Turkey ex-football great Hakan Sukur risks 4 years jail for ‘insulting Erdogan’

Turkey’s former international football star Hakan Sukur risks up to four years in jail after being charged with insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in posts on Twitter, reports said Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reports.

Prosecutors have charged Sukur with posting Tweets from his account @HakanSukur containing “insulting content against Mr President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his son,” the private Dogan news agency reported.

In his defence, Sukur, 44, said he did not intend to target the president in his posts, the content of which was not made clear.

But that was rejected by prosecutors, who claimed that the tweets were “clearly related” to Erdogan, the news agency said.

If convicted, Sukur faces up to four years in jail, according to the charges. As the indictment has been approved, a first hearing is expected in the coming weeks.

Sukur, a striker whose football career stretched from 1987-2007, was by far the most prolific goalscorer in the history of the Turkish national side, finding the net 51 times in 112 appearances.

He is also remembered for his electric performance in the 2002 World Cup, where Turkey registered its best ever performance of third place.

After football, the high-profile Sukur went into politics and was in 2011 elected MP from Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

But he resigned in 2013 after a vast corruption probe that targeted Erdogan and his inner circle, siding with the movement of his arch-foe, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

The legal case is one of a string of others targeting journalists, bloggers and ordinary people who land in court on charges of insulting Erdogan and other top officials.

CSTO chief: Further escalation in Syria threatens security of post-Soviet military bloc

Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS

Conflict in Syria may grow into military confrontation between the Middle East countries putting the security of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member-states in jeopardy, the post-Soviet security alliance’s chief, Nikolay Bordyuzha said on Tuesday, TASS reports.

“Turkey’s massive artillery shelling of Syrian territory, the statements of Ankara and Riyadh on plans to deploy ground operations in Syria threaten to switch the Syrian crisis to a qualitatively new and a very dangerous level: the direct military confrontation between the regional countries,” Bordyuzha said warning that it is difficult to predict the possible consequences.

The CSTO secretary-general stressed that in this context the fight against international terrorism and assistance to peaceful settlement in Syria is relegated to the back burner.

“Further instigation of hotbed of war in Syria’s territory in direct proximity from the zone of the CSTO’s responsibility is a threat to security of the organization’s member-states,” Bordyuzha said.

The CSTO is a regional security group comprising six post-Soviet countries — Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia.

Ronaldo’s French striptease ends in embarrassment

The Portuguese star’s role in an advertisement sees him left feeling sheepish after mistaking HD quality television of a lovely lady for the real thing, reports. 

Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest acting role sees the Real Madrid star left embarrassed after attempting to flirt with a beautiful woman – who turns out to be made up entirely of pixels.

In a French advertisement for an HD television, the Portuguese icon catches eyes with the lovely lady from his apartment across the street and proceeds to unbutton his shirt in a bid to win her affection.

Ronaldo is left feeling sheepish, however, when the woman suddenly transforms into a bear as the 30-year-old’s neighbour switches channels.

President Sargsyan visits Yerablur on Army Day

On the occasion of Army Day, President Serzh Sargsyan along with the President of NKR Bako Sahakian, His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II and the highest leadership of the Republic visited today the Erablur Military Pantheon and paid tribute to the memory of the Armenian sons who sacrificed their lives for Armenia’s Independence.

Armenians in Turkey celebrate Christmas

Turkey’s Oriental Orthodox Christians, the country’s largest Christian denomination, held mass on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning to celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus, which they observe on Jan. 6, reports. 

On Tuesday evening, Christmas Eve mass was held at several Oriental Orthodox churches throughout the city. The pews of the Surp Vartanants Armenian Church were filled during the service, which was conducted in Armenian. Those present sang hymns such as Der Voghormia (Lord of Mercy). The congregation then filed out of the church holding candles and sang and prayed together in the front yard of the church. The candles are held to symbolize the light that Jesus brought the world with his birth. Afterwards, bread and salt were distributed to symbolize the abundance of food for the next year.

The Surp Vartanants Armenian Church is located in the Feriköy neighborhood of İstanbul’s Şişli district, where many members of the local Armenian community reside. Armenians are Turkey’s largest Christian minority population and celebrate the Nativity of Christ in Bethlehem as well as the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6.

There are an estimated 65,000 Armenian Orthodox, 15,000 Syriac Orthodox, 8,000 Chaldean Catholic and 2,500 Greek Orthodox Christians in Turkey. There are also members of other denominations such as Bulgarian Orthodox and Georgian Orthodox, as well as Protestants.

Armenian economist Carlos Melconian becomes President of National Bank of Argentina

Armenian economist Carlos Melconian was appointed as President of the National Bank of Argentina on Wednesday December 23, reports.

Stressing that the Bank of the Argentine Nation “will take a more prominent role as a development bank,” Melconian began his tenure after being appointed by the newly elected President Mauricio Macri.

In 1980s Melconian worked in the Central Bank of Argentina and then as a private consultant at the World Bank, among others.

Azerbaijan uses howitzer cannon to shell Armenian defense positions

The rival used artillery weapons of different caliber as at fired more than 1,700 shots in the southern direction (Hadrut) of the line of contact between the armed forces of Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan last night.

According to the NKR Ministry of Defense, the Azerbaijani side used 60, 82and 120 mm mortars, TR-107 missile units and 122 mm D-30 howitzer cannon.

The front divisions of the NKR Defense Army resorted to retaliatory actions to pressure the activeness of the rival and confidently continued with their military duty all along the line of contact.

Armenian statehood moving into next stage: Serzh Sargsyan

After the preliminary counting of the votes at the constitutional referendum held on December 6, 2015, President Serzh Sargsyan hosted numerous officials, political and civil figures at the Presidential Palace. The President made a statement at the beginning of which he requested to honor the memory of the victims of the 1988 earthquake with a minute’s silence.

Dear Colleagues,

Yesterday, we together crossed over an important threshold which we were facing for the last two years. Wisdom, vision and light of faith dispelled the fog of uncertainty, suspicions and concern. Yesterday we chose to embark on the road of long-lasting and sustainable development, and because of that the Armenian statehood today is moving into the next stage.

Many of the proponents of “No” were presenting themselves as a “front”. I was trying to avoid that word as much as I could. It is my deep conviction that we have no right to have “fronts” within our country. For a nation which had the history like ours, it would be unaffordable luxury. Besides, among other objectives these changes are aimed at eliminating the necessity of organizing fronts or fighting each other.

Today, we are ready to state that parliamentary system of governance has become a reality for our country. It means we will have strong authorities and strong opposition, the role of political parties will increase, and there will be new opportunities for their development. It means also development of the partisan system which is an important prerequisite for any democratic state. Transition to parliamentary system will provide utmost transparency in the activities of the legislative and executive authorities. Responsibilities of the executive power will become more clear-cut and its accountability will grow, while its activities will become more predictable for the parliament as well as for the people.

Finally, the changes allow to be more confident about the security of our state. Constitutional provisions which envisage administration and operative management of the armed forces allow to adopt swift and efficient decision in the situation which have already become ordinary for us, or in critical situations.

Many of us were concerned with the impact these changes might have for our national security and defense. Be assured, that everything was measured with the utmost precision, otherwise, in case of a tiniest threat, I would stop the entire process.

Dear colleagues,
It is very important that during the campaign, “Yes” was promoted not only by the Republican Party but also by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Prosperous Armenia represented in the National Assembly, as well as by a number of other parties.
“Yes” doesn’t mean that we didn’t have disagreements, disputes, or discussions. There were plenty, trust me. Nevertheless, we always were able to find compromise and develop mutually acceptable options.

I am confident that this framework of cooperation will continue to expand for the benefit of our nation state, for the benefit of the Republic of Armenia.

The reforms are an important milestone for the strengthening of the Armenian state and democratic institutions. We have to breathe new power, new life to our Constitution.

We have not yet reached our destination; on the contrary, today we just stepped on a new road.

Constitutional changes should have their proper reflection in the entire legal system of the Republic of Armenia. New constitutional laws shall be adopted, changes should be made in hundreds of laws. We need to fling ourselves into this hard work right away to prepare a new Electoral Code. These works must be finished by June 1, 2016, so that parliamentary elections of 2017 are conducted in the atmosphere of greater trust, so that results of the election are not doubted by either political parties, or our citizens.

We are ready to conduct the most open and inclusive discussions in all possible formats to finally adopt a new, faultless Electoral Code. We are ready to discuss any mechanism which can provide for transparency and trust. I hope our opponents will accept this offer, and together with us will undertake this important task.

In our turn we are ready to work hard to bring our Electoral Code in line with the best world practices. We are well aware that the quality of the forthcoming elections will shape the future of our state, our nation. For that very reason we will work openly and transparently, because trust, increasing trust is the most important thing for us.

Candid dialogue, resolution of the current problems aimed at the regulation of social life – these are prerequisites of our country’s advancement.

Today we need trust not only among political forces but also public’s trust towards the political forces. This is the only way for the political forces to mature as authorized representatives of the society in the task of carrying out changes. The National Assembly must become the primary platform for ideological disputes, for finding solutions to the most pressing issues.

In the elections, there mustn’t be those who get everything and those who get nothing.
Today when we are ready to embark on a new road, I am expressing my gratitude to all those who for the last two years were promoting this process with their efforts and dedication. I express gratitude to the Chairman of expert commission and the members for their professionalism and principled stance. I thank leaders and representatives of the political forces, to the citizens who believed in and supported this initiative. My thanks to all those who provided for the high organizational level of the referendum. It was a huge and comprehensive work, and we did it standing shoulder by shoulder.

In the process, I spoke more than once about the importance of conducting fair and transparent referendum. I am more than confident that the law enforcment bodies did their best so that this state event was conducted in a due, normal way. Now it’s time for the relevant bodies to conduct proper procedures, true to the letter and spirit of the law, and give assessment to all signal about violations. It is really important for our future.

Dear Colleagues,
Now we are much more well-prepared to move on more confidently on our road towards a well-organized state. I have no doubt that our quarter of a century experience of statehood will allow us to tell the difference between transient and eternal, between primary and secondary. And most importantly, I am confident that probably for the first time in the history of the newly independent Armenia, we will be able to make power a factor which will not separate but will unite all able forces. The strength of the state is not defined by the intentions of the leaders, or by their sincere wishes and promises but by a steady system which will allow to make them true. We have already made the first but a very important step towards an active and logical system. We will make next steps together and together we will pass on our generations an efficient state.

Thank you all for that.

Constitutional Referendum 2015: Police refute reports on alleged shooting

The Police have refuted the reports on alleged shooting in one of the polling stations in the South-Eastern District of capital Yerevan.

Earlier media reports suggested an unknown gunman entered the precinct and opened fire, forcing the public to escape in panic.

RA Police confirm there have been no such incidents either in the mentioned polling station, or elsewhere across the republic.

The Police urge to publicize only authentic data and facts and refrain from spreading misinformation and creating undue tension.

Mkhitaryan 8th in this week’s top 10 ranked players across Europe’s main leagues

Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the 8th in this week’s top 10 ranked players across Europe’s main leagues, according to , a unique website specializing in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data.

Mkhitaryan provided no goal or assist in Borussia Dortmund’s 4-1 win over Stuttgart, but he did complete more dribbles in a league match than any other player in the Bundesliga this season (10).

Neimar (Barcelona) tops the rating, followed by Lionel Messi (Barcelona) and Riyad Mahrez (Leicester).