Kirk Kerkorian commemorated in Armenia

President Serzh Sargsyan attended today a ceremony in memory of great Armenian philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian, National Hero of Armenia, at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. The president took part in a session devoted to the great Armenian philanthropist at the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Library where he delivered a speech. Afterwards, the president attended the requiem service for the rest of Kirk Kerkorian’s soul at Etchmiadzin Cathedral which was led by His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

Remarks by President Serzh Sargsyan in honor of Kirk Kerkorian

Your Holiness, Your Eminences, Ladies and gentlemen,

We have gathered here today to honor the memory of great philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian, National Hero of Armenia, who passed away one week ago.

Kirk Kerkorian deceased in the year of the Armenian Genocide Centennial when Armenians all over the world commemorated the innocent martyrs who had fallen victim to that crime. It is known that history does not admit “ifs.” But perhaps Kirk Kerkorian might have really become a businessman of another, different Armenia, one who pushes life forward, or an Armenian boxing champion, or, let’s say, a heroic pilot of Armenia’s air force. Perhaps he might have been an ordinary worker earning his family’s bread with dignity in that another, different Armenia.

Today nobody can answer this question, but like many Armenian girls and boys who have been destined to live in a foreign land, Kirk Kerkorian shows the Armenia which could have been real. He embodies the Armenia which was stolen from us with the aim of utterly annihilating the name of Armenians on the earth.

Honoring Kirk Kerkorian’s memory, we should also appraise America and its people at their true worth. It was exactly there where his business talent revealed itself, making it possible for him to promote his multifarious activities. And he was not the only one. The United States of America became home to hundreds of thousands of Armenians, which gave them the opportunity to survive the Armenian Genocide and start a new life.

He earned his bread since he was nine years old so that he could help his parents. He was a boxer and a pilot, a major player in the machine and entertainment industries. He never forgot his Armenian roots, which was easy to do in that atmosphere of immigrants.

Since the devastating earthquake in 1988, Kerkorian lent a helping hand to Armenia, thus supporting his sisters and brothers. He was so modest that he never allowed anything in Armenia and another place to be named after him. Such proposals were made everywhere where he sponsored charitable projects, but Kirk Kerkorian remained adamant about that fundamental position.

A man lives as long as people remember and talk about him. We will not forget our hero, Kirk Kerkorian. We will remember that thanks to him, numerous roads, infrastructures and cultural centers of Armenia were built and renovated, thereby giving fresh impetus to Armenia’s economy.

We are grateful to our great Armenian-American compatriot for his major contribution to Armenia’s life, and we will never forget it. Kirk Kerkorian’s memory will live forever in his mother country of Armenia.

It will live so that another great Armenian-American’s words to be become a reality again and again: “Try to destroy Armenia, and see whether you can do it. Drive them out from their houses to the desert, do not forget to snatch out their bread and the last mouthful of water, set on fire their and their God’s houses. See that they are going to revive again. See that when two of them meet and laugh in their mother tongue after 20 years, the nation will rise again.”

Throughout the last hundred years, one Armenian met another one and started to build a new Armenia.

Kirk Kerkorian and the new Armenia met each other, talked to each other and made fun of the mean ideas of hangmen.

On behalf of all of us, I express my thanks to you, Kirk Kerkorian. Rest in peace.

US Embassy says encouraged by respectful behavior by protestors and police at Yerevan rally

The US Embassy in Armenia has issued a statement on the June 22-23 protests in Yerevan:

We were encouraged by the responsible and generally respectful behavior by both protestors and police on the evening of June 22 during the protests over the planned rise in electricity prices.  Freedom of speech and assembly are fundamental rights in any democracy, and we were pleased to see both sides work in a manner that respected these rights and did not escalate tensions.

However, we are concerned about reports of excessive police use of force to disperse the crowd on the morning of June 23, as well as several reports of abuse while in police custody.

In addition, we are troubled by reports that journalists and their equipment were specifically targeted during the operation.  It is imperative that the Government conduct a full and transparent investigation of reports of the excessive use of force by the police to the full extent of Armenian law.

China nursing home fire kills 38 in Henan

A fire at a care home for elderly people in China’s Henan province has killed 38 people, state media report.

Another six people were injured in the fire, which broke out at the privately run Kangleyuan home in Pingdingshan city on Monday night.

Two of the injured were in serious condition, said the Xinhua news agency.

President Xi Jinping ordered “all-out efforts” to care for the injured and bereaved relatives and to find out what had gone wrong, Xinhua reported.

U.S. Embassy helps make the Armenian border more secure

In a ceremony at the Armenia Border Guard headquarters, U.S. Ambassador Richard M. Mills Jr., joined by National Security Service Deputy Director Lieutenant General Arzuman Harutyunyan and Border Guard Troops Commander Major General Armen Abrahamyan, inspected equipment from the U.S. government that will assist the border guards in keeping weapons of mass destruction, biological hazards, and other threats from crossing Armenia’s borders.  The equipment includes a multi-media lab that will be used in training Armenian border guards and other tools that will enhance the ability of border guards to control the flow of sensitive exports across the board and strengthen Armenia’s borders against transnational threats.

This assistance is part of the U.S. Government’s comprehensive nonproliferation programs that strengthen the ability of the Armenian Government to effectively counter transnational threats from international crime, arms smugglers, and risks from weapons of mass destruction.  The United States and Armenia are working together toward common goals of democracy, security, and peace, both in Armenia and in the region.

Over the past ten years, the U.S. Embassy has partnered with various ministries and agencies to develop Armenia’s border security capacity.  Leading the U.S. Embassy’s efforts in Armenia are the Export Control and Related Border Security (EXBS) program, the Defense Threat Reduction Office (DTRO), and Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC).  “Our border security cooperation is robust, and we are committed to an open door partnership with Armenia,” said Ambassador Mills during his remarks.

France offers Russia $865M to terminate Mistral deal

France has offered to refund about 785 million euros ($865 million) besides re-export rights for cancelling the Mistral amphibious assault ship deal with Russia, but the latter has demanded 1.163 billion euros ($1.32 billion).

According to Sputnik News, Moscow disapproves the motion since the costs and losses of Russia due to the breach of the contract are estimated at about 1.163 billion euros ($1.32 billion). Moreover, Russia does not intend to issue any re-export permit before the money is returned, according to Kommersant.

Russia and France sealed a $1.5-billion deal for two Mistral-class ships in 2011. The handover of the first ship was slated for November 2014, but the ceremony did not take place. French President Francois Hollande put the delivery on hold, citing alleged interference by Moscow in the Ukrainian crisis.

Presidents of Russia and France Vladimir Putin and Francois Hollande discussed the issue at a meeting in Yerevan, as the two attended the commemoration of the Armenian Genocide Centennial in the Armenian capital.



Eurovision 2015: A song with a message for Armenia – Video

Six singers, one message: Love, peace, and unity – that’s what the Armenian entry in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, Face The Shadow, promotes. Today the band, whose members hail from five different continents but all have Armenian roots, had their second rehearsal at the Wiener Stadthalle, according to Eurovision’s official website.

Armenia  is being represented by Genealogy, the most international band in the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest. It consists of Essaï Altounian from France, Tamar Kaprelian from the US, Stephanie Topalian from Japan, Vahe Tilbian from Ethiopia, Mary-Jean O’Doherty Vasmatzian from Australia, and Inga Arshakyan from Armenia.

EssaĂŻ Altounian was in a sunny mood today: “Every time I am on stage I feel good because the stage is my place – I love to spread the energy and love with the people.” He also explained the meaning of the colour purple in the stage costumes of the Armenian act: “It’s the color of hope of the Armenian culture. It means something deep for us. It’s neither dark nor bright, it’s the color of the roots and of the future. So it perfectly symbolizes the history of the Armenian people.”

Inga Arshakyan has been on the Eurovision Song Contest stage already in 2009, together with her sister Anush. “The feelings are the same – I am extremely excited once again. The only difference is that right now we are six artists and back then I was with my sister. I was scared in the beginning because I didn’t know them but now we have already become one big family. Right now I feel more confident because we are a bigger family now, and that makes us stronger.”

Mary-Jean O’Doherty Vasmatzian is an opera singer, so the Eurovision Song Contest is a new experience for her: “We are still working out the sound levels. Also the microphone placement is something new for me because I generally don’t work with a microphone.” She has quickly warmed with performing on this stage though: “I love it! Armen’s song is so universal, the message is universal, and also the appeal of the music is so universal because it draws from all the different genres. It has pop and rock, soul, Armenian folk music, classical music – something for everybody.”