Armenian President meets Secretary General of the International Organization of La Francophonie

President Serzh Sargsyan received today Michaëlle Jean, secretary-general of the International Organization of La Francophonie.

The president welcomed the guest and noted that he is glad the meeting is taking place in Armenia within the frames of the 31st Ministerial Conference of the International Organization of La Francophonie. According to Armenia’s president, the regular session of the Francophonie’s governing body is of special importance to Armenia, and it was a great honor and responsibility to host that crucial event. Stressing that Armenia is one of the most active member states of the International Organization of La Francophonie, Serzh Sargsyan assured the secretary-general that our country is faithful to its commitment to encouraging the values shared by the Francophone family and attaches great importance to its cooperation with the International Organization of La Francophonie, its partner institutions and with the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie.

The Francophonie’s secretary-general thanked the president for the excellent organization of the conference in Armenia, as well as for the warm reception, and stressed that the conference’s quite busy agenda included vital items, and the subject proposed by Armenia as a conference heading was very symbolic, important and contemporary. Noting that the Francophonie is an alliance of countries sharing common values where Armenia occupies a unique and important place, Michaëlle Jean assured the president that the organization opens up new opportunities and horizons for broadened cooperation. According to the Francophonie’s secretary-general, the organization has managed to present itself as a key player and a reliable partner in the international arena, so that is why it is necessary to make efforts to use the organization’s full potential.

At the meeting with Armenia’s president, Mrs. Michaëlle Jean presented her views on the prospects of the International Organization of La Francophonie, its great development opportunities and on Armenia’s place and role in that process.

Kanye West & Kim Kardashian 12th in Vanity Fair’s “Powers That Be” ranking

Facebook founder snagged the top spot on Vanity Fair’s latest – the 21st annual ranking of the most powerful people in business and media, NBC reports.

The list is broken up into two categories: “Disrupters,” which ranks 50 people who are shaping the way we interact, work, play and consume, and the “Powers That Be,” which includes 25 visionaries in business and entertainment who have used their influence to impact cultural change.

Zuckerberg is the youngest person to ever top the New Establishment list.

25-year-old Taylor Swift, who made headlines this summer for prompting policy change at Apple, leads the “Powers That Be” ranking. Rapper Kanye West and reality star Kim Kardashian are ranked 12th in the list.

According to the Vanity Fair, “The West-Kardashian coupling represents a strong argument in favor of corporate synergy.” West gives Kardashian artistic legitimacy, and the reality star and spokesperson offers her acclaimed yet famously difficult rapper husband something bordering on broad appeal. Kardashian’s new book, Selfish, earned what seemed like genuine praise—at least in a Warholian way—from some book critics. West is currently recording his next album, under the working title Swish, which reportedly includes collaborations with Paul McCartney and Bruno Mars. It promises to be even more Spotify-friendly than his critically beloved Yeezus.

Kardashian and West also demonstrated a well-honed alacrity for entering new industries. Kardashian authorized her likeness to an app developer in a deal that could pay her up to $85 million. West, who is moving further into the fashion business, recently released his latest collaboration with Adidas, the Yeezy Boost 350, a limited edition that fetched up to $10,000 on eBay from eager sneakerheads.

Armenia and Turkey share more than they sometimes realize: US Ambassador

Highlighting the economic importance of the tourism sector and the value of cross-border cooperation, U.S. Ambassador Richard M. Mills, Jr. joined members of the Turkish-Armenian Tour Operators Network (TATON) during a meeting in Yerevan on Wednesday, August 26, 2015.

TATON developed as a result of USAID’s “Bridges” project, an effort to develop economic activity on the cross-border region through tourism. The network’s membership includes the most active travel companies and tour operators in the region.

“The Turkish-Armenian Tour Operators Network and its members are working together to tackle the difficult task of cross-border cooperation,” Ambassador Mills said. “One of the most effective drivers of cooperation is common business interests. This association’s goal of promoting business and the business interests of the local Armenian and Turkish communities is very laudable.”

Armenian and Turkish tourism operators already offer cross-border tours. Turkish tour operators are part of an established tourism sector seeking to add extensions to traditional Turkish tour packages. Armenian operators seek to expand their offerings to include multi-country tours. TATON facilitates collaboration on such cross-border trips. Though TATON routinely operates through an online social network, occasional in-person gatherings allow tour operators from both sides to meet, share concerns, and formalize agreements on joint tours.

“Tourism plays an important role in economic development, and when local communities cooperate economically, they broaden their horizons and share the benefits,” Ambassador Mills said.  “Cross-border tourism highlights the commonality of communities as much as it celebrates diversity. Armenia and Turkey share more than they sometimes realize: environment, history, and many aspects of culture.”

USAID has been working with the Armenian tourism sector since the early 2000s. Primarily, it has focused on improving service quality and building the capacity of Armenia’s tourism sector.

For the on-going “Bridges” project in Armenia, USAID partners with the AMAP (Armenian Monuments Awareness Project) Human Development NGO, best known for installing educational signage at some of Armenia’s most unique historic and cultural tourist spots.

Prior to the creation of TATON, the “Bridges” project helped local partners to develop the Black Sea Silk Road Corridor through Greece, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia.

NKR President participates in Defense Army’s command staff meeting

On 16 July Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan participated in the sitting of the Defense Army’s command staff convoked to sum up the results of the inspection conducted in the armed forces, Central Information Department of the Office of the NKR President reported.

President Sahakyan highlighted the inspections implemented in the army noting that they greatly contribute to the raising of combat readiness of the armed forces.

The President gave appropriate instructions underlining that all the revealed drawbacks must be eliminated unconditionally and within the set time frame.

Zimbabwe President ‘proposes to Obama’ as he mocks US legalisation of gay marriage

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has mocked America’s decision to legalise gay marriage across all 50 states by vowing to travel to the White House and proposing to Barack Obama, reports. 

During his weekly interview with the national radio station, the Zimbabwean president joked that he planned to travel to Washington DC ‘get down on one knee and ask his hand’.

Mugabe, who is known for his brutal crusades against homosexuality, was responding in bizarre fashion to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees gays and lesbians the same right to marry as heterosexuals.

Speaking on Saturday, Mugabe said: ‘I’ve just concluded – since President Obama endorses the same-sex marriage, advocates homosexual people and enjoys an attractive countenance – thus if it becomes necessary, I shall travel to Washington, DC, get down on my knee and ask his hand.’

Striking a more serious tone, he added: ‘I can’t understand how this people dare to defy Christ’s explicit orders as our Lord prohibited mankind from sodomy’, going on to accuse the U.S. government of being run by ‘perverted Satan-worshipers who insult the great American nation.’

His comments came only hours after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to legalise gay marriage in all 50 states – prompting thousands of same-sex couples to immediately tie the knot.

Charles Aznavour: I wanted to break every taboo

Critics said he was too ugly, too short and had a terrible voice. Fifty-one albums later, Charles Aznavour is a living legend. The 91-year-old French crooner talks Edith Piaf, Kim Kardashian and plastic surgery.

Angelique Chrisafis

Charles Aznavour, one of the greatest singer-songwriters France has ever known, sits in a velvet armchair a few days before his 91st birthday, discussing the whiff of ladies’ armpits.

A song on his new album, in which he declares, “I love the smell of your underarms,” worried his Swedish wife of 50 years, but Aznavour knows his audience. If he’s the most successful French crooner in the world – a lyricist who defined the country’s popular culture for decades – it’s precisely because his songs have always been risky.

When Aznavour began writing in the 1940s, sex was something that happened with the light off. It was OK for women singers to howl over their broken hearts, but men didn’t sing about their own emotional despair – and later their dodgy prostates. Aznavour shone a spotlight on masculinity and libido, singing about depression, sex, prejudice and rape. His hits ranged from the 1970s story of a gay transvestite in What Makes a Man, to the once-banned ballad of muggy, post-coital exhaustion, Après l’Amour, and the controversial You’ve Let Yourself Go – the plea of a man whose wife has grown dowdy and fat (“I gaze at you in sheer despair and see your mother standing there”).

He is unrepentant. “It’s a kind of sickness I have, talking about things you’re not supposed to talk about. I started with homosexuality and I wanted to break every taboo.” The armpit line comes in a new ballad about a blind lover’s sense of smell. “When I wrote a song about the deaf [Quiet Love], I learned sign-language to perform it on stage. On this album, I wanted to describe what it was like for someone non-sighted.” He pauses. “I still don’t know how I’m going to perform it …” In his shows, he takes on various personas with dramatic gestures that resemble a mime act. He’s an actor who sings rather than a Frank Sinatra-style singer who acts.

Aznavour is still composing and performing, he’s written around 1,200 songs and sold more than 100m records in his 70-year career. France worships him as the last living legend of a golden era. Like many popular singers who came to represent the very essence of France – such as Georges Moustaki and, to a certain extent, Edith Piaf herself – Aznavour is shaped by his foreign roots. Born Shahnour Varenagh Aznavourian in Paris to an actor-father and singer-mother who had fled the Armenian genocide, he left school and became a child actor at the age of nine. He survived the German occupation of Paris singing in cabarets, while his parents hid fellow Armenians, Jews, Russians and Communists in their apartment and his father joined the resistance.

But Aznavour’s path to success was long and torturous. French critics dismissed him as repulsively ugly, too short, with a terrible voice and dubious song titles. It wasn’t until the end of the 50s, a decade after Piaf had taken him on as her songwriter, flatmate and all-round bag-carrier that he finally began to make it. In 1960, he played the shy and haunted piano-player in François Truffaut’s classic New Wave film, Shoot the Piano Player (he went on to act in over 60 films). But his global singing fame was cemented in the 70s with a triumphant crossover into the US and UK – something he puts down to the excellent translation of his lyrics into English. (The bittersweet British No 1, She, is hardly known in France). Britain was seduced by this scrawny Frenchman crooning about painful crushes in a 10-ton accent. “I often say: ‘France is for lyrics, England is for music’,” he muses.

Nowadays, Aznavour is a “dinosaur” – his word – who trades on agelessness. His 51st studio album is out in the UK now and he is working on his 52nd. He loves being sampled by adoring French rappers. He relishes the irony that at 30 he was considered ugly, but past 90 he is now seen as dashing. What it’s like being 91? “I wouldn’t have a clue,” he says, wide-eyed. “I don’t feel 91. I’ve always thought a person must never lose the gaze of a child.” At 5-foot-3, he holds his tiny frame perpetually taut (keeping his shoulders straight is one his secrets of eternal youth). But he’s brutally honest about performing on stage. “I hide nothing from the audience,” he says. He tells them he has an Auto-cue because his memory is fading, and says his mouth ulcers make it hard to sing. He relies on hearing aids. But he loathes what he calls the show-business “cult of youth”.

“More and more men are changing themselves, having surgery, and you can see it on TV, because their dyed-black hair turns blue under the lights,” he says. “I had a problem with my nose, I got it done. I made some white hair that was falling out grow back. But I left my wrinkles where they are. And I look younger than the others because I have never retouched nature’s work.”

In fact, it was Edith Piaf cabaret superstar and queen of chanson française, who forced Aznavour to have a nose job 50 years ago. She pestered him for months to fix what she deemed his too-large hooter. He eventually went under the knife, and presented himself for inspection. “I preferred you before,” she said.

There’s a song about Piaf on the new album. It is the first time he has written about her, though they lived together – platonically – for eight years. “We were like cousins. We had this extraordinary complicity. I never had a love affair with her – that’s what saved us.” Why did Piaf, the star, latch on to him, an unknown nine years her junior? “I brought her my youth, my madness, she loved my whole jazzy side.”

His other main role today is as one of the world’s most famous Armenians. He has finally taken dual Armenian citizenship, is Armenian ambassador to Switzerlandand travelled with the French president François Hollande to mark the centenary of the Armenian genocide this year. But France still defines his identity. “I’ve always felt totally French. That really vexed the Armenians in Armenia, but now they’re used to it.” He politely declines to say what he thinks about his challenger as pop culture’s international symbol of the Armenian diaspora: Kim Kardashian. He’s never met her. Does he watch her reality show? “I can’t say anything about it, because I would anger half the Armenians.” He laughs nervously. “I suppose Armenians are quite prudish and don’t like too much nudity …”

A few years ago, he caused shockwaves in France by saying he’d paid backhanders to figures on all sides of the political spectrum after being told he was facing a tax inspection, presumed to have been in the 1970s. A later tax investigation found no irregularity. Decades ago, he left France to live just over the border in Switzerland. “I was never a tax exile,” he is at pains to point out. “I didn’t have a penny when I left.”

The phrase Aznavour probably hates the most is “farewell tour”. He swears he has never uttered the words, and vows to keep performing until he dies.

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love is no longer being served,” he once crooned. But with audiences still dishing up a never-ending pot of it, he’s happy to stick around.

Armenia not to attend Chemistry Olympiad in Baku due to lack of security guarantees




The Ministry of Education and Science has announced Armenian schoolchildren will not participate in the 47th International Chemistry Olympiad to be held in Baku from July 20-29.

It was initially reported that Minister of Education and Science Armen Ashotyan would lead the team to Azerbaijan.

However, the Azeri side failed to provide security guarantees to Armenia before June 15 – the deadline for registration.

Minister Ashotyan today called on international organizations to take note of this particular case and refuse from organizing international scientific-educational events in Baku in the future.

Armenia attends the meeting of heads of delegation at Baku Games

The meeting of the heads of delegation participating in the first European Games was held in Baku, Azerbaijan, today. The head of all delegations thanked Hrachya Rotomyan, the Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Armenia, for the country’s participation in the games.

“Hrachya Rostomyan had a meeting with the President of the European Olympic Committee Patrick Hickey to discuss organizational issues,” Press Secretary of the Armenian team Karen Giloyan wrote on his Facebook page.

Before that Giloyan informed that the Armenian team resides in the Olympic Village together with those of Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Portugal, Turkey and Hungary.

A six-member group left for Baku yesterday. The Greco-Roman wrestlers and coaches are expected to join them today.

The opening ceremony will be held on Friday, June 12.

Greco-Roman wrestler Roman Amoyan will be the first Armenian athlete to enter competition on June 13.

Azerbaijan could consider EEU membership after solving the Karabakh issue: FM

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov has not excluded the perspective of Azerbaijan’s joining the Eurasian Economic Union, but only after the settlement of territorial disputes in Armenia, RIA Novosti reports.

“Never say never. We should keep all perspective in mind,” Mammadyarov said in an interview with Rossia 24.

According to him, the current Azerbaijani leadership is considering its foreign policy doctrine, proceeding from its

“One of the components of the Eurasian Economic Union is the free trade zone. But we can’t co-exist within this union with, say, Armenia. If the borders are opened, if there is a normalization of the situation, if there is an economic component between Armenia and Azerbaijan, who knows what will happen tomorrow.

Artsakh President visits the National Assembly of France

On 19 May Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan visited the National Assembly of France and met with a group of its members, Central Information Department of the Office of the NKR President reported.

Issues related to bilateral relations were discussed during the meeting. Special attention was paid to developing and expanding the inter-parliamentary ties.

President Sahakyan said the cooperation with the French National Assembly is demanded, noting that there are promising prospects for its further expansion.