Sunday, 30 July 2017

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Armenian News... A Topalian... Investors to finance projects

RFE/RL Report
Russian-Armenian Investors Said To Finance First Projects In Armenia
July 18, 2017
Anush Muradian
An investment fund set up recently by three dozen wealthy Russian
entrepreneurs of Armenian descent will start financing business
projects in Armenia this autumn, a senior government official in
Yerevan said on Tuesday.

The fund called the Investors Club of Armenia (ICA) was officially set
up in March at a ceremony in Yerevan attended by Prime Minister Karen
Karapetian. The latter has warm rapports with its key founders,
notably the Armenian-born billionaire Samvel Karapetian (no relation).

The Armenian government signed a memorandum of understanding with the
ICA in April. Minister for Economic Development Suren Karayan said at
the time that the fund's investments in the Armenian economy should
total around $300 million this year.

According to one of Karayan's deputies, Hovannes Azizian, the ICO will
likely launch its first investment projects in October or
November. "The projects to be implemented by the Club will mainly
target the areas of energy and renewable energy," he told a news
conference. "Now discussions are underway on the possibility of the
Club's involvement in some manufacturing sectors as well."

Azizian said that the Russian-Armenian investors are particularly
interested in hydropower and solar energy. The government, he said,
expects them to finance, among other things, the construction of
medium-sized hydroelectric plants.

One of those plants would be built in Samvel Karapetian's native Lori
province. The Armenian Energy Ministry estimates that work on the
76-megawatt facility would cost roughly $150 million.

Azizian would not be drawn on the amount of funding which the ICA has
set aside for its first projects. "When the projects are finalized we
will give information about the investment package," he said.

Foreign direct investment in the Armenian economy has rapidly declined
in recent years. Government data shows that it stood at a modest $130
million in 2016.

Prime Minister Karapetian has repeatedly promised to attract more than
$3 billion in investments in the coming years since he was appointed
as prime minister in September. The former business executive, who
lived and worked in Russia from 2011-2016, has said that at least $830
million of the sum will be invested in 2017.

The Russian-Armenian businessmen voiced strong support for the
53-year-old premier's ambitious reform agenda when he paid an official
visit to Moscow in January. Samvel Karapetian reaffirmed that backing
at the official launch of the ICA in March.

In addition to his extensive business interests in Russia, the tycoon
owns Armenia's national electric utility, largest thermal power plant,
and a shopping mall in Yerevan. His Tashir Group is due to open
another sprawling trade center in the Armenian capital in September.

According to "Forbes" magazine estimates, Samvel Karapetian's personal
fortune is currently worth $3.5billion, meaning that he is most
probably the richest ethnic Armenian in the world. 

PanArmenian, Armenia
July 25 2017
Armenia building its own spacecraft 

The Federation Council of Russia has ratified an agreement between the governments of Russia and Armenia on cooperation in the field of research and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, reports.

This agreement plays an important role for Armenia since the country has already begun developing a spacecraft .

The Armenian artificial satellite must be installed in the orbital position 71.4E of geostationary communications.

Armenia will thus come to possess its own communication satellite in space which will help further build the country's security and develop communication technologies.

Language Magazine
July 24 2017
Armenia Refuses Russian 

Despite Russian leaders’ suggestions, Armenian politicians hold firm on opposition to Russian becoming an official language of Armenia. In July, Vyachaslav Volodin, the speaker of Russia’s State Duma suggested to Armenia that they grant Russian official status as an Armenian language. The suggestion is supposedly in hopes of clearing up a problem with Armenian driver licenses deemed invalid in Russia.

Armen Ashotyan, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs at National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia told the press that the Armenian language-policy hasn’t and won’t change. He went on to state that the refusal to accept Russian as an official language was purely constitutional, saying “There is no similar issue in Armenia even under the Council of Europe’s Language Charter. There are no legal and political reasons to comment on this issue from this perspective as well. The issue over an official, constitutional status is out of the question.”

While Armenia will remain the only official language of Armenia, Russian is still in the lead as the most common foreign language spoken in Armenia, with a 2010 Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs report stating that about 70% of Armenia’s population has the ability to speak Russian. The population also views speaking Russian as important, as according to the Gallup Organization’s poll, 75% of Armenians in 2007 said tha they think it is very important for children in the country to learn Russian. 

RFE/RL Report 
Armenians Seek War Crimes Rulings Against Azerbaijan
July 25, 2017
Naira Bulghadarian

Hundreds of Armenians have filed government-backed lawsuits in the
European Court of Human Rights accusing Azerbaijan of beheading
Armenian soldiers and committing other atrocities during last year's
heavy fighting around Nagorno-Karabakh.

Ara Ghazarian, an Armenian legal expert involved in the unprecedented
legal action, said on Tuesday that the Strasbourg-based court has
already requested official information from Baku on over 20 of the 359
lawsuits filed from Armenia and Karabakh.

"We expect a just compensation," Ghazarian told a joint news
conference with Armenia's and Karabakh's human rights ombudsmen. "It
could be both a recognition of the violations [of the European
Convention on Human Rights] and subsequent compensation for material
and moral damages. But first and foremost, we must ensure that the
European Court recognizes that there were violations."

The war crimes alleged by the plaintiffs stem from the April 2016
hostilities in and around Karabakh which left least 180 soldiers from
both warring sides dead. The authorities in Stepanakert and Yerevan
say that three Armenian soldiers were beheaded by Azerbaijani troops
at the time. They claim that one of them, the 31-year-old Major Hayk
Toroyan, was still alive when his Azerbaijani captors began cutting
off his head.

The headless body of another soldier, Kyaram Sloyan, was handed over
to his family and buried on April 4, 2016, two days after the
Azerbaijani army launched an offensive at two sections of the Karabakh
"line of contact." The family living in a village in central Armenia
received the 19-year-old's severed head later on.

According to Karabakh prosecutors, 15 other Armenian soldiers had
their ears cut off after being killed by Azerbaijani forces.

Azerbaijan's government and military have denied the allegations. They
claimed that the Armenians themselves mutilated the bodies of
Azerbaijani soldiers killed in what was the worst fighting in the
Karabakh conflict zone since 1994.

Another Armenian lawsuit filed in Strasbourg stems from the violent
deaths of three elderly members of a family in Talish, a village in
northern Karabakh that was devastated by Azerbaijani shelling in April
2016. They were reportedly murdered by Azerbaijani commandos that
burst into their home located on the outskirts of Talish.

Armenpress News Agency , Armenia
July 24, 2017 Monday
Primate of Shirak Diocese among candidates for Armenian 
Patriarch of Istanbul
Armenuhi Mkhoyan
The Armenian patriarchal elections of Istanbul will be held in 
December, 2017, and there are already 8-9
candidates: Garegin Bekchyan, Aram Ateshyan, Sahak Mashalyan, Sepuh
Chuljyan, Khajak Parsamyan, Sevan Gharibyan, Navasard Kchoyan.

Primate of Shirak Diocese Bishop Mikayel Ajapahyan is also among the
likely candidates for the upcoming patriarchal elections, patriarchal
locum tenens Archbishop Garegin Bekchyan said while in Armenia.

“Any bishop can be a candidate for any seat. In case of Turkey, the
circle of those candidates is somewhat narrow since you need to have
roots there, either you or your father should have been born there. In
my case, my father was born there. There is a list of candidates, and
all from this list can be elected. It’s not that if we are candidates,
we will definitely be elected. At the moment there are 9 candidates,
one from them will be elected”, Bishop Mikayel Ajapahyan told

Commenting on the difficulties of the Istanbul’s Armenian
Patriarchate, the Bishop said there are difficulties. “It’s not easy
anywhere, there are difficulties, but if I am elected, I will serve”,
he added.

RFE/RL Report 
Opposition Gunmen's Trial Still In Turmoil
July 19, 2017
Naira Bulghadarian

The trial of the key members of an armed opposition that seized a
police station in Yerevan last year remained effectively paralyzed on
Wednesday by continuing wrangling between the presiding judge and
defense lawyers.

Two of the lawyers, Arayik Papikian and Mushegh Shushanian, were
unable to attend the latest court hearing in the high-profile trial
after refusing to let court bailiffs check the content of their bags
on security grounds. They and their colleagues say that this amounts
to a search not allowed by Armenian law.

The judge, Artur Gabrielian, sanctioned Papikian and Shushanian and
said he will also ask Armenia's Chamber of Advocates to take
disciplinary action against them for what he considers contempt of
court. Three other attorneys walked out of the courtroom in protest,
leading Gabrielian to again cut short the proceedings.

The judge has regularly clashed with these and other lawyers for
similar reasons since the start of the trial in early June. He has
also barred most of the 14 defendants from the courtroom because of
their refusal stand up and thus show respect for the district
court. The lawyers claim that the authorities deliberately provoked
the turmoil to hold the trial in their and their clients' absence.

Papikian and Shushanian are already facing disciplinary proceedings
launched by the Chamber of Advocates at the request of law-enforcement
authorities. They stem, in part, from Shushanian's characterization of
the Armenian police as an "armed gang" ready to execute "any criminal

Adding to the tensions was the alleged beating by police officers of
four of the arrested gunmen following a court hearing on June
28. Armenia's Special Investigative Service (SIS) pledged to
investigate the incident condemned by local and international human
rights group.

The opposition group seized the police base in Yerevan's Erebuni
district in June 2016. It demanded that President Serzh Sarkisian free
its jailed leader Zhirayr Sefilian and step down. The gunmen laid down
their arms following a two-week standoff with Armenian security forces
which left three police officers dead. 

RFE/RL Report
Yerevan Market Bulldozed To Make Way For Luxury Properties
July 19, 2017
Sisak Gabrielian

Authorities in Yerevan began demolishing an open-air market on
Wednesday as part of a planned redevelopment of a surrounding old
neighborhood in the city center strongly resisted by local residents
and traders.

The market located just a few hundred meters from Yerevan's central
Republic Square has functioned since the early 1990s. Hundreds of
people have sold cheap clothing and other consumer goods on the narrow
Firdousi Street that cuts through the neighborhood made up of mostly
old houses.

In 2007, the Armenian government allowed a private company to tear
down the entire area and construct expensive office and apartment
buildings there. The ensuing global financial crisis, which hit
Armenia's construction sector particularly hard, put those plans on
hold. And the company called Glendale Hills went bankrupt two years

Last year, the Yerevan Mayor's Office announced that another private
developer is now interested in the project and began preparations for
the demolitions, sparking street protests from the owners of several
dozen local houses. Market traders also joined the protests, saying
that the municipality is depriving them of their livelihood.

The municipality offered the traders commercial space in other markets
in Yerevan. Most of them rejected that offer, saying that they would
have to pay higher rent and earn less revenue.

Municipality officials and workers sent by the still unknown developer
met with fierce resistance from the traders on Wednesday morning when
they arrived at the Firdousi Street market to start the
demolitions. They overcame the resistance only after bringing in heavy

The traders protested angrily as their market stalls and small
warehouses were bulldozed in the following hours. "Thank you for
leaving our children's parents without work," cried one woman.

The Firdousi Street houses have been spared demolition for the time
being. Their owners fear that the authorities are preparing the ground
for forcing them to sell their homes at a fraction of their market
value."They are getting to us step by step," one of them told RFE/RL's
Armenian service (

Some locals also complained that representatives of the construction
company have still not visited them to discuss the amount of
compensations that could be paid to them. The municipality has not
even disclosed the company's name so far.

Later on Wednesday, Armenia's human rights ombudsman, Arman Tatoyan,
asked the municipality to suspend the demolitions until the traders
are relocated to other markets. 

RFE/RL Report
Ally Defends Karabakh Leader's Reelection
July 20, 2017
 Hovannes Movsisian
The controversial reelection of Bako Sahakian, Nagorno-Karabakh's
president, was democratic and legitimate, a senior official in
Stepanakert insisted on Thursday.

Sahakian was due to serve out his second and final term in office this
summer. The Karabakh parliament decided on Wednesday, however, that he
will remain in power as an interim president until the unrecognized
republic completes its transition to a fully presidential system of
government in 2020.

The transition is mandated by Karabakh's new constitution enacted
earlier this year amid strong opposition criticism.

Ashot Ghulian, the Karabakh parliament speaker, said the fact that
Sahakian was reelected by local lawmakers, rather than voters, must
not call into question his legitimacy.

"We can give many examples of how presidents and parliaments are
elected in various countries," Ghulian told RFE/RL's Armenian service
( "The modes of election are different. I believe that
in our case it was done under a much more transparent, free and
democratic procedure."

Ghulian also insisted that the prolongation of Sahakian's decade-long
rule will not undermine democracy in Karabakh. "Democracy is not just
about elections," he said. "Democracy is also about the transparency
of a country's political system. The processes that took place before
yesterday's reelection of the president by the parliament were very
transparent, open and understandable to everyone."

Sahakian was backed on Wednesday by 28 members of the 33-seat
legislature representing three political parties loyal to him. One of
those parties is led by Ghulian.

Some opposition figures in Stepanakert claim that the Karabakh leader
plans to participate in the next presidential elections due in 2020
and further extend his rule. Ghulian did not confirm or deny that,
saying that the issue is "not on any party's agenda" yet.

"I don't think that any of the parties is now thinking about 2020 and
has already made that decision," added the Karabakh official.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian IT Growth Hits Record High
July 21, 2017
Sargis Harutyunyan

The rapid growth of Armenia's information technology (IT) sector
employing thousands of engineers accelerated to 38.2 percent last,
according to government data.

The tech industry had already expanded by an average of over 20
percent annually in the previous decade, making it the fastest-growing
sector of the Armenian economy. According to government estimates, the
country's 500 or so mostly small and medium-sized IT firms earned over
$550 million in combined revenue in 2015.

The sector is dominated by the Armenian branches of U.S. tech giants
like as Synopsys, National Instruments, Mentor Graphics and
VMware. But its steady expansion is also increasingly driven by
homegrown Armenian companies.

The most successful of these startups is PicsArt, one of the world's
leading mobile photo editing and sharing applications. The company now
has more than 350 employees in Armenia and boasts 90 million active
monthly users worldwide.

Another, smaller startup founded in 2013 attracted $5 million in
funding from two U.S. venture capital firms earlier this year. The
company called Teamable develops special software used by businesses
for hiring skilled workers. Like PicsArt, Teamable has offices not
only in Yerevan but also in San Francisco.

Another Armenian firm, SoloLearn, won this month the Grand Prize of
Facebook's annual "Apps of the Year" event, which attracted 900
submissions from 87 countries. SoloLearn offers a free online app for
people interested in learning computer programming.

Karen Vartanian, chairman of Armenia's Union of Information Technology
Enterprises (UITE), stressed the growing importance of such
startups. "Our local products are increasingly emerging and proving a
success in the international market," he told RFE/RL's Armenian
service (

Vahan Shakarian, the executive director of the Yerevan-based company
Technology and Science Dynamics manufacturing smartphones and tablet
computers, said the sector's has been rapidly developing because it is
export-oriented. He also cautioned: "Booms are possible in
economics. They key thing is to at least stay at the same level after
they are over. It's quite a challenge."

For Vartanian, the key challenge is a continuing lack of skilled IT
personnel in Armenia. "Our growth is now stunted by a serious shortage
of personnel," he said. "The education system is in tatters."

Industry executives have long complained about the inadequate
professional level of many graduates of IT departments of Armenia
universities. According to their estimates, there are now between
2,000 and 4,000 job vacancies in the sector employing about 15,000

Successive Armenian governments have pledged to tackle this
problem. Vartanian insisted, however, that there is still no
"comprehensive, strategic cooperation" on the matter between the
authorities and IT companies.

In January, Prime Minister Karen Karapetian met with a team of
government officials and tech executives that proposed a wide-ranging
reform of engineering education in Armenia. One of those executives
said only half of 1,300 IT students graduating from Armenian
universities each year are qualified enough to work in the sector
without undergoing further training. 

ARKA, Armenia
July 26 2017
Exports of Armenian fruits and vegetables on the rise 

Armenian farmers have exported so far a total of 65,000 metric tons of fruits and vegetables, the bulk being apricots, strawberries and potatoes, Deputy Agriculture Minister Robert Makaryan told journalists on Wednesday.

Speaking to a news conference he said so far 26,000 tons of apricots have been exported, an unprecedented figure for the last seven years. He said the export of this fruit still continues. He said also export of strawberries has reached 2,500 tons, which is twice as high as in 2016, while export of potatoes - 5,400 tons - is three times more than in the same period last year.

He said the bulk of agricultural exports this year -62,000 metric tons- has gone to Russia. Armenian goods were sent also to Georgia, the United Arab Emirates, Belarus and Ukraine, he added.

As of today, local canneries have procured 10,500 tons of fruits and vegetable, of which 1,330 tons are vegetables, and the rest are fruits, including 3,700 tons of apricots.

According to the deputy minister, this figure is 67% higher than that for the same period in 2016, when Armenian processing enterprises purchased 7,100 tons of fruits and vegetables. According to the National Statistical Service (NSS), the gross agricultural product in the first 6 months of 2017 amounted to 247.1 billion drams, a decrease of 1.4% compared to the same period of 2016.

Casino News Daily
July 25 2017
Armenia Applies New Casino License Rules 

The Armenian government approved last week proposed changes to the country’s casino regulations and the way casino investors are licensed, Russian gambling news outlet News of Gambling has reported citing local media.

Under the new rules an investor or a group of investors will receive a license for the construction and operation of a casino, if they place a AMD40-billion ($83.5 million) price tag on their development project.

The changes are propelled by Armenian Finance Minister Vardan Aramyan. During a meeting of the government, the official pointed out that interested developers will be able to proceed with their plans, if they are ready to commit to major investment. However, he explained that if a group of investors bids for a casino, the license will be issued only to one of the participants in the consortium.

With very few exceptions, land-based casinos are allowed in four specially designated areas around Armenia, with those being Jermuk, Meghri, Sevan, and Tsaghkadzor .

However, casinos are not the only legal form of gambling in the West Asian country. Under its current gambling law, this type of activity can be conducted by licensed owners of gaming halls as well as by iGaming operators. A state-run lottery operator also services local customers.

Earlier this year, the Armenian government adopted amendments to existing gambling regulations. Those changes were, too, encouraged by the Ministry of Finance and were targeting high roller gambling customers. The new regulations came into effect on June 1.

Under the introduced changes, customers, both of land-based and online gambling operators, wagering more than AMD1 million (approximately $2,000) are set to be included in a special database and to have their gaming-related transactions closely monitored. Operators are required to report any such transactions and to be provided with copies of their high-roller customers’ identity documents.

The Armenian government explained the introduction of the new regulations with the need for stricter money-laundering curbs. Late last year, it discussed a substantial increase in the license fees Armenia-facing operators are required to pay annually. Those were to be raised from AMD100 million to AMD500 million . That decision was attributed to the fact that the country’s gambling industry has been growing at a rapid pace over the past several years, but the government has not benefited from that. It was back in 2006 when the last such changes were implemented in Armenia’s gambling licensing process and the related fees.

Thursday, 27 July 2017



‘Lo! They were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.’  Qur’an, Surah XVIII, 13

Maximian, Malchus, Marcian, Dionysus, Johannes, Serapion and Constantine. Seven perennially young saints. Their feast day falls tomorrow, 27 July. Today I celebrated a Mass in their honour in a London church. People in attendance included an imam and a small gathering of Muslims and Christians. A bit unusual? Yes, the Seven Sleepers are not quite the ordinary run-of-the mill seraphs, believe you me. For one thing they share the privilege of being acknowledged as true monotheists, heroic witnesses to the faith in the One True God, both by the Qur’an and by the Christian Church. Interfaith saints indeed.

According to the Golden Legend, the seven youths were Christians of high rank, natives of the renowned Greek city of Ephesus. Devout lads, much given to fasting and praying. Sold their properties and distributed their wealth to the poor – that sort of thing. One day heathen Roman ruler Decius (a weird guy, who had initially been favoured by Emperor Philip, a Christian and an Arab) fed up with the Christian killjoys, resolves to wipe out the lot. The choice is stark: either you sacrifice publicly to idols, the pagan gods, or you are put to death – like that!

Maximian and his friends refuse to apostatise. They seek refuge in a cave near the city. When Decius gets wind of it, he spitefully orders them walled up inside. ‘It serves the intolerant, fanatical pesky boys right’, he must have opined.

Everybody thereafter forgets about the youths. Years, centuries go by.
Next instalment. A wide-eyed young man called Malchus, dressed in strange, old-fashioned attire, walks among the bemused citizens of Ephesus. He wants to buy bread. He and his six friends, he says, have just woken up after a long sleep and they are pretty hungry.  But the coin he tends bears the image not of the present Christian emperor, Theodosius II, but of a pagan prince who had ruled two hundred years before…

The Qur’an diverges from the above at some points. Neither the sleepers’ number nor their names are given. Nor are either Decius or Ephesus mentioned. A charming, vivid detail, is that of the boys’ dog. The goodly beast guards the cave’s entrance by stretching its paws on the threshold. (Apparently he is called Katmir. Some say the animal will be admitted into Paradise. C.S. Lewis would have loved that.) But the main difference is pointed out by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, a vicar’s offspring, in the Meaning of the Glorious Qur’an. It seems the episode was part of a revelation given to the Prophet to enable him to answer certain tricky questions. Malevolent persons (al-Yahood?) had instructed the idolaters to challenge him, as a test of his prophethood. Muhammad ably outsmarted his enemies: he referred knowledge of such arcane matters to God alone.

As for the Christian story’s purpose, commentators argue, it is obvious. An anticipatory proof of the bodily resurrection of the dead – a crucial tenet then questioned by doubters and heretics alike. As a posthumous vindication or triumph of monotheism against its pagan antagonists, it does that admirably.

But the story is not over yet. ‘O sleepers, I am sorry, I cannot allow you to rest in the blissful safety of your martyrdom long ago. You are now shouting in your holy sleep, I can hear you loud and clear. You want us – no, rather it is God who wants us to grasp something through your story.’

Suspence! Imagine young Maximian, Malchus, Marcian, Dionysus, Johannes, Serapion and Constantine arising out of their slumbers once more. We see Malchus strolling out of the cave – perhaps along with the faithful Katmir - again walking amongst us, to buy food.

OK, it’s a miracle, so let us have him walking the streets of London, New York, Paris, Istanbul, you name it. What do you think his reaction will be?
Of course, he will see churches and mosques galore. He’ll rejoice about that, like a true monotheist. But what else?

Alas, since the boys’ first resurrection, the situation has been inverted. Modern society has reverted to paganism. Polytheism is back with a vengeance. Dastardly Decius himself, defeated by Christ, is enjoying a perverse resurrection of sorts. The secular Western world, bloated with material values and goods, like the pagans of old, again worships gods and goddesses galore – Venus, Eros, Pluto, Mars…or, if you prefer, call them sex, banks, drugs, violence, injustice…the catalogue is long. Could you blame young Malchus if, horrified, he ran back to the cave and, along with the others, took refuge once more in his sleep?

The holy lads are fortunate. They rest from their labours. They eyes are not saddened by the sight of heathenism reborn. It falls to true believers to arise out of their slumbers and proclaim the faith anew. And I do mean anew.

When I was a chaplain in Turkey I actually visited the impressive ruins of ancient Ephesus, by the South coast. I stood on the spot where a church once stood, built over the tomb of the Seven Sleepers. I bent down, put my ear to the ground and listened…

‘Wake up!’ voices were urging. ‘Pay heed! You people are slumbering now.
You believe you are awake. In fact, you are fast asleep. Not the righteous, God-induced sleep we sleep, we Ephesian heroes . Yours is the comatose slumber of those who are dozing off while the house is burning. Do you hear us? Wake up!’

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


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Armenian News... A Topalian... Damage by Azeri gun on Chinari village

Panorama, Armenia
July 22 2017
Armenia’s Chinari village suffers great damages amid Azerbaijani gunfire 

On July 20, in the period from 8:20 to 19:00, the Azerbaijani military opened gunfire at Chinari village located at Armenia’s bordering Tavush Province. 

As Samvel Saghoyan, headman of Chinari community, told, the village has suffered significant damages as a result of the shelling. 

“The Azerbaijani shooting damaged several houses, the roof of the kindergarten and a tractor. In addition to that, a barn was burnt down, with forage stored inside. One of our villagers suffered 12-13 million AMD in damages,” the village chief said. 

Mr. Saghoyan also noted that the Azerbaijani snipers attempted to shoot down an Armenian young man near the village cemetery. The boy was lucky to go unharmed. 

“The situation is currently calm in the village,” Mr. Saghoyan added. 

To note, on July 21, in the period from 23:00 to 01:00, the Azerbaijani side opened fire at Barekamavan village of Armenia’s bordering Tavush Province. Fortunately, the village did not suffer casualties or damages. 

Voltaire Network
July 23 2017
Turkish Parliamentarians forbidden from bringing up the “Kurdistan” and the “Armenian Genocide”
On 20 July 2017, Turkey’s Great Assembly has adopted a new law, prohibiting its parliamentarians from insulting Turkey’s glorious history by using the words, “Armenian Genocide”, “Kurdistan” and “Kurdish regions”. 

It is well known, common knowledge as it were - but only common to members of the AKP and the MHP (Parties of Nationalist Action) - that the “events of 1915” did not last from 1895 to 1896 and from 1915 to 1916. Such events did not impact all non-Muslims, but only those traitors whose loyalties lay with Russia and occasionally, indirectly, their families. Neither did the events of 1915 cost the lives of 1, 200, 000 men, almost 1, 500, 000, persons, but only the lives of a very small number. And every parliament in the world that has dared to recognize that a genocide took place, is an enemy of the Turkish people, descending from the wolf of the steppes [ 1 ]. 

Similarly, the alleged Kurdistan recognized by the Treaty of Sèvres at the end of the First World War never existed. Furthermore, the conference at Lausanne abandoned it some years later and today it does not exist in Turkey, but in Iraq. And furthermore, it is a complete nonsense to talk of Kurdish regions in Turkey because if there are Kurds in certain governorates, they are first of all, Turkish nationals. 

When the Turks colonised the Arabs, they guaranteed all popular revolt would never take place by closing down schools. And there is little doubt that Sultan Erdogan similarly guaranteed that there would be no challenge from within Parliament by filtering the Turkish language of undesirable language and cleansing the brains of its Parliamentarians of undesirable thoughts. 

Tert, Armenia
July 23 2017
Armenian church celebrating Vardavar or Transfiguration of Christ 

The Armenian Apostolic Church is celebrating the Transfiguration of Christ on Sunday. 

The feast, traditionally known as Vardavar, is marked in the period between June 28 and August 1 to coincide with the 98th day following Easter. It is one of the Tabernacle feasts commemorating the transformation or the “transfiguration” that came over Jesus while He was praying. Christ’s face shone like the sun and his clothes became a radiant and gleaming white. The Apostles Peter, James and John witnessed that event which occurred on a high mountain named Tabor, reports. 

Evangelists St. Matthew, St. Mark and St. Luke testify about the transfiguration of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:1-12, Luke 9:28-36). 

“... As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun and his clothes were dazzling white. Then the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. So Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how good it is that we are here! If you wish I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was talking, a shining cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased – listen to him!” When the disciples heard the voice, they were so terrified that they threw themselves face downward on the ground. Jesus came to them and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid!” So they looked up and saw no one there but Jesus. (Matthew 17:2-8) 

A week’s fasting precedes Vardavar. The following Monday is a day of commemoration. All the churches serve a liturgy and offer a funeral service in memory of the deceased. 

The word Vardavar traces its origins back to the Indo-European roots var , meaning water, a ar - to drench. Its history dates from the pagan times, a period when it was closely associated with the Goddess Astghik, the symbol of water, love, fertility and beauty. Vardavar was celebrated with a great splendor, with people bringing along roses as a gift to the goddess, releasing doves into the sky and drenching one another with water. The latter tradition has survived to our days. 

Vardavar is a favorite feast especially among children, although adults too, turn out not absolutely indifferent to cool water, especially in the hot summer season. The feast is celebrated in all the regions across Armenia but meets a warmer welcome especially in the north-eastern regions. Since 2015, the International Vardavar Festival is annually organized in Geghard and Garni (Kotayk region), historical sites of Armenian pagan monuments. 

Trend, Azerbaijan
July 24 2017
Baku slams falsification of history and religion by Armenia (UPDATE)
By Seba Aghayeva – Trend: 

Armenian foreign minister’s visit to the occupied Azerbaijani Kalbajar District under the pretext of participating at a religious ceremony Gandzasar 777 is another example of how Armenia politicizes the falsification of history and religion at the state level, Spokesman for the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Hikmat Hajiyev told Trend. 

Hajiyev reminded Armenia’s FM that the Albanian-Christian temple, located in the Kalbajar District occupied by Armenian armed forces, is called Ganjasar, but not Gandzasar, and it has nothing to do with the Armenian Orthodox Church. 

“This has been proved by Azerbaijan and foreign historians,” he noted. 

The architecture and composition of the temple complex and sculpture elements confirm the temple’s belonging to the architecture of Caucasian Albania, said Hajiyev. The pseudo-Armenian historiography is unable to explain the difference between the Ganjasar temple and an Armenian church, he added. 

Hajiyev noted that in general, Armenia’s appropriation of Islamic and Christian temples belonging to the Azerbaijani people is a grave violation of international humanitarian law, in particular the Geneva Conventions. 

“Participation of the Armenian FM at the event once again demonstrates that Armenia is not interested in a peaceful settlement of the [Nagorno-Karabakh] conflict and tries to strengthen the status quo, continuing the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region and adjacent districts,” Hajiyev said. 

The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts. 

The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts. 

Aravot, Armenia

July 22 2017
60.000 Children at Around 600 Schools of Armenia’s 6 Provinces to be Provided with Food 180 Days a Year
The Minister of Education and Science Levon Mkrtchyan and the Head of the UN World Food Program in Armenia Pascal Misho have signed an agreement on providing the continuity of the “Sustainable School Feeding” program in Armenia. The deadline of the program has expired in June 30, 2017, now it is prolonged until December 31, 2018.

“In parallel, the strategy of “Sustainable School Feeding” program is being prepared which includes the continuity and development of the program up to 2025. The program of school feeding is one of our most successful initiatives which has not only a social importance, but is also a serious educational event, which forms very important rules of co-existence in early school age”, announces the Minister of Education and Science, Levon Mkrtchyan.

The target of this year’s program is 60.000 children studying at around 600 kindergartens and elementary schools of 6 provinces of the Republic of Armenia. They will be provided with food 180 days a year, 5 days a week until June, 2018.

Ministry of Education and Science

July 25
Nishanyan on Turkey prison break and asylum in Greece 
Sevan Nishanyan, the Istanbul-based ethnic Armenian scholar who escaped from prison on July 14 , has requested asylum from Greece.

In an exclusive interview to ARMENPRESS, the scholar said he would like to visit Armenia after successfully completing the process.

Mr. Nishanyan, in one of your interviews you mentioned your current location to be Greece. Have you requested an asylum from Greek authorities?

We are beginning the process today . From the very beginning I viewed Greece as my second or third homeland, this is a very beautiful and civilized country. I would be very happy to spend the new phase of my life here.

The most frequently asked question is how did you manage to escape prison? How long did it take you to prepare for the prison break?

It was easy. There were no problems. We had planned 1.5 to 2 years, but practically these plans weren’t required. We just walked out.

After your escape you said everything is possible in Turkey through money. What is the current justice system like in Turkey?

The bureaucracy of Turkey is an absurd and unreasonable mechanism, which lives in an insane world of dreams. If one understands its logic, he can easily play it on his fingers.

You made a tweet about your prison break, saying “The bird flew away: Same wishes to the remaining 80 million”. But as far as I know your family is currently in Turkey. Aren’t you worried for them?

The 4 eldest of my sons are currently on their summer holidays in Turkey. They are mature and reasonable people. I don’t think that something can happen to them.

Even while imprisoned, you wrote books. Did you take those books with you?

I left my pants and shirt, but how could I have left my books and notes. I wrote a book about the history of the Turkish language, as well as dialogue on religion and religions. It will take a year to prepare for publishing. In addition, I wrote short book from my letters to my little girl, Anahit, although I’m not sure if I want to publish it.

Do you plan to visit Armenia in the future?

I would like to come to Armenia at the very first occasion when I will be able to legally travel. I received a lot of love and support from my friends in Armenia when I was in prison. There are many people whom I’d like to thank.

Interview by Araks Kasyan

The Jordan Times, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
July 21, 2017 Friday
Jerusalem church leaders warn against changing city's status quo

AMMAN — Heads of churches in Jerusalem on Thursday warned against any
changes to the historical status quo in Jerusalem as the city
continues to witness tensions.

In a statement, a copy of which was e-mailed to The Jordan Times, an
array of Christian leaders, led by Patriarch Theophilos III of the
Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, expressed "serious concern regarding
recent escalation in violent developments around [Al Haram Al Sharif]
and our grief for the loss of human life, and strongly condemn any act
of violence".

The tension followed a shootout between Palestinian armed men and
occupation forces near the compound, resulting in the death of three
Palestinians, from 1948 Palestine, and two Israeli soldiers. Israel
closed down Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif and before opening it,
it imposed strict security measures that were rejected by Palestinians
and their supporters.

"We are worried about any change to the historical situation [status
quo] at Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif and its courtyard, and in
the holy city of Jerusalem. Any threat to its continuity and integrity
could easily lead to serious and unpredictable consequences, which
would be most unwelcome in the present tense religious climate," the
statement said.

The church leaders value the custodianship of the Hashemite Kingdom of
Jordan on Al Aqsa Mosque and the holy places in Jerusalem and the Holy
Land, "which guarantees the right for all Muslims to free access and
worship to Al Aqsa Mosque according to the prevailing status quo."

The statement concluded with renewing the call that "the historical
status quo governing these sites be fully respected, for the sake of
peace and reconciliation to the whole community, and we pray for a
just and lasting peace in the whole region and all its peoples".

Signatories also included Patriarch Nourhan Manougian of the Armenian
Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa
the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Fr. Francesco
Patton, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land, Archbishop Anba Antonious of
Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem, Archbishop Swerios Malki
Murad of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Archbishop Aba Embakob of
Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Archbishop
Joseph-Jules Zerey, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate's Archbishop Mosa
El Hage, Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem
and the Middle East, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

Also among the signatories were Bishop Pierre Malki of the Syrian
Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate and Msgr. Georges Dankaye' of the
Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate.

In a related development, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Thursday
during a phone call discussed the latest developments in Al Aqsa
Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif situation with the High Representative of
the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica

Safadi warned of the consequences of the continuing tension that must
be dealt with by Israel's respect for the historical and legal status
of Jerusalem's holy places. He renewed a demand for full and immediate
opening of Al Aqsa Mosque to worshippers and the cancellation of all
the one-sided steps taken by Israel.

He stressed that the Kingdom is exerting intensive efforts led by His
Majesty King Abdullah to restore calm and end the crisis in a manner
that guarantees security, stability and respect for Israel.

He stressed the need for common efforts by the international community
to end the escalation by working to remove the causes of tension
represented by Israel's actions.

OC Media
July 22 2017
A growing trend in Armenia — learning Azerbaijani
by Armine Avetisyan
Learning Azerbaijani is becoming more and more popular in Armenia. While the two countries remain in a near-war-like state, some emphasise the strategic importance of ‘know thy enemy’, while others seek a better understanding of their disconnected neighbours.

For the first time in 2012, an Azerbaijani language textbook was published in Armenia. The book was the initiative of the Chair of Turkish Studies at Yerevan State University. It has been certified to be of an academic level by the university’s Academic Council. The textbook is in great demand today, as the desire to learn Azerbaijani is increasing day by day in Armenia. Learning Azerbaijani

Twenty-eight-year-old economist Ashot Asatryan has been attending private Azerbaijani lessons for two months. At first he tried to learn the language on his own, but was unable to master it through online programmes alone.

‘I read news written on Azerbaijani websites a lot. At one point it was just a hobby. Then I began to actively follow developments in Azerbaijan, whether political or military. I translated the most interesting parts of the news into Armenian and posted them on my Facebook page. My notes were quickly reprinted on Armenian websites. Over time, I went from being a consumer to a distributor of information, and started to study the Azerbaijani-language articles. At that time I realised that I should learn the language, because the translations from Google Translate cannot always be trusted’, Asatryan told OC Media . Previously, he read mostly Russian-language articles, but is now able to read and translate from Azerbaijani.

During his two months of study, Ashot has gained a solid grasp of Azerbaijani grammar, and is now working on enriching his vocabulary. The entire course lasts six months, for which he will pay $300.

‘I am attending individual classes, but there are also a few groups learning the language through another programme. I know many young people who are interested in Azerbaijani like me. I aim to open a specialised language group after learning the language properly, which will teach Azerbaijani’, says Asatryan.

Interest in Azerbaijani has intensified in Armenia — especially after the 2016 Four-Day War. Interest in news from Azerbaijan has spiked, with many people wishing to get a clearer image of what is going on in the ‘enemy country’. People are interested in any kind of news about Azerbaijan, social, political, or military.

‘Our countries are on opposite sides of the conflict, so the presence of experts knowing each other’s language is of strategic importance. Besides, I always say that you need to know your neighbour’s language to communicate and talk with them — it will give you an advantage. The more I talked with Azerbaijanis, the more I felt their discomfort, because I was always one step ahead of them — I have mastered their native language’, Ashot Movsisyan, Asatryan’s Azerbaijani teacher told OC Media . ‘My first teacher was my grandmother’

Movsisyan, 24, is a Turkologist by training. He graduated from Yerevan State University’s Department of Turkology. From an early age, Movsisyan showed an interest in Azerbaijan and its language. After showing an interest, he began to learn a few words.

‘My first “teacher” of Azerbaijani was my grandmother, from whom I learned the numbers. Then my father helped me a lot, thanks to which my knowledge of the language steadily increased over the years. I remember one day, my father was watching a programme about the Azerbaijani army on Azerbaijani TV and I asked many questions. My questions were so numerous that my father refused to continue translating and changed the channel. On that day I promised to myself that I would learn the language to understand and communicate with my Azerbaijani counterparts. At first, I learned the language as a linguist without textbooks — TV channels helped a lot. Studying Turkish at university has also helped me learn Azerbaijani faster, because these two languages are very similar’, he says.

According to Movsisyan, it is easy for Armenians to learn Azerbaijani, as there are a number of linguistic similarities. It was easier still for him, he says, because there are many words of Turkish and Persian origin in his dialect (the Artsakh dialect of southern Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh).

‘It also helped me to master Azerbaijani more easily. For some Armenians, some of the sounds are bit of a challenge, and learning it requires hard work’, says Movsisyan. It takes years to master the language and to be able to apply it practically, he says.

For the latter, the problem is complicated. Azerbaijanis and Armenians, as warring sides in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, have practically no contact. Learning more than just the language

Yerevan State University’s Faculty of Oriental Studies has offered courses in Azerbaijani language since 2008. When they first began, Azerbaijani was taught as a second eastern language in the department of Turkology, and for the last two years, an Azerbaijani Studies programme has also been offered.

‘In 2 years, the first students will graduate from this programme. I’m happy to say that many people are interested in it, and we are implementing it together with the Ministry of Defence, providing four free places with this funding. We are teaching at a high level. While in the past there were no appropriate textbooks, for the last five years we have had a specialised book which is purely educational. The course includes the situation of the national minorities in Azerbaijan, politics towards them, as well as domestic policy in Azerbaijan’, Ruben Melkonyan, deputy rector of the Faculty of Oriental Studies told OC Media .

According to Melkonyan, the strategic significance of studying Azerbaijani goes without saying, as Azerbaijan is both a neighbour and enemy of Armenia. He says that the study and teaching of the Azerbaijani language also has important scientific and political significance.

The Chair of Turkish Studies at Yerevan State University was founded in 1991. In 2010, the Chair was reorganised into the Chair of Turkic Studies, which teaches the literature, culture, and history of Turkish, Ottoman, Azerbaijani, Kazakh, and other Turkic peoples.

All place names and terminology used in this article are the words of the author alone, and may not necessarily reflect the views of OC Media’s editorial board.