William Saroyan House Museum Opened in Fresno August 31st

FRESNO, CA — The William Saroyan Museum officially opened Friday, August 31st, in Fresno, on the 110th birthday anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize winner, in the presence of the Mayor of City of Fresno Lee Brand, Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria (in whose district Saroyan’s house in located), benefactor of the Museum from Armenia Mr. and Mrs. Artur Janibekyan. Also present was Hon. Grigor Hovhannisyan, Armenia’s Ambassador to the United States, as well as the honorary consuls Apkarian of Fresno and Hjiuajui of Las Vegas. Some guests from San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, Los Angeles and other parts of California.

Because it is in an area where citizens live, the city permitted only 40 to 50 people at the opening, so that there would not congestion in the neighborhood.

The program started at 4:30 pm when Janibekyan, Mayor Brand and councilwoman Soria participated in the unveiling of the plaque on the front wall of the Museum and the ribbon cutting ceremony, emceed by Professor Barlow Der Mugerditchian, Chair of the Armenian studies Program at Fresno State University. Those present at the opening enjoyed the hologram of Saroyan, his working desk, artifacts, some of his watercolor paintings, covers of his paintings, covers of his books, and many historic pictures, including the burial of half of his ashes in Yerevan on May 29, 1982. The ashes were taken to Armenia by a delegation headed by Professor Osheen Keshishian, Allan Jendian, attorney Robert Demir, and Dr. Dikran Kouyoumjian. A reception was given in the backyard of the Museum.

Saroyan was born in Fresno in 1908 and died at the Veterans Hospital in 1981 of cancer. He purchased the home on Griffith Way seventeen years before his death and split his time there and abroad.

The Renaissance Cultural and Intellectual Foundation, based in Armenia, headed by Artur Janibekyan, purchased the home in 2015, and set out to renovate it to honor Saroyan and the Armenian community. Councilwoman Soria said Saroyan grew up in what is now downtown Fresno because of a city law that blocked immigrants from owning or living in certain areas. “Despite all of this Saroyan still felt and left his heart here in Fresno,” she said.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

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Japan and Armenia to Expand Cooperation

Armenia and Japan will expand cooperation in innovative sectors, Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said during a joint press briefing with his visiting Japanese counterpart Taro Kano. “We agreed to jointly continue to explore more specific areas for cooperation,” he said, noting that the parties will also continue cooperation in infrastructure matters. Mnatsakanyan said Armenia appreciates Japan’s participation in the development of Armenia.

“Approximately $300 million worth of soft loans, $79 million worth of grants, and $11 million worth of technical support and training programs were provided to Armenia,” Mnatsakanyan said. He expressed also hope for the early opening of the direct Yerevan Tokyo flight, and also presented negotiations on the liberalization of the visa regime. “Armenia has lifted entry visas for the citizens of Japan, and hopes for a reciprocal step,” Mnatsakanyan said.

Kano, in turn, said that Japan wants to facilitate the visa regime for Armenian citizens, which he said, will contribute to cultural exchange between the two countries.

On September 6, 2017, the Armenian government decided to lift entry visas for Japanese citizens, who can stay in Armenia for 180 days during one year.

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Landmark Turkish Government Divestment Bill Passes Assembly and Heads to Governor’s Desk for Approval

SACRAMENTO, CA — On Friday, August 31st, AB 1597m the Divestment from Turkish Bonds Act, passed the California State Assembly. “I am humbled and grateful for my colleagues in the Legislature for joining with me to fight for justice for the 1.5 million Armenian souls who perished in the Genocide,” sated Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, “If Turkey continues to fund Armenian Genocide deniers they must be financially punished.”

AB 1597 prohibits the boards of the California Public Retirement system (CalPERS) and California State Teachers’ Retirement system (CalSTRS) from making additional or new investments issued, owned, controlled, or managed by the government of Turkey, when the United States government of Turkey for not recognizing the Armenian Genocide.

A divestment from Turkish bonds over Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, the continued funding of a campaign of genocide denial, and the recent erosion of democratic principles would send a clear message that California, the 5th largest economy in the world, demands justice and recognition for 1.5 million Armenians killed.

The bill also requires the bonds of CalPERS and CalSTRS to submit reports to the Legislature and the Governor within a year of when the federal government issues sanctions against Turkey. The report will detail a list of investments that they have already liquidated and a list of investments that potentially can be liquidated.

California is home to the largest Armenian-American population in the United States. AB 1597 will now head to Governor Jerry Brown for signing.

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Angela Merkel to Take Responsibility of Helping Solve the Artsakh Conflict in a Peaceful Framework

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Armenia and met with several members of the leadership. During a press conference with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, she stated that Armenia and Germany have positive relations and they can be even better. She also positively spoke about the framework of the agreement to be signed between Armenia and the EU. She promised that Germany will have its input in making one agreement a reality.

Merkel said that she is also prepared to take on the responsibility of helping solve the Artsakh conflict within a peaceful framework. She spoke about that with the Armenian Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said she followed the political changes in Armenia, “the Velvet Revolution, as its referred to.” She also said that she is happy to be in Armenia, not just at the time of the hundredth anniversary celebrations of the first republic, but also at the time of great political changes in the country.

Prime Minister Pashinyan announced announced in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on August 24, 2018. “This is the first visit of the Chancellor of the GFR tot he Republic of Armenia and it can be assessed as a historical visit. This circumstance further emphasizes the recent changes in Armenia. I am glad for the very effective negotiations with the Chancellor that referred to the relations between Armenia and Germany and regional issues. Our positions on many issues of that agenda coincide which show that our relations have great potential for development. We hope that the level of our cooperation will significantly change. We discussed and reached an agreement that after this visit we will develop a joint agenda for different spheres and will work for their implementation”, Pashinyan said.

Angela Merkel noted that Germany is ready to deepen relations with Armenian.”During the last months we followed the process of the velvet revolution in your country. We talked not only about the development of bilateral relations, but also in the sidelines of the E.U. We would like to cooperate in the field of digitization. Cooperation in the sphere of education is also important. There are schools in Armenia where German language is taught”, the German Chancellor said.

Merkel expressed satisfaction over the signing of the Comprehensive and enhanced partnership agreement between Armenia and the E.U. “Germany will make its contribution to helping Armenia is the implementation of the agreement. We discussed domestic issues referring to anti-corruption struggle. I wish Armenia success in this issue”, Merkel said. Germany will do everything in its power to ensure that the process of giving Armenia visa liberalization in the European Union will go into effect as soon as possible, the Chancellor announced this during a press conference with PM Pashinyan.

After the Chancellor arrived in Yerevan, she headed to the Tsitsernakabert Genocide Memorial to pay her respects. She laid a wreath by the eternal fire and planted a symbolic tree in an adjacent park. Germany’s parliament recognized the massacres as genocide in a resolution overwhelmingly adopted in June 2016. It also acknowledged that Germany, then a military ally of Ottoman Turkey, did nothing to stop the killings. The resolution was drafted by lawmakers representing the main parliamentary factions, including Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

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Dr. and Mrs. Vartkes Najarian Establish $500,000 Family Charitable Trust

On the 60th wedding anniversary of Dr. Vartkes and Mary Najarian, at a gala banquet in Glendale, California, and in the presence of family and friends, their son Ara Najarian informed the guests about the formation of $500,000 charitable trust to be used for education and health, preferably for the military families of Armenia and Karabakh.

Dr. Vartkes and Mary Najarian both graduate of AUR moved to the United States sixty two years ago. They have been very active in helping Armenia in the health field.

The Najarians are also parents of councilman Ara Najarian, as well as Armen, Raffi, and Maro Yacoubian. They have nine grandchildren.

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Armenian Nature Inspectorate Suggests that Amulsar Gold Mine Stop Mining Operations

Armenia’s Inspectorate for Nature Protection and Mineral Resources suggested that Lydian Armenia company stop mining operations at the Amulsar gold deposit until a repeat environmental audit of the project is over, the Ministry of Nature Protection said.

Armenian local environmentalists and residents of nearby villages have been protesting against the development of the mine for several years, stating that the mining activities are endangering the region’s water resources, ruining vegetables and fruits planted in the area and particularly the local population’s health.

Based on the findings of a previous audit of the project, the Inspectorate General suggested that the Ministry of Nature Protection, recognize the expertise conclusion of the project, approved by the nature protection minister on April 29, 2016 as invalid.

The head of Inspectorate asked the Office of Prosecutor General to find out whether extraction of ore by the company without the right to use the subsoil contains elements of crime. Administrative proceedings were launched against a water distributor in the town of Yeghegnadzor to determine whether it had right to supply water to Lydian Armenia for production purposed from Kechut-Zaritap irrigation water pipeline.

Administrative proceedings were also instituted against the administration of the town of Jermuk to find out whether the decision of Gndevaz district to provide water to the company was legal. Also, a report was submitted to the Prime Minister about the results of inspections at companies contracted by Lydian Armenia for construction work at Amulsar deposit.

Lydian Armenia was founded in 2005, and all 100% of shares in it are by Lydian International. The Amulsar mine program is the first project of the company in Armenia. The Amulsar gold deposit is the second largest deposit in Armenia in terms of gold reserves and is said to contain about 31 million tons of ore and 40 tons of pure gold. Armenian local environmentalists and residents of nearby villages have been protesting against the development of the mine for years, claiming that the mining activities would endanger the region’s water resources and the local population’s health. Prime Minister Pashinyan promised that an ad-hoc expert group would be established to examine whether Amulsar gold mine and all other mining operations in the country comply with Armenian law and environmental protections norms.

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Thousands in Armenia Celebrate the First 100 Days of the New Government

Unbelievable number of people, thousands and thousands, gathered at Republic Square in Yerevan, Armenia, on Friday August 17, to celebrate the 100th day of the Velvet Revolution led by Nikol Pashinyan. Almost everyone in the crowd carried signs and banners in support of the new government saying “We are with you”, and others.

Pashinyan, who was elected Prime Minister, delivered a comprehensive speech dealing with the changes and improvements in Armenia since his elections. His speech several times deferred to the people as the ones who lead the country. He said “In Armenia, there is no coalition government. In Armenia, there is no parliamentary majority. The ultimate power in Armenia belongs to the people. This is the key meaning of the revolution that took place in Armenia.”

Pashinyan’s speech lasted more than an hour and the people kept applauding and shouting words in support of the government. Pashinyan dwelt on several issues related to Armenia — International politics, rule of law, punishment to the corrupt people, Karabakh, economic advancement, cultural life, entering a new stage, the government for the people, and other topics.

Against the predication following the revolution, Armenia’s economy is developing and high economic indexes are recorded, PM Pashinyan said during the rally at Republic Square. “Experts believed that Armenia would enter a phase of economic decline. They predicted that at the beginning there would be decline, but of the revolutionary Government succeeded there could be rise and activation. Our revolution is exception also for the reason that economic decline did not follow the revolution, and the contrary, rather high economic have been recorded. In June, which was the first post-revolutionary month, 9.6% rise of economic activation, was recorded, while the number of 8.5% for the first half of the year. There are all the reasons to expect that economic indexes will continue to rise in Armenia,” the PM said.

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President Kocharyan Released from Jail; SISA Says It Is Illegal to Set Him Free

The Court of Appeals has approved the appeal of attorneys against the decision of the 1st instance court to remand 2nd President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan in custody. Kocharyan’s attorney Robert Sahakyan told reporters the previous Monday.

Forty Five MPs signed a petition to change Kocharyan’s precautionary measure, but the Prosecutor General’s office rejected it. The Court of Appeals has examined the appeal of attorneys for two days after which it was announced that the court’s ruling will be released on August 13. However, the elimination of Robert Kocharyan’s precautionary measure, which was preventative detention by the Criminal Court of appeal is illegal, the press service of the Special Investigation Service (SIS) of Armenia said. “The decision of the Criminal Court of Appeal of the Republic of Armenia is illegal and the court has crossed the limits of its powers. We hope the Prosecutor’s office will file a causation complaint,” SIS said.

The press service of the General Prosecutor’s office mentioned that as soon as they receive the full decision of the Court of Appeal, they will start to discuss the possibility of applying the Causation court.

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Turkish Divestment Bill One Vote From California Governor’s Desk

SACRAMENTO, CA –AB 1597, the Divestment from Turkish Bonds Act passed the California State Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of seven to zero. The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

California has a long history of divesting from countries that violate human rights, South Africa (apartheid policy), Sudan (Darfur Genocide), and Iran (international terrorism, human rights violations). A divestment from Turkish bonds over Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, the continued funding of a campaign of genocide denial, and the recent erosion of democratic principles would send a clear message that California, the 5th largest economy in the world, demands justice recognition for 1.5 million Armenians killed.

“California is sending a clear message to Turkey to stop their deceitful campaign of genocide denial,: stated Assembly member Adrin Nazarian.

AB 1597 requires the California Public Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to liquidate all investments issued, owned, controlled, or managed by the government of Turkey within six months of the passage of federal sanctions on Turkey for not recognizing the Armenian Genocide. This bill also requires the boards of CAlPERS and CalSTRS to submit reports to the Legislature and the Governor, within a year of when the federal government issues sanctions against Turkey. the report will detail a list of investments that they have already liquidated and a list of investments that potentially can be liquidated.

California is home to largest Armenian American population in the United States. AB 1597 will now be debated and voted on by the full California State Senate.

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Mari Manoogian Wins Democratic Nomination in Michigan 40th District

BIRMINGHAM, MI — On August 7th, Mari Manoogian won the Democratic nomination as candidate for Michigan State Representative for District 40.

Manoogian received 8,877 votes – 53%, her opponent in the Democratic Party, Dicole Bedi received 7,856 votes – 46%. Republican David Wolkinson received 3,359.

Mari Manoogian was born and raised in Birmingham, Michigan. She attended Birmingham Public Schools and graduated with honors from Seaholm High School. Her grandparents escaped the Armenian Genocide and came to the United States in the early 1920s. Her father’s and mother’s families arrived in Michigan via Ellis Island, and ultimately settled in the Detroit area, due to the promise of jobs and a vibrant Armenian-American community.

From a young age, Mari’s family instilled in her a strong work ethic. She earned a varsity letter in figure skating, was an award winning high school journalist, and played several seasons of basketball for St. John Armenian Church in the Orthodox Athletic League. She figured skated competitively, and was a member of the Figure Skating Club of Birmingham for fifteen years.

Mari graduated from Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University. During her studies, she interned for then Congressman John D. Dingell, the Council on Foreign Relations, and for Ambassador Samantha Power at the U.S Mission to the United Nations. After graduation, Mari worked in the Office of English Language Programs at the US Department of State. While working with foreign and civil service officers, Mari set her sights on a career in public service. She was accepted to complete graduate studies in Global Communications, and again chose the Elliott School of International Affairs at GW. She worked full time in the Office of Diplomacy at the department while enrolled in school full time.

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