Armenian Caucus Members Re-Elected

WASHINGTON, D.C — Following the 2016 elections, 97% of the Members of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian issues seeking re-election won, the Armenian Assembly of America reported. While caucus candidates were resoundingly successful at the ballot box this cycle, 11 members will not return to Congress due to retirement, resignation, or because they sought other office.

Three of the Armenian Caucus members who ran for another office won their races. Reps. Janice Hahn (D-CA) for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Candice Miller (R-MI), for Macomb County Public Works Commissioner, and Chris Van Holten (D-MO) for the U.S Senate after defeating Turkish Caucus Congresswoman, Donna Edwards in the Maryland primary.

Co-Chairs Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jackie Speier, (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), and Vice Co-Chair, Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Dave Trott (R-MI), were among those re-elected for the 115th Congress, however, Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Robert Dold (R-IL), lost to Democratic challenger, Brad Schneider.

“The Armenian Assembly congratulates all of our friends in Congress on their successful re-election. We look forward to working with the Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs and Vice Co-Chairs to strengthen the Caucus and expand its membership,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “The Assembly thanks Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Robert Dold for his dedication to Armenian and the Armenian American community during his time in office, especially sponsoring Armenian Genocide Resolution H.Res and H.Res”

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President Sargsyan and Bridget Brink Discuss US-Armenian Cooperation

President Serzh Sargsyan received Bridget Brink, the U.S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, who has arrived to Armenia in the framework of a regional visit. At the beginning of the meeting, the President of Armenia extended his congratulations on the Presidential elections and underscored that he was confident that the Armenian-American political dialogue during the President-elect’s term will not only continue but will get new impetus.

Sargsyan noted with satisfaction that lately the reciprocal visits have become more active which in itself is having positive impact on the deepening of the bilateral cooperation in the political, trade, economic, and other areas. The President expressed hope that this new meeting with Mrs. Brink will also be efficient and will further promote the development of the Armenia-US relations.

The President of Armenia praised the assistance provided for years by the U.S Government and aimed at the development of the Armenian economic democratic institutions, and civil society. According to the President, without that assistance it would be hard to imagine progress registered in these areas. Nevertheless, according to the President of Armenia , potential of the bilateral relations and eagerness to fully utilized it is great, so it is necessary to invigorate efforts in that area and create new formats and platforms for dialogue.

The U.S Deputy Assistant Secretary of State spoke with satisfaction about discussions she has held in the framework of her work and noted that they add to the results of the meetings of the Armenia-US intergovernmental task force held successfully in Washington D.C.

Mrs. Brink underscored that on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between that two countries, one can state with confidence that in bilateral as well as multilateral formats Armenia and the United States have established close relations and maintain efficient cooperation in different areas. She assured that the new US administration will remain interested in the developments in the South Caucus region and committed to the implementation of the agreements aimed at the strengthening of confidence building measures for the resolution of the NK problem.

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Earnings of Armenian Hotels Surged by 48.9%

The earnings of Armenian hotels last year surged by 48.9% from the previous year to 33.9 billion drams (or $70.7 million) according to the National Statistical Service (NSS). It said at the end of 2015 there were 523 hotels in the country with a total of 4920 staff members.

Hotels in the capital Yerevan accounted for 86.8% of the combined earnings. More precisely, their earnings last year increased by 59.8% to 29.4 billion drams ($61.3 million), up from 18.1 billion drams ($38.4 million) at the end of 2014.

Apart from Yerevan, the hotels in Kotayk, Tavush and Syumik regions were among hotels with highest earnings in 2015.

Thus, hotels in Kotayk region, which has several popular tourism destinations, including the Tsakhkadzor ski resort, earned 1.579 billion drams (about $3.3 million), down 2.5% from the year before. The region has 53 hotels with 421 employees.

In Tavush region, where another popular resort Dilijan has 48 hotels with 209 staff members. Their earnings last year dropped by 12.4% to 897.5 million drams (about $1.9 million). In Syunik region, whose popularity is largely secured by the world’s longest reversible tramway (5.7 km) transporting visitors to the medieval monastery of Tatev, is home to 33 hotels with 221 employees. Their earnings last year grew by 3.1 % to 590.7 million drams ($1.2 million).

According to some estimates, the number of foreign tourists visiting Armenia last year fell by 1% from 2014 to 1,192,120 people. During the first 9 months of 2016 Armenia was visited by 969,010 tourists, a 3.6% growth from the same time span of 2015.

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Lebanese Armenians Nazarians Build Students Dorm in Artsakh

Levon and Arthur Nazarians, Lebanese Armenian philanthropists, sponsored the construction of a university dorm for 200 students in Shushi, Artsakh.

The dorm will be used by students who came to Shushi to study at the three colleges in Shushi – the applied sciences institute, Yeznik Mozien Trade college and the Agricultural Institute.

Furnished with contemporary furniture, the dorm is gift by the Nazarians on the 25th anniversary of Artsakh Independence.

Levon and Arthur Nazarians are AGBU Philanthropists and this gift was given in memory of their parents Garbis and Arek.

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Ryzhkov Said Russia is Willing to Assist Armenia

According to the Russian Co-Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Commission on Cooperation between the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia and the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Nikolao Ryahkov, Armenia faces a serious challenge to promote the economy.

Ryzhkov went on to emphasize that he was ready to support the Armenian partners in addressing various issues and problems.

The Russian delegation met with Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan on November 10 in Yerevan.

Greeting the guests, the Premier said to the greatly honored to welcome to the Office of Government Nikolai Ryzhkov, who has made a valuable contribution ti friendship between Armenia and Russian peoples. Highly appreciative of the Armenian-Russian allied relations, Karapetyan described then as more than sincere.

According to Karapetyan, Armenia and Russia have great potential to further expand and deepen cooperation in all areas, including the inter-parliamentary, inter-government and inter-regional platforms.

“We have a nice opportunity to make the Armenian-Russian relations exemplary. Friendship keeps being strengthened if it is effective, fair, and correct,” the Head of the Armenian Government pointed out. Thankful for a warm welcome, Nikolai Ryzhkov wished Karapetyan every success in the post of Prime Minister of Armenia.

Ryzhkov advised that Russia is interested in the furtherance of multi-faceted relationship with Armenia, adding that today’s session of the Parliamentary Commission discussed cooperation in tourism and culture among other issues.

The Russian Co-chair said Armenia faces a serious “challenge to promote the economy and said Russia is ready to assist.”

Touching upon cooperation in tourism, Karapetyan expressed the hope that a decision will soon be made to allow Russian citizens to travel to Armenia with their internal passports, which may stimulate tourism. In this context, the parties stressed the importance of the planned signing of an inter-regional cooperation arrangement between the governments of the Republic of Armenia and the Russian Federation.

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Armenia Will Buy 6 Units of Smerch and 6 Units of Solntsepyok Systems from Russia

Armenia is buying 6 units of Smerch multiple launch rocket systems and 6 units of TOS-1A Solntsepyok multiple rocket launchers from Russia, according to the 2016 report of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade. The report notes that the systems ordered in 2015 will be delivered to Armenia in 2016. Armenia will pay $60 million for the Smerch system and $40 million for Solntsepyok systems. The source also points out that in 2016 Armenia will receive them. Russia the Tiger tanks and Igla-S missile systems (both in unknown quantity) it ordered in 2015.

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New Armenian Government to Try to Lessen Corruption Risks, Says PM Karen Karapetian.

Karen Karapetyan, Armenian prime minister, speaking for a number of TV companies and asked about steps to taken to combat corruption in the country said: “I am confident that in the fight against corruption it is strictly necessary to maximally eliminated the environment that creates the possibility, because by establishing a third party to combat corruption, we cannot eliminated corruption, if the environment itself does not change. And to my mind, we wrote in detail what actions we are going to take in order to minimize the possibility of corruption in the tax and customs spheres as to the government’s decision, in the field of public procurements, in the field of foreign financing, as well as in terms of providing clear and equal conditions for businesses.”

Karapetyan said that Anticorruption Council, which has been set up by his predecessor, Hovik Abrahamyan, is an important structure, “because we need to state that the existing structures and the environment we have is far being ideal; therefore, a structure is to be created in a bid to consolidate, summarize, diagnose, and find specific decisions. We are now trying to involve the representatives of civil society so that the field is open. The members of the government, frankly speaking, are so busy in their daily duties or ought to be so, and may not get external signals. Here is the point.”

The Prime Minister said that he first objective of the government is not to create obstacles for businesses and active people. “First of all, we have state that we should change ourselves – our management methods, practice of making decisions, corporate powers and ministers’ responsibilities,” he said. “If we manage to put this right, we will be able to identify our economy’s problems. Is this enough to enable the country’s economy to demonstrate necessary economic growth? This is a different issue.

Now Karapetyan finds this is not enough. “We will play some stimulating role, will create some investment fund to take part in some projects jointly with businesses to spur the area, he said in his televised interview. The premier pointed out the necessity of establishing ties between the government and the society to form confidence.

This, first of all, depends on us – it is important what steps we will take, since the change of the country is not only the government’s problem, but also every citizen’s problem,” he said.

Stressing the importance of education in the country’s development Karapetyan said that to create favorable environment for development, it is necessary to provide proper education to you people.

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Wikileaks Records Reveal Azerbaijan is Influencing American Electoral Politics

WASHINGTON, D.C — As concerns are raised of Russia attempting to influence the U.S presidential election by hacking campaign emails, one purloined record also reveal another country, namely Azerbaijan, doing the same.

After reviewing emails on WikiLeaks, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) discovered correspondence among campaign staffers discussing the legality of accepting donations from foreign governments, such as Azerbaijan, bu Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) registrants. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of those activities.

The Assembly had previously raised concerns about potentially illegal activities of U.S groups with ties to foreign entities in Turkey and Azerbaijan. The office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and the House Committee on Ethics concluded the 9 members of Congress and more than two dozen staff members accepted a trip that was improperly paid for by foreign corporations in Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Azerbaijan’s strategy is to influence U.S policymakers as the Aliyev regime continues to deprive its citizens of basic human rights and freedoms. On October 20, Human Rights Watch reported that the Azerbaijani government has renewed its vicious crackdown on critics and independent groups.

Per this report, “Arrests in Azerbaijan increased sharply as activists and other citizens spoke about the economic downturn, currency devaluation, and inflation in early 2016, and ahead of a September constitutional referendum that expanded the presidential powers, Human Rights Watch found.”

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There are 16 Millionaires in the Armenian Parliament

According to the National Assembly Research Group’s Babken Tounian, there are 16 millionaires in the Armenian Parliament.

The three richest are: Gagik Dzaroukyan, Samvel Alexanyan, Grigor Margaryan.

The report indicates that those who had the highest income in 2015 are the following: Gagik Dzauroukyan, Ashot Arsenyan, Gourgen Arsenyan, Nher Setrakyan, Arayik Grigoryam, Manvel Grigoryan.

The 131 members of Parliament together had $137 million income. In the beginning of the year, they had save their money in Armenian dram, but now they have changed it to U.S dollars.

Prosperous Armenia Party has the most money, the second is the Republican Party.

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$30 Million Gift to UCLA Health Sciences Will Accelerate Research, Education and Patient Care

Tamar and Vatche Manoukian have made a landmark gift to the Division of Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA that will provide unrestricted funds to accelerate search, innovative clinical care and educational priorities.

This generous effort has inspired additional additional anonymous pledged support, bringing the total of the gift on behalf of the Manoukians to $30 million to benefit the division and support crucial initiatives in the Geffen School of Medicine.

In recognition of the Manoukians’ leadership philanthropy, the university will name the division in their honor — making this the medical school’s first division to the named following a philanthropic gift. In addition to the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, the university has named 100 UCLA Medical Plaza the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Medical Building.

“The science that will emerge from the Manoukians’ extraordinary contributions will lead to the discovery of new drugs and therapies that will improve health and save lives,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “Their generosity is an inspiration to out talented physicians and to other members of the philanthropic community.”

The UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases is renowned for its comprehensive research. Ranked No. 5 in the nation by U.S News and world Report 2016-17 survey, the division has become a model for coordinated care.

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