OSCE urges Azerbaijan to follow Armenia and agree to discuss mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations

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), together with the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, held a meeting on 24 September with the Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian, and a separate meeting on 25 September with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov.  They also met jointly with the two Foreign Ministers to discuss the immediate need to reduce tensions along the Line of Contact and international border, to advance negotiations on a lasting settlement, and to implement confidence-building measures.  The Ministers agreed to continue preparations with the Co-Chairs on the next presidential summit, which is expected to be held before the end of this year.

The Co-Chairs called for the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to accept an OSCE mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations.  Without such a mechanism, the sides will continue to blame each other for initiating deadly attacks on the Line of Contact and Armenia-Azerbaijan border.  Armenia has agreed to discuss the details of the mechanism, and we urged Azerbaijan to do the same.

The Co-Chairs condemned in strong terms the use of artillery that caused additional casualties in the last twenty-four hours. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased. An escalation of violence is not in the interest of Azerbaijanis or Armenians, or a negotiated settlement.

The Co-Chairs encouraged the sides to implement people-to-people programs to build trust between societies affected by the conflict.

13 killed, one wounded in car crash in central Turkey

A major car crash in the Central Anatolian province of Niğde has killed at least 13 people and injured one, the Turkish police have stated, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

A car and a light commercial vehicle were involved in a collision in the early hours of Sept. 25 on the Aksaray-Adana highway, near the Bor district of Niğde.

Eleven people died at the scene.

Three injured people were rushed to a hospital in Niğde for treatment, but two could not be saved.

No official statement has been issued about the cause of the crash.

Former Argentine President Raul Alfonsin honored by the Armenian community

The Armenian community of Argentina honored former and late Argentine President Raul Alfonsin on Sunday September 20, with a plaque in memory of his recognition of the Armenian Genocide as president of the country on September 1, 1987, Agencia Prensa Armenia reports.

The event took place at the Armenian Cultural Association, the same place where he made his statement of recognition 28 years ago, and was organized by the Commemorative Commission of the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide.

Dr. Hugo Kuyumdjian, speaking on behalf of the Commission of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, said that “it is our duty to highlight and remember the individual who made ethics in politics and morals his inalienable flags.”

Kuyumdjian also stressed that Alfonsin “encouraged and accompanied” the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by both houses of Congress in 1985 “despite the pressures.”

“That same year he instructed Leandro Despouy to work for the recognition in the Subcommittee on Human Rights of the United Nations.”

“The Turkish state must understand that our country’s position on human rights and its position on the Armenian Genocide cannot become factors of pressure and negotiation,” concluded Kuyumdjian.

Hipolito Solari Yrigoyen, President of the National Convention of the Radical Civic Union, recalled: “The friendship between our peoples, Argentina and Armenia, is of long standing: it was the President Hipolito Yrigoyen who acknowledged, anticipating many, the first proclaimed independence of Armenia.”

On October 15 there will be a tribute to former President Nestor Kirchner for promulgating Law 26,199 in January 2007, which declared every April 24 as the “Day of action for tolerance and respect among peoples” in commemoration of the Armenian Genocide.

Russia’s Putin drafts bill to dump dollar, euro in CIS

Russian President Vladimir Putin has drafted a bill that aims to eliminate the US dollar and the euro from trade between CIS countries.

This means the creation of a single financial market between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and other countries of the former Soviet Union.

“This would help expand the use of national currencies in foreign trade payments and financial services and thus create preconditions for greater liquidity of domestic currency markets”, said a from Kremlin.

Company founded by Kirk Kerkorian to produce film on Armenian Genocide

Tracinda Corp., the holding company founded by the late Kirk Kerkorian, has unveiled production company Survival Pictures with the Christian Bale-Oscar Isaac drama “The Promise” as its first project, has learned exclusively.

Survival is described as telling stories of “perseverance, endurance and the inextinguishable fire of the human spirit” to reflect Kerkorian’s values. Kerkorian, who bought and sold MGM and United Artists three times, died on June 16 at the age of 98.

“The Promise” will be produced and financed by Survival Pictures managers Eric Esrailian and Anthony Mandekic, with “Hotel Rwanda” director Terry George helming from a script he wrote with Robin Swicord.

The story is set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, which was dissolved in 1922, with shooting in Portugal and the Canary Islands scheduled for the fall. Mike Medavoy (“Black Swan”) is producing for his Phoenix Pictures banner with Esrailian, Ralph Winter (“X-Men”) and William Horberg (“Milk”).

The script centers on a love triangle with a medical student, an American journalist based in Paris and a beautiful and sophisticated woman. Bale will play the reporter, and Isaac will portray the student, who’s conflicted by old-world traditions.

Bale was last seen in “Exodus: Gods and Kings” and stars in two completed Terrence Malick titles — “Knight of Cups” and “Weightless.” Isaac will be seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “X-Men: Apocalypse.”

Longtime Kerkorian attorney and spokesperson Patricia Glaser said, “Survival Pictures was born out of Kirk Kerkorian’s unwavering dedication to telling inspiring human stories for audiences around the world. ‘The Priomise’ will be a wonderful love story and will open the door to the championing of human rights. This film fulfills a longstanding dream for Mr. Kerkorian, who was thrilled to participate in the development and casting process.”

Islamic State ‘kills 120 civilians’ in Kobane

Islamic State (IS) militants have killed more than 120 civilians since launching a fresh attack on the Syrian border town of Kobane, activists say, the BBC reports.

IS “fired at everything that moved” after entering on Thursday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

A separate IS attack on the north-eastern city of Hassakeh has displaced 60,000 people, the UN says.

Kobane became a symbol of Kurdish resistance in January after an IS siege lasting several months was repelled.

IS launched an apparent two-pronged offensive on Thursday after Kurdish fighters from the Popular Protection Units (YPG) cut off one of the militants’ major supply routes near Raqqa.

Raqqa is the de facto capital of the IS “caliphate”, whose creation IS announced a year ago after it captured large swathes of northern and western Iraq and parts of Syria.

NKR President offers condolences over Catholicos Nerses Petros XIX

On 25 June Artsakh Republic President Bako Sahakyan sent a condolence letter in connection with the death of Catholicos Patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church Nerses Petros XIX, Central Information Department of the Office of the NKR President reports.

The letter runs as follows:

“I have learnt with deep sorrow about the death of Catholicos Patriarch of the Armenian Catholic Church Nerses Petros XIX.

The deceased Patriarch had a substantial input in solving national issues, strengthening the Motherland-Diaspora ties, maintaining the Armenian national identity and developing inter-church dialogue.

On behalf of the Artsakh people, authorities and on my own behalf I express my condolences on this irretrievable loss. The memory of Patriarch Nerses Petros XIX Tarmouni will always remain bright in the hearts of our faithful people.”

Lebanese-Armenian designer founds Beirut’s first free fashion school

Creative Space Beirut (CSB), Lebanon’s first free fashion school, was founded by Lebanese-Armenian fashion designer Sarah Hermez, reports.

The school is inconspicuously housed in a run-of-the-mill, weathered apartment building tucked in a corner of the raucous neighborhood of Mar Mikhael — the capital’s capital of cool, generously lined with characterful bars and eateries, home to many an engaging art and design studio. The ambitious CSB, founded in 2011, operates out of an average-sized flat, its spatial modesty belying the bountiful tutelage it offers.

A nonprofit, CSB runs a three-year program catering to students from underprivileged backgrounds. It relies primarily on the generosity of donors for sustainability and it admits only four new students a year, choosing to offer a compact cohort a fulfilling experience rather than overreaching and providing more students with less.

“Design education has become institutionalized, and more about how much money you have than talent,” said the initiative’s founder, 29-year-old Kuwait bred, Lebanese-Armenian fashion designer Sarah Hermez. “Back in the day, designers would go work under others and build their way up, but today without a degree it’s impossible to get a job. We’re trying to provide equal opportunities to people who don’t have access to the elitist world of design.”

A product of the unconventional academic coupling of fashion design and media/cultural studies at the New School’s Parsons School of Design and the New School’s Eugene Lang College for Liberal Arts in New York, Hermez graduated wanting to do more than “fashion for fashion’s sake.”

Her desire to merge her zeal for social work with her love for fashion motivated her to move back to her native Lebanon. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she said, “but I knew there was so much work to be done here.” She worked in the textile department of a boutique furniture store, taught preschool to Palestinian refugees and explored other opportunities within the very different worlds of NGO work and design, but nothing fit quite right.

Then, during a visit to New York, a conversation with her former professor, Lebanese-American designer Caroline Shlala-Simonelli, sparked what Hermez called “the American light bulb moment — that ‘aha’ moment Oprah talks about.” After listening to Hermez articulate the desire to marry her passions, and her frustration with not knowing how to do so, Simonelli suggested she start her own, free school. She even offered to help her do it.

Luckily, Hermez and her fledgling initiative were extended a number of supportive hands. A friend from Donna Karan in NY donated $100,000 worth of fabric for the future students to work with. “We had fabric and a professor but we needed a school,” she recalled. “It was my job to make that happen.”

Hermez hopes to eventually grow CSB into a school for all manners of design, not just fashion, believing that marginalized communities can greatly benefit from the problem-solving skills the discipline imparts.