Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Diocese of the Armenian Church of the United Kingdom and Ireland

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Armenian Church News
Latest E-Newsletter
Volume 4, Issue 17
28 May 2018
Click to view the full PDF of the newsletter
100th anniversary of the First Armenian Republic is widely celebrated both in Armenia and Diaspora.
His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukyan served a liturgy at St. Yeghiche Church in London to offer special prayer (Հանրապետական Մաղթանք) for the longevity of Armenia.
Read more

We are excited to present monthly movie screenings about Armenia. The first one will take place AT 18:30PM on 29th of May at The Bishop’s House - please save the date!
This Tuesday we are pleased to have the opportunity to screen Intent to Destroy - an award-winning documentary about Armenian genocide with insights explaining the reasons behind its denial.
Join us for the film screening and panel discussion!

1 June 2018, 19:00pm | The Bishop’s House

Meet Philip Gumuchdjian of Gumuchdjian Architects talking about their
Tread Lightly, A Linear Festival along the Transcaucasian Trail
at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition: La Biennale di Venezia

See the film about the project here

A meeting of the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Parishes within the UK and Ireland Diocese took place at the Primate’s Office on 21 May 2018. All the Parishes, Manchester Holy Trinity Church, London’s St. Sarkis and St. Yeghiche churches, Dublin’s Armenian Parish and Birmingham’s Mission Parish, were represented.
Read more
On behalf of our wonderful team of ASF volunteers, we are delighted to invite you to attend the 8th Armenian Street Festival. This year it will be held in North Acton Playing Fields: Noel Road, Acton, London W3 0JF, having outgrown its previous location in Iverna Gardens, Kensington.

Our Events/Entertainment Programme is a really exciting one put together by Andre Simonian, one of our volunteers. He has worked hard to ensure something for everyone, young and old. Plans are being made for all of the following:-

Armenian BBQ, lahmajun and picnic food, homemade of course,
* Armenian music, singing and dancing, Special guests from Armenia and abroad,
including Arsen Safarian and Mariam Petrosian,
* a special Football match,
* a Mini-Marathon for the Heart Foundation,
* an early morning Tennis Tournament,
* a Big Screen to broadcast the World Cup Football Final and other events on the day,
* Face-painting, balloon modelling and numerous stalls ……….and much more!
We hope that you are able to support us and make this, the 8th ASF, a great success. We also aim to raise money for our Diocese. We are thankful for all contributions and support. All help, big and small, is much appreciated. Our success depends on your support.
Please contact the Primate’s office via email: primatesoffice@armeniandiocese.org.uk or
telephone 020 8998 9210 if you are able to volunteer and help us on the day.

Armenian Street Festival Team
Read all about a series of brand new programmes at the Bishop’s House, open to everyone. Find out more information, upcoming dates and details on the website.
Read about these topics in detail, learn about upcoming events and more in our newsletter
Registered office address:
Kemp House 152-160 City Road, London EC1V 2NX

Correspondence address:
27 Haven Green, 
London W5 2NZ
0208 998 9210
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© 2016 Armenian Diocese of the UK and Ireland

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Armenian News... A Topalian... WORLD CUP FINALS!!!... Grande launches from Azerbaijani forces :(


There is a very important football tournament taking place in London next week. This is the CONIFA (www.conifa.org) tournament which is held every two years.  There are 2 Armenian members of CONIFA - Arsthak and Western Armenia.  The team of Western Armenia has qualified for the finals of the tournament in London. Their first match is on May 31st  in Carshalton, second is on June 2nd in Slough and the third is on Sunday June 3rd in Enfield.   The Armenian Team Organisers would like to gather as many London Armenians as possible to support the team at their games and on Sunday in Enfield, after the game, have the opportunity to meet the team in the Enfield Football Clubhouse.


Panorama, Armenia
May 19 2018
Azerbaijani forces apply automatic grenade launcher at Artsakh Line of Contact

The relatively stable situation was maintained across the Line of Contact between Nagorno Karabakh Republic (NKR) and Azerbaijan forces from May 13-19.

Defense ministry of the Artsakh Republic (NKR) reports, over the indicated period Azerbaijani forces violated the ceasefire regime along the Line of Contact for 250 times, firing over 2000 shots towards the Armenian frontier troops.

Apart from the mentioned violations, the Azerbaijani forces have applied automatic grenade launcher in the eastern direction of the Line of Contact (6 shells).
“NKR Defense Army vanguard units continue confidently implementing their combat duties and resort to response actions upon necessity, reads the statement, the statement added.

RFE/RL Report 
Azeri Troops Warned Against Advancing Towards Armenian Border
May 21, 2018

The Armenian military warned Azerbaijani forces against trying to advance towards Armenia’s border after an Azerbaijani soldier was shot dead there on Sunday.

The soldier, Adil Tatarov, was reportedly killed by Armenian troops guarding the border with Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry accused Yerevan of escalating tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone “instead of holding meetings” with international mediators.

The Armenian Defense Ministry blamed the fatal shooting on “provocative” actions which it said have been taken Azerbaijani troops at some sections of the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier in recent weeks. The ministry spokesman, 

Artsrun Hovannisian, said they have been “conducting active engineering works for the purpose of improving and advancing their positions.”

“The armed forces of Armenia have periodically, including in the last several days, warned the commanders of Azerbaijani forces deployed on the border with 
Armenia that this and other provocative actions cause shootouts and could lead to undesirable losses,” Hovannisian wrote on Facebook. Such actions “cannot 
stay unanswered,” he said.

Armenia’s newly appointed Defense Minister Davit Tonoyan and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian jointly visited some of the Armenian army posts on the 
Nakhichevan border on May 18. According to his press office, Tonoyan told troops serving there to “strictly thwart any adventure by the enemy.”

The two ministers inspected the troops two days after Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev visited Nakhichevan and touted an Azerbaijani military buildup carried out there in recent years. “Long-range missiles deployed in Nakhichevan can destroy any military target of the enemy,” Aliyev said.

Armenia’s capital Yerevan is located roughly 70 kilometers northwest of the nearest section of the Nakhichevan border.

RFE/RL Report
New Armenian Government ‘Committed To Compromise On Karabakh’
May 25, 2018
Karlen Aslanian
Lusine Musayelian

Armenia’s new government is committed to a compromise solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and hopes that it will be achieved “very soon,” Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanian said on Friday.

“We all hope that a Karabakh settlement will happen very soon,” he told reporters. “But the settlement must reflect our interests, aspirations and goals. Obviously we are talking about a compromise but at the heart of it must 
be … the right to self-determination and the security of the people of Artsakh 

In that context, Mnatsakanian reaffirmed Yerevan’s readiness resume peace talks with Baku which were interrupted by a recent presidential election in Azerbaijan and regime change in Armenia. “The key task now is to maintain the dynamic of negotiations,” he said. “We are ready to get involved [in the peace process.]”

Mnatsakanian, who was appointed as foreign minister less than two weeks ago, said Yerevan remains “in constant touch” with the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the OSCE Minsk Group. He also pointed to his phone conversation last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the upcoming visit to Armenia by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

One day after taking office on May 8, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian called for Nagorno-Karabakh’s direct involvement in the peace process. He said Azerbaijan 
must directly negotiate with not only Armenia but also Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership.

An Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman indicated on May 22 that this is not a precondition for Yerevan’s renewed contacts with Baku.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov on Friday rejected Pashinian’s calls and ruled out any talks between his government and “the separatist regime 
in Karabakh.” The new Armenian leadership’s insistence on them would mean that it “wants to put an end to the peace process,” he warned.

“I have told [the mediators] that such a proposal is ridiculous,” Mammadyarov said in a speech delivered at an international conference in Baku.

Mammadyarov met with the Minsk Group co-chairs in Paris on May 15. The mediators said they discussed with him “modalities for moving the peace process forward.” They are expected to visit Yerevan in June.

The Times of Israel
May 25 2018
Turkey says Israel will harm itself if it recognizes Armenian genocide

Ankara warns against putting 1915 events 'on the same level as the Holocaust,' amid rising tensions between two countries

By AFP and TOI staff

Turkey on Friday said Israel would only harm itself if it recognized the Armenian genocide because to do so would undermine the special status of the Holocaust. 

“We think that Israel putting the events of 1915 on the same level as the Holocaust is harming itself first and foremost,” Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told reporters in Ankara. 

Knesset lawmakers on Wednesday voted to debate the recognition of the Armenian genocide in the parliament chamber, amid a nadir in ties with Turkey over deadly clashes on the Gaza border. 

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who has long spoken out in favor of recognition, again expressed support for the measure. But he also voiced discomfort with public calls to recognize the genocide merely to irk Turkey and its bellicose leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Since when does Ankara tug at the strings of my morality?” he asked, upon introducing the motion by Meretz party leader Tamar Zandberg.

“The Israeli Knesset should recognize the Armenian genocide because it is the right thing to do, the just thing to do,” Edelstein added.

No date has been fixed for the debate.

Armenians have long sought international recognition for the 1915-1917 killings in the Ottoman era as genocide, which they say left some 1.5 million of their people dead. Turkey — the Ottoman Empire’s successor state — strongly rejects that the massacres, imprisonment and forced deportation of Armenians from 1915 amounted to a genocide.

“The events of 1915 are not a political issue but historical and legal,” Aksoy said, without commenting further.
Zandberg on Wednesday called on all Israeli political parties to support recognition because “there are things that are above politics, and there are things that are above diplomacy.”

She derided efforts to use the recognition as a jab at Erdogan, saying “the disasters of another nation are not a political playing card.”

The recognition of the Armenian genocide is raised every year in the Knesset, usually in the form of proposed legislation rather than a call for a debate, and has been knocked down by sitting governments annually since 1989.
Israel’s refusal thus far to formally recognize the Armenian slaughter as genocide is based on geopolitical and strategic considerations, primary among them its relations with Turkey. The United States has similarly avoided recognition of the mass killings over fears of angering Turkey.

Wednesday’s debate came as relations between Israel and Turkey soured dramatically in the aftermath of clashes last week on the Israel-Gaza border in which dozens of Palestinians were killed, leading to a diplomatic spat that saw the ambassadors and consuls general of both countries expelled or withdrawn to their respective countries.

Erdogan also engaged in a bitter Twitter exchange with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he accused of having “the blood of Palestinians” on his hands, while Netanyahu in return accused him of supporting Hamas and being a proponent of “massacres and terror.”

News.am, Armenia
May 20 2018
Garo Paylan: Turkish president has to stand trial 
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan may face trial after the presidential and parliamentary election set for June 24, Turkish MP of Armenian origin Garo Paylan said.
Paylan said there was too much pressure during Erdogan’s tenure, and it is time for him to retire, Cumhuriyet reported.

“We are speaking about a person whose political life is over. We demand a fair trial for everything that he did,” the MP said.

Global Security Review 
May 19 2018
“Velvet Revolution” in Armenia Indicates a Stronger Russian-Armenian Relationship
Will Armenia's new Prime Minister change Russia-Armenia relations?
By Gabriella Gricius

Armenia isn’t likely to pivot away from it’s ties to Russia anytime soon.

In the wake of former Armenian President and Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation on April 23, a shift in of policy might have been expected.

However, new prime minister and protest leader of Armenia, Nikol Pashinian, was seen meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 14 reaffirming the Russian-Armenian strategic relationship.

At the meeting, Pashinian not only supported maintaining the current Russian-Armenian relationship but also suggested a “new impulse” for political and trade relations.
Interestingly, Pashinian does not precisely have a history of supporting Russian-Armenian relations. His party, the Yelk Coalition, submitted legislation last year to leave the Eurasian Union. Further, he has spoken out against the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).
In response to these claims, Pashinian has claimed that now that he has accepted the prime minister position, his focus is on the country rather than maintaining loyalty with his old party positions.

Where did the revolution in Armenia come from?
The demonstrations against Sarkisian were fuelled by a number of factors, including electoral fraud in 2008, changes in pensions and municipal services, a hike in energy bills in 2014, Sarkisian’s re-election as president in 2013 and his subsequent run towards prime minister this year.

Although there was no suggestion that a protest bringing such a radical change in government would come, within weeks, Sarkisian had resigned. This is primarily because there were widespread protests, including more than 100,000 people gathered in Yerevan’s main square the day before his resignation.

Sarkisian was known as the Kremlin’s man. Because of that, many observers waited and watched Russia’s reaction in particular. However, Russia did not involve itself other than speaking with Armenian politicians.

Perhaps more blatant Russian interference was expected, as Pashinian actually praised Russia’s “balanced position… it was a very constructive position. And I think this is highly valued not just by our government but in Armenian society in general.”

Where are new Russian-Armenian relations headed?
Pashinian’s new government position on crucial matters such as the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory are as of yet unknown. Despite this populist win in Armenia that was very much sought by the people, right now the country remains at a crossroads.

Pashinian has stated he wants to work with the old governing party but also fight ingrown corruption. Confrontations in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region have reached an all-time high since 1994 when more than 200 people died in April 2016. Since then, both Azerbaijan and Armenia have been building up military might on both sides of the border.

The simmering conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh might prove to be one of the factors in the maintenance of the Russian-Armenian relationship. Since the beginning of the tensions, Russia has acted as Armenia’s security guarantor, providing training and weapons to both Armenia and Azerbaijan. Armenia also has been dependent on Russia for financial aid, military development and protection in general.

Notably, in Sochi, Pashinian told Putin that he wanted Armenia to buy more Russian weaponry. So, despite this revolution against a ruler that was supported by the Kremlin – how much can really change? Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh implies that Armenia must continue to turn to Russia for regional security and assistance.
As tensions rise in the region and there are signs of Azerbaijani destabilization, will the ceasefire and uneasy peace continue to hold? Armenia’s estrangement from Azerbaijan and Turkey means that they remain dependent on Russia.

Beyond that, as this change in government continues to grow and develop, wouldn’t this be a convenient time for Azerbaijan to decide to take back some territory?

New York Times
May 19 2018
Behind Armenia’s Revolt, Young Shock Troops From the Tech Sector
By Neil MacFarquhar

At 26, Lilit Petrosyan had a lot going for her, with a combined master’s degree in sociology and pedagogy and a job she liked developing features for PicsArt, a globally successful app used to manipulate photographs on social media.

Her parents nevertheless urged her to follow the path taken by young Armenians for decades: leverage her success into a Green Card or some other immigration visa and leave.

“I always said, ‘No, I don’t want to live in another country,’ ” said Ms. Petrosyan, sitting in the company’s open-plan office in Yerevan, the capital. “I am more about changing this country for the better.”

This past month her chance arrived, as she joined hundreds of thousands of other protesters in capsizing the ruling party.

Armenians under the age of 30, known as the Independence Generation because most were born after the country decoupled from the Soviet Union in 1991, formed the backbone of the protests. Within that broader group, tech-sector employees proved particularly effective in sustaining the demonstrations.

They used messaging apps like Telegram to coordinate protests. They snarled traffic by organizing infinite loops of pedestrians at street crossings not controlled by traffic lights. They donated money for simple things like a sound system and water at Republic Square, the center of the protests.

Tech workers described a kind of collective mental shifting of gears as they joined the demonstrations. They realized that by acting in unison, they might finally jettison the stifling one-party control over the government and the economy that their country had inherited from the Soviet Union.

“The new generation had never seen communism; they did not grow up with pictures of Lenin or Stalin or Brezhnev,” said Arsen Gevorgyan, 44, a co-founder of a software company, SFL. “The new generation is more active. They saw the internet, they saw Europe, they saw democracy.”

The countries of the former Soviet Union have seen many such “revolutions” over the years since the bloc collapsed. Ukraine and Georgia, in particular, have thrown out the old guard on more than one occasion, only to find themselves drifting back, often with the Kremlin’s encouragement.
Just a few years ago, there would not have been enough tech workers in Armenia to make a difference. Now, with at least 10,000 mostly well-paid employees in a booming sector of an otherwise stagnant economy, they believe they have the clout to press their demands for democracy, transparency and accountability.

“It helped to boost other people, who said, ‘If the tech guys are going out, why are we sitting on the fence?’ ” said Maria Titizian, the editor in chief of EVN Report, an online magazine.

Census figures are somewhat inexact in Armenia, a small country in the south Caucasus, but they show that at least 370,000 people emigrated in the last decade. The last census, in 2011, when the population was somewhat higher than the estimated 2.8 million today, indicated that some 45 percent of the population was under age 30.
The anti-government zeal among young tech workers was unexpected given their reputation for focusing more on the virtual world than the real one.

Plus, abandoning work to protest was not easy to explain to companies overseas that had commissioned projects. “It is kind of hard to tell them, ‘You know there is a revolution here, we cannot work this week,’ ” said Vahe Evoyan, 30, a physicist and computer programmer.

But as the demonstrations swelled, many tech workers recognized that his was a now-or-never moment.
Armine Hakobyan, 26, a digital marketing specialist at SFL, said she began thinking about what kind of life her 18-month-old son would have if Armenia remained the same.

“It did not start on the street; it was something that happened in your mind,” she said. “You realized that you have to take care of your future.”

It helped that the tech sector is relatively oligarch-free. Armenia is a land of monopolies, with the government doling out exclusive control over various businesses. But the traditional powers had few means to pressure the tech sector.

Moreover, anger and discontent among the young had been building for years.

Many protesters mentioned a watershed moment from two years ago, after a four-day war started by neighboring Azerbaijan, the latest chapter in the nagging dispute over the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The oligarchs had sold the population on the idea that poverty and poor roads were among the sacrifices necessary to build a strong army. Then Armenia lost territory in the 2016 war, and there were reports that soldiers lacked basic items like bullets and medical kits.

“The government ate everything that was supposed to be used to supply the army,” said Samvel Mkrtchyan, 24, a quality-control engineer at Inomma, a small start-up company.

As the young people evaluated the leadership more critically, they realized how the ruling Republican Party mirrored the old Communist Party. It controlled the courts and the education system, and you had to be a member to get anywhere in government.

The tech sector also rallied this spring because Nikol Pashinyan, the protest leader, emphasized nonviolence and broke with what had become stale protest choreography:a few standard speeches at the opera house in Freedom Square and a march on Parliament.

Mr. Pashinyan urged a campaign of civil disobedience everywhere, and the tech workers translated the idea into the language of the internet. They compared their strategy to a blockchain, the widely diffused technology behind online currencies that aim to stay outside government control, or to a denial of service attack that crashes a website because too many users try to access it at once.

“We would go out for lunch and never come back, we just stayed on the street,” said Mr. Mkrtchyan.

The government helped with a series of ham-handed responses to the protests, which started in earnest on April 17. That is when Serzh Sargsyan, the president since 2008, tried to bypass term limits by becoming prime minister under a new Constitution that transferred most political power to that office — after having promised not to take the job.

As the protests grew, he warned darkly of a repeat of the events of March 1, 2008, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators after what many considered a tainted election win for Mr. Sargsyan, killing 10.

Like many of her peers, who had been traumatized by the bloodshed a decade ago, Ms. Petrosyan was enraged by the threat, making her eager to protest even more.

“From the first day that I went out onto the street I understood that something powerful was happening,” said Ms. Petrosyan. “We all understood that it is not just a question of planting a tree or keeping up a street, but knowing that our government is outdated and that we needed to change it.”

Her employer, PicsArt — where the average age of the 350 employees is 24, and about half are women — had always considered itself a good corporate citizen, subsidizing education for the disadvantaged, among other things. Management there, and at various companies big and small, looking around at all the empty desks, bowed to the inevitable.

On April 19, SFL helped to establish a private chat room on Telegram to discuss shared tactics. By the end of the night it had 800 members representing some 20 tech companies, and a plan to block streets simultaneously at 11 a.m. the next day.

Companies with hundreds of employees like Synopsys and PicsArt gave their workers leave to go out, as did smaller firms. Managers made it clear that it was an individual choice, and that those who did not participate would not be ostracized.

Nobody was sure the protests would succeed. “At first we did not really understand the demands of the process or where it was leading,” said Mher Sargsyan, 28, the lead software engineer at SFL. “But I really want to stay here and to do my best to change  everything around me.”
That sentiment was not limited to the tech sector, with countless others blocking streets across the city. The younger generation, especially the high percentage of women who participated, are ecstatic that the protests succeeded, with many saying they want to maintain that effervescent feeling of potential change by doing volunteer work.

Most of all, they are staying put.

When the demonstrations first began, Vigen Sargsyan, 37, a developer at Inomma, the start-up, was halfway through submitting the paperwork needed to move to Canada.
Then he joined the protests, including blocking a street with his 1994 black Zhiguli, a small Russian sedan.
He has since abandoned his effort to emigrate. “Now, everything has changed,” he said. “I wanted my country to be someplace where I wanted to live. Basically, we reached that goal.”

A version of this article appears in print on May 20, 2018, on Page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Behind Revolt In Armenia, A Young Army Of App Users.

News.am, Armenia
May 25 2018
Armenian national charged in Rolls-Royce bribery case 
The US prosecutor's office charged former Armenian Ambassador to China and Russian citizen in money laundering and bribery, the US Department of Justice reported.

A 62-year-old Armenian citizen Azat Martirossian and Russian citizen Vitaly Leshkov were charged  for their alleged participation in a scheme to launder bribe payments to foreign government officials for the benefit of a Columbus, Ohio-based subsidiary of Rolls-Royce plc, to secure a contract worth approximately $145 million to supply equipment and services to power a gas pipeline from Kazakhstan to China.

Greece citizen, Petros Contoguris was also charged on the counts. Contoguris previously had been charged on all of these counts in an indictment that was filed on October 12, 2017.

Rolls-Royce in Ohio made several payments to his company, knowing that the amount will be divided between high-ranking officials from the Kazakh national company KazMunaiGaz, Bloomberg reported.
According to the Department of Justice, all three defendants reside outside the US.

panorama, Armenia
May 21 2018
Rafting competition held in Armenia for the first time

Rafting competition was held for the first time in Armenia. As the ministry of sport and youth affairs reports, the competition that uses an inflatable raft to navigate a river took place in Lori province, on river Debed. 
According to the source, the participants started near Tumanyan town and reached Sanahin station, passing a distance of 12 km in one hour.

On the occasion of the event, Minister of Sport Levon Vahradyan has noted that the new concept for developing sport tourism will contain provisions to promote extreme sports in Armenia, considering also the natural advantages of the country’s landscape, including rivers, mountains, and green zones.

It is reminded that in 2017 Armenian and foreign experts conducted studies on organizing rafting tours across Debed that was classified for 3rd degree of complexity.