The California Courier Online, January 21, 2021

The California
Courier Online, January 21, 2021

 

1 –        Armenia’s Defeated Leader Is Unable

            To Resolve
Problems from the Lost War

            By Harut
Sassounian

            Publisher,
The California
Courier

            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

2-         Renowned
Humanitarian, Educator
Garbis Der-Yeghiayan
Passes Away

3-         Armenia continues to fight COVID-19
pandemic

4-         COMMENTARY: An
alum’s view on 'Censorship and Corruption at AUA'

5-         Letters to
the Editor

 

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1 –        Armenia’s Defeated Leader Is Unable

            To Resolve
Problems from the Lost War

            By Harut
Sassounian

            Publisher,
The California
Courier

            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

There are three reasons why Armenia is in such a state of chaos
and confusion:

The first reason is that Armenia, as the defeated side in
the war, has very little leverage in the implementation of the “Statement” or
agreement signed on Nov. 9, 2020 by the President of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister
of Armenia and President of Russia.

The second reason is that since the text of the “Statement”
was vague, key details were left out causing uncertainty.

The third problem is that Prime Minister Nikole Pashinyan,
as the demoralized head of the defeated side, is in no position to resolve or
minimize the damage caused by the war. The reasons for his ineffectiveness are:
his failings during the war and his mismanagement and inexperience throughout
his tenure as Prime Minister.

The only proper course for Armenia is for Pashinyan to resign
on his own free will without any pressures, demonstrations, and ugly
confrontations. While it is horrible that Armenia was defeated by powerful
outside enemies during the war, it is much worse when Armenians treat each
other as enemies. Those who say that no one can replace Pashinyan are insulting
the Armenian nation. No one is irreplaceable. There are plenty of competent and
intelligent Armenians both in Armenia
and the Diaspora who can manage Armenia
competently. The new leader should be neither a part of those in power now nor
those of the past. The Armenian people will choose Pashinyan’s successor
through democratic elections. Armenia
needs fresh blood!

Returning to the Nov. 9, 2020 agreement, it is strange that
specific deadlines were set for several of its provisions—such as the
withdrawal of Armenian troops from the various territories surrounding
Artsakh—but point 8 of the agreement, the “exchange of prisoners of war,
hostages and other detained persons, and dead bodies” had no specific deadline.
Prime Minister Pashinyan should have insisted on a deadline before signing the
agreement. Thousands of Armenian families are in an extremely tragic situation,
not knowing whether their loved ones are dead or alive. Meanwhile, many of the
Armenian prisoners of war are being tortured by Azeri officials in
contravention of the Geneva Convention. Azeri soldiers have shamelessly
videotaped themselves decapitating or cutting off the ears and limbs of
captured Armenian soldiers and civilians. This is a continuing war crime which
should be presented to international courts.

Armenia
and Azerbaijan
exchanged a small number of prisoners shortly after the war. The fate and the
number of the rest of captured Armenian soldiers remain unknown.

After a lengthy and frustrating wait, the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan
and Russia finally met in Moscow on January 11,
2021, to take decisions on two key points: 1) the exchange of prisoners of war
and hostages; and 2) determination of the final status of Artsakh, according to
an announcement made before the meeting by the Armenian Prime Minister’s
office.

Shockingly, after the Moscow
meeting, a new agreement was signed by the three leaders mentioning only point
9 of the Nov. 9, 2020 agreement: “the unblocking of all economic and
transportation routes in the region.” This means that Armenia would be able to
use the railway that starts in Northern Armenia, crosses Nakhichevan and exits
in Armenia’s South on its way to Iran. Armenia
would also be able to use the railway that crosses mainland Azerbaijan, reaching Baku
and then Moscow.
Azerbaijan, on the other
hand, would have a route through Southern Armenia linking Nakhichevan to
mainland Azerbaijan.
Very short deadlines were set to form high level committees on the
transportation routes without mentioning either the exchange of prisoners of
war or the final status of Artsakh. Amazingly, Pashinyan announced immediately
after the summit meeting: “Today we failed to resolve the issue of prisoners of
war, this is the most sensitive issue. We agreed that we will continue [talks]
in this direction. I hope we will be able to come to a concrete solution as
soon as possible…. Unfortunately, it is impossible to resolve all issues in one
meeting.” The Moscow meeting was a second defeat
for Armenia.

Pashinyan’s comments should be unacceptable to all
Armenians, regardless of whether they support him or not. How could he have sat
in a meeting for four hours with Presidents Putin and Aliyev and not insisted on
the immediate exchange of the prisoners of war? Two months have passed since
the ceasefire! No one knows when Putin, Aliyev and Pashinyan will meet again to
resolve this critical issue. This is no way to defend Armenia’s
interests, even considering the dire situation of a defeated country. Pashinyan
should have made clear at the meeting that priority number one was the exchange
of prisoners. Unless it was decided that these prisoners would be exchanged
within a few days, he would refuse to discuss any other issue with them. How
can Armenia and Azerbaijan discuss the unblocking of
transportation routes between the two countries while Armenian prisoners are
languishing in Baku
jails and tortured? Furthermore, neither the November agreement nor the
subsequent Moscow announcement indicated who
will pay for the construction of the road and railway linking Nakhichevan to
mainland Azerbaijan through Armenia.

While Armenia’s
Prime Minister continues to negotiate from a position of weakness, the Azeri
side is becoming even more strident; warning Armenia’s leaders not to travel to
Artsakh after the Armenian Foreign Minister went there. Azerbaijan
insisted that this was a violation of the Nov. 9, 2020 agreement, although
there is no such prohibition in the agreement. In addition, Azerbaijan
announced that the Armenian prisoners of war would be tried as ‘terrorists’;
therefore, not subject to an exchange. Even though Armenia is in a very difficult
situation after the war, Armenian leaders have to fight hard to protect the
country’s interests as much as possible. The more subservient Armenia’s
leaders behave, the more demanding Azeris and Turks become.

Regrettably, Pashinyan seems to have convinced himself that
unblocking transportation routes between Armenia
and Azerbaijan would boost Armenia’s
economy. I seriously doubt this is true. Would any Armenian feel safe traveling
or sending goods through Azerbaijan?
Who will protect them? More problematic is Armenia’s agreement to allow
Azerbaijan a road and railway link between the two countries, allowing Turkey
to cross Nakhichevan, and then through Armenia’s Southern region reach mainland
Azerbaijan and onwards to the Turkic Republics of Central Asia. This is the
century-old Pan-Turanian dream of Turkey which is now about to become
a reality. Such a route would undermine Armenia’s sovereignty and endanger
its existence. The Armenian people and its government should do everything in
their power to block this Pan-Turanian connection. Giving access to Azerbaijan and Turkey
to cross Armenia’s
territory has absolutely nothing to do with the Artsakh war and such a
provision should not have been included in the Nov. 9, 2020 agreement.

I fear that Armenia’s
downhill slide will continue as long as the country is ruled by a Prime
Minister who is primarily responsible for the loss of Armenian lands and the
deaths of thousands of soldiers.

************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

2-         Renowned
Humanitarian, Educator
Garbis Der-Yeghiayan
Passes Away

LOS ANGELES—Prof. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan, president of
Mashdots College, passed away on January 12 in Los Angeles due to a rapid
deterioration of his health after testing COVID-19 positive.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1949, Der-Yeghiayan earned bachelor’s
degrees in Political Science/Public Administration and Mathematics (Summa Cum
Laude) as well as Master’s degrees in Educational Administration and
International Relations from the American
University of Beirut. At the age of 17, he began teaching
at both the elementary and high school level in Beirut
before serving as high school principal in Lebanon at the age of 22. After
moving to the United States
in 1976, he attended Northwestern University earning his doctorate in Human Development
and Social Policy, and the University
of La Verne earning a
second doctorate in Educational Management.

Prof. Der-Yeghiayan served as dean and president, as well as
professor of Education and International Relations at the American Armenian
International College/University of La
Verne from 1976 to 1992. Afterwards, he served for
many years as president and professor of Educational Management and
International Relations/Public Diplomacy at Mashdots
College in Glendale, California.
He authored fourteen books on current affairs, history and education, and has
presented more than 100 scholarly papers at international conferences.

Prof. Der-Yeghiayan served on 11 non-profit boards and
committees, including Commissioner of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department Inmate Welfare Services. He was the host of three weekly live television
programs.

Prof. Der-Yeghiayan was a dedicated Rotarian. He joined the
Rotary Club of La Verne in 1981, served with distinction as president in
1984-85 and International Service chair 1982-84 and 1985-1998. Through his
efforts, the Rotary Club of La Verne was able to establish the first Rotary
Club in the former Soviet Union.

Prof. Der Yeghiayan held the record for organizing 30
consecutive peace conferences for Rotary International. He was internationally
renowned as a visionary peacemaker and was the recipient of numerous awards
from world leaders. In appreciation of his unprecedented efforts in
peace-building and conflict resolution, the Peace Institute of Rotary
International District 5300 was named in his honor in 2014.

In March, 2019 Dr. Der Yeghiayan led a high-ranking Rotary
peace delegation to the Holy Land.

Prof. Der Yeghiayan is survived by his wife, Angela; his son
James and Tanya Der Yeghiayan, and their children, Micah, Ethan and Caleb; son
Johnny and Tiffany Der Yeghiayan, and their daughter, Juliana; his brother
Samuel; brother, Hopig; and sister, Knar Der Yeghiayan Toutounjian and family;
and many relatives, colleagues, students and friends.

 

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3 –        Armenia continues to fight COVID-19
pandemic

The Armenian government has commissioned 600,000 doses of
coronavirus vaccines from World Health Organization-backed COVAX; medical and
social workers, seniors and people suffering from chronic diseases will be the
first to get vaccine shots free of charge, and according to Gayane Sahakian,
the deputy director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

The first vaccine which COVAX will make available to the
participating countries is the one produced by AstraZeneca, which will deliver
it to COVAX in February or March.

They will be enough to vaccinate 300,000 people. According
to the Ministry of Health, there were 8,614 active coronavirus cases in Armenia as of
January 18. Armenia
has recorded 164,676 coronavirus cases and 2,998  deaths; 153,064 have recovered.

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4-
       
COMMENTARY: An alum’s view
on 'Censorship and Corruption at AUA'

By Prof. Armen Hovakimian

 

I have read the opinion piece written by an anonymous
faculty member of the American University of Armenia (AUA), titled “Censorship
and Corruption at American University of Armenia,” published in The California
Courier (January 14, 2021) and would like to offer a comment. Though I don't
agree with many of the author's statements, I do think the author raises issues
that are important not just for AUA but for many other institutions in Armenia.

First, let me say that I am an AUA alum and graduated from
its MBA program in 1993. I am a tenured full professor in US and neither my
career nor my livelihood depends on AUA. I am very grateful for the role AUA
has played in my life and I know my friends feel the same way. Over the years,
the class of 1993 has made various financial contributions to AUA, including to
AUA’s 100 Pillars fundraising campaign and its ChangeMakers campaign. None of
this would have happened if we did not strongly believe in AUA and its mission.

Let me now turn to three specific issues raised in the
anonymous opinion.

First, I do believe in the right of the faculty and students
to express their opinions, both inside and outside the university. I have seen
the letter signed by 45 members of the faculty and personally see no issues
with the letter. That said, I have noticed that the letter was also signed by
some members of the university leadership, specifically three of its five
deans. That could be problematic for the University for number of reasons. The
rules governing the behavior of students, faculty, and the leadership are
typically different. What may be ok for students may not be ok for faculty.
What may be ok for faculty may not be ok for leadership. The general public is
likely to attribute an individual’s view to the institution when the individual
is a member of the leadership of that institution. Yet, it is important for an
institution like AUA to be apolitical. The mission of AUA is to have a positive
impact on its students and the community at large and contribute to the advancement
of Armenia.
That mission can be jeopardized if the community views AUA as an institution
affiliated with some political forces and against some others. Furthermore, the
faculty and students may feel that they have to toe a certain line if it is
expressed by a politically outspoken administrator. Subordinates may feel
compelled to sign a petition that bears the signature of a senior
administrator. People who decline to sign may be as concerned about retribution
as those who do. For these reasons, senior administrators have a responsibility
to vet their potentially controversial public statements with the university.

Second, let us consider the university’s reaction. As an
alum, I have received the email on the topic of diversity of opinions sent to
the University community from the President of the University. I’m not sure if
this is what the anonymous author calls “an attack of freedom of speech,” but I
did not find anything objectionable in it. There was no warning against
expressing an opinion in the President’s email. If I were to guess I would say
that the President might have simply felt that it was a good time to remind
everyone about certain university policies as one could anticipate further
expressions of political views, both within the University and more publicly.

Obviously, I do not know anything about what else might have
happened within the university in the aftermath of the letter. The anonymous
author alleges recriminations from colleagues who did not agree with the letter
and that faculty were summoned by the President. I hope the University
addresses this allegation. Since I do not know the content, the form, or the
extent of these interactions, I will not comment on how appropriate they were,
except to say that just like the 45 signatories of the letter, other faculty
have a right to express their views, including to their colleagues, as long as
that happens in a respectful nonthreatening manner.

Third, the anonymous opinion accuses the University of
corruption in relation to its hiring of the current acting provost and his
spouse. Again, I do not know any details, but the fact itself is neither
surprising nor corrupt. I have no doubt that it is very hard for AUA to hire
qualified faculty or administrators from abroad. There is nothing corrupt in
offering a joint appointment to both spouses, assuming they are both qualified
for the positions they are taking. That happens in US universities as well. My
understanding is that that the acting provost assumed the position because the
previous provost resigned to take a position of a president at another
university. It is not surprising that one of the deans was asked to step in as
an acting provost. The fact that the spouse also works at the University is not
a disqualifying factor for such an appointment. What typically happens in such
cases is simply that the person with administrative power recuses himself or
herself from any administrative decisions that directly affect their spouse. I
can only assume that is what happens at AUA as well.

Let me finish by stating that the views expressed in this
letter are mine only. I deeply care about AUA as an institution and believe in
its mission and that is the only motivation behind this letter.

Armen Hovakimian is a professor of finance at the Zicklin School
of Business at Baruch
College, at The City
University of New York.

He holds a BS in Computer Engineering from Yerevan
Polytechnic Institute, an MBA from American
University of Armenia, and a PhD in finance from Boston College.

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5-         Letters to
the Editor

 

 

Dear Editor:

 

As a response to the article “Censorship and Corruption at American University
of Armenia”
published in The California Courier on January 14, 2021, we officially state
that the article is factually inaccurate.

Prior to publishing the article, the editor(s) did not take
the necessary step of fact-checking the piece. The University was never
contacted in order to confirm any information. As a result, the article is
merely an _expression_ of individual perception and opinion, which does not
correspond to reality.

 

The American University of Armenia

Yerevan,
Armenia

 

 

Dear Editor:

 

Regarding Raffy Ardhaldjian’s letter on the January 14, 2021
California Courier issue.

In my opinion, we lost the war in 1994 immediately after we
defeated Azerbaijan
and liberated Artsakh and the surrounding areas. At that time when Aliyev
accepted defeat and asked for cease fire, Ter-Petrosyan/Armenia agreed. But
instead of demanding that “we will stop the war only if Aliyev/Azerbaijan
signed a peace treaty accepting that Karbajar and Artsakh belong to Armenia and
Azerbaijan has no more claims.” Ter-Petrosyan almost immediately after the
victory was ready to return to Azerbaijan
the buffer zones “to establish peace.” Just imagine the victor not the
vanquished was ready to return territories liberated by war for peace.

As for the current loss, I agree that Armenia throughout
history has had poor diplomats and we should add no oil, and Mr. Ardhaldjian is
right at the end Azerbaijan won—but because of Turkey’s and Israel’s, Jihadist
Mercenaries’, Pakistanis’ and Putin’s/Russia’s help. These are not
justification by Mr. Sassounian and others, these are facts. Second, blaming
the Armenian Lobby is wrong; they did their utmost and accomplished a lot. As
for, “it takes humility to accept such defeat.” This is not a sport event,
discussion, etc. This is war; therefore, humility has no place.

 

Bedros H. Kojian

Orange, CA

 

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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
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Courier subscribers are requested not to use this service to change, or modify
mailing addresses. Those changes can be made through our e-mail, ,
or by phone, (818) 409-0949.

You may also like

The California Courier Online, January 21, 2021

The California
Courier Online, January 21, 2021

 

1 –        Armenia’s Defeated Leader Is Unable

            To Resolve
Problems from the Lost War

            By Harut
Sassounian

            Publisher,
The California
Courier

            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

2-         Renowned
Humanitarian, Educator
Garbis Der-Yeghiayan
Passes Away

3-         Armenia continues to fight COVID-19
pandemic

4-         COMMENTARY: An
alum’s view on 'Censorship and Corruption at AUA'

5-         Letters to
the Editor

 

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1 –        Armenia’s Defeated Leader Is Unable

            To Resolve
Problems from the Lost War

            By Harut
Sassounian

            Publisher,
The California
Courier

            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

There are three reasons why Armenia is in such a state of chaos
and confusion:

The first reason is that Armenia, as the defeated side in
the war, has very little leverage in the implementation of the “Statement” or
agreement signed on Nov. 9, 2020 by the President of Azerbaijan, Prime Minister
of Armenia and President of Russia.

The second reason is that since the text of the “Statement”
was vague, key details were left out causing uncertainty.

The third problem is that Prime Minister Nikole Pashinyan,
as the demoralized head of the defeated side, is in no position to resolve or
minimize the damage caused by the war. The reasons for his ineffectiveness are:
his failings during the war and his mismanagement and inexperience throughout
his tenure as Prime Minister.

The only proper course for Armenia is for Pashinyan to resign
on his own free will without any pressures, demonstrations, and ugly
confrontations. While it is horrible that Armenia was defeated by powerful
outside enemies during the war, it is much worse when Armenians treat each
other as enemies. Those who say that no one can replace Pashinyan are insulting
the Armenian nation. No one is irreplaceable. There are plenty of competent and
intelligent Armenians both in Armenia
and the Diaspora who can manage Armenia
competently. The new leader should be neither a part of those in power now nor
those of the past. The Armenian people will choose Pashinyan’s successor
through democratic elections. Armenia
needs fresh blood!

Returning to the Nov. 9, 2020 agreement, it is strange that
specific deadlines were set for several of its provisions—such as the
withdrawal of Armenian troops from the various territories surrounding
Artsakh—but point 8 of the agreement, the “exchange of prisoners of war,
hostages and other detained persons, and dead bodies” had no specific deadline.
Prime Minister Pashinyan should have insisted on a deadline before signing the
agreement. Thousands of Armenian families are in an extremely tragic situation,
not knowing whether their loved ones are dead or alive. Meanwhile, many of the
Armenian prisoners of war are being tortured by Azeri officials in
contravention of the Geneva Convention. Azeri soldiers have shamelessly
videotaped themselves decapitating or cutting off the ears and limbs of
captured Armenian soldiers and civilians. This is a continuing war crime which
should be presented to international courts.

Armenia
and Azerbaijan
exchanged a small number of prisoners shortly after the war. The fate and the
number of the rest of captured Armenian soldiers remain unknown.

After a lengthy and frustrating wait, the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan
and Russia finally met in Moscow on January 11,
2021, to take decisions on two key points: 1) the exchange of prisoners of war
and hostages; and 2) determination of the final status of Artsakh, according to
an announcement made before the meeting by the Armenian Prime Minister’s
office.

Shockingly, after the Moscow
meeting, a new agreement was signed by the three leaders mentioning only point
9 of the Nov. 9, 2020 agreement: “the unblocking of all economic and
transportation routes in the region.” This means that Armenia would be able to
use the railway that starts in Northern Armenia, crosses Nakhichevan and exits
in Armenia’s South on its way to Iran. Armenia
would also be able to use the railway that crosses mainland Azerbaijan, reaching Baku
and then Moscow.
Azerbaijan, on the other
hand, would have a route through Southern Armenia linking Nakhichevan to
mainland Azerbaijan.
Very short deadlines were set to form high level committees on the
transportation routes without mentioning either the exchange of prisoners of
war or the final status of Artsakh. Amazingly, Pashinyan announced immediately
after the summit meeting: “Today we failed to resolve the issue of prisoners of
war, this is the most sensitive issue. We agreed that we will continue [talks]
in this direction. I hope we will be able to come to a concrete solution as
soon as possible…. Unfortunately, it is impossible to resolve all issues in one
meeting.” The Moscow meeting was a second defeat
for Armenia.

Pashinyan’s comments should be unacceptable to all
Armenians, regardless of whether they support him or not. How could he have sat
in a meeting for four hours with Presidents Putin and Aliyev and not insisted on
the immediate exchange of the prisoners of war? Two months have passed since
the ceasefire! No one knows when Putin, Aliyev and Pashinyan will meet again to
resolve this critical issue. This is no way to defend Armenia’s
interests, even considering the dire situation of a defeated country. Pashinyan
should have made clear at the meeting that priority number one was the exchange
of prisoners. Unless it was decided that these prisoners would be exchanged
within a few days, he would refuse to discuss any other issue with them. How
can Armenia and Azerbaijan discuss the unblocking of
transportation routes between the two countries while Armenian prisoners are
languishing in Baku
jails and tortured? Furthermore, neither the November agreement nor the
subsequent Moscow announcement indicated who
will pay for the construction of the road and railway linking Nakhichevan to
mainland Azerbaijan through Armenia.

While Armenia’s
Prime Minister continues to negotiate from a position of weakness, the Azeri
side is becoming even more strident; warning Armenia’s leaders not to travel to
Artsakh after the Armenian Foreign Minister went there. Azerbaijan
insisted that this was a violation of the Nov. 9, 2020 agreement, although
there is no such prohibition in the agreement. In addition, Azerbaijan
announced that the Armenian prisoners of war would be tried as ‘terrorists’;
therefore, not subject to an exchange. Even though Armenia is in a very difficult
situation after the war, Armenian leaders have to fight hard to protect the
country’s interests as much as possible. The more subservient Armenia’s
leaders behave, the more demanding Azeris and Turks become.

Regrettably, Pashinyan seems to have convinced himself that
unblocking transportation routes between Armenia
and Azerbaijan would boost Armenia’s
economy. I seriously doubt this is true. Would any Armenian feel safe traveling
or sending goods through Azerbaijan?
Who will protect them? More problematic is Armenia’s agreement to allow
Azerbaijan a road and railway link between the two countries, allowing Turkey
to cross Nakhichevan, and then through Armenia’s Southern region reach mainland
Azerbaijan and onwards to the Turkic Republics of Central Asia. This is the
century-old Pan-Turanian dream of Turkey which is now about to become
a reality. Such a route would undermine Armenia’s sovereignty and endanger
its existence. The Armenian people and its government should do everything in
their power to block this Pan-Turanian connection. Giving access to Azerbaijan and Turkey
to cross Armenia’s
territory has absolutely nothing to do with the Artsakh war and such a
provision should not have been included in the Nov. 9, 2020 agreement.

I fear that Armenia’s
downhill slide will continue as long as the country is ruled by a Prime
Minister who is primarily responsible for the loss of Armenian lands and the
deaths of thousands of soldiers.

************************************************************************************************************************************************

 

2-         Renowned
Humanitarian, Educator
Garbis Der-Yeghiayan
Passes Away

LOS ANGELES—Prof. Garbis Der-Yeghiayan, president of
Mashdots College, passed away on January 12 in Los Angeles due to a rapid
deterioration of his health after testing COVID-19 positive.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1949, Der-Yeghiayan earned bachelor’s
degrees in Political Science/Public Administration and Mathematics (Summa Cum
Laude) as well as Master’s degrees in Educational Administration and
International Relations from the American
University of Beirut. At the age of 17, he began teaching
at both the elementary and high school level in Beirut
before serving as high school principal in Lebanon at the age of 22. After
moving to the United States
in 1976, he attended Northwestern University earning his doctorate in Human Development
and Social Policy, and the University
of La Verne earning a
second doctorate in Educational Management.

Prof. Der-Yeghiayan served as dean and president, as well as
professor of Education and International Relations at the American Armenian
International College/University of La
Verne from 1976 to 1992. Afterwards, he served for
many years as president and professor of Educational Management and
International Relations/Public Diplomacy at Mashdots
College in Glendale, California.
He authored fourteen books on current affairs, history and education, and has
presented more than 100 scholarly papers at international conferences.

Prof. Der-Yeghiayan served on 11 non-profit boards and
committees, including Commissioner of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s
Department Inmate Welfare Services. He was the host of three weekly live television
programs.

Prof. Der-Yeghiayan was a dedicated Rotarian. He joined the
Rotary Club of La Verne in 1981, served with distinction as president in
1984-85 and International Service chair 1982-84 and 1985-1998. Through his
efforts, the Rotary Club of La Verne was able to establish the first Rotary
Club in the former Soviet Union.

Prof. Der Yeghiayan held the record for organizing 30
consecutive peace conferences for Rotary International. He was internationally
renowned as a visionary peacemaker and was the recipient of numerous awards
from world leaders. In appreciation of his unprecedented efforts in
peace-building and conflict resolution, the Peace Institute of Rotary
International District 5300 was named in his honor in 2014.

In March, 2019 Dr. Der Yeghiayan led a high-ranking Rotary
peace delegation to the Holy Land.

Prof. Der Yeghiayan is survived by his wife, Angela; his son
James and Tanya Der Yeghiayan, and their children, Micah, Ethan and Caleb; son
Johnny and Tiffany Der Yeghiayan, and their daughter, Juliana; his brother
Samuel; brother, Hopig; and sister, Knar Der Yeghiayan Toutounjian and family;
and many relatives, colleagues, students and friends.

 

************************************************************************************************************************************************

3 –        Armenia continues to fight COVID-19
pandemic

The Armenian government has commissioned 600,000 doses of
coronavirus vaccines from World Health Organization-backed COVAX; medical and
social workers, seniors and people suffering from chronic diseases will be the
first to get vaccine shots free of charge, and according to Gayane Sahakian,
the deputy director of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

The first vaccine which COVAX will make available to the
participating countries is the one produced by AstraZeneca, which will deliver
it to COVAX in February or March.

They will be enough to vaccinate 300,000 people. According
to the Ministry of Health, there were 8,614 active coronavirus cases in Armenia as of
January 18. Armenia
has recorded 164,676 coronavirus cases and 2,998  deaths; 153,064 have recovered.

**********************************************************************************************************************************************

4-
       
COMMENTARY: An alum’s view
on 'Censorship and Corruption at AUA'

By Prof. Armen Hovakimian

 

I have read the opinion piece written by an anonymous
faculty member of the American University of Armenia (AUA), titled “Censorship
and Corruption at American University of Armenia,” published in The California
Courier (January 14, 2021) and would like to offer a comment. Though I don't
agree with many of the author's statements, I do think the author raises issues
that are important not just for AUA but for many other institutions in Armenia.

First, let me say that I am an AUA alum and graduated from
its MBA program in 1993. I am a tenured full professor in US and neither my
career nor my livelihood depends on AUA. I am very grateful for the role AUA
has played in my life and I know my friends feel the same way. Over the years,
the class of 1993 has made various financial contributions to AUA, including to
AUA’s 100 Pillars fundraising campaign and its ChangeMakers campaign. None of
this would have happened if we did not strongly believe in AUA and its mission.

Let me now turn to three specific issues raised in the
anonymous opinion.

First, I do believe in the right of the faculty and students
to express their opinions, both inside and outside the university. I have seen
the letter signed by 45 members of the faculty and personally see no issues
with the letter. That said, I have noticed that the letter was also signed by
some members of the university leadership, specifically three of its five
deans. That could be problematic for the University for number of reasons. The
rules governing the behavior of students, faculty, and the leadership are
typically different. What may be ok for students may not be ok for faculty.
What may be ok for faculty may not be ok for leadership. The general public is
likely to attribute an individual’s view to the institution when the individual
is a member of the leadership of that institution. Yet, it is important for an
institution like AUA to be apolitical. The mission of AUA is to have a positive
impact on its students and the community at large and contribute to the advancement
of Armenia.
That mission can be jeopardized if the community views AUA as an institution
affiliated with some political forces and against some others. Furthermore, the
faculty and students may feel that they have to toe a certain line if it is
expressed by a politically outspoken administrator. Subordinates may feel
compelled to sign a petition that bears the signature of a senior
administrator. People who decline to sign may be as concerned about retribution
as those who do. For these reasons, senior administrators have a responsibility
to vet their potentially controversial public statements with the university.

Second, let us consider the university’s reaction. As an
alum, I have received the email on the topic of diversity of opinions sent to
the University community from the President of the University. I’m not sure if
this is what the anonymous author calls “an attack of freedom of speech,” but I
did not find anything objectionable in it. There was no warning against
expressing an opinion in the President’s email. If I were to guess I would say
that the President might have simply felt that it was a good time to remind
everyone about certain university policies as one could anticipate further
expressions of political views, both within the University and more publicly.

Obviously, I do not know anything about what else might have
happened within the university in the aftermath of the letter. The anonymous
author alleges recriminations from colleagues who did not agree with the letter
and that faculty were summoned by the President. I hope the University
addresses this allegation. Since I do not know the content, the form, or the
extent of these interactions, I will not comment on how appropriate they were,
except to say that just like the 45 signatories of the letter, other faculty
have a right to express their views, including to their colleagues, as long as
that happens in a respectful nonthreatening manner.

Third, the anonymous opinion accuses the University of
corruption in relation to its hiring of the current acting provost and his
spouse. Again, I do not know any details, but the fact itself is neither
surprising nor corrupt. I have no doubt that it is very hard for AUA to hire
qualified faculty or administrators from abroad. There is nothing corrupt in
offering a joint appointment to both spouses, assuming they are both qualified
for the positions they are taking. That happens in US universities as well. My
understanding is that that the acting provost assumed the position because the
previous provost resigned to take a position of a president at another
university. It is not surprising that one of the deans was asked to step in as
an acting provost. The fact that the spouse also works at the University is not
a disqualifying factor for such an appointment. What typically happens in such
cases is simply that the person with administrative power recuses himself or
herself from any administrative decisions that directly affect their spouse. I
can only assume that is what happens at AUA as well.

Let me finish by stating that the views expressed in this
letter are mine only. I deeply care about AUA as an institution and believe in
its mission and that is the only motivation behind this letter.

Armen Hovakimian is a professor of finance at the Zicklin School
of Business at Baruch
College, at The City
University of New York.

He holds a BS in Computer Engineering from Yerevan
Polytechnic Institute, an MBA from American
University of Armenia, and a PhD in finance from Boston College.

************************************************************************************************************************************************

5-         Letters to
the Editor

 

 

Dear Editor:

 

As a response to the article “Censorship and Corruption at American University
of Armenia”
published in The California Courier on January 14, 2021, we officially state
that the article is factually inaccurate.

Prior to publishing the article, the editor(s) did not take
the necessary step of fact-checking the piece. The University was never
contacted in order to confirm any information. As a result, the article is
merely an _expression_ of individual perception and opinion, which does not
correspond to reality.

 

The American University of Armenia

Yerevan,
Armenia

 

 

Dear Editor:

 

Regarding Raffy Ardhaldjian’s letter on the January 14, 2021
California Courier issue.

In my opinion, we lost the war in 1994 immediately after we
defeated Azerbaijan
and liberated Artsakh and the surrounding areas. At that time when Aliyev
accepted defeat and asked for cease fire, Ter-Petrosyan/Armenia agreed. But
instead of demanding that “we will stop the war only if Aliyev/Azerbaijan
signed a peace treaty accepting that Karbajar and Artsakh belong to Armenia and
Azerbaijan has no more claims.” Ter-Petrosyan almost immediately after the
victory was ready to return to Azerbaijan
the buffer zones “to establish peace.” Just imagine the victor not the
vanquished was ready to return territories liberated by war for peace.

As for the current loss, I agree that Armenia throughout
history has had poor diplomats and we should add no oil, and Mr. Ardhaldjian is
right at the end Azerbaijan won—but because of Turkey’s and Israel’s, Jihadist
Mercenaries’, Pakistanis’ and Putin’s/Russia’s help. These are not
justification by Mr. Sassounian and others, these are facts. Second, blaming
the Armenian Lobby is wrong; they did their utmost and accomplished a lot. As
for, “it takes humility to accept such defeat.” This is not a sport event,
discussion, etc. This is war; therefore, humility has no place.

 

Bedros H. Kojian

Orange, CA

 

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS