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1) Armenian Parliamentary and Party Leader Discusses Issues of Concern at
2) Improvements to New PACE Report on Karabagh
3) Captivating UCLA Conference on Armenian Jerusalem
4) Armenia Draw Prompts Resignation
1) Armenian Parliamentary and Party Leader Discusses Issues of Concern at
GLENDALE–Vahan Hovhannisian, deputy speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly
ARF Bureau member, spoke at a press conference organized by the ARF Western US
Central Committee and held at its headquarters, in Glendale, Tuesday night.
In attendance were Armenian Consul General Gagik Kirakosian and members of
ARF Bureau and Central Committee, as well as members of the print and
media. Central Committee chairperson Avedik Izmirlian introduced Hovhannisian
to those in attendance.
In his introductory remarks, Hovhannisian referred to Armenia’s role and
in a constantly changing world and the prerequisites for defending Armenian
statehood in such circumstances.
He noted that for the moment, the world is unipolar, as a consequence of
certain rules are in play that must be adhered to, even though Armenia will
a price for doing so. Under present conditions, he said, and as a free and
democratic country, Armenia will continue to adhere to European standards.
Parallel to Armenia, the diaspora must also be a focus of concern, he said,
because it is the source of huge potential, despite having its roots in a
national tragedy. Both Armenia and the diaspora are vital for the survival and
development of the Armenian nation, he added.
Hovhannisian said he considers criticism of the government for its mistakes,
in general, a beneficial and positive phenomenon. He noted, however, that
pathological mudslinging merely creates disillusionment in the people.
He cited two categories of disillusionment. First, he said, the people of
Armenia conceptually hold independence to be the equivalent of justice, but
when justice is denied them in Armenia, they grow disillusioned in their
government and state. Second, he referred to the diapora’s disillusionment
the Armenian government, which is in part due to venomous attacks and
mudslinging by various elements, he said.
He, nevertheless, pointed to the presence of systematic corruption, bribery,
and other illegal behavior. He added that the ARF continues, in turn, to
systematic struggle against such behavior, and expressed hope that the
situation in the country would steadily improve.
Hovhannisian also stressed the imperative of homeland-diaspora unity and
cooperation in commemorating the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide,
saying that the Armenian government would do all in its power to bring that
about. He added the ARF would also continue to work toward fortifying the
of the Armenian people, Armenia’s statehood, and development.
In response to questions from members of the press, Hovhannisian touched on
Regarding the anti-ARF and anti-government campaigns in Armenia or abroad, he
said that all sides should welcome constructive criticism, but pathological
negativism and personal animosities should be shunned, because they are
In an open society, he said, it is only natural that the government be the
target of popular criticism. Nevertheless, we should be aware that outside
forces might also play a role in fomenting discontent, he said, and that is a
dangerous possibility than cannot be ruled out.
Regarding the Armenian genocide, he said that the Turkish government
the genocidal policies of its predecessors. Armenian cultural monuments
continue to be destroyed in Turkey in an effort to eradicate historical memory
and all traces of Armenian inhabitation in Western Armenia, and Turkey has
directly supported Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian aggression.
Referring to the issue of sending a small contingent of Armenian troops to
Iraq, he said that at this stage, it is not a given since the National
has not discussed the issue–and even when it does, it is not likely to
He explained that the issue of dual citizenship is more complicated than most
people realize. Issues that must still be resolved include the right to vote
and be elected to office, military service, and the payment of taxes.
2) Improvements to New PACE Report on Karabagh
YEREVAN (Yerkir)–The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s
most recent report on the Mountainous Karabagh has not changed greatly from
September 14 report, according to the Armenian delegation head to that body.
Presented by newly appointed rapporteur to the confilict David Atkinson, the
report includes revised wording that serves the Armenian side, and was
by PACE’s November 17 session in Paris.
The head of PACE’s Armenian delegation Tigran Torosian, revealed that the
clause calling for the International Court of Justice Court to rule whether
Armenia has violated Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity has been altogether
The draft resolution also urges the Azeri government to take measures to
discuss the region’s status with the Armenian and Azeri communities of
Torosian also said that while the draft resolution is improved, it does not
contain all proposals put forth by the Armenian delegation.
3) Captivating UCLA Conference on Armenian Jerusalem
By Vartan Matiossian
LOS ANGELES–There are few places in the diaspora today where Armenians have
had such a central role as in Jerusalem. The fact that any serious study about
the Holy City cannot avoid reference to the Armenians is in itself evidence of
this special position. The Arab-Israeli conflict and now the death of Yassar
Arafat have made the UCLA conference on Armenian Jerusalem, November 6-7, all
the more timely and captivating.
“Armenian Jerusalem and Armenians in the Holy Land” was the fifteenth in the
conference series on Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces organized by
Professor Richard Hovannisian, AEF Chair in Armenian History at the University
of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Beginning in 1997, the first twelve
conferences dealt with Western Armenia and the once-Armenian-populated regions
of current-day Turkey: Van/Vaspurakan to Constantinople, Smyrna/Izmir, the
Black Sea communities, and Caesarea. Hovannisian has already edited and
published the first five volumes in this seriesVan/Vaspurakan (2000),
Baghesh/Bitlis-Taron/Mush (2001), Tsopk/Kharpert (2002), Karin/Erzerum (2003),
and most recently Sebastia/Sivas and Lesser Armenia (2004), each between 300
and 450 pages and with many relevant photographs.
The last two conferences, devoted to New Julfa and the other Armenian
communities of Iran, moved the focus of the series to areas outside of
Armenia. The conference on Jerusalem continued this exploration. Its honorary
president was His Beatitude, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian
Jerusalem, with co-sponsorship by the UCLA International Institute, Center for
Near Eastern Studies, and Center for European and Eurasian Studies.
The Conference and an Azeri News Agency
Before describing the conference, it is instructive to note an episode of the
continuing anti-Armenian distortions, this one so ridiculous as to be
The Azeri “Assa-Irada” news agency, in a release dated November 9, hastened to
“honor” the conference with its attention by issuing a brief report. According
to that news item, a “well-informed source” let it be known that a member of
the Institute of History of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, Dr. Albert
Kharatyan, had referred to Armenians as “the first inhabitants of Jerusalem
that the city was a part of “Great Armenia.” Of course, there was nothing
remotely resembling such a statement by the Armenian historian, and this
disinformation can only be ascribed to the Armenophobic imagination of the
With this, we might also call on the Armenian media to be more circumspect in
judging and taking at face value what the Azeri and Turkish press write about
individual Armenian scholars or others. And it would be most desirable that
Armenian media be present or have reporters at such important conferences at
the UCLA series to give first-hand accounts and descriptions.
The Opening Session–November 6
When Professor Hovannisian opened the conference on Saturday morning with his
introductory presentation on the history and significance of Armenian
Jerusalem, the UCLA Court of Sciences Auditorium, which seats more than 450
persons, was filled to capacity and this strong attendance continued to the
of the day. On Sunday afternoon, despite the inclement weather, most of the
auditorium was again occupied.
The paper of Professor Nina Garsoian (Columbia University, Emerita), read by
Dr. Sergio La Porta, dealt with the seventh century text of the Vardapet
Anastas, who wrote that while in the Holy Land he had visited 70 Armenian
monasteries and communities. Although some scholars have considered this text
to be a fabrication or else greatly exaggerated, Garsoian uses Greek and
archeological sources to demonstrate that the basic text regarding the
and Caucasian Albanian presence in the Holy Land in the sixth and seventh
centuries is sound.
Dr. John Carswell (Malaga, Spain, formerly University of Chicago and AUB)
described with many personal anecdotes and color slide projections the
mosaics and ceramics of Jerusalem. While conducting his field work in
Jerusalem, he photographed some 2,000 examples, some of which were
his two-volume study. He also discovered two eighteenth-century chronicles
describe the events in Constantinople and Jerusalem at the time.
Professor Abraham Terian (St. Nersess Seminary, New York), a native of
Jerusalem, described the rich manuscript collection of St. James Monastery.
collection of some 3,900 manuscripts has now been catalogued in eleven volumes
by the late savant, Archbishop Norayr Bogharian. Stating that first written
source about Armenians in Jerusalem is from the sixth century, the speaker
described the important translations that have taken place and the rich
tradition of manuscript production.
Dr. Claude Moutafian (University of Paris) discussed the relations between
Armenian lords and the kings of Jerusalem in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries. He related how Armenian princesses of Cilicia, such as Arda,
Morphia, and Melisande, through marriage became the queens of Jerusalem. It is
likely that they sponsored or supported Armenian initiatives such as the
twelfth-century restoration of St. James Monastery. He also attempted to date
the scepter that has been ascribed to the Cilician King Hetum and to determine
whether this belonged to Hetum I or Hetum II, both of whom lived in the
Professor Sergio La Porta (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) explored the
relationship between the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Greater
in the fourteenth century. The accommodation of certain Roman Catholic
the Catholicos of All-Armenians, who then resided at Sis in Cilicia, caused a
strong reaction from among the traditionalist bishops in the east. Resistance
was also shown by the Armenian clergy of Jerusalem. The prelate, Bishop
refused to accept the compromising stance of the church council at Adana in
1307, and in 1311 broke with the Holy See in Cilicia, formally establishing
Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem under the protection of the Mamluk sultans.
Steadfast allegiance to the traditional Armenian faith subsequently
the election of Jerusalem Patriarch Boghos Garnetsi as Catholicos of
All-Armenians in Sis in 1418.
From Medieval to Modern Jerusalem
The afternoon session on November 6 began with the presentation by Dr.
Ervine (St. Nersess Academy) on one of the most dynamic leaders of Jerusalem,
Patriarch Krikor Baronder (Grigor Paronter), who reigned from 1613 to 1645.
During his tenure, the Ottoman Empire was in crisis, which also impacted the
Armenian people and Armenian Jerusalem. Even before entering into religious
service, Baronder, a native of Gandzak in Eastern Armenia, had campaigned to
eliminate the burdensome debts of the patriarchate. He was able to secure
contributions, not only from Van, New Julfa, and Aleppo but also from places
such as Amida, Urfa, and Bitlis, virtually encouraging their competition to
erase the debt. During his thirty-two-year patriarchal reign, Baronder,
expanded the Armenian presence in Jerusalem, acquiring new properties,
organizing pilgrimages, and creating a spiritual atmosphere within the
Dr. Albert Kharatyan (Institute of History, Yerevan), speaking in Armenian,
reflected on Armenian-Greek church relations during the second half of the
seventeenth century. The period was characterized by sharp disagreements and
competition relating to the respective rights of the churches in the holy
places as well as to issues such as the liturgical calendar. For a brief time,
in 1657-1658, the Greeks were even able to take control of St. James Monastery
by bribing the Turkish officials. The difficulties were compounded by the
turmoil within the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, which at that time
had jurisdiction over Jerusalem. Ultimately, it was Krikor the Chain-Bearer
(Grigor Shkhtayakir, 1715-1749) who delivered the Jerusalem Patriarchate from
debt and restored it to its previous position.
Professor Christina Maranci (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) gave an
illustrated talk on the sixth century Armenian mosaic floor that was
near the Damascus Gate in 1894. The large mosaic has given rise to scholarly
debates regarding the depiction of various birds and animals and their
significance. Linking the mosaic with similar (but different) Greek and Jewish
models, the art historian speculated that it could possibly be associated with
The Modern Period
Following an intermission, the conference moved on to the modern period. Dr.
Emma Kostandyan (Institute of History, Yerevan), speaking in Armenian with an
English summary, examined the linkages between the beloved Armenian church
Hayrig and Jerusalem. Khrimian visited Jerusalem in 1852, based on which he
wrote in the well-known “Hravirag ergrin Avediats” (Passage to the Promised
Land). While Khrimian was the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, he
communicated frequently with Jerusalem, and these letters have become an
important historical source. Then in 1890, the Turkish authorities exiled him
to Jerusalem where he remained until he was elected Catholicos of
in 1892, after which he continued to show deep concern for the welfare and
activities of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
Dr. Robert Krikorian (George Washington University) spoke about the Armenian
volunteer movement and the Armenian Legion during World War I. The Armenian
Legion played a significant role in the liberation of Palestine under the
Allied command of General Allenby. The Armenian volunteers distinguished
themselves in the hard-fought battle of Arara, which was a turning point that
brought the end of Ottoman rule in Palestine. Interestingly, Armenian
volunteers hastening to Artsakh in 1988 and thereafter were inspired by the
volunteer movement and the example of the Armenian Legion, whose feats were
related by natives of Musa Dagh who had repatriated to Armenia.
Professor Vahram Shemmassian (California State University-Northridge)
with facts and figures on the Armenian deportees and survivors of 1915 who
ended up in Palestine during World War I. After the British occupied the
region, some 4,000 of these people were transferred to Port Said. By the fall
of 1919, most of them had been able to return to their native towns and
villagesat least for the time being.
The conference continued on the UCLA campus on Sunday afternoon. Dr. Vartan
Matiossian (Del Salvador University and Hovnanian School) spoke on the two
driving forces during a “golden age” (1921-1939). These were the successive
patriarchs Eghishe Turian and Torkom Kushagian. The presentation began with
reflections on the establishment and the history of the Armash Seminary where
Turian was the dean for a long time and Kushagian was his student and
successor. During their Jerusalem years, the two dedicated patriarchs were
to revive the traditions of Armash, making Armenian Jerusalem the spiritual
cultural center of the Diaspora and the workplace of such noted intellectuals
as Hagop Oshagan and Shahan Berberian.
Columbia University PhD candidate Bedross Der Matossian, a native of
Jerusalem, used charts and graphs to synthesize the history of the Armenian
community of Palestine from 1917 to 1948. By the time of the Arab-Israeli war
in 1948, the number of Armenians in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Bethlehem, and
elsewhere had grown from 3,000 to more than 15,000. This gave to the community
a new and different cultural, educational, athletic, and political life.
Professor Osheen Keshishian (Glendale College), also a native of Jerusalem
editor of the “Armenian Observer,” spoke about the literary life of Jerusalem,
discussing the work and activities of a number of important cultural figures,
such as Turian, Oshagan, Berberian, Eghivart (Archbishop Eghishe Derderian),
Shen-Mah, Anel (Dr. Garo Garabedian), Vahram Mavian, and others. His
presentation included first-hand observations and impressions.
Professor Nurith Kenaan-Kedar (University of Tel Aviv) made her presentation
by video, in which she described the Armenian ceramic art in Jerusalem, which
was brought to the Holy Land by masters from Kutahia. With beautiful visual
images and illustrations, she described the history and production of the
Balian, Ohannesian, and Karakashian families. The tradition of the Kutahia
tiles has being perpetuated and embellished by three generations of the Balian
and Karakashian families. Marie Balian in particular has caught the eye of
Israeli and Palestinian society and has dedicated a large recent creation to
the elusive vision of peace.
Contemporary Jerusalem and Its Challenges
The final session on Sunday focused on the contemporary situation in
Jerusalem. Sylva Natalie Manoogian (UCLA) described with power-point
projections the plans for renovation of the Patriarchate’s Gulbenkian Library,
a project that has been in progress since 1995. She has personally been
involved in the work and hopes that before too long the library will again be
open for use by students and scholars.
Dr. Sossie Andezian (National Center of Scientific Research, Paris) has been
conducting research on the Armenian community of Jerusalem for the past five
years. She stressed the importance of Jerusalem for Armenians worldwide. The
events of the past years have made that role all the more critical. The local
Armenians, because of the absence of pilgrims in recent times, have become
something like “permanent pilgrims.” She explained that there is tension and
mutual dissatisfaction between the lay and religious components of the
community. The Patriarchate has been firmly situated for centuries and the
character of the city has safeguarded the position of the Armenian Church. But
things have been changing during the past decades as the result of more
stringent state policies. The state police can now even enter within the walls
of St. James Monastery, and Armenian properties can be expropriated if deemed
necessary for considerations of national defense. It is interesting that
Armenians who lost all their properties as the result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli
war have seldom complained about this injustice, but they are outraged and
ready to mobilize when the issue comes to the holy places and properties
belonging to the Armenians collectively. The speaker concluded that Jerusalem,
as the holy city of three great religions, is an international area, where
issues require an international political settlement, and, therefore, the
internationalization of the city can stabilize and improve the Armenian
Kevork/George Hintlian (Christian Heritage Research Institute), who was
scheduled to speak on new directions of research on Armenian Jerusalem and the
Holy Land, instead opened the floor to a discussion about the current
situation. Having served as the secretary of the Armenian Patriarchate for
years (like his father before him), more recently he has become an unofficial
spokesman for the community. During his intense half-hour exchange with the
audience, Hintlian spoke cautiously yet with urgency about the prevailing
conditions. “We are facing an extremely fateful situation regarding the
Armenian quarter of Jerusalem. Negotiations will be conducted during the next
ten years. We need to enlist international lawyers. The challenge we face is a
global solution that can be imposed on us. The defense [of Armenian rights]
cannot be left to seventeen members of the St. James brotherhood. People of
middle age have left. But there are still thousands of people who are bonded
with Jerusalem.” In reply to questions about disturbing reports about
difficulties encountered by the Armenians and especially the Armenian clergy,
he stated: “What we are observing is not an anti-Armenian attitude but rather
an anti-Christian one.”
The Armenian Jerusalem conference was an extremely important milestone in the
UCLA series organized by Richard Hovannisian. In his concluding remarks,
Professor Hovannisian noted the difference between this conference and many of
the preceding ones was that Jerusalem still has a living, although weakened,
Armenian community whereas many of the cities and provinces of historic
have been completed denuded of their Armenian element. He announced that this
series will be interrupted so that on the occasion of the ninetieth
of the Armenian genocide an international conference may be organized at UCLA
on April 2-3, 2005.
The twenty conference participants were honored by the Srpots Tarkmanchadz
School Alumni Association at an opening dinner reception on Friday evening,
November 5, and by Mr. and Mrs. Alec and Alenoush Baghdassarian of the
Educational Foundation on Saturday, November 6.
Immediately following the end of the conference on November 7, many of the
participants attended a reception on the UCLA campus marking the thirtieth
anniversary of the Society for Armenian Studies (SAS). The program honored the
founders of SAS: Nina Garsoian, Richard Hovannisian, Dikran Kouymjian, Avedis
Sanjian, and Robert Thomson. The master of ceremonies for the event was UCLA
Narekatsi Professor Peter Cowe. Hovannisian gave a synopsis on the
the Society thirty years ago, and additional comments were made by the current
SAS president, Professors Barlow Der Mugrdechian of California State
University-Fresno, Robert Hewsen, Rowan State University (emeritus), UCLA
librarian Gia Aivazian, and R. Hrair Dekmejian (USC).
4) Armenia Draw Prompts Resignation
BUCHAREST (Reuters)–Romania coach Anghel Iordanescu offered to resign on
Thursday on returning home from the 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw with
“Iordanescu put his resignation (letter) on the Romania Soccer Federation
(FRF) president’s table,” an FRF source, who declined to be named, told
Romanian fans met their team’s flight from Yerevan on Thursday with calls for
Iordanescu to resign.
Angry and disillusioned fans met the flight brandishing banners while a
Romanian website poll reported that 96 percent of respondents wanted
The disappointing draw saw Romania lose the lead in Group One and dented
chances of making the 2006 extravaganza in Germany.
The result gave Armenia their first point in five matches. The Netherlands,
with a match in hand, leapfrogged Romania on goal difference after beating
“God punished you” and “Iordanescu’s time is over,” ran large headlines on
front page of Pro Sport daily, after the players refused to speak to the media
before or after the match on Wednesday.
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