepared in March 2007, Ayas
members said that beginning that December they would undertake an expedition to the Caribbean Sea
aboard a 46-foot yacht, Anahit, sailing under the flag of the Republic of Armenia.

Mr. Galoumian admits that the chances that their four-person team could find the three-century-old relic
underwater were slim.

"But we thought we would ask the local population, focusing primarily on the area between Puerto Rico and
the Dominican Republic, specifically the uninhabited islet of Mona, where Quedagh Merchant was known to
have been hiding at one point, and see what we could find," Mr. Galoumian remembered.

But just days after the Anahit sailed from the United States came the stunning news reports.
Researchers from University of Indiana (IU), acting on a tip to Dominican officials from a local resident, found
what appeared to be the long-lost Quedagh Merchant. (By then, the IU team had been doing archeological
work in the waters of the Dominican Republic for 15 years.)

"We felt shock." Mr. Galoumian was candid about his first reaction. "I felt like a dog that lost a bone he didn't
know he could have."

But when the Anahit crew made contact with the American team, they began to collaborate. The Armenian
Nautical Association has since become one of the main sponsors of the research effort.

Examining the discovery
In the past 18 months, the IU team, led by Professor Charles Beeker, has been examining the wreck. They
have identified at least 26 cannons and what may be the vessel's wooden keel. One cannon has since been
removed from the water for lab examination.

Evidence gathered so far, the general location of the wreck, and the location of the cannons - which were piled
together to force the burning vessel underwater - are consistent with contemporary descriptions of the Quedagh
Merchant's last sighting off the coast of the present-day Dominican Republic.
International watchdog monitoring poll said it "witnessed the collapse of the Armenian electoral
system as an institution".
By Sara Khojoian in Yerevan

The Yerevan city elections were hailed as a chance to spread power beyond the hands of just the governing party,
but ended up condemned as the "most illegal, amoral and cynical elections in all the history of Armenia".

That was the damning assessment of the watchdog Transparency International, as the opposition's hopes to win
power in the Armenian capital collapsed amid claims of intimidation, ballot stuffing, multiple voting, and more.

The May 31 polls came just over a year after the government declared a state of emergency to stop angry
Armenians from protesting the results of a presidential election, held last February, which resulted in ten deaths
and hundreds of arrests. Critics of the authorities say the Yerevan ballot shows little has changed in the months
since, despite government promises to take action.

The mayor of Yerevan, which dominates the country's economy, has been an appointed position since 1992.
Under a new system, city residents elected a Council of Elders, which in turn named presidential ally Gagik
Beglarian as mayor.

The Armenian National Congress, HAK, the only opposition grouping to win seats in the Council of Elders,
announced on June 1 it would not be taking up its posts. HAK Leader Levon Ter-Petrosian accused the
authorities of organising "the ugliest election in Armenia's history".

Journalists at polling stations claimed they witnessed multiple violations of the electoral law, and IWPR
reporter Anahit Danielian said she was even threatened by a candidate from the Prosperous Armenia party.
Prosperous Armenia is a member of the ruling coalition with President Serzh Sarkisian's Republican Party
of Armenia, HHK. The alliance won with 47.39 per cent of the vote.

Danielian took photographs of Artak Avetisian, a candidate from the Prosperous Armenia party, chatting to
voters inside the grounds of polling station 2/4 in the Nor Norq suburb, which is technically illegal under
Armenian law. She said he challenged her, and demanded to know if she was following him. "I'll take you to
court, I'll have you sacked," he shouted, recounted the journalist.

When asked about Avetisian's alleged actions, a spokesman for Prosperous Armenia dismissed Danielian's
account as a fabrication, although the photographs clearly show both Avetisian and a poster advertising his
candidacy inside the polling station, which is also against electoral law.

"If this reporter saw this, why did she not immediately report it to the police," asked party spokesman
Baghdasar Mherian.

"Now I have the full right not to believe this reporter, because there is not proof of it. Could they not work out
to the centimetre how close the candidate was to the polling station, for example 479 metres, 60 centimetres?"

"As for the posters, then I have never heard such an extreme lie, because Prosperous Armenia did not print
individual posters with the image of its candidates," he added. IWPR sent him the photo of the poster, but he
did not respond.

Danielian said she also saw a senior official in the commission monitoring the count at polling station 8/17
add spoiled ballots to the pile for the HHK party, and was told to certify that the commission as a whole had
decided this.

Several other journalists told IWPR they had been insulted and beaten by guards for candidates, when they
asked them why they were inside a polling station. Nelly Gregorian, a reporter from the Aravot daily, said she
saw a young man threatening the opposition observer.

"When I entered the polling station, I had a camera in my hand. I tried to take shots, but that boy saw me, left
the observer, grabbed me by the shoulders and started pushing me around. All the while he was screaming 'who
a re you and who let you photograph this'," Gregorian told IWPR.

According to the journalist, nobody from the polling station interfered. The young man and two others then left the
polling station, taking her camera with them, she said.

"They returned the camera, but the memory chip was gone," she said.

Gregorian told IWPR that an electoral commission official refused to accept the report she submitted on the
incident, saying that he did not personally witness it. Transparency International said such events were frequent.

"We have witnessed the collapse of the Armenian electoral system as an institution. Instead, another institution
proved to be strong and 'functional' - clans and neighbourhood criminals," said Amalia Kostanian, chair of
Transparency International's Anti-Corruption Centre.

"The elections for the Council of Elders of Yerevan were the most illegal, most amoral and cynical elections in
all the history of Yerevan. If in the country the elections are held as they were in the 8th electoral district [of the
capital], then soon the government must announce that the electoral system as an institution was just destroyed
in Armenia."

Opposition parties sent long lists of alleged violations to the general prosecutor's office, including accounts of state
buses with police escorts bringing voters from outside Yerevan to cast their votes in the city's election.

Such allegations were strongly denied by the ruling parties which will take up the seats they won in the election.

"The president has stressed that the elections were free and fair, and that, despite occasional violations, they
complied with European standards," said Eduard Sharmazanov, HHK spokesman.

"President Serzh Sargsian pointed out that the registered violations could not have affected the final outcome of
the elections."

But the leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, which came fifth in the poll and which was until two
months ago in the government coalition, approved HAK's decision to abandon its seats in the council in protest
against the alleged rigging of the election. It said it would not recognise the ballot results as legal.

Other observers were more measured in their criticism, but most seemed to agree that Armenia had missed a
chance to make good on promises it made this year to the delegates from the Parliamentary Assembly for the
Council of Europe to reform electoral legislation, and ensure polls were free and fair.

"Our satisfaction in seeing the citizens electing their city council has been tempered by deficiencies in the conduct
of the vote," said Nigel Mermagen, head of a delegation observing the poll for the Council of Europe's Congress of
Local and Regional Authorities.

"Democracy is not only about the organisational framework of elections. It is about electoral conduct and culture.
Elections have to be clear, fair and transparent even beyond polling stations."

Sara Khojoian is a journalist from Armenianow.com, and a participant in IWPR's Cross Caucasus Journalism Network.
Anait Danielian is a correspondent for the Karabakh magazine Analitikon, for the Armenian agency www.hetq.am,
and is a member of IWPR's Cross Caucasus Journalist Network.

IWPR country director Seda Muradian also contributed to this report.
Continued closure of Russian-Georgian border crossing leaves Armenia cut off from its most important market
By Naira Melkumian in Yerevan

The Armenian economy, already reeling from the global financial crisis, has suffered a new blow from Georgia's refusal
to re-open a frontier crossing with Russia - Armenia's only link with its major ally.

The Upper Lars border post, where the road between Tbilisi and Vladikavkaz crosses the central Caucasus, was closed
unexpectedly by Russia in 2006, a major setback to Armenian exporters.

Now, Russia has re-opened its side of the frontier but Georgia has declined to allow goods to pass through. Georgia,
which fought a brief war with Russia last year, says it wants Swiss mediation before it will trust its northern neighbour.

That leaves Armenia, which currently has to use a lengthy export route via Bulgaria to reach Russia, cut off from its
most important market.

"We are desperately keen that this road should operate. Russia has assured us that on its side all work has been
completed. They gave a high priority to Upper Lars functioning, especially since they have provided the customs points
with all modern facilities," said Armenian prime minister Tigran Sarksian.

The complex geopolitics of the South Caucasus leave Armenia uniquely dependent on this crossing point. The rest of
the Georgian border with Russia is closed, either being too mountainous, or controlled by Abkhazia or South Ossetia,
which have had their independence recognised by Russia but not by Georgia.

Armenia and Azerbaijan meanwhile, have not signed a formal treaty to end their war over the breakaway region of
Karabakh, leaving the other half of Russia's southern border closed to Armenian exporters. At the same time, Armenia
lacks diplomatic ties with its other main neighbour Turkey, although relations are thawing and may prove a way out of the

"Now the question is one of a political decision, and the problem is Russian-Georgian relations. I hope that soon relations
between Georgia and Russian normalise and thaw, which will be good for all countries in the region," said Armenian
and communications minister Gurgen Sarksian.

The Russians blame the Georgians for the crossing point being closed, but the Georgians say they cannot trust the
Russians to behave honourably.

"All negotiations in connection with the opening of the crossing point must take place in the presence of the Swiss,
in as far as we cannot rule out provocations from the Russians," said Georgian foreign minister Grigol Vashadze.

That position, and the inevitable delays that will accompany it, is not likely to please Armenia, which has already
seen its economy slump disastrously this year and has had to call on funding from the International Monetary Fund.
The country's central bank has predicted the economy will contract by 5.8 per cent this year, following a 6.1 per cent
decline in the first quarter.

The mining sector has been particularly hard-hit, and several companies have been forced to shed labourers.

The stand-off has reminded Armenians that their country's economy is too dependent on Georgia for its own good.
Only in August last year, when the war interrupted Armenia's export trade, the country lost 600-700 million US dollars.

At the moment, 70-80 per cent of Armenian exports travel to Russia, leaving the Georgian port of Poti for Bulgaria, then
shipped to Novorossiisk on Russia's southern coast. The whole journey can take eight or ten days, whereas the road
through the mountains and Upper Lars is relatively quick.

"If for a long time our goods go only via ship from Poti, then it will create financial problems, increase the cost of our
exports, and if you add the economic crisis to this, then you create a situation that is disadvantageous to Armenia,"
said Vardan Aivazian, head of the economic committee of the Armenian parliament.

The stand-off has also added impetus to talks to open the Armenian border with Turkey. The two countries lack
diplomatic relations, and have major differences over whether the Ottoman Empire's slaughter of Armenians in the
First World War constituted genocide, but the two sides agreed a so-called road map last month which could kick-start
a normalisation of relations.

Turkish-Armenian unofficial trade via Georgia almost doubled in 2008 to 270 million dollars, although almost all of this
consisted of Turkish textiles, building materials and domestic goods. If the border was opened, these goods could travel
directly into Armenia.

"The opening of the border would legalise the trade, which currently goes on between the two countries via Georgia, and
would reduce the high transit fees. Currently, Turkish goods are widely used in Armenia, including foodstuffs and products
of light industry," said Aivazian.

However, the idea of opening the border between Armenia and Turkey has serious opponents, particularly the nationalist
Armenian party Dashnaktsutiun, which fears Turkey could dump its products in Armenia and swamp domestic producers.

"We have studied the economic policies of Turkey and Armenia, and the protectionist policies which Turkey conducts in
defence of its own producers clearly bear witness to the fact that we, with our liberal policy, will not benefit from this,"
said Ara Nranian, a member of parliament from the party.

Naira Melkumian is a freelance journalist.
June 13 2009
New visa policy facilitates visits to Armenia
By eTN Staff Writer | Jun 12, 2009

In unprecedented steps to boost tourist arrivals, Armenia has
introduced a new shorter-stay visa for guests.

Until recently, most visitors to the country could only obtain a
120-day visa at a cost of around US$40. The new legislation means that
21-day visas can also be obtained at the airport in Yerevan upon
arrival at a cost of AMD 3000 or just over US$8.

Although the majority of visitors to Armenia do require visas, they
are easy to obtain from Armenian embassies overseas, at the border
points, and online as e-visas.

For more information, contact the Armenian Tourism Development Agency
at info@armeniainfo.am.

About ATDA

The Armenian Tourism Development Agency (ATDA) was established as the
governmentâ??s tourism promotional arm in June 2001. In
partnership with private businesses, it aims to market Armenia in
local and international markets and create programs aiding the overall
development of Armeniaâ??s tourism industry.