Armenian Church in Sweden consecrated

The Armenian Church of St. Virgin Mary was consecrated in the Swedish city of Södertälje on October 24.

The funds for the reconstruction of the church that started in 2014 were granted by representatives of the local Armenian community and benefactors.

The solemn blessing ceremony was attended by Armenian Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, Armenian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Sweden Artak Apitonyan, Vice-President of the Swedish Rikstag Esabelle Dingizian, representatives of sister churches, high-ranking officials, members of the community and pilgrims.

Armenia values EPP role in the adoption of Armenian Genocide Resolution by European Parliament

President Serzh Sargsyan took part today in the congress of the European People’s Party (EPP) in Madrid. It was presided over by EPP President Joseph Daul. The congress was joined by the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, heads of EU and European Partnership states and governments representing the EPP member parties.

Among the congress’ agenda items are the elections of EPP President, as well as the discussion and approval of the party program and the amendments to the party rules. From 21 to 22 October, the congress delegates will focus on some issues of pan-European importance, e.g. the refugee problems, the consequences of the economic crisis and the opportunities to overcome thereof. The parties will touch upon the European Neighbourhood issues, the developments in the area of the Eastern Partnership and upon contemporary international challenges.

Armenia’s president delivered a speech at the congress.

Statement by the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan at the European People’s Party Statutory Congress

Dear Colleagues,

At the outset I would like to thank the EPP President Daul for the invitation to take part in this meeting. Thank You Mr. Prsident.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Eastern Partnership Summit of Riga welcomed the common understanding reached on the scope for a future agreement between the EU and Armenia. Today I am glad to note that we have reached a new responsible milestone in our relations with the EU: last week the EU Council in Luxembourg adopted mandate to open negotiations on a new, legally binding and overarching agreement with Armenia. I strongly believe that negotiations will result in an elaborate document outlining comprehensive cooperation in all areas of mutual interest, and it will become the best assurance for our joint commitment to elevate Armenia-EU relations to a new stage.

There is no doubt that our journey should not have been unclouded unless it was supported by our partners, not least of the EPP family. I strongly hope that the EPP will stand by us also in the course of negotiations in order to conclude it as soon as possible and continue with the European agenda of Armenia upon a new legally binding foundation.

In our country we continue development of the democratic institutions, balance separate branches of power, protect human rights and independence of judiciary. We have taken an important step in this direction by initiating constitutional reform in our country, which is implemented in close cooperation with the Venice Commission. Should our people approve the Constitutional amendments on December 6, Armenia will transform its semi-presidential model of governance into the parliamentary one, which in its turn will make more efficient interaction of the separate branches of power, lay ground for more intensive economic development, increase the level of the human rights protection and institutional role of the opposition. We have invited the EU, PACE, OSCE and other international structures to observe the referendum. I am confident that you participation and best practices will give a further impetus to the progress of the democratic process in Armenia.

Dear Attendees,

In conclusion I would like to note once again that the Armenian nation highly values the EPP contribution to the adoption of the European Parliament resolution to condemn the Armenian Genocide, as well as the adoption of the resolution dedicated to the Armenian Genocide Centennial titled “The Armenian Genocide and European Values” by the EPP Political Assembly. They came to prove that the European People’s Party, as the largest political group represented in the European Parliament and the force that advances the European identity and idea, notwithstanding the most diverse set of political considerations, is committed to the protection of the fundamental human rights.

Last but not least I wish this unique platform of dialogue continuous and fruitful work.

Syrian army launches Aleppo offensive

Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah and Iranian fighters launched an offensive south of Aleppo on Friday, expanding the army’s counter-attack against rebels across western Syria with support from Russian air strikes, Reuters reports.

The assault means the army is now pressing insurgents on several fronts near Syria’s main cities in the west.

Aleppo, a commercial and industrial hub near the border with Turkey, was Syria’s largest city before its four-year civil war, which grew out of protests against Assad’s rule.

Control of the city, still home to two million people, is divided between the government and rebels.

“This is the promised battle,” a senior military source in Syria said of the offensive backed by hundreds of Hezbollah and Iranian forces which he said had made some gains on the ground.

French Secretary of State for European Affairs pays tribute to the memory of Armenian Genocide victims

France’s Secretary of State for European Affairs Harlem Désir visited the Tsitsernakaberd Memorial today.

He laid flowers at the memorial to the Armenian Genocide victims and  toured the Armenian Genocide Museum Institute accompanied by its Director Hayk Demoyan.

Harlem Désir has arrived in Armenia to participate in the 31st Ministerial Conference of the Francophonie October 10-11.


Suspect tried for ‘aggravated fraud’ against Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate

A local court in Istanbul held a new hearing on Sept. 29 in a case opened upon a complaint from the leader of Turkey’s Armenian Patriarchate about a man who allegedly identified himself as a Prime Ministry inspector and then requested a bribe of 6,000 Turkish Liras, the reports.

In July, Aram Atesyan, the acting head of the Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey, filed the complaint against Kemal Tayfun Nargin, who identified himself as an inspector of the Prime Ministry’s General Directorate of National Estates.

At the Sept. 29 hearing at the Istanbul 16th Heavy Penal Court, Nargin denied that he identified himself as an inspector and said he was expelled from the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in March 2012.

Nargin admitted that he, along with three other people, visited Atesyan and asked for documents about the historic Sansaryan Han building in Istanbul’s Eminönü district. The building was set to be given to the Armenian community as part of the ongoing return of various properties, and Nargin said he was with the group because the other three – one of whom is a MIT official – did not speak Armenian.

He also said Atesyan handed over the documents but denied that he had taken any money from Atesyan. He also claimed that footage on security cameras of their meeting was deleted immediately after the meeting.

The court ruled to ask the MIT whether Nargin was employed during or before the date of the alleged crime and postponed the hearing.

Nargin is charged with “aggravated fraud” and faces up to seven years in jail.

Atesyan alleges that the suspect arrived at the patriarch demanding a “gift” to finalize the return of the Sansaryan Han to the Armenian community. Nargin called the patriarch to arrange a meeting and had Atesyan fill out a form bearing the Prime Ministry logo before asking for a “gift” from the religious leader.

Atesyan said he gave him 3,000 liras, but Nargin found this amount inadequate, so Ateşyan gave a further 3,000 liras.

Pope Francis to eat with 300 homeless people, not politicians in Washington

Pope Francis will enjoy lunch with homeless people in Washington DC after passing up the offer of a meal with politicians,  reports.

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church arrived in the US on Tuesday for a six-day trip.

After addressing Congress, it is expected he will dine with around 300 of the capital’s homeless people in a tent set up outside St Patrick Catholic Church, .

he move highlights the Pope’s focus on social justice and his concerns over income inequality.

Aznavour says ready to shelter immigrants

Armenian French singer Charles Aznavour opened his show in Paris with the song “The Migrants” on Tuesday, a strong show of support of the refugees crisis hitting Europe in recent months, reports.

“The song was written thirty years ago, but it remains news,” said the singer. “What is happening with the refugees has affected me very much, I imagine my parents in this situation, when they left Armenia to come to France. This is why I will always take the side of the ones who knock the doors, not the ones who shut them.”

Aznavour also affirmed he was willing to welcome refugees in his secondary residence, where he could easily set up a mobile home for them. “I would sacrifice without any problem a couple of olive trees,” he said jokingly to the daily Le Parisien.

He also called to remember what immigrants had brought to the French nation, mentionning the cases of Spanish painter Pablo Picasso, the Egyptian composer Guy Beart, and the Romanian Emil Cioran. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for France. There may be among them future Aznavours, who knows?” he added.

Armenian presidency of CSTO to focus on fighting international terrorism

Over its presidency in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Armenia will pay special attention to the development of the peacekeeping component and strengthening of the CSTO defense, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said on Tuesday at an extended meeting of the CSTO summit, TASS reports.

“Such tasks as further improvement of control over the collective security system, including collective regional forces, promptness in taking and implementing decisions, holding joint drills, such as the Opyt-2016 (Experience) exercises due in Armenia, are coming to the fore,” he said. “Of great importance is joint effort to develop the system of CSTO crisis management.”

The Armenian President stressed that over his country’s presidency in the CSTO “big attention will be also paid to the organization’s peacekeeping component.” “It is time to set up a basic organization to train CSTO peacekeepers,” Sargsyan said. “We suggest the center for training Armenian army’s peacekeeping brigade be considered as a base for such organization.”

“Our efforts should be rooted in due account of joint liabilities and opinions of the partners,” the Armenian president stressed. “Another topical task is to expand CSTO’s cooperation with the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).”

“The Armenian Presidency “will also focus on joint struggle against international terrorism and radicalism, neo-fascism, chauvinism and other expressions of xenophobia,” President Sargsyan told journalists following the summit of the CSTO member states in Tajikistan, President’s Press Office reported.

“In this context we attach importance to the intensification of joint efforts to tackle cybercrime,” the Armenian President said.

Armenia takes over presidency in the Collective Security Treaty Organization after today’s session of the CSTO Collective Security Council.


French Armenian International Network to bring together entrepreneurs for international exchanges

FAIR, French Armenian International Network, aims to promote economic
synergies between the business entrepreneurs of the Rhone-Alpes region and their
counterparts in Armenia for the creation of a regional hub providing access to the region’s
markets, such as Georgia, Iran, and other CIS countries.

The worldwide networking of FAIR, which is a recently created business association, shall
definitely include the still-untapped economic potential of the Armenian diaspora, from the
Middle-East countries to the Americas, as well as the countries of Eastern Europe and the
former Soviet Union.

The Rhône-Alpes Regional Parliament is set to host the official launching of FAIR in a
special ceremony on Wednesday, September 23, 2015.

The event is organized under the sponsorship of Raffi Haladjian, inventor of NABAZTAG
and a pioneer in the field of connected items and other state-of-the-art technologies.