Sports: UEFA fines Armenia €18,000 over fans’ misconduct

PanArmenian, Armenia
Dec 15 2018

PanARMENIAN.NetUEFA has imposed an €18,000 fine on the Armenian Football Federation over fans' misconduct in a Nations League match against Gibraltar.

During the fixture in October, members of Red Eagles – a club supporting the national football team – and those from the Federation clashed because of a Gibraltar flag that had found its way to the home section of the stadium.

The police had to interfere in the brawl.

Besides the incident, bottles had been thrown toward the Gibraltar players from the stadium, UEFA revealed.

Armenia "turned down offer to buy Belarusian Polonez systems"

Defence Monitor Worldwide
Saturday
Armenia "turned down offer to buy Belarusian Polonez systems"
 
 
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has reveals that he offered Armenia to buy Belarusian Polonez missile systems – which Minsk also supplies to Baku – but Armenia turned down the proposal.
 
He added that Armenia rejected the deal citing the fact that Yerevan has acquired Russian Iskander missile systems, RIA Novosti reports.
 
Yes, for me, Azerbaijanis are no strangers, but you should not blame us for selling arms to Azerbaijan.
 
According to Lukashenko, when the Belarusian side was testing the systems, they invited Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Russians to follow the process, Lukashenko added.
 
During the test, he said, the Azerbaijani side expressed a wish to purchase the weapon.
 
And we need to return the loan the Chinese have given us for [the project]. I then …. say (to Azerbaijan – Ed.): `Well, I will sell you the complex`, and I tell the Armenians (because I knew that there are going to be problems): `I am ready to supply you with a similar complex.` The Armenians refused, citing the fact that they have Russian Iskander systems," Lukashenko said. 2018 Global Data Point.
 
 
 

Sydney: ‘Petrified, lack of direction’: Libs say Berejiklian is ‘just not selling it’

Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
December 14, 2018 Saturday
— 12:00am

Every bookcase tells a story. In Gladys Berejiklian’s corner suite, which overlooks yet another CBD construction site, the shelves display three of her most precious mementos, tucked away in corners.  Two are deeply personal: a child’s drawing of her in a superhero cape, done by a friend’s son when she first went into politics; and a Madam President Barbie doll, still in its box, a gift from a beloved friend who lost a battle with cancer. The third, sitting on the shelf below, is the one with the sting. It reminds her of how thin the line can be between defeat and victory. Set out on flimsy paper and framed, it's the official record from the electoral office of the votes cast in her electorate of Willoughby the first time she stood for office, in 2003.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian faces a tough task to win the upcoming election. Credit:AAP

Her margin was just 144 votes – a margin she has since increased significantly. It's a daily reminder, she says, of “a lesson that I learnt 16 years ago: never take anyone for granted”.

Measured on diligence and hard work alone, that lesson seems as much at the forefront of her mind as ever. She rarely stops, to the point that some of her friends suggest she try and build in more downtime. But along with the busyness, the relentless drive to get things done, the frenetic schedule and the seemingly effortless mastery of facts and figures, comes a reputation for micro-management. There is also criticism that her office operates in a “bubble”, and that she takes advice from too narrow a circle.

More significantly, there is growing concern, even among some of her strong supporters, that the government lacks an overarching narrative beyond offering "more of the same" as it heads towards the state election in just under 100 days’ time.

For Berejiklian, it will be her first campaign as party leader and toughest test yet. “We are trying to counter history,” she concedes. “The last time you had a Coalition government in the state that [successfully] went for a third term was in 1971, nearly 50 years ago.” Yet she claims, Pollyanna-like, that she is looking forward to the contest. “Really, state elections are positive in that they give you a voice, an opportunity to express where you have come from, what you are doing now and what you are going to do into the future.”

That outward confidence is not, it seems, widely shared. “Petrified” is how one former senior Liberal official describes prevailing sentiment inside the party.

Another talks of the Wagga Wagga byelection, held in September, as a “shock out of the blue for everybody. Overnight, people went from being convinced she would win to thinking she might lose. What it showed was the fragility of their hold on power.”

That seemingly safe Riverina seat, Liberal-held since the 1950s, went to an independent, Joe McGirr, on a massive 22 per cent swing away from the government. It was a sharp reminder that only six seats stand between the Coalition and minority government, with marginal seats such as Coogee, East Hills, Lismore and Upper Hunter at risk. A strong push by One Nation, under the Mark Latham banner, also increases the threat of a fragmenting conservative vote in the state’s regions.

Berejiklian does have the ingredients of a good message to craft for voters, her closest supporters insist. The state’s budget is in enviable good health, there is $80 billion of infrastructure being built, and NSW has the lowest jobless rate at 4.4 per cent.

But there is a counter narrative building as well: congestion, overdevelopment and the rising cost of living, a perceived tone-deafness on the part of a government too driven by a quest for deals with the private sector, and a lack of coherence around strategy and vision.

The toxic state of the federal party is not helping and Labor’s exploitation of the state government’s commitment to spending $1.5 billion on demolishing and rebuilding Sydney Football Stadium at Moore Park and refurbishing Sydney Olympic Park at Homebush feeds the narrative that Macquarie Street is out of touch with the everyday concerns of ordinary people. The state’s economic performance – top of the pack a year ago – has slowed as the downturn in the Sydney property market starts to bite.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has saids she accepts the "strong message" sent in the Wagga Wagga by-election loss.

“I get the sense around town that there is frustration with the lack of direction,” says one well-connected former insider. “There is a vision to sell, they are just not selling it. This is frustrating to people currently in government as well as outside it. The electorate is tired, they don’t particularly want to hear from politicians. I don't think you can sit there any more and say, ‘this is what I have done for you in the last four years, we have achieved all this stuff'.”

Another says the government has become victim of its own infrastructure boom. “Government doing stuff has become the new normal for NSW,” the former senior party figure says. “They have poured billions into infrastructure, but people are saying, ‘don't tell us what you have done, tell us what you’re going to do’. That is where she needs to step up: what’s next.”

An MP concurs. “I think we are lacking direction. Mike [Baird] had poles and wires and he made that a referendum issue, and while we don’t necessarily need to take an issue like that to the election, I think lots of members are asking for something tangible.”

Berejiklian rejects these criticisms. Yes, she says, incumbency now is “far more challenging, absolutely … I accept, and always have, that people bank what you have done for them. But the most frequent positive feedback our government gets is that we get things done … By and large people want us to keep going”.

She mentions talking with a triumphant Daniel Andrews at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting this week. “I said ‘why did you get re-elected?’ and he said ‘because I’m getting things done’."

She cites that conversation in support of her own strategy. “Our infrastructure spend is twice theirs … which other government in the world is building three light rail lines, four metro lines and road projects?” She moves on to spruik her and deputy premier John Barilaro’s plans for growth and greater connectivity in the regions, and lauds the new Western Sydney “aerotropolis” taking shape near Badgery’s Creek.

“That's a 20-year vision for greater Sydney which would see a new city, the ‘parklands city’ as we currently call it … [as] the centre for defence, robotics, trades, agribusiness … So when you are standing in Parramatta you won’t be looking east for the best jobs, you will be looking west for the best jobs.”

She insists the government has a good message to sell on caring for the vulnerable: combating domestic violence, investing in social and affordable housing, and mandating jobs for Aboriginal youth on infrastructure projects in the region. “I really think our success story is in that story about social progress.”

Her latest foray into population policy, suggesting the state should halve its migration intake, is also an “attempt to change gears” a senior Liberal admits. “If there is one person who can say we need less immigration and not look a racist, it has to be Gladys.”

But again, seasoned hands worry about the scatter-gun approach to messaging . “They are focusing on too much,” says one veteran. “Instead of your 20-point plan, just pick five, or six. They do need a game-changer on transport.”

Privately, Berejiklian’s office also comes in for some criticism, as does the Liberal party state machine led by director Chris Stone. Although her senior staff are well respected and loyal, they are seen as outmatched by the team that Labor has put in place around new leader Michael Daley, which now includes Bob Carr’s former chief of staff Kris Neill, and Eamonn Fitzpatrick, a veteran of many ALP campaigns at both state and federal level.

“Pound for pound, compared with Daley’s, you tend to think that Gladys’ team is not the A team; it's a nice team, but a B team,” says a party warrior. “There is a general belief that she needs to sharpen the axe, get a political hardhead in there, and one or two in the state party office as well.”

A senior government source describes her private office as “stacked full of staffers from the north shore”, while another MP likens it to Scott Morrison’s “Canberra bubble”. “I look at that office and wonder how many people who work there have had the same life experiences of the majority of the state.”

Her circle of advisers includes former leaders Barry O’Farrell and John Brogden, as well as, occasionally, her immediate predecessor Mike Baird. Among ministers, she is particularly reliant on her (moderate) factional praetorian guard, Matt Kean and Don Harwin and is close to Victor Dominello. The Minister for WestConnex and Sport, Stuart Ayres, is hugely influential with Berejiklian – too much so, many say.


Barilaro is also someone to whom she listens, according to senior Nationals. A senior Liberal MP says Berejiklian and Barilaro are a “good combination” because the Nationals leader has “the fire in the belly to push her … in some ways he supplements the gaps in her leadership and she needs that”.

A number of Liberals would like to see her take more risks, not just with the grand government narrative but with how she markets herself. They want to see her make more of the tale of the child of Armenian migrants, a welder and a nurse, whose eldest daughter began school with almost no English but ending up as dux before reaching the heights of state politics.

“She really struggles to talk about herself,” says one friend. “I think part of it might be a fear that if one part of her private life is open, the whole thing might be open.” Another MP says he has known her for 20 years but “I don’t know the first thing about her personal life”.

A party veteran says: “Voters tend to vote for those who they trust, and in order to trust you have to know someone. The danger is that even though Gladys has been in place for a period of time, people don’t feel as though they know her or what she stands for. People want ‘authentic’ parliamentarians and authentic means sharing a bit more about themselves.”

But long-time friend and current Australian ambassador to Washington Joe Hockey says that for Berejiklian to make more of a show-pony of herself cuts against the grain of how she was raised. Hockey, a fellow Liberal moderate whose own father is Armenian, describes the Armenian-Australian community as “very socially conservative, and extremely family focused. Much of community life centres around the Armenian church and Armenian schools”. (Berejiklian attended Armenian school on Saturdays.)

“She was the highest achiever supported by an incredible family, with traditional expectations for their three daughters,” Hockey adds. “Gladys has fought all her life against stereotypes but she would never admit that because she would see it as a criticism of her traditional migrant upbringing … [yet] I can’t emphasise enough how many glass ceilings she has broken.”

She and Hockey met when both were working in then treasurer Peter Collins’ office 25 years ago. She has stayed with him in Washington – “hanging out with my kids, to get away from things.”

He says her upbringing has left her with a “deep humility. It doesn’t surprise me that she would say ‘I don't want to talk about myself’ because that is Gladys.”

But, he concedes, “it's not a particularly successful formula in the modern age for a politician to be reluctant to talk about themselves and focus more on what they are doing”.

Berejiklian insists she does drop anecdotes about her life into events such as school speeches. In a factional sense she is very much an insider, having been part of the machinations of the moderate group inside the Liberal party since university days. But she insists she “feels like an outsider … Look at my gender, and the composition of the parliament, look at my background, look at my education … How many politicians have a surname as long as mine, who are women in leadership positions, who have a migrant background and were public school-educated? I’m an outsider in politics full stop.”

That narrative could play well in the electorate if she amped it up, her supporters believe. They also wish she would fly the flag more as a progressive Liberal, on issues like the environment and women.

Many were horrified at her failure to dress down Alan Jones over his on-air bullying of Opera House chief Louise Herron when the controversy about advertising the Everest horse race on the building’s sails was at its height.

“She should have told Jones ‘Relax, we will get to an outcome, but can you please not talk to a senior public servant like that',” says a senior Liberal. It was, he says, a lost opportunity to tap into a wave of outrage from female voters.


Berejiklian seems uncomfortable when challenged on why she does not openly advocate more in this area. It is “non-core” business. She seems to take the view that if she makes a signature virtue of her gender, that will somehow undercut the job of normalising women in senior roles.

“The best thing I can do for women is do a good job, so that people regard me as a good premier,” she says. “But I feel that if I push the woman thing, it’s not going to help women. Right? It might help me personally, but there are a number of issues which I have spoken about which haven’t been picked up, which I will continue to speak about, which support women, women and choices, especially women who don’t fit into the traditional mould …  [there are] many ways behind the scenes in which I’m making a difference for women. But to do more you don’t always crow about it because it sets you back.”

She adds, “there is no such thing as a perfect leader. Of course there are things I’m not [so] good at or don’t have, but no leader does. I don’t know anybody that has got the full package. But I’m quite happy and comfortable with the things people attribute to me…. hard-working, competent, economically savvy, personable, a different background person”.

Berejiklian is tough, but at times there is brittleness as well. What she does possess, according to Hockey, is an integrity he’s rarely seen matched in public life.

“I have never seen someone more determined to do what is right rather than what is in her own interests,” Hockey tells the Herald. “It's really hard in modern politics to be an advocate for positive policy, it's easier to bring things down. But that’s not in her play book. She is an advocate and a do-er. Whether that's [the winning formula] will be determined in March.”

Damascus: Khamis to Armenian delegation: Syria working to prepare suitable atmosphere for attracting investments

Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)
Saturday
 
 
Khamis to Armenian delegation: Syria working to prepare suitable atmosphere for attracting investments
 
by Hazem al-Sabbagh
 
Damascus, SANA – Prime Minister Imad Khamis said that Syria continues to work towards preparing a suitable atmosphere for attracting local and foreign investments by preparing a modern investment law and a comprehensive investment map, as well as facilitating administrative procedures and providing necessary services to investors.
 
Meeting an Armenian economic delegation on Saturday, Khamis stressed the need for bolstering Syrian-Armenian investments to match the level of the relations between the two countries.
 
He also underlined the importance of Armenian companies participating in reconstruction in the fields of infrastructure, constructing builds, and producing building materials.
 
Khamis called on businessmen from friendly countries that supported the Syrian people in fighting terrorism to look into the incentives provided by Syria in all investments fields and seize available opportunities.
 
For his part, head of the delegation Narek Karapetyan said that Armenian businessmen are interested in making use of investment opportunities in Syria and of the facilitations provided for facilitating relations between the two countries' private sectors.
 
He stressed the need for developing partnerships between establishments and businessmen from both sides in all economic fields to expand cooperation in investments.
 

Miss Universe 2018 Contestants: Meet the 94 Women

Heavy.com
Dec 16 2018
 
 
Miss Universe 2018 Contestants: Meet the 94 Women
 
 
 
Updated Dec 16, 2018 at 1:49pm

Steve Harvey has returned as the host of the Miss Universe Pageant for the 2018 edition of the competition and this year, there are 94 contestants in the running for the title. The show airs live at 7 p.m. ET, on the Fox network, and will follow a slightly different format this year. Instead of kicking off the run of show with the top 16, there will be a top 20. According to Phil Star, the top 20 will then be narrowed down to the top 10. These contestants will then participate in the swimsuit competition and evening gown segment. Many pageants have eliminated the swimsuit competitions from their events, but it remains in the lineup for Miss Universe 2018.

Five out of the top 10 will be narrowed down to the top 5 finalists and they will participate in a question and answer segment. Then, the top 3 will deliver a final word and look before finding out who will be crowned the winner of Miss Universe 2018. To find out more about the candidates participating in this year's competition, read on below and click through our gallery of all 94 Miss Universe 2018 contestants, starting with the four candidates pictured above (left to right).

Miss Armenia is a 25-year-old woman, who hails originally from Vagharshapat. She is a model as well as a pageant winner. Miss Armenia is also Russian and she actually lives in Moscow, where she studies medical science at the First Moscow State Medical University. Muradyan is the first-ever Armenian entrant in the Miss Universe competition, according to Angelopedia.

[Armenian News note: all info on the other contestants can be read at   ]

WFP Armenia Country Brief, November 2018

ReliefWeb
Dec 16 2018


Report

from World Food Programme

Published on 30 Nov 2018

In Numbers

  • 194 mt of food assistance distributed

  • 0 cash based transfers made US$0 m six months (December 2018 – May 2019) net funding requirements

  • 52,342 people assisted in November 2018

Operational Context

Armenia is an upper-middle income, landlocked, net food importer country, and is vulnerable to external shocks.

Since its independence in 1991, the border closure with neighbouring Turkey and Azerbaijan has constrained the country’s economic development. According to the latest National Statistical Service data, the poverty rate reached 29.4 percent in 2016.

WFP has been present in Armenia since 1993. Initially an emergency operation, WFP’s work has since evolved to development assistance since 2000. WFP is operating under the Transitional Interim Country Strategic Plan (TICSP) from January until December 2018.

The results of the ongoing National Strategic Review of Food Security and Nutrition will shape WFP Armenia’s five year Country Strategic Plan (CSP). The CSP (2019-2023) will leverage its current core programme towards an inclusive, innovative and transformative model to strengthen national capacities and systems, including nutrition. It will also explore pilot approaches and systems for greater impact.

Operational Updates

• On 5 November, Armenian Minister of Healthcare Mr. Arsen Torosyan and UN World Food Programme Representative in Armenia and Country Director Ms. Jelena Milosevic discussed future cooperation and joint efforts for 2019 – 2024. The partners highly appreciated efficient cooperation, acknowledging the importance of the school feeding programme for Armenia. The parties also agreed to develop a specific action plan for further partnership and cooperation including all stakeholders with a focus on Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger and Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.

• On 12 November, Governor of Armavir Province Hambardzum Matevosyan, WFP Country Director Ms. Jelena Milosevic, and WFP programme staff discussed further how to enhance the cooperation to benefit more school children in the Province. The newly appointed Governor highly appreciated the efforts of WFP in the country and Armavir. Currently only 50 percent of the schools in Armavir are included in WFP’s school feeding programme. The parties agreed to jointly take steps to include more schools in the Programme. A follow up meeting is planned for the first week of December to discuss concrete steps and activities for the coming months.

• WFP presented the role of the school feeding programme within the social protection system and the achievements recorded so far in Armenia at the “Role of Social Protection in the Sustainable Development Agenda Conference” that was organised as a joint effort of UNICEF, the World Bank, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of Armenia and the Armenian Association of Social Workers. The presentation was based on three studies conducted by WFP : Scoping Study on Social Protection and Food Security, National Strategic Review of Food Security and Nutrition as well as Assessing Poverty Alleviation through Social Protection: School Meals and Family Benefits.

Russian FM comments on parliamentary elections in Armenia

News.am, Armenia
Dec 13 2018
Russian FM comments on parliamentary elections in Armenia

[Armenian News note: the below is translated from Armenian]

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said that Russia wants constructive dialogue with the new Armenian Parliament and future government to further strengthen cooperation, News.am reported on 13 December.

This is the first reaction of the Russian side after the 9 December parliamentary elections, where acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's My Step bloc won a landslide victory.

Commenting on the absence of congratulations from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Zakharova told the Tert.am website that "it is the same thing as asking the man whether he loves you or not".

Zakharova did not specify whether any congratulations would follow later, the website said.

Putin congratulated former President Serzh Sargsyan on the victory of his Republican Party in the 2 April parliamentary elections back in 2017.

Leaders of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan did not congratulate Pashinyan either.

Pashinyan already received congratulations from the US Department of State, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, and several other EU officials, as well as from Georgian president and Lebanese prime minister, News.am said.

President Sarkissian issues message on the occasion of Armenia’s National Assembly elections

Panorama, Armenia
Dec 15 2018

Armenian President Armen Sarkissian has issued congratulatory message to the three political forces that entered the Armenian National Assembly as a result of early parliamentary elections on December 9.

On a written statement, released by the President’s Press Office, Sarkissian thanks also to all parties and alliances which participated in the elections, as well as all citizens of Armenia who have expressed their position regarding ‘the future of the country.’

“These elections, as a statewide political process, were the first since the changes that had taken place in our country last spring. The newly elected National Assembly and the government will be working in the realm of great responsibility. I wish them tenacity and vigor in the implementation of their programs,” reads the message of the President in part.

“Fatherland is becoming stronger, while its history is being written through our daily hard work. We all have to contribute with all abilities to the benefit of our country and people, for the powerful Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh, the entire Armenian nation and all citizens of Armenia,” the message concluded.

Pallone, Markey Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Commending Armenia on Free and Fair Election

Senator Edward J. Markey
Friday
Friday,

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) led a bipartisan, bicameral letter from eight members of the United States Congress congratulating Armenia on its historic elections that took place on Sunday. Since early 2017, Armenia has taken significant steps towards becoming a freer and more open democracy. The letter also reaffirms the long-standing ties between the United States and Armenia and pledges continued support from the United States to the Armenian people.

 

In addition to Pallone and Markey, the letter was signed by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Congressman David Trott (R-MI), Congressman David G. Valadao (R-CA), Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Congressman Adam B. Schiff (D-CA), and Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R-FL).

 

 

Letter Text:

 

His Excellency Nikol Pashinyan

Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia

Yerevan

 

Dear Prime Minister Pashinyan:

 

As members of the United States Congress and the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, we write to offer our congratulations on Armenia’s historic elections that took place on December 9.

 

Since April of last year, the Republic of Armenia has seen a remarkable change in its government through peaceful and democratic means.  This change was motivated by the Armenian people strongly expressing their desire for an open democracy.  Sunday’s election was another resounding victory for advocates of a free and fair electoral process and ongoing democratic reforms.  As the political transition continues, we encourage your government to maintain that momentum by advancing initiatives to further government transparency, strengthen democratic institutions, and empower civil society in Armenia.   

 

We also wish to reassure the Armenian people that we will continue to support your nation in its steadfast pursuit of regional security and economic prosperity.  We will continue to identify opportunities to aid Armenia’s efforts to diversify its economy, strengthen its trade ties with countries like the United States, and continue to act as a safe haven for religious minorities fleeing persecution in the Middle East.  We are proud of the strong bilateral relationship between our two countries and look forward to bolstering our historic ties and friendship.

 

Once again, please accept our congratulations on an election that was calm, peaceful, and free of corruption or voter intimidation. We look forward to continuing our productive and robust dialogue with your administration moving forward.

Baku expects progress in Karabakh settlement in 2019 – Azerbaijani FM

Interfax – Russia & CIS Diplomatic Panorama
Friday
Baku expects progress in Karabakh settlement in 2019 – Azerbaijani FM
 
BAKU. Dec 14
 
Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov says that the formation of a new government in Armenia in 2019 will help achieve progress in settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
 
"We hope that with the formation of a new government in Armenia based on the mandate of that country's people, we will achieve progress [in settling the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh] in 2019 and provide good conditions for establishing peace, stability, and progress in this region," Mammadyarov said at the 39th ministerial meeting of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) in Baku on Friday.
 
By continuing its "policy of occupation," Armenia has deprived itself of economic growth, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry quoted Mammadyarov as saying.
 
"This also causes damage to efforts to normalize common regional trade. The military occupation of Azerbaijani territories does not settle the conflict and will not produce the political result sought by Armenia," he said.