ACNIS reView #18, 2018: The Karabakh issue against the background of the change of power in Armenia



18  MAY 2018


change of power in Armenia presented in a new light the most crucial problems
of the Armenian statehood – the problems of the political state of the NKR and
the settlement of international conflict relations around it. The former
configuration of the Karabakh factor was disrupted. The approaches to the place
and role of the NKR in the state policy of Armenia and in international
relations have lost their relevance. A completely different situation arose,
requiring the revision of approaches to Artsakh as a country, and the Karabakh
problem as a component of the security problem of Armenian statehood. This
situation requires careful characterization.

For more than
half a century, the principle of "miatsum (reunification) on a parole of
honor " reigned in the state policy of Armenia. This principle has blurred
the political and legal basis of the Armenian statehood, creating great
problems both in Armenia's domestic and foreign policy. The history of the
formation of political and legal realities and the corresponding state policy
is shrouded in fog. Everyone knows that in 1988 the Armenian people demanded
the reunification of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh region. But not all are
aware of the political realities that have arisen after this. And the realities
are as follows:

On December 1,
1989, at a joint session of the Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR and the
National Council of Nagorno-Karabakh, a decision was made on the reunification
of the Armenian SSR and Nagorno-Karabakh. A course was taken to create a
unified Armenian state. On May 20, 1990 elections to the Supreme Council took
place in Armenia. In the territory of the NKAO, elections were held in 10 of
the 12 districts. On August 23, 1990, based on the joint decision of the
Supreme Council of the Armenian SSR and the National Council of
Nagorno-Karabakh of December 1, 1989 "On the reunification of the Armenian
SSR and Nagorno-Karabakh", the new parliament of Armenia adopted a
Declaration on the proclamation of the process of establishing an independent
statehood. The country was renamed the Republic of Armenia.

in the policy of the first authorities of the Republic of Armenia, the policy
of politico-legal separation of the Republic of Armenia and NKAO began. On
September 21, a referendum on independence was held in Armenia. The NKR
population did not participate in this referendum. Nevertheless, when the
independence of the Republic of Armenia was proclaimed, the new declaration was
not adopted. On September 23, 1991, the Supreme Council of Armenia referred to
the Declaration of August 23, 1990, where the Republic of Armenia was declared
jointly with the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region.

the process of politico-legal self-organization of Artsakh went separate way.
On November 28, 1991, the session of the NKR Council of People's Deputies
passed a resolution on holding a referendum in the NKR, as well as Provisional
Statute on elections. On December 10, a referendum on the independence of the
NKR was held. Conditions were created for holding elections to the Supreme
Council of the NKR – independent state building was initiated. The declaration
on the independence of the NKR was adopted at the first session of the Supreme Council
of the NKR on January 6, 1992.

During the
disintegration of the USSR, it was necessary to show attitude towards the
current political and legal realities of the moment. In this sense, it is
noteworthy that by signing the declaration on the formation of the Commonwealth
of Independent States (CIS) on December 21 in the city of Alma-Ata, which
recognizes the sovereignty and existing borders of all the participating states
(including Azerbaijan), the Armenian leadership refrained from recognizing independence
NKR. The fate of the NKR was left to the international community for
consideration. And the further process of state building in Armenia and NKR
went on the basis of a completely different philosophy.

Fenced off from
the NKR in the legal sense, the leadership of the Republic of Armenia armed
with a course to suppress the political independence of the NKR. The first
elected authority in the NKR was suppressed by the efforts of the corpus of
supporters of the Armenian leadership. The idea of independence of the NKR
began to be presented as a fiction, and any power in the NKR should have been
formed under the pressure of the Armenian authorities. It was then that the
principle "reunification on a parole of honor" came into use.
Elections in the NKR were turned into a fiction – a military dictatorship was
established in the country.

The situation
became even more complicated when a crisis of power arose in Armenia after the
1996 presidential election. The political system of the country collapsed under
the onslaught of the military dictatorship of the NKR. The leaders of this
dictatorship reduced the NKR factor to a full fiction, removing it from
international negotiations on the settlement of the conflict between the NKR
and Azerbaijan.

State building
in Armenia and Artsakh was trapped in a non-legal atmosphere. The situation
described above was preserved until the change of power in Armenia in May this
year. With the advent of the new government, the foundations of the power elite
of the NKR, which are dependent on the leadership of Armenia, have been
undermined. The latter only had to accept submissively the new prime minister
nominated by the Armenian society. The NKR society recognized him as well. The
fact of long-term usurpation of the rights of the NKR to form its state power
through free elections, and also to negotiate, hung in the air. The statement
of the new Prime Minister of Armenia N. Pashinyan that Armenia will speak only
on behalf of its republic in negotiations on the settlement, only stressed the
fact of the emergence of a new situation.

It turns out
that the new interim government of Armenia that declared the policy of legal
regulation of state life of the country can not take responsibility for
problems that go beyond the constitutional territory of the Republic of
Armenia. First and foremost, this means that the debated "Madrid
principles" of the settlement of the Karabakh conflict do not in any way
affect Armenia but are a matter for the NKR and Azerbaijan. Armenia can
negotiate with Azerbaijan only on the topic of security due to the fact that it
assumed the role of guarantor of the security of the NKR population.

The same
concerns the problem of the formation of state power in the NKR. The interim
government of Armenia, based on its principles, can not influence the elections
in the NKR. All figures and political forces of Artsakh, still having the
support of the Armenian authorities, will have to rely on their own resources.
This means that an imperative of political reforms has arisen in Artsakh. The
current situation demands the rejection of the demagoguery of the principle of
"reunification on a parole of honor" and the transition to the
principle of political and legal settlement of all spheres of relations between
the Republic of Armenia and the NKR. Everything should be regulated by the
principle of "right-responsibility" both in domestic life and in the
international sphere. It will not be easy to do, but life does not give permission
for anything else.


Manvel Sargsyan





ACNIS reView #18, 2018: Weekly update May 12-19


Weekly update

18  MAY 2018


On May
14 the United States officially opened Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel, 70 years to the day that
President Truman recognized Israel as an independent country, making the United
States the first nation to do so. The White House has proclaimed that “announcing Jerusalem
as Israel’s capital is simply a recognition of reality.”

The Reuters informs, that “the inauguration of the
embassy, after Trump outraged the Arab world and stoked international concern
by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, was hailed by Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “glorious day”. Thanking Trump for
“having the courage” to move the embassy, Netanyahu said: “This is a great day.
A great day for Jerusalem. A great day for the state of Israel. A day that will
be engraved in our national memory for generations.”

Meantime, the
U.S. move has sparked mass protest among Palestinians. ABC News reports, that “protesters began amassing at the
Gaza border ahead of the embassy ceremony.” According to the Palestinian
authorities, “more than 60 people, including eight children, were killed by the
Israeli military in Palestinian protests that erupted Monday along the Gaza
border as the U.S. opened its new embassy in Jerusalem.”

The Independent writes, that “while the shooting of
mostly unarmed Palestinian protesters at the Gaza border fence received
widespread international condemnation, criticism within the US was muted.

The U.S.
Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, addressing the UN Security Council on Tuesday
said Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, was responsible for the
deaths and injuries. “Let’s remember that the Hamas terrorist organization has
been inciting violence for years, long before the United States decided to move
our embassy.” She added: “This is what is endangering the people of Gaza. Make
no mistake, Hamas is pleased with the results from yesterday.” She has also
claimed, that “no country would act with greater restraint than Israel.”


Prepared by Marina Muradyan







The California Courier Online, May 24, 2018

The California
Courier Online,


1-         Commentary

Minister Proposes Forming

Parliament in Armenia

            By Harut

            Publisher, The California Courier


2-         Turkey Suspected in Cyber Attack
against Christian Persecution Watchdog Group

3 –        Commentary:
Light the Fire of Peace

            By Rostom

4 –        Commentary: Israel Must Correct Policy of
Armenian Genocide Non-Recognition

            By Prof. Israel Charny

5 –        Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams, Serge
and Shalet Gharibian Attend Royal Wedding

6 –        Janetsian-Fritz: Early maternal deprivation
alters adult brain function, cognition

7-         COAF
SMART Center
Set to Transform Armenia's
Lori Region

8-         Hockney and
Friends… Including Larry Gagosian, Joan Agajanian Quinn



1 –        Commentary

Minister Proposes Forming

Parliament in Armenia

            By Harut

            Publisher, The California Courier



The new Diaspora Minister Mkhitar Hayrapetyan, appointed by
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on May 11, announced that a second legislative
body would be created in Armenia
to represent Diaspora Armenians.

This is a fascinating concept, but not a novelty.
Interestingly, former Diaspora Minister Hranush Hakobyan, during her visit to Los Angeles on January 30, 2011, made a similar
announcement, proposing the creation of a Senate in Armenia in addition to the existing
Parliament that would partially include Diaspora Armenians.

I wrote an editorial in 2011, a few days after Minister
Hakobyan’s announcement, and raised several questions which also apply to the
proposal made by the new Diaspora Minister earlier this month.

The most important issue is that the creation of a second
legislative chamber requires amending Armenian’s constitution—not an easy task!
Without such an amendment, the structure of the Armenian government cannot be
altered. Interestingly, the new Diaspora Minister did not mention that his
proposal would require constitutional changes. This is a serious issue as the
constitution was last revised in 2015 and it is neither likely nor desirable
that it be altered so soon. Even the newly-appointed Prime Minister
acknowledged that it is not a good idea to tamper with the constitution every
so often. It is also important to note that despite the former Diaspora
Minister’s 2011 announcement, when Armenia’s constitution was
eventually amended in 2015, the concept of a second legislative chamber for the
Diaspora was not included in it.

Since the new Diaspora Minister asked for input from
Armenians overseas about his new proposal, I would like to raise a number of

1)    Is the Armenian
Government willing to amend the constitution to create a second legislative
chamber? An alternative option, that may not require a change of the
constitution, would be to include Armenians from the Diaspora in the present
Parliament. Several countries have adopted such a mechanism. A thorough study should
be made of how other countries have resolved the participation of their
diaspora representatives in their legislative bodies.

2)    What exactly
would be the mandate of the new chamber? Would it only discuss pan-Armenian
issues such as the Armenian Genocide, demands from Turkey,
the Artsakh conflict, and matters related to Diaspora Armenians or would it be
also deal with Armenia’s
internal problems? Minister Hayrapetyan, in one of his interviews, stated that
the new chamber would be a consultative, not a decision-making body. This would
raise all sorts of questions both in Armenia and the Diaspora. Would
Diaspora Armenians be content to go to the trouble of electing representatives
from their communities and spending their time in endless hours of meetings in Yerevan merely to give
advice to the Armenian Government that may not be listened to? Would Diaspora
representatives after a while lose their interest and stop attending the
meetings of such a consultative body? On the opposite side, would residents of Armenia welcome decisions or even advice from
Armenians who do not live in Armenia?

3)    How would the
representatives of the new legislative body be chosen? Would they be elected by
their communities around the world or would they be appointed by the Armenian
Government? In my opinion, Diaspora representatives should be elected by their
community members, no matter how difficult it would be to organize such
elections throughout the world. The Armenian Government should not be involved
in elections to be held in the Diaspora. Representatives appointed by the
Armenian Government or selected from Armenian organizations would not be able
to claim that they truly represent the Armenians of the Diaspora, since the
public-at-large has not elected them. The leaders of Diaspora organizations
represent only their own members, not the majority of Armenians in the
Diaspora, since most Armenians are not members of any organization. It is also
not a good idea to have two legislative chambers in Armenia,
one of which is elected by the citizens of Armenia (the present Parliament)
and the second one is composed of appointed, not elected members.

4)    What would be
the criteria for candidates and voters for the Diaspora chamber? Would it be
acceptable that the candidates be Armenians who are citizens of foreign
countries or should they be asked to acquire at least dual citizenship?
Otherwise, it would be odd to have a group of foreign citizens, albeit
Armenians, sitting in Yerevan and making
decisions or giving advice that would affect Armenia’s population.

5)    Would Diaspora
representatives of the new legislative body move to Armenia
to participate in year-round sessions or simply come to Armenia for
brief periods to attend meetings dealing with pan-Armenian issues?

Certainly, there should be no rush to form a second
legislative body. As Minister Hayrapetyan suggested, extensive consultations
should be held in Armenia
and the Diaspora to find a solution that is in the best interest of all


2-         Turkey
Suspected in Cyber Attack against Christian Persecution Watchdog Group

            By Samuel


WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Christian Post)—The United
States-based persecution advocacy nonprofit In Defense of Christians says its
website, employees’ social media accounts and email accounts were hacked
Thursday, May 17 by someone they have good reason to believe was acting “for or
on behalf of the Turkish government.”

“Our website was taken down and a Turkish flag periodically
appeared on the website for several hours while staff email accounts and
private social media accounts were compromised and, in a few cases, altered,”
IDC Executive Director Philippe Nassif said during a news conference on Friday,
May 18 at the organization’s office.

“We find this behavior unacceptable and that it only further
demonstrates Turkey’s
intolerance of freedom of speech and dissidence.”

The cyber attack came the day after IDC, which was founded
four years ago with the purpose of advocating for religious freedom in the Middle East, and two other rights groups hosted a Capitol
Hill briefing focusing on the human rights violations being committed by the
NATO ally. Two senators, Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Thom
Tillis of North Carolina
spoke at the briefing, as well as experts on the region.

“The briefing specifically examined how President Recep
Tayyip Erdoğan continues to deny genocide, freedom of speech, and jailing
American citizens such as Pastor [Andrew] Brunson and other political
dissidents, all while oppressing religious minorities,” Nassif explained. “IDC
condemns this petty cyber attack coming from a U.S. ally and NATO member.
Unfortunately, this behavior reflects a pattern from the Turkish government as
evidenced by the silencing of dissidents inside Turkey
and the illegal attacks on American citizens last year who were demonstrating against
Erdoğan in Washington, D.C.”

According to IDC, its website went down at about 10:30 a.m.
Thursday. The worst of the attack occurred until about 12:30 p.m.

During that time, IDC content was replaced with the Turkish
flag and at times, also played patriotic Turkish music.

After working to restore the page through the afternoon, the
website was fully restored at around 7 p.m. on May 17, although Nassif said
that they were still working to restore full online capabilities as the attack
impacted the organization’s email software.

According to Nassif, there was a bit of buildup in the week
leading up to the Capitol Hill briefing and that IDC staff suspected something
would happen.

“Many of the staff started receiving strange friend requests
on Facebook and friend requests on LinkedIn from bizarre profiles of
individuals, some of them had Turkish names and some didn’t,” he said. “It
happened over the course of the week as we continued to promote the event on
Capitol Hill.”

Nassif also said that staff members received notifications
in their email that someone was trying to login to their personal accounts from
undisclosed locations.

“When I woke up and saw that happened, to a couple of us, we
were concerned that something bigger was going to happen,” he said. “By 10:30
a.m. yesterday morning, our website was down and all this stuff started to

When asked how IDC can be certain that this act was carried
about by agents acting on behalf of Turkey, he responded by saying that the
organization didn’t know if the attack came on authority from Turkish
leadership or if it was disseminated “among the many actors that they have that
support their policies.”

“We are working with our web host to look into the trail
that is left when these types of things happen,” he said. “We hope to get more
of that information later today.”

Greg Stanton, the founder of Genocide Watch and research
professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention at the George
Mason University
in Virginia,
said during the news conference that the Genocide Watch website has also been
attacked by Turkish agents in the past.

and Turkish [actors] have also taken down our websites several times. They
don’t like us because we tell the truth,” Stanton
said. “The truth is that Turkey
now has a genocidal government. It is a genocidal government; not just in
denying the [past] genocide of Christians … but also [now] conducting
genocide against Kurds. The attack on Afrin [earlier this year] was very
clearly genocidal.”

Aram Hamparian, executive director of Armenian National
Committee of America, said that his organization has researched such
retaliatory actions by the Turkish government over the past few decades.

“All the roads and signals point back to Ankara as state-sponsored effort. In any
given instance, there is likely a day or week or month of deniability but if
you research it, time and again it leads back to either Turkish intelligence or
Turkish foreign ministry,” he said. “You can find that in de-classified
documents, you can find that in WikiLeaks documents, you can find that in
documents secured through congressional testimony and confirmation hearings.”

Nassif said that IDC is going to gather all the information
they can about the attack before they call on President Trump, the U.S. government
and its agencies to investigate.

“What works in Turkey
does not work in the United
States. We will continue to fight for
persecuted minorities in Turkey
as well as across the entire region and we will not be intimidated or bullied
into being silent," the IDC said on May 18.


3 –        Commentary:
Light the Fire of Peace

            By Rostom

Last week, two major events took place far from Armenia, in the Middle East’s biblical cauldron
of conflict—Israel and Palestine. While
Armenians did not play a role in the events, they affect Armenian issues.

On May 14, the United States
officially opened its new embassy in Jerusalem.
For the previous six weeks, at the Israeli/Gaza border, Palestinians who have
been suffering an imprisonment in their blockaded, seaside enclave had been
(mostly) peacefully protesting the Embassy move, their dire living conditions,
and what they call the Nakba (the Great Catastrophe of Israel’s founding). In
Jerusalem that day, the leadership of Israel and the Trump Administration spoke
eloquently of peace, while 70 miles away, the scene at the border became
extraordinarily lethal with the Israeli military firing live bullets at the
protestors, killing 64 and injuring 1,300. What was supposed to be a
celebratory event for Israel
and the United States,
concluded as a global PR disaster. The Embassy opening was inaugurated with
bloodshed, an ominous beginning for what was hyped as a new chapter in our quest
for peace in the Middle East.

Now the Armenian connections. First: this bloodletting was
followed by angry denunciations around the world, especially by Israel’s on again, off again frenemy: Turkey. Led by
Sultan Erdogan, the Turks berated the Israelis, and in turn, the Israeli
Knesset raged back by showing (but not playing) their Armenian Genocide “card.”
After every crisis with the Turks, the Israeli government momentarily finds its
conscience on this issue—only for them to throw us in their garbage pail of
morality to rot away next to the ideals of respecting human life and the
concept of proportionate force.

Second: the issue of Jerusalem,
which relit the flame of conflict, can be the source of its resolution.
Armenians have a stake in this issue because of our historical rights within
the Armenian Quarter of Old Jerusalem. If Trump, against the opposition of the
world, could unilaterally proclaim Jerusalem as Israel’s
capital thereby “solving” one of the most contentious issues in the negotiation,
then he could do the same for the Palestinians we well. Trump can tell the
Palestinians that his decision on Israel
is final, and then turn around and tell the Israelis that East
Jerusalem will be the capital of a future Palestinian state. After
received what it wanted, this move by Trump would give the Organization of
Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Palestinians what they want as well. With one
twitter worthy message, Trump can regain the credibility of being a fair
arbiter, while effectively neutralizing one of the most contentious issues in
the negotiation.

While this move would address the issue of capitals, it
would not address a central part of the Jerusalem
negotiations: what happens with the Old
City, and the religious
heritage sites within it. The international community is as much a party to
this issue as the parties on the ground, given the major Judaic, Christian and
Islamic centers of faith and heritage that exist within Old Jerusalem.

One solution which has existed for a long time is to declare
Old Jerusalem an international city. It would be an apolitical, self-governing
entity whose primary role would be to oversee the religious history and
heritage of the three religions that were born in the Middle

It would be an open entity that is welcoming of residents of
all countries, and protected by a force composed of soldiers from all faiths.

In the Holy Fire Ceremony which takes places at the Church
of the Holy Sepulcher every year, a single candle is lit from a flame from what
is believed to be Jesus’ tomb, and that flame is passed from person to person
until the whole church and courtyard are lit with a flame of warmth, love and
peace. In the same vein, an international Old Jerusalem can serve as the
inspirational candle that lights the flames of peace for the region.

As one of the main legal inhabitants of the Old City,
Armenians have a moral obligation in advocating for a peace that can turn Old
Jerusalem into an oasis of peach which can help to bring finality to the death
and destruction that has wracked the Middle East and in turn whose violence has
been unleashed onto the rest of the world.


4 –        Commentary: Israel Must Correct Policy of
Armenian Genocide Non-Recognition

            By Prof. Israel Charny

The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem welcomes warmly the proposed recognition by Israel of the
Armenian Genocide.  The genocide of
course was against the Armenian people as is signified by the name of the
event, but also included millions of other peoples, especially the Assyrians
and Greeks.

The guiding motif was to remove all non-Islamic people, and
even more so to be rid of all those who are not ‘real’ Turks.

The Institute has waged a battle for recognition of the
Armenian Genocide since 1982 when the Israeli government opposed, and made many
efforts to cancel, the First International Conference on the Holocaust and
Genocide in which out of 300 scheduled presentations there were 6 lectures on
the Armenian Genocide.

As reported in some six articles in the New York Times,
Professor Israel Charny, who was to become director of the Institute and had
originated the conference, held firm and the milestone conference did take place.
Charny and the associate director of the Institute, Professor Yair Auron, are
to date the only two Israelis, and among the few non-Armenians in the world,
who have been honored with the Armenian Presidential Gold Medal, which is the
equivalent of our Israeli Pras Yisrael Award, for battling for recognition of
the Armenian Genocide.

Recognition of the Armenian Genocide is a correction of a
long standing injustice of denial by our Israeli government that is entirely
similar to denials of our Holocaust.  The
recognition is almost of as much importance to our ‘Israeli soul’ as it is a
politically significant event.

A further deeper meaning of this welcome correction is that
it can serve as a reminder that a nation’s foreign policy should not be based
exclusively on pragmatic realpolitik considerations but also on moral
considerations.  It is the integrated use
of both principles simultaneously that is called for in order for a nation and
people to grow genuinely stronger.  Thus,
in our judgment, it is time for reconsideration of Israel’s policy of arms sales
especially to countries who are actively committing genocide.

We lost our Jewish soul in the course of so many wise-guy
and tough-guy denials of the Armenian Genocide over the years.

Fortunately, there remains to our credit that an
overwhelming majority of Israelis and our general cultural knowledge always
remained on the side of recognition.

It is sad to have reached the correction to yes recognize
the Armenian Genocide seemingly only as a result of the abusive, incendiary,
and anti-Semitic ravings of a fascist leader, Erdogan, but blessed be the long
overdue Tikkun (correction) in any case.

Professor Israel W. Charny is the Director of the Institute
on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem.  He is the author of a recent book, The
Genocide Contagion: How We Commit and Confront Holocaust and Genocide, which is
“a book to look at ourselves BEFORE” a holocaust or genocide erupts and what is
happening inside of us that will determine the roles we play when genocide
takes place.


5 –        Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams, Serge
and Shalet Gharibian Attend Royal Wedding

Two Armenian-American couples were in attendance at the
wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, which took place at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, Sr., and tennis phenom Serena
Williams were among the guests at the wedding ceremony and reception, and
posted photos and videos to Instagram of the royal affair.

Serge and Shalet Gharibian were among the 1200 members of
the public invited to watch the wedding, included in the proceedings as a
tribute to Princess Diana who was known as “the people’s Princess.” The
Gharibians were invited by the Mayor of Windsor to stay at the Norman Tower
to watch the proceedings. The Gharibians, proud "Royalists," also
attended the 2011 wedding of Duke William and Duchess Catherine of Cambridge—known
affectionately as William and Kate. 

The Gharibians, from Burbank,
Calif., told Gayle King of CBS
News they “love everything about the royal family” and were proud to see fellow
Armenian-American Alexis Ohanian at the wedding, and were also delighted to see
Amal Clooney, who has worked on a number of international law cases relating to
the recognition of the Armenian genocide. – J.Y. *****************************************************************************************************

6 –        Janetsian-Fritz:
Early maternal deprivation alters adult brain function, cognition

When a baby is taken from its mother for even a brief period
early in life, this traumatic event significantly alters the future, adult
function of the brain, according to a new animal model study from the School of Science at Indiana University Purdue
University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). These changes in the brain are similar to
disturbances in brain structure and function that are found in people at risk
for neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.

The study was conducted by IUPUI graduate student Sarine
Sona Janetsian-Fritz in the laboratory of associate professor of psychology
Christopher Lapish. Janetsian-Fritz is a fourth generation Armenian-American.
She graduated from Rose and Alex
Pilibos Armenian
School in 2006. She
received a bachelor's degree in Psychology from CSUN in 2010. As a graduate
student at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, she studied the
effects of illegal drugs as well as neuropsychiatric disorders, including Schizophrenia,
on the brain.

She received master's degree in 2012, and a Ph.D. in 2017 in
Addiction Neuroscience. Her research has gained recognition and great interest
worldwide. She is currently a Post-doctoral fellow at Indiana University School
of Medicine in the Neurology department, continuing her research career.

In the study, young rats were removed from their mothers for
24 hours when they were nine days old, which is a critical period of brain
development. The resulting scans revealed that, unlike animals that were not
separated from their mother during this crucial period, the separated rats
exhibited significant behavioral, as well as biological and physiological,
brain abnormalities in adulthood.

“Rat and human brains have similar structure and connectivity,”
Lapish said. “Understanding what happens in the brain of a young rat that’s
removed from its mother gives us important insight into how this type of early
trauma—perhaps comparable to the incarceration of a human mother—affects the
young human brain."

"In this study, we found memory impairment, as well as
less communication between brain regions, in the animals that had been removed
from their mothers, among other neurological changes,” said study corresponding
author Sarine Janetsian-Fritz, now a postdoctoral fellow in neuropsychology at
the Indiana University School of Medicine. “These are all clues to how a
traumatic event early in life could increase a person’s risk of receiving a
schizophrenia diagnosis in the future.”

The causes of schizophrenia and the delay in the appearance
of symptoms of this lifelong disease remain a mystery.

“Children exposed to early-life stress or deprivation are at
higher risk for mental illness and addictions later in life, including
schizophrenia,” said study co-author Brian F. O’Donnell, professor of
psychological and brain sciences at IU Bloomington. “We have identified
enduring changes in the brain and behavior that result from one type of stress
in a rodent. These types of brain changes might mediate the effects of adverse
events on children. Thus, policies or interventions that mitigate stress to
children could reduce vulnerability to emotional disorders in adulthood.” *************************************************************************************************

7-         COAF
SMART Center
Set to Transform Armenia's
Lori Region

YORK—Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) has been at the forefront in
advancing rural communities throughout Armenia since 2004, with nearly $40
million being raised in support of numerous infrastructure improvement projects
and comprehensive community-led programs in education, healthcare and social
services. On its 10th anniversary, COAF announced its novel SMART Initiative to
expanding its vital work in each of Armenia’s rural provinces. 

The innovative rapid expansion strategy will establish
state-of-the-art educational SMART Campuses throughout Armenia,
offering rural populations with groundbreaking programs in education, economic
development and healthcare. The flagship COAF SMART Campus will open its doors
in the Lori region of Armenia
on May 27, providing its 150,000 people with access to technology-driven
programs from a broad and diverse range of disciplines.

As one of the most trusted organizations engaged in rural
development in Armenia,
COAF has been empowering the country’s rural population by utilizing
collaborative and inclusive approaches. COAF’s main objective has been to serve
as a catalyst in fostering a sense of ownership among Armenia’s rural
inhabitants, encouraging them to become active stakeholders in their future
advancement. Customized approaches addressing the specific needs and challenges
of each community have provided COAF with crucial knowledge and experience on
how to bring about dramatic changes in rural education, as well as raising
awareness on a global level.

The COAF SMART Initiative will continue connecting rural Armenia to the
international community via technology, providing access to experts worldwide.
The COAF SMART Campuses will offer rural teachers, healthcare professionals,
social workers and businesses with vital skills that will spawn a new era of
creativity and innovation. Additional emphasis will be placed on language and
communication, local entrepreneurship/economic development, active citizenship
and personal development. Information technology and foreign languages are a
priority for SMART programs; all programs and learning materials will utilize
digital solutions and English.

During the opening ceremony of the COAF SMART Campus on May
27, guests from around the world will tour the regional educational hub and
learn about the various SMART programs being offered, such as blockchain
technology, robotics, agriculture, child development, media literacy, arts,
science and health education.

A number of COAF SMART partners will also be showcased at
the official opening. One highlight is the SAP Next-Gen Lab which will bring
the latest blockchain technology to students at the COAF SMART Center. Students in the region will gain
access to SAP’s instructional resources in virtual reality design and iOS
application development.  Other key
partnerships include Arloopa, a leader in augmented reality (AR) and virtual
reality (VR) founded in Armenia
and operating globally.

COAF is also collaborating with PicsArt, an app that allows
over 100 million monthly users worldwide, the ability to edit and share photos
in fun and creative ways. A new partnership has also been forged with Instigate
Robotics and Instigate Training Center,
aimed at bringing diverse technology and educational knowhow to the COAF SMART

Creative Educational Technologies (CET), the official
representative of LEGO in Armenia,
will also be conducting workshops with children on the day of the opening. Arpi
Solar, a producer of clean energy and solar power will also support the
opening. In addition, artwork by Syrian-Armenian children will also be
exhibited on loan from the Cafesjian
Center for the Arts.

Special guests will include high level Armenian government
officials, heads of international institutions, members of the diplomatic
community, COAF donors and supporters, along with individuals from the Diaspora
who will be in Armenia to
mark the 100th anniversary of the First
Armenian Republic.

For more information, email [email protected]


8-         Hockney and
Friends… Including Larry Gagosian, Joan Agajanian Quinn

By Peter Davis


(C Magazine)—David Hockney has a large, sweeping circle of
close friends. And from July 2013 through March 2016, he painted portraits of
82 of his most intimate pals, family members and acquaintances, including
longtime studio manager J-P Gonçalves de Lima; art world luminaries Irving Blum
and Douglas Baxter; Frank Gehry; his youngest brother, John Hockney; fashion
designer Celia Birtwell; photographer Ray Charles White; conceptual artist John
Baldessari; his housekeeper Patricia Choxon; and 13-year-old Rufus Hale (the
son of artists Tacita Dean and Matthew Hale), who was just 11 when he sat for
the artist.

Although Hockney once proclaimed, “I don’t value prizes of
any sort,” he has won countless awards (in 2003, he received the prestigious
Lorenzo il Magnifico Lifetime Achievement Award of the Florence Biennale). Yet
when offered a knighthood in 1990, he declined the recognition. Charmingly
modest, Hockney is considered by many to be the greatest living artist today.
“Hockney is so famous, so popular, such a great talker and character that it’s
easy to take him for granted as an artist,” Jonathan Jones, the art critic of
The Guardian, once said. “He is one of only a handful of 20th-century British
artists who added anything to the image bank of the world’s imagination.”

All 82 sitters arrived at Hockney’s studio, and all posed in
the same chair on the same platform with the same blue curtain behind them. The
portraits—each strikingly distinct thanks to the organic emotion captured from
each subject through gaze and body language—are hung in chronological order in
two light-filled spaces at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The massive
“82 Portraits and 1 Still-life” exhibition is ultimately viewed as elements
that comprise one extraordinary body of work: a truly up-close, personal look
at Hockney’s innermost circle. The portraits (and one still life), all acrylic
on canvas, originated at the Royal Academy of Arts in London before traveling
to: Venice, Italy; Bilbao, Spain; Melbourne, Australia; and finally Los
Angeles, the city Hockney has lovingly called home for more than three decades.

Each portrait took two to three days to complete. Sitters
arrived at his studio at 9:30 a.m. sharp and held their pose for three hours
while Hockney sketched in charcoal the first day to outline what he wanted to
capture. The afternoon was another three-hour session.

World renowned gallery owner Larry Gagosian, as well as
artist and curator Joan Agajanian Quinn were among Hockney’s friends who sat
for a portrait.

“My husband Jack and I have been close to David for more
than 50 years. I think our friendship has endured so long because of our mutual
curiosity, interest in life and constant humor. David calls me Bossy
Boots….which always made Jack laugh. Laughter is David’s prescription for
living a good long life (along with cigarettes!),” Agajanian Quinn told The
California Courier in an email. “I was in Houston
when he called and asked me to sit for this series. In light of our many years
of friendship I was still thrilled to be asked. I flew home the next day to
begin the three-day sitting. I took my camera with me to the chair. I sat on my
camera to hide it from David, in order to document him each time he looked
away. Little did I know that the studio assistant was video taping us. So, when
they played back the video, I was caught sneaking snaps. We all burst into

Peter Goulds, Hockney’s art dealer for 40 years and the
founder of L.A. Louver gallery in Venice,
notes that Hockney is completely silent while working. “He doesn’t talk. Your
exchange is in the pauses during cigarettes. I was very relaxed those three
days. I’m pleased with it. My mother didn’t like it. She said, ‘You don’t have
pouting lips.’” As Goulds’ eyes darted around the gallery at LACMA, the early
afternoon California
sun infusing a sun-kissed glow, he noticed: “The light here is very much like
the top light in his studio. These paintings are being seen in a way that is
corresponding to the way they were made—startlingly so, in that sense. This has
this generosity of light. The beauty is how far they read across the room.”

Hockney is famously approachable and friendly, willingly
posing for photo after photo with his friends and fans alike. He’s thoughtful
with every person who approaches him and makes lots of eye contact—as if he is
studying you to paint. “When I was finishing these portraits I did start
looking back. I looked way, way back and that’s what made me see the reverse
perspective. I’d used it before and then I realized I could do something with
this today,” he explains, nodding toward the 25-foot photomural, his newest
masterpiece. “I’ve really been looking back at my work in a way I hadn’t before
for 20 or 30 years,” he reflects. “I’ve always said I live in the now.”

“82 Portraits and 1 Still-life” runs through July 29 at Los
Angeles County Museum of Art. For more information, visit

This article appeared in the May 2018 issue of C Magazine. ************************************************************************************************

California Courier Online provides viewers of the Armenian News
News Service with a few of the articles in this week's issue of The California
Courier.  Letters to the editor are
encouraged through our e-mail address,
However, authors are requested to provide their names, addresses, and/or
telephone numbers to verify identity, if any question arises. California
Courier subscribers are requested not to use this service to change, or modify
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or by phone, (818) 409-0949.

Zartonk Daily 22.05.2018

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Կցուած կրնաք գտնել «Զարթօնք»ի այսօրուայ թիւը ՝

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RFE/RL Armenian Report – 05/22/2018


Armenia Ready For Renewed Talks With Azerbaijan

        • Sargis Harutyunyan

Armenia - Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Tigran Balayan at a news briefing 
in Yerevan, .

Armenia stands ready to resume peace talks with Azerbaijan without 
preconditions after its new Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s calls for 
Nagorno-Karabakh’s direct involvement in them, the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan 
said on Tuesday.

“It’s not that we are refusing negotiations,” the ministry spokesman, Tigran 
Balayan, told reporters. “As a guarantor of Karabakh’s security, Armenia will 
continue negotiations and say at the same time that Artsakh’s direct 
participation in them is a necessary condition for achieving a lasting and 
balanced peace.”

During a May 9 visit to Stepanakert, Pashinian criticized Baku’s refusal to 
directly negotiate with Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership. “This 
negotiation format cannot be considered full-fledged until one of the parties 
to the conflict, the leadership of Artsakh (Karabakh), participates in it,” he 

The Azerbaijani government rejected Pashinian’s calls, accusing Yerevan of 
creating an additional hurdle to reviving the peace process.

Balayan insisted that the premier’s statement is not a precondition for 
Yerevan’s renewed contacts with Baku.“Our insistence on Artsakh’s participation 
[in Armenian-Azerbaijani talks] is not something new,” he said. “We have for 
years said and will continue to say that. It’s just that the realities have now 
changed … which presupposes Artsakh’s greater involvement in the negotiation 

“Karabakh is involved in negotiations in one way or another … The problem is 
that Azerbaijan has for years refused to directly negotiate with Karabakh,” 
added the official.

Balayan also said that the U.S., Russian and French mediators co-heading the 
OSCE Minsk Group may visit Yerevan next month for what will be their first 
meeting with Pashinian.

The mediators met with Azerbaijan’s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov in Paris 
on May 15. In a joint statement, they said they discussed with him “modalities 
for moving the peace process forward.”

“Minister Mammadyarov expressed Azerbaijan's readiness to resume active 
negotiations as soon as possible,” read the statement. “The Co-Chairs expect to 
meet with the new Armenian leadership in June.”

Deputy PM Vague On Possible Election Dates

        • Karlen Aslanian

Armenia - First Deputy Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan speaks at a cabinet 
meeting in Yerevan, .

First Deputy Prime Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on Tuesday refused to speculate 
about possible dates for fresh parliamentary elections sought by Armenia’s new 

“I won’t give any dates now,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service ( 
“We have said that we are going to prepare the country for pre-term elections. 
Pre-term elections are one of our priorities.”

“But we have to prepare for that,” Mirzoyan said, citing the need to enact the 
kind of amendments to the Armenian Electoral Code that would facilitate the 
proper conduct of the vote.

“We are working day and night to put those conditions in place as soon as 
possible because we realize that having a new political picture in the 
parliament through elections must be the final episode of the systemic change,” 
he said, referring to the Pashinian-led popular uprising that has led to regime 
change in the country.

Pashinian and his political allies control a minority of seats in the current 
National Assembly. The parliament majority remains loyal to former President 
Serzh Sarkisian and his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). The latter is 
therefore in a position to block the holding of snap elections.

Pashinian said last week that he thinks the polls will be held this year. 
Mirzoyan was more cautious on that score.

“We are now consulting with many experts in order to understand when we may be 
… sufficiently prepared for [the elections,]” said the vice-premier. “Different 
views [on election time frames] are being voiced: from six month to one year. 
But we obviously have deadlines and those elections must not be held in two 
years’ time.”

New Armenian Government To Continue IMF-Backed Reforms

Armenia - Finance Minister Atom Janjughazian (R) meets with Yulia Ustyugova, 
the IMF's resident representative to Armenia, in Yerevan, .

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s cabinet will carry on with structural reforms 
that were launched by the previous Armenian government and approved by the 
International Monetary Fund, Finance Minister Atom Janjughazian said on Tuesday.

Janjughazian met with the head of the IMF office in Yerevan, Yulia Ustyugova, 
for the first time since being appointed as minister ten days ago. The Armenian 
Finance Ministry said they reviewed ongoing IMF-approved programs relating to 
taxation and state budgeting policy.

“Atom Janjughazian assured her that the government of Armenia is committed to 
bringing all joint programs and initiatives to a logical conclusion,” read a 
ministry statement. “The minister highly appraised continuing cooperation with 
the International Monetary Fund and stressed the importance of expanding and 
strengthening it.”

The IMF has praised the previous government’s efforts to strengthen fiscal 
discipline through sizable increases in tax revenue and budgetary cost saving. 
Armenia’s state budget deficit shrank from at least 5.2 percent of GDP in 2016 
to 3.3 percent in 2017, according to the Finance Ministry.

A senior IMF official, Hossein Samiei, indicated the fund’s readiness to 
allocate a fresh loan to Armenia at the end of a two-week visit to Yerevan in 
late March. Samiei met with then Prime Minister Karen Karapetian, 
Janjughazian’s predecessor Vartan Aramian and other senior Armenian officials. 
An IMF statement said they held “productive discussions” on the government’s 
economic policies.

Janjughazian, 47, is one of the most experienced technocratic members of the 
new Armenian cabinet. He served as a deputy finance minister and head of the 
Armenian state treasury for nearly two decades preceding his ministerial 

Pashinian’s cabinet is expected to submit a comprehensive policy program to the 
parliament next month. So far it has signaled no plans to revise the state 
budget for this year which was drafted by Karapetian’s government.

Jailed Oppositionists Warn Pashinian

Armenia - Varuzhan Avetisian (L), the leader an armed opposition group that 
seized a police station in July 2016, at the start of his trial in Yerevan, 

The jailed leaders of a radical opposition group on Tuesday urged Prime 
Minister Nikol Pashinian to ensure the quick release of their supporters who 
stormed a police station in 2016, warning that their continued imprisonment 
could have “severe consequences” for Armenia.

In an open letter, Zhirayr Sefilian and Varuzhan Avetisian criticized Pashinian 
for his reluctance to pressurize courts and law-enforcement bodies into freeing 
these and other “political prisoners.”

“So far one has been left with the impression that you have washed your hands 
and are urging the political prisoners and other citizens to count on a 
miraculous spiritual and moral transformation of criminal prosecutors and 
judges,” they said.

Sefilian is the top leader of the Founding Parliament movement who was arrested 
in June 2016 and subsequently sentenced to 10.5 years in prison for plotting an 
armed revolt against the government, a charge he strongly denies.

Sefilian’s arrest came less than a month before three dozen Founding Parliament 
members led by Avetisian seized a police base in Yerevan to demand his release 
and then President Serzh Sarkisian’s resignation. The armed group calling 
itself Sasna Tsrer laid down its weapons after a two-week standoff with 
security forces, which left three police officers dead. Its members are 
currently standing three separate trials.

Armenia - Opposition leader Zhirayr Sefilian waves to supporters at the end of 
his trial in Yerevan, 20 March 2018.

Pashinian pledged to seek the release of all “political prisoners” immediately 
after he swept to power in a democratic revolution earlier this month. But he 
made clear that he will use solely legal mechanisms for that purpose.

Pashinian has publicly listed Sefilian but not Avetisian and other jailed 
gunmen among the individuals who he believes were jailed for political reasons. 
He said last week that the Sasna Tsrer case is “a bit different” because of the 
three police casualties. He said it will be resolved as a result of public 
“discussions” that must involve relatives of the three slain policemen.

Avetisian condemned Pashinian’s remarks as “buffoonery” and “false humanism” on 
May 16. He again strongly defended the 2016 attack, saying that casualties are 
inevitable during such “rebellions.”

“If the political prisoners, including the Sasna Tsrer members, remain in jail, 
that will be fraught with severe consequences for our country and the 
revolution,” Avetisian and Sefilian warned in their letter to Pashinian.

“Of course, it is good that you reject in principle ‘telephone’ justice,” they 
said. “But the supremacy of law has a value and meaning only if it serves the 
supremacy of rights. Therefore, while rejecting that illegal option of direct 
control, you can and must use all available legitimate levers of indirect 
leadership to change the atmosphere in the prosecutor’s office and courts … and 
guarantee fair decisions by them.”

The 2016 attack on the Yerevan police base was condemned by the United States 
and the European Union. “We abhor the actions of Sasna Tsrer and others who use 
violence or who threaten to harm others to serve their political agenda,” 
Richard Mills, the U.S. ambassador to Armenia, said as recently as in March.

Press Review

“Zhamanak” describes as unprecedented the weekend pledge by the new head of 
Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS), Artur Vanetsian, to expose and hold 
accountable individuals who have embezzled large amounts of public funds. “They 
have spoken about fighting corruption for many years, including at the highest 
[government] level,” writes the paper. “But never before has an NSS chief 
announced very concrete revelations and given very clear timelines. On the 
other hand, such statements should not come as a surprise because there has 
been a revolution in Armenia.”

“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that the Armenian government is supposed to complete 
on July 1 the gradual introduction of a new and controversial pension system 
which began four years ago. The paper notes that the new Labor and Social 
Affairs Minister Mande Tandilian was one of the leaders of a pressure group 
that campaigned against the pension reform from the outset. It believes that 
the new system is essential for Armenia given its aging and shrinking 
population. “The question is whether it must be optional or mandatory and where 
and how payments to pension funds must be accumulated,” it says.

“Aravot” says Tandilian now realizes that “state interests require the 
introduction of that system in one way or another.” The paper says her apparent 
change of heart on the issue is “very natural” and reflects “the new 
government’s sense of responsibility.”

Interviewed by “168 Zham,” Vladimir Yevseyev, a Russian military analyst, 
comments on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s threats to strike “any 
military target” in Armenia from Azerbaijan’s Nakhichevan exclave. “This is 
what the joint Russian-Armenian military contingent was set up for: to secure 
that section of the [Armenian-Azerbaijani] border and deter Turkey, which has 
gained a foothold in Nakhichevan,” he says. “I can say for certain that given 
the existing Russian-Turkish relations it is hard to imagine threats to Armenia 
emanating from this border section because any provocation against Armenia 
would be regarded as a move against Russia.”

(Tigran Avetisian)

Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2018 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

Conscript serviceman found dead in one of Armenia’s military units

ARKA, Armenia

YEREVAN, May 23. /ARKA/. Martin Khachatryan, 19, an Armenian army conscript, was found dead with gunshot wound in his stomach yesterday in one of the military units deployed in Armenia’s south-western territory, the Armenian defense ministry reported on Wednesday.  

An investigation was launched into the incident. 

The defense ministry offers its condolences to the serviceman’s family, relatives and friends. -0— 

Armenia attorney general: I would suggest we don’t use the term “political prisoner”, Armenia
Armenia attorney general: I would suggest we don’t use the term “political prisoner” Armenia attorney general: I would suggest we don’t use the term “political prisoner”

13:06, 23.05.2018

YEREVAN. – I would suggest that we do not use the term “political prisoner.”

The Prosecutor General of Armenia, Artur Davtyan, stated the aforesaid during Wednesday’s National Assembly debates regarding the report on the 2017 activities of the Prosecutor General’s Office. He noted this with respect to considering as “political prisoners” several people who are still incarcerated in the country.

“I would formulate in a way that there is a view that the accusations against them are not substantiated, or are unlawful,” he added, in particular. “All those cases are now in the court proceedings; justice is carried out.

“We are ready to discuss and see what new solutions can be given to the problems in this situation.

“Change of the situation [in Armenia] should be comprehensible. We had criminal cases where people were preparing to carry out mass disorders, presenting demands to the state, the officials; [but] we don’t have those officials today.

“They were making calls for continuing the demands, with weapons. But there has been a change in the situation; a specific person’s danger to the public has reduced.”

Knesset Passes Motion to Vote on Armenian Genocide

Armenians marched long distances before being massacred in Turkey in 1915. (AP Photo)


Wednesday, at 2:58 pm | ט' סיון תשע"ח

While the diplomatic crisis with Turkey churns onward, the Knesset decided on Wednesday to put recognition of the Armenian Genocide to a vote for the first time.

Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg, who advanced the issue, declared that “this is our moral and historic obligation. Some things are above politics.”

Until now, Israel has avoiding taking a formal stand on the question of whether the massacre of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by Turkish forces in World War I should be classified as genocide. Turkey has made its sensitivities about the matter known — that it rejects the allegation — and Israeli officials have put relations with Turkey above the questions of history and morality.

The motion passed 16-10 in a mostly empty plenum. A vote on the recognition itself will probably take place next Tuesday, according to Zandberg’s office.

Zandberg and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who supports the move, sought to dispel the impression that the bill was introduced in retaliation for Turkey’s hostile actions in recent days, including expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, calling for an investigation of the Gaza bloodshed and threatening a boycott of Israeli goods.

“The Knesset must recognize the Armenian Genocide because it’s the right thing to do, as people and as Jews,” Edelstein said. “For years I’ve been calling to fulfill this moral obligation.”

At the same time, Edelstein said he is “embarrassed to hear elected and public officials talking about the recognition of the genocide as an appropriate Zionist response to Turkey’s despicable acts after recent events on the Gaza border.

“Since when does Ankara pull the strings on our morality? Does history change according to our relations with a ruler like Erdogan?” Edelstein asked.

Zandberg refuted the link to the current tensions with Ankara, noting that she submitted the motion before they started, and that Meretz has done so on the closest possible date to Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, on April 24th, each year since 1989.

Among the 29 countries that have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide are Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Lebanon and Syria.

Knesset approves motion on recognizing Armenian Genocide

Jerusalem Post
Knesset approves motion on recognizing Armenian Genocide

By Lahav Harkov
The Knesset will hold a vote on whether to recognize the Armenian Genocide, after approving Meretz chairwoman Tamar Zandberg’s motion for the agenda on the subject Wednesday.

“This is our moral and historic obligation,” Zandberg said. “Some things are above politics.”

The motion, approved 16-0, was to hold the first-ever debate of the recognition in the Knesset’s plenary. Zandberg’s office is aiming for Tuesday as the date of the unprecedented vote. In 2015, the Knesset approved a motion for the agenda to discuss the Armenian Genocide, which resulted in the Education, Culture and Sport committee recognizing it. Zandberg’s motion is different in that it called for a discussion in the plenum, such that its vote represents the position of the entire Knesset.

Similar motions have been put to the vote in the past, but the government always asked the coalition to vote against them, out of concern for relations with Turkey. This time, the government did not respond to the motion at all.

Wednesday’s vote took place with diplomatic tensions between Israel and Turkey in the background. Last week, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador over Israel’s response to violent riots in Gaza that resulted in the deaths of 50 Hamas terrorists, by Hamas’s own count, and 11 other Gazans. Jerusalem then sent away Ankara’s ambassador.

Turkey opposes recognition of the Armenian Genocide, in which the Ottoman Empire killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. When recounting the historic events, Zandberg quoted members of Nili, a Jewish anti-Ottoman underground in Israel at that time, saying they saw the Turkish Army burn Armenians alive.

Much of Zandberg and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein’s remarks on the matter centered on the assertion that the genocide should have been recognized long ago, and not as a punitive act against Turkey.

“The Knesset must recognize the Armenian Genocide because it’s the right thing to do, as people and as Jews,” Edelstein said. “For years I’ve been calling to fulfill this moral obligation.”

At the same time, Edelstein said he was “embarrassed to hear elected and public officials talking about the recognition of the genocide as an appropriate Zionist response to Turkey’s despicable acts after recent events on the Gaza border.

“Since when does Ankara pull the strings or our morality? Does history change according to our relations with a ruler like [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan?” Edelstein asked.

Zandberg pointed out that she submitted the motion before the current tensions with Turkey, and that Meretz has done so on the closest possible date to Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, on April 24, each year since 1989.

“Both in our case and the Armenians’ the great powers knew about the murders and did nothing to stop them,” she said. “This is why we are saying to the world, never again. Never stand on the sidelines again…. We must rise above the politics, vote in favor and take part in history.”

A law which is a joint effort of coalition and opposition MKs was also submitted to the Knesset last week calling for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Twenty-nine countries recognize the Armenian Genocide, including Canada, France, Germany, Russia, Lebanon and Syria.
The Foreign Ministry has not changed its position on recognition. A diplomatic source said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would make the final decision on the matter.