US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Said He Will Review the Armenian Genocide Issue

WASHINGTON – during the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the State Department’s Budget, Operations, and Policy Priorities with U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Congressmen David Cicilline (D-RI), and Brad Sherman (D-CA) both raised the subject of the Armenian Genocide.

Senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Sherman suggested that the Department of State be neutral as Congress takes up the issue of remembering, the Armenian Genocide. “I hope the State Department would at least be neutral should Congress consider – as we are considering [H.Res. 220] – the remembrance of the millions of Armenian, Greek, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syriac victims of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century,” Rep. Sherman said.

Introduced by Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Representative Dave Trott (R-MI), H.Res 220 re-affirms the Armenian Genocide and draws on relevant lessons from past genocides “in seeking to prevent war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against religious and ethnic groups in the Middle East.” Last month, during the Armenian Genocide Commemoration on Capitol Hill, Rep. Trott announced that the requested H.Res 220 be scheduled for a vote before he retires at the end of this Congress.

During his questioning, Rep. Cicilline asked: “Will you, as Secretary of State, do as so many Secretary of States have not, and recognize the Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against its Armenian citizens during World War I, yes or no?” In response, Secretary Pompeo indicated that he will “review the issue”.

While serving in Congress in 2016, then-Representative Pompeo (R-KS) supported H.Con.Res 75, “expressing the sense of Congress that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.”

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Israeli Knesset Speaker Pulls Armenian Genocide Recognition from Agenda

By Lahav Harkov
Jerusalem Post – May 28, 2018

The vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide, in 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the Ottoman Empire during World War I, was originally set for Tuesday May 29. The expected vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide was not on the Knesset’s agenda for this week as of Monday.

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, pulled the item from the agenda to avoid an embarrassment to the Knesset, because it was unclear there would be a majority in favor. Edelstein has repeatedly voice his support for recognition over the years including last week.

The vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide, after a motion to do by Meretz Chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg was approved 16-0.

Zandberg accused Edelstein of putting politics ahead of morality, dismissing the Knesset Speaker’s words in favor of her motion. “Holding this debate with a historic vote to recognize is the right thing to do. Some preferred politics to doing the right thing,” Zandberg said at a Meretz faction meeting, Monday May 28. “The Knesset should do what it promised. This is a matter of historic justice.”

Recognizing the Armenian Genocide has the potential to anger Turkey and Azerbaijan. Tensions between Turkey and Israel are already high wth the countries withdrawing their ambassadors after Turkey supported Hamas when the terror organization tried to violently break through Gaza border into Israel earlier this month. However, Israel and Azerbaijan have warm ties and the latter’s proximity to Iran makes it at strategic ally, important to Israeli security. Azerbaijan is in an ongoing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Zandberg however, said that should not be taken into consideration.

Recognizing the Armenian Genocide, she argued “shouldn’t hurt ties with any country. This is a basic moral issue. We, the Jewish people know the value of recognizing national tragedies.”

The Foreign Ministry has not made any official statements about the Knesset recognizing the Armenian Genocide, including during last week’s vote, unlike previous years when it openly opposed such motions. However, a ministry source confirmed that ties with Azerbaijan are important and pointed out that last week both Edelstein and Zandberg said the matter of recognizing the Armenian Genocide should be discussed to its own, and not as a way to get back at Turkey.

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Gift of Hearing: Sir Elton John and President Sarkissian Kick Off Charity Mission in Yerevan

Renowned English singer Sir Elton John arrived in Armenia as part of Starkey Hearing Foundation, visited the Haig and Elza Didizian Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Yerevan with the Armenian President and Starkey Founder and CEO William Austin.

100 hearing aids were donated to children as part of the initiative. Speaking to reporters in the Yerevan My Love Foundation Office, the Armenian President said that Sir Elton John is Armenia’s friend for one simple reason, because he has many Armenian Friends, one of them being himself. “He is not only a world renowned singer but also a great intellectual who reads a lot and knows Armenia’s history very well. I remember how years ago when Catholicos Garegin I passed away, Elton wrote me a letter and we met and discussed the history of Armenian Christianity,” the President said.

Sarkissian also mentioned Elton John’s huge charitable activities in preventing HIV and helping HIV positive people in treatment.

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Pashinyan to Use Diaspora’s Potential for Development of State Institutions

LOS ANGELES – Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the peaceful change of government in Armenia is pan-Armnenian awakening. His remarks were delivered via Skype at the University of Southern California Institute of Armenian Studies program. “Armenia Tomorrow:” Citizen Diplomacy at Work.”

It was a historic event, with a full house of close to 1200 people gathered at USC Bovard Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday May 20, to hear international experts’ views on the future of Armenia, as well as to listen to Prime Minister Pashinyan and Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian from Yerevan, via Skype.

As Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan appeared on the screen, the audience stood up and welcomed him with cheers and claps, as Salpi Ghazarian, director of the Institute of Armenian studies introduced the Prime Minister.

PM Pashinyan said the meaning of existence of the Republic of Armenia is to concentrate Armenia’s social, economic, financial, scientific potential or most of it in its territory and ensure the security and normal development of that potential. “Our task is to stop and tun back the millennial wheel of our people’s emigration, to make Armenia a state aimed at preserving the potential of Armenians and ensuring its normal activity. In order to reach this goal, we should reach the point that the citizen of Armenia is the highest leadership, this must be cornerstone of Armenia’s future,” PM Pashinyan asserted.

The PM also mentioned that elections were falsified and rigged and that he people should have free and honorable as well as fair elections. The citizens need legitimacy in future elections, and elected just government, he said. He added that the priority task of the new government is to become the people’s institutional power guarantor.

When Salpi Ghazarian asked how to keep the citizens engaged in political processes in the period from election to election, Pashinyan stated, “I think after these changes we have no problem of ensuring the engagement of its citizens: the most important is that the citizen fights for his/her right.”

As for the future of the Diaspora, the PM said here the issue of engagement is sometime conditioned by the provisions of the Constitution. “The Constitution says that for instance a person can be appointed as a minister who has been only a citizen of Armenia in the past four years and has lived in Armenia in the past five years. We think this regulation doesn’t reflect our national aspirations and creates artificial barriers for the engagement of the Diaspora. We plan to eliminate these barriers so that we can use the Diaspora’s potential in the process of development of state institutions,” the PM said.

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Gavin Newsom Endorsed by ANCA-WR for California Governor

GLENDALE — The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region announced this week its endorsement of Lieutnant Governor Gavin Newsom for the position of Governor of the State of California.

“I think the ANCA-WR for its confidence in me and endorsement of my candidacy to be the next governor of California,” stated Newsom. “I have valued my relationship with the Armenian-American community over the past two decades, from my days working with the small but vibrant San Francisco community, and for the past eight years, with the largest diasporan community in the word across our great state,” he continued.

“On June 5th, we strongly urge all Armenian-Americans in California to vote for Gavin Newsom as our next Governor. Throughout his political career, he has been a true friend of the Armenian community, supporting many of our efforts and listening closely to our concerns,” said Nora Hovsepian, Chair of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors. She also asserted: “The depth of his commitment and understanding of issues important to our community were demonstrated last month, when he publicly called for divestment of public funds from the Turkish Government and voiced his strong support for the Divest Turkey initiative, one of our key legislative priority.”

As one of the featured speakers at the rally in front of the Consulate General of Turkey in Los Angeles on Tuesday, April 24, Lieutenant Governor Newsom delivered a powerful message to the state and to the Turkish government, calling unequivocally, for divestment at the University of California and Cal-PERS.

Lieutenant Governor Newsom has had a long history with the Armenian-American community in his native San Francisco and has been a strong supporter of its issues beginning with his days as a San Francisco Supervisor, then as Mayor of San Francisco following his election in 2003, and as Lieutenant Governor for the past eight years.

His endorsement was made following his May 13 meeting with representatives of the ANCA-WR in Southern California. During the course of that meeting, Newsom expressed encouragement regarding the recent peaceful transition in the Armenian government, stating “The response to the populist call for reform and greater democracy and transparency is to congratulated, and among the many positive consequences is the prospect that it could help promote increased trade and interaction between the State of California, Armenia, and Artsakh.”

During a meeting last August, Newsom expressed particular interest in opportunities to further develop economic ties between the State of California and the Republic of Armenia and was, wholeheartedly in support of re-establishing a California trade office in Yerevan. His background as a successful businessman with interests in the wine industry and as a restaurant owner, in conjunction with having been a political leader in the IT capital of the world, contributes to his solid understanding of the benefits of economic development on the quality of life.

Also discussed were the recent divestment efforts from the University of California’s holdings in the government of Turkey which was initiated by the AYF and members of the ASAs on the nine undergraduate UC campuses, and from two major public pension funds – CalPERS and CalSTRS at the initiative of the ANCA-WR.

Further demonstrating his support for the community, earlier in 2017, Newsom enthusiastically endorsed his support for Karo Torossian in LA’s City Council District 7 race. Whether on the issue of justice for the Armenian Genocide, or other issues of importance tot he Armenian-American community, Newsom has never forsaken his principles, and always stood firmly in support of human rights and justice for crimes against humanity, even if on occasion, it may have put him at odds with his friends and supporters.

Mayor Newsom was appointed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1997, representing District 2. He was first elected Mayor of San Francisco in 2003 and was re-elected to a second term in 2007.

As Supervisor, Newsom supported the sale of the Mount Davidson Cross to the Council of Armenian-American Organizations of Northern California who preserved the landmark and installed a bronze plaque at the base honoring the victims of the Armenian Genocide. “The fact that the Lieutenant Governor has always been receptive to the relatively small Armenian-American community in San Francisco, and has never hesitated to lend his support, is a testament to his genuine connection and desire to support issues of importance to us,” stated ANCA – SF Bay Area representative Haig Baghdassarian, “and he has definitely earned the endorsement of our organization and the support of our community to be our next governor.”

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Ruben Vardanyan to Build $32 Million Health Resort in Dilijan

The government of newly-elected Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has approved a multi-million dollar project to build a health spa/center in Dilijan and to improve the resort town’s infrastructure.

The five-year project will be undertaken by the IDeA (Initiatives for Development of Armenia) charitable foundation run by Ruben Vardanyan at an estimated cost of AMD 15.682 billion (US $32.2 million).

The project seeks to spur medical tourism in Armenia. IDeA says that 1070 construction and other jobs will be created over the five year period, paying an average monthly wage of AMD 200,000.

Once completed, the health resort and auxiliary buildings will employ 408 permanent workers at an average salary of 500,000 drams.

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Pashinyan and Putin Discuss Russian Armenian Relations Positively in Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met on the sidelines of the Eurasian Economic Union summit in Sochi.

Putin first congratulated Pashinyan on taking office and wished him success as head of government and voiced hope the relations between the two countries would continue to develop as steadily as before.

The Russian President noted that Russia sees Armenia as its closest partner and ally in the region. Putin reminded that Russia remains Armenia’s main trade and economic partner and Russian investments make up 35% of all investments in Armenia.

Pashinyan noted, in turn, that the allied relations between Armenia and Russia are beyond discussion and added that “there is a consensus on the issue in Armenia.”

Putin assured that “Moscow will continue to work with Yerevan as actively on international arena and within the framework of international organizations, starting from the UN, where Armenia and Russia have always supported each other to regional security each other to regional security and economic integration frameworks. I didn’t think that no one has and will never question the strategic importance of Armenia-Russia relations. We are planning to give new impetus to bilateral relation both in economic and political domains,” Pashinyan asserted. He also voiced hope the relations would continue to develop in the military technical spheres. “We highly value Russia’s balanced stance during the domestic political crisis in Armenia. It was a very constructive position, and it’s highly appreciated not only by the Armenian government, but also the society,” Pashinyan stated.

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Economist Daron Acemoglu to Advise Armenian Government

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan reported Sunday May 13, that world renowned economist Daron Acemoglu has accepted his invitation to come to Armenia and assist in drafting a policy designed to lift Armenia out of its economic doldrums.

Pashinyan, in a Facebook post, said that there is still no specific date when Acemoglu, a Professor of Economics at MIT and co-author of the book, “Why Nations Fail” (2012) will arrive in Armenia.

Born in Istanbul to Armenian parents, Acemoglu completed his PhD at the London School of Economics and is best known for his work on political economy.

As for Acemoglu’s views on Armenia’s economy since independence, he has written, “Armenia could have looked much more like the Czech Republic or Estonia and what we got instead is a country that looks much more like Azerbaijan or Uzbekistan, which is a real shame,” said at a USC Institute of Armenian Studies Conference on April 9, 2018.

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UN Secretary General to Assist Armenia in Various Ways

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutierres issued a congratulatory message to Nikol Pashinyan on being elected Prime Minister of Armenia.

Gutierres noted that during this significant period of peaceful changes in Armenia, he hopes that the Armenian government under Pashinyan’s leadership will be able to justify the people’s expectations for reforms, including the strengthening of the law and democratic institutions, and will make efforts to address the current socio-economic challengers. He added that the United Nations, as well as the UN Armenia team stand ready to provide assistance in this regard. Also, Gutierres recalled that the UN firmly and consistently supports the OSCE Minks Group Co-Chairs’ important efforts aimed at resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict through peace talks. He expressed the hope that efforts will receive a greater impetus at this sensitive period for the peaceful settlement.

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Nikol Pashinyan Formally Elected Prime Minister of Armenia

He Received 59 votes for, and 42 Against

The Armenian Parliament elected opposition party leader Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister of Armenia on May 8, 2018, thus bringing peace to the country.

Pashinyan received 59 votes for and 42 against him at the special session of the Armenian Parliament.

President Armen Sarkissian signed an executive order announcing Nikol Pashinyan’s election as PM.

Pashinyan and his Yelk Political Party had staged demonstrations which lawmakers nominated Serzh Sargsyan as the Prime Minister after as President for two terms. Protesters were very unhappy and they blocked roads for eleven days. Fortunately the demonstrations were peaceful and no injuries were recorded.

However, on April 23, Prime Minister Sargsyan decided to resign to help safeguard civic peace following days of demonstrations by hundreds and thousands, estimated at least 250,000 people.

On May 1st, the Armenian Parliament was to elect a new Prime Minister, however, Pashinyan as the only candidate, failed to get elected for not receiving the majority of votes, losing by 8 votes.

A week later, on May 8th, Parliament voted for Pashinyan for the position of Prime Minister receiving 59 votes. Peaceful gatherings filled the squares, in Yerevan and other cities, celebrating Nikol Pashinyan’s victory. People danced and sang in the streets for the victory, as if it was “the people’s victory.”

During the demonstrations, Pashinyan had said: “This is a campaign against Serzh Sargsyan’s third term in office and against the ruling HHK Party. This is a campaign against hopelessness and for dignity.” He also mentioned several times that ruling Republican Party is autocratic and that Armenia needs democratic system to govern the country.

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