Sunday, 26 August 2018

Dr Dikran Abrahamian - 'Happy 10th Anniversary'

Open Dialogue

"New April, New Armenia"

renowned political analyst

Tatul Hakobyan

in Armenian and English

For details click on AAT
    Forward to Friend

This email was sent to
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Dr. Dikran Abrahamian · 15 Bridle Rd. · Penetanguishene, On L9M 1J5 · Canada

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp

Armenian News... A Topalian... Independence day!!!

Public Radio of Armenia
Aug 23 2018
Armenia adopted the Declaration of Independence 28 years ago today

On August 23, 1990 the Supreme Council of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia adopted Armenia’s Declaration of Independence, ending decades of Soviet rule and beginning a new chapter in history.

The adoption of the Declaration marked the start of the process of establishment of independent statehood positioning the question of the creation of a democratic society based on the rule of law.
The country was renamed the Republic of Armenia and a year later, on September 21, 1991 Armenia became an independent state.

То guarantee the security of the country and the inviolability of its borders, the Republic of Armenia created its own armed forces, internal troops, state bodies and public security under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Council.

Under the Declaration, the Republic of Armenia guaranteed the use of Armenian as the state language in all spheres of the Republic’s life, created its own system of education and of scientific and cultural development.

This declaration served as the basis for the development of the constitution of the Republic of Armenia.

PanArmenian, Armenia
Aug 23 2018
Armenia: Belgium Royal family visit Holy Etchmiadzin - source 

The Royal family of the Belgium monarchy are visiting Armenia on an unofficial family vacation. 

While there is no official confirmation or refutation concerning their exact whereabouts or itinerary, a source tells PanARMENIAN.Net that the Royal family, including King Philippe, Queen Mathilde, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel, Princess Eleonore, and Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Brabant, are in Armenia and have been lodging at Grand Hotel Yerevan.

Belgium is among several European countries that have established absolute, gender-neutral primogeniture, altering the order of succession from “eldest son” to “eldest child.” As such, and as per protocol, the King and the Heir apparent, Princess Elizabeth, arrived on separate airplanes, and continue to visit various historic and cultural sites through Armenia in separate modes of transportation, the source said.

The Royal family, according to the person familiar with the itinerary, is said to have visited the sacred site of Etchmiadzin, the world’s oldest Christian Church, as well as the ArmAs Estate and Winery, for an extensive tour and lunch where they where introduced The Renaissance of Armenian Wine. The Aslanian family who reportedly greeted them were not available for comment.

It seems that the 10-day vacation includes cultural trips to Tatev Monastery, Noravank, and Cafesjian Museum of Art. Thus far, the Royal family is said to be rather impressed with the quality of food, wine and hospitality in Armenia.

Arminfo, Armenia
Aug 22 2018
The loco of new Armenia economy will be the high tech sector.
Alina Hovhannisyan. 

Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan today on August 22, via live broadcast on the official Facebook page, presented the priority areas of Armenia's economic development. In this regard, the head of government stressed that the economic strategy will become export-oriented and will be based not on the exploitation of the environment as before, but on its preservation.

"However, this does not mean that we will abandon the mining industry, but the priorities of state assistance will be elements of an inclusive, sustainable and ecological economy," Pashinyan stressed. First of all, as the priority direction and locomotive of the economy, the prime minister determined the production of high technologies. 

Noting that today in Armenia there are already certain enterprises engaged in high-tech production. Pashinyan stressed that the government intends to contribute to the process of increasing investment interest in this area. In this vein, the prime minister drew attention to the high investment interest in the production of solar panels.

"This sphere can be considered promising, as today we see significant progress in this direction. I believe that the sphere of solar energy will become an important one, "Pashinyan said. Armenia, he said, should become a high-tech state, as this will create conditions for the normal development of the military-industrial complex, which in turn will satisfy the requirements and raise the level of security. 

Moreover, it will create high-paying jobs. At the same time, the prime minister stressed that the authorities will continue to assist in the development of the information technology sector, considering that today the IT sector demonstrates serious progress. 

"In our working paper on economic development, we also noted an experimental branch open to ideas. Biotechnologies are developing all over the world, and our compatriots are involved in this field. On our part, we must try to convince them to open enterprises in Armenia, in particular in the field of pharmaceuticals, R & D (resource & development) and are ready to discuss new ideas, "he said.

The next priority direction Pashinyan named lapidary diamond production and jewelry business, which as a result of a sharp strengthening of the national currency in the second half of the 2000s and the liberalization of the market actually stopped their improvement. In this vein, the prime minister expressed readiness on the part of the authorities to assist existing enterprises in the above areas and develop them. Light industry, according to the prime minister, is of interest to investors today, in particular, from the point of view of launching new productions in the textile sector. He noted that the government will assist enterprises of light industry in the implementation of export activities. "Our market is small, so we can not expect to create high-paying jobs. Therefore, all spheres of the Armenian economy should be export- oriented, "he stressed, adding that the development of tourism will help the significant development of the production of knitwear, footwear, which has always been famous for its quality, other products that tourists will buy.

Following the light industry, the prime minister called education and health care. According to Pashinyan, the system of Armenianuniversities has serious problems. "The system of Armenian universities is far from reality. Today our students are not prepared for professional work after graduating from universities. Under the ministries and media there are academies that are engaged in retraining graduates of universities, and as a result it turns out that the state spends resources simultaneously in several places, "he said.

"Our education system must be transformed, and be aimed at attracting foreigners. Systemic changes in education are extremely important to ensure normal economic development. If we can not provide the market with specialists, then in the future we will face serious problems, "Pashinyan continued. The same policy, according to the prime minister, should be followed in the direction of development of the healthcare sphere.

The prime minister also named tourism as an important direction of economic development, having determined a big role in the promotion of the SME segment. In this context, he noted that the number of tourists who visited Armenia over the past three months exceeded the figure of a year ago by 35 thousand people. "I hope we can improve the infrastructure, but SMEs in turn need to provide a high level of service. Since in my opinion, the best advertising is the impressions of tourists about a particular country, which they share with their friends, in particular in social networks, " Pashinyan added. In this regard, the Prime Minister also touched upon the issue of migration. "In the period from May 10 to August 14 of the past year the difference of people leaving from Armenia and arriving citizens was - 6 thousand, whereas this year the indicator was fixed at the level of +29.9 thousand citizens, "he said. The head of government also spoke about the development of intensive agriculture, hothouse farms and livestock. At the same time, the winemaking will not be left out of the authorities' attention, which, according to the Prime Minister, registers serious growth. "There are problems with production volumes, however, we hope that this issue will be resolved. In any case, the government is ready to assist in any issues, "Pashinyan accentuated.

In conclusion, the Prime Minister stressed: "The new model of economic development, I mean the reference to the preservation of the environment, does not mean that other sectors of the economy should not develop in Armenia. The matter is that when the economy is based on the export of mining raw materials, this economic development is almost insignificant for the citizens of Armenia, therefore we want to create an inclusive model of economic development that will be first and foremost tangible and effective for the population."

Public Radio of Armenia
Aug 22 2018
Armenia wins 40th World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul

Armenia cemented its reputation as a chess superpower by winning gold at the Chess Olympiad, after defeating Hungary 2.5-1.5 in the final round of the World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul.

In the decisive round on Sunday Armenian men beat Hungary 2.5-1.5 to gather 19 points in the 11-round competition. Sergei Movsesian secured the crucial victory against Hungary’s Zoltan Almasi. Levon Aronian, Vladimir Akopian, and Gabriel Sargissian drew their games.

Russia defeated Germany 3-1, but fell behind Armenia on tiebreak. Ukraine beat China 3-1 and came third..

Armenia won the 2006 and 2008 Olympiads, and came in seventh in 2010. It came third in 1992, 2002 and 2004.

MediaMax, Armenia
Aug 23 2018
U.S. and Great Britain Armed Forces representatives in Armenia

Upon the invitation of Human Rights and Good Behavior Centre of Armenian Defense Ministry, representatives of the Armed Forces of the United States and Great Britain have paid a visit to Armenia, set for August 20-24.

According to the Armenian MoD, Head of Human Rights and Good Behavior Centre Aleksandr Avetisyan received the members of the group. 

 The visit is aimed at holding discussions on ways of preventing suicides and self-destruction in the Armed Forces, modernizing “hotline” operation, developing capacities for providing psychological support, creating equal opportunities and other topic for strengthening human rights. 

 The participants of the meeting reached preliminary agreements on expansion and development of collaboration agenda.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Government Vows Tax Cuts
August 23, 2018
Sargis Harutyunyan

The Armenian government has promised major tax cuts that will benefit most workers as well as some small businesses.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said the government will initiate “very serious changes” in Armenia’s Tax Code in a Facebook video address aired late on 
Wednesday.“I can now say that we will opt for a simplification of the tax legislation and a reduction in personal income tax,” he said.

Pashinian declined to specify the extent of the new tax rates planned by the government, saying that “several scenarios” are still under consideration. He 
pledged to all but scrap the main tax levied some of the small businesses operating in the country.

Under Armenian law, companies with an annual turnover of up to 115 million drams ($237,000) are exempt from profit and value-added (VAT) taxes paid by larger businesses. They are only required to pay “turnover tax” equivalent to 2 percent of their revenue.

Pashinian promised to set a new and “symbolic” tax rate for small firms earning no more than 24 million drams annually. “In essence, that will mean the near 
absence of [turnover] tax,” he said.

Davit Ananian, the head of Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC), was careful not to shed more light on the promised tax cuts when he spoke to reporters on Thursday. He said the government is still calculating “budgetary losses” that would result from lower taxes and is looking into ways of making up for them.

“In September the government will formulate a common position [on the issue] and inform the public,” Ananian said after a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. The government hopes to push the amendments through the parliament before the 
end of this year, he said.

The Tax Code was already amended by Armenia’s previous government last year. The amendments raised from 26 percent to 28 percent the tax rate for monthly incomes ranging from 150,000 drams to 2 million drams ($310-$4,150). The rate for those who earn more was set at 36 percent. At the same time the tax rate for workers making up to 150,000 drams a month was cut from 24.4 percent to 23 percent.

Those changes, which took effect on January 1, met with strong resistance from opposition groups, notably Pashinian’s Yelk bloc. In February, the Armenian parliament voted down a Yelk bill that would repeal the higher tax rates.

But on April 12, Serzh Sarkisian’s government unexpectedly announced plans to lower income tax. The announcement came the day before Pashinian launched anti-government mass protests that eventually brought him to power.

RFE/RL Report
Armenian Police Forces Deployed On Azeri Border
August 23, 2018
Marine Khachatrian

The first large group of Armenian interior troops joined army units in guarding Armenia’s border with Azerbaijan on Thursday as part of an unprecedented 
redeployment ordered by the new government.

They headed to some sections of the heavily militarized border immediately after an farewell ceremony in Yerevan attended by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and other senior officials.

The troops that are part of the national police service have until now been tasked with only ensuring internal security and dealing with violent unrest in 
the country. Pashinian ordered them to also protect the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier on a rotating basis shortly after coming to power in May.

Speaking at the ceremony, Pashinian described their new mission as “historic,” saying that they will not only help the Armenian military but also improve 
their public image. “Our objective is to ensure that Armenia’s citizens perceive the police and the police troops as protectors of their security, Armenian statehood and the constitution,” he said.

The Armenian police chief, Valeri Osipian, said earlier this week that police personnel will serve at the border on two-week tours of duty and receive 
additional payments for that. They look forward to their new task, Osipian told reporters.

Daniel Ioannisian, a civic activist who sits on new government commissions formed by Pashinian, welcomed the redeployment. “The public always wondered who the possible enemies of the police troops are, and this only deepened distrust 
between the public and the police,” he said. “That problem was somewhat addressed as soon as it was announced that the police troops will also be 
defending the country’s borders.”

RFE/RL Report
Chinese School Inaugurated In Armenia
August 22, 2018

China has built a state-of-the-art school in Yerevan where hundreds of Armenian children will study the Chinese language in addition to subjects taught in 
secondary and high schools across Armenia.

The Chinese-Armenian Friendship School was inaugurated on Wednesday at a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Chinese Ambassador Tian Erlong.

Officials said that the Chinese government has spent over $12 million on building and equipping the school located in Yerevan’s northern Kanaker suburb. 
It is designed for up to 405 students aged between 10 and 18 who will have intensive language courses taught by Chinese teachers.

“Knowledge of Chinese opens up opportunities to access information about a huge layer of human history and civilization,” Pashinian said at the ceremony. “I hope that this school will become a channel through which Armenians will gain more in-depth knowledge of the enormous influence which China and Chinese civilization have had on the development of humankind.”

The educational institution, Pashinian went on, is also opening a “new page” in Chinese-Armenian relations which should now grow closer. China and Armenia have “many common interests” and like “strategic thinking,” he said.

Pashinian said that having many Chinese speakers is also an “economic necessity” for Armenia given a rising number of Chinese tourists visiting the 
country. Chinese investors are likewise showing a growing interest in the Armenian economy, he added.

According to official Armenian statistics, China has been Armenia’s second largest trading partner for the last several years. Chinese-Armenian trade 
soared by nearly 50 percent, to $342 million, in the first half of this year.

Political relations between the two nations have been cordial ever since Armenia gained independence in 1991. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his then 
Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian reported “mutual understanding on issues relating to pivotal interests and concerns of the two countries” after holding talks in Beijing in 2015.

Beijing further underscored its interest in the South Caucasus country last year when it started building a new and much bigger building for its embassy in 
Yerevan. The 40,000-square-meter embassy compound is due to be completed by the 
end of 2019. It will reportedly be the second largest Chinese diplomatic mission in the former Soviet Union.

China has provided at least $37 million in economic assistance to Armenia since 2012. It has also donated hundreds of public buses and ambulance vehicles to 
Yerevan. “The Armenian people highly appreciate that assistance,” said  Pashinian.

What Would Happen If an Armenian Diplomat Questions the term Holocaust while in Israel?

“The tragedy of the Armenian nation has never been questioned. There is a historical question of what to call it, but what has happened is a fact that everyone accepts. It’s not a matter of political discussion. Let historians decide what to call the tragedy.” This is what Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Ben-Zvi said on Tuesday when visiting the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex.

Upon reading this I thought what would happen if one of Armenia’s deputy foreign ministers visited Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, and paid tribute to the victims of Nazi Germany’s systematic annihilation of Jews and pussyfooted around using the word Holocaust.

Most likely, all hell would break loose.

I envision Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decreeing the immediate expulsion of the said diplomat from Israel and freezing the already cool diplomatic ties with Yerevan. World leaders would then chime in with their condemnation of Armenia’s insensitive and tone deaf approach to the Holocaust, while Jewish organizations, some of which just recently decided to call the events of 1915 “Genocide,” would be in an uproar renewing their lobbying to discredit efforts to pass a Genocide recognition bill in Congress. More important, the Israeli press would quickly pick up on the diplomatic gaffe and would mold Israeli public opinion against Armenia and Armenians. Not to mention the Israeli academicians, such as Israel Charny and Yair Auron to name a few,

Instead, according to the foreign ministry’s press office Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan “presented Armenia’s ongoing initiatives directed at prevention of genocides and crimes against humanity, noting that the third Global Counterterrorism Forum will be held in Yerevan on December 9 [and will be] dedicated to the role of education in the prevention of genocides. Referring to the process of international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, the Foreign Minister mentioned that it is a moral responsibility and a tribute to the memory of innocent victims, while at the same time it is an important contribution to international efforts to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Yet Ben-Zvi stands on the grounds of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex and spits on the memory of the 1.5 million victims of the Genocide with no recourse or admonishment and walks away with the continued pledges of improving ties between Armenia and Israel.

And let’s look at those so-called “improving” ties.

Netanyahu, once again, halted the debate of a bill to recognize the Genocide in the Knesset in June, after the Israeli political apparatus, once again, decided to play the Genocide card when Turkey threated Tel Aviv after Israel attacked a Palestinian settlement in Gaza in May. The fact that the Genocide issue comes into play in Israeli politics only during spats with Turkey is proof enough that Israel does not necessarily want to become “a partner” with Armenia.

Then there’s that pesky issue of the estimated $5 billion in arms sales to Azerbaijan, whose army commanders urged a military contractor to “live test” an armed suicide drone directed at Artsakh military targets. While that military contract was allegedly suspended, again there has been no firm posturing from Armenia. Mnatsakanyan told Ben-Zvi that “our partners should abstain from all actions that could potentially result in arms race, as well as provoke instability in the region.”

Mnatsakanyan’s statements signal a more resolute tone toward Israel in comparison to his predecessor, Edward Nalbandian, who met with Netanyahu last fall with nary a mention of these thorny and contentious issues blocking normal ties with the Jewish State.

I am not suggesting that Mnatsakanyan should have started a diplomatic row with Israel, but he and other officials should consider what Israel would do if the situation were reversed and say Armenia were supplying arms to the Palestinians and disrespecting the Holocaust all at the same time.

Artsakh to host 2019 CONIFA European Soccer Cup

The Stepanakert Republican Stadium will be the site of the 2019 CONIFA European Soccer Cup

The Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) on Monday announced that Artsakh  will host the 2019 European Football Cup.

The tournament will be held in June 2019 in Stepanakert, the capital. Exact dates will be announced soon.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build on the momentum of the 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup,” said CONIFA President Per-Anders Blind. That tournament, hosted in London in June, saw unprecedented fan and media interest in CONIFA. Over 400 journalists were accredited from almost every major international media outlet, CONIFA’s Twitter feed recorded over 6 million impressions and 250,000 people watched the live-streamed matches. 3,000 people attended the final at Enfield Town FC, which saw Karpatalya beat Northern Cyprus on penalties.

“After the incredible success of London 2018, we are excited to be taking our next tournament to a beautiful and relatively undiscovered part of the world,” continued Blind. “During several official delegation visits to Stepanakert, CONIFA has received incredible hospitality. We are confident that participating teams, fans and travelling media will enjoy the same experience next year.”

Artsakh gained de facto independence following the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994, a conflict which also involved Armenia and Azerbaijan. It remains unrecognised by the international community. The Artsakh football league has prospered since 2009, and the Artsakh Football Federation was founded in 2012.

“Artsakh has been a member of CONIFA since our inception in 2013, and participated in our first-ever tournament in Sweden in 2014,” explained CONIFA’s European Director Alberto Rischio. “Given their long-term involvement in the CONIFA family, we were delighted when the Artsakh Football Federation first expressed interest in hosting the tournament.”

12 teams will contest the tournament. 2017 European Football Cup winners Padania, runners-up Northern Cyprus and 2018 Paddy Power World Football Cup winners Karpatalya will join the host team as automatic qualifiers. The remaining eight teams will be determined during CONIFA’s annual general meeting in January.

“It will be a wonderful celebration of sport, culture and friendship,” said Minister of Education, Science and Sport of the Artsakh Republic, Narine Aghabalyan.

CONIFA is the international football confederation for teams not part of FIFA. Its members include states, unrecognised states, regions, minority groups and sports-isolated territories. CONIFA is a strictly politically neutral charity, and is run by volunteers.

Further details about the 2019 European Football Cup will be released shortly.

Thursday, 23 August 2018



Muslims all over the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, their great festival of sacrifice. The Qur’an shows Abraham/Ibrahim and his nameless son as the protagonists. An awesome, dark story which Jews and Christians basically share. At God’s behest, Abraham is ready to slay his son as the sacrificial victim, until, at the last moment, God stays his hand and provides a ram instead. That’s why Muslims sacrifice that animal, to be divided into three parts: the poor, friends or neighbours and the family.

The ultimate test of faith. So the philosopher Kierkegaard terms the
Creator’s bloodthirsty demand. In Fear and Trembling he argues that infinite resignation to God’s will must be man’s apposite response. Everything belongs to God, even your beloved child. Abraham saw that and submitted, although a secularist or a sceptic would come to the opposite conclusion: no deity who makes such murderous request is worthy of worship. Disgust, revulsion and anger are called for, not obedience.

Writer Rene Girard’s view is more positive. Violence and aggression are intrinsic to human nature – as indeed Freud contended in Civilisation and its Discontents. The solution? To find a victim, a sacrificial being, a scapegoat. Like a lightning rod, the victim will take society’s violence upon himself and so act as a social reconciler. Of course, it matters morally whether the scapegoat is willing or not. Abraham did not ask the boy Isaac (or, for Muslims, Ismail) whether he consented – if that is at all imaginable - to be sacrificed. That is partly why this religious narrative is so shocking, even repellent.

Even dumb animals display an instinctual aversion to being slaughtered. A dramatic detail in the Parthenon frieze in the British Museum inspired poet John Keats to pen ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’. He sings of a ‘heifer lowing at the skies’, the same creature the priests are dragging towards the sacrificial altar to have its throat cut. Look at the frieze: isn’t the poor, harmless beast imploring the Powers above: ‘What sins have I committed? Why do I have to die?’ Young Isaac might just as well have begged the same of his pious, ruthless father.

Ancient myths? Archaic ideas? Outdated notions, like those of divinity, worship and the sacred? Nope. The scapegoat is alive and well, a well-nigh universal, if unpleasant, concept and practice. Ever worked in an office? A shop? A multinational company? Even a church or synagogue or mosque? Surely you can recall the odd individual, ‘the outsider’, the odd man out, one who does not fit in, who is different from other members of the group. He is the scapegoat. People unite in making fun of him, in having a go at him, in blaming him for whatever goes wrong. It all may appear harmless but it is not. The scapegoat brings about unity and cohesion in those about him while drawing unto himself all the latent, pent-up hostility of others. Rivalries are forgotten or eclipsed, everyone directed his spite towards the scapegoat. Members of the group are happy. They feel reconciled.

Scapegoating operates not just at individual level. Nations, peoples can also become sacrificial victims. The tragic fate of the Armenians – ‘the Christ amongst the nations’ - illustrates that. The oldest nation to convert to Christianity, the Armenians in the Middle Ages came under the rule of Islam, represented by the Ottoman Turks. A people mostly of tradesmen and merchants, they were different from their pastoral or nomadic neighbours. Sultan Abdul Hamid II accused them of disloyalty and ordered horrendous massacres of the outsiders. Later, the godless Young Turks took advantage of the difficulties WWI caused to Turkey to carry out systematic, hideous deportations and genocide of the Armenian people. The whole Armenian race had become a scapegoat. A warning to all humanity.

The history of the Jews, old and new, provides another terrifying example of the fate of the scapegoat. It culminated in the holocaust the chosen people suffered in WWII. Significantly, the notion of an animal victim offered to God in atonement for the sins of the people harks back to the Old Testament, Leviticus 16. As part of the rites of Yom Kippur, a goat was driven into the wilderness to be devoured by the demon Azazel. Thereafter the Hebrew people have embodied in their own flesh a bloody symbolism of perennial validity.

Girard points out how Jesus Christ’s supreme oblation on the Cross differs in a morally radical way from that of Abraham’s son. Isaac knew nothing of his impending destiny. Like the innumerable human victims of Aztecs sacrifices, he did not agree to be killed. ‘Father, I see the fire and the wood but where is the lamb?’ the boy innocently asks in Genesis. By contrast, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was the first and ultimate scapegoat who understood the supernatural reason for his own death. In submitting to the Father’s will, Jesus proves his divine nature.  The innocent Messiah willingly takes upon himself the sins, the guilt burden of the whole world. He freely accepts they should be discharged on him for the salvation of all. And in each celebration of the Eucharist, the sacrament that makes present Christ’s eternal sacrifice, the Christian believer transcends violence, pain and hatred in contemplating the smiling face of God.

My Muslim friends will not agree with the last paragraph, alas. What can I do? Well, I shall wish them a tranquil and blessed Eid al-Adha!

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


** follow on Twitter (
| ** friend on Facebook (#)
| ** forward to a friend (

Copyright © Fr Frank Gelli
Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp
** unsubscribe from this list (
| ** update subscription preferences (

Armenian News... A Topalian... Chncellor Merkel visits Armenia 24-25th August 18

German Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit Armenia
August 17,2018 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive in Armenia on an official visit on August 24-25.

During the visit Armenian-German high-level talks led by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Chancellor Angela Merkel will be held. Thereafter, they will sum up the results of talks at a joint press conference.

The German Chancellor will also meet with Armenian President Armen Sarkissian.

Angela Merkel will visit the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial to pay tribute to the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims.

RFE/RL Report 
Pashinian Declares ‘People’s Rule’ In Armenia
August 17, 2018

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian strongly defended his government’s track record on Friday as tens of thousands of people rallied in Yerevan to mark his first 100 days in office.

Pashinian claimed to have practically eradicated corruption in Armenia, ensured continued economic growth and established the kind of “people’s direct rule” that had existed in ancient Greece. He also blasted the country’s former leaders highly critical of the government formed as a result of last spring’s 
mass protests.

“One hundred days ago your will prevailed and the international community still does not understand what happened in Armenia, why and how it happened,” 

Pashinian told huge crowd that filled the city’s central Republic Square, the main scene of the protests that brought him to power. He referred to himself as a “direct representative of the will of the Armenian people.”

“In Armenia, there is no coalition government. In Armenia, there is no parliamentary majority. In Armenia, supreme power directly belongs to the 
people and the people carry out direct rule. This is the key meaning of the revolution that took place in Armenia,” he declared in a more than hour-long 

Accordingly, Pashinian went on, crowds gathering in the sprawling square must now be regarded as the “supreme body of the people’s rule.” “This means that from now on this government will be ccountable to this square, will obey this square, and all key decisions must be made here at this square,” he declared.

“In the future, the Republic of Armenia could be cited in the historical context just like ancient Greece is cited now and Yerevan could be cited like ancient Athens,” he added.

Turning to his first 100 days in power, Pashinian said that despite the recent political turmoil Armenia’s economy has not only avoided a downturn but is 
continuing to grow robustly thanks to his government’s efforts to improve the business environment. “I want to assure you that we will have serious very successes in the economy,” he said.

Pashinian did not make any growth forecasts. Instead, he touted the government’s crackdown on corruption and tax evasion and said it has already 
succeeded in breaking up economic monopolies that had long hampered faster growth. “Money stolen from the people will be recovered fully,” he said, citing recent audits of some companies that have resulted in tens of millions of  dollars in additional tax revenue.

The 43-year-old premier rejected critics’ claims that the new authorities are scaring away investors with those audits and undermining Armenia’s strategic 
relationship with Russia. “I can say for sure that Russian-Armenian relations are not only not bad but … are good and will get even better,” he said.

In a rare diplomatic dispute with Yerevan, Moscow strongly criticized late last month criminal charges brought against several former Armenian officials for 
their alleged role in the deadly breakup of 2008 opposition protests in the Armenian capital. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the charges as politically motivated.

The accused individuals include former President Robert Kocharian and Yuri Khachaturov, the secretary general of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Both men strongly deny the accusations. Kocharian has claimed that they are part of a political “vendetta” waged by the new government.

In a clear reference to Kocharian, Pashinian said: “I want to make clear that no one will avoid responsibility for killing 10 people and staging a coup d’etat in Armenia on March 1 [2008] … All murderers will go to prison.” He defended the ongoing criminal inquiry into the 2008 unrest conducted by the Special Investigative Service (SIS).

Kocharian was arrested on July 27 on charges of “overthrowing the constitutional order” in the final weeks of his decade-long rule. Armenia’s Court of Appeals freed him from custody more than two weeks later. The SIS condemned the court’s decision as “illegal.”

In his fiery speech, Pashinian again insisted that his administration is not exerting any pressure on courts. Still, he slammed unnamed judges who he said 
are still taking “orders from representatives of the former corrupt authorities.” “Come to your senses and don’t mess with the people,” he warned them.

Pashinian was elected prime minister on March 8 by the Armenian parliament then controlled by the Republican Party (HHK) of former President Serzh Sarkisian, who was forced to resign on April 23. His government’s policy program calls for the conduct of snap elections within a year.

Under Armenia’s constitution, such elections can be held only if the prime minister resigns and the National Assembly twice fails to elect his or her 

Pashinian on Friday for the first time spoke of a possibility of the HHK and other parliamentary forces installing another prime minister and thus preventing snap polls in case of his resignation. He said his political team will therefore come up with constitutional amendments that would allow the 
parliament to dissolve itself. He told his supporters to be ready to force lawmakers to enact those amendments.

Pashinian again gave no possible election dates.

19 August 2018
Pashinyan Reports on Government’s First 100 Days

Hundreds of thousands of people crowded Yereven’s Republic Square and the adjacent streets on Friday to hear Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s assessment of his government’s first 100 days in office. In a fiery speech that lasted more than an hour, Pashinyan defended his and his government track record and delivering an all-encompassing speech that covered Armenia’s economy, Artsakh and the Karabakh conflict resolution, fight against corruption and relations with Russia.

In opening his remarks, he, once again declared a “people’s rule,” crediting the people of Armenia for the successes of his government and the country.

“One hundred days ago, your will prevailed and the international community still cannot understand what happened in Armenia, why and how it happened,” said Pashinyan calling himself a “direct representative of the will of the Armenian people.”

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addresses a rally on Friday

“In Armenia, there is no coalition government. In Armenia, there is no parliamentary majority. In Armenia, the ultimate power directly belongs to the people and the people carry out direct rule. This is the key meaning of the revolution that took place in Armenia,” he declared pointing to the crowd and saying that they should view themselves as “supreme body of the people’s rule.”

“This means that from now on this government will be accountable to this square, will obey this square, and all key decisions must be made here at this square,” said Pashinyan to thunderous applause.

Specifically focusing on his role in the Karabakh conflict negotiation process and in an attempt to debunk criticism, especially from former president Robert Kocharian, Pashinyan emphasized that he is ready to negotiate, on behalf of Armenia, for the resolution of the conflict. However, he reiterated his long-running position that the Artsakh Republic must be represented at the negotiating table.

“I am ready to fully negotiate on behalf of the Republic of Armenia on Karabakh issue, but the authorities of the Republic of Artsakh must negotiate on behalf of Artsakh,” Pashinyan emphasized.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan surrounded by some cabinet members and his fellow party members on Friday

The prime minister was clear in declaring that Armenia does not want war and would like to resolve the conflict peacefully. He said, however, that if Azerbaijan continues its attacks, the soldiers of the armed forces are ready to deliver a powerful counter blow to their advances.

“If in the negotiation process there is an option that I will think is a good one and I support, I will never sign any document without your consent. I will present whatever proposal there is to you in detail and you will decide if we will accept that resolution option not,” added Pashinyan.

The prime minister specifically discussed Armenia’s relations with Russia, as this topic has been used by Kocharian and others in attempts to discredit his administration.

In an interview with Yerkir Media on Thursday, Kocharian point blank said that Pashinyan does not have the experience to deal with Russia, as well as the complex geopolitical challenges facing Armenia.

Pointing out that since taking office he has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin twice and has discussed issues related to Russia-Armenia relations with him over the phone three times (the most recent of which was Thursday), Pashinyan said that his administration’s goal is to improve and strengthen relations with Russia and raise them to a new level.

In fact, he said, in the near future, a new “humanitarian” project with Russia will be unveiled, “the likes of which has not been seen in Armenia” since its independence.

“There will be no foreign policy shifts and one of our goals is the deepening of Armenian-Russian relations and raising these relations to a new level. After formal proceedings conclude you will get to know about a joint Armenian-Russian humanitarian project which is unprecedented in our history since independence,” explained Pashinyan.

Pashinyan said that his predecessors were adept at blaming their shortcomings on Russia, rationalizing their mistakes by citing Russian pressures.

He also noted that Armenia’s foreign policy has no geopolitical orientation. “The Republic of Armenia is not going anywhere. It is firmly standing on its feet with its proud citizens. Our key ideology in foreign relations is the protection of our national interests. We will improve our relations also with the European Union,” added Pashinyan.

Corruption/Rule of Law
Pashinyan said that his pledges to eradicate corruption have already seen some progress with the Armenia’s National Security Service actively investigation cases of looted property and funds not only from the state but also the military.

“Money stolen from the people will be recovered fully,” he said, citing recent audits of some companies that have resulted in tens of millions of dollars in additional tax revenue.

People turned out in droves on Friday to hear Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan

He also discussed the ongoing investigation into the incidents of March 1, 2008 when opposition forces clashed with police during a post-election protest resulting in the deaths of eight civilians and two police officers.

Former president Kocharian is charged with breaching Armenia’s constitutional order in relation to those events and after being released from pre-trial custody on Monday he has criticized the Prosecutor General’s office of building a case on lies.

In a clear reference to Kocharian, Pashinyan said: “I want to make clear that no one will avoid responsibility for killing 10 people and staging a coup d’etat in Armenia on March 1 [2008] … All murderers will go to prison.”

He illustrated the difference between his administration and the previous regimes by pointing out that he is not exerting any pressure on the judiciary. However, he criticized certain judges whom he believes are still taking “orders from representatives of the former corrupt authorities.”

“Come to your senses,” he warned them. “And don’t mess with the people.”

PanArmenian, Armenia
Aug 20 2018
Aurora commemorates World Humanitarian Day 

August 19 marks the 15th annual World Humanitarian Day, with the important theme of: civilians are #notatarget.

On the 15th anniversary of the death of 22 humanitarian aid workers in a bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, it is necessary to insist that civilians are never again made a target. As AuroraSelection Committee member Lord Ara Darzi writes in Monday, August 20’s Sunday Times, “This could hardly fall at a more opportune time as so many across the world are still targets”. Click here to Nominate a Humanitarian Hero that you know is working to help end human suffering, and read Lord Darzi’s full piece below:

“Many people may not know that today is World Humanitarian Day with its theme of civilians are #notatarget . This could hardly fall at a more opportune time as so many across the world still are targets; in Syria, in Africa and - in the very recent past - in Europe in Ireland and the Balkans.
"It is too easy for us to forget the horrors of previous generations and play politics with the past. Where once we may have been comfortable that the hardest lessons had been learned, growing division at home and abroad reminds us that we must never be complacent about the need for greater unity.

"As an immigrant to Britain, born to Armenian parents displaced by the genocide of 1915, I am only too keenly aware of the devastating effect that period had on the people who survived and their descendants. The legacy continues to shape those who survived. But we all have two choices in the aftermath of violence: either remain a victim or - once surviving and thriving - to continue the cycle of gratitude and giving. On today of all days, I am hopeful both victims and those who work to protect them, in and out of government, around the world, will make the right choice."

Lord Ara Darzi OM KBE is a Peer of the House of Lords, a Professor of Medicine at Imperial College London, and a member of the Selection Committee for the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the largest individual prize in the world for humanitarianism.”

RFE/RL Report 
Sarkisian Allies Hit Back At Pashinian
August 20, 2018
Anush Muradian

Senior representatives of former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) have reacted furiously to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s latest speech, accusing him of stifling dissent, blackmailing the Armenian parliament and seeking to control the judiciary.

Pashinian marked his first 100 days in office on Friday with a massive rally in Yerevan during which he defended his government’s track record and declared the establishment of the kind of “people’s direct rule” that had existed in ancient Greece. He claimed that some Armenian judges are still acting on orders issued by members of Sarkisian’s political team, warning them not to “mess with the 

The premier also announced plans to push through the parliament constitutional amendments that would facilitate the conduct of fresh parliamentary elections. He told his supporters to be ready to press lawmakers to enact those amendments.

Reacting to the speech, the chief HHK spokesman, Eduard Sharmazanov, described Pashinian as a “demagogue” who uses threats and blackmail to consolidate his power. “Pashinian threatened judges and opponents, blatantly violated the presumption of innocence, nullified state institutions and declared the street the only decision-making [state] body,” he said in a weekend statement.

“Don’t you dare threaten state institutions and parliamentarians and other citizens who have different views. Don’t you dare trample the law and the state underfoot,” warned Sharmazanov, who is also a deputy parliament speaker. He said Pashinian again proved that he is unfit to govern Armenia.

“In the past 100 days you have not become a prime minister after all. Not even a mediocre one,” Armen Ashotian, another senior HHK figure, charged, appealing to Pashinian.

In a Facebook post, Ashotian claimed that Pashinian’s fiery speech added a fresh “dose of authoritarianism” to his “unsuccessful” rule. “The prime minister is trying to replace laws, courts, government agencies and the business environment with himself,” he said.

The HHK majority in the Armenian parliament reluctantly agreed to help Pashinian become prime minister on May 8 after weeks of mass protests that 
forced Sarkisian to resign. The former ruling party lost that majority in the following weeks due to defections from its ranks. But it still has the largest 
faction in the National Assembly.

The HHK is increasingly critical of Pashinian’s government, even though Sarkisian continues to keep a low profile. In particular, it has strongly 
condemned the arrest late last month of former President Robert Kocharian on charges stemming from the 2008 post-election violence in Yerevan.

A senior member of Pashinian’s Civil Contract party, Lena Nazarian, insisted later on Saturday that the new government is not trying to set up any 
unconstitutional bodies in the country. She said it is only seeking to make it easier for Armenians to vote in national and local referendums and elect a new, 
more legitimate parliament.

Pashinian declared on Friday that crowds gathering in Yerevan’s central Republic Square must now be regarded as the “supreme body of the people’s 
rule.” Armenia, he said, is thus replicating ancient Greece.

Throughout Sarkisian’s decade-long rule, the HHK itself faced opposition allegations that it rigs elections, restricts human and civil rights and 
prevents judicial independence.

August 17 2018 15:20:00
Ara Güler Museum in Istanbul opens

The Ara Güler Museum (AGM) hosting the works of legendary photographer Ara Güler, also known as the “eye of Istanbul,” has opened in Istanbul. 

Opened in Bomontiada, a brewery-turned entertainment center, the museum currently hosts an exhibition titled “Islık Çalan Adam” (The man who whistles) displaying photos, videos, paintings, objects and books from Güler’s archive. 

The museum was opened — in collaboration with Doğuş Group — as the first photography artist museum in Turkey. It aims to carry Güler’s art, identity and life to the next generations. 

During the opening event, Güler’s 90th birthday was celebrated too. As a birthday gift, he was given a book published by the museum with the same name of the exhibition. 

Speaking at the ceremony, Güler said it took many years to create his own archive and noted the difficulties of making an archive. 

 He said the museum venue Bomontiada was located in an old factory, likening its restoration to the process of building an archival storage. 

Museum and research center free of charge

Hüsnü Akhan, an official of Doğuş Group, said they had begun working with Güler two years ago. 

 “Two years ago, we established the Ara Güler Doğuş Arts and Culture company. He is the board chair of the company. The company realized the Ara Güler Archive and Research Center [AGAVAM] and Ara Güler Museum,” he said.

Akhan said AGAVAM was opened nearly eight months ago, bringing Güler’s unique archive to light. The museum and the research center are free of charge, he added. 

The museum displays the artist’s works and negatives along with his personal belongings, cameras, press cards and collections. 
Born in 1928 to an ethnic Armenian family, Güler is Turkey’s most famous photographer. Having produced volumes of black-and-white photographs of Istanbul, he documented his city’s ever-changing face.

PanArmenian, Armenia
Aug 18 2018
William Saroyan’s unpublished plays set for L.A. world premiere 

Never-before-staged scenes from William Saroyan’s unpublished plays will be performed in a world premiere production at the Los Angeles Central Library’s Taper Auditorium on September 15, Asbarez reports.

“William Saroyan: The Unpublished Plays in Performance,” created by award-winning playwright and director Aram Kouyoumdjian, will be staged by Vista Players, “a boundlessly talented” ensemble that “set the standard by which others were judged” (Sacramento News  & Review).

Kouyoumdjian was granted special permission by Stanford University, where Saroyan’s unpublished manuscripts are housed, to stage the excerpts. Selections from such works as “The Armenian Play (or Opera),” “Home to Hayastan,” and “Ouzenk Chouzenk Hai Yenk” (Like It or Not, We’re Armenians) will explore a wide array of themes, including immigrant life, the trauma of genocide, and the notion of repatriation.

The performance at the Central Library is being presented as part of the Library’s “L.A. Made” series and is co-sponsored by Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian. Councilmember Krekorian will make a special presentation to the L.A. City Council on August 31 about Saroyan, as well as the commemorative Library event, which he is scheduled to attend.August 31 marks the occasion of William Saroyan’s 110th birthday: the impetus to present the renowned playwright’s unknown works at venerated venues in Southern and Central California. The production is slated for additional performances in Fresno and in Orange County, as well as an encore performance in L.A.

Admission to the L.A. Central Library event is free, but seating is limited and will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6:30 pm, and the performance will begin at 7 p.m.

Saroyan is the pre-eminent Armenian-American author who rose to prominence in the 1930s and went on to have a prolific career for five decades. A writer of short stories, novels, plays, and memoirs, he won the Pulitzer Prize for his most famous dramatic work, “The Time of Your Life,” and an Academy Award for his screenplay of “The Human Comedy.”
Kouyoumdjian, who wrote his Master’s thesis on Saroyan’s unpublished plays, is the winner of Elly Awards for both playwriting (The Farewells) and directing (Three Hotels). His feature plays and solo pieces have been performed in half a dozen cities, from Los Angeles (Fountain Theatre) to London (Finborough Theatre). His most recent work has included an adaptation of Levon Shant’s Ancient Gods (2014); Happy Armenians (Los Angeles, 2015; Sacramento, 2016); and i Go On, an open-air, site-specific performance piece in conjunction with the iWitness installation of Genocide survivor portraits (DTLA’s Grand Park, 2015; Glendale Central Park, 2017).

JAM News
Aug 21 2018
Separating business from state: A look at Armenia’s economy during Pashinyan’s first 100 days
Much has been achieved, yet much remains to be done

The first 100 days of Nikol Pashinyan as prime minister of Armenia will be remembered for the number of corruption schemes that were uncovered as well as the high-profile arrests that took place.
But these front-page stories and scandalous events were only a part of the new economic programme of the ‘revolutionary’ government of Armenia. The new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan came to power in Armenia as a result of the ‘velvet revolution’ in April 2018.

His first one hundred days have ended. What economic reforms have been launched, what has been achieved, and what direction is the new government moving in? JAMnews offers a detailed look at the new Armenia through the comments of experts.

Stabilising the economy 
Armenia posted 8.9 per cent economic growth in the first six months of 2018. Last year, this indicator was 6.1. The national currency, both during the days of the revolution and after, did not change significantly.
However, some economic indicators did take a tumble. For that reason, the first priority of Pashinyan’s government was to stabilise the economy.

Armenia’s former cabinet of ministers, headed by Karen Karapetyan, forecasted 4.5 per cent growth for 2018. After the first six months, it was clear that this indicator would be significantly higher. Specialists have predicted a minimum growth of 6.5 per cent for Armenia this year.

Hrant Mikaelyan, economist:
“The economy was stressed by the revolution, as usually happens in such situations. However, the impact was not very deep. I’d assess the losses at 2.5 per cent of the overall GDP growth.”

Bagrat Asatryan, economist:
“The velvet revolution gave rise to difficulties on financial markets, and there was an outflow of money. In April 2018, Armenia’s international reserves were depleted by 200 million dollars. 
“However, the economic decline has already been corrected.

The year was also a successful one for the agricultural sector. Although the results still have to be calculated, the data as of July shows that fruit and vegetable exports grew some 70 per cent. Significant growth was also recorded in other spheres.”

Hrant Mikhaelyan, economist:
“As of now, there is solid growth in both the service sector and commerce, including construction to some extent. This is connected to the overall positive environment around Armenia. Armenia has integrated into the Eurasian Economic Union, but the GSP and GSP+ policies with the US and the EU are also in force. There is also a trade agreement with Georgia. 

The fight against market monopolisation 
The new government announced a fight against artificial monopolies on its first day in power. PM Pashinyan stated that every citizen must have the ability to freely import any and all products to Armenia.

It also came out that a number of companies in Armenia had not been paying taxes for years, including Yerevan City, a large supermarket network. All these companies later ‘returned’ their arrears to the state treasury and are now working in accordance with the new laws. Not one company was shut down.

Hrant Mikhaelyan, economist:
“The new government is trying to introduce an acceptable policy, without extremes, even against large monopolies, and so far [these policies] are justifying themselves – all players have remained on the market, but in different [operating] conditions.”
Separating business from the state

The goal of separating business from the state was also announced as one of the government’s main priorities. Nikol Pashinyan has already partially achieved this goal. There is not a single oligarch or high-profile businessman in his new cabinet who would be capable of using their power for their own aims.

Despite the generally positive trends in the country and societal support, there has also been a fair bit of criticism of the new government.

The main reason is that there are no numeric predictions in the economic programme, and no long term economic development programme as a whole has been presented.

Bagrat Asatryan, economist:
“The fight against corruption, and the divorce of business from the state are the most important parts of the [new] structural changes. However, this cannot be called an economic policy. Direct changes in the country’s policy are necessary, which would then attract investments not only from abroad but also domestically. The economic model must be such so as to realise long-term projects.”

Experts assess the economic indicators of the last three months as positive. However, they note that the most important and main steps that need to be taken are still ahead, because the old economic model continues to be in play in Armenia. It is namely the new economic strategy which will show whether or not Pashinyan’s government is capable of providing a real boost in the economy, something which Armenia has long been awaiting.