Thursday, 30 June 2011

ArAcsPetition & Keghart Update 27 June 2011


Armenian Apostolic Church of Switzerland Petition

23 June 2011


We, the undersigned, petition His Holiness Karekin II to reverse current policies that pertain to the centralization of control and unilateral decision making of local church matters. We ask that the traditional democratic principles of our Armenian Apostolic Church be restored and preserved. This request includes: renewing respect towards and adherence to the principle of separating spiritual matters (responsibility of clergy) from structural, financial, administrative, and legal matters (managed by laity); establishing a constructive practice of dialogue with our communities and all believers therein; and listening to our faithful in their wish to choose their own church status and priest.

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Wednesday, 29 June 2011


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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

" We are all HRANT DINK " Harkeli Paregamner

Dear friends, - Harkeli Paregamner

Hrant Dink was assassinated on January 19th 2007 for his strong beliefs in universal human rights. On the day of his funeral over 100,000 people in Turkey and many more around the world chanted, " We are all HRANT DINK. "

As we approach the 5th anniversary of his assassination, I propose that the Armenian Government issues a commemorative stamp recognizing Hrant Dink as a hero and in celebration of his beliefs. Recently I have conveyed this proposal to his Excellency Serzh Sargsyan, the President of Republic of Armenia and to the Minister of Transportation and Communication Mr. Manoug Vartanyan.

Hachort dari Hrant Dink`i sbannoutyan 5rt darin bidi ella. Hayasdani Hanrabedoutyan Nakhakah Serzh Sargsyan`in yev Haghortagtsoutyan Nakharar Baron Manoug Vartanyan`in arachagetsi ays aritov shrchakayoutyan tnel hadoug troshmanish.

I hope you share my views, and you and your organization can join me for implementing this worthwhile project.

Housam touk al indzi kaghaparagits ek.

Please show your support by e-mailing, writing letters or calling the Armenian Embassy in your jurisdiction. Here are direct links that you may use:

Hajetsek tser shrchani tesbanneroun gam Nakhakahin timoum gadaretsek.

You may get more information about Hrant Dink by visiting Hrant Dink`i masin imanalou hamar
and about me clicking , isg im masin al here or here.

Respectfully, Harkanok`

Sarkis Assadourian

Member of Canadian Parliament ( 1993 - 2004 ) Kanadagan Khorhrtarani antam

Canadian Citizenship Court Judge ( 2005 - 2008 ) Kakhakatsiagan Tadarani Tadavor

Maintaining the memories of genocide

- The voices of Armenians will continue speaking to all who are willing to hear and see -

Los Angeles Times Editorial

The late J. Michael Hagopian escaped the mass murder that claimed the lives of as many as 1.5 million Armenians. Through his 12 films, the atrocity will remain visible to all who are willing to see.

Most who suffer unspeakably at the hands of others look for ways to forget, to resume a normal life as best they can. Some, however, assume the duty of witness in the hope that truthful memory will protect those who come after them. The passing of these heroic men and women ought not to go unremarked upon.

J. Michael Hagopian, who died this month in Thousand Oaks, was one such man. He was just 2 years old in 1915, when his parents hid him in a well behind their home because they believed they were about to be killed by Ottoman Turkish soldiers, who were massacring Armenians across eastern Anatolia. The soldiers ultimately passed them by because the boy's father, a physician, had treated his Turkish neighbors. The Hagopians immigrated to Fresno, escaping the mass murder that claimed the lives of as many as 1.5 million of their fellow Armenians in the 20th century's first genocide.

The toddler who was sheltered in a well went on to earn advanced degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard and to become a distinguished teacher at UCLA and Oregon State. His great contribution, though, was a series of 12 moving — indeed, heartbreaking — films documenting the attempted genocide of his people. The most sweeping of these, "The Forgotten Genocide," was nominated for an Emmy in 1976. He appeared in one of his own films, "Voices From the Lake," recalling that his mother had told him, "You can kill a people, but their voices will never die."

The voices of the Armenians still are struggling to be heard in some quarters. Contemporary Turkey, which has no political connection to the Ottomans, continues to defy history and decency, and denies the mass murder was the result of anything but wartime civil strife. It is a claim refuted by every serious observer in that period. Raphael Lemkin, the Polish lawyer of Jewish descent who coined the term "genocide" in 1943, began his lifetime's work on the subject by studying the organized murder of the Armenians and that of Iraq's Assyrians in 1933.

Thanks to an agreement Hagopian reached last spring with USC's Shoah Foundation, his vast archive of firsthand testimony by Armenian genocide survivors and witnesses to the Ottoman atrocities will be preserved and made available for study by scholars. Because of his courage and the Shoah Foundation, the voices of the Armenians will continue speaking to all who are willing to listen.

Los Angeles Times, December 24, 2010


Please remember to visit the 1915Club, a one of a kind website geared to help you recreate a virtual Armenia. Sign up, upload material, and share pirceless memories, photos, and stories of the past by visitng today!

We would also like to use this opportunity to thank you for being part of our continued effort to keep members around the world informed and aware of developments in and around the Armenian community.

On behalf of the Center for Armenian Remembrance, we wish you a healthy and Happy New Year!


Center for Armenian Remembrance


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Monday, 27 June 2011





Sunday, 26 June 2011


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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Sarkisian Pledges to Hold Democratic Elections in Armenia

President Serzh Sarkisian insisted that he is committed to holding democratic elections and carrying out other “comprehensive reforms” as he addressed the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on Wednesday.

In a 30-minute speech, Sarkisian also showcased his administration’s ongoing dialogue with the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), saying that the two rival camps are “learning” to respect and tolerate each other.

“The Armenian government has profoundly believed in and pursued the aim of sustaining pro- gress along the democratic path ... This very conviction has also underpinned the logic of the meas- ures taken in the last three years, especially in recent months,” he said.

“This steps resulted in the fact that the political stalemate in your country has generally been overcome and the political environment normalized,” Cavusoglu said. “A new dialogue between all political forces has now started, and it offers great opportunities for the further democratic consoli- dation of Armenia.”

“We learn to listen to and respect each other’s views,” Sarkisian said in his ensuing address to the PACE. “We learn and gradually adopt the understanding that the government and the opposition are not enemies. Strength is not best demonstrated by attempting to eliminate the other side.

“We learn tolerance and shape a culture of dialogue. We learn not to reciprocate insults, and we learn to consult a wider circle of stakeholders on key issues.”

“We learn to honor and appreciate the accomplishments of former leaders,” he added in an apparent reference to Levon Ter-Petrosian, the HAK’s top leader who served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998.

Sarkisian said he and his three-party governing coalition have also taken other measures to address the fallout from the country’s 2008 political crisis. He pointed to amendments to Armenian legislation regulating freedom of as- sembly and a planned “radical” reform of the police and the judiciary.

"The legislation was revised in order to guarantee the exercise of the right to freedom of assembly. A very dif- ferent philosophy underlies the new law: a presumption in favor of facilitating the legitimate exercise of the right, ra- ther than restricting the freedom of assembly" Sarkisian stated.

The president went on to promise to “spare no effort” to ensure that parliamentary elections due in Armenia next year are free and fair. “However, free and fair elections are not enough,” he said. “It is also necessary that the elections be perceived as such by the public. To this end, the recent adoption of a new Electoral Code is certainly worth mentioning.”

In his speech, Sarkisian also praised the PACE and other Council of Europe structures for their involvement in political processes going on in his country. “We have sometimes had serious differences and have respectfully dis- agreed with each other’s assessments,” he said. “We have, however, benefited from the exchange, the wisdom of the experience, and the constructive dialogue.”

Karabakh Must Have Final Say in Peace Process

STEPANAKERT -- Possible peace agreements reached by Armenia and Azerbaijan could not be put into practice without being approved by Nagorno-Karabakh’s leadership, a senior official in Stepanakert warned on Tuesday.

Georgi Petrosian, foreign minister of the Republic (NKR), also declined to comment on chanc- es of a breakthrough at this week’s Armenian-Azerbaijani summit in Kazan, Russia. “We are in a wait-and-see regime,” he said.

International mediators hope that Presidents Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev will finalize the basic principles of resolving the Karabakh conflict at that meeting.

Petrosian did not specify the NKR leadership’s position on those principles put forward by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. Nor would he say how the Karabakh Armenians will react if Aliyev and Sarkisian cut a deal not acceptable to them.


Petrosian said only that the territory should have the final say on any peace accord. “One can destroy us, but one can’t make decisions without us,” he told journalists. “In the latter case, one must say, ‘We are ready to destroy you.’ But one must say it openly.”

“International documents concerning Karabakh say that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is a party to the conflict. If we, being such a party, were able to stop the war and sign a truce [in 1994,] then we also have the right to build our future, a peaceful future,” he added.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian likewise said last week that the framework ac- cord pushed by the mediators would have to be approved by the Karabakh Armenians. “It will be impossible to switch to the second phase [of the peace process] if Karabakh doesn’t agree to the ba- sic principles,” he said.

Armenian, Georgian Churches Fail To Settle Disputes

TBILISI -- The spiritual leaders of Armenia and Georgia have failed to reach any concrete agreements on disputes between their state-backed churches after nearly one week of negotiations held during Catholicos Karekin II’s visit to Georgia.

The supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of the Georgian Orthodox Church publicly disagreed on the main sticking points as they wrapped up the talks late on Wednesday.

Catholicos Karekin II had hoped to convince Georgia’s political and religious leadership to grant an official status to the Georgia Diocese of the Armenian Church and return several churches in and outside Tbilisi to the latter.

After Karekin II's weekend meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili it was re- ported that Georgian side agreed to register the diocese and pledged to preserve the churches “until their return to the diocese.”

However, no agreements or joint declarations were signed as a result.

“No text has ever been signed between the churches, moreover a text containing unacceptable formulations. It’s unclear who disseminated such reports and why they appeared in the information field,” Mediamax news agency quoted Father Vahram Melikian, the head of the information center of the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzinas, saying.

Speaking to journalists in Georgia’s Javakheti region mostly populated by ethnic Armenians, the two pontiffs said they failed to work out a mutually acceptable document. “I think that we are saying the same things but with different wordings,” said Patriarch Ilia II.

He insisted that the Armenian Church should gain official recognition in Georgia only if the Georgian Church is granted the same status in Armenia. Catholicos Karekin II countered that Arme- nia’s small ethnic Georgian community, numbering less than 1,000 people, never applied for such a status. He argued that Armenian law provides for the easy registration of religious minorities.

Contradicting Saakashvili’s assurances reportedly given to Catholicos Karekin II, Ilia II also stated that “Armenian churches will be repaired in case of the restoration of Georgian churches in Armenia.” “If Georgia restores Armenian churches, then Armenia must repair and preserve Geor- gian churches as well,” he said.

The elderly patriarch referred to several medieval and mostly abandoned churches located in Armenia’s northern Lori province.

Aram Simonyan Reelected Rector of

the Yerevan State University

The Council of the Yerevan State University held a sitting today chaired by President of the YSU Council, Pres- ident Serzh Sarkisian.

Election of the Rector of the Yerevan State University was on the agenda. The only candidate for the position, incumbent Rector of the University, Professor Aram Simonyan presented the program of YSU development and an- swered a number of questions of the members of the Council.

Aram Simonyan was elected Rector for the term of five years with a vote of 60 to 7, two bulletins were consid- ered invalid.


“We all have great expectations. We want to see a high-quality state university. This is our wish, and we are confident that all members of the Council will do their utmost to reach this target,” President Sarkisian stated in a congratulatory note.

Russian State Duma Ratifies New Defense Pact With Armenia

MOSCOW -- The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, on Friday ratified a protocol extending Russia’s use of a military base in Armenia and deepen wider defense links be- tween the two countries.

The agreement, signed during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s August 2010 visit to Yer- evan, extended Russia’s lease on a military base headquartered in Gyumri by 24 years, until 2044. It also upgraded the base’s role in contributing to Armenia’s security and committed Moscow to sup- plying the Armenian military with modern weaponry.

The base is under command of Russia’s North Caucasus Military District and is part of the CIS integrated air defense system.

The Armenian parliament ratified the agreement in April, two months after its legality was up- held by the Constitutional Court in Yerevan.

Alexei Ostrovsky, chairman of a State Duma committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States, stressed “the exceptional significance” of the defense pact as he presented it to Russian lawmakers for ratification. He said it will not only step up Russian-Armenian military cooperation but also serve as an “additional argument in our everlasting allied, friendly and mutually beneficial relations.”

“The presence of the Russian military base has become an integral part of partnership between Russia and Armenia on issues related to the security of our countries as well as an element of secu- rity in the Caucasus region,” the Itar-Tass news agency quoted Ostrovsky as saying.

The Gyumri base numbers some 3,500 troops and is equipped with hundreds of tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery systems. It was beefed up a decade ago by S-300 surface-to-air mis- sile systems and MiG-29 fighters.

The Russian troop presence has been a key element of Armenia’s national security strategy. Georgia complicated it in April when it annulled an agreement that allowed Moscow to make ship- ments to the base through Georgian territory and airspace.

According to Itar-Tass, Ostrovsky mentioned the Georgian move in his speech. He told the Duma that the Rus- sian Defense Ministry has “additionally addressed the issues of supplies to the base, including by using third coun- tries.” He did not elaborate.


PACE Chief Cavusoglu: Armenian-Azerbaijani Accord Will Help to Normalize

Turkish-Armenian Relations

STRASBOURG -- Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish president of the Council of Europe Parlia- mentary Assembly (PACE), on Monday expressed hope that the Armenian and Azerbaijani presi- dents will reach an agreement on Nagorno-Karabakh at their upcoming meeting in Russia.

“I want more than everybody else that the two leaders will sign an agreement,” he told a news conference in Strasbourg. “So I think nobody will say no to an agreement. We will welcome this progress very much.”

Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev are scheduled to meet in the Russian city of Kazan on Friday for talks which the United States, Russia and France hope will yield an Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement on the basic principles of a peaceful settlement. The talks will be hosted and mediated by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

According to Cavusoglu, the signing of such an agreement would also pave the way for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations.

“If there is any agreement between the two leaders — and Turkey has some conditions, as Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] of Turkey explained this for several times, and if those conditions are met — I think this [Turkish-Armenian] treaty will be ratified in the parliament,” he said.

The PACE chief referred to the 2009 protocols that call for the establishment of diplomatic re- lations between Armenia and Turkey and the opening of their border. Ankara has made their parlia- mentary ratification conditional on a Karabakh settlement acceptable to Azerbaijan.

The Armenian side rejects this precondition, saying that it runs counter to the letter and spirit of the protocols.

Armenia Claims Military Drone Manufacturing

YEREVAN -- Armenia manufactures and supplies its armed forces with unmanned military air- craft capable of flying deep into enemy territory, the deputy commander of the country’s small air force said over the weekend.

“We have quite serious unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), even those capable of carrying out objectives deep inside enemy territory,” Colonel Armen Mkrtchian told journalists. “They are made in Armenia.”

“Having said that, we do not rule out the possibility of acquiring foreign-made ones, including for mere comparison,” he said. “After all, you can tell apart good and bad things through compari- son.”


Mkrtchian refused to give any details of domestic drone manufacturing, which exists only in a limited number of countries. He would not say if Armenian-made UAVs are designed only for sur- veillance missions or air strikes as well.

That the Armenian military is equipped with domestically designed and manufactured drones has been claimed by some local defense analysts in the last few years. Mkrtchian’s remarks are the first official confirmation of these assertions.

Armenia’s arch-foe Azerbaijan is known to have UAVs. It purchased them from Israel until re- cently. An Azerbaijani-Israeli joint venture reportedly began assembling drones in Azerbaijan ear- lier this year.

Over the past decade Azerbaijan has also acquired dozens of conventional military aircraft as part of an ongoing military build-up. Its air force is now thought to have numerical superiority over its Armenian adversary.

Both Mkrtchian and Artsrun Hovannisian, an Armenian Defense Ministry expert, downplayed that advantage. They claimed that Baku’s air capability is grossly inflated and that it would be of little use to the Azerbaijani army in case of another war for Nagorno-Karabakh.

Mkrtchian also said that the Armenian airforce has received “quite sophisticated and precise air strike means” that put it in a position to wage offensive warfare. “In the last 19 years, we have gone through a very difficult process of military training,” he said. “Our pilots are today ready to carry out flights at night and in difficult meteorological conditions. They are ready for any actions in any place and at any moment.”

“Just like developed NATO countries, we are ready to carry out targeted strikes on any enemy target, economic facility and the like,” the official added without elaborating.

Scandal at UNESCO: Inscriptions Describing Location of Armenian Khachkars Removed

PARIS -- Just hours before the opening of an exhibit on Armenian stone crosses (Khachkars) at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the Armenian delegation was thrown into a panic when organizers started to remove all place names and informational map, as well as a photo of the Armenian cemetery in Jougha after the stone crosses had been destroyed by the Azerbaijani government.

The hall was packed with invited guests to participate in the opening ceremony of the exhibit billed as "Art of the Stone Cross – Armenian Holy Stones".

According to Arev Samvelyan, RA Deputy Minister of Culture, the UNESCO officials not only found any mention of Armenian crosses in Turkey and Azerbaijan objectionable but references to crosses in Karabakh as well.

The Armenian delegation gave in on the Jougha issue but insisted on keeping the photo of the Armenian cemetery before the destruction of hundreds of stone crosses.

In response, UNESCO staffers removed the organization's official flag from the exhibit hall and didn't show for the opening ceremony, claiming that they were otherwise engaged.

Commenting on the last minute flap, art historian Patrick Donabedian said, "I just want to un- derline that today UNESCO is far removed from fulfilling its stated mission. They wanted to re- move my exhibit just because the word Jougha was in the text."

The Armenian organizations of France and Switzerland vigorously protested against cultural denial.


Armenian and British Charities Celebrated at Buckingham Palace

LONDON -- His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales hosted a historic Anglo-Armenian char- ity event in support of Armenian and British charities at Buckingham Palace on 15 June. Project initiator and main benefactor Armen Sarkissian, former Prime Minister of Armenia and President of Eurasia House International, welcomed more than 250 guests from around the world with His Royal Highness.

Members of the royal family, dignitaries, world renowned political, cultural and civic leaders, and senior executives of global corporations attended this unique charity event. Prime Minister of Armenia, Tigran Sargsian, and Mayor of Yerevan, Karen Karapetian were among the guests of hon- our.

“It gives me the greatest pleasure to be able to welcome you all to this very special occasion at Buckingham Palace,” said the Prince of Wales in his remarks and expressed his thanks to all the do- nors of ‘Yerevan My Love’ and Dumfries House.

The evening started with a reception, following by a unique concert especially put together on this occasion. World renowned soprano Renée Fleming and violin virtuoso and conductor Max- im Vengerov, took part in the programme, along with the Philharmonia Orchestra (London) and the Bach Choir. In addition to Handel, the choir sang most moving pieces from the Armenian liturgy, Surb, Surb and Hayr Mer by Makar Ekmalian. As a tribute to ‘Yerevan My Love’, Vengerov played Komitas’s Krung for the first time in his musical career, captivating the emotions of the audience. Renée Fleming enthralled the audience not only with her superb and mesmerizing voice, but also with her poignant remarks. A banquet followed in the magnificent Picture Gallery of the Palace.

‘Yerevan My Love’ is a heritage-led regeneration project dedicated to preserving architectur- ally significant buildings in Yerevan and putting them to use to improve the life experience of dis- abled children, young people and disadvantaged families. Following the successful fundraising in 2010, three buildings in the vicinity of St. Hovhanes Church in the Kond neighbourhood of Yerevan are being built and reconstructed. Three additional architecturally significant buildings will be re- constructed in the Old Yerevan neighbourhood as part of the second phase of ‘Yerevan My Love project,’ supported by the fundraising this year.


In his eloquent remarks, Armen Sarkissian highlighted the role of every individual in the pres- ervation of culture and heritage and the universality of culture. He said, “It is a privilege for me to thank you each and every one of you for your contributions, for your support and, most important, for sharing a belief that culture and heritage are part of our soul and we have to pass it on to the next generation, to our children.”

The Prince of Wales underlined that “the evening is also an occasion to strengthen the strong ties and friendship between Armenia and the United Kingdom. He said, “I have long admired Ar- menia as the oldest Christian nation in the world, with its unique architectural heritage. It is so heartening that the ‘Yerevan My Love’ project is preserving and continuing traditional Armenian architecture and craftsmanship.”

Dumfries House is a unique house in South-West Scotland which had retained much of the fur- niture commissioned for it from Thomas Chippendale. A few years ago The Prince of Wales fore- stall the separate sales of the House and its contents to private bidders. He has since assured that the House and its unique collection of furniture are preserved for the British nation and future gen- erations.

Armen Sarkissian thanked His Royal Highness for his visionary leadership and foresight in many critical issues facing not only Britain but also the entire globe. “We thank him for his full support and cooperation in making this night a very special occasion,” said Sarkissian. He pointed out that “the international array of participation is a wonderful example of global cooperation in charity and heritage preservation.”

Armenians Mark 70th Anniversary of Beginning of Great Patriotic War

On June 22, at 4:00 am sharp, the day and time when Nazi Germany struck against the Soviet Union in 1941, giving a start to nearly four years of what would be known among the peoples of the former USSR as the Great Patriotic War, activists of the Armenian youth and veterans’ organiza- tions and movements, associations of Russian compatriots with candles in their hands held a mem- ory-rally at the Eternal Flame in Yerevan’s Victory Park.

On the same day in towns and villages wreaths and flowers were laid at monuments to those who perished during the Great Patriotic War and in hospital in Armenia in the period of 1941-1945.

Representatives of the Russian community, ethnic Diasporas, the Armenian public organiza- tions of veterans, the Russian Embassy in Armenia and Russian cooperation in Armenia will visit the war memorial in Dilijan where it is placed the largest monument to Soviet soldiers in the Tran- scaucasus, the Russian embassy said.

Russian frontier guards will hold a meeting in memory and mourning at the Artashat border unit. A military-patriotic action will take place at all border posts with the participation of Great Patriotic War veterans.


Hurriyet: Turkish Companies to Organize Package Tours to Armenia

ISTANBUL -- A joint enterprise between two Turkish-based tourism companies is planning to organize special package tours from Turkey to Armenia in August, even though the two countries’ borders have remained closed since 1993, writes the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.

The lack of recognition between the two peoples has resulted in reservations about traveling to each other’s countries for both Armenians and Turks, according to one company owner.

“Turkish tourists had been traveling to Armenia through Georgia until a couple of years ago, but now the situation has changed,” Dikran Altun, the owner of Tower Turizm, recently told the pa- per.

Altun’s Tower Turizm will be partnering with Tüten Turizm to launch the package tours to Armenia, which are made possible by the regular scheduled flights between the two companies.

Altun has managed to sustain continued flights between Turkey and Armenia with a plane he procured from Atlas Jet, a private airliner, in the aftermath of the Nagorno-Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 1990s.

“...Unfortunately our people do not know each other – hence their hesitation to travel,” Altun said, adding that Turkish and Armenian tourists set to visit each others’ countries for the first time always ask whether it is safe to travel

Fifteen people have already made reservations for the tour, according to Harutyan Demir, one of Tüten Turizm’s co-owners.

An all-inclusive package trip will cost between 960 and 1,200 euros.

Passengers predominantly fly from Armenia to Turkey, but increasing numbers of businesspeo- ple, journalists and intellectuals have also been taking the flight from Turkey to Armenia every year, he said. Two flights operate between Istanbul and Yerevan each week, while there are also weekly flights between Yerevan and the Mediterranean Turkish cities of Antalya and Bodrum dur- ing the summer season.

“My greatest desire is to see the re-establishment of relations and dialogue between the two countries. It is of great significance for me to see Turkish Airlines starting flights to Yerevan,” Al- tun said.

Hurriyet Daily News photo, Hasan Altininsik


From Genocide Recognition To Reclaiming Church Properties

By Harut Sassounian Publisher, The California Courier

The Armenian-American community took a major step last week to reverse the consequences of the Armenian Genocide and end the Turkish government’s long-standing policy of erasing all traces of Armenian civilization from present-day Turkey.

Going beyond mere acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide, some members of Congress have introduced a new resolution that urges "the Republic of Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and to return confiscated church properties."

The sweeping House Resolution 306 calls on the Government of Turkey to: “1) end all forms of religious discrimination; 2) allow the rightful church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restric-

tion, to organize and administer prayer services, religious education, clerical training, appointments, and succes- sion, religious community gatherings, social services, including ministry to the needs of the poor and infirm, and other religious activities;

3) return to their rightful owners all Christian churches and other places of worship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties, including movable properties, such as artwork, manuscripts, vestments, vessels, and other artifacts; and

4) allow the rightful Christian church and lay owners of Christian church properties, without hindrance or restriction, to preserve, reconstruct, and repair, as they see fit, all Christian churches and other places of wor- ship, monasteries, schools, hospitals, monuments, relics, holy sites, and other religious properties within Tur- key."

This bipartisan resolution, sponsored by Cong. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Cong. Howard Berman (D-CA), was immediately endorsed by 30 of their House colleagues, 10 of them Republicans. This is a good start, as Republi- cans constitute the majority in the House and their support is crucial for the successful passage of the resolution. Significantly, Cong. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a long- time opponent of the Armenian Genocide resolution, was one of the first supporters of the resolution regarding the return of church properties.

It is not surprising that this resolution has such broad support, as it is hard to imagine that any member of Con- gress, the State Department or the Obama administration would oppose returning a religious building back to its proper owners. By contemporary societal standards, no one would accept the conversion of a church into a mosque or vice versa. Turkey’s devout leaders, as good Muslims, would be the first to acknowledge and uphold the sanctity of houses of worship.

Beyond building a strong bipartisan coalition in Congress, practically all religious denominations in America, be they Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish or Muslim, would support such a resolution. All ethnic groups, such as Latinos, Greek-Americans, Irish-Americans, Jewish-American, Arab-Americans, Afro-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Assyrian-Americans would also lend their support to this resolution.

The Armenian National Committee of America noted that the resolution intends "to highlight, confront, and eventually reverse decades of official Turkish policy of destroying Christian church properties, desecrating holy sites, discriminating against Christian communities, and denying of the right of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Pontians, Arameans (Syriacs), and others to practice their faith in freedom."

The right to religious freedom is not simply an internal Turkish issue. This right is protected by many interna- tional agreements, including the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Con- vention on Human Rights, and the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne to which Turkey is a signatory. Turkey continues to violate Articles 41 and 42 of the Lausanne Treaty which obligate it to provide funding and facilities to non- Muslim minorities for educational, religious, and charitable purposes, and to protect their religious establish- ments. Regrettably, the House resolution makes no mention of these violations and Turkey’s obligations under the Lausanne Treaty.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which issues an annual report documenting viola- tions of religious rights around the world, has placed Turkey on its "Watch List," for the third year in a row. The Commission has found that "the Turkish government continues to impose serious limitations on freedom of re-


ligion or belief, thereby threatening the continued vitality and survival of minority religious communities in Turkey." The Turkish government also "continues to intervene in the internal governance and education of reli- gious communities and to confiscate places of worship."

In recent years, the House and Senate passed several resolutions calling on Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, Lithuania, Romania, and Vietnam to protect houses of worship and return wrongfully confiscated properties be- longing to religious minorities. In line with these resolutions, the House of Representatives should adopt Resolu- tion 306, calling on the Turkish government to respect the right of worship for all Christian minorities and return to them their expropriated churches and other religious properties.

Èàôê2 ́2ò Þ2 ́2Â2Âoð - LOUSSAPATZ - THE DAWN

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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Armenian Apostolic Church of Switzerland Petition

Due to recent disagreements between the Swiss-Armenian community and Holy See of


Etchmiadzin, leaders of the former have initiated a petition to persuade Catholicos Karekin II to reverse his approach/policies re the status of the Armenian Church in Switzerland. Below is the petition.--Editor

23 June 2011


We, the undersigned, petition His Holiness Karekin II to reverse current policies that pertain to the centralization of control and unilateral decision making of local church matters. We ask that the traditional democratic principles of our Armenian Apostolic Church be restored and preserved. This request includes: renewing respect towards and adherence to the principle of separating spiritual matters (responsibility of clergy) from structural, financial, administrative, and legal matters (managed by laity); establishing a constructive practice of dialogue with our communities and all believers therein; and listening to our faithful in their wish to choose their own church status and priest.

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Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Rant Number 445 22 June 2011

Atop the pediment of St Paul’s Cathedral in London stands a mighty statue. It shows the great Jew after whom the famed building is named, St Paul. He stands there, a sword in his right hand. The priest often likes to gaze at it, when he saunters by. But now...Lo and behold! The statue moved! Like the stone statue coming alive in Moliere’s Don Juan, St Paul came down from his lofty place and strode into his Cathedral.

In my dream. Yes, I dream a lot. Dreams can be weird but this especially so. I dreamt it the other night. Rather a sanguinary dream, I fear. Because I saw the Apostle’s stone effigy entering his church and walking stiffly towards the Quire area, sword in hand. Dean and Canons sat there, in their stalls. As the statue approached, they looked transfixed, speechless. Naturally, as St Paul raised his huge sword and proceeded to slaughter them all, one by one. Like butchered pigs they squealed, but the statue was stony-hearted and went on killing. Blood flowed in torrents...yak! Not a pretty sight. Thanks God the alarm clock woke me up. A bit shaken, I tell you.

Also worried. You see, according to Dr Freud a dream is a wish fulfilment. Gasp! Is it possible the gentle priest deep down is a sadist? A heartless, grim executioner? Luckily, not so quick. A dream does not wear its wish on its sleeve, Dr Fraud claims. Its meaning is never direct, simple. Interpretation is difficult...

I can’t afford an analyst so I must do my own dream deciphering. The vision was sparked off, I think, by reading about a certain Canon of St Paul’s cathedral. (Sorry, goodly Apostle – something you don’t deserve but... all Christians have a cross to bear.) I’ll call him Canon Bullshit – may Christ forgive my unkindness. Allegedly, he claims that the Church of England is ‘institutionally homophobic’. A reference to some legal advice to the Church requiring that a gay bishop, though in a same-sex relationship, should be celibate. I don’t understand this but...the C of E is the church I was ordained into, her pronouncements are often like the Peace of God – they ‘pass all understanding’. Anyhow, that is what prompted Canon Bullshit to bullshit, apparently.

First, homophobia. Fear of gays. Gay bishops in this case. Whose is afraid of them? They have always existed. One of my bishops was gay. His priests and lay people all knew it. He once joked to a parish meeting about his ‘pretty bottom’. He never came out, was probably a celibate and was just as bad, or as good, as any other bishops.

As to gay clergy, Canon Bullshit must inhabit a peculiar dream land. In London particularly they are thick on the ground. Some are celibate. Some live with their ‘lodgers’ in their Vicarages. Some are protected and preferred by sympathetic bishops. (Some become bishops or canons of Cathedrals.) Some go cruising in gay bars. Their parishioners know it. I knew a gay priest who died of Aids – his flock loved and supported him. Unless a priest, gay or straight, falls foul of the law, no one bothers. That is a fact. Homophobia may exist amongst some Evangelicals but they, the benighted fundamentalists whom the Canon once compared to the Taleban, would call it being biblical – a minor detail. Anyway, in the light of all my own experience (a buon intenditor, poche parole), talk of church homophobia, pace the Canon, sounds like bullshit to me.

Doctrinally, of course the matter of the status of an unworthy minister is dealt with in Article XXVI in the Articled of Religion in the Prayer Book. The validity of a sacrament is not affected by the unworthiness of the minister – a sound teaching going back to St Augustine. However, N.B. the article does not condone sin – it speaks of ‘those found guilty, by just judgment being deposed.’ Of course, Canon Bullshit obviously does not believe that being gay is sinful. Neither do I, actually. It is behaviour that is sinful, not a condition, as the Article rightly implies. And that applies to straights and gays alike. And all can repent.

Second, the dream. A bit of a problem, because St Paul killed no one. He helped the murderers of St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, but that was when Paul was still Saul, the fanatical enemy of Christ. After the encounter with the risen Christ on the Damascus road, Paul was faithful to the peaceful teaching of his good Master, Jesus, who did not shed blood but let his own blood be shed for the salvation of all. Indeed, the sword in Paul’s hand symbolises his own martyrdom, suffered under the savage persecutions of Christians by Emperor Nero in Rome. It is then Paul’s blood that the sword sheds, not anybody else’s blood. St Paul’s Cathedral clergy have nothing to fear on that score – well, not until the Last Judgment, anyway. How can I then explain the goriness of my dream?

Thirdly, If I were a Muslim, I would try and find the answer in the Qur’an. (A Muslim always does that – an admirable procedure.) As a Christian, I must find that in my Bible. So, I open the Good Book and read in the letter Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus ‘And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’ (Ephesians, 6:17).

Yes, St Paul’s sword is not a bloody one. Its meaning is unbloody, spiritual. It refers to the Spirit and the Word of God. In other words, to Holy Scripture. That too, like dreams, stands in need of interpretation. The Anglican Church is certainly not fundamentalist in its understanding of the Bible but nor can it ignore the plain meaning of certain holy texts. They are there to guide us. The Bible judges man, not man the Bible, geddit?

Canon Bullshit, I bet, would dismiss the priest a member of the Taleban tendency. You know, maybe that insult, unbeknownst to him, is a compliment? OK, I’ll make is easy for him, I’ll put my head on the chopping block and say the unsayable: in this case, better being a Taleban than a bullshitter.

Aznavour Yerevouyt-ue... By Dr. Minas Kojayan






Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Georgetown Boys Event *** POSTPONED TO MONDAY JUNE 27 ***

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Monday, 20 June 2011

Apt Arab Reply to Turkish Propaganda Presumption

Following the flight of Syrian refugees to Turkey recently, the Turkish daily "Sabah", published an article where Arabs, Armenians, Kurds and Circassians were offered a sanctuary by the Turkish government. Below is an Arabic-language newspaper's reply to the "Sabah" article. The translation into English was done by a reader.--Editor

Try not to laugh as you read the following news:

Turkey expresses concern for the safety and security of the Armenians in Syria.

A news report in the Turkish newspaper “Sabah” about the current situation in Syria, and the popular protests there, has created a great debate among some circles. This Turkish newspaper had earlier accused President al-Assad of not complying with the popular demand for reform. It seems here that those who run the newspaper are unaware of the realities of the situation in Syria. President al-Assad has in fact already started implementing a vast majority of those reforms. He has done so since day one of those rather small protests that the Turkish “Sabah” describes as “popular mass demonstrations.”

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Chitilian New Prez. Montréal Municipal Council

The Mayor Recommends Harout Chitilian

Montreal, June 17th, 2011— It is with great enthusiasm that Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay announced his recommendation that Mr. Harout Chitilian be named President of City Council.

"Harout Chitilian is clearly the right person to guide the Council in its work. I am certain that he will achieve a consensus among his colleagues and stand out for his sense of fairness and his ability to bring people together. Once named, Mr. Chitilian will become the youngest President in the history of Montréal's City Council. This appointment shows Montrealers that our Administration is placing great emphasis on the succession," said Mayor Tremblay.

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