Belgian Chamber of Deputies recognizes the Armenian Genocide

The Belgian Chamber of Deputies voted to adopt a Resolution condemning the Armenian Genocide. An overwhelming majority of deputies, (124 out of 132) voted in favor of the measure, the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD) reports.

The Resolution was filed by MP Peter De Roover (N-VA) and passed the Foreign Relations Commission earlier this month.

In June Belgian  on behalf of his government that the tragic events committed between 1915-1917 in the Ottoman Empire should be “considered a genocide.”

The Belgian Senate recognized the Armenian Genocide in 1998.

Drones and ditches as Turkey tightens border after Islamic State bombing

Turkey is erecting a modular wall along part of its border with Syria as well as reinforcing wire fencing and digging extra ditches after a suspected Islamic State suicide bombing killed 32 mostly young students in a border town this week, Reuters reports.

Turkey’s NATO allies have long expressed concern about control of its border with Syria which in parts runs directly parallel with territory controlled by Islamic State. A suicide bombing on Monday in the southeastern town of Suruc highlighted fears about Syria’s conflict spilling onto Turkish soil.

“Critical sections (of the border) have been identified. Priority will be given to these areas and measures will be taken with all technological capabilities,” Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bulent Arinc told reporters during a break in a cabinet meeting late on Wednesday.

Thousands of foreign fighters are thought to have travelled through Turkey to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in the past few years, some of them with assistance from Turkish smuggling networks sympathetic to the militants.

The government’s critics say it is acting too late.

A senior government official told Reuters that a 150 km “modular wall”, which can broken down into parts and reassembled elsewhere, would be set up along part of the border, while wire fencing in other parts would be reinforced.

Flood-lighting would be installed along a 118 km stretch, while border patrol roads would be repaired, a package of upgrades which would cost around 230 million lira ($86 million), the official said.

The armed forces were also digging a 365 km long ditch along the border and have deployed some 90 percent of drones and reconnaissance aircraft to the Syrian border, the military said.

Turkey’s armed forces have already stepped up security along parts of the border in recent weeks, as the conflict in Syria involving Kurdish militia fighters, Islamist militants and Syrian security forces intensified.

Around half of the armoured vehicles which patrol Turkey’s borders are along the Syrian frontier, the official said. Half of the 40,000 military personnel who guard Turkey’s borders – including with Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Greece and Bulgaria – are now on the Syrian frontier.

Photo from Hurriyet Daily News

NKR President introduces newly appointed Defense Minister

On 15 June President of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan signed a decree, releasing lieutenant-general Movses Hakobyan from the position of the Nagorno Karabagh Republic defense minister, commander of the Defense Army.

According to another Presidential decree lieutenant-general Levon Mnatsakanyan was appointed the defense minister, commander of the NKR Defense Army.

President Sahakyan also signed a decree awarding Movses Hakobyan with the Grigor Lousavorich Order for exclusive services rendered to the Artsakh Republic.

On 17 June President Bako Sahakyan visited NKR defense ministry and introduced the newly-appointed defense minister Levon Mnatsakanyan to the command staff of the army.

President Sahakyan extended appreciation to former defense minister Movses Hakobyan for the implemented extensive work, underlining that under his command the Defense Army’s combat readiness reached a new level, numerous issues were solved.

Bako Sahakyan noted with certainty that Movses Hakobyan would continue contributing his rich experience and knowledge in the new responsible position as deputy head of the General Staff of the Republic of Armenia’s armed forces.

Speaking about Levon Mnatsakanyan, the Head of the State qualified him as one of the most experienced generals having profound knowledge, held in authority and respect in the army, who showed his worth in all the assumed positions.

Supreme Commander-in-chief of the Artsakh Republic armed forces expressed his confidence that Levon Mnatsakanyan would work with the same fervor as defense minister and Defense Army commander, directing all his skills and abilities towards reinforcing the army and raising steadily its effectiveness.

The Republic of Armenia defense minister Seyran Ohanyan and other officials were present at the meeting.

Karanian to Present ‘Historic Armenia’ on May 31 at Oakland’s St. Vartan Church

The St. Vartan Armenian Apostolic Church of Oakland, Calif., will host a reception and book signing for Author Matthew Karanian and his groundbreaking new book “Historic Armenia After 100 Years” at noon on Sunday, May 31, Asbarez reports.

Karanian’s presentation will include photographs from Western Armenia and a discussion about the journey of creating this first-ever photographic guide to the historic and cultural sites of the Armenian homeland.

Karanian’s book, “Historic Armenia After 100 Years: Ani, Kars, and the Six Provinces of Western Armenia,” was released this year, and is the first book of its kind. The book features 125 color photographs and maps that illustrate the current condition of the churches and monasteries that still exist in Western Armenia.

Antique photographs from one century ago are also included, and demonstrate the destruction and vandalism that has occurred during the 100 years after the genocide.

Karanian says that the book “shines a light on the Western Armenia that defies eradication.” He portrays the book as a celebration of the historic Armenian homeland that has survived.

The book presentation is immediately following church services, and includes an optional lunch. Lunch tickets are available at the door for $15 adult, $10 child. The event is open to the public.

EU keen to develop a new bilateral legal framework with Armenia: Latvian FM

The upcoming fourth eastern partnership (EaP) summit, taking place in Latvia’s capital of Riga, is just days away now.

“The aim is to facilitate a strategic debate between the EU’s 28 member states and its six eastern European partners of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics writes in the “Parliament” magazine.

According to him, “Europe should maintain its strategic approach to the creation of a stable, prosperous and secure neighborhood as the centerpiece of its policy,” he said, adding that “the EU is ready to work constructively with all interested partners to avoid dividing lines on the continent.”

“The eastern partnership should remain a unified and consolidated policy platform for cooperation with all six partner countries. The EU is open to cooperation with any third country partners who share its vision for Eastern Europe, and it will need support in stabilizing the situation in Ukraine,” Rinkevics writes.

“The summit will express support for the six partner countries’ territorial integrity and sovereignty. It will also send a clear signal of support for the implementation of association agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine,” the Latvian Foreign Minister says.

“The talks will also serve as an impetus for developing ties with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus based on their wishes and expectations. Brussels is keen to develop a new bilateral legal framework with Armenia, and is looking forward to suggestions from Azerbaijan on a political document to be developed,” Rinkevics continues.

The first EaP summit was held six years ago in Prague. Since then, we have come a long way and much has been achieved, but the vision of stability, prosperity and peace along Europe’s eastern borders remains as relevant as ever.

Events in Mexico commemorating Armenian Genocide centennial

From May 14 through May 17, a range of cultural events dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Centennial were held in Mexico City, Press Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs.

On May 14, 2015 the world famous Nezahualcoyotl concert hall hosted the Armenian National Philharmonic Orchestra (ANPO) in Mexico. The first ever appearance of the national orchestra of Armenia before the Mexican public was the last leg of ANPO’s world Remembrance tour. Under the baton of Maestro Edward Topchian, the orchestra presented to the public Aram Khachaturian’s Spartacus suite, Saint Saens’ cello concerto and Tchaikovsky’s symphony No 6.

Ambassador of Armenia to Mexico Grigor Hovhannissian, Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Mexico, representatives of Mexican civil society and media.

On May 14, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) hosted a compelling exhibition dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide depicting the journey of Armenian refugees-survivors of the Genocide, who made it the Mexican shores and founded here a new life and a new homeland.

On May 16 and 17 the Nezahualcoyotl Hall hosted another two concerts performed by the renowned Armenian-American pianist Dora Serviarian and the OFUNAM orchestra of the National Autonomous University – one of the world’s largest and oldest universities. A powerful performance of Aram Khachaturian’s legendary piano concerto was enthusiastically received by the music aficionados.

In the same week, the Embassy of Armenia in Mexico in conjunction with the National Institute of Fine Arts, the National Music Conservatory and the National Cinematic Center, organized several viewings of Peter Rosen’s award-winning documentary (the Hollywood film festival) “Khachaturian”. During the two showings at the national Conservatory and the Cineteca Nacional music students, musicians and public received firsthand insights into the process behind the creation of the documentary from the co-producers – Aaron and Robert Kuhn as well as Dora Serviarian.
These commemorative events became possible due to the cooperation of the UNAM and the Embassy of Armenia in Mexico and were extensively covered by the local media.