Massis Weekly Online – Volume 27, No. 6 (1306)

Massis Weekly Online

VOLUME 27, NO. 6 (1306)
– Armenian Opposition Parties Fail To Form An Election Alliance
– Turkish MPs To Lobby Against Armenian Genocide Bill
– SDHP "Sarkis Dkhrouni" Youth Association Organizes A Seminar
Dedicated To Sumgait Pogroms
– Education Minister Asks University Boards To Investigate Corruption
– British House Of Commons Hosts Meeting On Armenia
– Armenian Community Leaders In Canada Meet With Minister Jason Kenney
– Vivacious, Talented & Young Cellist Ani Kalayjian
– UCLA International Conference On Indian Ocean Armenians
– Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State To Hold 19th Annual Banquet

– Armenian Opposition Parties Fail To Form An Election Alliance

YEREVAN — Last-ditch attempts by several Armenian opposition parties
to form an election alliance have ended in failure, it was confirmed
on Wednesday. The parties led by former Prime Ministers Aram Sarkisian
and Vazgen Manukian and former Foreign Minister Raffi Hovannisian
failed to iron out their differences in late-night negotiations on
Tuesday. All there men were tight-lipped about reasons for the fiasco,
which is another good news for the Armenian government.
Sarkisian seemed particularly disappointed with the collapse of the
talks, saying that his radical Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party will
have to run for parliament on its own. He confirmed that Hanrapetutyun
will not team up even with the former ruling Armenian Pan-National
Movement, another opposition party involved in the talks.
"I wouldn’t like to use details of those negotiation for attacking
anyone," Sarkisian told RFE/RL. "I think those details won’t be of any
use." But the outspoken oppositionist did say that he suspects some of
his potential allies of playing into the government’s hands.
"Unfortunately, in Armenia and dictatorial countries in general there
are too many such parties," he said. When asked to name them,
Sarkisian said, "The public will see that during the election
campaign. I think the public already has suspicions about one or
another party. I don’t have to specify them."
Manukian also refused to elaborate on the opposition discussions. "I
don’t want to play the blame game," he told RFE/RL. "That’s just the
way it is. We failed for some reason, and I don’t want to make any
Manukian also said later in the day that his National Democratic Union
(AZhM), one of Armenia’s oldest opposition parties, has decided to
boycott the May 12 elections. The veteran politician has advocated
such a boycott in the past, arguing that the country’s culture of
electoral fraud leaves little room for the opposition.
The nominal chairman of Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun party, Vartan
Khachatrian, may have had Manukian in mind when he complained that
some unspecified participants of the talks were skeptical about the
chances of an opposition bloc making a strong showing in the May 12
"We did everything in our power to reach agreement and always remained
open to mutual concessions," Khachatrian told RFE/RL. He said
Hovannisian was even ready not to occupy any of the five top spots in
the would-be bloc’s list of candidates. Khachatrian added that
Zharangutyun will decide later on Wednesday whether or not it will
contest the elections.

– Turkish MPs To Lobby Against Armenian Genocide Bill

Turkish legislators are traveling to Washington to lobby members of
the U.S. Congress against a draft resolution recognizing the mass
killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide,
parliamentary sources said last Thursday.
Three separate delegations, including members of the ruling Justice
and Development Party and the main opposition Republican People’s
Party, are visiting Washington starting late February and in March to
seek support against the resolution, expected to be debated at the
House of Representatives in April.
The Democratic-controlled Congress is widely expected to back the
draft, even though the White House is opposed to it, wary over the
impact on relations with a key Muslim ally and a NATO member. Turkish
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said after a visit to Washington this
month that passing the draft would "poison" ties and "spoil
everything" between the two countries.

– SDHP "Sarkis Dkhrouni" Youth Association Organizes A Seminar
Dedicated To Sumgait Pogroms

YEREVAN — The Social Democrat Hnchakian Party "Sarkis Dkhrouni" Youth
Association conducted a discussion with a panel of speakers
emphasizing the importance of educating the international community
about the Sumgait pogroms on the 19th anniversary of the massacres.
The panelists delved in the issues concerning the proper way of
presenting the historical and political motives behind the atrocities
towards the Armenians of Sumgait.
The 1988 Sumgait atrocities in Azerbaijan were viewed by the panelists
as a continuation of the genocidal persecution of the Armenian people.
The Azerbaijani government carried out very similar actions as their
ancestral kins, the Turks, with the same motives to eliminate the
Armenian population
from their historic lands to achieve pan-Turkism.
Hrair Ulubabyan, who organized an Armenian resistance in Sumgait and
currently is the head of the initiative protecting the rights of the
Sumgait Armenians, was a panelist at the lecture. He stated that the
century old intention of the Turkish people was to achieve an Armenia
without an Armenian population; that was the driving force behind the
Azerbaijani government. That vision was attempted to become a reality
when the pogroms had been initiated.
The panelists stated that the atrocities against Armenians, which
continued until 1991, were so vile that they could be comparable to
the Genocide of 1915. Thus it is important to state that justice for
the victims of both Genocides remains unresolved.
The most striking is the fact that neither the international community
nor Armenia has recognized the events of Sumgait as massacre. Former
Ombudswoman for the Republic of Armenia and prominent Human Rights
Activist, Larisa Alaverdyan who was also a member of the panel stated
that the international legal issues concerning the Sumgait pogroms had
not come to culmination since the last time it was discussed in 1989
during the Soviet era. The Sumgait pogroms are a prime example of
human rights abuse, Alaverdian stated that we simply have not been
able to raise the issue as a state matter within the international
community. She believes that it is crucial the Sumgait pogroms and
their aftermath be addressed by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

– Education Minister Asks University Boards To Investigate Corruption

Following a survey that was conducted and publicized by the Social
Democrat Hunchakian Party "Sarkis Dkhrouni" Student and Youth
association exposing a system of payment for good test and exam
results at government run universities, Republic of Armenia’s
Education Minister Levon Mkrtchian has prompted University management
boards to investigate the persistent corruption.
Out of 2000 students – five percent of all the students in Armenia –
1821 said that there was corruption in their colleges. A striking 93
percent of respondents to the survey recommended that instructors
salaries be improved to discourage them from accepting bribes.
The results of the survey were submitted to the education minister
asking him to remedy the problem. Up until the now, the Education
Minister had been non-committal. Yet mounting international exposure
and pressure concerning the revelation of persistent corruption within
higher educationhas finally resulted in his compliance to a formal
Within a statement the "Sarkis Dkhrouni" student association conveyed
its desire that exposure of this corruption will lead to the overhaul
of the current Soviet-era system of marking. Adjustments need to be
implemented and mandated from above. As 87 percent of the surveyed
students stated there should be a functioning system of discipline in
the management of higher education establishments.
If this systemic problem of corruption within our system of higher
education is not resolved, bribery will persist in the country and the
deep rooted culture of corruption will remain. Those who pass their
exams with a bribe are assumed to be knowledgeable, will gain
respectable positions in the future, and ask for bribes. The cycle
must be stopped.

– British House Of Commons Hosts Meeting On Armenia

LONDON — Armenian Ambassador to Great Britain His Eminence Vahe
Gabrielian met on February 20 at the UK House of Commons with
representatives of both Houses and prominent members of the Armenian
community in the UK. The event was organized by Armenia Solidarity
group, the British-Armenian All-Party Parliamentary Group, and the
Social Democrat Hunchakian party UK organ "Nor Serounti Tsayn" (Voice
of Nor Serount). The meeting was also jointly sponsored by Ms. Nia
Griffith MP and Dr. Bob Spink MP.
The meeting was devoted to two motions submitted to the parliament
urging the end of the Turkish blockade of Armenia and the
re-affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. The parliamentary motion to
recognize the Armenian genocide; EDM 357, was submitted by Bob Spink
of the Conservative Party. Currently it has been endorsed by 68
parliament members. The parliamentary motion on the Turkish blockade
of Armenia; EDM 344, was submitted by Nia Griffith from the Labor
party and currently has the support of 66 MPs.
Presentations were made by: Dr Spink, Baroness Cox, Nia Griffith,
Quentin Davies, Paddy Tipping, Andrew Dismore, Lord Avebury and Eilian
Williams. Members of the Panel presented each their own points of view
about Turkey’s ascension to Europe, the opening of the borders between
the two countries and the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. In
their closing remarks the parliamentarians advised the British
Armenian community: to advocate their own MPs and ask them to sign EDM
357 and EDM 344. Another factor that the community must address is
the UK governments keen interest to admit Turkey into the Europe
Union. The panelist stated that it is imperative that the British
Armenian community contact their MEPs and voice their concern over the
The parliamentarians announced their intention to organize their
fellow members of parliament and wear a white poppy on April 24 in
remembrance of those who perished during the Armenian Genocide.
The speaker of the day His Excellency Dr Vahe Gabrielyan, the Armenian
Ambassador who spoke about "The Turkish Blockade of Armenia" and "the
Recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the UK Government" and
reiterated the statement that "Turkey must apologize to Armenia." His
Excellency spoke extensively on Armenia’s approaches to these and
other issues and called on the MPs to use Britain’s close ties with
Turkey to force it to open border with Armenia and establish relations
with it. The ambassador thanked the organizers and well as British MPs
for their efforts
urging debates on these two very important problems

– Armenian Community Leaders In Canada Meet With Minister Jason Kenney

MONTREAL — Several leaders of the Canadian Armenian community met
earlier today with Minister Jason Kenney, Secretary of State for
Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity. The meeting, which was held in
the Montreal offices of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada,
was organized by the Congress of Canadian Armenians at the request of
the Minister. The discussions centered on Armenian issues and the
concerns of the community.
The recent assassination of Hrant Dink in Istanbul was discussed with
the Minister. The Rural Poverty Eradication Program in Armenia, which
the Canadian Diocese and the Congress of Canadian Armenians have
committed to actively support, was explained.
Suggestions were made on how to streamline the Canadian visa
application process in Armenia. The community leaders also recommended
that Canada play a more active role in supporting a lasting solution
to the Nagorno-Karabagh issue based on its right to self determination.
During the meeting, Payam Akhavan, Professor of Law at McGill
University, thanked the Minister for his recent timely intervention in
facilitating Taner Akçam’s entry into Canada. Akçam, a Turkish
historian, visited Montreal last week to give two lectures. "Akçam is
a voice for Armenian-Turkish reconciliation," said Professor Akhavan.
"Thankfully, those who tried to silence him by making slanderous
accusations failed."
At the end of the meeting, Jason Kenney concluded his remarks by
saying: "I treasure my relationship with the Armenian community. I am
sensitive to its concerns, and am committed to help it achieve its
future aspirations." "I am very encouraged by the Minister’s response
to the several suggestions
we made to him," said Taro Alepian, Chairman of the Congress of
Canadian Armenians. "The Government of Canada has shown by its actions
that it is supportive of our community, and of our stated positions on
Armenian issues."
The member organizations of the Congress of Canadian Armenians include
(in alphabetical order): AGBU Alex Manoogian School, AGBU Montreal
Chapter, Armenian Democratic Liberal Party, Holy Cross Church of
Laval, St. Gregory the Illuminator Church of Montreal, S.D. Hunchakian
Party, Society of Armenians from Istanbul, Tekeyan Cultural Association.

– Vivacious, Talented & Young Cellist Ani Kalayjian
By Arpine Kocharian

"I find the process of being a cellist, and performing with other
musicians to be an exhilarating experience." Ani Kalayjian

Cellist Ani Kalayjian has garnered respect in the classical music
world at an age when most artists have yet to prove themselves. At
just 25 years old, the Armenian-American talent has had groundbreaking
performances in the United States, Canada and Europe, appearing in
concert both as a soloist and chamber musician. She has set the stage
for a prolific career having collaborated with many of the world’s
most famous artists, while expressing her own artistic vision through
an impressive repertoire that reflects a wide range of genres and
What started as a hobby soon became a true passion for music. Ani
began taking cello lessons at the age of four after she moved to the
United States. Her grandfather, who taught cello in the Middle East,
and was involved in the formation of a local orchestra in the 1960s,
was an early source of inspiration.
Ani’s musical studies continued at the Manhattan School of Music
preparatory division. She received her Bachelor’s degree in cello
performance from the Mannes College of Music in New York City, where
she studied with Timothy Eddy, cellist of the Orion Quartet. Ani went
on to obtain her Master’s degree with distinction from the Royal
Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, where she was a
student of Ralph Kirshbaum, international soloist. Ani’s teachers,
whom she considers integral to her success, refined her artistry and
skills as a professional musician. She concluded her postgraduate
studies in 2006 embarking on an exciting career in music.
International exposure to classical music festivals and her myriad
experiences have helped shape and impact her direction as a performer.
Ani was one of the two cellists selected for the national program of
the inaugural season of David Finckel and Wu Han’s [email protected] She
has appeared in Michael Tilson Thomas’ Aaron Copland workshop at
Carnegie Hall where she performed at Zankel and Weill Hall. At Prussia
Cove in Cornwall, England, she was featured in a BBC documentary
playing in a master class with Steven Isserlis. In 2003, Ani made her
concerto debut atColumbia University’s Miller Theatre performing
Saint-Saens concerto with orchestra. Her recent competition success
includes winning the Anglo-Czechoslovak Trust competition where she
was also granted the Bohuslav Martinu Foundation Prize. Her 2006
concerts included appearances with the Bayside Trio in Portland,
Maine, as well as solo performances in Holland, the Czech Republic,
and at Oxford University in England. Among her upcoming engagements
are solo recitals in Montreal, as well as her New York solo recital
debut at Carnegie Hall on March 31, 2007.
As well as her ambitions as a soloist, Ani’s passion for chamber music
is manifested in Trio Nareg where the brilliant young cellist will
perform with Ani Kavafian, one of America’s most versatile violinists,
and pianist, Armen Guzelimian, a virtuoso soloist. The three
celebrated solo artists will perform at the inaugural season of the
opening of Segerstrom Hall for the very first time on May 24, 2007.
This groundbreaking musical event will promote Armenian contemporary
and classical works.
David Finckel, Artistic Director of the Chamber Music Society of
Lincoln Center has been quoted with saying, "Ani Kalayjian’s music
making is infused with her personal warmth. She brings joy into the
concert hall and shares it generously with the audience and with her
colleagues. She is an important musician who will undoubtedly touch
many lives during her career."
As a messenger of classical music, Ani wishes to discover seldom
played works that have not yet been explored to their full potential.
She is also dedicated in promoting classical music amongst the
younger generations. "I want to educate people of the living power of
classical music. I can say that this is the central goal of my career."

– UCLA International Conference On Indian Ocean Armenians

UCLA — "Ebb and Flow of the Armenian Communities of the Indian Ocean"
is the theme for the next UCLA international conference, Saturday and
Sunday, March 17-18, 2007. Sixteen scholars from Armenia, Europe, and
North America will discuss the important commercial, cultural, and
intellectual roles of the Armenian communities of Southeast Asia from
the seventeenth through twentieth century. The conference, open to the
public at no fee, will be held in Young Hall, Court of Sciences 50, on
Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30p.m and on Sunday from 2:00 to 5:30p.m.
The Saturday sessions will focus on cultural and intellectual themes,
including the current state of the Indo-Armenian community, while the
Sunday afternoon session will feature three presentations on the
long-distance trade of the New Julfa merchants and their interaction
with the mercantile forces in the Indian Ocean and beyond.
The conference is sponsored by the UCLA Armenian Educational
Foundation Chair in Modern Armenian History and co-sponsored by the
Center for India and South Asia, Department of History, International
Institute, Center for Near Eastern Studies, and the AGBU Southern
California District Committee. It is the sixteenth consecutive
conference in the UCLA series on Historic Armenian Cities, Provinces,
and Communities.
After introductory comments on the "ebb and flow" by Professor Richard
Hovannisian, the Saturday morning sessions will be chaired and
discussed by Professor Engseng Ho of Harvard University, with five
papers: Professor Margaret Sarkissian of Smith College will give an
illustrated talk on the Armenian mercantile communities of Southeast
Asia; Professor Khachig Tololyan of Wesleyan University will speak on
eighteenth-century thought on transforming the Armenians from
dispersion to nation; Professor Peter Cowe of UCLA will examine the
development of Armenian drama in India; Professor Osheen Keshishian of
Glendale Community College will assess the roles of "Azdarar" and
other Indo-Armenian periodicals; and Ph.D. candidate Mana Kia of
Harvard University will present Joseph Emin in the context of British
colonial policies.
The Saturday afternoon sessions on March 16 will be chaired and
commented on by Professor Houri Berberian of CSU, Long Beach.
Presenters include Professor Michael Fisher of Oberlin College on an
Armenian lady from Agra in London in the early seventeenth century;
Professor Bhaswati Bhattacharya of Leiden on the noted Armenian
general, Khwaja Gorgin Khan; Dr. Richard Hovannisian on Indo-Armenian
notables, with a film on Sir Catchik Paul Chater; Mr. Gregory
Aftandilian, a fellow at Harvard University, on American GIs in India
in World War II, and Honorable Armen Baibourtian, Armenia’s first
ambassador to India, on the present situation of the community.
Extended time has been given for each of the three presentations on
Sunday afternoon, March 17, dealing with long-distant merchants and
trade. Edward A. Alpers of UCLA will serve as chair and discussant.
Professor Sanjay Subrahmanyan, director of the India and South Asia
Center at UCLA, will speak on French commercial ambitions and Armenian
interlocutors in the seventeenth century; Dr. Sebouh Aslanian of UC
Irvine and a co-organizer of the conference, will focus on the role of
the New Julfan "Network of Trust," and Tatiana Seijas of Mexico City
and a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University will present Don Pedro di
Zaratte, a Julfan Armenian in Mexico City. Discussions will follow
each of the conference sessions.
As in past conferences in this series, Richard and Anne Elizabeth
Elbrecht of Davis will mount a pictorial exhibit, this one on the
Armenian churches, buildings, and institutions of South Asia.
The conference proceedings in this series are edited and prepared for
publication by Richard Hovannisian. To date, six volumes have been
released: Van/Vaspurakan, Bitlis-Mush/Taron, Kharpert/Tsopk,
Erzerum/Karin, Sivas/Sebastia, and Diarbekir-Urfa/Tigranakert-Edessa.
The seventh, Armenia Cilicia, is being co-edited with Professor Simon
Payaslian of Clark University and will be published in 2007, to be
followed by volumes on the Armenian communities of Constantinople,
Smyrna, the Black Sea-Pontus region, Kars and Ani, Caesarea,
Jerusalem, and New Julfa.
Parking for the international conference on the Indian Ocean
communities may be found along Hilgard Avenue (limited space) or in
the UCLA Parking

– Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State To Hold 19th Annual Banquet

FRESNO — The Armenian Studies Program of California State University,
Fresno, will hold its 19th Annual Banquet on Saturday, March 24, 2007
at the Fort Washington Golf & Country Club, 10272 N. Millbrook, in
The keynote speaker and special guest for the Banquet is The Honorable
Armen Liloyan, Consul General of the Republic of Armenia, who will be
paying his first official visit to Fresno. The Consul General was born
in Yerevan, Armenia and received a Bachelor’s degree from the
Department of Oriental Studies at Yerevan State University. In
2001-2002 he received his M.A. in Diplomacy and International
Relations, from the University of Westminster, in London. He has
diplomatic experience as a desk officer for Central Europe and later
the Balkans in the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Armenia. In
November 2006 he was appointed as Consul General of the Republic of
Armenia in Los Angeles. During the Banquet, student recipients of
Armenian Studies scholarships and grants will be recognized.
The Armenian Alumni and Friends Chapter at Fresno State is organizing
a silent auction at the Banquet. During the past several decades the
Program has gained national and international recognition, with an
undergraduate program offering as many as ten courses in Armenian
The Program houses two endowed positions, the Haig & Isabel Berberian
Chair of Armenian Studies, held by Prof. Kouymjian, and the Henry
Khanzadian Kazan Visiting Professor of Armenian Studies. Barlow Der
Mugrdechian and Dickran Kouymjian constitute the core faculty of the
Program along with the annual Kazan Visiting Professor. The reception
and silent auction begin at 6:00PM followed by the Banquet at 7:00PM.
Tickets are available at $50 per person, with a special price of $20
for Fresno State students. For more information about the Banquet,
please contact the Armenian Studies Program at 559-278-2669.

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