Pope Francis emphasizes urgency for the legal and safe return of Karabakh Armenians to their homes

 17:54, 8 January 2024

YEREVAN, JANUARY 8, ARMENPRESS. In his annual “State of the World” address to members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on Monday, Pope Francis reflected on the conflicts and divisions ravaging the world and highlighted the responsibility of individuals and nations to foster peace, Vatican News reported.

Greeting the ambassadors from throughout the globe accredited to the Holy See, he expressed deep concern about the escalating conflicts worldwide and described the current state of affairs as a "third world war fought piecemeal" openly addressing specific geopolitical crises.

Pope Francis expressed concern about the tension in the South Caucasus and the disagreements between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and called on the two parties to sign a peace treaty.

Pope Francis once again called for peace, stressing the urgency of the legal and safe return of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians to their homes.

AW: A Tribute to a Renaissance Woman and Trailblazer…Anne Atanossian

Anne Atanossian

Along the road of the journey of life on earth, we are blessed to meet people who change our vector and inspire us to new heights. Whether they are chance encounters or long-term friendships, they are all worthy of remembrance, because they influenced who we have become. I have been fortunate to meet many such people along my path who have had a significant influence on my identity. We lost Anne Atanossian a few weeks ago, and her impact  will not end with the conclusion of her earthly life. Anne was a long-time part of the Washington, D.C. Armenian community who galvanized many through her grace, intellect and example. Great role models do not look for followers or those to mentor. It is a much more organic process that occurs as a result of their talent and humility. Such was the case with Anne.

My encounter with her brilliance began in 1971. I was in my late teens and in the early stages of my bond with our Armenian cause. Armenian political activism was also in its infancy, as this was a time before the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and Armenian Assembly. It was 20 years before the independence of Armenia. Advocacy for genocide recognition was a diaspora project managed by emerging committees and campaigns. Anne and her beloved husband Harry had an idea to bring together activists of all generations in Washington to protest against Turkish denial. They formed an ad hoc committee called the Action Committee for Armenian Rights (ACAR). The small but organized group sponsored several activities, but the highlight was a demonstration in Washington in April 1971. They partnered with respected patriot Dr. Haigaz Grigorian to begin a new chapter in our struggle for justice in the nation’s capital. 

My involvement up to that point was limited to a few rallies in Boston and one memorable trip to the United Nations. The ACAR publicized the demonstration to the communities on the east coast. Our family became aware of the rally through the Armenian church network. My father Carnig, an ardent Armenian patriot and WWII veteran, suggested we attend. He drove my sister Priscilla, my friend Varoujan and me from Indian Orchard to D.C. The rally was well attended and held in the shadow of the Turkish embassy. It was there that I first met Anne and witnessed her magnetic leadership. Her organizational skills and passion for Armenian rights were inspiring to the hundreds of young Armenians in attendance. Political activism was a recent phenomenon for our generation—a generation eager to apply our knowledge of the injustices against our people. Similar to many of my peers, we were the beneficiaries of a heritage-based education that provided a foundation for contributing to our cause. Over that weekend, Anne became a beacon for us, as we marveled at her ability to connect people to a common purpose. During a small group gathering, it became obvious that she deeply cared about the youth and was an incredibly effective motivator. That weekend was a watershed event in my entry into Hai Tahd. Anne and Harry continued their efforts with the ACAR until the spark they lit ignited new national efforts. 

We must always remember and respect those who had the foresight and courage to trailblaze. Anne left a huge footprint in the growth of political activism in this country. I remember that weekend and subsequent activities as if they occurred yesterday. This vivid recollection is attributed to the impact they had on my own journey. There have been countless demonstrations, advocacy campaigns and educational processes, but I have often thought about Anne and Harry. For myself, and I would assume many others, it began on those streets in Washington. 

Years went by, and my path crossed with the Atanossians a few times, but in 2011 an unexpected encounter brought the past to the present. Our family made our first trip to Armenia that year and joined a small tour group. We grew close with an Armenian woman named Noni (Nazeli DeBlasio) from New York who also was visiting for the first time. Typical of Armenians and the interconnecting branches of many dialogues, we quickly discovered that she had been in the Long Island AYF and attended the St. Sarkis Church. Under the shadow of eternal Ararat, our conversation shifted into our history and the Genocide. Noni asked me how I got involved. I told her about my teenage years in New England, the special experience in Washington and the couple who led this life-changing event. 

When I mentioned Anne and Harry, Noni looked stunned and declared that they were her dear aunt and uncle (Harry was her mom’s brother from Providence). Older memories instantly became current, as I learned more about this incredible couple. During that conversation and subsequent discussions, I shared with Noni my deep respect for Anne and the impact she had on many of us. Noni was kind enough to keep us informed of her status over the years, and it was she who called me with the sad news of Anne’s passing. I believe that with faith there are no coincidences. Our paths crossing with Noni created a beautiful friendship and gave us wonderful insight into Anne and her extended family. It also enabled me to recall some very important years and articulate to others their meaningful impact. I am fortunate to have learned about this incredible individual who led one of the most important inflection points in my life as an Armenian. A pilot light was lit that has never extinguished. Anne belongs on the list of those to whom I am eternally grateful.

Leadership requires the courage to focus on the mission and ignore the noise. Her love of our culture and community fueled a unique and inspiring brand of leadership.

When I decided to tell this story, I wanted to seek the wisdom of one of Anne’s peers from those incredible early days. After asking several friends who were a part of the Washington scene during that time, most suggested that I speak with Eleanor Caroglanian. Eleanor and her husband Oscar were close friends of Anne and Harry for decades. They were equally active in the community, and Oscar led the remarkably successful 70th anniversary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide at Arlington National Cemetery. From my observations of Anne during those early activist days, it was apparent that she was a very talented woman who willingly shared her gifts with her people. After speaking with Noni and Eleanor, I learned that she was truly a Renaissance woman. More than 50 years ago, Anne was one of the few female leaders in our community, and I am certain that she inspired many young Armenian women and men to greater heights. Leadership requires the courage to focus on the mission and ignore the noise. Her love of our culture and community fueled a unique and inspiring brand of leadership. Professionally, Anne was equally remarkable. For many years she was the head of the English department at Wheaton (Md.) High School. She was a prolific writer and always responded with grace when her talents were needed. Anne was quite fluent in Shakespearean literature, and she practiced her knowledge as an actor in the prestigious Arena Theatre in Washington. Anne was able to willingly contribute to her communities in a variety of ways with her speaking, writing and acting capabilities. Consider for a moment how many high school students she must have motivated and mentored simply through her natural ability.

Anne was originally from New York, and her family moved to the Washington area after the war. She met her husband Harry through the AYF, and they made their life together in the metro D.C. area. In addition to being an early role model of female leadership in the Armenian community, she was a beloved wife, mother, aunt, cousin and friend to many during her extraordinary life. The breadth of her impact is so extensive that it reminds me of the adage, “If you want to accomplish something, ask a busy person.” Several individuals who knew her well speak often of her intelligence and talent. I was impressed that they also spoke of these attributes with immense respect, which is a clear indication of her compassion and humility. 

Our life on earth is sometimes referred to as a journey, during which we are privileged to meet some very special people. Perhaps they mentored us at a critical juncture of our lives or provided us the support that we all need at some point. As Armenians in America, we have the unique and rewarding opportunity to meet people who become friends for a lifetime in various geographies. Sometimes we meet people briefly who we will never forget. Anne Atanossian was one of those special people. I always have high regard for those with vision. When Anne and Harry decided to do something special for Genocide recognition, we had very little infrastructure. It took vision, energy and courage to overcome the obstacles, as our “reawakening” was in its early moments. It took someone like Anne to fulfill that opportunity, and we should all be thankful for the footprint she left for our cause. After those early days, our advocacy and activism went through a period of remarkable growth, due in part to the work of those early trailblazers.

It has often been said that the greatest legacy is to be remembered. A society that fails to remember those who created what we have inherited is indeed shallow. We will always remember Anne, because her legacy is one of unique leadership and inspiration. Her gifts live on through the many who have been impacted by her teaching, writing and opening of doors that were previously closed. We offer our sympathy to her family and are comforted by the knowledge that she has been reunited with her husband and son. Those of us continuing our earthly life will remember her for the important pillars that she established for the foundation we enjoy today. Asdvadz Hokin Louysavoreh. May God illuminate her soul.

Columnist
Stepan was raised in the Armenian community of Indian Orchard, MA at the St. Gregory Parish. A former member of the AYF Central Executive and the Eastern Prelacy Executive Council, he also served many years as a delegate to the Eastern Diocesan Assembly. Currently , he serves as a member of the board and executive committee of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR). He also serves on the board of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. Stepan is a retired executive in the computer storage industry and resides in the Boston area with his wife Susan. He has spent many years as a volunteer teacher of Armenian history and contemporary issues to the young generation and adults at schools, camps and churches. His interests include the Armenian diaspora, Armenia, sports and reading.


Holy Martyrs Schools to Expand with Acquisition of Property Near Cabayan Elementary and Pilavjian Preschool


The Holy Martyrs family of schools — Ferrahian High School, Cabayan Elementary School, and Pilavjian Preschool — continues its unprecedented growth and expansion with plans to acquire a 1.7-acre parcel adjacent to the North Hills campus.

With the blessing and support of Western Prelate Bishop Torkom Donoyan, as well as the Prelacy’s Executive Council and Board of Regents, the Holy Martyrs School Board has filed the necessary paperwork to open escrow on the large property abutting the entire western boundary of the existing campus.

“This undertaking comes at a critical point for our schools, with enrollment at an all-time high and with the overwhelming desire of the community at-large to be part of this dynamic and proudly Armenian academic environment,” said a statement from the Holy Martyrs Ferrahian, Cabayan and Pilavjian School Board.

The expansion of the North Hills property will facilitate the construction of new preschool and elementary school classrooms, parking lots, athletic fields, and other upgrades. These improvements will put into greater focus the schools’ vision to provide a singular and state-of-the-art home where our children will continue to learn, laugh, and excel. Indeed, this anticipated acquisition comes during the final permitting stages of a comprehensive remodeling and new construction plan for the North Hills campus.

The groundbreaking phase of that plan is poised to commence in the near future, as final building permits are issued.

Of course, this momentous development comes on the heels of the Encino campus’ recent expansion. In 2022, the school acquired the adjacent three-acre property on White Oak Avenue, effectively doubling its footprint and providing much-needed classrooms, parking, a second gymnasium and other facilities.

“Today, Ferrahian is proud to have more than 530 students who, like their 600 younger brothers and sisters at the North Hills campus, are afforded the opportunity to thrive academically, athletically, and socially in a uniquely nurturing and secure Armenian setting,” the school Board statement added.

“The future is bright for the Holy Martyrs family of schools, now approaching its 60th year of unparalleled service to our community. As the first Armenian day school in the United States, we have every intention to continue to lead the way for the next 60 years and beyond. The recent expansion efforts will ensure that this will be the case,” the statement said.

India’s Akash missile system can destroy not 4 but 64 targets simultaneously.

IG News, India
Dec 18 2023

India has done something that no country in the world has done so far. Because so far many countries in the world have claimed that they have systems that can target multiple targets at the same time, but no one has shown it yet. However, for the first time, India has released a video of hitting 4 targets simultaneously with the Akash missile system.

The Akash weapon system was originally designed and developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). This precision defense system in India has received orders from international customers. It is also regularly updated by DRDO scientists. This missile system was tested by India on December 12 at Surya Lanka Air Force Base.

Recently, the Philippines signed an agreement worth 375 million dollars with India to buy the BrahMos missile. China has a conflict with the Philippines on many issues, and is engaged in strengthening the defense system, in this situation it has also shown interest in the air defense system. At the same time, Egypt and Armenia have expressed their interest in purchasing the Akash defense system.

Akash is a short-range air-to-air missile system, which protects against air attacks. The Akash Weapon System (AWS) can engage multiple targets simultaneously in a group or independent mode. It has anti-counterfeiting (ECCM) facilities. The entire weapon system is optimized for mobile devices. Along with this there are 3 types of Akash, which range from 4.5 kilometers to 90 kilometers. It has the ability to easily shoot down helicopters, fighter jets, UAVs etc. Also, it automatically detects the target until it is killed.

Akash One has a range of 25 kilometers and can engage 4 targets simultaneously. In addition, the range of other species is 40 km. It can easily kill 12 targets. The extent of the third range is 90 km and is named Akash NG. If we talk about the NG variant, it has the power of 98 percent probability of killing. An Indian-made radar is installed on the NG, which can detect the enemy at a distance of 150 kilometers. Not only that, it is capable of killing 64 targets simultaneously.

In 2020, the Indian government approved the export of the Akash missile, after which 9 countries expressed their interest in purchasing it. Akash Technology is developed by DRDO and fully developed by Bharat Dynamics Limited. Bharat Dynamics Limited’s order book confirms that Akash will soon be delivered to Armenia. Until now, Armenia used to buy 94 percent of its weapons from Russia, but after the war in Ukraine, Russia refused to supply arms to Armenia. After that Armenia negotiated an arms deal with the Indian government. Until now, Armenia uses the Russian-made Pichora 125. However, he is currently upgrading his air defenses.

https://irshadgul.com/indias-akash-missile-system-can-destroy-not-4-but-64-targets-simultaneously-the-akash-missile-system-of-india-the-air-force-of-armenia-the-philippines-armenia-ig-news/

Armenpress: Foreign Minister Mirzoyan congratulates Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova on progress towards EU membership

 00:05,

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 15, ARMENPRESS. Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan has congratulated Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova on progress towards EU membership.
"I congratulate my counterparts from Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova Ilia Darchiashvili, Dmytro Kuleba and Nicu Popescu and the people of three countries for landmark decisions by EUCO.

 This is a historic day for the European family, for those sharing democratic principles," Mirzoyan posted on X. 

On December 14, the European Council made a decision to grant Georgia the status of a candidate for EU membership, and to start negotiations on EU membership with Ukraine and Moldova.



Yerevan warns of ‘ticking time bomb’ as Nagorno-Karabakh government-in-exile debate rages

Dec 14 2023
 

The office of the Representation of Artsakh in Armenia. Photo via Facebook.

A row between the Armenian Government and former officials from Nagorno-Karabakh is continuing over attempts to form a government-in-exile out of Yerevan.

On Monday, the leader of Ardarutyun,  a political party from Nagorno-Karabakh, told RFE/RL that anyone who opposed the continued functioning of Nagorno-Karabakh’s state institutions supported the ‘destruction of Artsakh’s [Nagorno-Karabakh’s]  statehood.’

Similarly, in a thinly veiled attack on the Armenian Government last week, a group of former MPs from Nagorno-Karabakh decried the ‘intensity of steps’ being taken and the ‘aggressive behaviour’ of ‘parties interested in the final closure of the Artsakh issue.’

The MPs made the statement following a visit to the Yerablur Military Cemetery in Yerevan on the anniversary of the disputed 1991 independence referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenian officials have grown increasingly hostile to the idea of proposals to form a government-in-exile, warning it could be used by Azerbaijan as a pretext to take military action against Armenia.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the ‘inevitability’ of Nagorno-Karabakh’s dissolution due to the negotiation status his government inherited after coming to power in 2018. And on Monday, in response to the statement by former MPs from Nagorno-Karabakh, the deputy chair of the ruling Civil Contract Party, Gevorg Papoyan, accused them of posing a direct threat to Armenia’s security.

‘They signed a capitulation agreement, disbanded the Nagorno-Karabakh army, handed over weapons to Azerbaijan, dissolved the Nagorno-Karabakh National Assembly and came to Armenia — now they want to hold a parliamentary session here?’

‘Is this a ticking time bomb in Armenia?’, asked Papoyan.

After Azerbaijan attacked Nagorno-Karabakh in September, forcing the government’s surrender, President Samvel Shahramanyan issued a decree to dissolve the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and all of its state institutions.

Earlier in November, Papoyan had stressed that Armenia could not allocate funds to Nagorno-Karabakh’s state institutions.

‘We should not do such things that would give the other side an opportunity to challenge the territorial integrity of Armenia and torpedo the peace process’, he stated.

Other officials in Armenia have voiced similar sentiments.

In mid-November, the speaker of the Armenian Parliament, Alen Simonyan, said that establishing a government in exile would be a ‘direct threat and a blow to Armenia’s security’.

And in late November, Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan said that the establishment of a Nagorno-Karabakh government in exile was unnecessary.

‘There is a Republic of Armenia, whose institutions are functioning. What function should they [Nagorno-Karabakh] perform? Armenia protects the rights of Artsakh Armenians’, Khachaturyan told reporters.

However, since fleeing the Azerbaijani takeover of Nagorno-Karabakh in September, many officials have insisted that they continue to represent the region’s former ethnic-Armenian population.

In late October, Nagorno-Karabakh’s last president, Samvel Shahramanyan, disowned the surrender document dissolving Nagorno-Karabakh, stating that a ‘republic created by the people cannot be dissolved by any document’.  

A few days later, Shahramanyan and a group of former Nagorno-Karabakh officials gathered in Yerevan to discuss ‘preserving the statehood’ of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The meeting was organised by the Committee for the Preservation of Artsakh Statehood, founded by Suren Petrosyan, an Armenian opposition figure.

Petrosyan dismissed concerns that a government in exile based in Armenia could put the country at risk of an Azerbaijani attack because the Armenian government would not be involved in a Nagorno-Karabakh administration.

For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

https://oc-media.org/yerevan-warns-of-ticking-time-bomb-as-nagorno-karabakh-government-in-exile-debate-rages/

Priest: ‘Artsakh children love life and their homeland more’

Panorama
Armenia – Dec 14 2023

Children displaced from Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) ask Santa Claus for toys, stationery, smartphones and, of course, peace. Not only children, but also adults dream about it, as peace has been the most cherished dream for several decades now because of Azerbaijan.

The Artsakh Operational Headquarters in Yerevan on Thursday hosted a New Year festivity featuring students of the Hadrut Children and Youth Creative Center. The event brought together 100 children. On December 15 and 17, a New Year celebration will be organized for 200 more children.

Ira Tamrazyan, head of the Hadrut Children and Youth Creative Center, told Panorama.am that before their forced exile from Artsakh triggered by Azerbaijan’s attack in mid-September, their sponsor, Canadian-Armenian Ardem Tutunjian, had offered to organize a celebration for 100 children on the eve of the New Year.

"But now we are all in Armenia. Our friend Ardem decided to organize an event for 300 children instead of 100," Tamrazyan said.

For children aged 1 to 12 today was really a holiday: a clown, games, Santa Claus… What else do children need to have fun?

Father Mesrop Mkrtchyan, a clergyman of the Artsakh Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, noted in his turn that they had suffered many ordeals, sometimes losing hope.

"But today, at this hall, we can rejoice together with our children at the coming of the New Year. Our children should not experience distress, they are no different from children living in other parts of the world. They may even be more charming and beautiful. Our children have greater love for life, for the homeland," he said.

FMs of Ukraine and Armenia, Dmytro Kuleba and Ararat Mirzoyan, discussed the development of bilateral relations.

 
Ukraine – Dec 12 2023
Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and Armenia, Dmytro Kuleba and Ararat Mirzoyan, discussed the development of bilateral relations.

This was announced by the head of Ukrainian diplomacy on X, Ukrinform reports.

"My Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan and I met to discuss the advancement of Ukraine-Armenia dialogue for the benefit of our peoples. Ukraine stands for peace in the South Caucasus, based on respect for the UN Charter and international law, as well as the development of regional trade and cultural projects spanning the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea," the Ukrainian foreign minister wrote in a caption to the video of the meeting.

As reported, the EU Foreign Affairs Council is meeting today in Brussels. Early in the meeting, the European government officials were joined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, who informed the European partners about the developments in Ukraine and its efforts in reforms on the way toward EU membership.

The FAC should coordinate the positions of member states regarding relations with Ukraine, in particular, on the launch of negotiations on EU membership and the allocation of EUR 50 billion in financial support until 2027, as well as regarding the increase of security assistance for Ukraine. At the end of this week, all said issues will be considered at the level of heads of state and government of the EU member states, who will meet in Brussels in the format of the European Council on December 14-15.

https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-polytics/3798807-ukrainian-foreign-minister-meets-armenian-counterpart.html

No mediators involved in latest Armenia-Azerbaijan agreement – says lawmaker

 12:59, 8 December 2023

YEREVAN, DECEMBER 8, ARMENPRESS. The negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan which resulted in the joint statement were held bilaterally, without mediators, according to a senior Armenian lawmaker.

“The negotiations were bilateral, the statement doesn’t mention any other side,” said Sargis Khandanyan, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Relations, when asked whether the talks involved mediators.

Asked when the Armenian prisoners will return from Azerbaijan, the MP said it’s a matter of ‘hours or days.’

“According to the statement it must take place in the nearest time. It is a matter of hours or days. If I’m not mistaken, the prisoner return process must take place on the state border of Armenia and Azerbaijan,” he said.

Khandanyan declined to confirm or deny the list issued by Azerbaijan of names of the POWs who are to be released. He said that Armenia cannot release names until the prisoners cross the border.

“I’d avoid mentioning names, first of all because I am unaware of details, but also because this is a highly sensitive topic. I think the names shouldn’t be released until the prisoners cross the state border of Armenia, because, understandably, this can be very difficult for the families of the prisoners,” he said when asked on the authenticity of the list of names of the detainees issued by the Azeri authorities.

He added that the government of Armenia will continue to work to achieve the release of all POWs and other detainees held in Azerbaijan.

“This was a part of the process, and there is certain result regarding the process, and the government of Armenia will continue to carry out diplomatic and legal work, so that all prisoners and other detainees who are in Azerbaijan are released as a result of such a process,” Khandanyan said.

 

Following the talks between the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia and the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Azerbaijan, an agreement has been reached on taking tangible steps towards building confidence between two countries.

Driven by the values of humanism and as a gesture of goodwill, the Republic of Azerbaijan releases 32 Armenian military servicemen.

In its turn, driven by the values of humanism and as a gesture of goodwill, the Republic of Armenia releases 2 Azerbaijani military servicemen.

As a sign of good gesture, the Republic of Armenia supports the bid of the Republic of Azerbaijan to host the 29th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP29) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, by withdrawing its own candidacy. The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan do hope that the other countries within the Eastern European Group will also support Azerbaijan’s bid to host. As a sign of good gesture, the Republic of Azerbaijan supports the Armenian candidature for Eastern European Group COP Bureau membership.

The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan will continue their discussions regarding the implementation of more confidence building measures, effective in the near future and call on the international community to support their efforts that will contribute to building mutual trust between two countries and will positively impact the entire South Caucasus region.




Central Bank of Armenia: exchange rates and prices of precious metals – 06-12-23

 17:09, 6 December 2023

YEREVAN, 6 DECEMBER, ARMENPRESS. The Central Bank of Armenia informs “Armenpress” that today, 6 December, USD exchange rate up by 0.15 drams to 403.10 drams. EUR exchange rate down by 1.54 drams to 434.94 drams. Russian Ruble exchange rate down by 0.05 drams to 4.35 drams. GBP exchange rate down by 1.30 drams to 507.87 drams.

The Central Bank has set the following prices for precious metals.

Gold price down by 323.19 drams to 26222.54 drams. Silver price down by 11.48 drams to 314.54 drams.