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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EU Looks Forward to Working with Pashinyan

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Vice-President of the Commission Frederica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn issued a joint statement on the election of Nikol Pashinyan as the Prime Minister of Armenia, the EEAS reported.

“The Armenian Parliament has elected Nikol Pashinyan as the new Prime Minister of Armenia in accordance with the Constitution. The European Union looks forward to working with him and his government on the implementation of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement signed last November, with a view to further consolidating democracy, the rule of law and respect of human rights, and to creating a prosperous and resilient country for the benefit of all citizens of Armenia. To achieve these important goals, a comprehensive dialogue among all political stakeholders in Armenia, including civil society, remains crucial,” the statement said.

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40,000 March for Justice in Los Angeles to the Turkish Consulate, Wilshire Boulevard

Congressman Adam Schiff, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Delivered Speeches, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom Calls for Turkey Divestment.

LOS ANGELES — Tens of thousands of activists, community members and allies turned out on April 24 for the March for Justice for the Armenian Genocide at the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles. Throngs of people were in attendance on to seek justice and demand recognition and reparations from the government of Turkey.

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 Gavin Newsome delivered a powerful message to the state and to the Turkish Republic, stating unequivocally, “It is wrong of us as a state and as a system like the UC to invest on Turkish government businesses and bonds. It’s time for divestment at the UC and CalPERS! And let me commit to you to work hard to advance that principal as well as we advance the principle of reconciliation.”

Over the past four years, beginning with the UC Divest Turkey movement, and subsequently at the initiative of the ANCA-WR and the leadership of Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, there has been a campaign to have state public funds divested from the government of the Turkish Republic due to its ongoing Armenian Genocide denial and horrendous human rights record. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has had a long history with Armenian American community in his native San Francisco and has been a strong supporter of its issues beginning with his days as San Francisco Supervisor, them as Mayor of the City following his election in 2003, and as Lieutenant Governor for the past eight years.

The March for Justice, organized by the Armenian Genocide Committee (AGC), a group of 20 community organizations and religious leaders who have come together to commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, commenced at Pan Pacific Park with welcoming remarks by Lara Armani that was followed by two strong musical performances by Marc Tourelle and Maria Cozette. Hip hop recording artist Marc Tourelle performed his single, “1915″ which is a powerful sing about the Armenian Genocide while singer, songwriter, and producer Maria Cozette performed “Adana”. Armani then invited LA City Councilman Paul Krekorian and Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti to deliver messages of support and solidarity to the Armenian Community.

The program also featured representatives of the Assyrian Student Association of Los Angeles, American Hellenic Council, Assyrian American Association of Southern California, Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group of Los Angeles, who all expressed their solidarity and support for the Armenian community during their remarks.

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Armenian Parliament Fails to Elect Nikol Pashinyan as Prime Minister

The Armenian Parliament failed to elect opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan Prime Minister on Tuesday May 1st 2018, despite his warnings about continued unrest in the country.

Pashinyan was backed by only 45 members of the 105 seat National Assembly following a lengthy and heated debate on his bid to succeed Serzh Sargsyan as Premier. He needed at least 53 votes.

Fifty-five other lawmakers representing Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) voted against him in line with a decision announced by the HHK leadership shortly before the vote. HHK leaders said during the debate that Pashinyan is not fir to govern the country. They also pointed to his lack of government experience and questioned his ability to serve as commander-in-chief of Armenia’s armed forces.

Several HHK deputies also pointed out Pashinyan’s past harsh criticisms of Armenia’s membership in the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). They claimed that Armenia could find itself at odds with Russia if he comes to power. Pashinyan is a parliament member.

Pashinyan tried in vain to win over at least some members of the HHK majority when he twice gave speeches in the parliament and answered questions from over two dozen lawmakers. In the end, only HHK deputy, Felix Tsolakian, voted for him.

One of Dashnaktsutyun’s seven deputies, Aghvan Vartanian, refused to back the opposition candidate, however, defying a decision made by his party. Vartanian said he is ready to resign from the parliament as a result. Pashinyan warned before the vote that the parliament’s failure to choose him as Prime Minister would mean that the ruling party has “destroyed itself at once and irreversibly”. He also said that the full victory of his popular movement is inevitable. “A force declaring a war on its own people cannot exist and what we are seeing is not the HHK or its parliamentary faction but a ghost,” he said. He strongly condemned HHK claims that his premiership would hurt Russian-Armenian ties and increase the risk of a war with Azerbaijan. Pashinyan warned Ruling Party MPs of a “political tsunami” if they did not back him.

The parliament vote came as tens of thousands of Pashinyan supporters again rallied in Yerevan’s Republic Square. The opposition leader joined them later in the evening.

The vote result means that the parliament will have to meet again on May 8th for another debate on the next Prime Minister. Under the Armenian constitution, the legislature will be automatically disbanded and fresh elections will be called if it again fails to choose a Premier.

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Glendale City Approves Armenian-American Museum

The Glendale City Council directed city staff to negotiate the final Ground Lease Agreement for the Armenian American Museum’s Downtown Glendale site with a lease term of up to 95 years at $1 per year and approved the Museums’s Stage 1 Design Plans.

The landmark approval marks a major milestone for the historic project and a major victory for Museum supporters.

Museum supporters and community members packed into Glendale City Hall to witness the historic vote by the Glendale City Council. Museum representatives presented their vision for a three story, 59,800 square foot cultural and educational complex that would be located in the southwest corner of Central Park.

The Museum will feature Permanent and Traveling Exhibitions, Performing Arts Theater, Demonstration Kitchen, Learning Center, Archives, Cafe, and Store. City Staff and urban design firm SWA GRoup also presented their vision for a resigned Central Park that would preserve the park’s open space, improve its amenities, and serve the community as “Glendale’s new gathering place” with the Museum as its focal point. “We are pleased that the Glendale City Council and City of Glendale officials share our vision of building a world class cultural and educational center in the heart of Downtown Glendale that will be the pride of our entire community,” stated Museum Co-Chair Archbishop Hovnan Derderian. “The Armenian American Museum is a historic project that will celebrate culture, education, and empowerment and will serve as a bridge that will connect our diverse community members together in the spirit of humanity,” stated Museum Co-Chair Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian. “We join our community members in celebrating this historic milestone that brings up one step closer to building a cultural and educational center that is by the community for the community,” state Museum Co-Chair Bishop Mikael Mouradian. “The Armenian American Museum will have a long lasting and impactful legacy that is an investment in our next generation and the future of our community,” stated Museum Co-Chair Reverend Berdj Djambazian.

Glendale City Council;s approval of the State 1 Design Plan is the first major approval for the project leading to the Stage 2 Plans review and the final Ground Lease Agreement consideration anticipated for Summer 2018.

The initial term of the Ground Lease Agreement will be 55 years with options to extend the lease term for four 10 year periods totaling 95 years with a ground lease rate of $1 year. “We are looking forward to working with our City and community members to help make this historic project a reality and create a positive impact that will ripple through generations to come in our community,” stated Museum Executive Committee Chairman Berdj Karapetian.

Following the landmark approval, the Armenian American Museum plans to launch its capital campaign to raise funds for the construction of the cultural and educational center. The Museum will be hosting a Community-wide Telethon on September 9th, 2018 and holding its inaugural Gala at the Dolby Theater on December 9, 2018.

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Colorado’s Legislature Establishes Sardarapat Section Armenian Memorial Highway

DENVER, CO — On April 24-25, 2018, during the annual legislative commemorations of the Armenian Genocide, the Colorado House of Representatives and the State Senate unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 18-1019 that designates a major state highway in the Centennial State in honor of the heroic May 28, 1918 Sardarapat Battle that paved the way to the establishment of the independent Republic of Armenia.

ANCA-Western Region chair Nora Hovsepian, Esq. stated: “As we commemorate the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide, we also recall the survivors’s great sacrifices to creating the independent Armenia that saved our ancient civilization from complete eradication. This permanent and unique memorial to the battle that saved the Armenian homeland makes the Sardarpat Armenian Memorial Highway a cause for celebration for Armenians across the world and especially in the Armenian homeland.”

Championed by the Colorado House Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist of Centennial and co-primed by fellow Representative Jeff Bridges and State Senators Dominick Moreno and Jack Tate, House Joint Resolution 18-1019 designates the four mile portion of Arapahoe Road between Interstate 25 and Parker Road — which connects Centennial and Aurora, two cities with large Armenian American populations – as Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Highway “in honor of Armenian Genocide survivors’ valiant contributions in creating the independent Republic in Armenia one hundred years ago.”

In a statement hailing the legislature’s vote, the joint Sardarapat Armenian Memorial Committee of Armenians of Colorado (AOC) and ANCA-Colorado dedicated the news of the new highway to yesterday’s victory in Armenia. “We wholeheartedly thank the Colorado General Assembly for commemorating the Armenian Genocide through a memorial highway that celebrates the Armenian people’s fearless determination to exist in a free and independent homeland.’

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Armenian PM Serzh Sargsyan Resigns After 11 Days of Street Protests by Some 200,000 Demonstrators

Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan said on April 23, he was resigning to help safeguard civic peace following almost two weeks of mass street protests that have plunged the impoverished Armenia into political crisis.

Sargsyan, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had served as Armenia’s president for a decade, had been named Prime Minister under a revised constitution. The Prime Minister how holds most of the power, while the Presidency has become largely ceremonial.

Pressure on the 63 year old to quit had increased sharply, when unarmed soldiers in the capital Yerevan joined the anti-government protests, which first erupted on April 13. Though peaceful, the tumult has threatened to destabilize Armenia, a key Russian ally in a volatile region driven by its decades long low level conflict with Azerbaijan, Moscow, which has two military bases in Armenia, was closely watching events. He said he was bowing to protesters’ demands and wanted his country to remain peaceful.

Former Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, an ally of Sargsyan from his ruling pro-Russian Republican Party, was named as acting Prime Minister.

Armenia’s political parties in parliament now have seven days to put forward the name of a new prime minister. Sargsyan’s allies remain in key positions in the government and it remains unclear whether his resignation will herald any real change. Protesters loudly celebrated Sargsyan’s resignation. Some hugged policemen in the streets amid repeated cries of “Hurrah”, others beeped car horns, and some residents of Yerevan were even seen dancing outside.

The protests which toppled Sargsyan lasted for 11 days and saw tens of thousands of protesters march through Yerevan and other towns, blocking streets and staging sit-ins that disrupted daily life. On Sunday, police had detained three opposition leaders and nearly 200 protesters, drawing a rebuke from the European Union. Police released Nikol Pashinyan, a lawmaker regarded as the main opposition leader. Asked about the crisis before Sargsyan’s resignation, the Kremlin called Armenia an “extraordinarily important country” for Russia, but dismissed the idea it might intervene, calling the crisis a domestic matter.

The previous week, Putin rang Sargsyan to congratulate him on becoming Prime Minsiter. As President, Sargsyan took Armenia, a country of about three million people, into a Russia backed economic bloc and bought weapons from Moscow.

The protesters’ complaints were mainly domestic and focused on pervasive corruption and poverty in a country that won independence from Moscow in 1991 but has been hampered by its conflict with Azerbaijan over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh and other issues. But critics have also accused Sargsyan of moving landlocked Armenia too close to Russia at the expense of better ties with the West and increased prosperity, and it was unclear whether his political demise could lead to a change in foreign policy.

In what may have been a turning point in the protests, soldiers wearing military marched through Yerevan with the protesters. Images broadcast on the internet and social media showed the soldiers hugging protesters and waving the country’s national flag in a development the Armenian Defense Ministry condemned as illegal and promised to harshly punish.

Opposition leader Pashinyan had told Sargsyan that his time was up in a tense meeting on Sunday.

Reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan in Yerevan, Writing by Andrew Osborn and Editing by Gareth Jones.

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Councilman Paul Krekorian Led the LA City Council to Commemorate Armenian Martyrs Day

LOS ANGELES — On Wednesday, April 18, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krikorian led the City Council’s official commemoration of the 103rd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

During the year’s remembrance, Los Angeles honored prominent Armenian American educators to highlight the important role that education plays in preserving the history of the genocide for future generations. Among the honorees were Los Angeles Unified School District interim Superintendent, Vivian Ekchian; renown historian and scholar of Armenian Studies, Richard Hovannisian; founder of America’s first Armenian school, Gabriel Injejikian; and the USC Shoah Foundation, which houses the largest compilation of testimony from Armenian Genocide survivors and witnesses.

The honorees have made important contributions to the Armenian American community and dedicated themselves to improving the education of young people. “While this is a time for us to mourn the unimaginable loss of our ancestors, it’s also an opportunity to honor and celebrate those who survived and to reflect on the injustice and what that means to us as a human community,” said Councilmember Krekorian, the first Armenian American to be elected to the Los Angeles City Council.

Krekorian continued “The lessons of the genocide continue to impact us today, but the best weapons against these atrocities is education. That’s why am incredibly honored to recognize a group of visionary Armenian Americans educators who have not only led the way in preserving the history of the Armenian Genocide, but also spread greater awareness so that we may never repeat the past.

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United States Department of State About Serzh Sagsyan

The US State Department issued the following statement on April 23, 2018.

“We thank Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan for his many years of service and his contributions to the strong U.S-Armenia partnership. We expect the democratic process to determine his successor will be conducted in transparent manner, consistent with Armenia’s laws and international obligations, and we look forward to working closely with the new government.”

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Pope Francis Consecrated the Bronze Statue of Grigor Narekatsi in the Vatican

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis consecrated the bronze statue of St. Gregory of Narek (Grigor Narekatsi), a 10th century poet and monk famed hero of the Armenian culture and Doctor of the Universal Church. The historic event was attended by President Serzh Sargsyan, Catholicos of all Armenians, Karekin II, and Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia, Aram I. The two church patriarchs delivered special prayers at the ceremony.

President Sargsyan, who traveled to Vatican City, met with the Pontiff in his residence earlier. The bronze statue, signed by David Yerevantsi was melted in the Czech Republic under the joint sponsorship of Mikael Minasyan. Armenia’s ambassador to the Holy See, and Artur Janibekyan, the director of Gazprom Media Holding (Moscow).

The opening ceremony of Doctor of the Church, Gospel, Saint Gregory of Narek took place in the Vatican on Thursday, April 5th 2018. At the end of the ceremony, Pope Francis bowed in front of the statue.

The Vatican is at the center of the attention of the whole Christian world and the blessing of Narekatsi’s stature in the Gardens of the Vatican by the Pope is an important event. It is important not only from the point of view of the relations between Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches, which by the way, became even stronger after the visit of Pope Francis to the first Christian country. The statue is also important in the sense of introducing the world St. Gregory of Narek and the Armenian cultural heritage.

A reminder that on April 12, 2015, during the liturgy on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in the Papal Basilica of St. Peter, Pope Francis declared Gregory of Narek the Doctor of the Church. During the visit of Pope Francis to Armenia, the President of Armenian Serzh Sargsyan presented the head of the Catholic Church, a miniature of Gregory of Narek as a symbol of the Pope’s pilgrimage to the first Christian country, expressing his hope that its larger version will stand in the Vatican. The Pope of Rome agreed.

Attorney Joseph Karimian and his wife Karin, were the only guests from the U.S West Coast, invited to the historic event.

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