Asbarez: ANCA Rising Leaders Travel to DC for Civic Engagement Initiative

ANCA, AYF and Georgetown ASA Already Gearing Up for 2020 Program

WASHINGTON—More than 30 students from top universities and high schools across the U.S. traveled to the nation’s capital to take part in the Armenian National Committee of America’s inaugural Rising Leaders Program – three days of career development and civic engagement designed to inspire public service and community engagement.

The ANCA’s Tereza Yerimyan led the March 10 to 12 initiative, organized in conjunction with the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) Eastern and Western Regions and the Georgetown University Armenian Students Association (Georgetown ASA), and made possible in large part through a generous contribution by the Ararat Foundation Shahinian Educational Fund.

“Our ANCA Rising Leaders inaugural seminar was a great way for Armenian American youth to explore their own professional career opportunities in Washington while also engaging with civic leaders on the issues we care about collectively as a community,” said ANCA Programs Director Tereza Yerimyan. “We’re thrilled to have hosted this inaugural program and can’t thank the AYF Eastern and Western U.S. and the Georgetown ASA enough for their help in getting this program off the ground.”

“The AYF Western U.S. was proud to team up with the ANCA to organize this one-of-a-kind leadership seminar in the nation’s capital,” said AYF Western U.S. Central Executive Chairman Dickran Khodanian, who also serves as ANCA Western Region Communications Coordinator. “This most recent investment in our community’s youth helps young Armenians realize their full career potential by exploring opportunities in Washington, D.C. We look forward to working together to expand the program, broaden the horizons of our youth, and advance our common cause.”

The program kicked off on Sunday afternoon, with career development workshops focusing on resume preparation, networking, and effective ways to use LinkedIn, led by ANCA Hovig Apo Saghdejian Capital Gateway Program (ANCA CGP) alumni Avak Kahramanian and Tadeh Isakhanian and Program Director Yerimyan. USC Price School of Public Policy Professor Frank Zerunyan rallied the Rising Leaders about the importance of expanded civic engagement both to advance community priorities and for career advancement. At the end of the day, participants sat down with ANCA CGP alumni for one-on-one resume review sessions.

On day two of the program, Rising Leaders met on Georgetown’s campus for panel presentations providing an insider’s view on careers in the U.S. foreign service, international development, and the 2020 Presidential and Congressional campaign trails from former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Marshall Evans, American University and Boston University Professor Greg Aftandilian, The HALO Trust’s Amasia Zargarian, and A Demand for Action’s Steve Oshana, with the moderation of ANCA Government Affairs Director Raffi Karakashian. In the afternoon, ANCA National Board Chairman Raffi Hamparian was joined by the ANCA Western Region’s Zanku Armenian and Eastern Region’s Ani Tchaghlasian in offering a 360 degree perspective of the work of the ANCA and its efforts to advance community priorities on the federal, state and local level.

The day concluded with a “khorovadz/kebab” dinner at the ANCA Aramian House where students chatted with ANCA CGP alumni, board members, and local professionals who shared their experiences in starting their careers in Washington, DC.

Nareg Kuyumjian, Georgetown University Armenian Student Association President said, “We were thoroughly inspired by the way the Armenian youth came and worked together over the course of the three days to educate themselves and connect with one another. There are so many opportunities for us in the nation’s capital and we saw that first hand. We’d like to thank the ANCA and the AYF for all the work they did to help make this event possible and we look forward to making Georgetown University the home of ANCA Rising Leaders for years to come.”

“The ANCA’s investment in preparing the next generation of leaders has become a vital step in the work of Hai Tahd,” said AYF Eastern U.S. Central Executive Member Meghri Dervartanian, who also participated in the program. “The AYF Eastern Region was happy to join the ANCA in co-hosting this inspiring and resourceful leadership seminar. Through these types of collaborations and programs, the torch is now being passed on to the next generation. The AYF Eastern Region promises to embody that collective spirit of survival and revolution and remain steadfast in our commitment to the Armenian Cause.”

On the final day of the program, the ANCA Rising Leaders headed to Capitol Hill where they were greeted by the Congressional Armenian Staffers Association (CASA), who generously co-hosted a luncheon for the group. CASA leaders Maria Martirosyan, Arlet Abrahamian, Casey Davison, and Paul Iskajyan were joined by Sam Tatevosyan, Government Affairs Director of the McDonalds Corporation, and Charles Yessaian, Chief Operating Officer of the JMH Group, in sharing insights about how they started their careers in Washington, DC.

In the afternoon, participants met with legislators and staffers from a broad range Congressional offices, including Representatives Donald Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Pete DeFazio (D-OR), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), John Joyce (R-PA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Bill Pascrell Jr., (D-NJ), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY).

Participants capped off the program with a reception at the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia where His Excellency Ambassador Varuzhan Nersesyan offered words of wisdom, encouragement, and solidarity.

Inspiring remarks were also shared by Berdj Karapetian, the Executive Chairman of the Armenian Museum of America and ANCA Western Region Board member, Irma N. Kassabian, the Chairwoman of the Armenian Relief Society Washington Satenig Chapter (which provided wonderful food and desserts for the evening), and also Dean Shahinian, on behalf of the Ararat Foundation’s Shahinian Educational Fund, which helped make the entire Rising Leaders program possible. Keynote remarks were offered by Charlie Mahtesian, the Senior Politics Editor of POLITICO, who shared his own experiences and encouraged the assembled young participants to explore rewarding careers in journalism.

ANCs of Australia, New Zealand Slam Erdogan’s Threat

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey

SYDNEY, AUCKLAND—The Armenian National Committees of Australia and New Zealand (ANC-AU and ANC-NZ) have condemned Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threat to return Australians and New Zealanders traveling to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day Commemorations “in their coffins like their grandfathers.”

Erdogan let loose with these comments in light of last week’s Christchurch terrorist attack, which resulted in the shooting death of 50 Muslims praying in two Mosques in the New Zealand town.

“Your grandparents (referring to ANZACs of 1915) came, some of them returned in coffins. If you come as well like your grandfathers (not in peace), be sure that you will be gone like your grandfathers,” Erdogan said, adding “the enemies of Muslims have shown that they continue to hate us”.

“They are testing us from 16,500km away, from New Zealand, with the messages they are giving from there. This is not an individual attack, it is organized.”

Erdogan made these comments after an earlier election campaign rally, where he showed footage of the Christchurch gunman’s attack to highlight Islamophobia in Western countries.

“This is an outrageous response from the President of what our countries – Australia and New Zealand – consider an ally,” said ANC-AU Executive Director, Haig Kayserian. “What happened in Christchurch was a terrorist hate crime, and must be condemned as many in the world have rightly done.”

“What Erdogan is doing is responding to a hate crime by spreading more hate,” Kayserian added. “He is disrespecting ANZACs by referring to their return to Australia and New Zealand in coffins, while at the same time threatening those of our citizens who wish to pay respects to the memory of our ANZACs in Gallipoli.”

The Chairperson of ANC-NZ, Hoory Yeldizian was quick to highlight the differences in response.

“In stark contrast to the exemplary empathy and strong leadership being demonstrated by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during this important juncture, the President of Turkey has yet again demonstrated his insensitivity and international thuggery,” Yeldizian said.

“After all, New Zealand has unequivocally condemned the actions of this terrorist. New Zealand mourns the loss of 50 lives. New Zealand rejects any attempt by Erdogan to paint our society as one with a single extremist or group of extremists,” Yeldizian added.

ANC-AU has called on the Returned and Services League (RSL) to unequivocally condemn this outburst by Erdogan, which they said “disrespects our ANZAC martyrs and provides a true picture of what the Turkish State thinks of them when the diplomatic veils are lifted”.

Kayserian added: “This is not the first time that the ANZAC relationship has been misused by the modern Turkish state, with Erdogan’s government in 2013 threatening to block access to Gallipoli for NSW Parliamentarians who voted on a motion to recognise the Ottoman Genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians.”

168: PM hopeful of launching Armenia-made military serial production soon

Category
Society

The Armenian government is making structural and content changes in the military industry sector, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said at a news conference.

“I am sure we will have significant achievements in this sector. Today, we have important new products that will soon, I hope, be placed on serial production tracks, we have projects that are in final stages of discussion, we have projects that are under discussion, we have projects that are still ideas. I believe that Armenia must truly be a technologically advanced country, and we are headed this way,” Pashinyan said.

As an example, he repeated a statement made earlier by him when he said they shouldn’t focus on having a tank, but the objective that will be solved by having it.

“And we must understand what is this technology that will enable us solving this issue,” the PM said.

“There was a time when in order to transfer information from one place to another people needed paper, a pen, an envelope, a post stamp, a mailman, a horse or a car for reaching the information quickly to its destination. If we were to continue focusing on the paper, the pen and the post stamp, there wouldn’t be any e-mail. And today, the same is done without paper, without a pen or stamp, even without a mailman or transportation, it is done more quickly and efficiently. Therefore, the mechanism of our thinking must undergo the kind of change that this itself will be placed at the foundation of development of our military-industry complex,” he said.

RFE/RL Armenian Report – 03/19/2019

                                        Tuesday, 
Pashinian Upbeat On Armenia’s Investment Prospects
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian at a press conference in Yerevan, 19 
March, 2019
The Armenian government is currently discussing 802 investments projects worth 
a total of about $2.7 billion, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said at a press 
conference on Tuesday.
“Forty-two of these projects worth a total of $774 million are, in fact, 
already at different stages of implementation, others are at the stage of 
active discussions. This means that we have a certain increase in investment 
interest in the country,” Pashinian said.
The head of the Armenian government also presented some other data testifying 
to some growing interest in unfolding economic activities in Armenia.
Thus, according to him, in February 2019 the volume of mortgage lending in 
Armenia grew by 100 percent, with the growth of mortgage lending within the 
framework of government programs making 145 percent as compared with the 
relevant data for last year’s February.
“In general, at present the volume of mortgage loans in the country has grown 
by 30 percent. According to experts, this is a huge increase. This means that 
in the near future we will have demand in the construction market, which in its 
turn will create new jobs not only in construction, but also on the building 
materials market, in the service sector and so on. This is a very important 
indicator, which in its turn will lead to the reduction of unemployment,” 
Pashinian said.
The Armenian premier also spoke about expected financial assistance from the 
European Union concerning major infrastructure programs. He said that the EU is 
ready to provide funding, including in the form of grants, for some major 
projects, but expects Armenia to co-finance these projects. According to 
Pashinian, this, in term, raises the issue of whether Armenia should raise the 
ceiling for its foreign debt level in order to borrow more for the co-financing 
of these projects.
“Now we should discuss whether we are ready to go this way, and in the next 20 
days we are going to have a joint discussion with the Central Bank that will 
also involve representatives of the expert community in order to make a 
decision on this matter,” the Armenian premier said.
Armenia Will ‘Attentively’ Listen To Azerbaijan’s ‘Counterarguments’
Switzerland - Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian (L) and Azerbaijan's 
President Ilham Aliyev meet in Davos, January 22, 2019.
Armenia’s proposal for Nagorno-Karabakh’s full engagement in negotiations with 
Azerbaijan is no challenge, but an invitation to dialogue, Prime Minister Nikol 
Pashinian said on Tuesday, stressing that Yerevan is ready to listen 
attentively to Baku’s counterarguments.
At a press conference in Yerevan, Pashinian repeated what he already told 
senior Armenian and Karabakh security aides in Stepanakert a week ago that 
Nagorno-Karabakh’s becoming a full party to the peace talks “is not a whim or a 
precondition” on the part of Armenia, but a necessity for an effective 
settlement process.
Azerbaijan has opposed Nagorno-Karabakh’s participation in the talks as a 
separate party, insisting that the region is “occupied” by Armenia and 
negotiations should be held only directly with official Yerevan.
Last week, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev rejected the latest Armenian 
proposal on the change in the format of the talks by way of involving 
Nagorno-Karabakh as a party to the process.
“It is unacceptable, and it is an attempt to block the negotiations process,” 
Aliyev said at a forum in Baku on March 14, again calling on Armenia to 
withdraw its forces from the region.
Pashinian today insisted that his statements on the need for Stepanakert’s 
engagement in the talks that he has repeatedly made since being first elected 
prime minister in May 2018 “are not a challenge, but an invitation to 
dialogue.” He further argued that he had already raised the issue during his 
informal meetings with Aliyev on the sidelines of different international 
events during the past months.
Earlier this month the American, Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk 
Group, an international format set up to mediate a solution to the conflict, 
announced that Pashinian and Aliyev had agreed to have their first formal talks 
soon under the umbrella of the international mediators.
No date and venue of such possible talks have been announced yet.
Ahead of his possible talks with the Azerbaijani president Pashinian said: “We 
will continue discussions on this subject with our partners and will try to 
continue this discussion in the field of arguments, because negotiations are 
negotiations only when we listen to each other. At least Armenia has shown its 
ability to listen to its opponent, try to understand the other side, and we 
expect the same from them. Where our partners consider that our position can be 
viewed as excessively tough, we can soften this position, but we would expect 
the same from our partners, because otherwise no conversation will take place.”
The Armenian leader said that “we do not imagine a regime when one of the 
parties to the talks says that it refuses to have a dialogue.”
“It will not be a logical approach. Naturally, we will not refuse to have a 
dialogue and during this dialogue we will put on the table our arguments and 
will attentively listen to the counterarguments of our partners. I think that a 
constructive and effective solution or continuation should be within the 
framework of this logic,” Pashinian said.
Asked whether a possible exchange of prisoners between Armenia and Azerbaijan 
could be discussed at his upcoming meeting with Aliyev, Pashinian said: “The 
Armenian side is ready to exchange Azerbaijani citizens who strayed into 
Armenian territory with Armenians who strayed into Azerbaijani territory.”
The Armenian leader stressed, however, that such an exchange cannot concern 
Azerbaijanis who penetrated into Armenian or Karabakh territory and committed 
murders.
Soldier Charged With Killing Armenian Woman To Remain In Russian Custody
• Satenik Kaghzvantsian
A Russian military base in Gyumri, Armenia
The Russian soldier charged with beating an Armenian woman to death will remain 
in custody at the Russian military base in Gyumri, according to a local court.
The Shirak Regional Court of General Jurisdiction on Tuesday rejected the 
lawsuit of the killed Gyumri woman’s family, who demanded that Andrey 
Razgildeyev be transferred to Armenia’s law-enforcement bodies and be kept in 
pretrial detention in Armenian remand prison.
Razgildeyev, a 23-year-old serviceman at the Russian military base in Gyumri, 
was arrested in December in connection with the violent death of Julieta 
Ghukasian, a 57-year-old street cleaner in Gyumri.
Armenian law-enforcement bodies later charged the Russian with brutal assault 
and involuntary manslaughter. Motives for the alleged attack still remain 
unclear.
Under Armenia’s criminal law, such crimes are punishable by between five and 
ten years in prison.
Despite being charged under Armenian law, Razgildeyev has remained under arrest 
inside the Russian military base – something that has caused complaints from 
the family of the victim and a number of Armenian human rights activists.
Attorney Arayik Zalian, who represents the interests of Ghukasian’s daughter, 
says that a comprehensive and impartial investigation of the case is only 
possible if the Russian soldier is handed over to Armenian law-enforcement 
bodies.
Armenian Prosecutor’s Office representative Mihran Martirosian, meanwhile, 
insisted that keeping the Russian soldier at the base is legitimate as it is 
stipulated by provisions of an Armenian-Russian intergovernmental agreement.
“The accused was arrested in the territory of the Russian Federation’s 102nd 
base. That is, getting him out of the territory of the base is contrary to the 
Russian Federation’s legislation,” he explained.
In 2015, another Russia soldier murdered seven members of an Armenian family in 
Gyumri. The case sparked protests in the northwestern city and elsewhere in 
Armenia. An Armenian court in August 2016 sentenced private Valery Permyakov to 
life in prison.
Permyakov too was held in detention at the Russian base before and during his 
trial. He was later transferred to Russia to serve his sentence.
Armenian Human Rights Activists Call For Iranian Colleague’s Release
• Naira Bulghadarian
Armenia -- A protest near the Iranian embassy in Yerevan. 
A number of human rights activists in Armenia have joined the open letter of 
Amnesty International calling on the Iranian authorities to release Iranian 
human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.
Today they held a silent protest in front of the Iranian embassy in Yerevan.
Sotoudeh, the co-winner of the European Parliament’s 2012 Sakharov Prize for 
Freedom of Thought, last year represented several of the women detained for 
removing their head scarves in public to protest against the country’s Islamic 
dress code.
She has reportedly been sentenced to a total of 38 years in prison and 148 
lashes after what Amnesty International called two “grossly unfair” trials.
The 55-year-old activist was arrested in June and ordered to serve a five-year 
sentence imposed on her in absentia in 2016.
And in February, the Iranian authorities allowed Sotoudeh to read the verdict 
in her most recent court case, which showed that she had been convicted of 
seven charges and sentenced to an additional 33 years in prison and 148 lashes, 
London-based Amnesty International said on March 14.
Armenian human rights activist Arman Gharibian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service 
that he did not know whether the Yerevan protest could change anything. “But 
one thing is clear: we cannot remain indifferent when this kind of repression 
against a human rights activist takes place in the neighboring country,” he 
said.
Iranian-Armenian Vardges Gaspari, who is a prominent activist in Armenia, said 
he was raising his voice to “encourage the jailed activist morally.” “So that 
she can feel that she is not forgotten, that there are people, even if few, who 
are concerned about her fate,” the activist added.
The protesters in Yerevan tried to hand over a letter, stating their protest, 
to the Iranian embassy staff, but no one came out to take it. Eventually, they 
had to put the letter into the mailbox placed at the entrance to the embassy.
Press Review
“Zhoghovurd” writes that the only critical political reaction to the 
municipality’s dismantling of cafes in the territory around the Opera House in 
Yerevan came from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). The 
paper links this reaction to the fact that some senior Dashnaktsutyun members 
are owners of cafes that are subject to dismantling. “One of them, Mikael 
Manukian, who was Dashnaktsutyun’s top candidate in last year’s Yerevan 
elections, founded his cafe there more than two decades ago and during his 
party’s being part of the government he expanded his business. Dashnaktsutyun 
members ran their businesses unimpeded also when the party pretended to be an 
opposition,” the paper claims.
“Zhamanak” suggests that in the months to come there will be no shortage of 
social protests in Armenia. “Like in the case with a plane that gets into a 
zone of turbulence it has nothing to do with the professionalism of the crew, 
in the case with Armenia, too, social turbulence has nothing to do with the 
quality of administration or abilities of the new government. This social 
turbulence is the vicious effect of the old system,” the paper writes.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” lambastes the view expressed by former Karabakh defense 
army commander Samvel Babayan, who has ambitions to run for Nagorno-Karabakh’s 
president in 2020, that Nagorno-Karabakh should be a “mandate territory”. The 
paper interprets this view as readiness to entrust Russia with the mandate to 
find a solution to the conflict. “The problem is not even that Russia will 
hardly use this mandate in favor of Armenians in accordance with our ideas. 
Both Tsarist Russia and Soviet Russia had such an opportunity, but in both 
cases the fate of Nagorno-Karabakh was decided in favor of Azerbaijan. The 
problem is much more global. Should we give a mandate to get a solution to our 
problems to someone else and then nervously wait for the solution only to curse 
our bad luck afterwards,” the daily says.
(Lilit Harutiunian)
Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2019 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
www.rferl.org

Patriarch Mesrob Mutafian Laid to Rest

Archbishop Mersrob Mutafian’s casket lying in state at the St. Mary’s Armenian Church in Istanbul on

Hundreds flocked to St. Mary’s Church in Istanbul Sunday to pay their final respects to the late Istanbul Patriarch Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, who died on March 8 ten years after being diagnosed with dementia, which incapacitated him from carrying out his duties.

Mutafian’s coffin laid in state at the church where a requiem service officiated by Bishop Arshak Khachatryan of the Holy See of Etchmiadzin, one of three representatives of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians who attended the funeral service.

The funeral procession, with pall bearers carrying the casket, paused in front of the Istanbul Patriarchate building, where attorney Setrag Davoutian eulogized the late patriarch. The procession then headed toward Istanbul’s Sisli Armenian Cemetery, where the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Nouhan Manougian, blessed the grave.

Leading Catholicos Karekin II’s delegation was the representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church at the Vatican, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, who until recently was the Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the United States. Barsamian delivered the remarks from Catholicos Karekin II and was also joined by the Primate of the Gougarats Diocese, Archbishop Sepouh Chouldjyan.

A message from His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia was reach by the Prelate of Lebanon Archbishop Nareg Alemezian, who along with Bishop Magar Ashekian were representing the Great House of Cilicia.

Among those who attended the funeral was Garo Paylan, an Armenian member of the Turkish Parliament representing the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).

Many senior officials from ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) including the party’s spokesperson Omer Celik and its Istanbul mayoral candidate Binali Yildirım, along with the presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin attended the funeral service, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Following the observance of a 40-day mourning period, Patriarchate officials will begin the process for the election of a new patriarch.

168: South Caucasus Confronts Challenges of War and Corruption

Category
Politics

For many years Europe has lived with the hope that Armenia and Azerbaijan would one day resolve their differences. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, which consists of the U.S., Russia, and France, has spent thousands of hours mediating between the parties since its inception in 1994.

In an upcoming summit the OSCE and its Minsk Group co-chairmen aspire that the two post-Soviet countries will come to a final status agreement and settle the territorial and ethnic conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh and the seven surrounding districts. These are de-facto controlled by the self-declared “Republic of Artsakh” (known as Karabakh), but are internally recognised as a de jure part of Azerbaijan.

With great power support and a new government in Yerevan, some are approaching the summit with cautious optimism. Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev are set to meet later this spring, though a date has not yet been announced.

However, both parties took steps that threaten to derail the summit before it even begins.  Armenia may have contributed to tensions by announcing its Security Council meeting in the Nagorno-Karabakh together with that Republic’s own National Security Council, having Prime Minister Pashinyan visiting the self-proclaimed republic. Armenians decided to conduct the joint meeting in Karabakh, although the body routinely meets in the capital Yerevan.

Not to be outdone, Azerbaijan has commenced large-scale military maneuvers ahead of a meeting between President Aliyev and Prime Minister Pashinyan. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said on March 11 that up to 10,000 troops, 500 tanks, 300 missile systems, aircraft, and other military equipment will participate five-day exercises, Radio Liberty reported.

However, the problems in the South Caucasus go well beyond security. For decades, endemic corruption undermined economic development and the rule of law in the three republics: Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Information about the Azeri abuses abounded: the Aliyev clan, ruling the oil-rich Caspian state, has amassed billions of euros in assets, including vast property holdings in Dubai by the Aliyev children.

Earlier this decade, while the Azerbaijani government arrested scores of activists and journalists, the country’s ruling circles used a secret slush fund – nicknamed The Influence Machine — to pay off European politicians and other dignitaries who promoted the country and its regime.

Many of these efforts took place within the Council of Europe, which is supposed to uphold human rights, democracy, and rule of law, according to Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

VIPs who received the “Azerbaijani Laundromat” funds included three former members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE): a German MP and a Slovenian politician who both went against international organizations to declare Azerbaijan’s elections fair, and an Italian politician already charged with bribery. The Bulgarian husband of the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a high-profile supporter of Azerbaijan, also received Laundromat payments.

Information about Armenia was less readily available, but not less concerning. A recent Amnesty International Report revealed that:

A particular feature of corruption in Armenia is the presence of so-called “oligarchs” who enjoy the fruits of a shadow economy estimated to account for around 35 per cent of Armenia’s GDP. Patronage networks and a lack of clear separation between private enterprise and public office act as an important barrier to effective anti-corruption efforts. 14 It is not surprising, therefore, that 82 per cent of people in Armenia believe that corruption in the public sector is a problem or a serious problem, with the judiciary and the civil service perceived to be the sectors most affected by corruption.

A classified report on corruption in Armenia was circulated in March this year in Brussels, the Russian Telegram channel Kompromat SNG revealed. The alleged corrupt officials are identified as Prime Minister Pashinyan and his wife Anna Hakobyan. The amount of the suspected bribery? €1.5 billion.

Armenia’s new government, which came to power under the slogans of the fight against corruption, has allegedly built its own corruption scheme.

The classified report focuses on funds and personal accounts allegedly managed by Anna Hakobyan, the wife of the current Prime Minister, the report claims. The Pashinyan government has jailed political opponents, sending a chilling message to current and potential foes.

Under threats of criminal prosecution and business ruin through threats of judicial prosecution, former officials and oligarchs transfer huge sums of money to contribute to various funds.

It appears that in the days of the recent Davos Forum, Anna Akopyan was in Zurich where she was actively involved in the setup and management of these funds. A Swiss businessman, affiliated with one very influential Armenian official, is a facilitator for these activities.

As of March 1, the accounts directly or indirectly controlled by Ms. Hakobyan mushroomed to about €1.5 billion.

The former officials transferred funds from their offshore and personal accounts:

– Mihran Poghosyan (Former Chief Compulsory Enforcement Officer of Armenia and Deputy of the National Assembly);

– Gagik Khachatryan (Former Chairman of the State Revenue Committee and former Minister of Finance of Armenia);

– Samvel Alexanyan (Major entrepreneur and former deputy of the National Assembly of Armenia);

– Gagik Beglaryan (Former Minister of Transport and Communications of Armenia);

– Vardan Harutyunyan (Former Chairman of the State Revenue Committee of Armenia);

– Gagik Tsarukyan (Entrepreneur and founder of the Prosperous Armenia Party, member of the National Assembly of Armenia).

The European political elite, the financial regulators and large businesses that hoped for a more transparent Armenia under Pashinyan are concerned that while personalities may change, systemic corruption will remain an obstacle.

Even in Georgia, a regional leader in the anti-corruption efforts, there are still major problems in the areas of the transparency and accountability of companies, including the lack of effective mechanisms for identifying their beneficial owners, Transparency International revealed in its report. Effective integrity programs remain the exception in Georgian companies. Anti-corruption mechanisms in state-owned enterprises remain particularly weak.

True, the South Caucasus desperately needs peace, but without a crackdown on high level corruption first – in all three countries —  its economic and political future will remain bleak.

eutoday.net

The California Courier Online, March 21, 2019

The California Courier Online, March 21, 2019

1 -        Church Saves AGBU Center in Toronto
            In a Last Minute Financial Arrangement
            By Harut Sassounian
            Publisher, The California Courier
            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com
2-         Healing Wounds or Increasing Power? Erdogan Sends First
Tweet in Armenian
3 -        Armenian, Georgian, Russian Writing Found on Guns of NZ Mosque
4-         Pyunic Holds Successful Fundraiser In Los Angeles
5-         Through Her Podcast, Lara Vanian Explores
            What it Means to be 'Armenian Enough'

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1 -        Church Saves AGBU Center in Toronto
            In a Last Minute Financial Arrangement
            By Harut Sassounian
            Publisher, The California Courier
            www.TheCaliforniaCourier.com

This week’s article is about a major controversy in the Armenian
community of Toronto, Canada, which has been fortunately resolved for
now.

On October 30, 2018, the AGBU Toronto Chapter issued a statement,
announcing that it could no longer afford to pay its Center’s
operational cost which “has become staggering,”

The AGBU Chapter further announced that it has received an offer from
the Centennial College to buy the AGBU Center. Subsequently, it became
known that the price for the AGBU Center was 8.5 million Canadian
dollars. The Central Board—headquartered in New York City—had endorsed
the decision to sell the property which was built in 1981.

The immediate impact of this potential sale was on the operations of
the adjacent Holy Trinity Armenian Church whose members had used both
the parking lot and the facilities of the AGBU Center. Furthermore,
the Church had “the first right of refusal” to acquire the AGBU
property which meant that if the Church chose to or could afford to
purchase the AGBU Center, it had the priority to do so before its sale
to the Centennial College, under the same terms.

On November 10, 2018, the AGBU Chapter issued a second statement
expressing its regret that “a few have chosen to mischaracterize the
recent announcement” regarding the potential sale of the AGBU Center
to the Centennial College. The AGBU Chapter further stated that “while
we understand that some did not like this decision, it is neither fair
nor constructive to react with information intended to mislead the
greater Toronto community, particularly those involved with the
church.”

In response, the Diocese of Canada and the Holy Trinity Armenian
Church issued a joint statement on November 19, 2018, describing the
AGBU Chapter’s two statements as “futile attempts for
self-justification. Moreover, they contained comments that were
intended to mislead and divide our community. In either case, they
failed. Clearly, these statements are void of genuine feelings for a
healthy community and are a reflection of dictated undemocratic
decisions with no transparency.”

Confused by the contentious press releases, the Toronto Armenian
community tried to find out what exactly was going on behind closed
doors. The absence of concrete information triggered plenty of rumors.
The concern was that Toronto Armenians would lose one of its main
centers. The rumor mill was fueled by AGBU’s previous decisions to
close down Armenian schools, such as the Melkonian Educational
Institute in Cyprus, even though the Toronto AGBU Chapter had
announced that after the sale of its Center, it would move to a new
more centralized location for the community in Toronto.

The other unusual situation was the public feud between AGBU and the
Diocese which normally enjoy the best of relations around the world.
Furthermore, Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II, the spiritual
leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, is also the Honorary Central
Board member of the AGBU. The Catholicos could have easily mediated
the conflict between the two institutions, if it had become necessary.

On November 11, 2018, the Holy Trinity Armenian Church convened a
special membership meeting under the presidency of the Primate, Bishop
Abgar Hovakimyan. The congregation adopted a resolution committing to
raise the necessary 8.5 million Canadian dollars by January 29, 2019,
in less than three months, to purchase the AGBU Center. A Mandated
Committee was formed to that effect. The Church announcement stated
that “Bishop Hovakimyan, in support of fundraising, made an impressive
gesture by donating his Panagia and Crosier as the first donation to
the fundraising drive.”

To everyone’s surprise, the Holy Trinity Armenian Church issued an
announcement on January 29, 2019, confirming that the Diocese has
“exercised its right of first refusal to purchase the Armenian General
Benevolent Union (AGBU) property.” This unexpected and miraculous
development raised a new round of questions as to how the Church was
able to raise the large sum of 8.5 million Canadian dollars to
purchase the property in such a short time. Inquiries to the Church
for some details went unanswered, fueling more rumors as to the true
source of the funding for the purchase of the AGBU Center.

After several more emails and phone calls to the Church and its
Mandated Committee, Ara Boyajian, a member of the Committee, was kind
enough to respond. Initially, Boyajian wrote to me that “the AGBU
property next to the HTA [Holy Trinity Armenian] Church in Toronto was
purchased by the Diocese and registered in the name of the Diocese. In
90 days the Diocese secured the required financing, exercised its
right of first refusal, and completed the 8.5 million [Canadian]
dollar transaction on Feb 28, 2019.”

When asked for further details, Boyajian and the Mandated Committee
disclosed to me the following information:

“1) The Diocese was able to secure the financing of the project, which
of course means that it got a Loan, purchased the AGBU property, and
registered it in the name of the Diocese.”

“2) The Loan is secured by a 5-year term mortgage using only the
subject property as collateral. The financiers currently want to
remain anonymous, and the Diocese is obliged to respect their wishes.”

“3) The Diocese’s own feasibility study and the cash flow projections
ensure that over the next five years the Diocese will head lease the
premises and be able to carry the property, including making the
interest payments. This will include any loss of income due to
granting AGBU the right to continue its operation and activities in
the building free of charge for eleven months, at absolutely no cost
to AGBU.”

“4) The principal amount of the Loan will be due in five years. This
will provide enough time for the Diocese to strategize and plan to
undertake a much needed project which will benefit the Toronto
community at large.”

In a follow-up email, Boyajian explained that the term “head lease” in
the above point 3 means: “a Tenant leases the entire leasable space
from the Landlord and pays rent to the Landlord, or in this case to
the Diocese as the owner of the building. Parallel to securing the
financier(s), the Diocese was able to find, negotiate and sign a ‘head
lease’ with a reputable Tenant prior to the purchase (during the 90
day Right of First Refusal period), to enable the Diocese for the next
five years to cover all the expenses of the building, including the
interest payments of the Loan. This was supported by a Feasibility
Study and Cash Flow Projections.”

Boyajian’s answers clarify that the Holy Trinity Armenian Church will
pay the interest only on the 8.5 million loan for five years, after
which the entire loan amount will become due and has to be either paid
or refinanced.

The most important point is that the Church leaders were able to
perform a financial miracle in a very short time and save the AGBU
Center—a major achievement for the Armenian community of Toronto!

Finally, it would be prudent for all Armenian organizations worldwide
to become as transparent as possible in dealing with community
properties and issues to avoid unnecessary rumors and the loss of
trust.

*********************************************************************************************

2 -        Healing Wounds or Increasing Power? Erdogan Sends First
Tweet in Armenian

            By Cristina Maza

A little more than 100 years after the Ottoman Turks killed about 1.5
million of the empire’s Armenian citizens, Turkey’s president tweeted
in Armenian.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan surprised Twitter
users with a message in the language of Turkey’s small neighbor
Armenia, with whom Ankara has had a tense relationship since World War
I.

“I was deeply saddened by the death of the Armenian patriarch of
Turkey, the honorable Mesrob Mutafyan. I offer my condolences to his
family, relatives and our Armenian citizens,” Erdogan tweeted on
Friday, March 8, in Armenian, in a message directed at the estimated
60,000 Armenians living in Turkey today.

The tweet was written following the death of the Armenian Patriarch
Mesrob Mutafyan, who died after having early onset dementia for more
than a decade. His death will pave the way for the election of a
replacement, something Turkey’s small but influential Armenian
population has been requesting for years.

Erdogan’s message was the first in Armenian by a Turkish head of state
on a major platform like Twitter. That fact, coupled with recent
overtures by the new Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who
suggested that diplomatic relations could potentially be
re-established between the two countries, raised questions about
whether the frosty relationship was starting to thaw. Erdogan has only
once before released a message in Armenian, and never to his 13.5
million Twitter followers.

“It is in my memory the first time that a Turkish head of state has
expressed condolences in Armenian and in such a visible and public
way. I am not sure if he has done anything similar in other minority
languages, I would be surprised if he has, so this is indeed quite
interesting,” Artyom Tonoyan, a research associate at University of
Minnesota, told Newsweek.

But some experts argued that, far from a move toward reconciliation or
inclusivity, Erdogan’s message was a political power play. With a
single tweet, Turkey’s president was aiming to influence internal
factors in his country, not alter the relationship between Ankara and
Yerevan, analysts said.

“Erdogan is both a populist and simultaneously wants extreme control,”
Vicken Cheterian, author of the book Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks,
and a Century of Genocide, told Newsweek. “In the last years, he tried
to please the Armenian community in Turkey, [while] at the same time
trying to control the major Armenian institution in Turkey, the
Armenian Patriarchate.”

“While Patriarch Mesorb was ill, he did not permit elections to select
a new head of the church, thus keeping at its head someone who was
suitable to Ankara. The tweet comes in this context,” Cheterian
continued.

Bedross Der Matossian, author of the book Shattered Dreams of
Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire,
agreed that the tweet was aimed at influencing the election for a new
patriarch. He noted that Turkey’s Armenian community was split between
those who supported the government’s role in choosing a new patriarch
and those who didn’t.

“On February 21, a group of 72 Armenian writers, journalists and
artists released a statement in which they said they desire social
harmony, and that harmony would only emerge when a legal election of a
patriarch happened in a fair manner,” said Der Matossian.

“Armenians are an important minority in Turkey. It has to do with the
genocide, it has to do with Turkish denial, it has to do with
criticism of the Turkish government and the constant active policy of
denial that it pursues against the Armenians,” he continued. “So these
are politics, not a huge gesture… It’s politics because [Erdogan]
wants to be shown as a tolerant leader who cares about his own flock.”

Erdogan has repeatedly said that Turkey could not accept the label of
genocide, but he had offered condolences for the events of World War
I. “It is Turkey’s conscientious and ethical responsibility to share
the historical pain of our Armenian citizens,” Erdogan said in a
statement last year.

Some argued that Erdogan needed Turkey’s Armenian population to
bolster his image.

“The votes from the most influential Christian community of the
country could be a way to diversify the political image of the ruling
regime, both locally and internationally,” Varuzhan Geghamyan, a
scholar focusing on Turkey, told Newsweek. “Another symbolic
importance lies in Erdogan’s tendency to be compared to Ottoman
sultans, who were rulers not only for Muslim, but also Christian and
other subjects of the empire.”

“The tweet in Armenian language was innovative, but the appeal in
itself was not unprecedented or unique,” Geghamyan added. “The
Ottoman-now-Turkish state tradition requires the ruler to extend his
condolences or wishes to the heads of religious communities. This
happened many times starting from 1461 when Sultan Mehmed II
established the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. Erdogan is
basically keeping up the old tradition, but uses the new
technologies.”

Even the tweet itself, which was written in the Western Armenian
dialect, provides some clues about Erdogan’s intentions, experts said.

“The word Armenian, the ‘a’ should be in upper case, it’s a very
important aspect, when you’re referring to a nation you don’t write it
in lower case in Armenian. So there are certain shortcomings,” said
Der Matossian, adding that the word “family” also had a letter missing
in the tweet.

Turkey and Armenia do not currently have diplomatic relations and the
border between the two countries remains closed. Russian soldiers man
much of the dividing line separating them.

Armenia wants Ankara to recognize formally that Ottoman Turkey
attempted to exterminate the Armenians when 1.5 million of them were
killed during World War I. The issue of genocide recognition has
embittered Turkey’s relationship with Armenia, and with some of the
roughly 28 countries, and the majority of U.S. states, which recognize
the Armenian genocide. Turkey, for its part, maintains that the
murders took place during skirmishes and uprisings, and claims that
the goal was not to exterminate all Armenians. The country also argues
that its smaller neighbor has designs on some of Turkey’s territory.

This article appeared in Newsweek on March 11, 2019.

***************************************************************************************************

3 -        Armenian, Georgian, Russian Writing Found on Guns of NZ Mosque

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND—A white supremacist who identifies himself
as the Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, has killed at least 49 people
and injured another 48 after carrying out a right-wing terrorist
attack on mosques in New Zealand. During the massacre, which he
streamed live online, Tarrant could be seen with weapons scribbled
with white text. He also posted images of the weapons on Twitter
before the feed was deleted.

An examination of the text reveals an obsession with historical
figures who fought against the Ottoman Empire—the Islamic superpower
of its time—other extreme right-wing attackers and the Rotherham
scandal for sexual abuse. Inscribed on one of the guns is a writing in
Armenian that refers to the Battle of Sarigamish, an engagement
between the Russian and Ottoman empires during World War I. The
outcome of the battle resulted in a Russian victory. Ottoman leader
Enver Pasha publicly blamed his defeat on Armenians. One of the gun’s
covered in white lettering featured the names of King Davit
Agmashenebeli and Prince David Soslan, the second husband of Queen
Tamar, in Georgian, the Battle of Kagul 1770 (Russian-Turkish war) and
the Battle of Bulair 1913 were written in Russian.

The writing also cites military leaders and refers to other ancient
battles such as the 1189 Siege of Acre and Ottoman Empire battles
including the 1863 battle of Vienna and the 1877 battle of Shipka
Pass. The attacker left behind a 37 page manifesto, he described
himself as an “ordinary white man” who was inspired by Norway mass
killer Anders Behring Breivik and wanted to avenge “thousands of
deaths caused by foreign invaders.”

Armenia’s foreign ministry has confirmed that it is in contact with
the authorities of New Zealand regarding the note in Armenian and
other languages found on one of the weapons used for the attacks. “We
are in contact with New Zealand’s relevant authorities on all issues
linked with the incident,” Anna Naghdalyan said. The Georgian state
security service reacted to these reports, stating that it cooperated
with its partners to find out details about the persons arrested
following the attack and the weapon used.

*****************************************************************************************************

4-         Pyunic Holds Successful Fundraiser In Los Angeles

Pyunic, Los Angleles Chapter, held a successful fundraiser luncheon on
Sunday, March 10, at the Chevy Chase Country Club to celebrate
Pyunic’s 30th Anniversary.

Hakob Abrahamyan, President of Pyunic, gave a presentation about the
current and future programs and services that Pyunic provides to
children and young adults with disabilities in Armenia. The over 60
people in attendance raised $16,000 to help meet the needed $60,000
per year administrative expenses for Pyunic to provide the variety of
programs and services to nearly 500 disabled individuals on a monthly
basis via its centers in Yerevan and Gumyri.

During the program, information was provided on the new project to
help develop an income-generating source for Pyunic—to remodel 12
rooms in the Pyunic Center in Yerevan to become part of a Hostel for
young tourists visiting Armenia. This Hostel project is being
coordinated and funded by Pyunic supporters in Paris and Istanbul.

Pyunic’s new website, www.pyunic.org, was unveiled and has started to
become a source of funding for Pyunic via its on-line donation link.

As part of the effort to expand the funding opportunities for Pyunic
the organization will partner with the Alex & Ani jewelry company’s
charity events to have a fund raising event at the company’s Woodland
Hills store in the Topanga Mall on Friday, May 3 from 5 p.m. to 8
p.m., where all items sold will result in a 15% contribution to
Pyunic. **********************************************************************************************************************************************

5-         Through Her Podcast, Lara Vanian Explores

            What it Means to be 'Armenian Enough'

            By Aris Mardirossian

I discovered the wonderful world of podcasts a few years ago, and
since then, they have filled and expanded the role that traditional
radio has played in the past. Whether commuting, cooking, or
exercising, podcasts seemed to be the missing piece I didn’t know I
needed and provided quality content tailored for my interests and
curiosities.

As this blog has suggested, I am very interested in learning more
about my Armenian culture and what that culture means to others.
Throughout the life of my podcast fandom, I have frequently typed
“Armenian” into my podcast app search browser, only to feel
disappointment when nothing has emerged. I remember the day this
changed; I was sitting at a bus-stop in Yerevan, waiting before
embarking on my commute to work. My habitual playlist of American news
was playing through my headphones, but today was a slow news day in
the US and my attention was drifting. As I watched the busses pass by,
trying to read the Armenian advertisements posted on their exteriors,
I decided to try my luck once more and see if I could find a podcast
that matched the world around me and recaptured my interest.

After searching the word “Armenian,” I was surprised at the sight of a
podcast that I hadn’t seen before, one named Armenian Enough. I
quickly downloaded the pilot episode as my bus pulled up to the
corner. Stepping on and finding space among Yerevan’s commuters, the
pilot began to play through my headphones and over the roar of the bus
engine. I was soon introduced to the host Lara Vanian-Green for the
first time. I listened as Lara explained how she identifies as a
first-generation American born Armenian, and how her life living as an
Armenian in America has felt like a constant balancing-act between the
two very different cultures. As Lara talked and I listened, I remember
feeling amazed at how well this show was connecting with my identity
as an Armenian-American, and I knew there were so many others just
like me who would find parity in Lara’s feelings as well.

I listened as she explained her goals and motivations of this podcast
throughout the pilot episode. Like many other Armenian diaspora, Lara
has been fascinated by the comparison of our Armenian ethnicities to
our non-Armenian nationalities. How do the two cultures blend
together? How do they collide? And what does our Armenian identity
mean to us? Lara planned to cover topics from the ordinary to the
sublime like dating (Armenians and non-Armenians), overcoming gender
and career expectations, and being LGBTQ in the Armenian community.
These topics, along with the variety of others, are topics that I have
always been curious about, and hearing Lara describe her plans to
discuss them filled me with curiosity and excitement.

Since my discovery of Armenian Enough on the Yerevan bus last fall,
the show has released 16 episodes with my personal favorites being
Episode 5: Trans Armenian with Guest Rudy Akbarian, Episode 9: Early
Childhood Education with Dr. Natalie Berberian, and Episode 14: Series
on Dating, Part 2 with matchmaker Christie Tcharkhoutian. Through my
listening of these episodes along with the others, I’ve been amazed at
Lara’s ability to get into the depths and details of certain subjects
through the unique lenses of the people she interviews. Often, my
ideas and perceptions have been broadened from the topics discussed on
the show and I am sure that many of the show’s listeners can say the
same. I find that in the diaspora, we often limit our perception of
being Armenian to what immediately surrounds us. Armenian Enough has
become a bridge to the vastness of what this Armenian identity means
others, and most importantly, how this diverse identity connects us.

Recently, I had the privilege of talking with Lara on the phone. She
explained that while today, Armenian Enough continues its exploration
of the Armenian identity, now Lara is using the skills and lessons
that she has obtained through her own show to help others (Armenians
and non-Armenians) launch podcasts and initiatives of their own.
Though we were talking through the phone, I could hear Lara’s genuine
excitement for this new project, and I was left amazed from it for
some time afterwards. As Lara explained in the pilot episode, being
Armenian in the diaspora means that we are constantly performing a
balancing-act between our Armenian ethnicities and our non-Armenian
nationalities. But as I think about Lara’s latest initiative and my
expanded perceptions that followed each Armenian Enough episode, I’m
reminded that our unique balancing-acts can be used to bridge cultures
and add an immense value to both.

Thank you Lara for teaching and reminding us that we are always Armenian Enough.

For more information, visit www.armenianenough.com.

Aris Mardirossian is the founder of Lavash Life blog
(www.lavashlife.com). This article appeared in Lavash Life on March
11, 2019.

**********************************************************************************************************************************************

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RFE/RL Armenian Report – 03/18/2019

                                        Monday, 
Government Voices Support For Cafe Dismantling Process
Armenia -- Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian speaks to journalists, Yerevan, 
The political team running the current Armenian government has voiced its 
‘unequivocal’ support for the process of dismantling illegally constructed 
cafes around the Opera House in Yerevan that was designed to remain as a green 
area, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian.
The dismantling of first two cafes in the area began last week amid protests 
from dozens of owners and employees of the commercial facilities.
A number of activists also came to nearby Liberty Square to show their support 
for the decision of the Yerevan authorities and Mayor Hayk Marutian.
Marutian, who represents the ruling Civil Contract party of Prime Minister 
Nikol Pashinian and whose team polled more than 80 percent of the vote in last 
year’s municipal elections, stated last week that the green zone around the 
Opera House, one of the landmark buildings in central Yerevan, should not be 
overburdened with commercial property. He insisted that a vast majority of 
Yerevan residents support the decision that was part of his team’s election 
platform.
Avinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Monday that the Yerevan authorities 
enjoy the backing of the central government in this matter. “This is a common 
decision of our political team. And I think that the public response is also 
very adequate and I’m sure that such a policy should be continued by the 
municipality because it concerns the very center of Yerevan, the capital of the 
Republic of Armenia,” the vice-premier said.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service late last week Pashinian’s spokesperson 
Vladimir Karapetian also said that the prime minister had voiced his “support 
and solidarity” to Mayor Marutian in this matter.
Armenian Radical Party Seeks Karabakh’s ‘Incorporation’ Into Armenia
• Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia - A press conference of 'Sasna Tsrer' party members, 
An extra-parliamentary party espousing radical views has announced the start of 
a process “to incorporate Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia as a province,” one of 
its leader said on Monday.
Varuzhan Avetisian, a founding member of Sasna Tsrer, a party formed on the 
basis of an armed group that carried out an attack on a police compound in 
Yerevan in 2016, said at a press conference that this process starts now 
“because there was a need to have a political and organizational unit in 
Artsakh [ed: Nagorno-Karabakh] first.”
“Now there is such a unit in the form of the Sasna Tsrer of Artsakh party that 
was recently registered in Artsakh and its main task is to ensure this 
process,” said Avetisian.
To the question of RFE/RL’s Armenian Service as to whether people in 
Nagorno-Karabakh that once voted for an independent status would want their 
incorporation into Armenia as a province, Zhirayr Sefilian, a leading member of 
the party, said: “We are convinced that an absolute majority shares this idea, 
and I am convinced that this process that we start is to everyone’s liking. 
There are numerous legal ways in the process. It can be through referendums, it 
can also be done through the National Assembly’s ratification or through 
national elections,” said Sefilian, citing ‘dangers of geopolitical 
developments’ and possible Russian influence over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Avetisian was one of 31 members of an armed group that stormed a police 
compound in Yerevan in July 2016, demanding that then President Serzh Sarkisian 
free Sefilian, who was arrested a month before the deadly attack. The Sasna 
Tsrer group also demanded Sarkisian’s resignation and a tougher stance in 
negotiations over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.
Together with other members of the group Avetisian surrendered after a 15-day 
standoff with security forces and spent over two years in prison.
Most of the Sasna Tsrer members, including Avetisian, were released from prison 
pending investigation after last year’s change of government.
Sasna Tsrer’s latest initiative comes amid a flurry of diplomatic activity 
around the Nagorno-Karabakh issue ahead of a possible first-ever formal meeting 
between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Azerbaijani President Ilham 
Aliyev mediated through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in 
Europe’s Minsk Group.
Since a 1994 ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh that put an end to large-scale 
Armenian-Azerbaijani hostilities official Yerevan has publicly opposed the idea 
of formal recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh or its incorporation into Armenia and 
the status of the disputed territory has been a matter of internationally 
mediated negotiations.
Azerbaijan has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the talks if Armenia 
either recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence or recognizes it as its part.
Last week, Pashinian co-chaired a joint session of the Security Councils of 
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh in Stepanakert during which he reiterated that 
Armenia will seek Nagorno-Karabakh’s becoming a full party to the talks 
currently conducted between Yerevan and Baku. Leaders in Azerbaijan have 
rejected the idea of changing the format of negotiations.
Lawmaker: Government Awaits Audit Results For Decision On Mining Project
• Nane Sahakian
Armenia - Gold mining facilities constructed by Lydian International company at 
Amulsar deposit, 18 May 2018
The Armenian government is awaiting the results of an independent international 
environmental audit for its decision on the future of an effectively halted 
mining project amid a warning from the United States-based company about a 
possible litigation, a lawmaker representing the ruling alliance said on Monday.
Subsidiaries of the Lydian International company, which has exclusive rights to 
develop the Amulsar gold deposit in southeastern Armenia, last week threatened 
to sue the Armenian government over ongoing blockades of road access to the 
mining site, while still hoping for an out-of-court settlement of the dispute.
The company has been unable to proceed with its work since June 23 as a group 
of residents of nearby communities protesting against gold mining operations 
blocked all roads leading to the site.
More than 1,400 people working for the project, many of them also local 
residents, have therefore been unable to go to work, while the company has said 
it has suffered millions of dollars in losses.
Lydian announced on its official website on March 11 that its subsidiaries – 
Lydian U.K. Corporation Limited and Lydian Canada Ventures Corporation – have 
formally notified the Armenian government of “the existence of disputes” with 
it under relevant agreements on the promotion and protection of investments 
that Armenian authorities signed with the governments of the UK and Canada back 
in the 1990s.
According to the announcement, in accordance with the agreements Lydian UK may 
submit the dispute to international arbitration three months after such formal 
notification and Lydian Canada can do so after six months.
“In the meantime, the Government of Armenia has an opportunity to continue 
amicable discussions with Lydian with a view to the prompt settlement of the 
disputes,” the company said.
“Whether or not Lydian UK or Lydian Canada will initiate arbitration 
proceedings will depend on the conduct of the Government of Armenia, and there 
can be no assurance that Lydian UK or Lydian Canada will initiate any 
arbitration claim or application to any international arbitration court or of 
the outcome of any such claim or application. The Company does not intend to 
make any further public comments relating to these matters unless required by 
law.”
Still last summer the Armenian government revealed plans for an international 
audit of Lydian’s Amulsar project to assess its environmental impact and 
determine whether it poses any risks to the nearby resort town of Jermuk and 
Armenia’s water resources in general.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian stressed then that the government’s decisions on 
Amulsar must be based on “facts rather than emotions.” At the same time, he 
unsuccessfully tried to persuade local residents and environmental activists to 
stop blockading the mining site.
Hayk Gevorkian, a member of the pro-Pashinian My Step faction in parliament and 
member of the parliamentary committee on economic affairs, said that work 
related to an independent audit began recently. He repeated that the 
government’s further steps will depend on the outcome of this environmental 
examination.
According to the lawmaker, the audit that costs Armenia more than $390,000 is 
being conducted by an “internationally certified, reliable company” and the 
government will not do anything until it gets the results of the audit.
“Before this audit there were two diametrically different examinations. 
According to one of them, the operation of Amulsar is absolutely safe, and 
according to the other, it poses danger. That’s why in order to get the final 
answer to that question the government has agreed to take a rather costly step 
to have a totally independent examination,” Gevorkian said, adding that the 
first results of the hydrological examination will become available as early as 
the beginning of June.
The lawmaker said that if the examination establishes that the operation of the 
mine damages the environment, the government will ensure conditions for the 
construction to be resumed. “If the litigation goes the way that Armenia will 
have to pay to the investor, it will be several hundred million dollars, which 
will prove quite a heavy burden for Armenia. But if the audit concludes that it 
is dangerous, then the matter will concern public health, which is more 
important, so everything will depend on the results of the audit,” Gevorkian 
said.
Still in July, the United States government expressed hope that the Amulsar 
deposit’s environmental audit will be conducted objectively and “in strict 
accordance with the law.”
Richard Mills, the then U.S. ambassador to Armenia, said that potential 
American investors have been closely monitoring, among other things, the 
Armenian government’s treatment of the U.S.-based mining company.
Lydian, which claims to have already invested more than $300 million in 
Amulsar, has not ruled out the possibility of international legal action 
against the Armenian state that had granted it exclusive rights to the gold 
deposit.
Environment protection groups in Armenia have insisted that, if implemented, 
the Amulsar project will contaminate air, water and soil in the area where the 
country’s most popular spa resort is located.
Lydian has maintained that it is using advanced technology to prevent any 
damage to the local ecosystem.
The company is registered in a British tax haven but headquartered in the U.S. 
state of Colorado. Its shareholders include U.S., Canadian and European 
investment funds as well as the European Bank for Reconstruction and 
Development.
Armenian Newspaper Claims Pressure From Investigators
• Naira Bulghadarian
Knar Manukian, editor-in-chief of the Zhoghovurd daily.
The chief editor of an Armenian daily newspaper claims the Special 
Investigation Service (SIS) is putting pressure on the media outlet after 
criminal proceedings have been launched over its publication of some data that 
the law-enforcement body says is confidential.
The newspaper, Zhoghovurd, on March 16 published on its front page excerpts 
from the testimony of former president Serzh Sarkisian regarding the 2008 
deadly post-election crackdown.Earlier, the newspaper published excerpts from 
interrogations of Constitutional Court member Felix Tokhian and former deputy 
defense minister Gagik Melkonian on the same case.
After that, the SIS warned the newspaper that disclosure of data containing 
secrets of the preliminary investigation could lead to criminal liability.
“This is obvious pressure on media. This warning is a threat aimed at forcing 
you to refrain from further activities,” said Zhoghovurd’s chief editor Knar 
Manukian.
She insisted that the newspaper got hold of the materials still before the end 
of the preliminary investigations in regards to the cases against ex-president 
Robert Kocharian, ex-defense minister Seyran Ohanian, ex-deputy defense 
minister Yuri Khachaturov and ex-deputy prime minister and secretary of the 
Security Council Armen Gevorkian, but withheld their publication until the 
completion of the probe.
Manukian said that Zhoghovurd will continue to publish pieces of testimony in 
connection with the “March 1, 2008” case, and even a court’s decision to 
disclose the source will not deter them. “They will not achieve any result. I 
assure you that no matter what the court’s decision is, I will go till the end. 
The SIS today seeks to identify the source by putting pressure on the media, 
but they will not achieve the result,” said Manukian, adding that, if 
necessary, her paper will publish also other pieces of testimony that it 
currently has.
The SIS, meanwhile, says that the stage of preliminary investigation is not 
over yet as it ends with the indictment and until that the parties to the 
investigation are not allowed to publish confidential information related to 
the case, including by passing it to the media, which entails criminal 
liability.
Press Review
“Zhoghovurd” suggests that while the decision on dismantling cafes in the area 
around the Opera House in Yerevan was taken by the city’s authorities, “the 
entire government is responsible for it, since such steps are made based on 
political decisions.” “It is not a coincidence that protests against the 
dismantling of cafes resulted in some clashes and offensive language was used 
against the government,” the paper writes, acknowledging that the current 
government and mayor Hayk Marutian today enjoy “absolute legitimacy” as “all 
parties, even the ones that lost, recognized the results of the elections.” 
“Therefore, the government has a corresponding mandate to carry out reforms in 
a bold manner and even must do so with such a great vote of confidence.”
“Hraparak” argues that while some poor people may welcome the dismantling of 
cafes owned by wealthy businessman or others may consider it right just to 
please the new government, it is yet insufficient to speak about justice: “One 
can speak about freeing the city [green areas from commercial property] when 
the hotel and mansions in the park at Monument, all structures built in 
Circular Park, ugly extensions of buildings in the city center, the cafes of 
[businessman] Samvel Aleksanian and other structures are dismantled.”
On the same subject “Haykakan Zhamanak” writes: “Nevertheless, it is important 
to understand what positive and negative consequences these actions may have 
and why the authorities decided to take that step despite realizing what 
emotions and speculations it will cause. First, the negative is that like in 
the case with other protests there will always be some groups guided by the 
former government that will try to provoke clashes with police, chant “Nikol 
[Pashinian] go away” or “Robert [Kocharian] is president”, thus giving a 
political coloring to a purely legal process. Secondly, this process may have a 
negative effect in the short term in terms of falling tax revenues, etc. But 
still there will clearly be many more positive effects and the increase in the 
green area is not the most important of them. The most important positive 
effect will be that it will no longer occur to anyone that they can do business 
in Armenia in an illegal manner by using their links with the powers that be.”
“168 Zham” criticizes the government for its economic policies. “The impression 
is that [Prime Minister] Nikol Pashinian’s government has no one who would 
think about the economy and everyone is busy trying to bring money to the 
budget, increasing the tax burden for that without thinking about possible 
consequences. And there is no doubt that these consequences will be painful. 
The changes in the tax code proposed by the government do not meet the 
interests of many economic agents. Consumers will also suffer the consequences 
as the tax burden will increase for them. And it is still a question what the 
government will get from all this,” the paper writes.
(Artur Papian)
Reprinted on ANN/Armenian News with permission from RFE/RL
Copyright (c) 2019 Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Inc.
1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
www.rferl.org

Case files, posters and documents on lawsuits of Baskın Oran-Fikret Başkaya-Temel Demirer….

Hello,

 

Attached, you will find case files
translated into English and French of Baskın Oran who will be tried on March
20th in Istanbul, of Fikret Başkaya, to be tried in Ankara on March 21st and of
Temel Demirer, who will be tried on March 21st in Istanbul. All three are
Turkish intellectuals tried on “crime of conscience”.

 

Please help to circulate,

 

With best regards,   


fikret_baskaya2 (1).jpg

JPEG image


temell afiş-01.jpg

JPEG image


baskın oran afis.jpg

JPEG image


temel demirer afis.jpg

JPEG image


Asıl terorING.docx

application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document


Asıl terör devlet terörüdür.docx

application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document


F.Baskaya.docx

application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document


Fikret.docx- Dava.docx

application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document


fikret iddianame.pdf


temel İDDİANMAME.doc

MS-Word document



MS-Word document


baskin oran İddianame.doc

MS-Word document


Temel Demirer Fransizca aciklama.doc

MS-Word document


Temel Demirer ingilize aciklama.doc

MS-Word document

Concert by Musical Armenia at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall

CONCERT BY MUSICAL ARMENIA


Armenian News Network / Armenian News

By Sahan Arzruni


NEW YORK, NY – It was a superb afternoon of music-making. Edvard Pogossian, cello; Cara Pogossian, viola; and Vatche Jambazian, piano, presented a laudable program on Sunday, at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall. The three performers, all in their twenties, continue their music studies at major institutions.


Edvard Pogossian is a high caliber cellist. His elegant musicianship was apparent from the opening pages of the Beethoven Sonata. His tone is lean yet distinguished, introverted yet well-balanced. In the Brahms Trio, Mr. Pogossian blended beautifully with the other performers, exuding warmth and lyricism. In Mirzoyan’s Sonata – he performed the second movement only – he demonstrated poignancy and informed irony.

Pianist Vatche Jambazian knows his way around the keyboard. He has a broad palette, creating tones of varying hues. His dynamic range is colossal, but when his enthusiasm takes over, on occasion he produces a booming sound disruptive to the musical line. Mr. Jambazian is an incisive musician. He listens carefully to his musical partners: he leads, at times; and at others, he follows.

Cara Pogossian was wonderful in Mansurian’s “Hayren.” She played with haunting beauty and intensity. Although the Bach Suite for solo viola – the first piece on the program –

was tentative and musically disjointed, Ms. Pogossian contributed mightily to the Brahms Trio, enhancing the music in significant ways. Her tone was vigorous and resonant.

The three gifted participants also performed arrangements of songs by Komitas and Spendiaryan. The concert was the 36th in the annual Musical Armenia series presented by the Ladies Guild of the Eastern Prelacy.

Master pianist Sahan Arzruni enjoys an international career, and is also known as a composer, ethnomusicologist, producer, teacher, lecturer, writer, recording artist and broadcast personality.