High-level Armenian-Czech negotiations held in Yerevan

At the invitation of President Serzh Sargsyan, in the evening of June 7 the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman arrived to the Republic of Armenia on a state visit.

Today, at the Presidential Palace there took place high-level Armenian-Czech negotiations. After a tête-à-tête meeting of the Presidents of Armenia and the Czech Republic, the meeting continued in the extended format with the participation of the official delegations of the two countries. At the conclusion of the negotiations, Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Miloš Zeman signed a Memorandum on the Bilateral Relations between the Republic of Armenia and the Czech Republic.

The Presidents of Armenia and the Czech Republic recapped the results of the meeting in the Declaration which they made at the joint press conference for the representatives of the mass media.

 

Statement by President Serzh Sargsyan for press following the meeting with the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman

Your Excellency Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we are honored to welcome the President of friendly Czech Republic and my good counterpart Mr. Miloš Zeman for a state visit. This is the first visit of the president of the Czech Republic. Indeed, it will leave its footprint on the history of bilateral relations.

Today we had a fruitful discussion on a large range of bilateral, regional and international issues, like we had in Prague, during my state visit to the Czech Republic. We noted with satisfaction that we had matching viewpoints over those issues, creating an environment of mutual understanding and trust on the ways of deepening of our relations.

Only since 2014 over two dozens of high level visits have taken place. Following our last meeting the Embassy of the Czech Republic to the Republic of Armenia was established and the first resident ambassador was appointed. Inter-parliamentary relations, decentralized cooperation and collaboration in international fora have intensified. Within this context, undeniably, the continuous assistance of the Czech Republic to advance the Armenian-EU cooperation has a distinct place and we highly value it. As a result, the Czech Republic is one of our stable and reliable partners in Europe and our bilateral cooperation is at the highest level ever.

With President Zeman we thoroughly discussed bilateral economic cooperation which is one of our priorities. It is not in vein, that almost all high-level bilateral meetings are followed by business forums. Later today president Zeman and I will give a start to another business forum. Surely, we have positive developments in this field, yet there is a lot to achieve. In this respect, we discussed new opportunities derive both from Armenia’s membership to the EEU and reopening of the market in Iran, our traditional partner country. At the same time, attaching importance to the bilateral economic ties, we were unanimous with President Zeman that the pillar of our relations was not merely economic interest, rather it is the common values, having led our people through history up to the 21st century.

We highly value the position of the Czech Republic concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which is in line with the general stance of the EU and is in full support of the efforts of the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs. I extended my special gratitude to Mr. President and the government of the Czech Republic for this attitude. We both attached importance to the implementation of the arrangements agreed upon in Vienna in May, including the agreements on the ceasefire from 1994 and 1995, establishing monitoring and incident investigation mechanisms and adding the capacities of the team of Personal Representative of the OSCE chairperson- in- office as an anchor for the long-lasting peace in the conflict zone. Unswerving implementation of these steps is the least to be done to pave way for the constructive and, which is more important, result-oriented negotiations.

Certainly, I also informed Mr. Zeman about the possibility of new meetings with the President of Azerbaijan mediated by the Minsk Group co-chairs. And I thanked him for his offer to use the capacities of Prague, Czech Republic for the meetings. In the meantime, I surely expressed my concerns over Ilham Aliyev’s recent unbalanced behavior, signs of which were apparently not visible in Vienna. Particularly with his speech at the “Fourth Conference of World Azerbaijanis”, where he was cynical about the Armenian state, made personal offenses against the President of the country, with whom by the way he is going to talk on certain issues, articulating thoughts that mock history, he shaped a clear perception about his inappropriateness.

I hope that this is a temporary problem; sort of machismo and it will disappear very soon as we have the commitment to get to serious work in the nearest future. Hopefully, this is not a conscious behavior intended to abort Vienna arrangements.

I expressed the satisfaction of the Armenian side about the unanimously adopted resolution on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Czech Chamber of Deputies as well as unambiguous attitude of the Czech President on the matter. The historic resolution on recognizing the Armenian Genocide by the German Bundestag on these days comes to prove that the process of recognition is irreversible – falsifying history, denying facts and spouting intimidation cannot stop it.

We are thankful to the Czech Republic for favorable disposition to the Armenian community. The fact of transferring the Catholic Church of Holy Spirit in Prague to the parish of the Armenian Apostolic Church is a vivid example of that. It was a major event in the life of the Armenian community of the Czech Republic in terms of preserving national identity. I would also like to deeply thank cardinal Duka in this respect.

I believe that our interstate relations will continue to successfully develop, since it is based on the unselfish friendship between Czech and Armenian people, mutual understanding and the strive to build a common future.

Thank you.

It is my pleasure to give the floor to my friend President Milos Zeman.

We’ve achieved independence and statehood despite blows of the destiny: Serzh Sargsyan

Today, at the Battle of Sardarapat compound President Serzh Sargsyan accompanied by His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin II, the highest leadership of the Republic and guests participated in the festivities dedicated to the Republic Day. President Sargsyan laid a wreath at the memorial dedicated to the heroes of the Battle of Sardarapat and paid tribute to their memory. The President of Armenia, Commander-in-Chief Serzh Sargsyan greeted the participants of the military parade dedicated to the holiday and congratulated them on the occasion of the Republic Day. Later, the President of Armenia and attendees of the festivities watched the cultural program dedicated to the event.

In Sardarapat, the President of Armenia gave a congratulatory speech dedicated to the Republic Day.

Remarks by President Serzh Sargsyan on the occasion of the Republic Day

My fellow compatriots,

I congratulate you on the occasion of the Republic Day.

For us, this is first and foremost a salvation holiday. We saved our last piece of land and the last remnants of our nation residing on that piece of land. No matter how difficult to accept, but that was the truth.

The bleeding Armenian nation on the verge of desperation was able through the supernatural exertion to stand up to the enemy, to prevail, and throw the enemy back. Many consider the heroic battles of May and their victorious outcome a miracle. We prevailed, we survived, and we liberated ourselves.

Our independence and our statehood were not a gift to us. We paid for them the price nobody has ever paid. We did it alone; moreover, we did it despite the blows of the destiny.

With May 28, the foreign subjects and refugees had become citizens of a State. They became people who had solid ground beneath their feet and had a State behind them. It was a State they had to build; it was a state, which they had to serve to; it was a State, which they could make demands to; it was a State to criticize – with the anticipation of making it better. It was a State, which had to turn its almost lifeless populace, half of which were also orphans, into a political nation; it was a State, which had to bring up a new generation, re-born generation, which would be capable to register new scientific, cultural, and military achievements. It was a State, which predestined the existence of the Soviet Armenia and today’s Republic of Armenia.

My fellow compatriots,

Military hostilities that unfolded at the early April revealed more vividly some realities – good or bad, within and around us. Among all that the most important one for me was our new generation – the generation born with the independence, generation that proved to us and to all that they are the masters and guardians of our State. Those, who created the “May 28” in 1918, would only dream of a regular army, such as ours, and of a new generation, such as this one. And they are with us, now.

There will be no new Sardarapat since by and large it was a war of desperation. Those who fought there did not know what country’s citizens they were of, and if they were citizens at all. There will be no new Sardarapat since there stands a State. There is a generation born with independence, which wants to move in step with the contemporary world – and it will; a generation, which wants to move its country forward – and it will; a generation born with independence, which grasped the bequest of May 28 better than anyone else. All this stems from the fact that in their families and in their schools the bequest of May 28 was also grasped properly. We as a State, as a nation and as a society grasped the bequest of May 28 well.

My fellow compatriots,

On May 28 our nation stepped back from the verge of the abyss. We stepped back and moved towards the rebirth, towards creation, and toiling. We got back.

Glory to the Republic Day!
Long live the Armenian nation!

Merkel, Erdogan to discuss German bill on Armenian Genocide recognition

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on a trip to Istanbul to attend a 50-nation UN summit on refugees.

Speaking to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), before the visit Merkel described recent political developments in Turkey, especially regarding the Kurdish community, as worrisome.

Accoridng to a report by , Angela Merkel will hold a meeting with Turkuish President Erdogan. In addition to the migration deal and voting for lifting the parliamentary immunity, it is also expected that press foredoom, the bill for the Armenian Genocide to be voted on June 2 in Bundestag and German humorist Jan Böhmermann will be discussed at the meeting.

NKR President visits one of Defense Army’s training grounds

On 17 May Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan visited one of the Defense Army’s training grounds, met with the personnel of a battalion composed of members of the Artsakh Union of Freedom Fighters, got acquainted with their daily life and course of service.

The Head of the State welcomed this initiative, signifying the freedom fighters’ participation in defending the Motherland.

Defense minister Levon Mnatsakanyan, head of the Artsakh Union of Freedom Fighters Samvel Karapetyan, chairperson of the NKR NA standing commission on defense, security and legalism issues Zhanna Galstyan and other officials accompanied the President.

Minsk Group Co-Chairs: Time for Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan to meet

The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassadors Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, James Warlick of the United States of America, and Pierre Andrieu of France, remain fully committed to mediating a lasting settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

In light of the recent violence and the urgency of reducing tensions along the Line of Contact, we believe the time has come for the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to meet.

Our Foreign Ministers are prepared to facilitate this meeting next week in Vienna. Their main objectives will be to reinforce the ceasefire regime, and to seek agreement on confidence-building measures that would create favorable conditions for resuming negotiations on a comprehensive settlement on the basis of elements and principles under discussion.

There can be no success in negotiations if violence continues, and there can be no peace without a negotiation process.  We reiterate that there is no military solution to the conflict.

Plans under way to create alliance of national minorities to fight Turkish nationalism

 

 

 

The National Council of the Congress of Western Armenians international NGO has adopted a statement on the creation of an alliance of national minorities with an objective of uniting efforts to fight growing nationalism in Turkey.

The statement notes that under the cover of democracy and peacefulness Erdogan’s Administration has adopted a policy of pan-Turkism.

“The Congress of Western Armenians has intensified the efforts to organize international litigation against Turkey and has initiated closer cooperation with all persecuted and exiled nations of Asia Minor with a  view of combining efforts against pan-Turkic nationalism,” member of the Congress, MP Aragats Akhoyan told reporters today.

Member of the Congress, historian Vahan Melikyan added that discussions with the nations have already started and added that under the conditions of the current developments in Syria and Iraq the creation of an anti-Turkish alliance is quite realistic.

The Congress of Western Armenians represents the interests of heirs of Western Armenians, trying to restore their rights and property. Aragats Akhoyan said they’re preparing a package to apply to the European Court.

Why Henrikh Mkhitaryan refuses to extend contract with Dortmund

Midfielder set to be a free agent after next season wants any new deal to include a buyout clause but his German club are unwilling, according to . 

Chelsea’s hopes of landing Borussia Dortmund midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan have been given a boost as talks over a new deal have stalled.

Arsenal are also interested in the 27-year-old Armenia international, who has scored 18 goals in all competitions this season.

Versatile Mkhitaryan ’s contract runs out in the summer of 2017. But he is understood to want a buyout clause if he is to commit his future to the German Cup finalists.

Dortmund are unwilling to agree to such a request, after losing Mario Gotze to Bayern Munich three years ago. Champions Bayern triggered his £31million release fee at the time, with Dortmund powerless.

Since then, Dortmund have renegotiated the contract of Germany international Marco Reus – removing his £20m buyout clause.

Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Matzke also revealed last month that coveted striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s deal is another without a buyout clause.

He said: “We renewed Aubameyang’s contract until 2020 without a buyout clause because we want to be successful with him.”

Hrant Dink: An Armenian voice of the voiceless in Turkey

By Thomas de Waal

“After a decade of unprecedented opening up to the world, Turkey is closing down again. Journalists and academics are persecuted. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has gone to war once more with the militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), disavowing a peace process he himself launched. Erdoğan rails against so-called terrorists in language reminiscent of the military men of the 1980s he fought hard to weaken, labeling almost anyone who sympathizes with the Kurdish cause a terrorist by association.

It is all a painful contrast with the first years of Erdoğan’s leadership in the mid-2000s, when there was talk of minority rights, media freedom, and EU accession. The regression of the last decade can be summed up as Turkey’s leaders spurning the legacy of Hrant Dink.

One day in Istanbul a little over nine years ago, there was a moment of tragedy that also said much about the hopes of that period. Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish editor and civil rights leader, was assassinated on January 19, 2007, by a teenage nationalist radical. Four days later, in revulsion at the killing, thousands of ordinary Turkish citizens marched through Istanbul in Dink’s funeral procession carrying placards that read “We are all Hrant Dink” and “We are all Armenian.”

It was not just a popular outcry. Erdoğan strongly condemned the assassination, and Turkish ministers attended the funeral. Ahmet Davutoğlu, now Turkey’s prime minister, has consistently praised Dink as a man of courage and peace.

Yet now, Davutoğlu’s government is not only fighting the Kurds again but also laying claim to the Armenian church in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakır, which the local municipality had restored to the Armenian community as a place of worship.

Repressive policies against the Kurds mirror policies of intolerance practiced throughout the history of the Turkish Republic against the country’s much smaller Christian minorities: the remaining Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks who survived the campaigns by the last Ottoman regime to destroy them.

In Turkey (and not just there), an unexamined past legitimizes an intolerant present. Dink did more than any single individual to tackle the injustices of both past and present. He seized the moment to speak up for Istanbul’s tiny and timid Armenian minority—and not only for them. Straightforward, eloquent, and courageous, he encapsulated thoughts that others could not utter—or were too afraid to—while all the time understanding Turkey’s vulnerabilities as well. On the legacy of the 1915Armenian Genocide, for example, he memorably said, “Turks and Armenians and the way they see each other constitute two clinical cases: Armenians with their trauma, Turks with their paranoia.”

Dink was a hero in Turkey. Now, finally, the English-language reader gets to read about him, with the publication of the English version of .

The English subtitle is An Armenian Voice of the Voiceless in Turkey. Çandar’s brilliant method is to make this a book of voices. It is a sound tapestry consisting of dozens of voices of Dink’s family, friends, and colleagues, a biography as a polyphonic oral history. Dink’s personal evolution proceeds in parallel with a history of modern Turkey. The book begins with the austerity of provincial life in the 1950s. Dink comes of age as a leftist amid the turbulence of the political clashes of the 1970s. He, along with many other civil rights activists, is jailed and tortured after Turkey’s 1980 coup d’état. Here, the polyphony becomes a cacophony as Dink and his cellmates take part in what he calls a “magnificent toilet choir” in jail, singing the Turkish national anthem loudly to avoid a beating from the guards.

The English-language reader can get lost, even when provided with a glossary and chronology and despite a beautiful translation by Maureen Freely. The blizzard of names and references is hard to navigate for anyone unfamiliar with the story of modern Turkey.

But it is worth sticking with. Dink’s personal life story is worthy of a nineteenth-century novel. He was a street child, student, radical, father, prisoner, businessman, gambler. All of these vividly humanize the hero before the reader comes to his public persona as the editor of the Armenian-Turkish newspaper Agos.

Agos was more than just a newspaper. It was also, as one voice in the book says, “a civil society hub” and, as one chapter calls it, a “world” in which many people were able to express for the first time the issues that concerned them.

In Çandar’s book, a fellow Istanbul Armenian, Etyen Mahçupyan, says:

Doors opened in both print and broadcast media, paving the way for a living debate on identity. And through those doors came Hrant, with his warm, sincere voice. And he made the Armenian issue into something that people could hear. By now, he occupied the far-seeing perspectives of a multicultural world of multiple identities. During those last few years, he was no longer talking about the Armenian issue. He spoke out about the Alevis and the Kurds. He was on the side of the girls wearing headscarves when universities refused to admit them on account of their headscarves.

As Dink foresaw, Turkey’s retreat from democracy has also diminished the Turkish state’s willingness to come to terms with its history and with the minorities who suffered from that history. That in turn has hardened parts of the Armenian diaspora against Turkey and perpetuates a cause that exasperated Dink: the international recognition of genocide. In his view, battering Turkey from abroad on the Armenian issue had little effect, and he commented, “I have a hard time accepting the imprisonment of human experience inside a legal term [genocide] that is itself designed to produce a political outcome.”

For Dink, having one foot in the Turkish world and one in the Armenian world was an awkward privilege. One of the voices in the book recounts, “Sometimes, he reminded me of a child struggling to find a way to bring together two sides of an estranged family.” Çandar’s book is a reminder of how badly that vision is missed inTurkey.

GEICO Skytypers Issues apology for Armenian Genocide denial skywriting

On April 25, GEICO Skytypers for the Armenian Genocide denial skywriting that occurred over New York City last week.

Armenian Assembly of America Florida Chair and South Florida Armenian Genocide Commemoration, Inc. Chair Arsine Kaloustian designed a campaign to contact the GEICO Skywriters and educate them on their own message. The image went viral and generated hundreds of responses to GEICO Skytypers.

“This formal apology from GEICO Skytypers should be encouraging to all Armenians who have felt helpless in the face of the rampant genocide denial propaganda that has occurred nationwide over the last month,” Kaloustian said. “No voice is too small when raised in unison with others who speak out for what is morally right. We hope this will serve as a message to other publicly held companies who may be ignorant on the subject of the Armenian Genocide. We are here. We are numerous. And we remember. Educate yourselves BEFORE running ads such as these.”

The text of the apology is provided below:

“Those Who Have the Privilege to Know Have the Duty to Act”

-Albert Einstein

To those who have been offended by our recent skytyped messages, please accept our most humble and sincere apologies. Below is a recap of how we became involved with the messages. Please understand, we were hired by a third-party agency to promote an event. We clearly did not understand what we were promoting. Had we taken the time to further investigate references made, we would not have accepted the project.

At the onset, please note that GEICO sponsors the Skytypers for air shows. They are in no way involved with the promotional advertising side of the Skytypers organization. GEICO works in conjunction with the team and air show organizers regarding messages during air shows only.

Please also note the Skytypers only type messages on the east coast. We do not offer banner towing or other aerial forms of advertising. We were not involved in any of the activities on the western coast of the U.S. that took place on April 23-24. In fact, after realizing our own mistake, we encouraged the west coast skytyping team to forego their scheduled involvement with these activities.

Background

Recently, the team conducted what started as a standard and routine practice. While making preparations for a number of back-to-back air shows, we quickly completed a group of skytyped messages. A third-party agency hired the team to skytype these messages as just one component of a larger promotional campaign. Given the peculiarity and inclusion of non-English messages, we asked about the nature of the campaign. We were assured by the hiring agency that there weren’t any concerns with the message content. The message content was provided less than 20 hours prior to the requested time for the flight. There was little time for vetting on our behalf.

The day after typing the messages, the team arrived near Langley, VA to conduct media flights for an air show. Things were a little more complicated than usual because the planes were arriving from different locations and a remote airport was required. There were lot of activities taking place requiring the assistance of everyone onsite. During this same time, the team received a call from a reporter inquiring about the nature of the messages on Wednesday. Quick questions during the initial call implied there was concern, but the nature was unclear. The reporter was assured someone from the team would return his call.

During the bevy of activity surrounding the air show, the reporter was contacted. If you’ve never been blindsided by repeated inquiry, consider yourself fortunate. During the call, a number of accusations were levied implying bad intent and harm on behalf of the team. The questioning led to subsequent research from the team owner, Larry Arken. The peculiar, but relatively innocent, messages included references that weren’t quickly recognizable, especially given the nature of translations. But we had the assurance from the hiring agency the content had been researched and the intent was safe and harmless. We quickly learned otherwise.

“Were you aware of,” “Would you have,” and “Did you consider,” questions are incredibly overwhelming when they surround the quick and sudden realization that the “innocent” messages may have deeper implication than anyone could have considered. “Turkey = Truth Peace” or citing websites seemed quite innocuous, unless you’re aware of the historical and sociological undercurrent. Some of the message content should have raised flags, but in a rush and with the assurance from the hiring agency, we typed messages that should have never been promoted. There is no excuse for carelessness, especially when harm is caused, however we are guilty of ignorance, not ill intent.

The Skytypers have a long-standing practice of not participating in any sort of political or politically motivated advertising. Given our recent unfortunate interaction, the team is currently developing an Ethical Advertising Policy in hopes of not repeating this again. We’ve also warned other advertisers about the lessons we’ve since learned.

A majority of the team members are former military aviators and military personnel. All of the team members are strong supporters and members of education programs, military organizations, civic and community groups, and non-profit organizations.

As referenced, the Skytypers are sponsored by GEICO for air shows. With the air shows, there are often skytyped messages for military tributes, air show sponsors, and air show information. Separate from air shows, the team skytypes for purposes of advertising. The messages typed over NY on April 20 did not involve GEICO whatsoever. They were not only unaware, but completely uninvolved.

Various members of the team have been contacted through social media, messages, emails, and calls. Some have been moderate in addressing disdain for the implied support. These interactions have enabled us to gain a deeper understanding of the events that took place more than 100 years ago and caused us to consider aspects not readily available through research. These individuals and organizations have helped to educate us on the issue.

We are clearly guilty of not taking time to research the messages before they were typed. We are guilty of not understanding the intent behind the messages. In a rush, we accepted a vendor’s assurance the content was acceptable. We’re also deeply apologetic for these messages. While some of the team owner’s comments in the news article are words he/we wished could be retracted, they were offered in a bit of a state of confusion. Larry clearly did not understand the references behind the messages and quickly became entangled in a discussion regarding topics for which he only had limited awareness or inaccurate information.

Larry Arken and the team would like to offer our most sincere apologies to those hurt by the messages. While inexcusable, this was an act of ignorance, not support for a cause we do not believe in. We also offer apologies to the team sponsor, GEICO, and to our aviation partners and supporters for the events related to these messages. Many of you have been unfairly targeted and approached.

We are attempting to learn from and forego this sort of activity in the future by including a formal policy as part of standard operating practices. We will not get involved in promotional advertising for politically motivated campaigns and plan to have a formal policy in place in the near future.

Ecuador earthquake death toll reaches 272, likely to rise

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has warned that the death toll from a powerful earthquake which has killed more than 250 people is likely to rise, the BBC reports.

But he also said there was evidence that people were still alive under the rubble of collapsed buildings.

Mr Correa has visited some of the people affected after cutting short a visit to Rome.

At least 272 people are confirmed dead and more than 1,500 hurt by the quake, Ecuador’s most powerful in decades.

A state of emergency has been declared and some 10,000 troops and 3,500 police have been deployed in the affected areas, with an emphasis on finding survivors.

The magnitude-7.8 quake struck on Saturday evening. Coastal areas in the north-west were closest to the epicentre.

The quake is Ecuador’s largest since 1979. More than 130 aftershocks have followed.