Turkish press: ‘Gender and Memory Walks’ unearth hidden secrets of Istanbul

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Photos taken by Sabancı University academic and artist Murat Germen

Situated along the Western bank of Istanbul’s Golden Horn, the intertwined neighborhoods of Fener and Balat are among the historically richest quarters of Istanbul. 

With its colorful streets, it has lately been the setting scene of several TV series. But the traditional Jewish quarter whose history goes as far back as Byzantine times hides in each corner a different story that can inspire many films and TV series. 

Some of the principal actors in these stories are women, yet, as it is the case with other parts of the city, their tales are unknown to the larger public. 

That’s why walks organized by Sabancı University in this legendary city’s most historic quarters come as social archeological excavations are digging deep into the historic layers of Istanbul and bringing to the surface figures that have left a mark on the city. 

Since 2014 Sabancı University’s Gender and Women’s Studies Excellence Center (SU Gender) has been conducting “Curious Steps: Gender and Memory Walks,” aimed at contributing to our understanding of the city and its neighborhoods from the perspective of gender and memory. 

The walks’ gender perspective enables us to discover prominent female figures who, despite their accomplishments, have remained in the shadow because of their gender. 

One such figure is Eleni Fotiadou Küreman. She was Turkey’s first professional female photojournalist. 

Starting her career as a press photographer in 1947 at the Associated Press agency, she then worked as a photo reporter for several newspapers. 

She had to resort to different methods to outsmart her male colleagues. 

“When I was a sports reporter, everybody would wait at the goal posts opposite the famous goal keepers whilst I would stand behind them as they were unlikely to let a goal slip in. Male photo reporters would tease me for this but it was me who always caught the best shots. It would always be Eleni who got the only picture when a good goal keeper failed to hold the ball,” she had said. 

Her relationship with Balat? She studied in the Ioakimio Fener Greek High School, located in Balat, which is believed to take its name from palatiyon, meaning “palace” in Greek. When you google this high school, you come across another one, the Fener Greek Orthodox college. Built in the early 1880’s the institution within predates the Ottoman arrival, making it Turkey’s oldest educational body. 

Still in function, the Fener Greek High School for male students overshadows the Ioakimio High School for female students not only in the cyberspace but also in physical standing too. Ioakimio’s building is barely remarkable in contrast to the Fener Greek High School, which is locally known as “red castle” for its castellated red-brick facade. 

Established in 1879 for the education of Greek girls, Ioakimio, which had around 590 students, was closed in 1988 as it could no longer find students to enroll. From that time on the Fener Greek High School transitioned to mixed education. 

Küreman, meanwhile, ended her professional career abruptly in 1964, after she became the only photographer to witness the fire at the Veli Efendi Hippodrome. “She left her studio for a while and when she came back she found her dark room in shambles and saw her friends looking for the pictures. She was terribly affected by this incident. She has never forgiven her friends and said goodbye to the profession,” her husband had explained. 

We learn all this thanks to the storytellers, some of which are the researchers themselves who accompanied a group of journalists during the walk that took place last month. 

The walk started from the Women’s Library in Balat first with the story of Selma Emiroğlu, Turkey’s first professional female cartoonist. 

As her cartoons became highly appreciated in the mid-1940’s when she was still in high school, Emiroğlu was asked to drop out from school to dedicate more time to the magazine she worked for at the time. As the creator of the Black Cat Gang, which was a children’s favorite, she was promised to be sent to Walt Disney on a scholarship. But once she left the school she never heard about the scholarship ever. As her workload increased, each time she asked for a pay raise she was told, “Shame on you. Why would a child like you talk about money?” She was, however, 17 at that time. As she was not rewarded for her work andpromises were not kept, she turned sour and shifted toward music, according to Mevhibe Yalçın, who made the research about her. 

Gentrification of Balat 

The next stop in the walk was the Blue Pencil Association whose board of directors is made up entirely of women. 

“I have told the story about this association during the walk three years ago. Today I had trouble finding the location,” said the researcher and story teller Ayşegül Özadak. Nothing better than this observation can summarize the changes that the neighborhood has been undergoing. Having entered UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list in 1985, Balat has seen some rehabilitation and restoration projects in the 1990’s. Starting from the 2000’s, it became the target of big investors and urban transformation projects that risks the destruction of the quarter’s multi-cultural texture. 

As it could not avoid partial gentrification, the shifting focus of Blue Pencil Association’s activities shows us how the neighborhood continues to be the entry point for new migrants. Having started in the 2000’s to work with children and women from low-income families that migrated from different parts of Anatolia, the association now works largely with Syrian children and women. 

Memory perspective 

Just as in the gender perspective of the walks the memory dimension of the walks can turn into an exercise of remembering the sad past. Balat hosts several abandoned buildings belonging to non-Muslim minorities. One of them is Khorenyan School, which started to function in 1866. 

“In 1922 the school turned into a girls’ school, because after the 1915 incidents 300 orphan girls were brought to the school,” according to Garbis Horasanciyan, who was born in Fener in 1948. 

The researchers tried to dig more about the girl students who came after the WWI massacres of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans, but the head of the Kandilli Armenian Church, İkran Kevorkyan, did not want to talk much about it, as, according to him, it would only serve to make old wounds bleed. But he did stress to the researchers that in the last 70 years Fener/Balat’s Armenian, Greek and Jewish communities have dwindled significantly.

Gender and Memory walks, Sabancı University, Balat

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Armenpress: Nikol Pashinyan addresses congratulatory message on New Year and Christmas Holidays

Nikol Pashinyan addresses congratulatory message on New Year and Christmas Holidays

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00:05, 1 January, 2019

YEREVAN, JANUARY 1, ARMENPRESS. Acting Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyuan has addressed a congratulatory message on New Year and Christmas.

As ARMENPRESS was informed from the official website of the Prime Minister of Armenia, the congratulatory message runs as follows,

“My dear people: proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia, proud citizens of the Republic of Artsakh, proud Armenians of the Diaspora.

We left behind the year 2018. It will remain in the history of the world and the Armenian people, in the memory of each Armenian as a year of reinstatement of people’s power, civil dignity, optimism and statehood.

The year 2018 was a year when the Armenian nationals and the Diaspora-based Armenians, adults and children, male and female, rural or urban united around one common goal and forged our common victory, which ultimately became an exceptional achievement of national unity.

At this borderline of 2018-2019, I want to formulate the task that is set in front of us: to make of 2019 just as dear and loved and memorable as the year 2018. And I consider it necessary to record that the passing year was not the summit of our victories, but only the foot, not the end of line of our march, but just the beginning. In 2019 we must achieve new heights, record new achievements first of all in our socio-economic life.

Our main task in 2019 is the economic revolution and making its results more tangible. But next year will not be the climax of our victories, not because our flight will be low, but because our national and state ambitions will be higher and higher.

This is the key point of the non-violent, velvety, popular revolution in Armenia. When people believe in the power of their unity, the power of their past and future. We believe in the creative talent of every citizen, and the year 2019 should become the year of creative talent’s victory when every individual citizen of the Republic of Armenia, every Armenian who have immigrated to Armenia can see themselves not as consumers, but creative individuals, not followers but leaders, not tax-evaders but taxpayers, not unemployed but employed citizens, not in the role of a poor person, but as people fighting against poverty with creative thinking and just work.

2019 should become a year of personal effort, a year of harmonious mind and work. Therefore, on these New Year’s Eve, our mood should be filled with new strength and energy, with new optimism and love for the sake of our homeland.

Dear Compatriots,

On the New Year’s Eve, I would like to send special greetings to all our soldiers, officers and generals who are on the frontline safeguarding our peace.

I welcome the officers of the Armenian Police, the National Security Service, the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Justice who are carrying out their service duties on New Year’s Eve, ensuring the security of our people.

I greet our healthcare workers, energy, telecommunications, transport workers, and all those who are celebrating the New Year while performing their job duties.

Finally, I welcome all the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, all our compatriots in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora.

I love all of you, I am proud of you and I bow before you all. Smile to each other, dear compatriots, because here the New Year is coming.

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!

So long live freedom, long live the Republic of Armenia, long live our children and we who live and will live in Free and Happy Armenia”.

Armenian-Themed Float Once Again Part of the Tournament of Roses Parade

Carrying the theme “Chanting Stones: Karahunj,” the Armenian rose float celebrated the greatness of Armenian culture

New Year’s Day has become synonymous with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade that is broadcast live nationally. For the fifth consecutive year, the Armenian American Rose Float Association took part in what was the 130th iteration of the Rose Parade.

Carrying the theme “Chanting Stones: Karahunj,” the Armenian rose float celebrated the greatness of Armenian culture, echoing the general theme of the 130th Pasadena Tournament of Roses, which was “The Melody of Life.”

The design of the Armenian rose float was inspired by the stones of Karahunj, a prehistoric monument consisting of a formation of megaliths, in Armenia’s Syunik Province, and often referred to as “the Armenian Stonehenge.” “Karahunj,” which means “speaking stones” or “chanting stones,” refers to the fact that on windy days, the massive standing stones of Karahunj make a distinctive whistling sound. Karahunj predates Stonehenge by 3,500 years.

In keeping with the musical theme of the 2019 Tournament of Roses, the Armenian float featured a dynamic, exuberant design, with several Armenian musical and cultural references. The central element consisted of a duo of dancers performing the yarkhushta, a beloved Armenian folk dance. The two dancing figures were taken from a painting by the acclaimed artist Meruzhan Khachatryan. The dancers are seen performing atop a formation of rocks adorned with khazes, the uniquely Armenian notes representing the ancient Armenian system of musical notation. The inclusion of the khazes here is particularly significant as it honors the 150th anniversary of the birth of Komitas, the renowned musicologist who was devoted to the decipherment of the khaz system.

Other elements of the float’s design included a scattering of apricot trees (the Latin name of the apricot, prunus armeniaca, means “Armenian plum”), as well as a duduk player and three Armenian mouflons, an endangered subspecies of wild sheep.

The float was surrounded by dancers wearing traditional Armenian costumes who accompanied the float on the parade route.

Last year the Armenia float won the organization’s “Judges Award” for “the most outstanding float design and dramatic impact.” In 2017, the Armenian float won the “Past President’s Trophy” for the most creative design and use of floral and non-floral elements.

Near the end of the parade, the Chinese American Heritage Foundation’s float caught fire and threw the order of performances in disarray, with some people leaving the parade before it was over. Despite the confusion, however, the parade regained its momentum.

Asbarez: Armenia’s Foreign Policy Challenges and Priorities

German Chancellor Angele Merkel visited Dzidzernagapert during her trip to Armenia this summer

Armenia’s Foreign Policy Challenges Impacting National Security and Continued Socio-Economic Development Must Include the Security of Artsakh’s Complete Borders and the Permanency of its independence.

BY GARO R. MADENLIAN

Foreign policy and diplomacy are critical components to Armenia’s national security and socio-economic development; such decisions and alliances, or posturing, can have huge consequences on Armenia and Artsakh as both have not yet become completely independent. In fact, complete independence is more difficult today with the ever-growing international globalist agenda.

Armenia’s primary challenge will be to ensure the safety and security of all the Armenians in the region while delivering on the promises of a brighter future as part of a movement that has instilled a positive outlook in many of its residents, specifically the youth; A brighter future with socio-economic development improving the quality of life and reducing emigration, having open and free & fair elections at all levels, eliminating corruption and not just taxing the corrupt, with equality for all residents, rule of law, and transparency throughout. A hope that cannot be allowed to fail once yet again as it’s failure can have devastating consequences for the country, most importantly on the psyche of its youth.

In this somewhat euphoric state, this “New Armenia” will have to take a long hard look at its foreign policy agenda and balance these two sometimes competing priorities: specifically, national security concerns including the security of its and Artsakh’s borders and thus the safety of the Armenian population in the region, versus economic development and trade to improve the quality of life its residents.

National Security Concerns
This should be the primary agenda item considering that Armenia is a small landlocked country with security concerns almost along its entire border, flanked by enemies to its east and west where both borders remain closed and where a “frozen war” exists with Azerbaijan; a country which regularly violates cease fire agreements creating a powder keg-like situation with the potential of erupting into a full scale war as in 2016 when Azerbaijani armed forces launched a military offensive along the entire line of contact with Artsakh.

Turkey, to Armenia’s west, committed the Armenian Genocide as part of its plan to create a pan-Turkic empire stretching across to Azerbaijan and east of the Caspian, with Armenia being the only non-Turkic/non-Muslim country in its way. Turkey’s border with Armenia remains closed since 1991 to strangle Armenia in support of Azerbaijan’s war against Artsakh (and Armenia), and to stifle Armenia’s legitimate claims of reparations (including demands to liberate Western Armenia) as a result of the genocide, with the goal of eventually removing Armenia and Armenians as the only obstacle to Turkey’s ongoing dream of creating a greater pan-Turkic empire.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan, to Armenia’s east, has announced on numerous occasions that Karabagh, and even Yerevan, are historic Azerbaijani lands even though Azerbaijan came into existence as a country during recent modern history while Armenians celebrated the 2800th anniversary of the city of Yerevan. The Azerbaijani president has stated on numerous occasions that he is prepared to go to war as they did in 2016, and they of course, have Turkey’s full support.

In sum, Armenia and Artsakh have a combined population of approximately 3 million, less than a third of the population of Azerbaijan which has been amassing modern weapons over the past years from numerous sources including Turkey, Belarus and Israel. Meanwhile, Turkey has one of the largest and most powerful armies in the entire region and a population well over 80 million.

In essence, the safety and security of the population of Armenia and Artsakh and the defense of their collective borders must be the Armenian government’s top priority, and the analysis should be calculated, pragmatic and without emotion, otherwise we may not have a country to continue to develop, or even a population whose quality of life we so desperately want to improve.

Primary in this analysis must be the security of Artsakh, its borders and population, because if Artsakh falls to Azerbaijan not only will there be thousands of Armenian casualties including innocent women and children as Azerbaijan has a long history of massacring civilians, but there is a real possibility that Armenia could be next.

The ARF has repeatedly stated this since 1988; long-time ARF/Armenian leader Unger Hrair Maroukhian said it best in the early 1990s when he proclaimed “Artsakh is our Stalingrad,” in explaining that Artsakh is the priority to secure the borders and save lives, and because if Artsakh falls, then so too can Armenia; yet if Artsakh is liberated, developed and secure, then Armenia will also be protected. In addition, if the Armenian side concedes Artsakh or a portion thereof, or even considers returning historic Armenian lands then the entire Armenian struggle for justice from Artsakh to Javakhk and Nakhichevan all the way to Western Armenia will be at risk of being placed on the chopping block, up for negotiations. Something which is in Turkey’s intrest and a bright line that no Armenians should cross.

Thus, Armenia’s national security and national interests, and the Armenian struggle for justice, are all contingent upon Artsakh, and that has rightfully remained the ARF’s priority, sometimes even to the detriment of its other programs or even its reputation.

Armenia should also continue to realize that it needs a partner in the region to assist in the defense of its and Artsakh’s borders and secure the safety of the collective Armenian population, or at the very least to make sure Turkey, or others, do not intervene militarily on the side of Azerbaijan which seems prepared to launch a military offensive at any time.

Russia has been fulfilling this role ever since Armenia declared independence again in 1991, formalized by Armenia’s membership in the Collective Security and Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance led by Russia which is still in force today and includes a large Russian military presence in Armenia stationed along the Armenia-Turkey border. Russia’s military dominance in the region also allows it to be a balancing factor/force in the region, especially with regards to Artsakh and keeping Turkey at bay. Thus, Armenia’s government needs to maintain excellent and close relations with Russia, if for nothing else then for the defense of its borders and protection of Armenians living in the region.

The alternative would be to revert to a dangerous state similar to when Armenia’s first president, Levon Ter Petrosian snubbed his nose at Russia while attempting to cozy up to the “west.” This cost countless Armenian lives in Artsakh and the entire Shahumian region along with large portions of Mardagert and Hadrut when Russia assisted the Azerbaijani armed forces and mercenary groups it employed; Armenians later liberated the Mardagert and Hadrut regions, however Azerbaijan continues to occupy the entire Shahumian region today. Similar if not more devastating outcomes resulted directly from Russia’s response to Georgia and Ukraine, when they broke from Russia both lost significant lives and land, Abkhazia and Crimea respectively.

Economic Development
However, Armenia must still take steps to improve socio-economic conditions and it unfortunately seems that economic development and growth will not improve quickly if it all, if it remains dependent on Russia as this partnership has not yielded tremendous results over the past thirty years. Even though many visiting Armenia and Artsakh will find bustling city centers, cafés and restaurants, a vibrant nightlife, cultural programs and development of the arts, most of the population continues to live in poverty unable to avail themselves of such pleasures, let alone to secure the necessities of daily life.

Thus, with the safety and security of its population being its paramount concern, and contingent upon Artsakh, Armenia must still find alternative means to improve its economy, and with that the lives of its population, and do so while maintaining close relations with Russia. In essence, gradually diversify its portfolio.

Complicating matters is the fact that Armenia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) also led by Russia; to leave this union is to turn away from Russia, which at this juncture could leave Armenia and Artsakh militarily vulnerable depending on the Russian response. Furthermore, over the years the large scale selling of Armenia’s natural resources to Russian conglomerates, most likely under the threat of Russia halting its military cooperation with Armenia or even tipping the scales in Artsakh towards Azerbaijan, have added to the already existing difficulties Armenia faces with closed borders and threats of war, both of which make it extremely difficult for Armenia to improve economically on its own.

Geopolitical considerations make matters worse as Turkey is a member of NATO and traditionally an ally of the United States and Israel, although the relationships have been hot and cold during the past decade. Turkey’s closest ally in the region is Azerbaijan which has a long-standing history of cooperation with large western petroleum and oil companies who have either invested in and/or partnered with the Azerbaijani government for access to petroleum reserves along the Caspian Sea. In sum, the “west” is closely aligned with Turkey and Azerbaijan both militarily and economically. If not for the influence of the vast Armenian diaspora, where the ARF plays a pivotal role, western countries would more openly support Turkey and Azerbaijan against Armenia as that is where their military, economic, and regional interests lie.

Armenia’s only realistic avenues for direct trade are limited to Georgia to the north or Iran to the south. However, Georgia looks to the west, primarily the U.S., for guidance and support, and has an estranged relationship with Russia over Abkhazia among other things. While Iran has relatively close ties with Russia but has been subject to sanctions by the U.S. and thus the western world. Since Armenia should realize it needs to maintain close ties with Russia for national security concerns including Artsakh, then that effectively leaves the border with Iran as the only consistent and viable direct trade route.

The US also has its own agenda in the region and recently attempted to apply pressure to drive a wedge between Armenia and Russia with: 1). A one-two punch where the outgoing US Ambassador to Armenia stated that territorial concessions for peace, a long-standing US State Department policy regarding Artsakh, were inevitable… Followed by US National Security Advisor’s visit to Armenia with an offer to sell arms to Armenia under the threat of repealing Section 907 which bans arms sales to Azerbaijan; 2).Bank accounts of citizens of Armenia, who repatriated from Iran, found their bank accounts in Armenia frozen due to US sanctions against Iran; the ARF quickly demanded this situation be corrected, which thankfully was quickly remedied; 3). US State Department cautioned tourists visiting Armenia about possible terrorist activities when none exist and tourism significantly helps Armenia’s economy. The ANCA quickly refuted this, pointed out that no such terrorists are in Armenia as it is one of the safest countries to visit. Tourism, of course, is a huge source of revenue for Armenia…

Thus, Armenia must be careful to not place itself at the center of a proxy war between Russia and US as this in and of itself can have long lasting negative consequences for the region, as in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Central America…

On a positive note, Armenia has had partnership agreements in place with the European Union (EU) for two decades expanding trade and relations gradually over that time. During the past few years Armenia has been slowly inching closer towards the EU and just last year in 2017 finalized the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to broaden and deepen economic and political relations, taking the position that Armenia can be a bridge between the EU and the EAEU. An ambitious approach that should be further explored and continued by Armenia. The EU has stated numerous times in the past that Armenia may join the EU, however its membership in the EAEU is difficult to overcome.

Another option for Armenia to advance its economy and further develop trade is to look further east to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) led by China that includes military, economic and cultural cooperation; three countries from the EAEU including Russia are member states and India and Pakistan joined last year. Armenia has been a dialogue partner since 2008 and applied for observer status in 2012. There have been discussions to merge the SCO with the CSTO, which is still being debated.

This may be another realistic option for Armenia as it includes Russia and others from the CSTO and EAEU. The SCO has the potential to help Armenia continue to improve its economic development by opening trade relations with countries in Asia consisting of vast populations while not offending the military and economic cooperation agreements with Russia in place as part of the CSTO and the EAEU.

Needless to say, this will be a huge challenge where the Armenian diaspora can play a key role in its implementation.

Conclusion
Artsakh remains the foundation for Armenia’s security, a prerequisite for its economic development, as well as the symbol of the ongoing Armenian struggle for justice leading to an eventual free, independent and united Armenia. Therefore, the potential for socio-economic development in Armenia must not come at the expense of Artsakh as that would place Armenia and the Armenian struggle at risk.

Armenia should continue to maintain close relations with Russia based on its national security needs to secure the safety of its and Artsakh’s population, defense of borders, and to ensure the permanency of their independence and continued improvement of socio-economic conditions of both republics.

However, Armenia should diversify its economic portfolio: continue to develop new cooperation agreements in addition to those currently in place with EAEU, Russia, EU and others; these will most likely include continuing on the same path, and also working with the SCO.

All this without offending the cooperation agreements in place, and without falling victim to the regional agenda of some to alienate Russia, which at this juncture could result in sacrificing Artsakh and the lives of our people there; something no Armenian should be willing to risk, and that we all agree and realize can lead to devastating consequences for Armenia and Armenians in the region and elsewhere.

Garo R. Madenlian is an attorney practicing in Southern California. He is a member of the ARF Western U.S. Central Committee.




President of Artsakh awards Ara Babloyan Mesrop Mashtots medal

Aysor, Armenia
Jan 2 2019

President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan received on January 2 speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Ara Babloyan.

Artsakh president’s press office reports that Bako Sahakyan thanked Ara Babloyan for special attention paid to Artsakh and the development of bilateral ties between the two Armenian states during his chairmanship wishing him successes and all the best. 

Bako Sahakyan awarded Babloyan “Mesrop Mashtots” medal for the services to Artsakh Republic.

National Assembly chairman of Artsakh Ashot Ghoulyan, minister of state Grigory Martirosyan and other officials participated in the meeting.

Solar-powered COAF SMART Center brightens the future of Armenia’s rural youth

Inhabitat
Jan 2 2019


by Lucy Wang

The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) recently completed its flagship COAF SMART Center, a state-of-the-art facility that will empower Armenia’s rural communities through locally and globally relevant knowledge and technologies. Designed by Beirut-based architecture firm Paul Kaloustian Studio, the innovative campus features a contemporary and sculptural form powered with clean energy. Opened May 2018, the first COAF SMART Center is nestled in the rural hills of Armenia’s northern province of Lori.

Designed to advance COAF’s goals of rural revitalization, the COAF SMART Center serves as a platform for connecting villages to resources in education, health, arts and sciences and renewable energy. Covering a built area of 5,000 square meters, the large campus is nonetheless dwarfed by the beautiful highland landscape and purposefully defers to its surroundings with a sinuous, single-story form that follows the natural terrain. Full-height glazing wraps around the structure to blur the boundary between indoors and out.

As the flagship SMART Center campus, the building encompasses sustainable and green design principles that will be applied to all future SMART campuses as well. Powered with solar energy, the building comprises classrooms, health posts, studios, computer lounges, meeting rooms, a multipurpose auditorium, libraries, restaurants and other flexible spaces both indoors and out. The regional education hub will offer a rich curriculum spanning topics from blockchain technology and robotics to agriculture and linguistics.

“Targeting the rural regions, these campuses will respect the integrity of rural aesthetics in sync with contemporary architectural design, maintaining the authenticity of the region, while encouraging progressive ideology,” the architecture firm said. “The contradictive play of scale between landscape and building blurs all the visual boundaries. The blend becomes an essential architectural language meant to erase the traces of architecture from the landscape and in return the landscape adopts the architecture as an extension of itself.”

+ Paul Kaloustian Studio

Photography by Ieva Saudargaite and Paul Kaloustian Studio via Paul Kaloustian Studio

View Photos at

Documentary film, Singing in Exile (Chœurs en exil), in London


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Chaarat gets Kapan regulatory ticks

www.mining-journal.com
Jan 2 2019


Chaarat gets Kapan regulatory ticks 

                                      

Chaarat Gold Holdings (LSE:CGH) has received shareholder approval and anti-monopoly clearance for its for US$55 million acquisition of Polymetal's (LSE:POLY) Kapan project in Armenia, with the transaction expected to close by the end of January.
The acquisition was approved by Chaarat shareholders at a December 31 general meeting and Armenia's State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition also gave its approval prior to the meeting.
 
Chaarat said it was in discussions with Polymetal and its funding banks to extend the closing date of the acqusition to January 31 from January 15 due to upcoming public holidays in Armenia and Russia.
 
"Chaarat continues to work with Polymetal on key transitional details and is making significant progress in filling senior operational roles at the Kapan mine, identifying operational improvements and developing a detailed first 100-day plan," it said.
 
The company's shares started the year at 27.04p (US34.4c) Wednesday, down  0.57% from the previous close.

Arzu Abdullayeva: Peace agent between Azerbaijan and Armenia

Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, Italy
Jan 2 2019


Arzu Abdullayeva: Peace agent between Azerbaijan and Armenia

Arzu Abdullayeva has faced threats, insults and even violent demonstrations because of his peace activism between Armenia and Azerbaijan. But she never gave up

02/01/2019 -  Gular MehdizadeSabina AbubekirovaAnonymous

(Originally published by Chai Khana , October 2018)

Arzu Abdullayeva has faced threats, insults and even angry demonstrations during the 26 years she has worked to help reconcile Armenia and Azerbaijan.

A native of Baku, Abdullayeva remembers when Armenians were her neighbors and friends. But after a generation of war over Nagorno-Karabakh, this veteran peace activist is growing increasingly pessimistic that the two nations can find peace.

“They said that I’m pro-Armenian, that I have Armenian blood, that my father, mother and grandfather were Armenian. That was not enough for them: they threatened me, held a demonstration in front of my office and wanted me to commit suicide. They did all of this because I was involved in peacebuilding,” Abdullayeva, who serves as the head of Helsinki Citizens Assembly in Baku, says.

The war over Nagorno-Karabakh, which was at its most intense between 1991 and 1994, ended with a ceasefire. Peace has been elusive, however: sporadic fighting has continued as Armenia and Azerbaijan negotiate to end the conflict.

The Azeri government’s attitude toward peacebuilding has changed over the years, Abdullayeva says.

“The situation was better under former President Heydar Aliyev. Not long after he came to power, I appealed to him and, as a result, 38 Armenian captives were released. Later on, the situation got much worse. Now it has reached the point that we cannot implement any peace projects,” she says. 

Arzu Abdullayeva argues that the hardest people to reach are those who want war without realizing the depth of the pain it brings – and the politicians who see the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as a game.

But she says she has had good experience implementing peacebuilding projects with colleagues from Armenia, as well as neighboring Georgia and other countries. 

“Certainly, we have made good achievements in this area. We have held many meetings and events.”

Abdullayeva adds that she and her colleagues played a major role in working on the Madrid Principles – one of the proposed peace settlements for the conflict.

They were also instrumental in helping 500 missing people, out of the approximately 4,000 people who went missing during the conflict.

Despite their successes, Abdullayeva wishes they could do more.

“It's painful. Maybe if we were more experienced, we could rescue more people,” she says. 

Close relations with her Armenian colleagues in Nagorno-Karabakh have been vitally important to every success, Abdullayeva says, because they all believe in peace, humanity and acting with conscience.

“Through them, we were able to reach those missing people. If we didn’t believe in the same things and didn’t share the same feelings, none of our successes would have been possible.”

In 2005, Abdullayeva expanded her peace activism, and helped create an international group to find a way to resolve the conflict.

Her organization, together with the Dutch IKV PAX Christi and the Finnish Crisis Management Initiative, created the Public Council of Experts on the solution of the Karabakh conflict.

The group includes peacekeepers, political scientists, internally displaced persons, editors, and others. Members of the group, which does not currently include any Armenians, are working on road maps to resolve the conflict. 

“We come together and discuss news and developments related to the Karabakh issue and we evaluate the situation. Later we share our findings with our Armenian colleagues. It [cooperation] is quite difficult,  because Armenians are not able to come to Azerbaijan and Azerbaijanis cannot travel to Armenia,” Abdullayeva says.

The April 2016 war underscored the fragility of the group’s peacebuilding efforts. Also known as the “April War” or the “Four-Day War,” it was the worst flare-up since the 1994 ceasefire and resulted in the death of at least 200 people. Journalists, politicians and some peace activists on both sides temporarily became online war propagandists during the fighting.

Abdullayeva remains philosophical about the experience.

“The true intention of a person becomes clear in a crisis,” she says.

During the four days of intense fighting, she issued a public appeal, urging both nations to end the conflict.

“I asked people to control their emotions, to think and to act rationally. The war doesn’t benefit people in Armenia or Azerbaijan,” Abdullayeva says.

As an activist, Abdullayeva has paid a heavy price for her efforts to bring peace to her country.

Internationally, however, her work as earned praise and accolades. She has been recognised several times, including in 1992, when she and her Armenian colleague, Anahit Bayandur, received the Olof Palme Peace Prize for their efforts to facilitate prisoner-of-war exchanges and promote dialogue during intense phases of the conflict.

The two women also co-wrote a book on peacekeeping, “Gender and Peace.” The book is now used as a textbook in trainings that focus on conflict in the South Caucasus.

Arzu Abdullayeva believes women can play an important role in peacebuilding, but she noted that “there are not many female activists in peacebuilding.”

“I think any peaceful, kind person can be involved in peacebuilding between communities.”

Abdullayeva still grieves for Bayandur, who passed away several years ago.

“She was not able to see the peace that she wanted so much. She was a fair and kind person.”

Her friendship with Bayandur, in some way, echoed her childhood memories – but it also underscored the cultural ties that the two countries have lost due to the war.

Growing up in Baku before the fighting started, Abdullayeva had many Armenian friends and neighbors.

“I had many Armenian friends during my school years. In our apartment building we had two Armenian families living on our floor. We were brought up together with their children. One of them, Eliza Mahmutyan, was my close friend. I never imagined that there might be clashes between these two nationalities in Baku. But it happened. When I returned home from Moscow, where I had been studying, they [the Armenians living in the building] were not there.”

Today, Armenians and Azeris have limited contact with each other. Abdullayeva was not even able to attend Bayandur’s funeral in Armenia.

But Abdullayeva’s reputation and her commitment to building ties with Armenians have inspired some ethnic Armenians still living in Azerbaijan to reach out to her for help when they face prejudice and injustice, including being fired from their jobs, kicked out of their homes and blocked from receiving state pensions.

“I released a statement that these people are loyal to Azerbaijan. They didn’t go anywhere; they stayed in the country. In return, we have to defend their rights and support them,” she says.

“My statement was very poorly received. But I was defending humanity.”

Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have lost a lot by cutting ties, Abdullayeva says. She says both sides are to blame for the rift, although the pogroms in the 1980s exacerbated tensions.  

“It happened in Armenia and Azerbaijan. It was a painful process. Our people think that only Armenians persecuted Azerbaijanis there [in Armenia]. But that is not true; unknown people in Azerbaijan also organized such things,” she says.

“So when we work with people, we always say that neither side is innocent. Both sides have great sins.”

She stresses that both countries have many things in common, and people should focus on that instead of fighting over who can claim ownership of the elements of culture they share.

Abdullayeva notes that the timeline of the conflict  – 26 years – represents one entire generation.

With the passing of time, she says she is losing optimism that the two sides can be reconciled.

“I have spent my whole life trying to build peace. We have tried to reconcile the Armenians and Azerbaijanis for years. Unfortunately, it has not been possible. That's why I'm disappointed. Generally, I'm an optimist, but with time, I'm also becoming a pessimist.”

Mnatsakanyan: Armenia has clear position on CSTO

News.am, Armenia
Jan 2 2019
Mnatsakanyan: Armenia has clear position on CSTO Mnatsakanyan: Armenia has clear position on CSTO

11:06, 02.01.2019
                  

YEREVAN. – Armenia has a very clear position on CSTO, and the internal legal matters have to be separated from the rest issues, acting foreign minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said in an interview on Armenia's public television.

That was the reason for “initiating early suspension of powers of the Secretary General of CSTO”.

In response to the remark that the CSTO is a club where the views of the leaders, as well as the model of the state they are building is opposite to what is accepted in the world, and the current leader of Armenia does not fit into this club, Mnatsakanyan said: “We did and will continue doing what we did starting with the prime minister. We have to force the external relations to serve the interests of our country. We do not intend to do what different analysts predict. ”