Armenian President due in Tajikistan for CSTO session

On September 14, President Serzh Sargsyan is due to pay a working visit to the Republic of Tajikistan to take part in the session of the Collective Security Council of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to be held in Dushanbe.

The session will discuss, inter alia, the status of decisions adopted at the previous session in Moscow in December 2014 and will outline the programs for the upcoming year. The participants will also touch upon the works carried out in the main directions of CSTO collaboration. During the Dushanbe session, the Republic of Armenia will assume CSTO chairmanship.

Armenian physicist wins ICO Galileo Galilei Award

Aram Papoyan, Director of the Institute for Physical Research of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, has won an ICO Galileo Galilei Award for his “considerable achievements in the field of spectroscopic study of high solubility of alkali atoms and his contribution to the development of experimental atomic physics in Armenia,” Press Service of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

The ICO Galileo Galilei Award recognizes the promotion of Optics under difficult circumstances. The award was established by the 1993 General Assembly of ICO and has been awarded annually since 1994.

Aram Papoyan was born in Yerevan in 1959. The scope of his study includes laser and atomic physics, as well as quantum and nonlinear optics. In 2004 he received RA President’s Award in Physics for the series of papers on “New possibilities for the study of laser radiation interaction with atomic vapor opened by new optical cells.”

He is a member of the Alfred Kastler Foundation of the French Academy of Sciences and a member of the Armenian Optical Society.

His Holiness Aram I blesses the Holy Muronin front of the Genocide Memorial at St. Mary’s Monastery in Bikfaya

In the Armenian Church the Holy Muron is prepared and blessed every seven years. The ceremony this year acquired a special meaning because it symbolized the anointment of the one-and-a-half million martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and the recommitment of Armenians to the cause of demanding justice on their behalf.

The ceremony, which was held on Saturday evening at the St. Mary’s Monastery in Bikfaya, was attended by Heads of Churches, ecumenical guests, diplomats, official representatives, pilgrims arriving from different dioceses in North and South America, Europe, Iran and the Arab countries, and the faithful in Lebanon. The ceremony began with a procession towards the Martyrs Monument where the ritual was held. His Holiness walked towards the monument under a canopy held by four laymen, who represented the Diaspora. They followed two bishops who carried the case that contains the relic of the right hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator. Four bishops carried containers of the Muron that had been brought from Holy Etchmidadzin, the old Muron from the Catholicosate of Cilicia, and the essence of rose and balsam. Twelve other bishops led the way.

During the blessing of the oil, Catholicos Aram I was assisted by prelates of the dioceses of the Catholicosate of Cilicia, two representatives of the Catholicosate of Holy Etchmidadzin: Bishop Vazken Mirzakhanian the primate of the Armenian Church in Georgia and Bishop Vartan Navasartian, the Prelate of Georgia, and two representatives from the Patriarchate of Constantinople: Archbishop Aram Ateshian, the Locum Tenens, and Bishop Sahak Mashalian.

The ceremony began with readings from the Bible and special prayers recited by His Holiness and the bishops, beseeching the intercession of the Holy Spirit. To the original mixture of oil, spices, herbs and essence of different plants, prepared 40 days ago, His Holiness added the essence of rose and the Holy Muron from Etchmiadzin, symbolising the unity of the Armenian Church. He then added the old Muron, which is the remnant of the healing oil St. Thaddeus brought to Armenia and the Holy Muron which was blessed by St. Gregory the Illuminator. At the end, His Holiness mixed everything in the special Muron cauldron with the relic of the right hand of St. Gregory the Illuminator.

When the Holy Muron was blessed, His Holiness Karekin II’s message was read by the representative of Holy Etchmiadzin. “ I greet His Holiness Aram I with brotherly love. On the occasion of the blessing of the Holy Muron, we join you with our prayers and intercede with our recently sanctified martyrs and all our saints and ask God to grant us His peace, protect us and lead us to Him. The blessing of the Holy Muron is an invitation to us to renew our faith in Him, recommit ourselves to safeguarding our spiritual heritage and national identity. It is also an invitation to serve together for the glory of our Church and for the prosperity and strengthening of our homeland and the diaspora.” After receiving the message, His Holiness Aram I blessed the people with the relic of St Gregory the Illuminator.

After the ceremony, the Catholicos greeted His Holiness Karekin II, the patriarchs of Jerusalem and Constantinople, the heads of other churches and the international ecumenical guests. He then explained the special place of the Holy Muron in the Armenian Church: for children to become members of the church, for priests to become ordained and serve the Church. He said that through anointment the members of the community are strengthened in their faith and are filled with love and hope. “Historically,” he said, “the faith, love and hope of the Holy Muron has always empowered Armenians to endure the dark days of their history, safeguard their identity and rebuild their lives.” He continued, “Within the Armenian Church the Holy Muron has been the bond between the two Holy Sees.” His Holiness then concluded, “The blessing of the Holy Muron today, on the 100th Anniversary commemorations of our Genocide is an invitation to our people to deepen their Christian faith, arm themselves in love and, with the power of hope in God, continue demanding justice.” The Catholicos then prayed that God might make this day one of a new beginning, spiritually enriching and nationally strengthening.

Senate appropriators reaffirm support for Karabakh aid program

Asbarez – The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Thursday, following the lead of Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), voiced its continued support for direct U.S. aid to Nagorno Karabakh, a program that has, with bipartisan backing, provided humanitarian aid to the citizens of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic since 1998, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.

“We want to thank Senator Mark Kirk for his leadership in support of the Nagorno Karabakh aid program,” said ANCA Chairman, and Illinois resident, Ken Hachikian. “This aid program meets pressing humanitarian needs and stands as a powerful statement of American solidarity with the democratic aspirations of the citizens of Artsakh. We were very pleased that Senator Kirk was able to work so successfully with Chairman Graham and his other colleagues on this vital matter.”

The report accompanying the Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill states that: “The Committee recommends assistance for victims of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in amounts consistent with prior years, and for ongoing needs related to the conflict. The Committee urges a peaceful resolution of the conflict.” The legislators also approved report language stressing the importance of continuing and expanding demining efforts in the interior (non-border) regions of Artsakh, including in farmlands and residential areas previously considered off-limits. “The Committee recognizes that Nagorno-Karabakh has a per capita landmine accident rate among the highest in the world, and that mine clearance programs have been effective where implemented. The Committee is concerned with territorial restrictions placed on demining activities in the region and recommends continued funding for, and the geographic expansion of, such programs.”

The Appropriations Committee, in a departure from a recent trend away from setting country-specific aid levels, made specific recommendation of $20.06 million in economic aid to Armenia, $1.7 million in foreign military financing and $600,000 for International Military Education and Training (IMET). Azerbaijan and Georgia were allocated $8.778 million and $54 million in economic assistance, respectively. As in previous years, Senate Appropriators called for parity in military assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The report makes special mention that the Appropriations Committee is concerned about “democracy, human rights, and corruption in Azerbaijan,” and calls for the State Department to submit a report detailing their efforts to seek the “release of prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan, including Khadija Ismayilova, Anar Mammadli, Leyla and Arif Yunus, Rasul Jafarov, and Initigam Aliyev.” These concerns were echoed in a letter to Azerbaijani President Aliyev, spearheaded by Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and cosigned by over 15 Senate colleagues, calling for a “more tolerant environment for free media like RFE/RL and to immediately release those journalists, activists and civil society leaders currently detained.”

$195 million Allocation for Syria
The Senate Appropriations Committee addressed the ongoing crisis in Syria with a $195 million allocation for in-country efforts and additional funds for ongoing refugee assistance in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The in-Syria assistance will also fund a “new program to build the capacity of Syrian diaspora-led organizations and local Syrian civil society to address the immediate and long-term needs of the Syrian people inside Syria.” Armenia was not identified as a specific target for assistance to help transition those fleeing Syrian conflict, despite the fact that as many as 17,000 have fled to Syria to Armenia.

The House Appropriations Committee considered its version of the foreign aid bill in June, staying silent on a majority of Armenian American foreign aid priorities. Following full House and Senate consideration of their respective measures, appropriators from both houses of Congress hope to convene a conference to work out differences, prior to sending a reconciled version of the legislation to the President for signature. Alternately, if they fail to get to the conference phase of this process, legislative leaders may roll foreign aid spending into a larger omnibus spending measure.

Earlier this year, the ANCA’s Kate Nahapetian testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee, outlining the Armenian American community’s foreign aid priorities.

In February, the Obama-Biden Administration released its FY2016 budget which calls for yet another reduction in U.S. economic assistance to both Armenia and Azerbaijan, while maintaining parity in appropriated military aid to these two countries.

The President’s proposal of $18,360,000 in Economic Support Funds for Armenia in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 would, if approved by Congress, represent a record low in such aid since Armenia’s independence. The White House’s proposal for Armenia is over $2 million less than FY 2014’s actual economic aid allocation, and less than half of the $40 million requested in a Congressional Armenian Caucus letter and ANCA Congressional testimony submitted last year.

16th sitting of the Armenian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission held in Yerevan

The 16th sitting of the Armenian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Economic Cooperation was held in Yerevan today co-chaired by Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan and Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.

“I’m confident that the start of activity of the Eurasian Economic Union will serve an important impetus for the modernization of the two countries and the rise of competitiveness. We expect that the volumes of trade and investments, the employment level will increase in the near future, and we have all mechanisms to reach this,” Armenian PM Hovik Abrahamyan said in his opening remarks.

“Our countries are closely cooperating in key spheres like energy, transport and communication, agriculture, etc. A joint scientific-technical infrastructure has been formed, which will allow to actively develop the innovation element in the economic cooperation,” the Prime Minister said.

Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said, in turn, that 2014 was a milestone for the Armenian-Russian inter-state relations, as Armenia jointed the Eurasian Economic Union.

“From that very moment the cooperation between the two countries entered a qualitatively new stage, as Armenian businessmen got access to a market of 170 million.”  “Besides, the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce is guaranteed,” Sokolov noted.

The participants of the sitting discussed issues related to the development of trade-economic relations, expansion of the legal framework, implementation of the long-term program of cooperation until 2020. Reference was made to the perspectives of cooperation in the fields of energy, transport and communication, industry, agriculture, migration, healthcare, education and science, culture, sport and tourism.

ANC Australia raises Azerbaijan’s human rights abuses to Foreign Minister

The Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC Australia) has raised the ongoing human rights violations in Azerbaijan to Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and members of the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

In light of the inaugural European Games – currently taking place in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku – ANC Australia raised the deteriorating human rights conditions in that country and called on the Australian government to protest these grave violations in all official contact with Azerbaijani authorities.

In recent months, Azerbaijan has embarked on a global public relations campaign to try and cover up the country’s entrenched human rights issues, and has attempted to present what is a violence-preaching dictatorship in a positive light.

In its letter, ANC Australia made reference to the, as well as to Reporters Without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, who all strongly condemn Azerbaijan’s ongoing human rights violations.

Azerbaijan’s ongoing war-mongering against the Armenians of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh and the Republic of Armenia were again brought to the attention of the Australian Foreign Minister.

The letter reads: “In addition to the ongoing violation of human rights, Azerbaijan has dramatically increased its ongoing military threats against the people of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh and the people of the Republic of Armenia.”

“Over the past six months there have been numerous military incursions by Azerbaijan resulting in over 20 Armenian servicemen being killed. I again reiterate the need for the Australian Government to continue to raise these serious human rights violations in all dealings with Azerbaijan and call on Azerbaijan to adhere to its obligations under international law and customs.”

ANC Australia’s Executive Director, Vache Kahramanian, said: “It is vital that Australia uses its position at the United Nations to raise these serious human rights violations with Azerbaijan.”

“For many years, Azerbaijan has attempted to use its petrodollars to conceal these issues, which have been put into the spotlight as a result of the European Games taking place in the country.”

ANC Australia will release any responses from the Foreign Minister and/or the Joint Standing Committee of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Twitter to let users follow live events, not just people

Twitter Inc  will start curating tweets on live events, the microblogging service said, as it plans major changes to make its real-time news feed more user friendly, Reuters reports.

Dubbed Project Lightning, the changes will let users follow events instead of just people, and instantly upload photos and videos that can be shared across websites, social news and entertainment website Buzzfeed reported on Thursday.

A team of editors will curate the most visually appealing and relevant tweets about say, a red-carpet event or shooting, and present them in one place, so that users need not be flooded with every single tweet as it is posted, Buzzfeed said.

Twitter’s mobile app will show both pre-scheduled events and breaking news events, Buzzfeed said.

Twitter spokeswoman Rachel Millner confirmed the report but declined to comment further.

Twitter has struggled with user growth. About one billion people have visited the website, but only 302 million are users.

Armenians have preserved their anthropological type over the past 3,000 years




Armenians have not undergone serious genetic changes and have preserved their anthropological type at least in the course of the past three thousand years, the research by the Copenhagen University has revealed, said Professor Levon Yepiskoposyan, Head of the Ethnogenetics Laboratory at the Institute of Molecular Biology at the Armenian National Academy of Sciences.

The Copenhagen University has studied 101 ancient genetic samples from different Eurasian regions.  The genetic data from different ancient sites of the bronze and iron ages of Armenia have been included in the research for the first time. The study was aimed at revealing the genetic characteristics of the European population.

Armenia was the only country in the region included in the study. “Why? Because we have no problems and no complexes,” Prof. Yepiskoposyan said. According to him, Azerbaijan turned down the proposal.

Ghana petrol station inferno kills 90 in Accra

More than 90 people have died in a fire at a petrol station in Ghana’s capital, Accra, the fire service says, the BBC reports.

The fire started as people in the city are trying to cope with two days of heavy rain, which has left many homeless and without power.

The flooding hampered the rescue efforts.

There are fears that the death toll could rise as the search for bodies continues.

It is thought that people were in the petrol station sheltering from the downpour when the fire began.

President John Mahama has visited the burnt-out petrol station and has appealed for calm as the authorities try to cope with the aftermath of the fire and the flooding.