Poland’s President Komorowski concedes to rival Duda

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has conceded the election to conservative challenger Andrzej Duda following the release of exit polls, BBC News reports.

They suggested Mr Duda had taken the run-off vote by 53% to 47%.

Mr Duda had edged Mr Komorowski, who had been the favourite, in the first round but did not gain the 50% needed to win outright.

The president has limited powers, but is head of the armed forces and can veto new laws.

The exit polls had been delayed after a woman died at a polling station on Sunday.

Official results are expected later on Monday.

Turkish government planning to nationalize the Armenian orphanage

The Turkish government is discussing ways to save the Armenian orphanage in Tuzla from demolition, said the head of the Foundations Department, adding nationalization is the best option, reports. 

The government is planning to nationalize the Armenian orphanage located in the Tuzla region of Istanbul to save it from demolition. The Kamp Armen orphanage will be nationalized before being handed over to the Armenian community. This way, the current owner of the property will not suffer from the transaction.

Foundations Department President Adnan Ertem, speaking to Sabah daily, said some were trying to cloud the issue and attack the government, arguing that everyone needs to understand that the government was doing everything it could.

Some representatives of the Armenian community have called for the return of the property, which Ertem highlighted was impossible without nationalization. The property has changed ownership several times, and the present owner needs to be fairly compensated before anything happens, Ertem said, adding, “The only solution is for the state to nationalize and take over the property. After which we can discuss handing it over to the community.” Ertem cited the example of the Madımak Hotel in Sivas where 37 people were killed in 1993, being used as a restaurant for years before being nationalized and turned into a science and culture center.

The state seized the orphanage in 1987 before selling it. It changed hands several times over the years and the last owner, having decided to demolish the structure, faced serious demonstrations and protests. Dozens of demonstrators are currently holding a sit-in to prevent the structure’s destruction.
Hrant Dink, the Armenian-Turkish journalist who was gunned down by a young nationalist in 2007, and his wife, Rachel, are known to have first met at the orphanage. The respected journalist, who was the editor-in-chief of the Armenian newspaper Agos, was known for his efforts to spur reconciliation between Turkey and Armenia.

According to a report by Uygar Gültekin from Agos, the Armenian community is “cautiously optimistic” that the building will be saved. However, he also said that the community does not want the property to be nationalized, but rather totally handed over to the community. However, the orphanage is not covered by the government-initiated law that orders the return of minority foundations’ properties seized by the state.

In addition to the discussions over nationalization and the handing over of the deed to the Armenian foundation, the Tuzla Municipality is also expected to revoke the site’s demolition license.

Markar Esayan, a prominent Armenian origin Turkish citizen and a candidate for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for the June 7 parliamentary elections, is also involved in the discussions. Esayan, who is also a Daily Sabah columnist, said he knew Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was involved in the matter, adding it is now impossible to demolish the structure. He accused the current owner of deceiving the municipality by arguing that the structure was close to collapsing, which is how he was able to obtain the demolition license. He said the Armenian foundation was also to blame for not filing the necessary legal claims for the building in time.

Armenia, EU may work out new agreement at Riga Summit

A new agreement between Armenia and the European Union may be worked out at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, Juris Poikans, Ambassador-at-Large for the Eastern Partnership at the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told a press conference today, reports.

“At the forthcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga the EU will provide support to Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova in the implementation of the Association Agreements,” he said.

“At the same time a special offer will be made to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus. We want to build relations on  the principles of equality,” the Ambassador said, adding that a special agreement could be worked out between Armenia and EU.

Poikans stressed that the forthcoming summit in Riga is an important event for both Latvia’s Representation in the EU and Europe, at large, as considerable changes have taken place on the European Continent since the previous summit in Vilnius in 203.

According to him, the declaration to be signed in Riga will outline the main directions of the Eastern Partnership policy for the coming two years.

Amtrak train derails in Philadelphia, killing at least five

An Amtrak passenger train with more than 200 passengers on board derailed in north Philadelphia on Tuesday night, killing at least five people and injuring scores of others, several of them critically, authorities said, Reuters reports.

Authorities said they had no idea what caused the train wreck at about 9:30 p.m. local time that left some rail cars mangled, ripped open and strewn upside down and on their sides in the city’s Port Richmond neighborhood along the Delaware River.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told a news conference that at least five people were killed in the accident. He later said 65 others were taken to area hospitals, six of them critically injured.

Philadelphia-area hospitals and health systems collectively reported taking in 135 patients from the wreck.

Amtrak said there were 238 passengers and five crew members aboard the derailed No. 188 train on route from Washington, D.C., to New York. Seven cars, including the engine, left the tracks, according to the mayor.

Yerevan welcomes recognition of Armenian Genocide by Luxembourg

 

Armenia has welcomed the adoption of the Resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide by the Parliament of Luxembourg.

“Paying tribute to the memory of the Armenian Genocide victims, the Parliament of Luxembourg underlines that the events in the Ottoman Empire a century ago constituted genocide, and calls on the Turkish authorities to face their history,” Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a statement.

“By adopting this resolution, Luxembourg joined the countries that have recognized the Armenian Genocide and made an important contribution to the high mission of preventing new crimes against humanity,” Minister Nalbandian said.

Halfway through a 55-day fast, man remains determined to bring recognition to Armenian Genocide

The anniversary date has come and gone. The big March for Justice is over.

But Agasi Vartanyan, who is halfway through a 55-day fast that began last month, said his mission remains the same: to bring formal recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States and Turkey, the reports.

“For 100 years, Turkey hasn’t recognized the genocide,” Vartanyan said Thursday through a translator. “Should we stop trying? I will continue to fight for my people. I can’t comment on what Turkey or President Obama are doing, but I can talk about my efforts, which I won’t stop.”

Vartanyan, a Glendale resident, has stayed inside the enclosure built on a high platform outside St. Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank since April 3. The front of the enclosure, which measures some 12 feet by 12 feet, is a glass wall, allowing the public to see him day and night, though there is some privacy. He’s been given 55 gallons of water, a few clothes, a cot and a television. He has lived on only water for the last 28 days and, so far, has lost almost 40 pounds.

The hunger strike is meant to cast global attention on what Vartanyan calls an injustice to the 1.5 million Armenians killed under the command of the Ottoman Turks starting a century ago this year. From 1915 to 1923, Armenians were forcibly deported from their homes and killed as part of a systemic ethnic cleansing that also affected Assyrians and Pontic Greeks.

Historians, scholars, human rights activists and even Pope Francis call it the first genocide of the 20th century, but the Turkish government maintains the deaths were a result of betrayal and civil unrest in what was then a collapsing Ottoman Empire.

Vartanyan couldn’t participate in the last week, when more than 100,000 people walked for six miles through the streets of Los Angeles to mark the April 24 centennial. But he was filled with pride when he learned of the great outpouring.

“I am very proud that Armenians were strongly united,” he said. “It’s made me very happy to see countries like Germany, France and Russia acknowledged the genocide. I watched the Pope’s mass, and it was wonderful. When the world is recognizing the genocide, it’s so important so mass crimes against humanity don’t happen again.”

Despite his determination, Vartanyan admitted he has had his moments of weakness.

“I think about meat­­ — different kinds of meat,” he said. “I have so much time to think that how could I not think about food?”

Legendary Russian ballerina Maya Plisetskaya dies at 89

– Maya Plisetskaya, widely regarded as one of the greatest ballerinas of her time, died Saturday from a heart attack, Rossiya-24 television reported citing Bolshoi Theatre director Vladimir Urin.

The 89-year-old Russian dancer passed away in Germany, according to the report.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered his condolences to Maya Plisetskaya’s relatives and loved ones, as well as admirers of the ballerina’s talent.

Plisetskaya was born on November 20, 1925 in Moscow. At age 18, she joined the Bolshoi Ballet, soon becoming a leading soloist, and was later proclaimed Prima Ballerina Assoluta by the Soviet government.