Haig Boyadjian Bequeaths $750,000 to the Armenian EyeCare Project

First Regional Eye Clinic Named in His Honor

Always believing in the vital importance of vision and eye care, Haig John Boyadjian bequeathed $750,000 to the Armenian EyeCare Project.

a long-time resident of New Jersey, Haig was born in Jerusalem, the Mandate of Palestine on February 13, 1935 to Haroutune and Mary Boyadjian.

Haig graduated from Saint George’s School in 1953, with a Bachelor of Arts. Following Swarthmore he studied at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and earned his Master of Arts in International Relations,

After completing his education Haig became eligible for the military draft and served in Army Intelligence at Fort Bragg, Georgia from 1959 through 1961. He remained in the Army Reserves for a number of years following his active service.

Pursuing his keen, lifelong interest in international relations, Haig joined Chase Manhattan Bank’s Executive Training Program. He was fascinated with foreign countries and their people and the Chase program enabled him to become immersed in a number of different cultures throughout his career. He lived and worked in many countries in Europe, South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. His last assignment was with Midland Bank’s (HSBC) London office. Among his many accomplishments Haig co-authored “Risks Reading Corporate Signals,” a book on the banking industry.

To celebrate Haig’s life, the Armenian EyeCare Project will name its first Regional Eve Clinic, which will be located in Ijevan, Tavush, in his honor — The Haig John Boyadjian AECP Eye Clinic. It will take some five years before the clinic is completed and ready to serve the community.

For more information about the Armenian EyeCare Project, contact the California office at 949-933-4069, or visit the AECP website at www.eyecareproject.com. To make a donation, call the AECP or mail a check to P.O Box 5630, Newport Beach, California 92662.

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Al-Qaeda Groups From Turkey Attack Kessab

President Sargsyan Delivers Speech in Hague Summit

The Armenian populated villages of Kessab (Kessab, Kasab), Syria were the target of three days of brutal cross-border attacks from Turkey by al-Qaeda affiliated armed bands, which have cost 80 lives and forced the civilian population of the area to flee for the neighboring hills, with many seeking safe-haven in the nearby cities of Latakia and Basit.

According to news reports, the armed incursion began on Friday, March 21st, 2014 at 5:45am, with rebels associated with Al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra Front. Sham al-Islam and Ansar al-Sham crossing the Turkish border and attacking the Armenian civilian population of Kessab. The attackers immediately seized two guard posts overlooking Kessab, including a strategic hill known as Observatory 45 and later took over the border crossing point with Turkey. Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan made a statement in Europe for the press on Kessab events.

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Turkey Wants Shutdown of Nuclear Plant in Armenia

The Metsamor nuclear power plant in Armenia in outdated and should be urgently closed down said Taner Yildiz, Turkey’s energy minister in Igdir.

Yildiz said that Turkey has sent an official appeal to the International Atomic Energy Agency concerning the shutdown of the plant.

“The nuclear plant, which was put on line in 1980, has had a lifespan of 30 years,” Yildiz said adding that Metsamor was just 16km away from Turkey’s border so they should bring it to international attention and obtain support for the plant’s closure.

The Metsamor nuclear power plant produces about 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity, but Turkey and Azerbaijan object to its existence as they believe it does not meet international safety standards.

Turkey itself is also building up its energy future on nuclear power to reduce its soaring energy needs.

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Tournament of Roses Parade to Have an Armenian Float

PASADENA, CA — The American Armenian Rose Float Association, Inc. (AARFA) is proud to announce that it has been accepted into the 126th Tournament of Roses Parade, January 1st 2015. Though a tremendous challenge, this project is a great vote of confidence for AARFA. With skilled and talented members and supporters, the float is sure to be a success!

The President of the AARFA is community leader Chris Chahinian, who promised to work hard and bring the project to fruition by showing the Armenian Float to 130 countries next year.

The Theme for 2015

On January 1st, 2015, around 45 floats will be showcasing “Inspiring Stories” down Colorado Blvd, along with high stepping equestrian units and spirited marching bands, AARFA has many inspiring stories to share from the American Armenian community that has contributed much to this nation. It is an honor to share these stories with the world during the 2015 Rose Parade.

The Beginning of the Tournament of Roses

The Tournament of Roses began as promotional effort by the distinguished Valley Hunt Club of Pasadena. In the winter of 1890, the club members invited their former East Coast neighbors to warmer California for a mid winter holiday, where they would watch games like jousting, chariot races, polo, foot races, and tug-of-war. Thanks to the warmer California weather and the abundance of fresh flowers, even in winter, the club decided to add another event to these festivities: a parade of carriages decorated with hundreds of blooms, This was the start of the world famous Tournament of Roses Parade.

Help AARFA – Tell Your Story

This float belongs to every Armenian in the United States and around the world. One hundreds years ago, the Tournament of Roses chose Mr. Pashgian, an American Armenian community will finally be represented on a float.

It is the AARFA’s hope that the World Armenian communities support this float and help share the inspiring stories of the American Armenian community. AARFA, is looking for corporate, media and individual sponsors to wish to support this project. Keep up with the latest information by visiting: http://aarfa.org/

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Armenia Fears Economic Fallout From Ukraine Crisis

Russia absorbed around 23% of Armenian Exports worth almost $1.5 billion in 2013
By Hovhannes Shoghikian

The crisis in Ukraine and its resulting negative economic impact on Russia could spillover effects on Armenia, Economy Minister Vahram Avanesian admitted.

Russian stocks plummeted immediately after Moscow resorted to military intervention in Crimea at the weekend, with investors ditching assets in Russian to guard against economic sanctions threatened by the West. The Russian ruble has since lost around 2 percent of its nominal value against the U.S dollar. The Russian Central Bank has spent billions of dollars and raised its benchmark interest rate to prevent the national currency from weakening even faster.

With no solution in sight to the Kremlin’s worst standoff with the West since the end of the Cold War, there might be more trouble in store for the Russian economy. Analysts in Yerevan warn that the Armenian economy also risks taking a battering due to its dependence on Russia.

Data from the Armenian Central Bank shows that those remittances accounted last year for roughly 90 percent of overall non-commercial cash in flows into Armenia totaling $1.55 billion, a figure equivalent to 14 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Avanesian argued that the ruble depreciation could also make Armenian goods more expensive int he Russian market. “Our exporters could have problems because we should keep in mind that the ruble’s depreciation would not facilitate our exports,” he told a news conference.

Armenian Does Not Yet Plan Its Economic Growth

Avanesian said that despite the alarming signs the Armenian government does not yet plan to revise its economic growth

Avanesian said that despite the alarming signs the Armenian government does not yet plan to revise its economic growth projections for this year. “We need to understand just how long-term those changes will be,” the minister explained. “If the impact [of the Ukraine crisis] is short-term, there will be no major change in our economic policy. If it becomes a long-term problem, the economic policy will definitely have to be reviewed.”

Economic growth in Russia was slowing down even before the outbreak of the crisis. This was one of the reasons why the Armenian expanded by 3.5 percent in 2013, much slower than was predicted by President Serzh Sarkisian, NSS figures released this week show that growth was mainly dragged down by a continuing decline in the Armenian construction sector and sluggish retail sales.

In its budget bull approved by the Armenian parliament in December, the government forecast a growth rate of over 5 percent for 2014. The International Monetary Fund offered a more cautious macroeconomic outlook for Armenian last month.

“Downside risks include adverse geopolitical events and external shocks, including a weakening of [remittance] inflows in the context of a protracted slowdown in Russia,” a senior IMF official warned in a February 4th statement.

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Armenian Khachkar Will Be Displayed in Metropolitan Museum Till 2017

An Armenian Khachkar (cross-stone) will be displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York till 2017.

A monumental 12th century khachkar is on display in the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries for Byzantine art at the special long-term loam from the State Museum of Armenia in Yerevan.

“It is desirable to introduce Armenian cultural and religious heritage to those who love art and history of different countries,” the Armenian government’s statement said.

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Sen. Kirk to Azerbaijan: Halt Campaign of Incitement and Hatred Against Armenia

Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk “strongly condemned” Azerbaijan’s ongoing threats and violence against Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, in a powerfully worded statement issued on March 8th, marking the 26th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s anti-Armenian massacres in Sumgait.

Senator Kirk began his remarks spotlighting Azerbaijan hate-crimes against Armenians in Sumgait from February 26 to 28, 1988, stating, “I join my Armenian-American constituents in Illinois in commemorating the memory of those who perished in anti-Armenian violence in Sumgait, Soviet Azerbaijan twenty-six years ago. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds injured during three days of horrific violence. The entire Armenian population of Sumgait fled as a result. The perpetrators of these heinous acts have never been brought to justice.”

Remembered Sumgait

The Senator then turned to Azerbaijan’s ongoing aggression against Armenia and Artsakh, noting. “As we remember the Sumgait victims, I call on the current Government of Azerbaijan to immediately halt its campaign of incitement and hatred against Armenia that threatens to destabilize the region. It is deplorable that the President of Azerbaijan would pardon and glorify the convicted murderer Ramil Safarov, who killed a sleeping Armenian soldier while both were on a NATO Partnership for Peace Program. I strongly condemn repeated statements from Azerbaijani officials that threaten violence against Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.”

Over the previous week, Senator Kirk was joined by House Foreign Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), fellow Committee colleagues Brad Sherman (D-CA) and David Cicilline (D-RI), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-CA), Judy Chu (D-CA), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Linda Sanchez (D-CA), in issuing similar statements condemning the Sumgair, Baku and Kirovabad pogroms and calling on Azerbaijan to end its aggression against Armenia and the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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Yerevan Criticized for Not Condemning Russia’s Intervention in Ukraine

By Irina Hovhannisyan

A group of pro-Western civic activists and other prominent Armenians strongly criticized Armenia’s government for not condemning Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.

They compared the Russian occupation of Crimea to Nazi Germany’s annexation of neighboring countries and called for international sanctions against Moscow.

“We condemn the undignified silence of Armenia’s authorities in connection with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” read a statement issued by 12 members the Armenian Committee of Solidarity with Maydan, which was formed last month to support the anti-government revolt in Ukraine.

One of the signatories, artist Boris Yeghiazarian, is a Ukrainian national who actively participated in anti-government protest in Kiev’s Independence Square, also known as Maydan. Four other signatories live in the United States and Europe.

Official Yerevan has pointedly declined to react to the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich and the ensuing Russian military operation in Crimea. Armenia’s main political groups have also avoided any official criticism of Moscow’s actions strongly condemned by the West. Their silence reflects Armenia’s strong military and economic dependence on Russia.

“In this situation, it would be good if Armenia had a clear position. It’s wrong to constantly have an ambiguous and uncertain stance,” said Boris Navasardian, a member of the Armenian Committee of Solidarity with Maydan and the chairman of the Yerevan Press Club.

Navasardian acknowledged that open criticism of the Russian actions in Ukraine would infuriate Moscow. “But keeping silent is also dangerous because if events unfold in a way that will result in sanctions against Russia, Armenia will find itself in a very hopeless position,” he told Radio Free Europe’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Davit Shahnazarian, a veteran politician also affiliated with the committee, said the Armenian authorities may actually come under Russian pressure to support the intervention, “I hope that they will at least be able to maintain this undignified silence,” he told reporters.

“In theory, Russia could force Armenia to make some statements and even something more, but I think that would cause very serious resentment in Armenia,” said Shahnazarian. “Let’s hope that the Armenian authorities will be prudent enough not to bow to such pressure.”

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Mikhail Vardanyan Named New Head of Baikonur Space Center

MOSCOW — Russian space industry veteran Mikhail Vardanyan has been appointed the new head of the Baiknour Cosmodrome, the space agency Roscosmos said.

The 54 year old Vardanyan has spent his entire career in the industry, including 30 years at the Kazakhstan based Baikonur launch facility as a military engineer and manager, according to a statement on Roscosmos website.

The previous head of the facility, Yevgeny Anisimov, stepped down for personal reasons, according to Roscosmos.

Unverified sources say that Russian’s Police uncovered $456,000 Baiknour Space Center theft.

A new space center, Vostochny, is being built in Eastern Russia to reduce dependence on Baiknour. The new facility is planned to host the Angara rocket, now under development for both satellite and manned launches.

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Oil Giant Rosneft to Invest $500 Million for a New Chemical Plant in Armenia

YEREVAN — Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company controlled by the Kremlin, plans to invest $500 million in the construction of new chemical factory in Armenia, according to the Armenian government.

Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said that the issue was on the agenda of his latest talks with Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev that were held in Sochi.

Sarkisian said Rosneft’s influential chairman, Igor Sechin, briefed him and Medvedev on the company’s “investment project” in Armenian worth around $500 million.

“In the coming weeks we will hold substantive discussions as to what conditions we have to create for those investments so that they become a reality in the shortest possible time,” he told reporters. “Naturally, the project has to do with the Nairit plant because the main employees of the new plant will be Nairit workers.”

The premier referred to Armenia’s largest chemical enterprise that has stood idle for almost four years. The Yerevan-based plant nominally employing over 3,000 people specializes in the production of chloroprene rubber. It has struggled to remain afloat since the early 1990s, repeatedly changing foreign owners and operators in murky deals overseen by successive Armenian governments. Nairit’s current nominal owner, Rhinoville Property Limited, is an obscure firm registered in a British tax haven.

President Serzh Sarkisian similarly announced on February 15 that “in all likelihood: Rosneft will start building “a Nairit” this year. He said the Russians might also reactivate the existing plant.

Rosneft has issued no press releases on Sechin participation in Medvedev’s meeting with Tigran Sarkisian.

A figure close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sechin visited Armenia at least three occasions in 2013. The most recent of those trips ended in the signing on December 25 of an agreement on the creation of a joint venture between Rosneft and the Italian group Pirelli, one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers. The signing ceremony took place at the presidential palace in Yerevan.

Few details of that deal were made public. Official Armenian sources said only that the Russian-Italian venture will manufacture synthetic rubber in Armenia. The Russian ambassador in Yerevan, Ivan Volynkin, clarified on February 11 that car tires will be its principal end product.

The Armenian government said late last year that it is negotiating with Rosneft on the possibility of Nairit’s acquisition by the Russian oil giant. A senior Russian government official revealed afterwards that the main stumbling block in the talks is the question of who will clear Nairit’s huge debts.

In particular, Nairit owes $107 million to the Moscow-based Inter-State Bank of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Another $12 million is owed to several hundred Nairit workers entitled to some pay despite being idle most of the time.

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