Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Announces Scholarship in Honor of Charles Aznavour

Charles Aznavour personified the Armenian story; the child of refugees became a global idol who delivered messages of humanity through his music and his huge personality. His charisma, his worldliness, his genuine love for people took him around the world and we will all remember him for what he gave us — love, energy, faith in ourselves and our fellow man. He did this as an entertainer and philanthropist. He will not be forgotten and we will miss him.

Aznavour lent his name and his energy to the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative from the beginning. He was an important part of the first two Aurora Prize ceremonies in 2016 and 2017.  In his memory, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative will launch a new annual scholarship as part of the Gratitude Scholarship Program. This program was established in gratitude to the people of the countries that offered shelter and food to those displaced by the Armenian Genocide more than a century ago. Aznavour was one of those people and he found refuge—and fame—in France.

The new scholarship will be awarded annually to students from France—and francophonie countries—who will have the opportunity to study at UWC Dilijan. This scholarship will bring together Aznavour’s two worlds—France and Armenia—and it is a small way for us to memorialize those links and to continue to thank him through the generations.

 

This article is a community press release submitted to the Armenian Weekly and has been republished to our announcements section as a courtesy. If you have an event and would like to submit a press release to the announcements section of the paper for consideration, please email us at editor@armenianweekly.com. We do not guarantee publication.

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Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles written and submitted by members of the community, which make up our community bulletin board.

The post Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Announces Scholarship in Honor of Charles Aznavour appeared first on The Armenian Weekly.

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Eco-Tours Are Putting This Small Village in Armenia on the Map

Visitors can plant a tree at Ashtarak Park, located next to ATP’s nursery in Karin Village, which will contribute to the greening of a new community that will be developed around the park

KARIN, Armenia—This tiny village with a population of 300 in the Sasunik district of Aragatsotn is attracting visitors from all over the world. The village boasts no historical monuments, churches, museums, or galleries. What it does have is a tree nursery where Armenia’s supply of green goodness is cultivated.

Armenia Tree Project (ATP) opened the Karin Nursery in 1996 to have a continuous supply of trees for its planting initiatives and to provide jobs for newly settled Armenian refugee families from Baku. Today, they are experts in tree propagation, and they are ready to share their knowledge and love for nature with the world through eco-tours.

ATP’s “Green Tours” to Karin presents an opportunity for visitors to see and learn about more than 150 different types of trees and shrubs, including both endemic (native) and non-native sorts. “Trees which have changed the history of medicine, trees whose leaves are edible, trees that fight off evil spirits, and even trees that give hugs are just a few of the fascinating things found in ATP’s gardens,” says Nursery Manager Samvel Ghandilyan.

Guests are shown the amazing journey trees take from seeds to seedlings. “We show visitors how trees are grown, grafted, irrigated, cultivated, and replanted at community sites across the country,” adds Ghandilyan.

The tour includes a visit to ATP’s greenhouses which are equipped with modern agricultural technologies, as well as the Michael and Virginia Ohanian Environmental Education Center, where visitors are likely to encounter schoolchildren learning about the environment. The center hosts more than 2,000 students of all ages from Armenia and the diaspora every year.

Guests contribute by paying a $20 fee for the tour, and some even get their hands dirty doing nursery work.

ATP offers weekly tours of its tree nursery in Karin Village, which can also be combined with a tour of the nearby Voskevaz Winery

“Our guests love seeing the endangered species which we grow here,” says Karin Nursery Team Leader Svetik Tarjumanyan, who’s been with ATP since 1996. “It’s a quiet place but thanks to all the tourists it’s gotten a bit more exciting to live here. They also enjoy seeing Ararat, Aragats, and Ara mountains all at once from this spot,” she adds.

After the nursery tour, a fresh, healthy “village style lunch” is offered under ATP’s tent. But why end it there? Voskevaz Winery is just a 15 minute drive away and presents the chance to turn the Green Tour into a real countryside excursion. The combined nursery/winery tour is offered for $50.

Established in 1932, Voskevaz is the oldest functioning winemaking company in Armenia and uses both traditional old karases and modern technology in its production. In their medieval-style cellars, guests can learn about the different methods and secrets of winemaking and, of course, taste their selection.

If all the trees with superpowers and delicious local wine aren’t action enough, ATP’s Ashtarak Park is right next to the nursery. For a fee of $100, visitors get a chance to actually plant a tree and contribute to the greening activities of a new community which will shape around the park.

“Ashtarak Park is a great example of how ATP is transforming landscapes from desert to oasis and inviting the public to be part of it,” says Ghandilyan. “For many years, people have asked us how they can plant their own trees in Armenia, to get their hands dirty and put roots into the soil. Now with the establishment of ATP’s park in Ashtarak, we are offering that opportunity to help with the greening of Armenia.”

ATP welcomes individuals, church groups, and student groups. Tours are held weekly or more frequently during peak seasons. For more information, visit www.ArmeniaTree.org, email info@armeniatree.org, call (617) 926-TREE in the USA, or (010) 447-401 in Armenia.

 

This article is a community press release submitted to the Armenian Weekly and has been republished to our Community News section as a courtesy. If you have an event or cause and would like to submit a press release to the paper for consideration, please email us at editor@armenianweekly.com. We do not guarantee publication.

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Armenia Tree Project (ATP) is a non-profit program based in Woburn and Yerevan conducting vitally important environmental projects in Armenia’s cities and villages and seeks support in advancing its reforestation mission. Since 1994, ATP has planted and restored more than 5,300,000 trees, and hundreds of jobs have been created for Armenians in seasonal tree-related programs. Visit their website for more info: armeniatree.org.

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Source: Armenian Weekly
Link: Eco-Tours Are Putting This Small Village in Armenia on the Map

Providence ARF Holds Panagoum at Camp Haiastan

Providence ARF members at the Hairenik building

The Providence Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) “Kristapor” Gomidehoutiune chose the Greater Boston area for its 11th annual panagoum.

Twenty-one members of the group spent Columbus Day weekend at Camp Haiastan in Franklin, Massachusetts, where they discussed the current state of affairs in Armenia following the Velvet Revolution and reflected on the ARF’s programs and activities.  The ungers also gathered outside by the fire pit, where they shared memories and sang revolutionary songs.

The group also took a short trip north on Interstate 95 to Watertown’s Hairenik Building. There they met with the ARF Eastern Region Central Committee Chair, George Aghjayan, and toured the ARF and First Republic archives.

Providence ARF Panagoum weekend came to a close on Family Day (Sunday), when the group prepared a traditional lunch for family members.  

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Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles written and submitted by members of the community, which make up our community bulletin board.

The post Providence ARF Holds Panagoum at Camp Haiastan appeared first on The Armenian Weekly.

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Armenia Assumes Francophonie Presidency as Summit Kicks Off in Yerevan

VIEW GALLERY: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addresses the opening ceremony of the 17th Francophonie Summit
Representatives and leaders from 48 countries are attending the Francophonie Summit in Yerevan
President Armen Sarkissian and First Lady Nune Sarkissian at the opening ceremony of the Francophonie Summit
French President Emanuel Macron addresses the Francophonie Summit
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and French President Emanuel Macron dedicate a stamp commemorating Charles Aznavour
A jubilant concert capped off the opening day of the Francophonie Summit in Yerevan
The guests attending the Francophonie concert
Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the Francophonie

YEREVAN–Representatives from 84 countries and leaders of 34 nations converged on the Karen Demirchyan Sports Complex on Thursday to kick off the much-anticipated 17th Summit of the Francophonie, where Armenia assumed the presidency of the organization for the next two years. The summit marks the largest international gathering to be hosted by Armenia.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his wife, Anna Hakopyan were on hand their arrival, as were President Armen Sarkissian and the first lady, Nune to greet the delegates and leaders, among them French President Emanuel Macron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

At the conclusion of the official welcoming ceremony, Pashinyan was joined by Macron to dedicate a commemorative stamp in Aznavour’s memory.

Pashinyan addressed the opening of the summit in French, paying a special tribute to Aznavour, which was met with thunderous applause and standing ovation by the participants.

“I and all Armenian people are happy to host in Yerevan the 17th summit of the heads of Francophone states and governments,” said Pashinyan. “Welcome to Armenia!”

“Armenia is a young member of the Francophonie … and yet there is no need to prove its commitment to promoting cultural and linguistic diversity and fundamental values of the French language and the Francophonie,” he said.

“As we prepare to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UN Convention on Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, it is our duty to redouble our efforts to prevent the emergence of new genocides, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The persistence of these conflicts binds us to reiterate our firm commitment to the peaceful settlement of conflicts in the frame of internationally recognized negotiating formats,” said Pashinyan.

“This is the case of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, negotiated in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group with its three co-chairs – France, the United States and Russia; a conflict that has been going on for several decades now and that has caused so much suffering; a conflict that opposes Nagorno-Karabakh, which for more than 25 years has exercised its right to self-determination, and Azerbaijan, which refuses any dialogue with the elected representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh,” added Pashinyan.

“We are convinced that Nagorno-Karabakh should have a decisive voice in the peace process and that its future status must be determined taking into account the expression of the legally-binding will of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh,” explained the prime minister.

“The issue of security has existential significance for the population of Nagorno-Karabakh. The latter has so often been subject to violations of its rights, discrimination and atrocities that the rejection of dialogue and the renewed attempts to use force against it endanger the physical existence of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh,” said Pashinyan.

“We do not have the same skin color, our gods do not bear the same names and some of us do not believe in God,” said French President Macron in his remarks at the opening of the Summit. “We also live in very different climate zones and our songs are not similar. Our histories do not originate from the same sources and there have been many wounds between us which are only now starting to heal.”

“Yet strangely enough, this diverse family is united around a single language … That language does not belong to anyone, it belongs to all of us,” added Macron.

The Francophonie Summit has brought a celebratory atmosphere to Yerevan, where international leaders, among them Macron and Trudeau strolled the streets of the capital meeting its residents and, at times, stopping to take selfies—even with the prime minister and his wife.

Thursday’s Francophonie events concluded with a jubilant concert at Republic Square, attended by summit participants and open to the public.

Pashinyan hosted the leaders at this residence for a welcoming dinner reception, where, a video posted on social media depicts Macron, Trudeau and other leaders dancing to Armenian music.

The summit will conclude on Friday


Source: Asbarez
Link: Armenia Assumes Francophonie Presidency as Summit Kicks Off in Yerevan

Macron to Designate April 24 as Armenian Genocide Memorial Day in France

French President Emanuel Macron and First Lady, Brigitte at Dzidzernagapert Memorial Monument on Oct. 11, 2018

French President Emanuel Macron and First Lady, Brigitte at Dzidzernagapert Memorial Monument on Oct. 11, 2018

YEREVAN—French President Emanuel Macron announced Thursday that France will declare a national day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide April 24 as he honored the victims of the Genocide first at Dzidzernagapert Memorial Complex and later Charles Aznavour Cultural Center, where he attended a dedication ceremony.

Macron, who is in Armenia to attend the 17th Summit of La Francophonie, accompanied by his wife, Brigitte, visited the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex and laid a wreath in memory of the victims. He and his wife also planted a tree in the Memory Garden and visited the Armenian Genocide Museum where they signed the Memory Book.

French President Emanuel Macron signs the Memory Book at the Genocide Mjuseum

French President Emanuel Macron signs the Memory Book at the Genocide Mjuseum

“We are here today with difficult emotions and feelings. On behalf of France, I pay homage to all those who fell with ‘the sun in their eyes,’ those who ‘just wanted to live.’ France denounced the genocide back in 1915 by its scholars. And it accepted the children and families who were fleeing the genocide, who enriched our nation even more,” Macron said in his note in the Memory Book.

“France will never forget and will fight for truth and recognition. We bow to those, who fell for present and future generations,” Macron added in the Memory Book.

At the dedication of the Charles Aznavour House and Cultural Center, Macron told those gathered that he and Aznavour were scheduled to meet at the ceremony, but alas the great singer’s death on October 1 prevented him from carrying out that promise.

French President Emanuel Macron,, First Lady Brigitte Macron and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at Dzidzernagapert

French President Emanuel Macron,, First Lady Brigitte Macron and Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at Dzidzernagapert

“We bid farewell to him last week in Paris and thanked him. Today we are here, remaining faithful to our promise given to him. We have to continue his struggle, which he never abandoned,” Macron said.

“Together with the Diaspora we will continue Charles Aznavour’s struggle for the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. That struggle is also the struggle of France,” said Macron, pledging that April 24 will become a national Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide in France.


Source: Asbarez
Link: Macron to Designate April 24 as Armenian Genocide Memorial Day in France

Narratives: Between East and West

As a young nation, Armenian society needs to develop infrastructures integral for statecraft. One of the most important attributes in governance is knowing how to control the narrative. This is done through: a) Identifying the message coming in; and b) knowing where that country stands geopolitically to recalibrate the right message for itself, its constituents, and its neighbors.

 

Who Controls the Narrative Controls the Outcome

“War is Deception.” This principle has been mastered by the Turks, who have dominated Western Asia for millennia through the Seljuks and the Ottomans.

To guard against deception, one needs to understand who they are, and their surroundings. A nation has difficulty keeping its rediscovered freedom after being occupied. It’s like a wild animal becoming domesticated, with its progeny reintroduced back to the wild. Once reintroduced, that animal no longer knows how to hunt. It no longer knows what it is.[1]

This analogy applies to Armenia. Armenia’s ruling “Nakharar” class has long been extinguished, first by the Byzantines, then by the Arabs, and finally, the Turks. Armenia’s ruling class mentality, which gave rise to fierce nations, such as the Hyksos and its domination of Egypt 3,000 years ago,[2] or Urartu, a state prophesied to bring the Assyrian Empire down,[3] has been replaced by a business-oriented mindset.[4] The business-oriented mindset is dangerous when it comes to governing a society, as its focus is on the “now,” and the bottom-line. [5]

In order to retain sovereignty, Armenia’s leadership must build infrastructure to prepare for 21st century foreign messengers. As technology changes, so too does the messenger and the target audience. Society has moved from the newspaper to social media, where immediate and unverified information is disseminated in a matter of seconds, appealing to raw emotion.[6]

 

Armenia’s recent revolution: “Velvet” or “Pied Piper” Revolution?

The key for any successful Armenian leadership [Diasporan or governmental] is to understand the many different narratives being promoted, as well as the medium promoting those messages, to protect those who belong to the Diaspora, Armenia, and Artsakh.

Western leaders have long understood the importance of narrative. There’s a reason why National Football League broadcasts are draped in imagery promoting the US military and patriotism, while being financed by the US government;[7] why “Google” has long partnered with the US government.[8] There’s a reason why China and Russia have begun to invest heavily in social media platforms such as Weibo and VK.com[9] to rival American platforms like Facebook or YouTube.

Armenia and its Diasporan organizations need to seriously evaluate what messages are being promoted, who is being promoted, and what they represent. No responsible leader provides a platform for famous reprobates to get “clicks” or immediate remuneration, even if it can be justified that certain famous reprobates bring attention to certain causes…[10]

There’s a reason why National Football League broadcasts are draped in imagery promoting the US military and patriotism, while being financed by the US government; why “Google” has long partnered with the US government.

The fair question that needs to be asked is, was Armenia’s recent revolution a “Velvet Revolution,” or a “Pied Piper Revolution”?[11] In order to put into in proper context, the analogy of the Pied Piper relates to the recent Revolution in Armenia where it was the youth that was targeted by foreigners.

I do not know the details of the everyday life of the average Armenian, or what prompted its Revolution. However, the parallels between Armenia’s recent Revolution is similar to the color revolutions in the former Soviet Bloc and Arab Spring.[12] The narrative of the aforementioned revolutions are pretty much the same; youth driven movements due to gloomy economic prospects and rampant government corruption. Corruption, economic decline, and election fraud all fed the popular frustration that fueled these revolutions,[13] but these and other injustices can be found in many other countries where no “democratic” revolutions occurred (think Saudi Arabia).

The common denominator with these revolutions is the utilization of new tools in the continued struggle between East and West. The US State Department “has taken a proactive stance in arming [] masses with advanced communications gear and training. With millions of dollars of grants, for instance, State has been financing “stealth wireless networks,” mobile “internet in a suitcase” systems, and software that protects the anonymity of cell phone and internet users in places like Iran, Libya, Syria, and China.”[14] The pattern emerging is Russia’s buffer states have been targeted one-by-one for regime change.[15]

Armenia is a minor buffer state between East and West, deepening its political and economic partnerships with Iran and Russia.[16] Global strategic think-tanks have observed that as long as Armenia was governed by Kocharian or Sarkisian, Armenia’s worldview would be lockstep with Russia’s.[17]

So where does Armenia lie?

 

Between East and West

Responsible statecraft recognizes that the perception of immediate neighbors is one of the most important attributes in order to survive war.[18] Armenian culture has long sought validation and acceptance as being European. This mentality needs a surgeon general’s warning: hazardous to your family and the values taught as a child.

The “pied-piper revolution” has seen some disturbing trends turning west. First is talk of withdrawal from the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union.[19] Second are one-sided political arrests of “corrupt politicians” who bend toward alliance with Russia, and not the west. Most troubling are sentiments echoing one-sided concessions with Azerbaijan over Artsakh’s territorial integrity, such Armenian National Congress (ANC) member Zoya Tadevosyan proclaiming that “the liberated territories of Artsakh are actually occupied territories.”[20]

Armenian culture has long sought validation and acceptance as being European. This mentality needs a surgeon general’s warning: hazardous to your family and the values taught as a child.

These trends by the new government are dangerous, considering where Armenia is located. Armenia is West Asian, not European. Armenia is not, nor has ever been a European nation-state. This is fact. This is reality. To its west is Turkey, 80 million strong, militarized, Islamized, intent on reviving the Ottoman Empire. To its east is Azerbaijan, locked in bitter dispute with Artsakh over territorial integrity, while suffering an identity crisis between its Turkic and Shi’ite attributes. Iran to the south, with a hot/cold relationship with both Azerbaijan and Turkey. Georgia to the north acting as a bridge between Turkey and Azerbaijan, while alienating Russia at the expense of South Ossetia and Abkhazia for potential NATO accession. And Russia nearby, Armenia’s only guarantor of peace, but, acting in its own self-interests (as it should).

Showing weakness in the South Caucasus is deadly. The Republic of Armenia was prudent by not accepting the protocols when they were initially advocated for, despite the “business acumen” of certain leading Diasporan organizations.[21] One only need look at how Tayyip Erdogan changed his stance on Bashar Assad when it was expedient to do so,[22] or how Erdogan has been able to easily manipulate German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, a beacon of “western idealism,” into paying Turkey more for a refugee crisis Turkey itself incited.[23] (Maybe Europeans are the ones who need advice on governing their own affairs, and should mind their business).

 

Conclusion

The message being delivered to Armenians today is the same as a hundred years ago, except with new buzzwords and a new delivery system. Over a hundred years ago at the Congress of Berlin, Armenians were promised buzzwords like “human rights” and “nationalism.” We all know how that ended. Today, the word “corruption” is used to infiltrate Armenian society. We, as Armenian society need to learn to subdue emotions, and develop infrastructure to identify who the message is coming from, and why it is being sent. Only then can Armenian society begin to govern its affairs properly among the growing challenges it will face during the 21st century.

 

Notes: 

  1. Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy, Book. 3, Chapter XI, (published 1531), <https://www.constitution.org/mac/disclivy1.htm> [as of Sept. 1, 2018] 
  2. Ancient Egyptians were closer to Armenians than to Africans; a new genetics study reveals, (Jun. 5, 2017) People of Ar <https://www.peopleofar.com/2017/06/05/ancient-egyptians-were-closer-to-armenians-than-to-africans-a-new-genetics-study-reveals/> [As of Aug. 22, 2018].
  3. Jeremiah 51:27.
  4. Artsvi Bakhchinyan, The Activity of Armenian Merchants in International Trade (2013) Regional Routes, Regional Roots? Cross-Border Patterns of Human Mobility in Eurasia <http://src-h.slav.hokudai.ac.jp/rp/publications/no14/14-03_Bakhchinyan.pdf> [as of Aug. 26, 2018]
  5. Jason Whitlock, Sometimes, I can’t handle the Truths (Dec. 16, 2010) FoxSports, <https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/nfl-truths-too-much-even-for-jason-whitlock-121610> [as of Sept. 2, 2018], discusses the pitfalls of a pure capitalist system, and when left unfettered, hurts its constituents: “That’s capitalism at its highest level. Package your product in a way that fools the consumer into believing it’s good for them. Most Americans have no idea Ronald McDonald is killing their kids. No clue. Trust me, I believe in capitalism and I’m making every effort to become a billionaire. But Division I college football doesn’t need more capitalism. Capitalism is a slave to the bottom line. An overdose on capitalism is what created the gross inequities and widespread corruption that is now pervasive throughout the NCAA.” [Emphasis added]
  6. Jason Whitlock, BLM, N.W.A. Prove It Takes 1,000 Tweets To Hold Us Back (Feb. 15, 2016) J.School <http://j.school/post/139392087225/blm-nwa-prove-it-takes-1000-tweets-to-hold-us> [as of Aug. 25, 2018], discusses how the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is similar to the hip hop group N.W.A. by appealing to the lowest common denominator, and using the latest media modes to spread its message:
  7. Melanie Schmitz, How the NFL sold patriotism to the U.S. military for millions (Sept. 25, 2017) Think Progress <https://thinkprogress.org/nfl-dod-national-anthem-6f682cebc7cd/> [as of Aug. 23, 2018].
  8. Brandon Specktor, Google Will End Its ‘Evil’ Partnership with the US Military, But Not Until 2019 (June 4, 2018) LiveScience <https://www.livescience.com/62733-google-will-end-project-maven.html> [as of Aug 26, 2018].
  9. Adrien Henni, Russia’s top 10 websites include Facebook, Google, Instagram, and YouTube (Oct. 1, 2016) VentureBeat <https://venturebeat.com/2016/10/01/russias-top-10-websites-include-facebook-google-instagram-and-youtube/> [as of Aug. 29, 2018].
  10. «Եթե որևէ պաշտոնատար անձ ընդունելության արժանացնի քալիֆորնիացի այս պարոնին` ապա դա խայտառակություն կլինի» (Aug. 27, 2018) blog.168.am <https://blog.168.am/blog/169719.html> [as of Aug. 28, 2018].
  11. In 1284, the German town of Hamelin is dealing with a terrible rat problem. The Pied Piper comes in, and agrees to rid the town of rats in exchange for a large fee, and he does so by playing his pipe until the rodents come out to follow him. The town decides not to pay the Piper when he comes back to collect his money. So the Piper takes out his pipe and begins to play again, and this time, it’s the children that begin to dance and follow him. He leads them to a crack in a mountain, which swallows them up forever.
  12. Though the Arab Spring primarily started out in Tunisia, its effects were primarily felt in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, it’s interesting to note that one year after the bulk of the passing of the Arab Spring, Season Five of Star Wars Clone Wars, four episodes known as the Onderon arc [“A War on Two Fronts,” “Front Runners,” “The Soft War,” and “Tipping Points”] featured the then Republic training foreign insurgents in harsh desert planets. The Republic would then become the Galactic Empire, ruled by Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine, with Darth Vader by his side.
  13. Giorgi Kandelaki, Georgia’s Rose Revolution: A Participant’s Perspective (July 2006) United States Institute of Peace, Special Report 167 <https://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/sr167.pdf> [as of Aug. 22, 2018].
  14. James Kitfield, I Tweet for Freedom (June 29, 2011) NationalJournal, reprinted in “Hillary Clinton Email Archive,” Wikileaks.org (Mar. 16, 2016) <https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/27517> [as of Aug. 28, 2018].
  15. Syrus Ahmadia, Mohammad Reza Hafeznia & Bernard Hourcad, Geopolitics of Buffer Spaces: Characteristics of Iran’s Buffer Situation Between Great Powers in the Nineteenth Century and Twentieth Century (2013) Science International (Lahore). 25:4, 1019, <https://www.sci-int.com/pdf/888971359–1019-1030-%20Syrus%20Ahmadi-Geopolitics%20of%20Buffer%20Spaces%20-%20IRAN%2025-3-13.pdf> [as of Aug. 26, 2018], provides a discussion of the importance of buffer states.
  16. Berat’s Box, Wikileaks.org (Dec. 5, 2016) <https://wikileaks.org/berats-box/emailid/36128> (as of Aug. 28, 2018), provides the following excerpt from an email forwarded from Congressman Bill Shuser, 9th District of Pennsylvania “3. What will the resolution accomplish, and what could be the unintended consequences? > > Adopting this resolution could be cataclysmic and undermine US interests. Undertaking this course of action would not only be morally short-sighted, but it would alienate one of our last allies in the region who is working hand in hand with US soldiers and our allies to combat ISIS and give refuge to hundreds of thousands of innocent refugees from the Syrian Civil War. While many of Turkey’s neighbors continue to pivot to Tehran and Moscow, Turkey has remained loyal to the west, helping to protect our interests and countless American lives in the region. Turkey hosts Raytheon missiles despite the pressure exerted by Russia and Iran. > > Adoption of this resolution will directly result in the erosion of the United States’ ability to protect its citizens and assets in the region, ushering in a new era where Iranian influence is unchecked. > > Turkey’s geostrategic position between Europe and the Middle East has made the country an important NATO ally and an essential partner for both the United States and European countries in combating extremism in the region. As Lebanon, Syria, Armenia, and Iraq continue to deepen their political and economic partnerships with Iran and Russia, the United States’ leverage in the region is rapidly diminishing. Adopting the resolution would alienate a close ally and damage US interests.” [Emphasis Added].
  17. The Global Intelligence Files, Wikileaks.org (Feb. 27, 2012), <https://wikileaks.org/gifiles/docs/22/2229139_re-proposal-armenia-recent-resignations-in-armenia-and-their.html> (as of Aug. 28, 2018), provides a discussion between members of Stratfor.com, and American geopolitical intelligence platform, concerning the Armenian parliamentary resignations in 2011: * Both current president [Serge Sarkisian] and former president [Robert Kocharian] have [SIC] good relations with Russia which is to say that whoever manages to stay in power is not going to change Armenia’s direction in world affairs to a significantdegree.
  18. Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy, Book. 3, Chapter XIX, (published 1531), <https://www.constitution.org/mac/disclivy1.htm> [as of Sept. 1, 2018], provides: I conclude, therefore, with this discussion that the virtue of Romulus was so great, that it was able to give time to Numa Pompilius to be able to rule Rome with the arts of peace; but he was succeeded by Tullus, who by his ferocity reassumed the reputation of Romulus; after whom there followed Ancus, so gifted by nature that he was able to use peace and endure war. And first he addressed himself to want to hold the ways of peace, but he soon knew that his neighbors judging him effeminate esteemed him little, so that he decided that if he wanted to maintain Rome he needed to turn to war and imitate Romulus, and not Numa. [Emphasis added].
  19. Nerses Haroutiunyan, Russophobes in Pashinyan’s team: Soros tilting boat of pro-Armenian premier (May 28, 2018) Eurasia Daily <https://eadaily.com/en/news/2018/05/28/russophobes-in-pashinyans-team-soros-tilting-boat-of-pro-armenian-premier> [as of Aug 26, 2018].
  20. Արցախի ազատագրված տարածքներն իրականում գրավյալ տարածքներ են․ ՀԱԿ անդամ (Jul. 31, 2018) Politik.am <http://politik.am/%D5%A1%D6%80%D6%81%D5%A1%D5%AD%D5%AB-%D5%A1%D5%A6%D5%A1%D5%BF%D5%A1%D5%A3%D6%80%D5%BE%D5%A1%D5%AE-%D5%BF%D5%A1%D6%80%D5%A1%D5%AE%D6%84%D5%B6%D5%A5%D6%80%D5%B6-%D5%AB%D6%80%D5%A1%D5%AF%D5%A1%D5%B6/> [As of Aug. 22, 2018].
  21. AGBU’s Statement Regarding the Protocols (Sept. 10, 2009) Reprinted at Keghart.com <keghart.com/AGBU-Protocols> [as of Aug. 28, 2018].
  22. Oleksiy Volovych, Erdogan — Assad: from Friendship to Enmity (Feb. 7, 2017) Borysfen Intel <http://bintel.com.ua/en/article/02-06-turkey-syria/> [as of Aug 25, 2018].
  23. Caroline Mortimer, President Erdogan: I will open gates for migrants to enter Europe if EU blocks membership talks (Nov. 25, 2016), Independent <https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/president-erdogan-turkey-eu-membership-migrants-refugees-europe-warning-a7438316.html> [as of Aug. 26, 2018].

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Ted Tourian

Ted Tourian

Ted Tourian is a tax lawyer in New York City, and licensed in New York and California. The views expressed are solely his, and not attributable to any organization he may be affiliated with.

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Senator Menendez Grills U.S. Ambassadorial Nominees on Azerbaijani Aggression, Turkey’s Invasion of Cyprus

WASHINGTON, DC–Ambassadorial nominees to Azerbaijan and Cyprus have been under intense scrutiny on Capitol Hill. Facing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S Ambassador-designate to Azerbaijan Earle Litzenberger has pledged to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict while nominee to Cyprus Judith Gail Garber ultimately admitted Turkey’s invasion of northern Cyprus.

When Ranking Democrat Bob Menendez (D-NJ) pressed Mr. Litzenberger about President Ilham Aliyev’s violent strategies, he referred to Aliyev’s tendencies as “bellicose rhetoric and sporadic outbursts of violence.” The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) reports that Litzenberger said he would urge the Azerbaijani government to step back from behaviors that would disrupt the line of contact. He also said the U.S. is working along three lines – the non-use of force, respect for territorial integrity, and the right to self-determination.

Litzenberger also referred to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, which condemns “any violence and any threat of the use of violence along the line of contact” without specifically citing Azerbaijan’s attacks.

Also at issue has been U.S. security assistance to Azerbaijan. Senator Menendez asked whether that type of aid should be curtailed based on human rights violations; Litzenberger responded that the State Department will be careful to ensure its decisions do not undermine efforts to reach a peaceful settlement. He also mentioned an increased focus on training in human rights, a point of heightened concern since the Ramil Safarov axe murder scandal.

When Garber (the ambassadorial nominee to Cyprus) faced the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she too was questioned by Senator Menendez, who began, “unless we reconcile ourselves with the past, it is difficult to move forward.” Menendez simply wanted Garber to admit whether or not Turkish troops are occupying northern Cyprus right now. After three clear and pointed questions, Garber finally acknowledged Turkish occupation. “I appreciate the nuances,” said Menendez, “but there are just certain things that are just real. Turkish troops that were not existent prior to this time [on the island] invaded Northern Cyprus and have continued to be there.”

Senator Menendez proceeded to ask Garber about access to Turkish zones where missing Greek and Cypriot persons may be buried. Garber said that is an important issue and she will ensure the Committee on Missing Persons is able to gain access to all burial sites and efficiently do its work.

“Along with our Hellenic allies, we were grateful for the Senator’s aggressive line of questioning on Cyprus, which revealed just how very afraid U.S. leaders remain of crossing Ankara’s red lines against any honest discourse on its occupation of Cyprus and obstruction of justice for the Armenian Genocide,” noted Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.

When Mr. Litzenberger’s nomination was announced in early September, the ANCA encouraged Armenian Americans, friends of Armenia, human rights activists, and advocates for peace to call on their U.S. Senators to carefully scrutinize President Trump’s nominee. Thousands took action through the ANCA’s “March to Justice” action portal. In the coming weeks, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have the opportunity to vote on the various ambassadorial candidates, after which the full Senate will review the matter.

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ANCA

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues. To learn more, visit www.anca.org.

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Armenian Relief Society of Eastern U.S. Seeking PR-Communications Specialist

The ARS EUSA Regional Board of Directors is seeking an experienced individual to support an array of press, marketing and internal and external initiatives. The ARS’s mission is to provide educational, humanitarian and cultural assistance throughout the world. The applicant will have the opportunity to work with the Executive Director and volunteers to enhance communication between the ARS and its constituents through written publications and social media.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Identify audiences and determine the best way to communicate information.
  • Write interesting and effective press releases, prepare information for media kits and
  • develop and maintain website, social media, and the organization’s image & identity.
  • Evaluate advertising for compatibility with public relations efforts.

Required Experience and Knowledge:

  • Excellent writing and communication skills
  • Excellent collaborative mindset
  • Ability to work independently with effective time management skills
  • Experience with web maintenance
  • Experience with social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln & Instagram

Those interested in applying should submit their resume via e-mail to arseastus@gmail.com.

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Armenian Relief Society Eastern U.S.

The ARS Eastern USA has 32 chapters located throughout the New England, Mid-Atlantic, Midwestern, and Southeastern regions of the United States. Please contact the ARS Eastern U.S. Regional Office (arseastus@gmail.com) if you would like more information about a chapter near you.

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Nor Serund Armenian Youth Folk Ensemble on a Six-City Eastern U.S. Tour

Nor Serund Armenian Folk Youth Ensemble in front of Komitas Statue in Yerevan

Sponsored by Amaras Art Alliance of Massachusetts, the tour of Nor Serund Youth Folk Ensemble aims to present young, talented Armenian musicians to east coast communities. Concerts are planned for Haverhill, Mass. on October 12; Providence, RI on October 13; Cambridge, Mass. on October 14; Worcester, Mass. on October 19; Bayside, New York on October 20; and Trumbull, Conn. on October 21. Accompanying the traditional Armenian folk instruments of kanon, dhol, duduk, shvi and tar are two vocalists singing favorite Armenian songs.

During their six-city tour, the group will have the opportunity to visit local Armenian schools, Heritage Park in Boston, the Armenian Nursing Home in Jamaica Plain as well as other iconic and touristic locations in the Boston area. While in New York, the ensemble will be guests of St. Illuminator’s Armenian Cathedral and will have a tour of New York City.

Amaras Art Alliance is a cultural nonprofit organization with a mission to create opportunities for people to get involved in culture, observe and enjoy the traditions and customs of our diverse communities and help keep our society vibrant.

For more information about the Nor Serund US tour or to purchase tickets for the Cambridge, MA concert, please visit Amaras web site at www.amarasonline.com.

 

This article is a community press release submitted to the Armenian Weekly and has been republished to our announcements section as a courtesy. If you have an event and would like to submit a press release to the announcements section of the paper for consideration, please email us at editor@armenianweekly.com. We do not guarantee publication. 

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Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles written and submitted by members of the community, which make up our community bulletin board.

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Aregak Bakery: Making Pastries and Changing Perspectives

Grisha (on the right) and his colleagues behind the counter at Aregak Bakery

Several weeks ago, I sat waiting for a cappuccino inside Gyumri’s new Aregak Bakery. A particularly earnest young barista was working the espresso machine, taking direction from his more experienced counterpart. After frothing and pouring the milk, the young man slowly approached me, focusing intently on the warm mug in his hand. Then, our eyes met and his teeth flashed into a proud smile. Little did I know, but this young man was proving something powerful: that people with disabilities are capable of learning, working and contributing to society, like anyone else.

In Armenia, where stigma lingers like a bad winter cough, the concept of a café that welcomes both disabled workers and patrons is revolutionary. But at Aregak, inclusivity is part of everything from interior design to job creation. Here, disability is neither a reason for shame nor a roadblock to entrance. Using the motto “Employ Our Ability,” Aregak is the first restaurant in the city of Gyumri to promote and celebrate the capabilities of young people with disabilities (PWD). Skeptical patrons have only to watch Grisha at work to rethink their stereotypes.

Grisha is not your average 21-year-old barista. He makes delicious cappuccinos, serves visiting dignitaries, takes out the trash, cleans tables, and trains fellow employees on the ins and outs of the espresso machine. But Grisha has cerebral palsy; so in fact, he’s better than average.

To be clear, Grisha did not get this job out of pity. Aregak’s director, Tigranuhi Akopyan says Grisha earned this job because of his stellar work ethic.

“When I asked Grisha to work in our bakery, he just nodded his head vigorously,” Akopyan said. “I became so emotional when I saw that he was literally shaking with excitement.”

Grisha working at the espresso machine.

In Gyumri, there are few employment opportunities, even for abled people. For Grisha, Aregak (“little sun” in Armenian) has spread rays of hope in an otherwise bleak horizon.

Aregak Bakery is supported by funding from the European Union, and it is affiliated with the Emili Aregak Center (EAC) of Armenian Caritas—a daycare for children with disabilities. Akopyan is also the director of EAC, which has been providing necessary support, resources, therapy and aid to families in Gyumri, a city still struggling to recover from the 1988 earthquake that claimed more than 25,000 lives. Houses, roads and sidewalks are still marked by the natural disaster; unemployment and poverty are still prevalent.

For families affected by disability, these difficulties are amplified. According to research conducted by Armenian Caritas in 2009, one out of every four disabled children in Gyumri does not have a father in the home. Many breadwinners are forced to relocate to Russia for work, while others flee the struggle and shame associated with disability. Single mothers stay at home as the primary caregivers, compelled to rely on meager governmental aid, support from extended family and NGOs like Caritas.

Dependency is both psychologically and financially taxing. So, in addition to providing therapies and care for children, EAC places a strong focus on empowering families through education and employment opportunities. Currently, four mothers of PWD children work as cooks and cleaners at the Center, while seven were recently trained in pastry-making at Aregak Bakery.

Nara and Anahit are two of the moms who now work alongside Grisha and four other youth with disabilities. They are thrilled for the opportunity; Nara called it a “miracle.”

“There aren’t many opportunities for women in Gyumri,” she explained, let alone women with disabled children. “I would only work at a place where the staff would understand and be flexible toward my family’s situation.”

If the labor market barriers are high for mothers of PWD, they are higher for PWD, who struggle even to enter the educational sphere. Although schools are legally required to accept students with disabilities, the concept of inclusive education is still being understood and implemented across the country. Many schools do not have properly accessible facilities or teachers trained in special education methodology; as a result, for many PWD, school is not a place that is conducive to learning.

As EAC worked to advocate for the rights of PWD in the classroom and to create spaces for tailored learning at the Center, another complicated problem arose. Opportunities were negligible when PWD reached working age.

So, staff took matters into their own hands. With input from the EU and Caritas Austria, they developed a multifaceted program to begin tearing down the barriers. EAC’s garden and handicraft workshops would provide an inclusive environment for skill development and the creation of marketable goods. Cooperation with universities and other institutions could equip people with disabilities with soft and hard skills for the workplace. And the creation of a bakery to employ PWD would be the perfect way to provide jobs for disabled youth while sensitizing the public to their rights and abilities.  

As the bakery planning got underway, EAC Training Coordinator Marine Atayan reached out to various vocational schools and organizations in Gyumri, but it took some effort to change entrenched perspectives on the teachability of PWD.

“Our primary goal was to enable the educational institutions and employers to get acquainted with the capacities of people with disabilities,” Atayan said, “to ensure their effective communication and cooperation.”

After some time, Atayan and fellow staff had established more than 20 partnerships, as well as a course to help students adjust to the working world.

Grisha was one of the early participants of “Nine Steps to the Labor Market.” After completing the program, he began vocational school and put his newfound skills to work through EAC’s herbal gardening project. There, he wowed staff with his work ethic and was offered a barista position at the bakery.

“After watching Grisha work and seeing his positive attitude toward any task he is given, I’m 100 percent sure that I’d hire him over another worker without disabilities,” Akopyan said.

“I’m 100 percent sure I’d hire him over another worker without disabilities.”

“Grisha is working so hard,” she continued. “He wants to earn his job, and he puts lots of effort into showing his ability.”  

Nara and the other mothers are equally thrilled about this opportunity for their young colleagues.  

“It’s fantastic. They feel that they are fully part of society,” Nara said. This is no exaggeration. For marginalized PWD, a job is much more than a paycheck. As Pope Francis said, “Work is fundamental to the dignity of the person.”

After her interview, Nara approached me again, clearly with more on her heart. “Without the youth,” she said with emotion, “my work would be colorless.”

Grisha might not be able to express it clearly, but I know that he agrees. When I asked the young man what he likes about his work, his speech, though limited, was pregnant with meaning.

Amen inch,” he told me. “Everything.” 

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Sarah Stites

Sarah Stites

Currently based in Gyumri, Sarah Stites is a wordsmith and traveler exploring her Armenian roots. With a background in marketing and journalism, she especially enjoys promoting and writing about the work of organizations connected to faith and human rights. She is passionate about literature, puns and couchsurfing, and immensely appreciates Armenian fruit and nature.

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