Two U.S Firms to Invest More than $500 Million in Armenia

Investment from U.S firm CountourGlobal and Lydian International will amount to about half a billion dollars over the next few years, U.S ambassador to Armenia Richard M. Mills said in his remarks to American Chamber of Commerce of Armenia on last Wednesday, February 1st.

“CountourGlobal completed the acquisition of the assets of the Vorotan hydroelectric facility in 2016, and now represents the largest single U.S private investment in Armenia’s history and the first U.S investment in Armenia’s energy sector,” Mills said. “In addition, ContourGlobal plans to invest more then 70 million dollars over the next several years –and create about 150 near term jobs.”

Meanwhile, the ambassador said, another U.S affiliated firm, Lydian International, started the construction of its Amulsar mining project in 2016. By 2018, he says Amulsar will likely represent the largest U.S equity investment in Armenia, with construction costs estimated at 370 million dollars from 2016 to 2018.

“During the peak the construction phase up to 1300 jobs will be secured, while 700 people will be employed directly by Lydian Armenia during 10 years of production,” Mills went on to say.

“I am happy to report that in a first for Armenia and mining operations here, Amulsar’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment has been deemed fully compliant with standards set by the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Investment from ContourGlobal and Lydian will amount to about half a billion dollars over the next few years.”

Posted in News

Armenian Lawyer Wins Prize for Defending an American Girl

Member of the Chamber of Advocates in Marseille, Ashkhen Harutyunyan, received the first prize of the International competition of speeches for the defense of human rights, Le Parisien reported.

The competition was organized by the Memorial de Caen, a museum and war memorial in Caen, France; commemorating World War II and the Battle for Caen.

Ashkhen came to France in 2010 with the Armenian legal education. In France, she began to work in the sphere of protection of human rights. The award she received for the protection of a girl from the United States, who had been abandoned by five foster families in a row.

“This girl is one of thousands of ‘one-off’ children who are adopted by American families, and then thrown or exchanged on the special websites because the child does not get on together with them”, Harutyunyan emphasized.

Posted in News

Parliament Rejects Creating Ad-Hoc Committee to Review Income for Top Officials

By a vote or 56 to 39, Armenia’s National Assembly declined to debate a bill introduced by MP Nikol Pashinyan that would have created an ad-hoc committee to look into the sources of income and property disclosed by top government officials and their relatives.

Those who supported getting the bill to a parliamentary hearing included Prosperous Armenia MP Naira Zohrabyan, Armenian National Congress MP Levon Zurabyan, and Rule of Law MP Mher Shahdeldyan.

ARF MP Aghvan Vardanyan said his party followed the principle of voting in favor of all bills introduced so that they could be discussed and debated with colleagues.

MPs from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia voted against debating the bill.

Posted in News

Secretary of State Nominee Rex Tillerson Supports Peaceful Solution in Artsakh

Armenian Assembly Commends Senator Edward Markey

WASHINGTON, D.C — Senator Edward Markey (D-MA), a strong supporter of U.S Armenia relations, asked the Secretary of State nominee a series of questions about America’s role in the region.

As a Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, the U.S plays a critical role in maintaining stability in the South Caucasus through its mediation of the Nagrono-Karabakh conflict. Tillerson promised: “If confirmed, I will work with the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan to find a peaceful, long-term solution that allows for stability and prosperity in the region. The first step in this process must be to build trust by ensuring that all agreements between the parties are respected.”

“We call upon the Administration to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its blatant cease-fire violations and resulting atrocities as well as Azerbaijan’s continued targeting civilian facilities such a kindergarten in the Tavush region of Armenia,” stated Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “We commend Senator Markey for raising key issues of concern for the Armenian American community and look forward to working with him and his colleagues in the 115th Congress,” Ardouny added.

Focusing on Armenia’s other hostile neighbor, Turkey, Sen. Markey noted that “the United States has spoken clearly about the need for Turkey to lift its more than 20 year blockade of Armenia and establish diplomatic relations with Armenia.” Senator Markey asked the Secretary of State nominee what steps he would take to ensure that Turkey ends its blockade with Armenia.

Tillerson responded: “I will support the normalized diplomatic, economic, and civil society relations, between Armenia and Turkey in my ongoing discussions with the two parties. U. S Leadership and re-engagement in the region at large will help build the necessary trust to improve relations between Armenian and Turkey.” He also added that he will “ensure protection of religious minorities and their property rights, including the Armenian community in Turkey.”

Tillerson assured that he is committed to fostering the relationship between the U.S and Armenia, including economic opportunities. “It is in the interest of the United States to promote mutually beneficial trade between the United States and Armenia. If confirmed, I will work closely with the U.S Trade Representative and other relevant parts of the U.S government to explore the possibilities to expand trade and investment between the United States and Armenia in a way that creates U.S jobs and economic growth,” he continued. Tillerson also recognized “the tremendous challenges facing Armenia due to the influx of refugees” and plans to “ensure cost effective assistance to Armenia as part of a broader strategy for handling the Syrian refugee issue and protecting U.S national security interests.”

Posted in News

Mannix Star Mike Connors, Krikor Ohanian Died on January 26

LOS ANGELES – Mike Connors, who starred as a hard-hitting private eye on the long running television series Mannix, died Thursday January 26. He was 91.

Connors died surrounded by family Thursday afternoon at a Los Angeles hospital from complications of leukemia that had been diagnosed a week earlier, said his son-in-law, Mike Condon.

One of the highest paid actors on American television at the time, Connors starred on Mannix for all eight seasons of its run on the CBS Network, from 1697 to 1975.

The square jawed actor played tough as nails private detective Joe Mannix and actress Gail Fisher co-starred as an independent investigator and his loyal secretary, Peggy, in a series that attracted a strong following.

The show was heavy on car chases, fistfights and bullets — and light on nuance — as Connors pursued the bad guys, although he later professed to a determination to plumb the emotional depths of his TV alter ego.

“I know that I kept saying I want this character to be as real as possible, to feel the emotions, the ups and the downs, to shed a tear, whatever it took that happens to the average human being,” Connors told Fox News Channel in a 2000 interview.

“One of the reasons the show was very popular is because we tried to stay as close to reality as possible.”

Connors was nominated for an Emmy four times for his work on Mannix and won a Golden Globe award in 1970 as best actor in a dramatic series. Mannix was twice nominated for an Emmy as best dramatic series.

His movie and TV career stretched from the 1950s to 2007, when had a guest role on Two and Half Men.

Connors made his film debut in 1952s Sudden Fear, which starred Joan Crawford. Other films included Island in the Sky, The Ten Commandments, and a remake of Stagecoach.

Connors, who was of Armenian descent, was born Krikor Ohanian on August 15, 1925 in Fresno, California. His father was a Western District Armenian Democratic Liberal Party (Ramgavar) member.

Mike Connors narrated a few documentaries on the Armenian Genocide.
Tall and athletic, he attended UCLA on a basketball scholarship and was noticed by veteran Hollywood director William Wellman, who steered him into acting.

Connors married his wife, Mary Lou in 1949. They had two children.

Posted in News

Former U.S Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern has Been Named Acting Assistant Secretary State

Former U.S Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern has assumed the responsibilities of the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs after Victoria Nuland’s resignation.

John Heffern had been the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary since August 2015. The assignment is temporary as the new administration team gets in place.

Posted in News

Ken Nahigian Heading Donald Trump’s Transition Team

The following article appeared on the Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2017

By Rebecca Ballhaus

Vice President-elect Mike Pence named Ken Nahigian, who until November was registered as a lobbyist, to head the Trump transition team, raising questions about whether the appointment runs counter to President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to eschew lobbyist and “drain the swamp”.

Mr. Nahigian has been “deeply involved with transition planning” since July, the transition team said in a statement on Wednesday. He did not terminate his lobbying registration until Nov. 16–the same day the transition finalized a 13 point code of ethics barring registered lobbyists from working on transition matters on which they had previously lobbied the government.

Unlike Mr. Nahigian, the transition team will be responsible for guiding the new president’s nominees through their confirmation hearings as well as for the “peaceful transition of power”, according to the team’s statement. He is succeeding Rick Dearborn, who was named a deputy chief of staff int he White House.

Mr. Nahigian had been registered to lobby for Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., an Israeli based company known for its generic drugs business, to “advocate for pathway to improving existing therapies,” according to public lobbying records.

In 2016, Mr. Nahigian appears to have largely monitored the issue for the company, rather than actively lobbying, according to the records. He was paid $135,000 for his services in 2016. Previously, he had lobbied both chambers of Congress on the company’s behalf.

Overall, the company spent $3.1 million on U.S lobbying efforts for the first three quarters of 2016.

A spokeswoman for the transition team said Mr. Nahgian’s firm, Nahigian Strategies, is a “public relations firm, not a lobbying organization.” The spokeswoman said Mr, Nahigian’s client required him to register as a lobbyist to comply with its ethics guidelines.

Mr.Nahigian didn’t respond to a question about his lobbying experience. His firm bills itself as a “full service strategic communications and public relations firm” and counts among its clients major corporations including Oracle Corp. and the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc. It also does consulting work for government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Mr. Trump during the campaign pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington and said that as president he would not be beholden to lobbyists and special interests. Yet he has often struggled to uphold that pledge. Many lobbyists were initially hired to serve on his transition team, until Mr. Trump appointed Mr. Pence to run the team, who subsequently ousted registered lobbyists—though some continue to informally advise the team. Others, like Mr. Nahigian, simply terminated their lobbyists registrations and remained part of the team.

Last month, two top advisers to Mr. trump—former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and senior adviser Barry Bennett announced they were launching a government affairs and consulting firm, housed in the same building as Mr. Trump’s transition team. While Mr. Lewandowski has said he doesn’t plan to register as a lobbyist, he says Mr. Bennett is willing to do so.

Posted in News

Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian Elected to Transportation Board

City Councilman Ara Najarian was recently elected to two key transportation positions for Los Angeles County ahead of long term plans to improve transit south of the Ventura (134) Freeway.

On January 5th, Najarian was re-elected to represent the North County/San Fernando Valley sector on the Metro Transportation Authority board for the next four years, provided he maintains his elected seat on the Glendale City Council. He was also elected as the second vice-chair of Metrolink the week prior. “I’m very happy to be re-elected to the MTA position,” Najarian said. “I’ve served for 10 years on the board and it’s a very critical time for transportation in LA Country with many large projects being constructed, and I look forward to playing a productive role as a board member.”

The North County/San Fernando Valley sector position is determined by members of the L.A County City Selection Committee — comprised of the mayor or a delegate of each city in the county. It meets every four years or in the case of a vacancy.

12 Cities All Voted for Najarian

All 12 cities in the North sector, which includes Glendale and Burbank, voted unanimously for Najarian. Delegates from the San Gabriel Valley and a handful of South Bay cities cast eight “no” votes.

“A lot of them told me that it wasn’t personal,” Najarian said. “[The "no" vote was] not reflecting my work on the board, just a rage against the machine.”

Najarian is referring to cities that may have voted based on his opposition to the potential construction of a tunnel connecting the Long Beach (710) Freeway to the Foothill (210) Freeway and his support of Measure M, which raised the L.A Country sales by half a penny.

Rosemead City Councilwoman Margaret Clark, who cast the Rosemead vote as a delegate, rejected Najarian for what she perceived as a “bias” against the 710 Freeway gap closure.

“It’s our residents that are suffering the pollution and the time that’s spent not have the closure,” Clark said. “We’ve watched him for several years, and he’s voting his bias instead of what we believe is best for the communities involved.”

La Canada Flintridge Mayor Jonathan Curtis, whose city voted to approve Najarian as a Metro representative, said at a City Council meeting on that Najarian’s advocacy against the 710 tunnel was the reason the city supported him.

Najarian’s positions have also attracted controversy in the past from former county Supervisor and MTA Chairman, Michael Antonovich, who removed Najarian from the Metrolink board and attempted to block the councilman form a position on the MTA Board in 2012. Those actions, Najarian said, were in response to his support for Measure J, a failed half-cent sales tax extension, and his continued stance against he 710 Freeway tunnel. Antonovich has previously denied Najarian’s claims.

Looking ahead, Najarian said he’s focused on plans that would make the area south of the 134 Freeway more transit oriented, including construction of the Metro Bus Rapid Transit route that would connect Pasadena and North Hollywood, with a path through Glendale and Burbank. “That’s No. 1, that’s the most achievable because we have funding set aside for it,” Najarian said. “The second one, which we don’t have the full funding for, is the increased rail service between Los Angeles Union Station and [Hollywood] Burbank Airport.”

Posted in News

Gladys Berejiklian Elected Premier of New South Wales State

Gladys Berejiklian was elected Premier of Australasia’s largest state of New South Wales (NSW) following the resignation of Mike Baird.

Australia’s New South Wales Liberal Party met on the morning of January 23 to choose its new parliamentary party leader, and elected the unopposed team of Treasurer Berejikilian and Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet, who will be Deputy.

The 46 year old Berejikilian was confirmed as the first female Liberal Party Premier and will lead the state of 7.5 million until at least the ext election on 2019.

Berejikilian has been involved in many Armenian community organizations since her youth, from her scouting and basketball days with Homenetmen Australia, the Armenian Youth Federation of Australia and a Board member of the Armenian National Committee of Australia.

Before the community had an Armenian day school, Berejikilian attended Hamazkaine’s Saturday School during her student years and is fluent in Armenian, the only language she spoke until the age of five. She continues to be ever-present in the Sydney Armenian Community.

As a NSW State Member for Willoughby in 2003, Berejikilian has been instrumental in representing the Armenian community concerns in Parliament and educating her fellow parliamentarians on issues of importance, including Federal Australian recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the rights to self determination of Armenians of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The State of NSW has twice recognized the Armenian Genocide and has a Khatchkar in the Parliament House’s Peace Garden in memory of 1.5 million Armenians. NSW has also recognized the rights to self determination of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh-Artsakh.

ANC-AU Managing Director, Vache Kahramanian commented’ “Our community continues to be proud of Ms. Berejikilian as she is an inspiration to all Armenian-Australians. This latest achievement is testament to her hard work on behalf of the people of New South Wales since entering public office in 2003, and we at the Armenian National Committee look forward to continuing working with ther in the State’s highest office.”

Berejikilian has been awarded the Armenian-Australian Community’s Friend of the Year by ANC-AU, as well as earning a Medal of Gratitude by the President of Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, Bako Sahakyan.

Posted in News

HDP MP Garo Paylan Temporarily Suspended from Parliament Over ‘Genocide’ Comment

A Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmaker was temporarily suspended from the Turkish Parliament on January 13th for using the word “genocide” in reference to the Word World I mass killing of Ottoman Armenians in 1915, during heated discussions on changes to the constitution, reported Turkish Hurriyet Daily.

HDP Istanbul deputy Garo Paylan, who is of Armenian descent, said four communities had been lost and “driven from these lands in large massacres [and] genocides”, referring to Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Jews.

Lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) angrily interrupted Paylan’s speech as AKP Deupty Naci Bostan slammed Paylan’s comments as “provocative” and “unfair”.

Ultimately, Paylan was banned from attending three sessions in the parliament, which is currently voting on provisions in a bill to change the constitution.

Paylan made the comments during a speech in which he criticized the draft constitution for giving one man extensive powers.

Paylan’s HDP also left the assembly in protest at the punishment given to its deputy.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War I as a result of civil strife triggered in part by Armenians siding with invading Russian troops, but contests the figures and denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute genocide. It also says many Muslim Turks perished at that time.

Paylan’s comments came after a vicious fight broke out in parliament on January 12th as lawmakers voted on parts of the 18 article constitution bill which– if passed– will be put to a referendum at the end of March or early April.

Posted in News