Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Armenian News...A Topalian

Panorama, Armenia
Nov 2 2019
Bashar al-Assad refers to the Armenian community as an example of Syrian diversity

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad insists national and religious minorities in Syria enjoy full rights which is part of Syrian diversity and that the country has no adverse view on that. Bashar al-Assad’s remarks came during an interview given to Damascus-based Al-Sourea and al-Ikhbariya TV on Thursday. At a question about the Kurds living in Syria, the President exemplified the Armenian minority as an example of Syrian diversity.

“The Armenians have been a patriotic group par excellence.  This was proven without a shadow of doubt during the war.  At the same time, this group has its own societies, its own
 churches and more sensitively, it has its own schools.  And if you attend any Armenian celebration, a wedding, or any other event --- they sing their traditional songs but afterwards they sing national, politically-inclined songs,” said Assad.

In the president’s words,  the Syrian Armenians are the least, among other Armenians of the world, dissolved in society.  “They have integrated, but not dissolved into Syrian society.  They have maintained all their characteristics.  

Why should we be open here and unopen with others?” Assad questioned.
In his words, the reason is that there are separatist propositions and it is their right to defend the territorial integrity and to be wary of separatist propositions. 

News.am, Armenia
Nov 2 2019
NYT Armenian President interview: Recognition is a strength. It’s not a weakness 

If you take Turkey recognizing the Armenian genocide, that will also be recognition of the fact Turkey is on its way to become a tolerant state, Armenian President Armen Sarkissian said during an interview with The New York Times’ Roger Cohen.

“Recognition of something that you have done wrong in ordinary life, in your family, with your friends, recognition is a strength. It’s not a weakness. If you take Turkey recognizing the Armenian genocide, that will also be recognition of the fact Turkey is on its way to become a tolerant state,” he said.

According to Armenpress, journalist Roger Cohen published a detailed article in The New York Times and touched upon the adoption by the US House of Representatives of the Armenian Genocide resolution.

“In every office there are images of Mount Ararat, which rises in Turkey, a symbol for Armenians of longing, pride, the hope of return and the suffering of the Armenian genocide that began in 1915 and involved the
 Ottoman Empire’s killing of more than one million Armenians,” Kohen wrote.

The author also turned to the history of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that today Armenia has closed borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey, and only borders with Georgia and Iran are open.

“Yet I found Armenians in upbeat mood! What do physical borders matter these days? The nearly three million citizens of Armenia are in constant touch with the many more millions of Armenians in the diaspora, who are sending money home. With a strong tech sector, Armenia sees itself as a start-up country. It’s looking forward more than back,” he noted. “The country’s bloodless revolution in 2018 has not delivered paradise, but it has eliminated fatalism. People feel they have the freedom to try what they want. Weeks of mass protests against corruption and cronyism brought down the old Armenian political class, much as massive demonstrations in Beirut, Baghdad and Santiago in recent weeks have brought down or shaken the governments of Lebanon, Iraq and Chile.

The author of an article entitled “The Spirit That Brought Down the Berlin Wall Lives On” in an interview with the Armenian President touched upon a wave of changes that swept people around the world. Armen Sarkissian
 noted that the old systems will no longer work today.

“We are living in a quantum world because more than half of life is virtual,” he said. The notion of democracies functioning through elections every few years is outdated. He called Armenia “one of the first labs” to find new “rules or behavior” for a world where every individual has a voice that “is exercised and expressed daily.”

Nov 2 2019
Turkey may face reparation demands after U.S. recognises Armenian genocide - Turkish politician 

Armenians in the United States may seek a reparations ruling after the U.S. House of Representatives’ on Tuesday voted in favour of recognising the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire a century ago as genocide, a veteran Turkish politician said. 

The Armenian plaintiffs could seek to appeal against a previous ruling by a California court before the deadline on Nov. 9 after last Tuesday’s House ruling, said Cemil Çiçek, former speaker of the Turkish parliament and current member of Turkish presidency’s Higher Advisory Board.

The House vote on Tuesday came amid bipartisan anger in Congress over the Turkish offensive in northeast Syria against Syrian Kurdish forces that fought the Islamic State alongide U.S. forces.

Çiçek told Ahmet Taşgetiren, a columnist for Karar newspaper, that the U.S. Congress’ move might have wider repercussions. 

“Armenians of Turkish origin have been filing reparation cases against Turkey for a while,” Taşgetiren quoted Çiçek as saying on Friday. 
“The latest decision of the U.S. House of Representatives’ on genocide in one way has fulfilled the demands of the Armenians in the political dimension. Moreover, the number of votes in favour (405 to 11) could encourage
 Armenians. The courts from now on might not justify their decisions by saying the matter should be left to politics,” he said.

Çiçek was referring to a decision of the United States Court of Appeals on Aug. 9 to deny the
 appeal of two lawsuits brought by several Armenian-Americans demanding compensation from the Republic of Turkey and two of its banks for confiscating their properties shortly after the period when the Armenian genocide took place. The decision of the court can be appealed until Nov. 9, the politician said.
The first lawsuit was filed in 2010 by Alex Bakalian, Anais Haroutunian, and Rita Mahdessian seeking $65 million from Turkey’s central bank and state-owned Ziraat Bank. The second lawsuit was filed by David Davoyan
 and Hrayr Turabian against the Republic of Turkey, the Central Bank of Turkey, and Ziraat Bank.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in 2013 dismissed the two lawsuits declaring that “under the political question doctrine which says certain questions—in this case, determining whether Turkey’s actions were genocide—should be handled by the executive branch, not the courts.” 

The court in August rejected the appeal against its previous decision, saying that the two Armenian lawsuits were time-barred.

“The Armenians right now may seek to ensure a ruling from the higher court in favour of reparations by thinking that the current climate in the United States right now can have results to their advantage,” Çiçek said. “Such a reparations decision can create problems for Turkey which it might struggle to overcome for 100 years,” he said. 

Jerusalem Post
Nov 4 2019
Recognize the Armenian genocide 
In a prelude to the Holocaust and the crimes of ISIS, the slaughter of Armenians was an opening to a hundred years of similar mass murder events. 
By JPost Editorial

About 105 years ago, the Armenian genocide began. Members of the Armenian community living in the Ottoman Empire were systematically exterminated at the orders of the governing authorities. As many as 1.5 million Armenians, an ethnic minority, were rounded up and murdered or deported to the deserts of Syria to die.

The Armenian genocide was well known in its time. The German military attaché to the Ottoman Empire described it as “total extermination” and other accounts provided graphic details of the horrors the survivors went through. Women were sold into slavery and raped, children were left to starve. In a prelude to the Holocaust and the crimes of ISIS, the slaughter of Armenians was an opening to a hundred years of similar mass murder events.
As a state founded in the wake of genocide, Israel knows too well what it means to be a small minority subjected to massacre and the systematic murder by a government. Like Armenians, Jews had to live as minorities under regimes such as the Germans or the Poles, enjoying “protection” so long as they did not get in the way of the state’s interests.

In late October, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide. It overwhelmingly passed with 405 votes and affirms that the US will record the genocide and provide “solemn remembrance of one of the great atrocities of the 20th century.” The US was moved to act because of recent tensions with Turkey.

Unfortunately, Israel has not acted in the same way, mostly because of a political directive according to which Turkey needed to be appeased. Recognizing the Armenian genocide, the argument went for years, would undermine Israel’s ties with Turkey. 

This has created the unwelcome situation where our country, founded by survivors of persecution, did not reach out to another minority group that experienced a similar situation. Decades ago, that may have made sense in the realpolitik of the generations that led Israel. They needed to make difficult compromises, such as the Reparations Agreement between Israel and Germany in 1952. 

Now we have a worthwhile opportunity to correct those wrongs. Israeli-Turkish ties are at an all-time low. Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continues to incite against Israel in the most vicious form of antisemitism, all part of a wider authoritarian far-right agenda he is promoting in Turkey and the region. At the UN in September, he compared Israel to Nazi Germany: “When we look at the genocide the Nazis committed against Jews, we should look at the massacre happening in the Gaza Strip from the same point of view.”

Erdogan made his speech attacking Israel at the same time as he showed a map arguing Turkey should invade Syria and ethnically cleanse Kurds. Turkey’s month-long operation in northern Syria has already cost more lives than all those killed in Gaza in two years. Turkey’s bombing of Syria has caused young children to lose their limbs, and has driven 300,000 people from their homes. 

Turkey thinks that it can threaten other countries and that these countries will then be deterred from recognizing the Armenian genocide, a matter of Turkish pride. Israel no longer has any reason to fear Turkey’s reaction. Absent a military conflict, can it really get worse?

“The US House of Representatives’ vote to recognize the Armenian Genocide is a vote for historical truth and justice,” MK Yair Lapid, co-leader of Blue and White, wrote on Twitter after the US vote. “Turkey cannot be allowed to intimidate the world into denying genocide. I will continue to fight for Israeli recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”

Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar tweeted a similar statement: “I welcome the moral and principled stance of the US House of Representatives in recognizing the mass killing of Armenians 100 years ago as genocide. Israel should make similarly clear its recognition of this terrible atrocity.”

Lapid and Sa’ar are right. It is time for Israel to do the right thing – not to get back at Turkey, but to set the record straight.

2 November, 2019
Real estate deals grow in Armenia

In the third quarter of 2019 the real estate deals increased in Armenia compared to the same period of 2018, as well as to the 2nd quarter
 of 2019, according to the analysis released by the Cadastre Committee.

In the third quarter of 2019 the 47.152 real estate registration transactions increased by 17.9% compared to the 40.000 deals of the same period of 2018. The deals also increased
 against the 2nd quarter of 2019 by 0.8%.

In the third quarter of 2019 the most deals were carried out in the capital city of Yerevan, comprising 35.3% of the total deals, then in Kotayk province -14.1%, Aragatsotn province-9.6%.

RFE/RL Report
Pashinian Denies Rifts Between Armenia, Karabakh
November 04, 2019

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has denied differences between his government and authorities in Stepanakert over what the settlement of the long-standing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should be, stressing that their visions in this matter are identical.

Pashinian went live on Facebook Sunday night to debunk what he described as false claims by critics that he dismissed as ridiculous.

“Conspiracies in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement are excluded,” Pashinian said, claiming that former government officials “have been spending millions [of dollars]” on disinformation aimed at discrediting his government.

“And now they are putting forward a theory that since the current government or I personally as prime minister do not agree to territorial concessions, the negotiations are in deadlock, and the government has started frightening people with the prospect of war. Concrete budgets have been allocated for [spreading disinformation] on this subject,” the premier contended.

Pashinian said that while in a situation of the unresolved Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute there may always be a risk of war, it is no higher now than it was before his government came to power in 2018. “On the contrary, if we now monitor the border situation and the level of tensions at the borders, we will see that 
there has been a sharp and significant fall in overall tensions over the past year and a half,” he said, referring to his September 2018 arrangements with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to reduce tensions in the conflict zone.

“Unfortunately, we still have tensions [in the conflict zone], but these tensions are much lower than they were three, four or five years ago… Unfortunately, we still have loss of life today. I am saying this to show that no one is saying that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue has been resolved and we have reached a lasting settlement. But on the other hand, however strange it may sound, I think there is some very interesting dynamics in the negotiation process, and I am optimistic that this dynamics will continue.”

Pashinian again stressed that negotiations are being conducted according to the logic that any solution to the conflict must be acceptable to the peoples of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.

“Decisions must be made in a pan-national manner. We could even hold a referendum. But these discussions are still premature, since we are talking about the strategy. In other words, our task in the negotiation process is to reach a solution that is acceptable to our people,” Pashinian underscored.

Zohrab Mnatsakanian, who serves as foreign minister in the Pashinian cabinet, also insisted last week that long-running efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict are not in deadlock. He cited more high-level talks 
planned by Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“At least with regard to things relating to us, we do not see a deadlock,” said Mnatsakanian. “We are continuing to work very calmly because this work needs to be done as it concerns our security, regional security and peace.”

“There is a dynamic in the negotiations and I hope that we can move forward quickly if there is mutual constructiveness,” he told reporters on October 31.

Earlier, a senior official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed that Mnatsakanian and Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov will meet again on the sidelines of an OSCE ministerial 
gathering to be held in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava on December 5-6.

5 November 2019
Armenia to Acquire New Weapons

The Armenian military will buy new, modern weapons from different countries both during the current year and in 2020, Defense Minister David Tonoyan told reporters on Monday, saying Armenia’s military spending budget was “sufficient” to allow the purchases.

“Today the Armenian Armed Forces are acquiring mostly new modernized weaponry. In both 2019 and 2020 we will acquire solely new and modern capacities from various countries both contractually and through credit programs,” Tonoyan told reporters.

In discussing the finances, Tonoyan said that he would like to have seen a double or triple increase in defense spending. However, he said, the current military budget is sufficient to allow for the weapons upgrades.

Russian SU-30SM aircraft
The Armenian Air Force will be re-equipped with Russian SU-30SM fighter jets in a few months, Tonoyan announced, adding that the aircraft will be delivered to Armenia either by the end of the year or in the first two months of 2020.

“The aircraft will arrive either in December or January-February,” he said, adding that this was the initial timeline. Earlier this summer, various reports indicated that Armenia would acquire for such jets, however, Tonoyan did not reveal a specific number.

The Sukhoi Su-30 is a Russian-made twin-engine, two-seat super-maneuverable fighter aircraft. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.

The Su-30SM has been upgraded for radar, radio communications systems, friend-or-foe identification system, ejection seats, weapons, and other aircraft systems. It has frontal horizontal fins and steerable thrusters for super-maneuverability.

The aircraft can be used to gain air supremacy, while targeting the enemy on the ground using a wide range of weapons including air-to-air, air-to-surface and guided and unguided bombs with total cargo capacity of up to 8,000 kilograms, approximately 17,600 pounds.

JAM News
Nov 4 2019
Why is Armenia facing a demographic crisis?
Gayaneh Mkrtchyan

“If nothing is done, then after 5 years, according to UN forecasts, the mortality rate will exceed the birth rate throughout the country” 

Armenia has five years to go before it has to register a declining population – the stage when the mortality rate exceeds the birth rate.

“This year, for the first time in history, depopulation was recorded in the Lori region – the mortality rate exceeded the birth rate by 90.

“At the republican level, we have not yet entered the stage of depopulation, but if nothing is done, then in four to five years, according to UN forecasts, the mortality rate will exceed the birth rate throughout the country,” said Tsovinar Harutyunyan, Executive Representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Armenia. 

This, according to experts, is largely due to the fact that now the generation born in the 1990s is entering the age of marriage.

These were the most difficult years in the modern history of Armenia.  There was a war, the country was in a blockade, the economy was in a crisis.  In this situation, very few allowed themselves to have children.

Accordingly, the generation of the 90s is 40 percent less than those born in the 1980s.  And this cannot but affect the number of marriages and birth rates now.

Moreover, 20-25 percent of the 1990s generation emigrated from Armenia.

Another reason behind the country’s worrisome depopulation is that young men do not want to marry and take responsibility for their families.

Moreover, among the 20-40-year-olds, the demographic balance is skewed – there are 60,000 men are missing from the country.  The main reason is emigration.

Gurgen Magakyan is 33 years old.  He and his family left Armenia while still a schoolboy.  He lives in Moscow and is not yet married.
“Armenia has a difficult socio-economic situation.  I do not think that I will return to live in my homeland.  Here I make money easier, but I hope that I will marry at least an Armenian.  My brother has already married a Russian girl,” he says.

Artak Markosyan, head of the demography department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, believes that emigration left a heavy mark on Armenia, as people of reproductive age have left the country:
“In 1992-2002, the decline in fertility in our country amounted to 60 percent.  By the way, this was the highest rate in post-Soviet countries.  Over 10 years, the number of births decreased from 70,000 to 32,000.  Emigration and the lack of a demographic strategy for 27 years distorted the situation.”

Anahit Margaryan is 58 years old, she is a seamstress.  She says her son is 31 years old, her daughter 36, but they are not going to start a family:

“My son says that it is impossible to support a family, raise children on his salary.  Young people are concerned about the economic situation in the country.  My daughter was educated, works, but cannot find a husband. And I still dream of grandchildren…”

According to the statistics committee, the resident population of Armenia as of January 1, 2019 is 2.965 million.  Compared to last year, this figure is 7,600 people less.
• In 2018, 36,502 children were born in Armenia;
• in 2017 – 37,700;
• in 2016 – 40,592.
Total fertility rate:
• in 2019 amounted to 1.6,
• in 1994 – 2.2,
 • in 1969 – 3.3.

Financial incentives only temporarily increase fertility
For many years, the Armenian government did not invest in improving the demographic situation. After giving birth, mothers were given three thousand drams [about $6].
The government began to think about the need to stimulate the birth rate only after 2010.
Since 2013, the government has begun to pay from the state budget:
• 50 thousand drams [about $100] at the birth of the first and second child;
• 1 million drams [about $2,060] for the third and fourth children;
• 1.5 million drams [about $ 3,090] for the fifth and each subsequent child.
In addition, for two years, working mothers were given a monthly childcare allowance, which finally increased from three to 18 thousand drams [about $37].  And since 2016, benefits were provided to non-working mothers – in the form of a single payment of 126,600 drams [about $485].

However, an analysis of the birth rate in recent years suggests that these measures were not enough to change the situation.

Lilit Petrosyan is a young and successful IT specialist.  She says:
“I cannot refuse my salary of 300,000 [about $620] and stay at home. For my husband it will be very hard. On his salary alone we will not be able to live.  The child is still very small, but in two months I will go to work, maybe my mother will look after the baby, I don’t know.  And so you just have to stop thinking of a second child.”

Executive Representative of the UN Population Fund Tsovinar Harutyunyan believes that the problem in Armenia is not that people think about the birth of a third or fourth child, but the reluctance to start a family.

Among youth, the unemployment rate is high, and few decide to marry. And according to Armenian traditions, you must first create a family and only then have children.  As for the number of children, Tsovinar Harutyunyan says:
“Our studies show that many want three children, but have one or two.  Among the expectations from the state, improvement of living conditions, growth in the number of jobs with sufficient wages are usually called, in third place is the combination of family and career.”

According to Armenian traditions, a woman has always been responsible for everything in the house, and a man was responsible for what was outside, says Mher Manukyan, UN Communications Fund communications officer.  But this model has long been unacceptable:
“People do not have apartments, they need to take a mortgage, pay these amounts, live, have a child, support him and think about the following.  This is a heavy burden, not everyone will boldly and fearlessly take on this social burden.  We should make it as easy as possible.”

Narek Martirosyan is an accountant, he is 30 years old.  He lives with his family in a rented apartment in Yerevan.  He says that his son is three years old and he goes to kindergarten so that his wife can also work:
“We left our father’s house, where my brother and his family remained with their parents.  For our one-room apartment we pay 70,000 drams [about $144]. Well, my son grew up – and my wife went to work.  How, in such conditions, can we even think of a second child?  We don’t have a house, salaries are low and we can’t buy an apartment on a mortgage, we can’t pay the debt.  And we dream of having two more children.”

International experience is an example for Armenia
The population fund of the UN Armenian office is studying international experience and periodically provides the Armenian government with information on how to solve demographic problems in other countries.

“The Netherlands, Austria, England realized that it’s very difficult to switch from a model of two breadwinners to a model of one.  They took the ‘breadwinner model’: a man working full time, and a woman takes half a day.  When women were given the opportunity to return to the labor market after childbirth, many returned, but part-time.  So they could already solve the issues of family and child care, without giving up their career.  Armenia also needs to revise the maternity leave model for women,” said Tsovinar Harutyunyan.
 The coordinator of the UN project Population and Development Anna Hovhannisyan says:
“The total fertility rate in a number of countries from 1.5 – as it is now in Armenia – managed to rise to almost a simple reproductive level, that is, to almost two.  In these countries, expenditures from GDP for demographic projects were doubled and tripled.”

The highest level was provided in Sweden and France.  In particular, this was possible in Sweden, because women no longer had a choice – family or career.  For this, an extremely attractive model of joint parental leave was created.

“They tried to return the fathers to the family, and now they share home and parental obligations.  The couple is given 480 days of maternity leave, of which 90 days are given to each, the parents can divide the remaining 300 days among themselves.  30 days they can rest together.
 For the first 300 days, the state pays the equivalent of 110 dollars.  Then financial support is reduced.  The optimal period of maternity leave is six months, and parents should receive at least 60-70 percent of their salary.  Such a model will be attractive for both fathers and mothers,” the expert said.

The number of women on maternity leave this year in Armenia was 12,500.
In 2018, 10.16 billion drams [about $21 million] were allocated from the state budget to provide 140-day paid leave for working mothers and a one-time allowance for those who do not work.
As of January 1, 2019, 6004 families with four or more children were registered in the system for assessing family vulnerability.
About 27,000 children live in these families.
Armenian legislation allows fathers to take parental leave, but in Armenia mothers prefer to take it.

“In the whole world where it has been possible to increase the birth rate, fathers were actively involved in the process of caring and raising children, which allowed mothers to return to work,” says Anna Hovhannisyan.

In Armenia, both spouses enter the labor market, share the labor burden.  But the wife continues to bear the “home” load – household chores, childcare.

“The experience of European countries shows that when this load is partially removed from women and assigned to men, this becomes an additional incentive for women to give birth to their next child.  I don’t know if any legislative initiative will help in Armenia, because we still have the opportunity for fathers to take maternity leave.  If something changes in the mentality, it will actually help,” says Mher Manukyan, UN Responsibility Fund Communications Officer. 

Now the government has created a council to improve the demographic situation.
“The processes are moving, we have offered the government new solutions and steps.  The demographic policy should include a complete package – we need to offer people economic and legislative incentives, as well as carry out serious awareness work,” says Artak Markosyan, head of the demography department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Monday, 4 November 2019

Dr. Dikran Abrahamian Keghart.com

Dear Friend,

With pleasure, I'd like to inform you that plans are underway for the possible return of Keghart.com in the new year. The positive development is due to the joining to the Keghart team young journalists from Armenia. It has been three years since Keghart.com was placed on hold principally because of my health issues and lack of funds. 
To realize the return of Keghart.com, we need your financial help. Any sum that you might donate is welcome. Keghart is not an NGO or a charitable entity and thus does not qualify for tax exemption or deductions.
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Armenian News... A Topalian 7 editorials

Christianity Today
Nov 1 2019
Armenian Orthodox Leader: ‘We May Forgive One Day, But We Will Never Forget.’
Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, on what comes next after US House recognizes Armenians’ “legitimate claim” of genocide.

Interview by Jayson Casper in Beirut

The Armenian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Christian denominations in the world. According to tradition, Armenia was evangelized by Jesus’ disciples Bartholomew and Thaddeus. In 301 A.D., it became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion.

An Oriental Orthodox denomination, the Armenians are in communion with the Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, and Malankara (India) churches. They differ with Catholics and Protestants over the 451 A.D. Council of Chalcedon decision to recognize Christ as one person with two natures: human and divine. Oriental Orthodox Christians declare Christ has one nature, both human and divine.

The Armenian Church is governed by two patriarchs, entitled Catholicos. One, Karekin II, is Supreme Patriarch for all Armenians and sits in Armenia.

CT interviewed Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, which was once located in modern-day Turkey but since the Armenian Genocide relocated to Antelias, Lebanon, five miles north of Beirut. His jurisdiction includes the Armenians of the Middle East, Europe, and North and South America.

Aram I discussed the genocide, the US House of Representatives resolution this week to finally
 recognize it, and Armenians’ desired response from Turkey.

How do you respond to the US resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide?
Yesterday I made a statement welcoming warmly this action taken. I believe it is very much in line with the firm commitment of the United States of America in respect to human rights. The rights of the Armenian people are being violated. After more than 100 years, we tried to bring the attention of the international community that the Armenian Genocide is a fact of history.

Whether we call it genocide or massacre or deportation, the intention is important. The intention of the Ottoman Turkish government at the time was to destroy [and] eliminate the Armenian people for political reasons. The presence of Armenian people in the western part of present-day Turkey and [historic] Cilicia was an obstacle to their project of pan-Turkism.

This is our legitimate claim: that the international community make a visible, tangible manifestation of their concern in respect to human rights, and recognize the Armenian Genocide. It was carefully planned and systematically executed by the government at the time.

Our people all around the world warmly greeted this action of the House of Representatives. It is our firm expectation that the Senate will reaffirm their decision.

Christianity Today
Nov 1 2019
Will US Genocide Resolution Satisfy Armenian Christians? 

The Middle East diaspora appreciates the House’s recognition at last. But what they really want is repentance.

Jayson Casper

Armenian Americans breathed a sigh of relief this week when the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved Resolution 296 to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Around 1.5 million Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1923, as the defeated Ottoman Empire transitioned into the modern Republic of Turkey. Less than half a million survived.

The resolution also mentions the Greek, Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, Aramean, Maronite, and other Christian victims who lived in Asia Minor and other Ottoman provinces at the time.

If the House legislation is passed in the Senate and signed by President Donald Trump, the United States will be committed to commemorate the genocide, to reject its denial, and to educate people about it in order to prevent similar atrocities in the future.

But if Armenian Americans are finally pleased, the diaspora in the Middle East—much closer to the Turks and the lands taken from their ancestors—demurs.

“It certainly heals some small aspect of our century-long national wound,” said Paul Haidostian, president of the evangelical Haigazian University—the only Armenian university in the diaspora—in Beirut, Lebanon.

“There is some sense of relief. But it should not be exaggerated.”

Nor should it be underestimated, he told CT. All Armenians will welcome the “historic” resolution, though it comes “very late.” But few expect the US Senate will act similarly, as the term genocide has long been rejected by the Turks. “Because it involves Turkey, there is politics involved,” said Haidostian.

“But it is important to call things by name.”
Armenian Orthodox Leader: “We May Forgive One Day, But We Will Never Forget.”

The 405–11 tally reversed what had long been an uphill battle in American politics to even present recognition of the Armenian genocide for a vote.
Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California and co-sponsor of the bill, worked 19 years on its behalf. Pressure against the resolution from Turkey, a NATO ally of the US, quashed previous efforts in 2000 under Bill Clinton, in 2007 under George W. Bush, and in 2010 under Barack Obama.

During the Bush administration, nearly 70 percent of air supplies to the US military in Iraq went through Turkey’s Incerlik airbase.

According to Open Secrets, Turkey spent $13.4
 million to lobby against the bill in 2017–18.

“We cannot pick and choose which crimes against humanity are convenient to speak about,” said Schiff, as reported by Reuters. “We cannot be cowed into silence by a foreign power.”

If pro-Turkey politics played a role in preventing a US resolution on the Armenian Genocide in past decades, a new wave of anti-Turkey politics paved the way this past week.

Turkey’s incursion into Syria offended much
 of the US Congress. Following the genocide vote, the House also passed a sanctions bill against Turkey.

“While emotions run high,” the Turkish American National Steering Committee wrote in
 an email, House leaders are “manipulating the circumstances to introduce H.Res.296 for a floor vote soon.”

But parallels between the Armenians and present-day Kurds were obvious to many.

“Thank you, Congress, for voting overwhelmingly to officially recognize and reprimand the genocide of the Ottoman Empire,” tweeted Bassam
 Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council. “Let’s try to stop the new demographic change underway by Turkey in northern Syria.”

Similar was Toufic Baaklini, president of In Defense of Christians (IDC), who stated his own family had to flee when 250,000 Maronites were starved to death in Lebanon. IDC lobbied on behalf of the resolution, and in an op-ed before the vote panned the “massive misguided investment of American moral capital” in the US relationship with Turkey.

“By passing this resolution today, America has said clearly that we side with the victims of atrocities and will no longer ignore the Turk’s history of ethnic cleansing,” stated Baaklini.

Representative Anna Eschoo, a Democrat from California of Armenian descent, highlighted the religious aspect of the genocide.

“What all of the persecuted had in common was that they were Christians,” she tweeted.

 “This resolution not only honors and commemorates my ancestors who perished but all those who were lost in the first genocide of the 20th century.”

But another Christian, Representative Paul Gosar, interpreted the resolution differently. The Republican from Arizona voted “present” at the roll call, labeling it an attack on President Donald Trump.

He stated it was “war propaganda” to compare atrocities against the Armenians with what is happening with the Turks and Kurds today.
“As a Christian I stand with the Armenians, but I will not vote for a lie,” he stated.

The pattern of such discourse is upsetting to fellow Armenians, said Hrayr Jebejian, general secretary of the Bible Society in the Gulf. About 5,000 Armenians currently work in the United Arab Emirates, where they have two churches. Another 3,000 are in
 Kuwait, where they have a church and a school.
“The genocide is sacred for us,” he told CT. “But knowing American politics, it always looks to the Armenian issue as a bargaining chip.”

Jebejian still has pictures of the two dozen members of his family who were killed in Turkey. He also wonders if the House initiative will go any further. But he is grateful for the international attention it brings.

“It is better late than never,” he said. “But if it was condemned in those days, it would have prevented the many genocides that followed since.”

The Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) endorsed the US resolution.

“Remembering and educating about any genocide—Armenian, the Holocaust, Bosnia, Rwanda, and others—is a necessary tool to prevent future tragedies,” stated ADL president Jonathan Greenblatt, “and [it] begins with recognition.”

But recognition alone leaves much unaddressed.
“I am happy to see our massacre recognized,” Michel Kassarji, the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Lebanon, told CT. “But what can we do now? Will they give us our land and churches back?”

Kassarji’s bishopric doubled in size when 3,000 Chaldean families fled to Lebanon from Iraq and Syria. World Vision helps support his humanitarian efforts, providing a school for 175 children and aid to 125 widows.

But 200,000 Chaldeans were killed along with Armenians in the genocide, including his great-grandfather. Kassarji went back to Turkey a few years ago to his ancestral home of Diyarbakir. Not one Chaldean family remains. Nearby Mardin has one family, with a sole deacon caring for the historic church there.

But Kassarji’s question resonates with many Armenians in the diaspora.

“The map of the world is always subject to change,” said Megrditch Karagoezian, president of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, speaking about “Western Armenia.”

“The dream is still there,” he told CT. “But how can it happen with no Armenians there? I don’t know.”
Karagoezian said that many Armenians still hold title deed to their real estate in Turkey. He mentioned the maps of Woodrow Wilson that would have more than doubled the size of modern-day Armenia, on Turkey’s eastern border.

Subsequent treaties following World War I drew different boundaries, however. A briefly independent Armenia became part of the Soviet Union, and the modern republic was created in 1991.

Armenia was the first nation to officially adopt Christianity, in 301 A.D. The faith first arrived as early as 40 A.D., traditionally attributed to the preaching of Jesus’ disciples Bartholomew and Thaddeus.

The Evangelical Church of Armenia was formed in 1846 in Istanbul, and declared an official Protestant millet (a sect allowed to use its own family laws) by the Ottoman sultan in 1850.

But today, Turkey wants to avoid the genocide label at all costs, Karagoezian said. “It would imply restitution,” he said, “and could eventually translate into some sort of compensation or other political steps.”

The Armenian Orthodox Church has filed a lawsuit against Turkey to return its ancient See of Cilicia. The case is currently working its way through the lower levels of the Turkish legal system.

But for Haidostian, if there is politics involved today, there were politics back during the genocide also. The university president’s people were crushed as the Turks tried to create a national Turkish state out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and its
 panoply of religious communities.

So while the US House resolution is important, he told CT, it should not be overstated. Healing is paramount.

“The wound will remain open until full repentance for past wrongs is accomplished,” Haidostian said. “That is when new life starts.”

JAM News
Nov 1 2019
Combating violence against women VS national values – Armenians protest ratification of Istanbul Convention

A protest rally was held in Yerevan in connection with the visit of representatives of the Council of Europe, which are holding discussions on the convention

A rally was held today against the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, which aims to prevent violence against women and domestic violence. The rally took place near the parliament.

Much of the Armenian public that domestic violence is not prevalent in the country.
The Armenian parliament held a discussion on the ratification of the convention with the participation of senior officials of the Council of Europe, and activists who are fighting to ensure that parliament does not ratify this document take to the streets

Rejecting the role of the victim
Activists are convinced that the convention threatens traditional Armenian values.
The head of the Volia initiative, Vahagn Chakhalyan, announced that their rallies will continue:
“Citizens are ready to organize demonstrations of disobedience in different cities of Armenia.  We say that this is not yet necessary, since the document is not yet at the ratification stage.  And if the National Assembly of Armenia does not listen to the voice of citizens and goes against their opinion, then protests will be held in all cities.”

This time, the protest rally took place first in front of the parliament building.  A few hours later, it was decided to march along the streets of Yerevan.

On the Istanbul convention 
Armenia joined the convention in January 2018, even under the former authorities, but then the issue did not cause such a scandal; Armenia did not ratify the convention officially.

The Istanbul Convention (or “Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence”) was signed in 2011 in Istanbul.

Of the 47 Council of Europe member states, 34 have ratified the Convention, and 11, including Armenia, have only signed.  Russia and Azerbaijan did not sign it, and Bulgaria generally recognized the convention as unconstitutional.

According to the government program, the Istanbul Convention was to be ratified in the second half of September 2019.

Opinions on ratifying the convention
MPs from the Prosperous Armenia parliamentary party agree with the opinion of the activists; tThey even joined the collection of signatures against the ratification of the convention, organized by the Volia initiative.

According to MP of the Prosperous Armenia Party Gevorg Petrosyan, the Istanbul Convention contradicts the Armenian Constitution and the country’s value system.

The fact that in 2018 alone in Armenia more than 400 criminal cases were opened in cases of the use of violence against women, the MP commented on as follows:
“We have legislation that punishes domestic violence.  It is impossible to ratify under this pretext what, in essence, is aimed at the destruction of our national system of values.”

Gevorg Petrosyan means the “Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence, on the protection of persons affected by domestic violence and on the restoration of harmony in the family.”

It was adopted at the end of 2017 – again after heated debate and protests in general, it entered into force in January 2018, and began to be applied practically from July 1, 2018.

In connection with the intensification of the protests, the chairman of the parliamentary commission on state and legal issues Vladimir Vardanyan explained: at the moment, the ratification of the Istanbul Convention is not on the agenda of the National Assembly.

“But we need to clearly understand the following: Armenia is a member of the Council of Europe, and in a certain sense we should go in this direction.  There should be discussions of the (convention).”

Why do many people think that domestic violence is an issue? 
The fact is that victims of violence generally do not report to the police.

Very rarely do women come forward to talk about violence against them; even rarer do people go to the police. This creates the impression in society that there is no violence against women in Armenia.

At the same time, as psychologist Anush Aleksanyan explained to JAMnews, victims of violence remain silent because they are afraid of the reaction of society:
“The society does not have the right attitude towards people who have been abused, there is no support.  Therefore, they simply remain silent or speak on condition of anonymity.  We also don’t have a culture of discussing such topics,” says the psychologist.

 Aleksanyan considers it a big problem that society often justifies the rapist and blames the victim.

The psychologist explains that people are silent about violence against themselves out of guilt – the inevitable consequences of violence.  After all, they are also carriers of the stereotypes of their society and often share the opinion of others that they have a share of guilt in what happened.

As regards sexual violence, the Armenian Penal Code does not provide for legal action at all if the rapist is the legal husband of a woman.

News.am, Armenia
Nov 1 2019
Benefits with child’s birth to increase twice in Armenia in 2020 

Benefits in connection with the birth of a child will increase in Armenia in 2020, said the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs of Armenia Zaruhi Batoyan on Friday at a joint meeting of the standing parliamentary commissions during the preliminary discussion of the draft state budget for 2020.

According to her, the one-time allowance for the first child in Armenia in October 2018 was up to AMD 150 thousand.

“Now both benefits will increase up to AMD 300 thousand. Moreover, benefits for caring for a child up to two years old will increase,” Batoyan noted, adding that these changes will come into force not from January 1, but from July 1, 2020.
After giving birth, the mother can take a leave of up to three years, with benefits up to two years. Now this allowance is AMD 18 thousand per month, and from 2020 it will grow to AMD 26.5 thousand.

Asked to comment what caused the delay of six months, the minister explained that some time should pass between the announcement of benefits and their entry into force.

1 November, 2019
International brands with Made In Armenia label: 4 major garment factories opened in Armenia

From now on the clothes of several international brands will be produced in Armenia and will be exported to the European and Russian markets with “Made in Armenia” label.

The opening ceremony of 4 garment factories of Sartex, Asa Garment, Alex Textile and Texas Production was held on November 1 in Yerevan. The ceremony was attended by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pahsinyan who toured the factories, got acquainted with the production process and the products.

“More than 3000 people will work here in the future. The production will be exported mainly to the European, also Russian markets. All products are with Made in Armenia label”, director of the Asa Garment, Alex Textile and Texas Production companies Marat
 Movsisyan said.

Sartex has been founded by the Italian Sartis and Armenian Alex Textile companies. Sartex represents Sartis Italian company in Armenia. The company is engaged in production of clothes of MaxMara, Moncler, Peuterey, Dolce&Gabana, Dainese and other famous
 brands. Director of the company Mkhitar Aghabekyan said they want the Made in Armenia label become a quality guarantor.

Asa Garment is an Armenian-Chinese company engaged in production of the French Jennifer brand’s clothes. The company also holds talks for producing ZARA brand clothes. At the moment the company has 300 employees, but soon this number will reach 1000.

Alex Textile produces clothes for the Russian companies.

Middle East Forum
Nov 1 2019
Denial of Religious Dimension to Armenian Genocide Persists
by Raymond Ibrahim

An ugly truth of history has just been acknowledged. On October 29, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (405 to 11) in favor of Resolution 296, which acknowledges the Armenian genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turks during WW1. (Unsurprisingly, Ilhan Omar was among the very few to abstain; her disingenuous logic will be addressed later.)

In order to become official policy, however, the resolution needs to be approved by both houses of Congress, and then signed by the president. The Senate is currently not scheduled to vote on the measure.

It is at any rate a step in the right direction. According to the book Remembrance
 and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide,

At the beginning of 1915 there were some two million Armenians within Turkey; today there are fewer than 60,000. Despite the vast amount of evidence that points to the historical reality of the Armenian Genocide, eyewitness
 accounts, official archives, photographic evidence, the reports of diplomats, and the testimony of survivors, denial of the Armenian Genocide by successive regimes in Turkey has gone on from 1915 to the present.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the vote "worthless" vote, while Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan hailed it as "a bold step towards serving truth and historical justice."

Indeed, Turkey is currently outraged at this resolution; its president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, called it "worthless" and the "biggest insult" to the Turkish people.

Such willful denial borders the surreal considering how well documented the Armenian genocide is. As the International Association of Genocide Scholars says, "the Armenian Genocide is not controversial, but rather is denied only by the Turkish government and its apologists."

Nor is this a new issue. The Honorable Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey from 1913-16, wrote the following in his memoir:

When the Turkish authorities gave the order for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to
 conceal this fact. . . I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.

In 1920 U.S. Lieutenant General James Harbord called the Armenian genocide the "most colossal crime of all the ages."

In 1920, U.S. Senate Resolution 359 heard testimony on the "mutilation, violation, torture, and death" of countless Armenians, to quote American Lieutenant General James Harbord, who further referred to the genocide as the "most colossal crime of all the ages."

In her memoir, Ravished Armenia, Aurora
 Mardiganian described being raped and thrown into a harem (consistent with Islam's
 rules of war). Unlike thousands of other Armenian girls who were discarded after being defiled, she managed to escape. In the city of Malatia, she saw 16 Christian girls crucified: "Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross," she wrote, "spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind, covered their bodies." Such scenes were portrayed in the 1919 film Auction of Souls, some of which is based on Mardiganian's memoirs.

Whereas the genocide is largely acknowledged in the West—long before this new resolution over 40 American states had acknowledged it—one of its primary if not fundamental causes is habitually overlooked: religion (Muslim Turks vis-à-vis Christian Armenians).

The genocide is unfortunately articulated through a singularly secular paradigm that focuses almost exclusively on nationalism, identity, territorial disputes, etc.—thereby projecting modern, secular Western sensibilities onto vastly different characters and eras.

One of the primary causes of the Armenian genocide is habitually overlooked: religion.

War, of course, is another factor that clouds the true essence of the genocide. Because these atrocities mostly occurred during World War I, so the argument goes, they are ultimately a reflection of just that—war, in all its chaos and destruction, and nothing more. But as Winston Churchill, who described the massacres as an "administrative holocaust," correctly observed, "The opportunity [WWI] presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race." Even Adolf Hitler had pointed out that "Turkey
 is taking advantage of the war in order to thoroughly liquidate its internal foes, i.e., the indigenous Christians, without being thereby disturbed by foreign intervention."

Even the most cited factor of the Armenian Genocide, "ethnic identity conflict," while legitimate, must be understood in light of the fact that, historically, religion often accounted more for a person's identity than language or heritage. This is daily demonstrated throughout the Islamic world today, where Muslim governments and Muslim mobs persecute Christian minorities who share the same race, ethnicity, language, and culture; minorities who are indistinguishable from the majority—except,
 of course, for being non-Muslims, or "infidels."

As one Armenian studies professor asks,
 "If it [the Armenian Genocide] was a feud between Turks and Armenians, what explains the genocide carried out by Turkey against the Christian Assyrians at the same time?" The same can be said about the Greeks (some 750,000 of whom were liquidated during WWI).

 From a Turkish perspective, the primary thing Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks had in common was that they were all Christians—"infidels."

And the same can be said of all those Christians and other non-Muslim minorities who were targeted for what the U.S. acknowledges was a genocide by ISIS—another genocide that was also conducted during the chaos of war, and against those whose only crime was to be "infidels."

Raymond Ibrahim is a Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum.